Path Less Traveled: Metals and Jewelry Design Alum Pauses Career to Earn Exploratory MFA

Posted August 21, 2017 in Alumni, Product Design, Metals & Jewelry Design

Graduates of Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University’s (KCAD’s) Allesee Metals and Jewelry Design program typically enter the field right away, finding careers as independent or commercial jewelry designers, goldsmiths, and more.

Caitlin Skelcey (’11, BFA Metals and Jewelry Design/BFA Painting) followed that same path, but after working in the industry for a few years after graduation, she realized she had some unfinished exploration to tend to.

This spring, Skelcey graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s (UIUC’s) MFA Metals program, one of the most intense and selective graduate metals programs in the country. In her time in UIUC’s research-intensive program, she focused on developing experimental materials that could open up new possibilities for 3D fabrication technology. Her MFA thesis exhibition showcased the results of her experimental process.

Caitlyn Skelcey at grad schoolCaitlin Skelcey poses with some of her graduate thesis work at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (credit: Phil Renato) 

Prior to pursuing her MFA, Skelcey worked as both a Metals and Jewelry Technician and a FLEXlab Technician at KCAD, where she first began to mine the potential of 3D fabrication and broadened her perception of jewelry and the concept of adornment.

Allesee Metals and Jewelry Design Program Chair Phil Renato believes firmly in the program’s approach to professional readiness, but also encourages students pursue their craft with an exploratory approach similar to Skelcey’s.

“Caitlin’s graduate work highlights what I have always hoped for the program: that we help students balance skills in craft, form, and content to suit their individual objectives,” said Renato.

work by alumna Caitlin Skelcey(above): More of Skelcey's MFA thesis work; (below): Skelcey in her studio at UIUC (credit: Phil Renato) 

Alumna Caitlin Skelcey in her graduate studio

During its run at UIUC, Skelcey’s MFA thesis exhibition grabbed the attention of Smile Politely, Champaign-Urbana’s online magazine. Read the article, found here, to learn more about her work, her process, and her plans for the future.


See more of Caitlin Skelcey’s work at

Learn more about KCAD’s Allesee Metals and Jewelry Design program here