An Interview with Tim McCreight (Part I)

Student EditionInspiration often appears when you least expect it. When lacking in ideas, many people turn to review their memories, trying to trigger a spark that may lead to a fuller idea or just something slightly more promising. At Seattle Findings, we began brainstorming different ideas that could jump start our new blog project into a positive, creative direction. After several meetings and multiple discussions, I asked myself what I wanted to read about.
Fundamentals of JewelryWhen I took my first metalsmithing class, my first text book was Jewelry: Fundamentals of Metalsmithing by Tim McCreight. When I first flipped through the glossy pages and saw images of soldering, piercing and a multitude of finished pieces, I couldn’t help but feel inspired. I was lucky enough to get that first tingling again when I had the pleasure of interviewing Tim McCreight himself. He has been working in metal since 1970 and is very well known for his books and workshops. In his own words, Tim has always been a half glass full (and that’s more than enough for me), type of guy.

What first drew you to metalsmithing?

While in college studying history and other esoteric topics such as philosophy, I found myself drawn to doing something more physical. My undergraduate degree was in sculpture, yet I found myself making jewelry. I have always been interested in the small scale. When I was a child, I would always choose a Matchbox car over a larger model. Maybe it’s genetic! If you were to ask someone, “What’s big? Show me with your hands.” They may hold their hands 2 feet apart or 2 inches, it’s all relative to each person. I have always liked small things.

DVD Tim McCreight Why did you begin writing books?

I have always been a reader, started writing and making my own books as a kid. It really became a logical option for me. After my undergraduate work, I was looking to further my own knowledge and found that explaining something is the way that I learn. And at that time in my life, 30 years ago, I was just starting a family and writing allowed me to work in a more kid-friendly schedule.

Boxes and LocketsAs a life -long reader, do you have a favorite book or one that has inspired you?

There are many books that I have read many times. Catcher in the Rye –I’ve read over and over. As for art books, inspired is really the right word. I first saw Africa Adorned at a friend’s house. It’s this large book, mostly pictures, and it just took my breath away. I bought myself a copy soon after, which was a big purchase for me at the time. I showed it to many students over the years and somewhere along the way it disappeared and I bought another copy, because I had to have it!

Also, David Pye’s The Nature of Workmanship and Design — it’s on the opposite spectrum from Africa Adorned, very academic, but helpful in clarifying issues within the crafts.

Cold Connection DVDWhat is your best bench tip?

Not really a tip, but I try to create an “aura of similar sensory input” at my bench. We work in a confined and intimate space; most of our tools and movements take place in a zone of 12 or 14 inches.
I have found that I enjoy my work most when I maintain my focus in that zone. I actually keep a short pencil and short ruler close at hand. I cut my hammer handles down and use a small bench block. Removing that difference as much as possible helps to make the process in synch with the objects I’m working on.
This concludes Part I, be on the look out for the posting of Part II!!
All Books&DVDs pictured above are available in store and online.
-Amelia Upton

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