Tell us about yourself – how did you get to where you are now with your skills?

My roots begin with being eternally attracted to Art, as a kid growing up. And also to Rocks. I remember coming home every summer from camping trips, with shoe boxes full of rocks. I can always be counted on to fill my pockets with rocks.

Some things, never change. 😀

In high school, I began wrapping natural crystal points with copper wire, and selling them in a local consignment shop. ( People didn’t really do that back then 😉 )

Then, in the summer of 1994, I spent a summer taking art classes. I took Silversmithing classes at the Taos Institute of Art, In Taos, NM. (which I believe is no longer running) with renowned artists Phil Poirier, and Marilynn Nicholson.(As well as Jewellery, I took a traditional pottery workshop, and a couple courses in black and white photography).
I have always been an “artist” in my soul, I think; and thought, well…. I have to start somewhere, so why not explore it? See if I can find the passion….And I knew , in a way, that ones does, with the metals, that I would find a new calling. I was right. Working with metals and tools, and silver, and stones….. I don’t think one day in my class passed before I knew this was it, what I needed to do. Wanted to do… So although I very much enjoyed the pottery, and photography; I have been tied to metal since my first moment.

So My roots officially began in an educational setting.
Me, learning to solder, 1994, Marilynn’s studio. (photo)

The classes I took that summer were one week intensives. 40 hours of hands-on time. The first 2 I took were Beginning, and Beginning Advanced Jewellery with Marilynn Nicholson. So; basic skills. But up to and including roller mill printing, and crazy ass bezel setting. (yes, that’s a technical term.) The next two weeks worth of classes were much more advanced, with Master Goldsmith Phil Poirier. And though I learned a lot from Marilynn, and adored her as a teacher and person; it is Phil, who changed the direction and path of my existence in metal. Phil is the most brilliant, amazing teacher I have ever experienced.

Knowledgeable, vast in skill sets, a wonderful person, and absolutely a fantastic teacher. I left with was a solid skill set, and enough knowledge to forge ahead.

After that summer, I forged ahead, slowly getting tools, and playing with metal. Experimenting, and “working” for other small scale local artists as their grunt labour for a few years.

In the late 90’s I had the opportunity to be “assistant” to a Renowned Master Goldsmith, whom I learned much of what I know today, during the 2+ years I was with him, soaking in the skills and talent. This is where the bulk of my foundation came from. Even thought I was hired as an assistant, every day was a learning opportunity.

After that, I forged ahead again on my own, and into the world 🙂

In 2003, I went to San Francisco, and took the Jewelry Technician Course, at the Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts. I didn’t get what I hoped for out of this program, So I really don’t consider it part of my education. Though, I did, of course learn a few things…..

Anyway; Although I guess I have plenty of actual “Education”; I do primarily consider myself self taught in many senses; being that I draw much of my skill from working things out on my own, and reading books, and drawing from the experiences of others when needed. I like to explore, and find out how to do things on my own. And should you happen to tell me ” oh, you can’t do that”… Most certainly I am going to prove you wrong by figuring out a way to do it. 🙂

And of course, I continue to learn daily new skills, and techniques. The learning expansion never stops, you never know it all, and you never are as good as you can get 🙂

I think the real learning comes not from “educational institutes” but from hands on experience, and the willingness to learn from those around you, and experiences you are in. Trial and error. Just figure it out. Keep trying till you get it right……

And, as a side note; much later I found out one of my Grandfathers was a blacksmith. I never knew him. but I do believe the need to hammer and forge and create runs in my blood…..