As I write this looking back on 2017, it was a year filled with a lot of excitement and new obstacles to navigate. This was my first full year as the newest member of the TCAA. While exciting, this was a goal I had worked diligently towards for several years, this ushered in not only new opportunities, but new responsibilities and demands to work into my schedule. I certainly didn’t want to drop the ball right out of the chute, so to speak.

For many years, I have run my business by going to a few, select shows each year for which I prepare inventory to sell and take custom orders. Over the years, this list of shows has changed and been refined as I have found what works, and my customer base has changed and expanded. This year, the task of creating 4 pieces of my best work for the Cowboy Crossings show was added to my list. My years of preparing for shows and the TCAA’s application process itself was a bit of preparation. For two years, I had already created 3 pieces of work, once when I got in, and once when I didn’t—so to some level, I already had experience balancing these “big” projects with income-producing activities and still prioritizing family time on the home front. Without the requirements and constraints of the application process the previous 2 years, I think this would have been overwhelming. Although stressful at times, it was exciting, rewarding, and well worth the effort.

For five years, my family and I had made the investment and effort to attend Cowboy Crossings at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. It was always inspiring and breathtaking to walk into that show the first night and see all the pieces displayed. Magnify that about a thousand times, when you walk in and see your own pieces behind the glass. Stuff gets real!! I tried not to act giddy like a tourist at Disneyland and reminded myself to “act like you’ve been there before, Compton” and to take it all in and enjoy it. One of the most rewarding parts, was taking my children to the family preview night so they could see a goal accomplished, as we had all worked as a family and sacrificed at times. Sale night was full of different emotions and one I won’t soon forget!

As my responsibilities increase, I am continually trying to improve my work and my product. Looking forward, I realize that you must always reevaluate the costs and benefits of where you spend your time and effort. There’s only so much time in a day, and you can’t do everything.

The TCAA’s mission is to preserve and promote the skills of craftsman within our disciplines. I got my first chance to participate in an educational venture at the Emerging Artist Competition at the High Noon Show in Mesa, AZ. Twice before, I had been a contestant. This year, it was quite an honor, yet humbling, to spend time with a great group of silversmiths judging and critiquing their work to help them reach their goals. I look forward to more of these opportunities.

Overall, my “Rookie” year in the TCAA was extremely rewarding. It was well worth the effort to set a goal and spend years toward it. I am excited about the projects I am working on this year, and to see what’s in store as the chapters unfold.