As a kid, my hobby was “making things,” I had a huge table in my room, a shelf full of supplies, and I’d just make things.

My mom did a small amount of beading, and I remember her coming back from a bead store once with all kinds of exciting things — glass beads, bead caps.

In junior high and high school I “made” jewelry using fishing swivels and by modifying existing jewelry, using simple tools — just tweezers and epoxy. I’m not even sure if I had pliers.

I may still have a couple of those “early works” around here somewhere; like a lot of jewelers, I can be a bit of a pack rat.

It turns out the second high school I went to had metalsmithing classes! I didn’t know, but then again, I didn’t have room in my schedule anyway.

On a high school trip to Spain, we visited a jewelry workshop where the bench guys were doing a cool gold and silver inlay technique. I was fascinated and I remember the guy kind of glaring at me, like, “Go away kid, you bother me.” We also saw lots of cool swords on that trip — in general my interest in metal was piqued.

Then in college, at U of Iowa, where I spent one semester, I got the last space in the metalsmithing class.

I was bitten by the metals bug! Spent tons of free time in the studio. My final project that semester was a gold ring I made — a simple band made from stock, sized and soldered, with gold wires on top, soldered. It was nice.

I also made a ton of boxes. I have a couple of those still. My slides of them are actual slides, but I’ll shoot some new pictures and post them soon.

After leaving U of Iowa (it smelled like a pig farm), I went to the U of Illinois at Chicago, where, sadly, there is no metals program. So I commuted to Columbia College to take a metals class and took GIA and trade school classes in the summers.

So why jewelry? Why not something else?

I like the problem solving bit. I like the extra challenge of it having to work. And I’ve also always like jewelry. And it turns out I like metal. I even like the smell of metal. I like that metalsmithing is hard, but I’ve learned to do it.

I like the continuing challenge — that there’s always more to learn, that I’ll never run out of challenges.

Want more stories of the artistic path to jewelry? Here are more carnival members:

Lora Hart
Angela B. Crispin
Marco Fleseri

and joining us for the first time this month:

Tonya Davidson

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