Image via Wikipedia

There is a lot of talk in the craft community about what makes one a “master_____.”  We hear about students, sometimes about apprentices, but no one talks about being a journeyman.  One does not simple take a class and then move from student directly to master.  There is an in between step, one where you travel from being an apprentice to being a master – journeyman.  Wikipedia has a wonderful description:

A journeyman is a trader or crafter who has completed an apprenticeship. A journeyman was a craftsman who had fully learned his trade and earned money but was not yet a master. To become a master, a journeyman had to submit a master work piece to a guild for judgment. If the work were deemed worthy, the journeyman would be admitted to the guild as a master.

This is the level I see myself at right now.  Yes, I will always be learning and taking classes, but I’m past the beginner phase of my career.  I teach now also.  But I know that I’m still not at master level.  I can see it in reach if I continue to put in the hours in my studio and keep pushing myself.  I don’t think that there is a specific number of hours (say 10,000 or 10 years) that will make me a master.  It’s the quality of my journey that will bring me to that level.

As yet untitled Collar VI ©2011 sterling silver, agate - This series of collars has helped to refine my soldering skills.

In this country, we don’t have one guild that judges us master.  The Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen has a system of judging members work into “juried status.”  This is probably the most similar to what Wikipedia was talking about.  In Europe there are still places that will decide if you are a master metalsmith.  I know that I am not ready for that kind of judgement yet.  But I will continue to learn new techniques, practice and improve the ones I know, and hopefully progress down the path to master metalsmith.  Won’t you join me on my journey?

What about you?  Do you have a particular idea of what makes someone a “master” in your (or any) chosen field?  Is it truly just the number of hours one puts in or is the quality of the time spent as Lisa Call suggested recently on her blog?  Leave your opinion in the comments and keep the conversation going.

One thought on “Journeyman

  1. Great point, Wendy. I don’t think we can skip the hours put in, but the 10,000 hour calculation seems suspicious from an art point of view. That’s about 5 years of traditional full-time on-the-job experience. Master to me implies not only teaching others but a lifetime of experience. I think I’m just going to enjoy the journey (ooh, hence the name!) for now.


Comments are closed.