Captain Sexypants and I rolled back into Los Angeles last night, exhausted but happy after an intensive 3 day workshop in metal fabrication at Revere Academy in San Francisco. Our instructor, the awesome Karen Sprague, is a master metalsmith who has been teaching for over 20 years, and wow did we learn a TON of great stuff from her in the 3 days we were there. I also met Alan Revere, more’n a little fangirl squee going on there, let me tell you. Along the way we stopped for kittens, friends, great food, and some post-metal-smithing-pampering at a spa. And as if that weren’t enough, we got two days of camping in the gorgeous, autumn hued, Santa Cruz mountains and then a leisurely drive down the California coast, with a stop in my favorite little town, Cambria. By the time we got home, we were exhausted but so happy. Truly I am kind of in this euphoric daze of, “Wow I love my life!” this morning.
Anytime you go out of town, it helps if you wind up staying with kittens.
We got to stay with my friend Miss Kimberly, of Miss Kimberly’s Finishing And Sweetening Academy For Wayward Kittens, and right now she’s pretty full up. Gandalf, pictured above, was in pretty poor shape when Kimberly got him, but he seems to be really coming around.
Here, Tommy (who is actually still kitten sized, believe me) is keeping two of the tinies warm while he sleeps.
Each morning we’d head off to BART (the local train system) and head into the City for class. It started pretty early. We were seriously grateful for the drive thru Starbucks on the way to BART, and the Starbucks downstairs from our classroom. On the second day we found some truly epic local coffee around the corner. Whether by the Mermaid or something roasted a bit closer to home, we kept ourselves pretty well fueled.
The weather in San Francisco was fairly amazing the entire time we were there. Balmy, warm, with comfortable temps even into the evenings. I’d packed a ton of stuff to layer but honestly didn’t really need it. I tell ya, if you’re going to visit San Francisco, you can do worse than during their glorious Indian Summer!
Lotta crazy in San Francisco, though they’ve cleaned up the downtown/financial district a whole lot since my teen years (which is really the last time I spent any real time in San Francisco.)
Sometimes it was really beautiful, even if it was a bit cracked.
I was grateful for the chance to revisit the City, bash around and explore a bit. The Bay Area has changed a lot since I’d lived there last, but a lot of it is the same. The bones are not any different. People are still people. My boots did more’n a little walking and exploring and I found my heart expanding maybe three sizes as I fell back in love with the town I left a long time ago. From little old men with sandwich boards to homeless men sleeping on the street, the crazy shouting kid on the corner and the women singing gospel on BART, I loved and blessed them all.
So why did we go? Why did we spend ALL that money, close the store for two whole days (oooh the lost revenue), and take all that time to go to Revere (when there are perfectly good places to learn these things at home?) Well… I invested the time and money (a lot of money) into taking this particular class in this particular place because it’s simply the very best place you can go to learn. I did it because improving in this craft really matters to me and I don’t have time to waste.
While I enjoy the wire wrapping and metal clay aspects of my art and I enjoy the jewelry I have been making, there’s so much more. So many things I see in my head that I can’t execute. Things I want to make. Frankly, my work just isn’t good enough yet to make me happy. I’m not there yet. Still striving. So much to master. It’s a lifelong journey and I’d started to plateau. Frankly? I was bored and dissatisfied.
Adding some traditional metalsmithing to the mix excites me, not to mention the joy of learning to do something well. I guess I come from a long line of folks who get excited by tools – woodworkers, machinists, you name it. My dad has always worked with wood. Now he makes fiddles in his spare time and my grandpa, well there wasn’t much that he didn’t make with his hands. It may have taken me a few years to find my niche, but it’s oddly comforting that the family tradition actually does run true. It makes me feel closer to my roots, to pick up a metal saw or file and ring clamp. It connects me back to something I didn’t think I could claim as my own for so many years.
I took this class because I want more.
It is really, really, really okay to want more, by the way. It’s good to strive.
I tell you, I’ve never been so filled with fear, apprehension, worry, joy, and exhiliration as I was when I sat down at the bench and stared at this battered up bench pin. It was comforting to me to see the saw marks and drill holes, the file scuffs and wear. It meant I was in good company. I stopped being scared pretty darn fast.
It is really good to set your feet on the path and know you are moving in the right direction.
Tomorrow, a bit more about the actual class itself.