The ‘I also’ phenomenon.
I read an article recently that talked about how many women do lots of jobs, and when you ask for a list they’ll say ‘I do this thing, and this thing and I am also a …’
I’ve noticed that for lots of women the ‘I also’ job is often a completely separate career; they might say, ‘I am a Marketing strategist and I consult for companies about best practice and in the evenings I also perform as a Trapeze Artist.’
Well I’m not quite that dramatic with my ‘I also’ job but this is mine, I’m a professional Goldsmith, I make bespoke pieces, I have two online shops and a little actual shop, and I also make films about craft!
When I first went to college a long time ago in 1995 I studied Contemporary Arts, and I specialised in Film and Video. I liked Nick Broomfield and Molly Dineen and my naive, innocent teenage self pictured a life making interesting, arty documentaries about craft. Fast forward a few years experiencing the reality of media in the 90’s and I found myself making very dry, dull programmes for Insurance Companies about the price index, and having to film lecherous, red-faced old men. Fun fact - I once met (Sir) Philip Green and he groped me in a lift.
Obviously this was not what I planned so eventually I bought myself a week long, learn how to make jewellery holiday class and promptly fell completely in love with the whole of metal craft. I did evening classes and then a day a week learning and eventually I went back to college and did an HND in Jewellery and silversmithing. I had lessons once a week with a master Goldsmith in Birmingham and set up my business, and that, as they say, was that. My behind-the-camera days were over.
But the world has interesting ways of throwing people together, and when I met my partner Ford I found a way to use those skills again. Ford’s craft is very niche and unusual, he is the world’s leading expert in Japanese Metalsmithing, and he makes and restores sword guards, sword fittings and Japanese antique artefacts for people, museums and collectors all over the world. It’s a fascinating field and because he is so accomplished many craftspeople and lay people follow his work online. They want to know what he is doing, they want to see the things he is making and they also want to learn the skills he has. He also has a very peaceful way and an awful lot of people seem to follow him for a kind of meditation in an often too fast-paced world.
So that is where I come in! One way that we can offer people this insight into the craft is to document the techniques he can show, and we have found people are delighted to follow along with classes, watch films about pieces he has made, and generally keep track of his work. He has a YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/fordhallam and a Patreon channel https://www.patreon.com/FordHallam where people subscribe and so part of my monthly work these days is to make beautiful, careful documentary films all about the craft of metalsmithing, which of course I love. I think I have a unique eye because I know how to frame a shot, how to edit and how to tell a story, but I also know what the artist and what the craftsperson want and in fact need to see, in order to learn a technique or understand how something is being accomplished.
There is a wonderful joy of looking at something through a macro lens, and sometimes we are so close up that we can see things in even better detail on screen than Ford can when he is actually working on them. It is a thrill and a privilege to be able to create those images for people to enjoy.
Throughout my life I have felt a residual sadness that I wasn’t making the films I so wanted to make, in the heady days of youth when you think you can be anything…but now thirty years later I am finally able to say, ‘I also make craft documentaries.’
I know there are lots of other people with segmented careers like this and I would be really interested to hear about your, ‘I also’ if you have one.