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Home » News » FSU Art BFA ’18 Emily McCullers Kelly’s Internship at the Master Craftsman Studio

FSU Art BFA ’18 Emily McCullers Kelly’s Internship at the Master Craftsman Studio

Published May 8, 2017

While choosing my class schedule for Spring, I found myself determined to make this last semester of undergraduate classes both challenging and meaningful. On the Art Opportunities web page provided by Florida State University, I came across a scholarship opportunity to work as an intern with the Master Craftsman Studio in Tallahassee, Florida. I have heard from mentors and other students in my cohort about their positive experiences with the studio, and I immediately found myself determined to apply. Before my interview, I was given a very informative tour of the studio by Sarah Coakley. After seeing all of the amazing projects they were working on, the various mediums they use, and the collaborative studio system they have in place, my desire to work with them grew even more. Unfortunately, I did not get the scholarship, but I asked if they would accept having a second new intern anyway. They very generously said yes! This experience alone taught me the importance of “just asking” in creating opportunities for oneself.

As a BFA student with a focus in drawing and printmaking, the allure of working with sculptural glass projects, workshop equipment, and hazardous chemicals was all a little nerve-racking. I was excited by the challenge of learning about these things, but it was all very unfamiliar. The Master’s working in the studio took me under their wing as a pupil, and graciously guided me through each new process by using a hands-on learning approach. They did not just tell me what to do, but also showed me. The motto I would best use for this learning style is “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

During the first week of my internship, I was flabbergasted by the amount of confidence and involvement the interns have in directly working on the studios commissioned projects. On my first day, I helped the other interns with ripping up kiln fibers for a table project they were working on. I also helped with rolling out slabs of oil clay, cutting glass, and with making samples. There was never a time I didn’t have anything to do, and the diversity of each task made it so I learned many new things at once. To aid with remembering this information, I kept a journal with me to take notes. Over the next few days, we went to the facilities building, and I was shocked by how big the kiln was. It is honestly the biggest kiln I have ever seen! I aided in cutting and laying down the kiln paper, and helped with determining the aesthetics of the piece before it was fired in the kiln.

Through this experience, I also learned the importance of professionalism, shop maintenance, and various ways of discussing the business side of art making with clients. This information is extremely important to know for when I have my own professional art practice. I would definitely like to do another internship with them within the next few years, and I am so happy with the friends I have made. I love the role they have in creating public art within the community, and how I get to see it almost daily on different routes I take around town.

In the future, I will be completing the Masters in Art Education program with Florida State University. I love teaching, and seeing those little “aha” moments in a student’s eyes. I had many of these moments during the internship, and it was extremely rewarding.