Each time someone asks me what I do for a living and I respond that I am a metalsmith (or jeweler or silversmith or some variation of the three) their response is always "Wow, how did you get into that?". I think hmmm.... how did I get into this? I always knew that I had a desire to create growing up. My room was always scattered with half realized craft projects. My poor family could always count on receiving some kind of homemade gift for Christmas, either scrapbooks (a favorite of mine), various art projects I had done in school, and now more recently jewelry! I had always considered art a hobby of mine. Never a serious endeavor. I didn't identified myself as "artsy" while growing up. I was always the tallest (and normally biggest) kid in class, including the males, and I lived for sports! When I wasn't beginning some sort of half thought out art project, I was playing any sport I could get my hands on!
I chose my college not for what kind of art program it offered, but on the quality of their rowing program. I settled on Williams College in Williamstown, MA and spent 4 years identifying myself as a varsity athlete and a rower. I thought of studio art as a fun past time and it almost seemed like cheating that I could take art courses as college credit. I thought I needed a more traditional course of intellectual study and ended up with Art History. Ok, ok... I didn't steer too far from art studio. I was also initially convinced that I needed to supplement my Art History degree by combining it with an degree in Economics. Yet after 2 semesters of Econ I & II, I knew Econ and I weren't meant to be. I liked drawing all the graphs (they were beautiful with perfect lines of different colored pencils), but that was were my interest in the subject ended. Fast forward to my senior year of college and I took a metal and plaster sculpture class. I never got around to the plaster part of the course description because I was introduced to welding and I was immediatley hooked! Most of the sculptures I created in the course were all made of steel rods welded together to create twisted or pod like organic structures. I was also really into women and gender studies at the time (every college girls needs to go through that phase) so I wove pantyhose throughout all of my welded forms.
I loved how an inanimate industrial material, such as metal, could express forms that were so organic and sensual.
Thus began my obsession with metal.... I graduated from college and then was struck with the upsetting realization that art now took a lot of effort to pursue. I could no longer sign up for any art class that struck my fancy and have all the materials and studio space provided for me. Bummer! I moved back home to Aspen, CO and went in search of another metals class, which led me to my first jewelry class. It almost seemed too good to be true. I got to work with metal and fire/torches and I would save myself all this money by making my own jewelry (the saving myself money is just a lie I like to tell myself!). After the first class I was hooked and now my poor family was receiving all my beginner jewelry projects as Christmas presents (see, still saving money!!). Below is my first necklace! I was too scared to solder, so I chose to rivet layers of copper and silver onto a sheet of nickel and my teacher was nice enough to help me solder on the 3 stamens.
My next move was chasing my college boyfriend to Denver and then a search for a jewelry school. I luckily stumbled upon the Clear Creek Academy of Jewelry and Metal Arts where I have been a student ever since! It took a while for me to realize that I just wasn't happy if I couldn't spend my days using my hands and making something that is tangible. I am still struggling with the idea that your job can actually revolve around art, but the more time I spend in the studio working with wax (more about this to come), casting, or the hours I spend polishing, the less I can imagine doing anything else!