Repairs: Apprenticeship VII, Cape Town 1971

After a few weeks I was given repairs to do. Each morning Huppertz would get the work out of the safe, and I’d be given a box containing job packets. In them were broken chains to mend (a terrible job), rings to size, gold spectacle rims to solder, brooches with broken pins or hinges, settings with worn-down claws or missing stones like broken teeth. In this way I was exposed to a great many examples of old jewellery from all around the world. Repairing them meant I had to have some understanding of how they were made. The variety was endless, but all was reduced to a few procedures – solder this, cut that, use these tools, set the soldering torch just so, pickle the soldered piece in hot sulphuric acid until clean. My body was trained by repetition to do all these things without thought, just as one changes down when approaching a traffic light, while chatting to a friend in the passenger seat, listening to music and idly wondering whether the pedestrian in the yellow sweater is going to lunge into the road.

Apprenticeship Part VIII

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