On a quiet side street just off Bozeman’s main drag, there is a little studio where the magic happens. The area feels like a great place for a dentist office or attorney, but, in fact, this is the workspace for Sam Ferraro, a local craftsman of fine jewelry for over 50 years.
My coworker, Chris and I, met at Sam’s studio on a cold and cloudy January morning with snow in the forecast. We walked past Sam’s old white pickup and walked in the door of the studio without knocking. Gabe, a wiggly spaniel wearing a little red harness, whose nub of a tail vibrated more than it wagged, greeted us as soon as we walked in.
Sam Ferraro emerged out of the back room, coat and black hat in his hands. He wore cowboy boots layered under Wrangler jeans, shirt tucked in. He hitched his outerwear on a hook by the door and we shook hands. This was our first time meeting.
I’ve been thinking about this conversation with Sam for a few weeks now. There’s not much to be found about his work or personal life. All I could learn in my research is that he has been crafting fine jewelry since the early 1970s. As a young artist myself, I had some questions. How does someone stay creative during a lifelong career like Sam has? What is it like to merge your creative passion with your livelihood? How do you strike a balance between being your own boss and being an artist?