I have always loved designing and building things.  There’s home video of me in young rugrat clothing holding nails for my dad to hammer.  I remember asking him that day what happens if he misses, and he assured me that he is a master carpenter and never misses.  I suppose my 10 intact fingers proves he was right, but I also remember not being fully satisfied with that answer.  I remember exploring all of his tools and striving to build bigger and better things.  This exploration continued through high school and college, where I have fond memories from casting my favorite Ping putter in metalshop to building award winning homecoming floats and frat room furniture.  I’m pretty sure I’m the only Penn State grad to have a combination desk, bureau, and multi-level ferret cage.  I didn’t have a name for my combi-desk, but it served Pinner and I well for many years.  I’m pretty sure the desk got ripped out soon after I left, but not because it wasn’t creative and well built.  (It might have been the ferret cage)

Like many stories of life, I left college with a degree in search of career and a family, and new responsibilities crept into life.  The number of projects dwindled in proportion to personal time, I suppose.  Advancing a career and responsibilities of marriage were rewarding, but life changes, and my marriage did not last forever.  I found myself staring at the proverbial crossroads.  Where does one go from here?  I thought my path was always clear, but fate provided the opportunity to change.

My career remained reliable, but routine.  It demanded my technical mind and application of requirements and standards.  Professional conversations and writing demanded constant attention for accuracy and correctness.  Precision was more important than imagination.  Twenty years (and counting) of always trying to make sure you don’t miss anything re-wires a brain I have come to believe.

It is not easy to change, and recovering from change we don’t choose certainly takes time.  I met a poetic journalist who balanced the technical demands of getting an article correct, but always made time to enjoy her passion for poetry.  She encouraged me to create and explore thoughts emotionally.  She constantly mentioned I should take a class at the GoggleWorks since I like make things.  I had heard of the GoggleWorks, but I was not an artist.  Isn’t that a place where artists hang out?  I’m not an artist.  What are artists like?  I’m not good enough to be an artist.  I was more the engineer type.  We calculate, we don’t create.  I realize now how little I was using the creative side of my brain.  My creative hemisphere was not as useful to my work and life as my logical half and I wasn’t exercising all my muscles.

I showed up for metalsmithing at the GoggleWorks expecting to be handed a step by step project to complete.  Instead, after some introduction of tools, we sat down with paper to design our projects for the class, and I quite literally panicked.  I was not ready to draw anything.  I did not show up with ideas in my mind.  I watched all the other students intently drawing.  They all looked they were prepared and it was flowing easy.  I was a blank.  I only drew straight lines for the last two decades.  My drawings planned buildings and site features.  They were measured and regulatory.  My teacher wanted me to imagine and be creative.  He clearly saw me struggling and stopped to give me the simple instructions to put pencil to paper, let it flow, see what comes out.  I was making a pattern and he saw a flower.  Go further he encouraged, what about adding a second layer of petals, he suggested.  A few minutes later I had a drawing for a pendant that I was excited to create.  I spent the next few weeks honing my shop skills and creating the vision my mind had imagined.  It was immensely rewarding.  I hadn’t felt inspired by anything for quite some time.  It reminded me of how I used to do this.  I used to create, and let things flow.  Build, design and dream without a clear concept for the whole idea, just do.

I took two stained glass classes after two in metalsmithing and the results were the same.  The next instructor also saw my potential, and had me re-draw my project to be more flowing, let your elbow be loose she said.  Draw the line several times without erasing and it will naturally emerge.  That project turned into my most rewarding project and it was given the opportunity to be displayed in the Schmidt gallery.

As I spent more time at the GoggleWorks, continuing to explore an ignited passion for metalsmithing, I have met a never ending cast of extraordinary people.  Supportive, creative, friendly, passionate.  Unique.  Most notably, happy.  A world often contrary to my everyday existence.  We enjoy and help each other creatively.  We admire each other’s work, and make lasting friendships.  I still continue to push through a creative barrier and still find the inspiration harder than the physical creation.  But I keep at it to exercise those muscles.  I was graced by a former teacher, now a friend, casually referring to me as an artist, and I couldn’t have been more appreciative to be labeled one of those.

If you enjoyed Arron's story and are ready to start your own creative journey, follow the links below to begin.