How Did You Come to Be a Metalsmith?

Blog Carnival Topic: This month's question pertains to career choices.  How did we come to be a jeweler or metalsmith?  What was our design path?  Was it always your focus?

I've always been involved in art.  It's in my DNA.  It's what makes me happy.  I could talk your ear off about it!

My grandmother, who was Sioux indian and German, was an artist and one-room school teacher.   She was always painting or doing some form of art.  For many generations before her, the indian women ancestors in my family were amazing beaded artists.

My mother of course was a gifted artist.  I grew up always doing art projects and watching her create wonderful things.  She was an award-wining oil and tole painter, pen and ink, and more!  For over 15 years she was a textile designer for a boutique in Aspen, CO.  She's had Lady Di, Maria Shriver and countless stars wear her work.

My job was to pick out the colors she would use.  Of course, I didn't realize that I should have charged her for my creative input :-)  She'd have me come and select the colors to be used.

I got my degree in interior design (and marketing) with an emphasis in interior architecture, at the University of Arizona.  I worked for a little over a year for a large firm when I realized it just wasn't for me before moving to Chicago.

I then did faux painting in interiors.  Nothing like very large canvases.  Too many times up and down the ladder!  I also managed the first arts and crafts store in the city.

Inside the store was a bead bar.  The bead-love in my blood quickly took over.  At the time delica and seed bead weaving was becoming very popular.  Additionally, Chicago had a very large and well-known bead society.

I had the pleasure of meeting NanC Meinhardt and began to spend Mondays at her home learning all that I could.  It was at this time that I began my obsession with workshops, books and devouring information.  I also and began to sell my jewelry and small sculptural work in galleries.

I then got distracted by the PYOP (paint your own pottery) craze and decided to open my own studio.  My mom and I partnered up in 1996 and opened Tucson's first PYOP store.

I had some misconception that I would sit and bead all day while customers painted pottery and handed me gobs of money.  All while having a 9 month old too!   My first lesson in taking off the rose-colored glasses!

While at a convention for the PYOP industry in 1997, I met Tim McCreight demonstrating PMC.  I dove in, began teaching it in my store, and became certified in Art Clay a few years later.  Then quickly followed that up with level two.  I was requested to apply for one of the first positions as a Senior Teacher for Art Clay in 2000.

I have since been a senior teacher for each importer (Art Clay, PMC Connection and now Rio Rewards).  I taught it both my stores 5 years and now teach it in my studio or in other venues.

After being asked by students where to get supplies, in 2002, I opened Whole Lotta Whimsy with my mom.  Our goal was to provide a one-stop shopping source for mixed media and metal clay supplies.  It's a family business.  Art and art supplies are a large part of our wonderful lives!

In all that time, I've ventured off in many directions trying it all.  I tell others I have AADD, "artist's attention deficit disorder".

Here are some of the people I've had the pleasure of studying with in glass, enamel, and metalsmithing.  I appreciate all that they have shared with me as it has made me a better artist, business owner and person!

I've only taken three metal clay classes and am mostly self taught.  The classes are my certifications with Mary Ann Devos (1 and 2 in Art Clay) and a watch-making class with a watchmaker from Japan.

A list of my honorable mentors and teachers of in-person workshops:

  • NanC Meinhardt-bead weaving
  • David Chatt-bead weaving
  • Don Pierce-bead weaving
  • Wendy Hubick – bead weaving
  • Sue Jackson – bead weaving
  • Joyce Scott – bead weaving
  • Karen Lewis-polymer
  • Kelly Russell-polymer
  • Milon Townsend- glass casting
  • Shirley Webster- glass fusing
  • Michael Dupille – glass fusing/painting
  • Bronwen Heilman-lampworked glass and glass casting
  • Lisa St. Martin-lampworked glass
  • Debbie Crowley-lampworked glass
  • Jim Weurfel-lampworked glass cane-making
  • Janice Peacock-lampworked glass
  • Heather Trimlett-lampworked glass
  • Margaret Zinser-lampworked glass
  • Michael Joplin-sandblasted glass
  • Ruth and Norm Dobbins – sandblasted glass
  • John Cogswell-metalsmithing
  • Christine Dhein-metalsmithing
  • Karen Sprague-metalsmithing
  • Keith Bartel-metalsmithing
  • Harold O'Connor -metalsmithing, granulation
  • John Cogswell – metalsmithing
  • Michael David Sturlin – metalsmithing
  • Chris Darway – metalsmithing
  • Robert Dancik-metalsmithing
  • Bruce Clark-metalsmithing
  • Mark Ramsour-metalsmithing
  • Chris Hentz- metalsmithing
  • Bob Ebendorf – metalsmithing
  • Andy Cooperman – metalsmithing
  • Pauline Warg -metalsmithing
  • Helen Blythe-Hart – metalsmithing
  • Tim Lazure – metalsmithing
  • Carol Webb – metalsmithing
  • Chris Nelson – metalsmithing
  • Alison Antelman – metalsmithing
  • Lesley Aine Mckeown – metalsmithing
  • April Bower – metalsmithing
  • Jeff Herman – metalsmith, chasing
  • Pat Flynn – metalsmithing
  • Jonathan Russell – metalsmithing, casting
  • Roberta Tanaka – stonesetting
  • Nancy Wintrup – stonesetting
  • Marne Ryan – metalsmithing, fusing
  • Diane Dewey – granulation/metalsmithing
  • Fred Zweig- metalsmithing, chasing, forging and repousse
  • Lynne Merchant- wire working
  • Connie Fox- wire working
  • Mary Ann Devos-Art Clay certifications
  • Tim McCreight – metalsmithing/metal clay
  • Michael Boyd – design, lapidary
  • Linda Darty-enamels
  • Ricky Frank-enamels
  • Barbara Minor-enamels
  • Keith Lo Bue- found object jewelry
  • Michael de Meng- found object art
  • Tim McCreight – metalsmithing

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