My first experience with making jewelry was when I was 16 years old and working for the summer at Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimmaron, New Mexico. My first piece of jewelry was a silver and turquoise bracelet. I was a junior at The University of Tulsa when I took a jewelry class. Then I got the opportunity to go to Western Illinois University in Macumba, Illinois to do a graduate assistantship in jewelry and metal-smithing.

My inspiration comes from reacting to stones, materials, surfaces, textures, and colors. The only profession I ever wanted was to be a creative individual and share that with students. So to be an American Craftsman was it for me. To work in a cross section of materials from little perceived value to materials with great intrinsic value is quite an honor. The material is secondary to the experience I have while manipulating the “stuff.” That is part of the fun, the road you go down and where it leads you.

When I was teaching at Tulsa Community College, I always shared honestly what it will take to be an artist/craftsman and the lifestyle one might lead. It is not an easy path but it has always been an exciting path, one which will ask, “how bad do you truly want it?” My work has changed as I have evolved through my work. I try to reinvent myself every decade. This summer I decided to go in new directions with my jewelry by being more playful and following my nose. This has been a great summer for me in my studio.

I have a love for the found materials one can find by looking around on the street and in trash cans. I also like to do functional work that might end up in an organization’s hand to share as recognition for something achieved. In addition, I love making jewelry that people can enjoy wearing. It is always nice when you unexpectedly see your artwork on someone that you have never met. That is a huge compliment. Being an artist and being me is interchangeable. It is one package.

-Bill Derrevere