For the Love of Jewelers: A Jewelry Journey Podcast Presented by Rio Grande

S2-05: Scott Hardy, Always Looking for That Next Hill to Climb

June 18, 2021 Rio Grande Season 2 Episode 5
S2-05: Scott Hardy, Always Looking for That Next Hill to Climb
For the Love of Jewelers: A Jewelry Journey Podcast Presented by Rio Grande
More Info
For the Love of Jewelers: A Jewelry Journey Podcast Presented by Rio Grande
S2-05: Scott Hardy, Always Looking for That Next Hill to Climb
Jun 18, 2021 Season 2 Episode 5
Rio Grande

Scott Hardy comes from a strong lineage of ranchers. Following a childhood spent cowboying, shoeing horses and welding, Scott’s love of handiwork led to his tinkering in jewelry for bridle saddles and buckles, and even some early attempts at engraving. Yet it wasn’t until Scott was told, “Man, do you need help,” by one of his horse jewelry idols, that he began to appreciate the true dedication, skill and artistry involved in Western design. Four decades later, Scott Hardy is a renowned master silversmith, celebrated for his intricate filigree work, lifelike engravings and his dedication to preserving the tradition of Western jewelry techniques. The first silversmith to have his work featured on a Canadian stamp, Scott is an original founder of the Traditional Cowboys Arts Association (TCAA) and is showcased in museums around the globe. Saddle up for a podcast journey celebrating the artistry, tradition and future of Western design.

Show Notes Transcript

Scott Hardy comes from a strong lineage of ranchers. Following a childhood spent cowboying, shoeing horses and welding, Scott’s love of handiwork led to his tinkering in jewelry for bridle saddles and buckles, and even some early attempts at engraving. Yet it wasn’t until Scott was told, “Man, do you need help,” by one of his horse jewelry idols, that he began to appreciate the true dedication, skill and artistry involved in Western design. Four decades later, Scott Hardy is a renowned master silversmith, celebrated for his intricate filigree work, lifelike engravings and his dedication to preserving the tradition of Western jewelry techniques. The first silversmith to have his work featured on a Canadian stamp, Scott is an original founder of the Traditional Cowboys Arts Association (TCAA) and is showcased in museums around the globe. Saddle up for a podcast journey celebrating the artistry, tradition and future of Western design.

Courtney Gray:             Welcome to season two of For The Love Of Jewelers, a podcast connecting people engaged in the craft and industry of jewelry making, brought to you by Rio Grande, jewelry supplies and hosted by yours truly, Courtney Gray. While navigating through this time, we realize the need to stay home, be safe, and stay inspired. We are truly all in this together. I'm honored and excited to take you on this journey to discover not only the how, but why we make jewelry.

                                    My goal is not only to inform you, but to empower you by sharing the passion, perspective, and perseverance of your fellow makers and professionals in all facets of the craft. Let's dive in. Scott Hardy, a fifth generation stockman understands the dedication required to excel. In his 40th year of full time silversmith and engraver, Hardy was commissioned by the Calgary Stampede to create 100 hand engraved silver and gold buckles, commemorating the Stampede's 2012 Centennial.

                                    Canada Post issued a stamp featuring Hardy's buckle to celebrate the Stampede Centennial making, Hardy, the first silversmith work featured on Canadian stamp. To help young artists learn and to preserve the traditional cowboy arts of silversmithing, saddle making, rawhide braiding, and bit making and spur making, Hardy and 13 others founded the Traditional Cowboys Arts Association. Welcome to For The Love Of Jewelers, Scott, we're so pleased to have you joining us today, sharing your, like I said, your legacy, just your story, your background. We're excited to share that with the community. Welcome, all the way from Canada.

Scott Hardy:                  Thank you. It's fun to be here. It's fun to be asked to be here.

Courtney Gray:             There's nothing like getting a chance to talk about ourselves. I, personally, have no problem with that, and what makes us thrive and drive.

Scott Hardy:                  Exactly.

Courtney Gray:             You started out as a rancher, correct, and moved into silversmithing?

Scott Hardy:                  I started out as a horseman that helped ranchers out. My family comes from a lineage of ranching and horsemanship and on and on and on. Actually, that's the life I thought I was going to follow. I came out to work in the mountains in Banff National Park in 1972 as a guide and a packer. Packer is somebody that takes supplies back into the mountains to different tea houses and camps and stuff like that. When I got married in '78, decided that I had to make a change.

                                    I was still cowboying a little and shoeing horses for a living and welding and doing everything else, when my wife actually came across an article for night courses in basic silversmithing. I always loved working with my hands, and I thought that would be something that might interest me. It was 10 weeks, 3 hours a night, two nights a week. I took that, and then I took the intermediate course. I fell in love. I took the classes, they were fun. They were geared, of course, totally towards jewelry.

                                    My life as a horseman, I wanted to create horse jewelry for bridle saddles, buckles, so on and so forth. All the jewelry techniques were all for lighter materials. Using a little propane torch didn't quite cut it when you're soldering a lot of 16 gauge or heavier silver together, and long solder is not an eighth of an inch or quarter half an inch, but maybe four or five inches in one shot. I had to go to my expertise as a beginner welder and drawing some of that a little bit. It was fun to learn.

Courtney Gray:             Wonderful. Those first classes, I think, are so eye opening and usually, you get in there, it's like you either love it or you don't. Were you in love right away or was it a process for you?

Scott Hardy:                  No, I was in love right away. Anything that I could work with my hands and that made you think at the same time, I was I bought it totally. I wish back then, that was '79, when I started doing that. There was a jewelry school in Calgary, ACAD. I was married, didn't have the money to go. Actually, honestly, embarrassingly, I wasn't even aware of it. There was no place to taught engraving anything even close to that. I bought the books I could buy on it, and they were on all on engraving wise, were all on lettering, not for bright cut engraving. It became an experience.

Courtney Gray:             For sure, yeah. Engraving is such a process. I think it's definitely one that takes patience, which I would imagine working on a ranch, too. That's a full long day of work. Probably, I don't know, did that feed into your patience at the bench at all?

Scott Hardy:                  Yeah, dealing with animals teaches you patience. I mean, you can think and do whatever you want, if you're just trying to muscle them, you're going to end up hurting in the end. You might achieve a little dominance over them to begin with, but in the end, they're going to win. If you're good at what you do, if you appreciate your animals and your environment, then you learn to work with it and understand them. That definitely, for me, fed into silver work. If you want to learn patience, do silver work.

                                    Because if you want to ram and jam and push, you're going to get those results. If you don't take the time to understand your materials and its capabilities and how far you can make it go with your tongue stuck inside of your cheek, you're going to be in for a wreck. I worked a lot with steel when I was a kid. I never enjoyed steel, as much as I enjoyed precious metals. I just found that precious metals were almost alive. You could do so much with them and you could cook so much out of them, that it was extremely interesting to me.

                                    On the western side of life, sterling silver, silver has always played a huge, huge part in our culture and our history. When I think of you want to go back to the Spanish, they all carried silver on themselves and on their animals, would be it on the horse rosettes or on the side of their shops and comb shops back then. That was all used for money if they were ever in a bind. If you go to a lot of the horse cultures in South America like Argentina and that, they still carry on that tradition. To me, silver is always been the material of the west.

                                    To get to work with it is been a privilege. The people that I've met along the way, the truly great craftsmen that helped me with my reverence for the material, definitely treated it that way and looked at it with respect, not just a commodity.

Courtney Gray:             I really love that. I love hearing that, honoring the material and where it came from. Have you ever been out mining or found things in the earth that you were able to work with like that?

Scott Hardy:                  The only thing I can say that I've done that with is arrowheads. Where I was raised, we could always find arrowheads out on the prairies. I've incorporated a few of those in works along the way. Love it. I was really blessed. We talked about respect for materials. A quick story, when I was probably been in it about 10 years at that point, I met a man by the name of Al Pecetti from Reno, Nevada. At the time in the world of Western silversmithing, Al was the man, the king. I met him at a show in Flagstaff and exhibition. He invited me to his place. It took me a while to get there.

                                    When I finally got down to see him, his shop was just so intriguing. At that point, I was building bits and spurs and doing silver work, so metalwork and silverwork together, which a lot of guys still do. Al's shop was set up totally for silverwork. I noticed that and didn't question on it. He had a great friend that lived probably two miles away from a man by the name Al Tietjen, who at the time was probably known as the top bit and spur maker in North America. We went over to see Mr. Tietjen. Their first names were both Alvin. They both went by Al. I call them the Als.

                                    I went through both their shops, and went through Mr. Tietjen's shop. He was totally set up for doing metalwork, as Al was for doing silverwork. I noticed that. When we were done, we went in and sat down for a visit in Al's home. Through the conversation, one of them, I can't remember which, asked me about my hopes for my career. I told them about doing bits and spurs, and I told them about silverwork and on and on. I guess I was probably trying to impress him.

                                    They stopped me and said, "If you truly want to do these professions justice, pick one, become the best you can be at, show the respect it deserves." I never forgot that piece of advice. Actually, when I came home, I never built another set of spurs or a bit from that day on. I just dedicated myself to silverwork. So many people find one aspect and get really good at it, which I've done. I find with silverwork, if you truly engaged with precious metals work, I keep referring to it as silverwork, but if you always look for that next hill to climb, it's always there for you.

                                    There's always something to learn. At 40 years, I've raised vessels and fabricated flasks and made wedding rings and horse jewelry, and on and on and on. I am not close to learning what I could learn. I mean, when I look on the internet and I look at some of these people creating vessels or répoussé work or on and on, it blows my mind. I feel like I haven't even started, and engravers as well. There's so many different facets to engraving. You can do gun engraving style. You can transfer some of those styles to silver. There's all kinds of ways to go.

                                    If you don't understand those metals and where you're going, you're never going to achieve it. I've dedicated my life to trying to learn everything I can about the metals. I'm a long way from it, but anyway.

Courtney Gray:             Well, you were about 40 years, Scott, you were about 10 when you started, right? Trying to make up for that earlier.

Scott Hardy:                  I'm 64 now. It's not the downside. It's just one of those things that's a little bit of reality slapping in the face. If I can be in my shop another 15 years, I'd be an awful happy guy.

Courtney Gray:             Yeah. Well, there's that reality of time, and things don't last forever and including us. Is that part of why you feel the importance of passing down your skillset and ... Or did that hit you, I guess, at a certain time in your life, that the importance of passing down the legacy?

Scott Hardy:                  Well, that came along with ... There's a few things that fed into that. Number one, it was so damn hard for me to learn. When I started, nobody would show you anything. Other engravers, other Western silversmith, they were all closed shops, man. If you knocked on their door, they would cover their bench up. You go in and have a coffee and they'd never show you what they were doing. They wouldn't talk about the work, anything like that. It took me a long time to find somebody that would show me anything.

                                    Funny enough, first guy that showed me something with a saddle maker by the name of Chuck Stormes. He had a lot of friends that did silverwork for him. It was through him that I got to meet my first guy that I got to go to. Funny story there, too, the first person's work he showed me was a man by the name of Mark Drain, and it just literally blew my mind. It was the most beautiful work I'd ever seen. I said to Mr. Stormes, I said, "Can I go see this guy?" He said, "No, you're not good enough."

Courtney Gray:             Wow.

Scott Hardy:                  There's no way.

Courtney Gray:             Humbling.

Scott Hardy:                  Yeah, very humbling. Well, that's a good story, too, that young people should understand. When I met Chuck, I'd been doing it about three or four years, maybe two years full time. Man, I thought I was just kicking it, man. I thought I was the best out there. In my mind, I was my own protégé or protégé. I'd heard about this guy that used a lot of silver on his saddles and had some great clients. I just phoned him up and asked if I could come see him and he said, "Sure, come on over." We set a time. I brought a bunch of stuff with me.

                                    He said, "Well, you can lay it out on my bench here." I laid all my pieces out. Man, I was confident. I was positive that he was just going to tell everybody else to go away and just use my work. Well, he started looking my stuff over and he looked it over and he looked it over, and he lit his pipe, and he's dropped his chin, and he looked it over and he looked it over. After about 20 minutes of me being really uncomfortable, he turned around and said to me, "Man, do you need help."

Courtney Gray:             Wow. Not like, hey, do you need help? It was more like, man, you ...

Scott Hardy:                  Yeah. Well, man, you need help. At that point, I had the choice of saying who the hell do you think you are and taking my stuff and leaving. I said, "What do I need to do?" That started, actually, close to a 40-year friendship with Chuck. He got me into my first guy, a great old engraver out of Milton-Freewater, Oregon. I rode the Greyhound bus, took me two days to get to him. He charged me $100 a day, and I slept on a bed roll and an old trailer of his. I was there for a week and came back, and it was another, I think, three or four years before.

Courtney Gray:             Wow. Really, you put in some time there.

Scott Hardy:                  Well, I put in some time. I worked every day. I've always worked hard. I always enjoyed working hard. Where I was going with that, was there was no place to learn, there was no place to go and learn Western silversmithing at that point in time. When the idea that TCA came along, I was 17 years into my trade and known as one of the, I guess, top 10 silversmiths in North America at that point, whatever, for Western silversmithing, and that it always bothered me how hard it was to get started. The other guys in the room felt the same way.

                                    What we came to realize is that if we don't pass these trades on, they're going to die. By the secrecy being out there, instead of the trades becoming uplifting and better and better and better, the bar was actually getting lowered because nobody would teach anybody. It was all like a corporate secret. We felt we had to change that. First, we had to show people what the possibilities were out there, both the collectors and other craftsmen, that this work could cross the threshold and the fine art, literally. That's why we started our annual show.

                                    We wanted that at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, we wanted that to become someplace where collectors could come and see the possibilities. We're craftsmen starting and working craftsmen could come and also see the possibilities where the work could go and create a community where people would interact with each other. That was the impetus behind starting the traditional cowboy arts.

Courtney Gray:             Yeah. How many members do we have now on the TCA?

Scott Hardy:                  12.

Courtney Gray:             Guys, this is the traditional Cowboy Arts Association, up to 12 members.

Scott Hardy:                  It's an arduous process to get into the group that you have to be voted in by 75% of the membership. It's for the top end. People that have dedicated their life to it that are full time professionals, that they're not just making a living, they're making a life. They have to be willing to bring the best three pieces of their work every year to that show in Oklahoma, which is a huge demand, demand on the craftsperson because there's no guarantee of sale, and also to be available to teach, whether it's other craftsmen or the public, whomever. It's a lot of responsibilities.

Courtney Gray:             Part of that mission. I like that. Well, and like you said earlier, too, I think there's many groups out like this who are seeking that quality. I think it's important to set the tone for that, for sure. Push yourself further, push the envelope. I really liked reading that on your website and hearing from some of the other members that this really is the thing that pushed me to do better work and having to exhibit your work in front and get in front of your peers and the public, I think, is a really great way to do that. Just put yourself out there differently.

Scott Hardy:                  It's amazing. You walk into that room and there's anywhere from 40 to 60 pieces in there. I mean, you walk in that a room and the energy is just incredible, just the energy from the pieces. You walk in there and you look at that work and you can think that you're doing pretty good work. If you don't walk around that room and feel humbled, you're not a true craftsman. When I think of that show, so of course, last year was canceled, but we had 21 years that we've created over 800, one of one pieces for that show. Each one of them trademark with the TCA logo on it.

                                    That work wouldn't be there, that work wouldn't be out in the stratosphere without the TCA. It's really an achievement. You know what I mean? I mean, and for the artist, for the craftsman, just think about the weight of that show. If you say to somebody, okay, I want you to create your best three pieces this year. Alright, that's great. That's cool. You get to do it. It's exciting. I normally put six months into that show. Then your two comes along. Alright, we want you to create the best three pieces you've ever created. Well, I did that last year. Well, that doesn't matter.

Courtney Gray:             That was last year.

Scott Hardy:                  Yeah, that was last year, and they better be better than last year's. Now fast forward, that every year for myself and Cary Schwarz and Ernie Marsh, I'm silver and goldsmith. Ernie Marsh is a bit and spur maker. Cary Schwarz is a saddle maker. We're the three founding members that are still involved in that show every year. We've done that 21 years in a row.

Courtney Gray:             Wow.

Scott Hardy:                  You're never done learning. You're never done improving. Your mindset has to be, what can I do better? What can I do different? What can I do ... Personally, I get really restless when I don't see my work changing, when I don't feel it. It can be slight. It doesn't have to be huge steps. If you're not feeling like you're moving ahead, then I get grumpy. I feel like I'm failing.

Courtney Gray:             Yeah, start criticizing yourself. That's really the biggest person that we need to pay attention to, is how are we pushing ourselves forward and growing. It is one of those crafts too, and I think, really, any art form or fine art form, et cetera, takes that kind of dedication and openness. Jewelry is one of those that's just so broad. There's so many different facets to this one umbrella and technique of silversmithing, whatever you want to call it. You call yourself a silversmith?

Scott Hardy:                  Yeah, I call myself a silversmith. I'm just so in love with silver. I use a lot of gold. I love gold too. This would make people laugh. Gold is a redheaded stepchild to silver in my mind.

Courtney Gray:             Explain. You got to explain that.

Scott Hardy:                  Silver is just so exciting. I mean, look at what you can do with a piece of silver, the vessels you can create or the jewelry you can create or you can use it. It's strong enough to use as something you would put on a horses bridle and you can rub against the corral, and it's still good, a buckle that you can put on. The buckle I wear in my shop, I've been wearing every day for 30 years. Gold is fantastic, but number one, it's not affordable to do that with to create that much work out of.

                                    Number two, I mean, unless you're using low carat, you're not going to get the durability that you do with silver and probably made some guys mad now. Don't get me wrong, I love gold. I love the capabilities of it. I smelt all my own colors, incorporating it in work, whether it's three color gold scrolls or flower centers or whatever. It's an exciting material, but it's not as exciting as silver.

Courtney Gray:             Yeah, well the malleability of it, too, like you said, you can stretch it and push it. Now I was thinking about utilitarian work and how we talked about that, originally, how it's transformed from this utilitarian purpose to fine Arts, like you said, and I just love that idea. I guess, would you say silver is definitely more appropriate for those utilitarian pieces, of course, because it's less expensive?

Scott Hardy:                  That's the main thing. Yeah, less expensive. Utilitarian, there's a lot of different aspects in that, that mass production has, although it's made a lot of things more accessible. It's hurt in a lot of areas, too, where people, they can get to the point where they're looking at price because it's utilitarian, not the beauty. I think even though something is utilitarian, like a belt buckle, why can't it be beautiful? Why can't it be something that if you're getting dressed to go to a meeting, for example, you go to your closet and you find a shirt and, well, it's wrinkled. Heck, I'll wear it anyway.

                                    You find a pair of jeans, and it's ... Oh, they're okay, I put on five pounds, they're a little tight. Whatever, I'll wear them anyway. Then you put on a buckle and 500 other guys are wearing out there. You're just dressed, right? If you go to your closet and you find that shirt that you love to wear and you find a pair of jeans, it fits just right. You put your buckle on, that portrays your personality and who you are and makes you feel good when you touch it. Then you're ready to take on the world. That's what a lot of people miss. We talked about life is short.

                                    People used to spend a lot of time. They work very hard. You want to go back to the early 1900s and stuff, and people work very hard, a lot of labor jobs. The majority of people, when they came home, they had maybe one nice leather chair that they enjoyed sitting, maybe they had a nice book that they could pick up and feel and enjoy reading, maybe they had a pipe and the right tobacco that day could sit and enjoy the day for an hour, for two hours, whatever. Just relax and enjoy their surrounding.

                                    Whereas today, we've come to the point where we're in such a hurry, and you're at Walmart and you sitting in a plastic launcher. You bring that home and you're not enjoying those little moments in life that can make your life so much nicer. We've lost that. That's where, for me, in the Western world, it's important to help my clients capture that, to understand that and to feel a comfort in it. First, you have to understand that in the West, a lot of people were no other jewelry, but a buckle.

                                    A buckle is normally a sense of achievement or tell somebody who you are when you walk up to them. It's very important in our world. If I can create a buckle that captures whomever I'm creating it for, their personality, how they want to portray themselves, and give them comfort when they put it on, I want. That's what I'm here for. 100 years from now, if that buckle somebody's grandson or great grandsons wearing it, and every time they touch it, they think of grandpa. They're not thinking about me. That's what I want to create, something that goes from generation to generation.

Courtney Gray:             I love that. Yeah, it's what really makes it so special. You're painting such a beautiful picture for us with this image of us sitting with a pipe, Scott, in the leather chair with your belt buckle. I wonder if you can describe the area that you're in in Calgary, you're south of Calgary, correct?

Scott Hardy:                  Yeah. I'm south of Calgary, about 45 miles, right in the foothills. I can jump my horses in a trailer and be in the mountains in 15 minutes. If you've ever seen movie, Open Range, Unforgiven, those movies were all ...

Courtney Gray:             Legends of the Fall.

Scott Hardy:                  Legends of the Fall. They were all filmed right here. That's the area I live in.

Courtney Gray:             So beautiful.

Scott Hardy:                  It is. It is beautiful. It's very inspiring to me, because the area is ... It's got a great history. In the early days, people came here to ranch. It was like the oil boom of the 1800s. This would have been right after the Civil War, the 1870s up to the 1890s. There was a lot of cattle were drove from Texas to here, that's where the original cattle came from up here. A lot of the drovers stayed. A lot of people came from Europe to start big ranches here. It's a real eclectic mix of cultures right here. They've embraced it. I think most people have heard or seen Banff, Alberta, Lake Louise. Great, great, great resorts in the mountains here and they're all close to me. It's a great place. I enjoy it. It gives me a lot of comfort and a lot of inspiration.

Courtney Gray:             While I was reading on, it said you have big windows on all four sides of your studio. Is that the case? We can see ...

Scott Hardy:                  That's ...

Courtney Gray:             Have a great view.

Scott Hardy:                  Yeah, it's absolutely the case. I worked in a little shop. It was actually an old trailer. It was 10 feet wide by 30 feet long. I worked in that for 18 years. When I had the opportunity to create my shop, man, I took advantage of everything. I got windows on every wall, big windows, and I got skylights. I enjoy it. It's definitely my safe place. Let me put it that way.

Courtney Gray:             Are you in there working most of the days? Or what's your schedule like or what's a day like for you?

Scott Hardy:                  I work seven days a week, unless I have something else to do. I still got friends here that I go help work cows with. When that happens, I load the horse. Leslie and I, that's my wife, Leslie, she's a horse person too. We load the horses and go. Other than that, I'm in the shop. Because that's where I'm comfortable. That's what I enjoy doing. Again, sure, you get tired, but it's not a job. I'm always busy trying to figure out, well, how am I going to do that? Or what can I do to make that different? It's fun. I start every day, I get up in the morning.

                                    I like to get up just a little before 6:00 a.m. and I'll draw for an hour flowers and scrolls with my coffee, and then exercise and then go out to my shop. If I've got chores to do, I'll go do that first. I like to be in my shop between 8:00 and 9:00 in the morning, and I stay till 6:00 at night. If I'm really busy, I'll go back at night.

Courtney Gray:             You're eating though, right?

Scott Hardy:                  Yeah.

Courtney Gray:             Eating and using the restroom, right, Scott?

Scott Hardy:                  Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, I'm ...

Courtney Gray:             I know how that is, yeah.

Scott Hardy:                  I'm not that slim. Yes, I eat.

Courtney Gray:             Yeah. Well, I know how that is, when you just get at the bench and lose time. Like, oh my gosh, five hours just passed and you just so dedicated to the process or absorbed in it. It's hard to remember to get up and stretch sometimes.

Scott Hardy:                  Well, yeah, it is. I've paid for that over the 40 years. I do get up on the half hour, every hour, and just walk around my shop and sit does. Because it got to the point where I was getting so sore that it's not good. Anyway, I do do that. You talk about losing time, whether it's fabrication or engraving, I love to fabricate, but I absolutely love to engrave. Engraving is one of those things where I can sit down and I look up and, holy crackers, where's the time gone?

                                    It's engraving, we talked earlier about engraving, and I'll be honest, it took me eight years of engraving almost daily before I felt comfortable engraving, before I felt like I was, okay, I think I'm starting to get this mastered. Engraving is one of them things you have to pay attention to every cut or you're not going to make good cuts. I watch people that just go into robot mode or whatever, and everything gets looking commercial. I want mine to look like they have some life.

                                    Engraving, especially is about movement, is supposed to make you feel the movement when you look at that piece. It's supposed to tell you a story. It's supposed to the scrolls coming out of the flowers, look like it's natural and moving like nature. You can have a lot of fun just creating movement with that. It's definitely one of those, and overlay. I'll draw a lot of scrolls, flowers and scrolls and overlay them onto material, onto silver. Then sculpt, engrave and sculpt. That's right when I'm ... Man, I'm just having fun. Because you can create so much texture, you can create so much feeling in that, that it's exciting, just exciting.

Courtney Gray:             How do you compare sculpting to engraving when you say sculpting the metal?

Scott Hardy:                  Well, so there's different types I do. There's bright cut engraving, Western bright cut engraving, and that's you draw on the metals and you literally cut out of the metal. It's flat, and you're cutting into the metals. When I overlay, again, the scrolls and flowers are cut out, they're put on. There's different levels already. Then I'll take those same gravers that I used to engrave. If I've got a leaf, for example, I'll cut out, I'll sculpt. It's got a slope on it from the bottom to the top of the leaf. It moves like a leaf would move. Then when I'm done that, then I'll go back in with my other engravers. I'll put my lines in and my shading in and everything like that. It gives you just another opportunity to create depth and movement. It's fun. I do the same with filigree.

Courtney Gray:             Oh yeah, wow. I didn't realize you were doing filigree work as much as the engraving. That's very cool.

Scott Hardy:                  Yeah, I love filigree.

Courtney Gray:             You definitely have the patience for these techniques. I agree it takes time to get good at something. It's like picking up a pen and drawing. You're not going to draw a perfect flower the first time, you're going to draw a really sloppy one.

Scott Hardy:                  Well, and that's what people don't understand. It's not about how good you are the first time and it's not about how good you are last time, it's about how you improve each time you sit out. Drawing didn't come natural to me. I had to work hard at drawing. Once I started seeing results, once I started being ... I'll draw something and I'll lay it on the kitchen table. Every time I walk past it, I look at it. Every time I look at it, I think, well, now, if I just did this here, or what the heck was I doing there? I'll just pick up my pencil and correct it. It just slowly comes to you. I really, really enjoy my mornings with a nice cup of coffee and a pencil. It's fun. I'm not designing works to do in my shop. I'm just drawing for fun in the morning. It's different.

Courtney Gray:             Very different, yeah. As soon as you put that work, label on something. You were talking earlier, Scott, and it made me think of your ... It's a dedication. It's not a job. I was trying to come up with a word for what you were saying and you were speaking it. This doesn't feel like a job. It's fun. It's your happy place. I was thinking that word dedication feels better than work. You know what I mean? How do we label that?

Scott Hardy:                  Yeah. It's a life, not a living. Dedication is an important part of that. People don't get that. A lot of people think an artist just gets up and skips around and grabs a graver, a saw, and just creates something. Well, there's a lot of effort goes into that. There's a lot of dedication. You have to be disciplined, as well as dedicated. I'm in my shop that same time every day, except Saturday and Sunday. I go in later on the weekend. I knew from the beginning, if I wasn't tough in that way, you won't achieve.

                                    I forget the writer's name, but somebody was asking him, "Do you only write when the mood strikes you?" He said, "Absolutely." I'm very blessed because then the mood strikes me at 9:00 every morning.

Courtney Gray:             Convenient. Yeah, it is. I mean, you're the one ... Got to discipline yourself to get at the bench and just get in the studio, pick up the pen.

Scott Hardy:                  I enjoy pleasing other people. In other words, I can create stuff to just please me, but that doesn't push you creating something to please somebody else. You'll hear a lot artists say, "Well, I just want to do what I want to do." Okay, that's fine, you're going to have a lonely life and it's going to be boring. Because I've learned more from customers' orders or ideas. My job, as a professional, is if somebody comes to me and says, I would like this and I want this incorporated and that incorporated.

                                    It's my job, as a professional, to create something that is satisfying and beautiful and makes them happy. If I can't do that, I've failed as a professional. You got to have a lot of quivers and a lot of arrows in your whatever to get that done. Each commission you get teaches you a little and helps you step a little further down that road. There's people that will come with ideas, and there's a big difference. Somebody comes to me and they've got the whole thing designed and they want to just like this and they want to just like that, but they're not looking for me.

                                    They're just looking for a craftsman to create something that they want. If they come to me with ideas and they let me ... I'm not saying I just take over and don't let them have input, I create something around it and happily show them and get their approval. You know what I'm trying to say? If they're not coming to me for my creativity, then they're in the wrong place. On the same token, part of my creativity is to satisfy their wants. It's a fine line.

Courtney Gray:             Yeah, for sure. We're running out of time here, Scott, do you want to share a little ... I would definitely want to make sure we have some time to talk a little more about TCAA and what you guys are envisioning for the future of this organization. I love the fellowships. What is this mom's scholarship? I'm a mom. I got to ask, Scott.

Scott Hardy:                  Well, we've got a fella in the group, John Willemsma. He's actually the president right now. John's mom, his father passed away when he was quite young. I think his mom was almost 50 years old. She went back to school and became an RN and supported the family. I think there was five kids. She passed away in her 90s. John created that scholarship to honor his mother. It's offered to female craftsmen. It's not a huge scholarship, it's 1500, helps you get to somebody that no matter what your discipline is, they can help you for a few days or a week, and maybe put you on the right trail.

                                    The TCA itself is the individuals on it are just extremely talented craftsmen, extremely, and dedicated to the core, every one of them. It's such a pleasure to be around. They're hard guys. They're tough guys, because you have to be to get to where they are in their careers. The fact that they open up and help so many people is just ... People have a misconception. They see all these guys that have worked so hard, none of us are young. I mean, in that group, you've got to be a master to get in that group. At the very least, you have to be a master.

                                    There's very few guys in there under 50 years old, when they get in. I see people at shows and stuff that at our show, which is, the whole idea in that show is to have a weekend to celebrate Western craftsmanship and for collectors and craftsmen alike. I see young craftsmen standing back, nervous to talk to these guys. I can't count the times when I've seen one of these great craftsmen just walk over and start talking to a young guy, a young person, I should say, not always guys, and engage with them and answer questions and encourage.

                                    Again, we're trying to create a community. The caveat is, you got to work hard to get in that community. If you show that dedication and that want and desire, we're there to help. That's it. We're not willing to compromise, we're not going to let you in because you're a nice guy. We're going to enjoy you because you're a nice person. If your work isn't there, we're going to try and help you get your work there. For example, I just talked about John Willemsma. He's a saddle maker. He applied six times to get in, six times. You can only apply once a year.

                                    You bring your work to our fall meeting. You're interviewed by the group, and then you go out of the room and your work is exhaustively looked over. Your resumes checked out, your interviews talked about, and you come back in and we tell you whether you've made it into the group or not. Well, John applied six times. On the sixth time, he got in. Each other time, he was refused. We didn't just say, your work is not good enough, leave. It was up to him to come to us. When he showed that interest that he wanted to learn, everybody helped him. Every year, they helped him until his work hit that mark where it was good enough. We've got another fella that applied nine times. Same thing. It's an achievement to get in the group and it's ...

Courtney Gray:             Yeah, quality, perseverance. I love it. Do you have a favorite teaching moment? Do you get in there and teach? Well, of course, when we can be in-person again. Have you had a chance to work with an intern or student that you have a story to share about?

Scott Hardy:                  Well, one of our fellowships. Our fellowships are ... It's a value of $12,000. The whole group votes on, normally, two fellowships a year. When it's awarded, the people get to come. For example, in the silver world, they come to me, Beau Compton, and Mark Drain. We split that up through the year, maybe two or three times. Well, last year, we had two in the silver category get in, Tanner Crow and Jodi Brown. She's from Washington, Jody, and Tanner is from Oklahoma. It's just a couple of great young people. They're coming to see me. They're coming in January, in Alberta. I don't think Tanner Crow has ever seen zero in his life, weather wise. They show up. It's literally 30 below.

Courtney Gray:             Whoa.

Scott Hardy:                  30 below 0. Yeah, it was a cold snap. The look on their faces, when they got out of the truck, it was pretty fun. We had such a great week in the shop. We just had so much fun. We laughed. Each of them built a buckle, start to finish. I worked with each of them and engraved it. We had a lot of fun. We had a lot of fun. For me, when I get excited is when I see my students get excited. I've had students that after about day two, you figure out they're just here to try and impress you and to say they've been there. I don't get excited about that. When I have somebody in my shop that I can tell that I'm going to help make a life, then that's exciting to me.

Courtney Gray:             Yeah, I'm hoping you guys can get back to teaching soon and continuing on the legacy of the Western jewelry and utilitarian products. I think it's just so cool to see all the engraving work and how it's grown over the years. Truly, it is a fine art, I believe.

Scott Hardy:                  Again, to take something that people view as utilitarian and turn it into art is a huge fun, all on its own.

Courtney Gray:             Yeah, I love the idea of this, this everyday pieces that they can feel, though I love the weight, personally, the weight of the metal and knowing that I have it on. I've been wearing the same necklace for 20 years now, 15 years or something, and it just like a part of me.

Scott Hardy:                  As you would know, there is a life to it. There's a ... I don't want to sound too hippy-dippy, but there's a vibe that comes off, an energy that comes from somebody that has created it. It's not a machine and there's not 100 of them out there. There's one, and somebody created that with intent and care and love. That's, in itself, deserves respect and admiration.

Courtney Gray:             Absolutely. You're right. It's not hippy-dippy. It's true. I think it does send out an energy. You can feel that time and energy that was put into the piece, if you're open to it, anyway. Well, Scott, what a pleasure. I feel like we could do another hour of just hearing from you. Oh my gosh, maybe we'll do that in the future. When I'm in Canada, I want to tour. I want to get on the horse with you.

Scott Hardy:                  Absolutely. We'll have some fun. You come up here. It's a beautiful country. There's lots to see. You come up, you're more than welcome.

Courtney Gray:             I'll be right over. Scott, tell us where to find you, find you on the web. You guys, definitely, check out Scott Hardy's work if you haven't heard of him or seen his work. It's really, really special, just beautiful intricate designs. Scott, tell us where we find you these days.

Scott Hardy:                  Well, my website is I'm on Instagram. Just @scotthardysilversmith, Scott Hardy Silver / Goldsmith on Facebook. You can find me in any of those three places, plus the TCAA website. 

Courtney Gray:             Yeah, it's a big website. Is the new one here? Or is this the new one or is it not quite yet? Think you're updating it, right?

Scott Hardy:                  Yeah, the new one will be about another three weeks. It's going to be exciting. It'll be a nice unveiling. If anybody listening to this that's interested, just keep checking back to the TCA website. You'll have fun when the new one comes on.

Courtney Gray:             Yay! That's You guys can see all the opportunities they're offering and the things that they're adding, and fellowships, and education, memberships, and all of that information can be found there. Scott, many, many thanks. You really made my day. I'm just tingling from some of the things that you said and the way you explained the quality and the comfort of these works. Thank you so much. Keep making, doing what you do, but get up and move around. Don't forget to stretch.

Scott Hardy:                  Thank you, Courtney, and thanks to Rio Grande for making this possible.

Courtney Gray:             Absolutely. It's our pleasure and onward and upward, my friend. We'll talk to you soon. Thank you so much. Thanks for tuning in, you guys. I hope you have enjoyed this episode of For The Love Of Jewelers. Stay tuned for the next episode by subscribing through Spotify, iTunes, or by searching podcast at I encourage you to rate us, read review, and share with friends and colleagues. I hope you're all finding ways to stay inspired. I'm your host, Courtney Gray, until we get to connect again onward and upward.