Power Tools, and SPARKLES!
These are three reasons I decided to become a jeweler. In school, I was a nerdy kid with a penchant for art and design. When I was small, I originally wanted to be an astronomer. When I learned I’d have to learn math more complicated than addition, I decided to change course and pursue a degree in studio art. While an undergraduate student at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, I was initially attracted to painting as a major. However, I decided that I would like to be able to afford to both eat and pay the bills, so I changed course and became a metalsmithing major after taking an introductory metals class. Metal seems at first to be a very rigid and unforgiving material with which to work. With the right knowledge and experience, one can learn to manipulate metal in a variety of ways to create endless types of constructions in the form of jewelry or sculpture.
After receiving my Bachelor of Fine Art in Jewelry Design/Metalsmithing, I decided I might like to pursue a career in higher education as a professor of Metalsmithing. I was accepted to Texas Tech University to begin my studies towards my Master of Fine Art in Jewelry Design/Metalsmithing. As a graduate student I taught undergraduate metals courses, worked as the lab technician for the metals studio that served as workspace for 160+ students, and worked closely with my major Professor, Robly Glover, to write a variety of grants in support of the metals program. All these activities were in addition to my own coursework and artwork which eventually culminated in a thesis and a solo show of my artwork.
Just as I was beginning graduate school, the Great Recession of 2008 happened; even three years later the economy hadn’t yet bounced back and after receiving my Master’s degree I had great difficulty finding a job, internship, or artist residency. After a few months of dejected searching, I decided to change approach and decided to go to a Bench Jeweler Certification program at New Approach School for Jewelers in Nashville, Tennessee. At NASJ I learned to set gemstones, size rings, and do a variety of fine jewelry related repairs. These newly acquired skills in combination with my art and design background afforded me the opportunity to get hired as a bench jeweler with a large national company in Nashville prior to the bench certification program ending.
The rest, as they say, is history. My first job as a bench jeweler began in November of 2014. This past November made for five years as a professional jeweler. During this time I’ve had many successes (and some failures) at the bench. My favorite part of being jeweler is having to use problem solving skills combined with precise fine motor skills and techniques to create beautiful heirlooms. Repairing jewelry is also a favorite of mine because it is very satisfying to restore a beloved piece of jewelry to a state of loveliness. The best is when a client is so happy with a piece that they become overwhelmed with emotion. What I do is not rocket surgery, but it allows me to create items of beauty and get paid for it. In my opinion, it doesn’t get better than that!