For a town full of artisans, Braidwood has now produced an award-winning gem of an apprentice in the jewellery trade.
Jeweller Logan Preston has just completed his apprenticeship under William Verdon Manufacturing Jeweller in Braidwood and has recently won the State World Skills Challenge for Jewellery.
For a town of around 1600 residents, Braidwood boasts three main street jewellers and several more with studio based businesses. Since the 70s when Austrian silversmith Christoph Altenburg opened Studio Altenburg, artisans of many types have been drawn to the town.
It all began for young Logan, when he did work experience with William during his Year 10 at Braidwood Central School. A year later he asked to come back a do a few days’ work in the business and now, after a three-year apprenticeship, Logan has graduated with top marks.
Logan said “Working with William has been great. I’m lucky to have been taught by such a great teacher and have the opportunity to make stock and do custom jobs, which is something rare for most jewellery apprentices.”
The World Skills competition was held at Enmore TAFE and involved making a set piece of jewellery within a timeframe of six hours, using a blueprint with a few measurements given to us a week or so before the competition. The finished product was then judged over many different categories.
When Logan was announced the winner and he graduated from his apprenticeship, Braidwood was already coming under pressure from the summer bushfires. William was not even able to make the ceremonies, as an active RFS member in the Mongarlowe brigade, he was out fighting fires. Over the summer, Logan was left to run the main street store, as William was out on the fire trucks for weeks on end.
When he sees someone around town wearing something he made, Logan says he feels “a sense of pride knowing that someone has a connection with a piece of jewellery that I’ve made.”
“I’ve been working on a lot of pendants lately, but always seem to go back to chain making at some point, as it’s time consuming, it’s not that common these days but the end result is amazing.”
As for the future, Logan says “eventually I’d like to learn a thing or two about blacksmithing, working with glass and leather, and a bit about clockwork and making pieces of jewellery that move or change throughout the day, I’m excited to see where it all goes.”
Logan was supported in his apprenticeship by the Braidwood District Education Foundation (BDEF). The foundation provided him with a grant of $2000 which Logan says “has helped drastically with materials and a few small tools that I needed. It would’ve been much harder to achieve what I have without it.”
Logan and William are pleased to be able to ‘give back’ to the BDEF and last year was able to donate a piece made by Logan to the BDEF annual Melbourne Cup Raffle Fundraiser.
Logan has a few words of advice for those considering an apprenticeship. He advises, “I would say definitely stick with it, it’ll be worth it in the end.”
Logan will compete in the National World Skills for Jewellery event later this year.