Thursday, September 9, 2010

still here

Yes, the Metalsmiths Unite blog is still here- I'm simply waiting for MU members to do interviews-
I think we have some good stories out there...come on, don't be shy!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Ginger Meek Allen

Today's Blog is an interview with Metalsmiths Unite member Ginger Meek Allen- Enjoy!

How would you describe what you do as an artist?
I am a storyteller. I speak metal.
Art jewelry is the most intimate of art forms. We wear it on our bodies, often because we associate it with something precious in our lives. Or, perhaps it’s just a simple aesthetic statement. Either way, it tells a story. Preserving and honoring that story is my goal.

I am a custom metalsmith. I create commissioned pieces as well as one-of-a-kind pieces for retail sale. I occasionally do limited production lines. And, when the muse is alive and engaging, I create small-scale narrative sculpture inspired by and incorporating found objects.

What inspires your designs?
Story. I believe in connections. I believe in relationships.
Connections between friends, between families, between lovers…. My designs tend to have multiple connections, and elements that coordinate to tell a story.

For example, for a woman’s 40th birthday, her husband recently commissioned a ring with her children’s birthstones in sizes that represent their ages at that time in her life, 19 dapped impressions going down one side of the shank, his birthstone gypsy set inside the underside of the shank to represent her holding him close, and 21 dapped impressions going back up the other side of the shank. She met him when she was 19, and they’ve been together for 21 years. Hence the 19 and 21 dapped impressions. (I don’t care so much about perfect symmetry.)

Sometimes the story inspiration is actually historical.
Reading from my own antique book collection, most of which was inherited from earlier generations, I was inspired by a short story of love and affection, though misplaced. I studied the author and his other writings, and created Weakness Scorned. A book-like form, it features deeply etched text using the book itself as a graphic, hinged connections, and another text stamped crudely in the dark interior. It became the inaugural piece in an entire series of works. (Read the story of this piece here:

I am a huge fan of old things. Working with found objects is a favorite approach of mine. Perhaps it is again because of the story element that fascinates me so. One example is a small-scale sculpture that began with an antique photograph of two women. Ruth’s Song is built of sterling silver and stands about eight inches tall. Its form alludes to a stringed instrument, or a female form. It features an etched image inside from an antique photograph, a tortoise guitar pick, an optic lens, a bone guitar peg, and an antique wallpaper design graphic. (Read the entire story of this piece here:

How long have you been involved in this type of making?

In 1991, I met a metalsmith. She changed my life. I was an undergraduate student in journalism, but I spent every spare moment and penny in her shop, buying beads and learning jewelry connections. A seed was planted, and soon I recognized that metalsmithing was the perfect fit for me. I began to independently study both the techniques and the practices of the field. I took a few workshops here and there along the way, but today, 19 years later, I would say that I am primarily a self-taught artist.

Where are you located?

I live and work in Historic Downtown Wake Forest, North Carolina, 18 miles north of Raleigh, nestled among several large universities, and Research Triangle Park. We are a three-hour drive from the beach, four hours from the mountains, and only a few minutes to Krispy Kreme doughnuts, sweet tea, and barbecue with spicy vinegar-based sauce (not all at the same time).

Do you have a website?

My portfolio website can be visited at: My studio/gallery website is
My blog:
(MBZ, I have an etsy shop, but I’ve never developed it. I need some tips! :-) )

What other ways do you market your work?

For the last five years, I have been a resident artist in a collaborative gallery – The Cotton Company. This summer I will be realizing a long-time dream when I move my studio into my own space. Lede Studio and Gallery will have a small gallery, and a large studio (as metals studios go). I also market online, through my website and blog, Facebook and Twitter.

My studio is in a former newspaper plant. Lede Studio and Gallery. “Lede” is a journalism term for the first paragraph of a news story or the main story on a newspaper front page. My tendency toward narrative work is strong, hence the name.

Do you teach?

I am coming out of a teaching hiatus. I will be teaching in my new studio beginning this summer, including project workshops for beginners, and ongoing intermediate studio sessions.

Any sage advice for newcomers that you would like to share?

I have found two things to be absolutely essential to an artist’s life:
First, cultivate a creativity habit. I have wasted much waiting for the muse to show herself and get me going in making. A much better approach is to show up at the bench pin regularly and warm up with a mundane or repetitive task. I heard of a writer who always stops writing mid-sentence, so he knows where to begin when he returns to it. I like to leave the bench in the middle of a task, so I know exactly how to resume when I return.
Second, make the effort to understand and practice sound business principles and persistent marketing efforts.

Where do you envision your work going in the next year? (artistic direction)

I have great expectations for the next year. My gallery will be going strong, presenting the work of innovative metalsmiths and narrative artists. Students will fill the studio – both beginning and intermediate metalsmiths. Clients’ stories will be honored and preserved through commissioned pieces. And, I’d like to explore narrative sculptural work further.

Anything else you would like to share?

Call to Metalsmiths: Lede Studio and Gallery is looking for metalsmiths interested in exhibiting in the gallery. Contact Ginger for more information –

Thanks Ginger for such an informative interview!I hope you have a great start to your gallery- and we look forward to hearing about your future successes! 
ciao- Maureen aka Metalsmiths Unite mamma!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Summertime Metalsmithing Workshops!

It’s almost summertime, and a metalsmiths thoughts turn towards education in an artistic atmosphere. A perfect place would be at one of the many summer workshops. Not only do you learn in a beautiful and creative environment, some studios are open 24 hrs a day, seven days a week. And you might not have to cook. The only thing you have to do is practice your craft while you soak up all of that artistic energy around you.

Take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and join a workshop this summer. The time spent at a workshop can be as short as one day or as long as a couple of weeks, or even longer if your lucky enough to be able to get into a residency program.
It’s a great way to take a vacation, learn, and practice your passion.
Take a look at this list of summer workshops and pick one close to you, or somewhere you would like to visit.

Turn your work on it's head this summer by attending a Workshop!
(Photo taken in the Metals studio at Haystack- MBZ 2009)

The list not only has workshops in the U.S., there are a few international workshops as well on the list that is on the website at the very bottom of this list.

Metalsmithing Workshops :Penland School of Crafts.Penland,N.C. Haystack Mountain school of crafts- on Deer Isle Maine. (note: I've been there twice, and loved every second of it- MBZ) Ox-Bow Arts,Saugatuk,Mich. -School of Jewelry and Metal Arts, Colorado - Arrowmont school of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg Tenn. Studios,San diego -Chandler, Arizona – midwest metalsmiths,St. Paul,MO. – Portland,Or.

If you are looking for more- check out the Metalcyberspace site- you will find comprehensive lists of metals resources and workshops! (thanks to the hard work and dedication of Susan Sarantos) - and a long list of metals/jewelry degree programs all over the world. - A long list of jewelry/metals workshops in the U.S.and beyond.

A big Thank you goes out to Ralph Paruszkiewicz for doing the research and writing this week's blog post! Just a reminder- if you have an idea for a blog article for Metalsmiths Unite please contact me via Facebook messaging- I'd love to have more contributors!
Have a great weekend everyone
may the flux be with you- Maureen BZ

Friday, April 30, 2010

about Pricing your work- a new Resource!

Hi there- I wanted to let you all know about this great download that is now available (thanks to
Harriete Estel Berman for giving me this info!)

 the "Not Just Another Pricing Lecture: A Dialog About Pricing Your Work" lecture (the featured program at the 2010 Professional Development Seminar from SNAG  Houston)  is now available for FREE at Harriete Estel Berman's web site:  (the Professional Development Seminar page.)

The PowerPoint by the speakers and the Question and Answer Discussion with the audience were recorded.These audio recordings were combined  with the SlideShare presentation so you can experience the same PowerPoint presentations that the audience saw in Houston.

The Podcast is a continuation of the discussion with  speakers and the audience (audio only.)

This information will also be on the SNAG website soon at:

Pricing- It's always a Hot Topic!

Thank You to Harriete Estel Berman for her tireless generosity and commitment to the metalsmithing community! -
have a great weekend everyone! ciao- Maureen BZ

Monday, April 26, 2010

Pallavi Gandhi

First a quick note from Maureen: "It's been a long time between Blog posts- I'm afraid I have too much to handle these days.
This is an interview with Metalsmiths Unite member Pallavi Gandhi- Please check out her work on her website- where you can find more images and information about her work- thanks!"- MBZ

Pallavi Gandhi
1-How would you describe what you do as an artist?

I love telling stories and exploring the possibility of a tête-à-tête within the pieces and with the wearer. Consciously, yes, I do try to give hope and sheer joy through my work to those around me. My work is symbolist though expressed simply. Design takes prime importance. I work a lot with silver and I’ll combine it with other materials (stones, brass, copper, acrylic) if required.

2-what inspires your designs?

My interactions with the world I live in. My thoughts and experiences feed my imagination, expressing not just what I see, but how I see…not just what I hear but how I hear…asking me to constantly look at myself …often my work reflects the conversations I have with myself.

3-how long have you been involved in this type of making? (how did you start?)
Well I got into this line through a process of elimination. I guess it dawned quite late that I’m more of a hands-on person. I completed my 2-yr diploma in jewellery design and manufacturing in 2001 and was largely involved in freelancing and teaching design thereafter, working on the bench in few and rare snatched moments. I finally started out on my own as a full time bench jeweler (if that’s the term..) a little over 2 years ago.

4-where are you located?

I live in New Delhi, India.

5-do you have a website or etsy/artfire/1000market etc store?

6-what other ways do you market your work?
Through occasional exhibitions and mostly through word of mouth.

7-do you teach? if so, where-
I taught jewelery design for 5 years…till about 3 years ago. I’m looking at starting classes again in my studio.

8-any sage advice for newcomers that you would like to share?
I’m fairly new as a jewelery artist but a couple of things that I try and uphold at the core of my work and my life: to absolutely be in earnest and to always keep learning.

9-where do you envision your work going in the next year? (artistic direction)
I will definitely be experimenting with materials and techniques. Dreamtime stories are next in line for my collection.

10-anything else you would like to share?
My spiritual mentor, Dr. Daisaku Ikeda says: ‘By never being defeated and endeavouring to change society for the better, we are able to create happiness both for ourselves and others.’
This is the value I hope to create through my work.

Thank you Pallavi- It's great to meet you- I hope everyone goes to your site to see you work- 
(we had some troubles getting the images to work on this blog) 
I appreciate your commitment to metalsmithing, and we are happy to have you as a part of our Metalsmiths Unite community! :-)
ciao- Maureen BZ

Monday, March 29, 2010

Kathleen Krucoff- Assets of Bassets!

 Hi everyone- here is an interview with Kathleen Krucoff of Black Forest Colorado- Not only is she a wonderful metalsmith she also has a mini pack of gorgeous Basset hounds. Thanks for sharing yourself for the blog Kathleen- to mark the occasion can I suggest Chew toys for all! :-) Maureen

Please note- there seems to be a problem with loading images today on blogspot- I'm hoping that the issues will be resolved soon and I can publish a couple of pics from Kathleen's portfolio- until then, please visit her website (links are in the body of the interview) thanks- M

 Kathleen Krukoff

How would you describe what you do as an artist?
>> I take beautiful stones, like Jaspers, Chinese Writing Stones, or Tiffany stones, set them in sterling silver and create art jewelry that is unique, individual. When I incorporate a beautiful stone in a jewelry piece, I want my work to showcase the stone to do justice to its intrinsic beauty.

what inspires your designs? (be it music, nature, beekeeping...)
>> My real inspiration comes from nature. I am especially drawn to mountains, leaves, cloud shapes, the colors evoked by sunrises and sunsets.

how long have you been involved in this type of making? (how did you start?)
>> I've always loved working with my hands. My mother had me take private art lessons. She also insisted that I learn how to sew, which I believe contributes to my artwork today. I loved taking pieces of fabric and putting them together to create something completely unique, me. It just seemed to be a natural progression of expressing myself when I started working with glass a little over 28 years ago. And that too evolved into jewelry making, which led me to metalsmithing. Now I design jewelry that takes a variety of metal components and stones, putting those pieces together to distinguish the wearer from anyone else.

where are you located?
>> I live in the Black Forest area of Colorado, just northeast of Colorado Springs. Five years ago, my husband & I designed our home, which is a Frank Lloyd Wright style, that provides wonderful views of the Rocky Mountains. We are fortunate to have 7 acres of land which we share with our three basset hounds and other wild life, such as hawks, great horned owls, fox, coyotes, and jack rabbits. It's very inspirational living where we do.

do you have a website or etsy/artfire/1000market etc store?

what other ways do you market your work?
>>Currently my work can be found at Coyote Creek Arts Foundataion ( and Second Street Art Market ( I also exhibit at shows in Colorado and will be the featured artist during the month of August at Boulder Arts & Crafts, in Boulder, CO.

do you teach? if so, where-
>>I offer private lessons at my studio by appointment.

any sage advice for newcomers that you would like to share?
>>Never give up; do what you love. My motto is "Aspire to be more as an artist and a Person" Continually invest in yourself by taking classes from people you admire or reading books/articles about your craft.

where do you envision your work going in the next year?
>> I am currently working on a project that involves fantasy and nature.

anything else you would like to share? (favorite techniques? any good jokes? you can even put your flickr/twitter/blog links here too)
>> My blog:
Facebook Fan Page:

Thanks again Kathleen- It's been fun getting to know you via Metalsmiths Unite! :-)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Beth Wicker

Here's an interview with Metalsmiths Unite member, Beth Wicker -

How would you describe what you do as an artist? Currently my main focus is as a metalsmith. I work primarily in silver, with some copper, brass, and gold. I use gemstones, pearls, found objects, and interesting beads I find on my travels. I create primarily jewelry designed to be worn. I also make hand made paper, do fiber art, printmaking, a bit of sculpture, draw and paint.

what inspires your designs?  I have always been interested in pattern, texture and color - no matter what media I am working in. Much of my inspiration comes from the world around me - I am an avid gardener and traveler, and store images in my head and sketchbook.

how long have you been involved in this type of making? (how did you start?)
I have been in involved in one form of art or another all my life. I started making jewelry as a child, probably about 10, getting purchased components from the local hobby shop. I moved into other media, and got a BA in art from Meredith College in Raleigh, NC. Then I took graduate courses in art at UNC-Chapel Hill, NC, did a year of graduate work in printmaking at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, MI, then finished my MFA in printmaking at USC-Columbia, SC. Then when my daughter was about 10 she asked me to show her how to make jewelry, and that started me back into metals - and took me way farther into that than I had ever done as a child. So I have been a practicing artist for over 30 years, and a metalsmith for about 10 this time around. 

where are you located?
 I live in the country outside of Cheraw, SC in the US. Cheraw has less than 6,500 people, and the entire county (Chesterfield County) has less than 30,000, so a very rural area. I live on a farm with Santa Gertrudis cattle, pine trees, and we planted a stand of hardwoods a few years ago. Cheraw was founded in the 1700's, and had battles fought here in both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, and still has many of the old historic homes and churches.

do you have a website or etsy/artfire/1000market etc store? - website

what other ways do you market your work?(shows, galleries, brick + mortar stores)
I have work in galleries and gift shops throughout SC, including the Drayton Hall Museum Store outside of Charleston, SC, and in Ohio. I also do craft and art shows in the South.

do you teach? if so, where-
I teach at my workshop/gallery space, which is across the pond from my house outside of Cheraw, SC on our farm. It is a delightful small building that my in-laws built as a guest house for their daughter from Massachusetts to stay in when she visited. I have converted it into a small gallery featuring local artists, and a teaching space where I teach metalsmithing and a range of other media to adults and children. I also teach a Monthly Metals class at Black Creek Arts Council in Hartsville, SC about 30 minutes away to children and adults. I have taught classes for the Cheraw Arts Commission also. In addition, I am on the SC Approved Artist Roster, and have been for over 30 years. I have done residencies in schools and communities throughout SC for over 30 years.

any sage advice for newcomers that you would like to share?
Join multiple internet jewelry groups - most folks are more than willing to share tips and how to's. Don't be afraid to ask questions - that is how you learn! If you are interested in jewelry, be sure to check out, the world's biggest internet jewelry site. It is chock full of great information, a wonderful daily e-mail list, and very helpful links and people. Do NOT expect to make a living making jewelry right away - that will take time!

where do you envision your work going in the next year? (artistic direction) I am becoming increasingly interested in kinetic jewelry, where things are designed to move as part of the piece. I am also exploring ways to incorporate pattern and texture into more areas of a given piece, and really trying to make the backs and sides of things more visually interesting.

anything else you would like to share? (favorite techniques? any good jokes? you can even put your flickr/twitter/blog links here too) Twitter link is above.
I have a one hour blog radio interview done by Jay Whaley at
I'm also on the Artisans of the SC Cotton Trail site at

thanks Beth! great info and interview-
always a pleasure to "meet" Metalsmiths Unite members!
ciao- Maureen

Monday, February 22, 2010

Brandy Stark

Hi There! in the ongoing quest to introduce metalsmiths and their community I'm continuing with Interviews of the Metalsmiths Unite Facebook group members- 

Here is an interview with  Metalsmiths Unite Member Brandy Stark-

"The Guardian:  Triton with Trident". 

How would you describe what you do as an artist?
I do hand wrapped wire metal sculpture with found objects.

what inspires your designs? Mythology. Sometimes my own life experience, but I'm in love with ancient, mostly mythology.

how long have you been involved in this type of making? (how did you start?)
Since 1995. I started in an undergrad beginning sculpture course at University of Tampa. I didn't like clay, woodworking, textile art, etc. I thought about welding but fire and explosions come to mind. Prof asked me if I could bend 1/4 inch thick wire metal welding rods. I could. He told me that the basic shape is the triangle for the torso, and the rest is history.

where are you located?( email if you want to share, or city/town that you live in)
St. Petersburg, Florida

do you have a website or etsy/artfire/1000market etc store? (list url here)

what other ways do you market your work?(shows, galleries, stores)
I show all over the place -- international, national, local. I am also on the board of TESA. I also show through Art Pool and am a member of the Florida Craftsmen.

do you teach? if so, where-  I teach REL and HUM at St. Petersburg College, University of Tampa, Eckerd College, and Hillsborough Community College.

any advice for newcomers that you would like to share? Build up your muscles and invest in good tools.

where do you envision your work going in the next year? (artistic or business direction)
I don't know right now. I am pleased to be winning more awards for my art and it is getting more media attention. I guess I wish to just continue on that way for a while.

anything else you would like to share?
When I was a child, I never saw myself as a) buying wire cutters b) admiring wire cutters or c) having a favorite pair of wire cutters as an adult. Life is strange, huh?

Thanks Brandy! 
Please note- I'd love to hear from other MU members- would you like to get featured on this blog? you may contact me via Facebook message and I will be happy to send you the list of interview questions!
I will be heading to the Yuma Symposium this week, and hope to meet with many metalsmiths there as well- (I will be composing a blog post about the Yuma experience for certain!)
I hope you all are doing well and are getting plenty of studio time- and I hope to hear from you soon!
ciao- Maureen

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Metalsmiths Unite! in Tucson!

Whew! February in Tucson is an exciting and busy time- we are now in our second week of Gem show frenzy- Lots of cars on the roads from out of state, no parking downtown...and our favorite eateries? Booked solid! :-) We love it though- because in exchange, Tucson gets to host 40+ of the most wonderful gem shows you ever have opened your wallet for!

Last week was the most active week for me- The Agta show is in the Convention center, all the tents are up at Holidome and Tep. That first official week of the shows (not including the "pre-show" shows the weekend before) that first week is chock full of activities- many seminars to choose from (most are free!) and of course, party after party after opening to attend.

This year, I hosted a small gathering at my studio for members of Metalsmiths Unite who were in town for the shows- Luckily, the weather was in our favor and we had a cool, dry evening to enjoy a bit of outdoors and a warm bonfire (I even toasted a couple of marshmalows....then gave up when I found that I needed a longer stick- ouch!)

I was happy to see some of my Tucson metalsmithing friends come to the event- The crew from Krikawa Jewelry Designs, Shawna Lobmiller from Starr Gems, Danielle Embry, Mark Ramsaur from Tucson Parks and Rec and the Metallink program, Dave Arens (chain maker and inventer of the original jump ring tool) Kevin Potter a jeweler/machinist (who made my hydraulic press and dies)  and Jude Clark, a wonderful local jeweler and friend. My dear friend (an admitted non-creative person) Gina Reyes was there too, along with Guido and my super kiddo, Cosmo (who proceeded to entertain us by dragging out his drums..(I think he really wanted a big drum circle...I worry that he might be a bit of a hippy! lol)
Cosmo and Wendy Van Camp get their Drumming groove on

Then there were some out of towners...Andrea Robinson buzzed up on her motercycle from Sierra Vista, The amazing Gem and Jewelry trade Blogqueen Robyn Hawk came , as well as Whaley studios Teri Masters, Wendy Van Camp, Shari Seager and Karen Pfeiffer of "Hammered and Stoned" ...and later on we had Polly Mary Amalia Spencer and Thea Demitre (both who drove here...DROVE HERE from MAINE!) stop by to soak in a few moments of campfire.

My idea of using Skype proved to be a bit too problematic to pull off- We were able to chat a bit with Julie Sanford and even Erkki Kokko(though the feed from Finland was very choppy)  I think I'll be trying to figure out a way to use skype for metalsmiths Unite - I think it needs to be a Skype event on it's own....but that's a subject for future deliberation.

OK- to those who could not make it to the meet up- sorry, I know how hard it is to juggle all the demands of the Gem show- I hope that you can find more time next year to come to this fun and relaxing gathering- And I hope that you had a good time at the show- made lots of contacts and found gems and tools galore!

I'm now setting my sights on the next fun February event- The Yuma Symposium! I'll be going there in a few weeks with a couple of my friends- it's going to be my 4th time attending the event, and I anticipate a Hugely entertaining and creative weekend- (I'll be blogging about it for sure!)

Have a great week everyone- remember to post your events on the Metalsmiths Unite! wall- let us know what you are up to- Have fun in your studios! be safe-
Metalsmiths, Unite!
ciao- Maureen

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Two Roses- John and Corliss Rose

Today we present the interview from John and Corliss Rose-I'm looking forward to meeting them in person at the Yuma Symposium later in February (if you have never been to the symposium you are missing out on a great event...check it out- a wonderful lineup of lectures every year- that , and there's the kitchy wackiness of Yuma itself) 

OK- so here's the interview with "2 Roses"


How would you describe what you do as an artist?
Unbridled experimentation. We are driven by “what if” in terms of cross-pollinating metalsmithing technique and jewelry design with materials and methods taken from other disciplines. This had resulted in an extremely eclectic catalog of work as we continue to collaborate with each other and many individuals and companies in and outside of the art/jewelry world.

- What inspires your designs?

Our inspirations are as eclectic as our art. Nature & Biology, Ancient Civilizations, Industrial design, Arms and Armour, Anime, Mechanical movements, Optics, Stage Magic, and Psychology are just a few of the pools we swim in.

- How long have you been involved in this type of making? (how did you start?)

We have both been working artists from childhood. Corliss started working in the arts at age 8. John was a late bloomer, apprenticing at age 12. We have been collaborating for 41 years.

Big Sylph Brooch 01
Sterling Silver, 18k Gold, Industrial Neoprene Cord, Shell, Pearl, Opals

- where are you located?
 We are located in Anaheim California, directly across the street from Disneyland.

-do you have a website or etsy/artfire/1000market etc store?

- what other ways do you market your work?(shows, galleries, stores)
We sell primarily through galleries & museums, but we also do select retail craft shows throughout the year as well as selling on-line. Much of our work is commissioned.

- do you teach? if so, where-
We have been involved in teaching the business side of art for many decades. We have been guest lecturers and held seminars at colleges in almost every State in the Union as well as the National University of Mexico and the University of Buenos Aries, Argentina.

- any advice for newcomers that you would like to share?
Get out from behind the bench and get involved in your industry. This is so important for artists at any stage of their career. This is typically the first step in building the contacts to learn how to sell your work.

- where do you envision your work going in the next year? (artistic or business direction)
We are starting to focus more on public advocacy for the arts. This is leading us towards efforts to organize the arts industry much as other business sectors have done long ago. It is clear to us that political action is required to re-establish the arts as an important part of the American educational system and a valued component of American society.

anything else you would like to share? (favorite techniques? any good jokes? you can even put your flickr/twitter/blog links here too)
A lawyer, a doctor and an art jeweler all win a million dollars in the lottery and are interviewed on the evening news.

“What will you do with your winnings?”, the news anchor asks.

The lawyer replies, “I’m going to buy a huge house and a sports car”.

The doctor responds with “I’ll write a big check to charity and take my family on a vacation”.

The art jeweler thinks it over for a moment and says, “I’ll just keep doing craft shows until the money runs out”.

LOL- thanks for a great interview- (see you at the Yuma Symposium!)
ciao- Maureen

ps- as many of you know it is Tucson Gem show time- I will be running around to some of the shows, taking pics,  meeting some of the Metalsmiths unite members, and running myself ragged..:-)
I'll do my best to keep posting on the FB wall, and hopefully will be able to also get a few blog posts in about the happenings around town-
Any Metalsmiths Unite members who would like to contribute to this blog please feel free to contact me - I'd be happy to have some fresh input!
thanks + happy smithing!
ciao- Maureen BZ

Monday, January 18, 2010

Jill Livengood

In the continuation of our member interviews, today we are meeting Jill Livengood....

"Ring of Fire" bracelet by Jill Livengood

How would you describe what you do as an artist?
I make jewelry combining chainmaille, metalsmithing, semi-precious stones, and whatever else catches my fancy.

how long have you been involved in this type of making? (how did you start?)
I've been making chainmaille for two years. That led me to wire wrapping, which led me to fused chains, which led to metalsmithing. Cuz once you melt metal with fire, there's no going back. :)

where are you located?
I live in Fuquay-Varina, NC - about 20 minutes south of Raleigh (the capital) in roughly the middle of the state.

do you have a website or etsy/artfire/1000market etc store? (list url here)
yep -

what other ways do you market your work?(shows, galleries, stores)
i'm on etsy, artfire, 1km - I also do local handmade/artisan/indie craft markets. One local store carries a few of my pieces, but I hope to get in more this year.

do you teach? if so, where- I teach a monthly chainmaille class for the Raleigh Jewelry Makers Meet Up group:

any advice for newcomers that you would like to share?
Don't be afraid to screw up - you can always send it to a refiner. Play with copper first if you're worried about messing up expensive silver.

where do you envision your work going in the next year? (artistic or business direction)
I hope to bring in more metalsmithing to my work. I have a studio set up now where before it was my kitchen table & sofa.

anything else you would like to share? (favorite techniques? any good jokes? you can even put your flickr/twitter/blog links here too)
My hubby is also a metal artist, but he makes sculptures.

Thanks Jill!

New Flickr pool!

Another one of those things on the "Why haven't I done this before?!" list...
Metalsmiths Unite now has a Flickr Group for photosharing.

 I will be keeping it a closed group for members of Metalsmiths Unite only-
(so please put your name in the group entry request.)

I've set the limit of images at 4 per week- and we'll see how that goes...
if the group page needs adjustments it will happen- but for now I just want to keep it simple
In the future I can envision events like "self portrait day" or "messy bench contest"...for now, let's just free form and put up some pics! (they need not always be metal either- if it is an image that inspires you go right ahead and post that too)

here is the link-

Have fun- please remember to put your name on the membership request!
thanks- Maureen

Friday, January 8, 2010

David Huang- chasing forms

Today's Interview is with David Huang. I met David very briefly at the SNAG Savannah conference, and was struck by how gorgeous his work is, and by his unassuming nature. David's work is beautiful to look at and has a very warm and comforting feel to touch. I'm excited to see the progress on his big project this year (which he explains in this interview) and I hope to have the opportunity to chat again soon!

Name- David Huang

How would you describe what you do as an artist?
My short verbal description is that I make decorative holloware, or decorative vessels. However, I always keep several business cards with different images of my work on me to illustrate the verbal description. For other metalsmiths I can say that I work almost exclusively with raised vessels, often with chased surfaces.

what inspires your designs?
There is no one source for inspiration. Much of it develops from the interaction, or dialog, between the tools, materials, and myself. I watch what happens as a piece develops and each piece usually suggest other variations to explore on later work. I've also found inspiration in such varied things as crop circles, artwork of others, nature, intellectual studies, and viewer responses.

how long have you been involved in this type of making? (how did you start?)
I've been doing raised vessels since about 1996. I began working with metal in high school around 1986 which is when I first found the chasing and repousse technique.

Picture of David's Studio

where are you located?( email if you want to share, or city/town that you live in)
I live just outside of the tiny village of Sand Lake, Michigan (this is not too far from the bigger city of Grand Rapids). My email address is

do you have a website ? My website is
what other ways do you market your work?(shows, galleries, stores)
I sell the bulk of my work through galleries around the US. On rare occasion I sell a piece to someone contacting me through my website. Oddly, I also must admit I sell a fair amount of work directly to other metalsmiths at conferences or workshops. I was completely surprised by this when it started happening, and still feel deeply honored that others in my field value what I do that much.

do you teach? if so, where- I've started teaching workshops in the last few years for various groups around the US. While I enjoy this I think I am going to have to cut back as it's taking too much time away from the studio work I enjoy most.

any advice for newcomers that you would like to share?
For artistic growth I recommend drawing, and I don't mean drawing your metalwork designs. Personally I like figure drawing, but still life or landscape drawing should work fine too. This sharpens your ability to see, perceive the emotional expression of forms, and fine tune composition skills. In short, you can learn the very subtle details needed to make a work sing much quicker through drawing and then transfer this understanding to the laborious creation of metal objects.

For financial stability needed to make a career as a metalsmith happen I suggest looking into the simple living movement to reduce living expenses while learning what brings fulfillment to YOUR life. (Maureen's note: I Love this comment! it's not about having what you want, it's wanting what you have)

where do you envision your work going in the next year? (artistic or business direction)
Plans for 2010 include an effort to solve the issues that still plague me with my raised and chased figurative vessels. Broadly I plan to push my chased designs into newer, and hopefully better territory. I'm working with another metalsmith, David Barnhill, to develop some raised and chased mokume gane vessels with the idealistic hope of doing something new in this area. However, I am scheduling the bulk of my time for 2010 to what will hopefully be one large masterwork, a vessel raised and heavily chased from a 48 inch disk of copper.

anything else you would like to share? (favorite techniques? any good jokes? you can even put your flickr/twitter/blog links here too)
I suspect times will be quite tough for us financially as metalsmiths in the coming years as societies deal with economic problems, compounded with (or perhaps a result of) the peaking of energy resources, and the "high grading" of raw materials. Personally I foresee a contraction back to more local economies and small scale manufacturing, at which time those of us with skills in "craft" based industries may very well find our abilities in demand. I think it would be wise to really study what may happen and be ready to creatively adapt. Where others may see only strife and collapse we may be able to see opportunities to sculpt a new and wonderful future for all.

Great interview- thanks David!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Skye Milliken

Today's interview is with Skye Milliken, who is beginning to develop her body of work- Having diverse levels of experience in Metalsmiths Unite! is what makes it a dynamic community-

It's great to see how we develop as artists and the enthusiasm that we have for our craft- at all levels of making- from beginning to almost retirement, I can see the passion for this craft emanating from the responses to these questions!

Name: Skye Milliken
How would you describe what you do as an artist? I have fun! Creating something out of nothing is so liberating. Dedicating time for creativity always makes me feel more grounded.

what inspires your designs? Everything. Because I am new to this, sometimes I am just trying to hone my skills. I become more inspired by every project that I see through to the end.

how long have you been involved in this type of making? (how did you start?) I started metalsmithing last year after taking an introductory course in college. I loved it so much that I made it my major! I have just recently completed the program and continue to work on projects during studio time.

where are you located? Lakewood, CO

any advice for newcomers that you would like to share? Try to grasp the basics first. If you start with complex designs, you may become discouraged.

where do you envision your work going in the next year?  I am excited to get a workshop together and start creating a body of work. Having been so excited to share my stuff with friends, I tend to give pieces away faster than I can make them

Thank you for sharing Skye! we look forward to seeing your workshop develop!
Metalsmiths , Unite!  (ps, my favorite science teacher in High School was named Elenor Milliken- she was awesome, won teacher of the year -nationally- in '84) good memories :-)