There’s something inherently powerful about milestones in one’s life. Birthday, Anniversary- or some other day of random importance, they make  you really focus on the time that’s passed. Often in excruciating detail, dredging up long-forgotten emotional echoes of events that I wouldn’t change even if I could. And yet… I can’t help thinking…

Yesterday was a milestone for me, and it got me re-examining all the things that have changed in my life, and particularly in my studio. Eight years ago, I was making jewelry like this:

handmade silver cat pendant

This was the first piece that I created, and I enjoyed making it- but it wasn’t the consuming passion that I have for jewelry now. I looked at jewelry as a tedious product that people were inexplicably excited about. Incredible, I know, but I didn’t understand at that point. No, my passion was reserved for these:

Forged Steel and Copper RoseForged Copper and Steel RoseForged Copper and Steel Rose

My roses. Forged copper and steel lovelies that would twine themselves through the half empty woodshed where I was working at that point. I used a  nearly three pound hammer, instead of a three ounce hammer….Steel and copper instead of precious metals… It was hard, physical, work. I wound up with calluses on calluses, and near permanent mild burns.

I loved what I forged, though. I loved waking up knowing I was going to be working hard to create something beautiful, surrounded by flame and the beat of my hammer. Forging steel has this rhythmic beat that goes to your soul- and it’s not something you ever forget.

But forging steel is also this big chunk of your life. It takes over and consumes hours upon hours at a time, time that must be fully focused or something will go dangerously wrong. Like you wind up with third degree burns, or wrench a shoulder/wrist/what-have-you and require months of physical therapy. Not to mention destroying your project beyond recovery. Did you know that steel burns? It does. Blackened and cracked beyond recovery…

Eight years later, all the passion I felt for my forging has been somewhat subsumed by my new understanding for jewelry. I still look at my large tools, carefully set aside- and I will go back to them at some point. The fires of that passion are only banked slightly, waiting until my focus can widen again.

My new love echoes the joys I felt then- but in entirely new ways. Silver and gold do not require the rhythmic forging that is needed for steel- but they ring so incredibly beautifully that one seems to keep hearing the chime even days later. Is it a bad sign to know that one’s heartsong is filled with the beat of forging steel and the glorious ring of forged gold and silver?

I hope not.

My echoes have only brought me comfort this time. I have no regrets or wistful sighs for my previous passions. I love what I do, however I may forge, and I know I will continue to do so in the next eight years as well.

Has your passion changed? Have you woken up one morning and been struck by the difference?