Most artists only dream of the day they can walk away from their job to do what they love for a living.
Carrie Story, the featured metal clay artist in the Mary G. Burr Art Gallery at the Cheraw Community Center this month, has done just that. Only her dream evolved from an after-work beading hobby rather than a starving artist scenario.
What changed her life and her career? Silver!
Story smiles as she talks about the craft she has been perfecting for more than five years now. She has done some work in other metals such as copper, bronze, steel and brass; but prefers the more predictable results she gets with silver. She sounds almost like a character from the movie Goldmember as she talks about it. “I love the silver, I can’t give it up!” said Story.
Story said she discovered her love for creating silver jewelry by accident, when she enrolled in the wrong class nearly six years ago. “I thought I was signed up for a metal smithing class. I took the wrong class.”
That accident, plus a move from California to North Carolina, have enabled Story and her husband to scale back on their living expenses, so that she no longer has to work the 9 to 5 full time medical insurance job she had in California. “Every where is cheaper to live than California,” Story said.
Metal clay, as Story explains, is pure silver that is pulverized into powder form so that it looks and performs much like pottery clay. “You can do anything you can imagine with it,” said Story. “You can carve it like clay, or you can sculpt with it. It’s extremely versatile.” And then, once you get the shapes or designs you want, a hand held torch is all that’s needed to turn the silver clay to solid metal, as the additives simply burn away.
Story was honored with a reception in the gallery last Thursday, and this Thursday evening, Sept. 12, she will be in town again for an Adult Art Night project at the Oyster Bar on Second Street in Cheraw. For a $25 registration fee, participants will be given their small portion of silver clay from which they will fashion their own pair of earrings.
Story’s work is showcased in fine boutiques and galleries in Asheville, Winston-Salem, and other cities in North Carolina. This fall she will again be a featured artist at the International Trade Show known as the Tuson Gem Show. She plans to teach workshops out there for a two week period.
For more information about the artist, or to sign up for the Adult Art Night this week, contact Lindsay Bennett, executive director for the Cheraw Arts Commission at 843-537-8420. The Cheraw Arts Commission is funded in part by the South Carolina Arts Commission, the Chesterfield County United Way, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
— Staff Writer Karen Kissiah can be reached by calling 843-537-5261, extension 224, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.