Joel Nichols

I grew up a few miles from the historic birthplace of Minnesota-Stillwater. It was a neighborhood full of free range boys my age and we had unfettered access to my dad’s modest woodworking shop. I’m not sure there’s a more dangerous scenario than a wood shop with a handful of unsupervised 10 year olds. Not dangerous in the personal injury/lawsuit sense but dangerous in the what they might actually build sense. Medieval weaponry was our specialty. Not for use on each other, although extensive testing was done on our sister’s barbies and various garden vegetables, we mostly armed ourselves for the Bigfoot that lived in the woods by our houses. Most of our expeditions began in the shop building whatever we thought we needed. We needed a lot!

In between Bigfoot expeditions I would “help” my dad on his construction projects. I really didn’t enjoy it very much and I’m quite sure I was way more trouble than I was worth. My dad always said “if you don’t like this kind of work you should go to college and get an education.” So that’s exactly what I did and my last semester I needed an art class in order to graduate. I ended up taking a jewelry class and I loved it! I was pretty good at it too. The connection between my imagination and my hands was made at a very early age. I remember the professor laying out the parameters for the pieces and as he’s talking I’m designing the piece in my head. When he was done everyone else would start drawing and I would start building. I ended up with an A in the class.

The jewelry class made me realize I had something to say artistically. I really enjoy process of applying my skills to my clients’ needs. They often times present me with a project I would never have thought of and I will deliver a piece they never would’ve imagined either. I really enjoy being pushed in this way. It’s not about just thinking outside the box but sometimes it’s about pulling someone else outside their own box as well.

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