Calina Shevlin

Adventures in Switzerland


Adventures in Switzerland

Follow me on my journey of moving to, living and working in Switzerland as a metalsmith who is a guillocheur for Breguet.

Location: Le Sentier, Suisse
Members: 22
Latest Activity: Mar 17, 2013

The events that led an American to Switzerland

My last few days in the US before heading to Switzerland were glorious and filled with good friends and good food!







I have always been fascinated by the intricate lines on Fabergé Eggs. I mean always, since I was around 8.  I told my mom that I wanted to own one and she said that the Forbes owned them, so I said I would buy one and she said they were millions of dollars, so I said I would marry a Forbes and she just laughed.  I always thought the enamel is what held the beauty for me, but it turns out, it was always the guilloché.  I did not learn the proper term for this gorgeous metalworking technique until my third semester of graduate school at the University of North Texas.  It was in History of Crafts, taught by Ana Lopez, that I first heard the term, and that is what I ended up writing my term paper on.  I went to research and find information, and it was really a stretch.  There is hardly any information, save for a few obscure and out of print books, which are vague at best, on the technique, no, art, of guilloché.  


That March, at the SNAG conference in Houston, I met Mike, from Rio Grande, who was showcasing Bonny Doon Hydraulic Presses and some of the new pattern plates.  I saw one and told him I thought it looked a lot like guilloché created on a rose engine, and were they created that way? He told me no, but gave me the name of Phil Poirier who DID in fact know a lot about guilloché.  So I googled him, and cold contacted him and told him about the paper I was writing and the lack of sources and asked if I could phone interview him.  He said of course, he would be happy to help, and from that point on, my love affair with guilloché took off.


I ended up going to see Phil the following August (5 months later, paper turned in and returned to me with a grade).  I just wanted to get some images of this amazing machine, that I had never seen in person.  I got a lesson and I began semi-regular visits to Phil learning a lot each visit, no matter how short.  I was encouraged to pursue writing a book about guilloché from several sources (and it is a slow labor of love, I assure you) and I began the digging and dot-connecting for the historical information about guilloché specifically.  *It is here that I note that ornamental turning and guilloché are both created on a rose engine, there are slight differences in the lathes, but both wood workers and metal workers perform similar tasks with vastly different results* I came across the watch company Breguet, and it had appeared that they pioneered the technique on their watch covers and later dials, so I began to contact them for historical reference.


Here is the good part, I had just submitted a third (so French isn't my strong point, and the first two contacts had yielded me the gorgeous, hard-bound watch and jewelry catalog (2) and also some children's fairy tales, in French.  So my third attempt was newly sent off with the help of google translate (thank you) and I was browsing the site and dreaming of owning one of the prestigious watches, or a car.  I was browsing careers thinking, what kind of careers ARE there in the watch world. Lo and behold, and be still my heart! I saw a position opening for a guillocheur.  I called my mother, I called my father, I called Phil and I talked to Harlan (my professor at UNT) and decided to apply, I mean, I had applied to 63 teaching positions and had no response, might as well make another resumé.  

So I went to Phil and he was excited and taught me even more about guilloché, the tool sharpening, the jig making and other huge details and I worked for 3 days perfecting 7 samples to photograph to send with my resumé and cover letter.  Phil photographed these samples and I practically RAN to fedEx to mail the packet to Breguet.  That was sent off at the beginning of April, and by the 27th of April (the day after my mom's birthday)  I had a phone call to interview IN Switzerland for the position of guillocheur.  I interviewed June 23rd (my dad's birthday) and 24th, which consisted of an interview of 10 minutes, and 2 days of demonstrating my skills.  They offered me a contract to move out to Switzerland and work at the most prestigious watch company, decorating the faces.  


So, now I am here and am loving it, I pinch myself daily because this is literally, my dream job.  


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Comment by Victoria Altepeter on January 20, 2012 at 11:54am


Comment by Randi Harper on December 18, 2011 at 8:45pm

So happy for you!! Looking forward to following your journey!

Comment by kerianne quick on October 21, 2011 at 11:32am

callie! come see me in amsterdam! we can do some joint posts!



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