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Working Stiff

Dance studio aide also a certified gemologist

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Jodi Hoctor spends part of her days making and repairing jewelry in her workshop at her parents' ranch. In the afternoons she answers phones for Martin School of Dance. Hoctor is also an accomplished rodeo barrel racer.

Four days a week, Jodi Hoctor's afternoons are packed with music and tapping as she answers phones at Martin School of Dance.

The former dance student of Linda Martin has been the receptionist for the studio since last December, when she began working part-time for the studio. She fills her afternoons filing away costumes and providing help to students and parents as they come in for classes. She is also helping with the preparations for the dance recital scheduled for Friday, June 10.

"It's a side job," she said. "I like the kids. They're fun. I rodeo and the money I earn I use for entry fees and rodeo expenses."

Raised in a rodeo family, her father bulldogs and her mother competed when she was in college, Hoctor has been involved in rodeos since she was about 7 years old.

She started as a barrel racer, which is the area of competition she still takes part in.

Although she mostly participates in Northwest rodeos, including the Pendleton Round-up, the Yakima Rodeo and the Ellensburg Stampede, she occasionally travels out of the area to compete.

"I got back from California last week," she said. "And, I'll go to some in Nevada."

She hopes to one day compete in Texas, where there are larger rodeos.

Hoctor's full-time work is done out of a small log cabin workshop on her parents' ranch.

A goldsmith and gemologist, Hoctor owns Country Creek Jewelry, where she designs, custom makes and repairs jewelry.

As a student at Sunnyside High School, Hoctor participated in a work release program and was able to observe at Beck & Co. in downtown Sunnyside.

"I became interested and went to school in California," she said.

She graduated a year and a half ago from the Geological Institute of America.

Her business involves fabricating and repairing jewelry.

"I study stones so if people think it's a diamond I can look at it and tell," she said.

Although she can work with any stone, she mostly sees diamonds.

Her favorite pieces she has made include a teardrop pendant set in white gold and a tension set diamond ring, which belongs to a woman from Leavenworth. The majority of her work is rings and pendants for necklaces.

"It's hard to turn over something I've made that I really like," she said.

As a goldsmith, Hoctor melts down and hammers out rings and other pieces of jewelry by hand. Occasionally, she will buy a setting a customer wants for a stone.

There aren't a lot of women in the gemological business, Hoctor only knows a couple in the area.

"It's mostly men," she said.

Deciding the jewelry business was something she wanted to pursue, she said her parents were very supportive and encouraged her to pursue the career.

"My mom loves jewelry, I think that's why she wanted me to go into it," she laughed.

Although she doesn't advertise her business, her workmanship is know by word-of-mouth. She said many have found her workshop and asked her to make jewelry.

"A lot of reasons people come to me is because they don't want their jewelry to be sent away," said Hoctor.

She can also make some of the simpler rings in a couple of days, depending on how intricate of a design a customer wants.

"I've had people think it takes an hour to make a ring," she said, explaining there is more work involved creating a ring.

As Hoctor develops her business, she also hopes to gain further education that will help her as she strives to one day own her own high-end jewelry store.

She has applied to take more classes through the Gemological Institute, including business classes and classes in advanced settings, such as for a square cut or baguette cut stone, but is waiting to be accepted.

Something square cut or with baguettes is harder to set, she said.

"Diamonds are easiest to set because they're so hard they can't be scratched or chipped," said Hoctor.

More difficult stones to work with are emeralds and opals, some of the softest stones set in jewelry.

Melissa Dekker/Daily Sun News

Jodi Hoctor spends part of her days making and repairing jewelry in her workshop at her parents' ranch. In the afternoons she answers phones for Martin School of Dance. Hoctor is also an accomplished rodeo barrel racer.

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