Tim Van Schmidt

A close friend of mine is a Fort Collins jeweler. Much more than just “in the business,” this guy is a skilled and resourceful craftsperson.

This jeweler doesn’t have a shop, doesn’t have shiny glass cases full of beautiful bling, and doesn’t have regular hours. His hours are all the time, he works in a cozy home studio and he hunkers down daily over precious stones and rare metals, peering at the minute details through a magnifying glass.

I’ve seen him carefully setting the smallest of diamonds in a sparkling spray across a gold ring. I’ve seen a necklace he made with a silver bird in flight, a ruby glowing warmly above its head.

PHOTO BY TIM VAN SCHMIDT: Fort Collins crazy craftsman’s whimsical work

I also watched as the wedding ring he custom-made for my daughter slid right onto her finger at just the perfect moment.

But like many skilled craftspeople, who must work hard especially when they aim at remaining independent, my jeweler friend has taken in a significant amount of work over his career that pays the bills but may be low on the creativity scale.

For him, this was putting his decades of knowledge and experience into jewelry repair work, fixing problems created by other jeweler’s poor designs, mediocre work, and questionable materials — not to mention what the owners did once they started wearing the stuff.

He has done some custom work — like my daughter’s wedding ring — but also stuff like miniature steer heads and rings depicting Colorado 14ers. I’m not sure what stresses him out more — working on jewelry that was destined to break or making other people’s ideas come true, even as they keep changing their minds about what that is.

But apparently that is coming to a halt. My jeweler friend just declared that he was finally going to work on his own designs and to prove his point, he shut down another repair customer.

What does he want to make? Beautiful arrangements of stones and metal? No, he wants to make pieces with whimsy at its root — a ring featuring a boat or a sports car; a face pendant that looks like something out of Mad Magazine.

PHOTO BY TIM VAN SCHMIDT: Fort Collins crazy craftsman’s whimsical work

My jeweler friend has serious designs, but this funny stuff just seems to tickle him to no end. It’s just simply what he likes and I know that it is pretty close to his real personality.

What’s a little shocking about this is that in the face of the COVID virus changing the world, is this the best time to make a change? Is there currently a market for rings with boats and sports cars on them?

What I get, though, is that perhaps none of that really matters. For my friend, it is simply time to act. His head tells him to. His heart tells him to. And I think he’s going to do it.

I’m doing something similar perhaps. I’m writing for a newspaper again — The Scene Weekly-North Forty News. That’s my “thing I’ve got to do.”

For both my jeweler friend and me, though, I don’t think it’s a case of “do or die.” It’s just a case of “do.”

But enough about us. What about you? What’s your passion and are you ready to do what you want to do?

Tim Van Schmidt is a writer and photographer based in Fort Collins, Colorado. Hear his interviews with international musicians Youtube at “Time Capsules by Tim Van Schmidt.”