Instructor – Jewelry/Metalsmithing
Bruce McKay found his passion for design early in life, and after more than 30 years, easily says, “I still love my work.”
Creating art has always been a part of Bruce. “As early as I can remember, I was sculpting materials into shapes, and was encouraged by my family to pursue my interest in art.”
A turning point came in a high school art class when his teacher introduced him to jewelry making. Within a week, he says, “I told my instructor that this is what I would be doing for the rest of my life.” That certainty continued during his four years at the University of Oregon, which he spent ensconced in the metal smithing studio under the tutelage of Professor Max Nixon, eventually earning a bachelor’s degree in art.
Bruce finds reward in both the art of jewelry making and in helping his clients. “To me, the greatest joy is helping a customer design a personal, one-of-a-kind piece that brings the wearer a lifetime of meaning and pleasure. I enjoy sitting down with my clients, getting to know the person and bouncing ideas back and forth,” he says. Recently, he has been creating pieces that layer gold and platinum and says the interplay of the two metals gives an exciting sense of movement and energy.
When Bruce is creating for himself, with no particular client in mind, he draws inspiration from nature for his jewelry, using flowers, animals and plants. “I like to observe and then find my own way of presenting these forms,” he says. For example, he turned his effort to a hibiscus, creating a gold brooch pin centered with tiny white pearls.
He is past president of the Creative Metal Arts Guild of Oregon, providing leadership within his profession. Bruce is also a graduate gemologist, which means that he is an expert at evaluating the integrity, grade, polish and cut of a stone.
Bruce continues to celebrate his craft and the special connections he has with his customers. “I love making jewelry that has special meaning. There is something very creative about making jewelry that people are going to wear for the rest of their lives,” he says. “Whether I am working with pieces that are heirlooms or new, I try to respect the piece, the person and the special occasion.”