Feature Designer

Dru of Patterson, California, USA now holds the Beading Gem's Journal record for being the youngest ever featured designer. I dare say, he would hold the record for many other blogs too. He is just 13 and thoroughly enjoys making jewelry.

I first noticed Dru, who goes by his handle Torch, on the metalchasers social network site for jewelry artisans (no longer available). Why Torch? That is his jewelry specialty - torching! His mother tried to get him interested in bead stringing and wire work but Torch thought them too boring. Then she tried metalsmithing tools - now, you're talkin'! Flaming tools.......sweet.

He was pretty easy to spot for he was not at all shy about actively promoting his design, this lovely sterling silver ring for the site's Valentine's Day Design competition. He was honest in his comments about how hard it was to torch the heart to the band. It took four attempts.

You can check out Torch's gallery on metalchasers (no longer available) where his still pictures show him in the process of making this ring. He did it all himself too and received the largest number of votes. He shared the top prize with another member. Unbeknownst to metalchasers members until after the close of the competition, Torch is actually the son of the site owner, Marcy Coral/Jewelry Geek who felt two first prizes should be awarded under the circumstances. When I approached Torch about doing a post on him, I had no idea he was Marcy's son either. He earned both through sheer merit.

Torch is an unusual teenager who has picked a hobby he doesn't share with his friends - how many boys his age would list martial arts, soldering, swimming and exploring as his interests? And how many jewelry artisans would upload a favourite Youtube video on his metalchasers site which features a young man bashing his chain maille draped arm with a small axe to test it? (Don't try this at home!)

I put myself in Marcy's shoes - here is a lad whose enthusiasm for the craft should not be dampened in any way. So long as he didn't break any rules, Torch was allowed to "blaze" his way through the site. His own mother didn't think he could win. Goes to show what focused determination and self-promotion can do - a couple of good tips us more grown-up artisans could do with.

Thanks Torch for the permission to use your photos! If you are this good this young, who knows what fabulous jewelry you will create when you are older? Although the featured piece was not for sale and was for your friend, I wish you luck in selling future designs. Was the Fantastic Four a favourite movie? If so, then Flame on, Torch!
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