The craftsman, his mentor and the patriarch.
After spending nearly 20-years in the fire service, becoming a jeweler was the last thing Greg Hunsinger expected to do. But other forces were at work.
Ultimately inspired by love, the experience of designing, hand sculpting and bestowing his first piece (an engagement ring for his then-fiancé) was something the craftsman wanted to share with others. So he completed formal training, became a master jeweler and started collaborating with clients who sought a true, custom design experience. Hunsinger Handcrafted was born.
Hunsinger’s mentor, Savanna Do, taught jewelry making and repair at the St. Petersburg campus of Pinellas Technical College (PTC)—a school Hunsinger’s own grandpa advocated for during his years serving on the school board.
In December 2016, Mr. Do retired from PTC after nearly 32-years.
On Mr. Do’s last day, Hunsinger stopped by and brought him a going-away cake, decorated with some of Mr. Do’s go-to adages, memorialized in red butter cream. “Cutting, soldering and filing…It’s a free country…” and “You know what I’m talking?”
Anecdotes and one-liners is Mr. Do’s way of dealing with language barriers.
Mr. Do emigrated to the United States in 1974 from Laos, where he made his living as a jeweler. His English skills were insufficient for the American jewelry business, so he worked janitorial and manufacturing jobs for several years before breaking into the business in the states. Eventually, he started teaching.
“I like people! I like to share my knowledge…I like to help get people out into the business,” Mr. Do said.
Mr. Do estimates 75% of jewelers working in the Tampa Bay area learned the art of mixing alloys and setting stones on the workbenches and metalsmithing equipment in his classroom. Out of all the jewelers he’s trained in nearly 32 years at PTC, he ranks Hunsinger’s hand skills in the top 2. When Mr. Do’s daughter got married, he chose Hunsinger to handcraft her bridal set.
“I’m so fortunate that I got to learn from Mr. Do,” Hunsinger said. “Grandpa would have been proud.”
Hunsinger’s grandpa, the late Calvin A. Hunsinger, served on the Pinellas County School Board for 21 years, and was a strong supporter of PTC from its inception. Known nationally as, “Mr. Vocational Education,” Grandpa was a proponent of equal opportunity education and a consistent advocate of expanded opportunities for students in vocational education. He would say that every student should graduate with some marketable skill to alleviate unemployment and to make more productive citizens.
“Work should be made as honorable an accomplishment as the baccalaureate degrees,” Grandpa said.
Grandpa, Mr. Do and Hunsinger himself were all driven by similar altruistic desires and their paths intertwined in synergistic ways.
In the Lao Buddhist tradition, which Mr. Do observes, the Theravāda Path begins with learning, followed by practice and ends with Nirvana—the highest state of enlightenment, void of desires and suffering. Buddhism dictates that karma, which means ‘action, effect, fate,’ can be transferred to living family members and ancestors.
In other words, karma is in the driver’s seat.
After saying his last-day goodbyes, Mr. Do toted his bronzed, happy-faced, Fat Buddha statue out of his classroom, and securely buckled it into the passenger seat of his practical sedan.
He was ready to continue following his path.
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