My name is Mark Payne and I have been a full time jeweler and stone cutter for the past 21 years.
My jewelry career started in 1995 in Durango Colorado. I was part of a small home based 2 person studio where we created one-of-a-kind enamel works of art set in Sterling Silver with amazing faceted gemstones. Indigo Flameworks was the name of the company and the two of us painstakingly made each piece from scratch. For 15 years we traveled to approximately 30 high-end retail art shows throughout the southwest, and exhibited in several amazing galleries and I gave a few private workshops. We were both self taught and worked our way up to be quite the strong and talented team. It was a great run and I miss those days!
In 2010 I was approached by several people informing me that the local community college was in need of a jewelry instructor and I should go inquire with the community outreach director there. I wasn’t sure I wanted to be tied to a regular hourly job so I was very hesitant. It was so strange, so many people were telling me I should check it out that I had to see for myself. I made an appointment with Cheryl MacLean at Mohave Community College in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, tucked away in the foothills, close to the cool, blue waters of the Colorado River. Upon the completion of our meeting I found myself as the new Jewelry instructor!
It was a unique opportunity for me. The previous instructor (a GIA certified jeweler) had left 2 years prior and the facility sat empty and dormant. I was granted full control of what I wanted to teach and how. Clean slate!!! There was a pretty good amount of tools there but they were all in pretty bad shape. It took awhile but my assistant Tom Henderson and I got everything up and running and I started teaching classes. I wrote curriculums for each class and ended up with Silversmithing, Lost Wax Casting, Lapidary, intro to Gemstone Faceting and Glass Fusing. The classes filled and away we went! In 2013 The College built a brand new building and Tom and I custom built benches and stations for the space. We had a budget to replace some of the beat up machines and get some much needed tools. What a facility!
I am proud to say that these classes aren’t just foo foo classes, my students are getting an well rounded jewelry education. I am very impressed with their work, many actively sell their pieces at art shows and online. Several of them have won awards.
In addition to teaching at the college I do quite a bit of custom jewelry, I work for several of the jewelry stores in Lake Havasu doing Silver repair, stone cutting and inlay work. I am also a Lapidary stone cutter and individually hand cut and polish each stone and sell cabochons to other jewelers on ETSY. Blue River Gems is the name of my company and stones can be found on my ETSY site bluerivergems.etsy.com
This past year I have had an amazing opportunity come to me, I am able to attend The Gemology Institute of America! For those who don’t know this is big boy jewelry school!! A top of the line jewelry education, by the #1 school in the world. I’m very excited and blessed to be here right now. I start Mat 16th….. Look out baby here I come!
Don’t forget to like my Facebook page too!! www.facebook.com/bluerivergems
To be continued……….