Heh. I love this topic.
I moseyed through 5 years at a Phila Art college to get my
degree in metals. Like Felicity has written, I entered my major
with a good deal more experience in metals than my classmates
(high school program, a summer at a local college’s metals
program and a few years of Saturday jewelry classes at the
college from which I graduated).
This certainly gave me an edge. Along with that, we had a
somewhat less than present faculty member, so I spent a lot of my
time helping my classmates and figuring things out for myself
rather than waiting for the prof. Also, I picked up a short term
work-study with a local metals artist that was a real eye opener.
NEVERTHELESS, when I got out there for my first job in the
industry, it was appalling how ill-prepared I was. As another of
our list-members mentioned the other day, it took me years until
I would comfortably call myself a jeweler. Now I use the term
Goldsmith to differentiate me from the salesfolk in the showroom
who call themselves jewelers and say “I can make that for you!”
Like to see 'em try.
I really wish there had been a formal apprenticeship program
available to me. I spent 5 frustrating years being turned into an
artist when all I ever wanted was to make lovely things. Pile
on that life drawing, painting, French, art-in-the-dark (Art
History), oh yes…and the 3-D Design class that I still can’t
perceive benefit one out of. Eventually, I learned to play the
game, critique, pander and got out with my sheepskin and a
lasting case of irritation. I may not know what I like, but I
Yes, I guess it did round me out a bit and some of the classes I
had were indeed worthwhile. The most valuable things I came out
with are an ability to work problems out on my own and to ‘think
around corners’. To anyone now looking to make a career in
metals, I’d advise them to pick and choose more carefully. Blend
some college classes with some work in the field. 6 hours each
week of slave labor in a pro shop will teach you more than 6
hours in the studio. Forget the degree program and go for what
you want and need. It’ll save you huge amounts of time and years
of student loans.
Thanks for letting me rant a bit