As I sit here thinking about my journey into the metal world, I realize how far I have come over a fairly short period of time. My tenacity and refusal to let anything get the best of me has really driven me to a creative place I'd never thought I would be. For someone who thought she wasn't artistic at all, I took the journey I never knew I wanted, until IT found ME.
My first jeweler's bench was an inexpensive one I bought from Contenti or someplace like that a million years ago, or so it seems. Today, I work on a custom made bench from American Workbench out of Charleston, SC. This was a big investment, but the last 6 years working on this bench has proven itself. It's true, if you love your space, you love your work and this bench is truly my pride and joy and will last for many years to come. And yes, that is the same optivisor I am wearing in both photos!
Good, quality tools last forever, a fun workspace provides inspiration and motivation and the desire to keep learning makes everything interesting, frustrating at times, but always interesting.
To give you an idea of how far my actual work has come, here are a few examples:
I remember being so proud of the earrings on the left. It was the first time I cut metal, textured it and added some color with the Swarovski crystal. Although I used store bought ear wires, I was really happy with this pair of earrings and wore them constantly.
Today, I make jewelry of all sorts including the big hunk of gold and diamonds you see in the left photo. This was commission by one of my very favorite customers, Bill. He always presents me with a challenge and I learn a ton of fabrication lessons during his projects. I am proud of this ring because it showcases some of the many skills I have practiced over the years; stone setting, wax carving, lost wax casting and two-tone gold soldering.
And finally, this cute little round wire bracelet with the "S" charm on the left. This was something I was really excited about because I was learning to solder more proficiently and making a ton of these little bangles with charms. I thought this was "forged" since I had to hammer it round! Ah, the things you don't know you don't know.
The example on the right is a truly forged bangle. I forged the wavy under piece from 16g sterling silver sheet, added keum boo gold and forged the wavy floating piece using only hammers and the torch for annealing. The stone setting is also something I would never have attempted eight (8) years ago.
Fast forward to the reason I am taking a moment to reflect on this journey - SNAG Exhibition in Motion: Objects of Protection 2018.
I was brave enough to submit a proposal for this piece back in November 2017. To my shock, I was accepted into the show officially on Jan. 1, 2018. OMG - now I have to make this piece come to life! It was both the scariest and happiest moment of my metalsmith career so far. To me, an audience of makers and educators thought my proposal to be interesting enough to see what I would make.
Now that the show is over, I am back home in the studio and am thinking about all of the work I still have to do, I've realized this is a turning point in my journey. I find myself thinking about making bigger things and learning to weld so I can do larger sculpture and artwork. I'm excited about the next chapter in this journey. Although I know it won't be easy, I know the future frustrations, sweat and most likely tears will be worth the outcome.
If I don't give any other advice, I say this... Keep plugging along and push through those walls that seem to be never ending. Every time you scale one, you'll have a new feather in your cap and another moment in life to look back on and say, "Wow! I can't believe I did that!" Make lots of those moments. This life is so precious and we should try to get as much out of it and push ourselves to the limit every day. I say this as I remember my dear friend Becky, who passed in May, "girl, work hard and go get what you want!"