I traveled with friends a while back on an amazing trip, which was as much a learning experience as it was a vacation. For part of the trip, we took a class in Chasing and Repoussé with the Master Silversmith, Valentin Yotkov. Mr. Yotkov, or Val, as he is known to his students and friends, is as kind as he is talented and that makes him a remarkable teacher. See for yourself from the picture; that’s what I was able to do after five days of class. In my ordinary life, I can barely draw stick figures. And until this trip, I’d never held a chasing hammer or worked with the tools.

One day we were given free time to sightsee, and as we were wandering in Florence, we spotted a nondescript little store selling hardware. Tools were hanging in the window, screwdrivers, pliers, and wrenches. And a chasing hammer. I’m pretty sure the four of us walked a few steps beyond the tiny storefront when we each stopped in our tracks and turned to see the hammer that caught our eye, not quite believing that we saw what we thought we saw. There it was, a chasing hammer. We went inside and asked about it, and the shop workers produced three more such hammers from the back wall. After holding and weighing each of them, I chose this one and I bought

My thoughts today are twofold: First, surprising results come when given the right encouragement. From family to friends to teachers, I’m living proof. And second, when the time is right (and usually when you’re not looking) the exact right thing finds its way to you.