I’m probably one of those gray haired ladies that you can’t quite
figure out what they’re doing in your class, though I never obsess
over the snacks.
My first experience with metalsmithing was in high school (30 years
ago). My basic art class had 6 weeks of weaving, 6 weeks of clay,
and 6 weeks of metalsmithing. I loved all of the mediums, but
working in clay made me wet and muddy (ish!) and setting up the loom
drove me crazy- so that left metals ;^).
After graduating from high school I went to northern Arizona
(Sedona) in the hopes of finding someone who would take me on as an
apprentice- I would have swept floors for years if that’s what it
took. What I found was a lot of store owners who didn’t trust
someone who just showed up at their door and said “I’ll work in
exchange for training”.
I ended up making lots of silver and turquoise pieces for a guy who
had a contract with Stuckey’s (remember them: those roadside
purveyors of fine “Indian” jewellry and plastic paperweights with
embeded scorpions?). By the way, we used a wet bandsaw to cut 20-24
ovals at a time for bezels and then soldered multiples in assembly
After a 9 months in Sedona and still living in my car, I decided
that becoming a jeweller’s apprentice required some kind of secret
handshake I didn’t know, so I came home, went to college, blah blah
blah blah. Amazingly enough, the University of Arizona, had a metals
program, but no one ever mentioned it me and because I thought you
needed a trust fund to be a Fine Arts major I never asked. I got a
degree in Architecture and eventually became a computer systems
Over the intervening years I’ve ocassionally taken a class, but
generally found that I’d start living and breathing design again and
my day job would start to suffer- so I generally kept away from
metalwork (gotta make that money, you know).
Last fall I took a weekend class with Eleanor Moty (if you ever get
the chance she’s a phenomenal teacher) and made up my mind to not
put-off anymore. The fact that I’m 48 and have (probably) 30 years
left, genetically speaking, is a great motivator.
Yeah, I’m sick of my job, it doesn’t feed my soul and takes so much
energy that I have trouble even getting a teeny bit of creative work
done. But I’m not under the illusion that one class is all I need
and I can support myself as a metalsmith. If I could afford it, I’d
go to Revere’s or David Blaine’s school, not because I don’t want to
spend a long time learning and paying my dues, but because I don’t
feel like I have all that much time left.
I’d still like to learn the secret handshake, but unfortunately I
don’t have quite as much finacial flexibility as I did when I was 18
and lived in my car.
I’m really gratefull to Orchid and all of you out there who are
willing to share. It’s made me feel like creativity is still
possible (even at my advanced age :-).
from Tucson, where the monsoon has finally! arrived and it’s a
jungle out there!