Stone Setting Sampler with Jeff Georgantes

by Metalwerx on September 24, 2014

If you know where one can get a Hawaiian shirt made of flannel, there’s a jewelry teacher in New Hampshire who would like to add it to his collection.

“I wear a Hawaiian shirt. It’s like a uniform,” says Jeff Georgantes, head of the jewelry program at Dartmouth College in Hanover.

It may help to recognize the California native on campus, but the style is born from more practical considerations than sartorial choices. In his previous life as a professor who taught art appreciation, introduction to studio art, sculpture and jewelry/metals, Jeff started wearing the brightly colored shirts out of necessity. “One minute I might be up to my elbows in concrete and ten minutes later, have to give a lecture. Patterned shirts hide the dirt,” he said. “It’s pretty much all I wear to work.”


 Jeff Georgantes, jewelry/metals program director at Dartmouth’s Hopkins Center for the Arts.

 After thirty years of living near the world’s tallest trees in Redwood National Park, Jeff made a cross-country trek in 2005 to direct the jewelry and metals program at Dartmouth’s Student Workshops in the Hopkins Center for the Arts. He said it’s not that big a change for him, culture or climate-wise. The nontraditional, non-credit, co-curricular arts enrichment program suits him just fine.

Jeff became aware of his calling as an artist during the 1970s, at the height of a thriving northern California art scene known as the Funk movement. In the late 1950s, painters and ceramicists around San Francisco’s Bay Area rebelled against the New York-centered world of intangible expression found in abstract art, as well as the Los Angeles ‘finish fetish’ sculptors  who, employing modern materials like plexiglass and resin, produced singular works but suggested impersonal, mass produced objects.

Around the same time, the word funk was adopted by jazz musicians to describe the sound of their newly electrified, free-flowing music.  With its connotation of ‘stink’, and the gradual acceptance of jazz as a genuine–and uniquely American—art form, “funk” embodied the free-spirited, activist attitudes of this emerging art movement.

“It was a bunch of artists who had an irreverent style,” Jeff said about the Funk artists, a style that also made its way into jewelry making, such as in the work of Ken Cory and Jim Cotter. These artists often produced works assembled with found objects. “It was a fun movement, and a fine art movement.  The jewelers and metalsmiths became my heroes and influenced me,” he said.


Ring with steel washer, rock, garnet, sterling silver,  by Jeff Georgantes.

Jeff’s work often includes objects he finds on walks, whether on visits to his hometown of Trinidad, California, or on the grounds of his eight-acre, forested property in New Hampshire. An avid bicyclist, he often rides the six miles to Dartmouth, weather permitting.  “Weather-wise, it’s nicer here. Just colder,” he said.

He has lived the dream life of an artist since he graduated from college in 1979. Along the way he has worked as a custom goldsmith, a jewelry repairer, a teacher, and self-employed artist. He spent 15 years collaborating with Skyhorse Saddles, an award-winning saddlery and tack company in Colorado, creating silver embellishments for custom saddles.


Silverwork on custom saddle by Jeff Georgantes.

And now the student has become the master, sharing his expertise with Dartmouth students who participate in the non-credit jewelry Student Workshops at the Hopkins Center–without having to worry about grades, competition, or fear of exploring wherever their creative impulses lead them. “One of the reasons I took this job was because it was quirky,” he said. “(The students) are willing to experiment in ways they wouldn’t necessarily do.” The program includes jewelry, ceramics and woodworking. A quarter of Dartmouth students use all three shops, but jewelry gets about 15 to18 percent of students every year, “Which is amazing!”Jeff said.

Jeff, a master diamond setter, comes to Metalwerx Oct 17-19  to teach “Stone Setting Sampler,” a fast-paced weekend workshop in which students will practice innovative bezel setting, prong-setting, flush-setting, graver-setting, gypsy-setting, and more. Participants will make samples to add to their own library of skills that can be utilized in future designs.


Watch bracelet of community-mined sterling silver & found objects, made for the Dartmouth College Radical Jewelry Makeover Project, by Jeff Georgantes.

“One of the things I enjoy doing when I go to restaurants is to get wine flights,” small servings of different wines to sample the restaurant’s menu, he said. “The basic concept of this workshop is that these techniques take a lot of time and practice to become a master. This isn’t about becoming a master, but trying out a bunch of different techniques. There you can get a hands-on experience to know what you want to explore later.”

There are still seats available for “Stone Setting Sampler.” For more information click here or call Metalwerx at 781-891-3854.

–by Yleana Martinez


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Janis Bosiger - Murphy September 25, 2014 at 2:37 am

I live in far North Queensland, Australia I’ll keep my out for that flannel Hawaiian, my uniform is a bikini and floral apron 😉 …love your pieces thanks… Janis

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