Kathleen's Shield photo

Kathleen Alden Smick - Biography

It seems Kathleen's entire life prepared her to become a jewelry artist.  Seemingly unrelated experiences in photography, mechanical design, bead work, rock collecting and inspiration from nature, found focus in jewelry making as a wonderful medium for her creativity and imagination. 


Kathleen grew up in a unique part of Southern California, a still somewhat rural part of Glendale.  She earned an Associate of Arts Degree with a Certificate in Photography from Glendale College in 1974.  Additional courses included: jewelry, art and mechanical drafting.  She moved to the inspiring Colorado mountains in 1978, supporting herself as a mechanical drafter, ski instructor and portrait photographer.  She spent winter nights doing beadwork and sculpture, and summers roaming the west as an aspiring landscape photographer.  One summer she took off with her bike to do a three month solo tour through Europe and take pictures of as many sacred sites and castles as she could. 

In the 1990's Kathleen moved back to California.  She felt it was time to be closer to her aging parents living in Glendale.  She settled in the nearby rural art town of Ojai, earning a living in mechanical design drafting.  She continued to do landscape photography, but felt a need for an additional outlet for her creativity.  The art work of Heyoka Merrifield, Susan Seddon Boulet, Roger Dean, Courtney Davis and others, gave her inspiration, but the direction wasn't clear. 

When Kathleen was young, one of her favorite things to do with her Mom was to look through her jewelry box.  And, one of her fondest memories of her Dad was when he showed her his rock collection.  After inheriting both collections, a new path glimmered on the horizon. 

In 1999, serendipity lead Kathleen to become an apprentice to the jewelry artist Heyoka Merrifield.  That summer she found herself at Heyoka's studio in the beautifully serene Bitteroot Valley of western Montana.  The two-week long, one-on-one approach to teaching, preferred by Heyoka, gave Kathleen the rare chance to focus on the fabrication technique of jewelry making.  She was attracted to Heyoka's mix of technically complicated design, fine craft, and his unusual mix of: symbolism, archetypes, and themes from native cultures.

In 2000, Kathleen set up her own studio in Santa Barbara, California.  After two more summers with Heyoka, she began to focus full-time on what has become an all consuming passion.  She is now on the board of Heyoka's Earth and Sky Circle foundation.  Kathleen and Heyoka have shown work together in New York and California.

In 2004, she started a new line of rings.  She was awarded First Place in the Visual Arts Division from the John E. Profant Foundation for the Arts..  (Pauline Award).  And, she was hired by the Santa City College Adult Education Jewelry Arts Program, as a teaching assistant.

She lives on a rural hill top near the sacred sites of the Chumash indians with her partner Kelley and 3 cat companions.  When her cats let her, she still roams the West in search of perfect stones, jewelry workshops and, yes, the perfect landscape.

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© 2004-2007 Kathleen Alden Smick  >^^<