We Are All Apprentices in a Craft Where No One Ever Becomes a Master

June 6, 2010 at 11:40 pm (Artist Musings)

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” Ernest Hemingway

In 2003, I met polymer clay artist, teacher, and author Irene Semanchuk Dean. I brought her to Raleigh to teach a workshop for The Capital Area Polymer Clay Guild, which I helped establish. Irene became my friend and mentor, and I credit her for encouraging me to sell my work and helping me become a professional artist. Irene spent a lot of time giving me the advice and tools necessary to start my business. I knew then that the best way to pay her back was to pay it forward.

Since then, I have had the opportunity to help several other designers start their own businesses. Most of them sought me out and asked for help or advice. Many of them have since become my friends. 

"Letters" by Cynthia Luhrs

“Lauren’s advice and experience helped me from making newbie mistakes so I was able to focus more on growing my work,” says Cynthia Luhrs. “Having someone to bounce ideas off and provide feedback was also invaluable to helping me grow my career.”

Artist Kimberly Hodes says that one of the most valuable pieces of advice I gave her was, “decide what you are going to do and do it better than anyone else.”  She adds, “Success does not come without hard work. Once it comes, there is no resting on your laurels, it’s a continuous and ongoing struggle to keep your name and work in the public eye.”

Kimberly Hodes Designs

Both Cynthia and Kimberly say that I helped them, just as Irene had helped me, by giving them the tools necessary to properly price their work.

“Just starting out, I was much too low and Lauren really helped me out there,” says Cynthia.

“Price everything so that if someone approaches you about wholesale, you are ready,” adds Kim. “Don’t undersell yourself!”

Now Polymer Clay Artist Celie Fago and her apprentice Jennifer Kahn have made it easier for potential apprentices and mentors to connect by creating Apprenticementor.com.

“There’s a generation of established, successful, working crafts people who are trying to grow their businesses, to change with a changing world. There’s also a younger generation, brimming with potential, with native web skills, who are also seeking sustainability in a changing world, and a way to make a living from their hands but lacking the skills to do so. So it seems there should be a place where these folks can connect. Where symbiotic relationships can be formed. This is that place.” [Apprenticementor.com]

I know first hand the benefits of being both the student and the mentor and applaud Celie  and Kahn for creating an online “meeting place” for mentors and apprentices to find each other.

Both Cynthia and Kimberly say I taught them to push themselves to be better artists, and I have to say they both have done the same for me.

“I learned to trust my instincts in my work and continually push myself to better,” says Cynthia.

“Keep evolving, if you don’t change and grow, your customers will get bored and move on,” says Kimberly.

Lesson learned. Mission accomplished.


1 Comment

  1. Kids Craft Tools said,

    Were masters always men As the previous paragraph states, girls could be apprenticed, and so become masters. Kids Craft Tools


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