I remember sneaking into my grandmother’s room when I was a little boy to rummage through her jewelry box. I didn’t want to wear her jewelry, I was just fascinated by the objects, both aesthetically and as things that related so closely to the woman. Many years later I attended the Cleveland Institute of Art on scholarship, largely on the merits of the jewelry and metalsmithing in my portfolio. I had to leave art school when life got in the way: a child and car payment and a small house in the suburbs, and all the bills that go along with those things. I worked a good paying job in the day and spent my nights making furniture and building tree houses and remodeling bathrooms. I partnered in a small artisan jewelry store in Cleveland for about four years, but none of the work was mine; I was back to playing in someone else’s jewelry box. I couldn’t live like that.
Making isn’t a hobby or a career or even a passion; it’s a compulsion, a way of life. I create for the sake of creating as much as the objects I produce, so I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what defines an object as art. For instance, continuing in terms of jewelry, what’s the difference between an original piece crafted from silver and sold in a gallery for a hundred bucks and a sparkly, mass produced diamond pendant that sells in a chain store for 50 times that? Why do I think the $100 necklace is art and have more respect for the person who wears it?