The self-taught sage

It’s possible that I will have a normal life span and have already lived half of my life. Decades ago I chose a field of study, and turns out it wasn’t quite the right one for me, according to our society’s norms. In other words, I have a journalism degree and am not currently employed in journalism. Perhaps I should have worked to earn a bachelor’s and master’s of fine art in metals or a journeyman’s certificate in stonesetting. However, through studying journalism at one of the best schools in the country, I learned about design. I learned about organizing information and thoughts. And, I learned to get up before 8 am.

So, is my degree valuable to me today? You bet.

But what about what I am doing today? What about metalsmithing?

The title of this page includes the word “sage,” which might imply that “I think, therefore I am” a jeweler. Am I a sage? No, not really. Perhaps only to the degree that any of us can be. I know what I know mostly from voracious self-guided study and some very carefully chosen workshops. I have worked hard to use every resource available to me in the world of metalsmithing while still keeping my life in balance. Above all is the value of learning by doing. Discovery has been mine at my own bench in my own studio. I readily celebrate, as Michelangelo said near the end of his life, ancora imparo. Still I am learning.

Spending years immersed in an academic program exploring my medium and building a body of work is a dream for me. Maybe it will happen, maybe it won’t. But still I work. Still I fabricate. Still I saw and file and set. And still I learn.

So, for this, the second half of my life, I plan to use it all – all of the information I have gathered during the first half of my life, and I sit ready to learn more. Ready?




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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

gingermeekallen April 25, 2009 at 9:56 pm

Hi, Susan.
Thanks for connecting.
Sometimes I think it is just too much to expect an 18-year-old to know oneself well enough to be able to choose the right path. But, it’s all part of the journey. Someone commented to me the other day that my current series of metalwork and paintings is highly informed by my journalism background. I had not even thought of it that way, but I can see it now.
I do have two other web presences:
Thanks for commenting, and enjoy your journey….

Susan McKay April 25, 2009 at 8:17 am

Like you, I spent my first twenty years of work focused on something besides metalsmithing and lapidary. I have also mused if I should have pursued the BFA/MFA path but we all know what hindshight affords! I would like to read more of your experience in redirecting your life and beginning your studio. Do you have another blog?

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