Thursday, September 29, 2011

Maureen BZ- interview update!

 This is a short update to the original interview ( )with Maureen Brusa Zappellini- (Metalsmiths Unite founder) with a little bit of background on the formation of the Metalsmiths Unite group....

What inspired you start Metalsmiths Unite?
You know when you go to a conference and you get that feeling like you aren't connected at all with the community? You feel like an outsider- and it's that outsider feeling that was the catalyst for my starting the Metalsmiths Unite group in the first place. I Created the very first Metalsmiths Unite group the week after I got back from the SNAG conference in Savannah (08) .

Most conferences/professional gatherings are really hard on the independent - Most of the attendees are from some school or professional group: they already have a framework within their community. As an independent artist (many years out of school) I noticed that there were a lot of us "indies" around, mostly feeling disconnected from the group experience as a whole.
2nd annual Metalsmiths Unite "Chill Lounge" gathering Tucson AZ, February2011

I saw a need for an independent forum for ALL LEVELS of metalsmithing and metalsmithing enthusiasts, so I patched together a group, stuck the name Metalsmiths Unite on it and the rest is history.
Metalsmiths Unite has become my main community- It is full of a collection of independent artists and teachers from all levels of our craft- from super newbie beginner to professional craftspeople whose work is collected by collectors, museums and yes, even royalty.  I know I can go to Metalsmiths Unite 2.0 at any time of day to get responses for technical questions, show new images of my work, and find information about what is current in our metalsmithing world. In short- it is a community of individuals- with a passion for metalsmithing as a common axis.

I think that it has helped many people make connections that otherwise they may not have been able to make, so I'm happy with the result.

powdercoated bronze and silver earrings
 I never thought it would grow so big either- I envisioned 30-40 friends talking about technique and materials and occasionally showing a picture of work that they have done. It soon became clear that it was going to be a bit bigger than that- and by the end of the year I had to take it more seriously, write a mission statement and create posting guidelines. My little baby had grown.

When did you found the group?
I founded the group in the spring of 2008, just after coming home from the Savannah SNAG conference- I felt a need to be in communication with other metalsmiths- especially those of us who weren’t connected to any formal group (those of us out of school and independently working in our studios)

What is your vision for it?
Hmm, my vision is that MU continues to grow and becomes a favorite resource for it’s members. I think we are on the right track.

Where can all it’s parts it be found?
pewter container- "Bella Fiorentina 2011"
Metalsmiths Unite started on another page, as simply “Metalsmiths Unite”- it still exists, but I’ve shut down the wall to comments because I cannot manage both groups at once- However, there is a lot of information there about artists and resources, plus hundreds of photos and even a few videos.
The MAIN page that is used daily is at Metalsmiths Unite 2.0, here:!/groups/metalsmithsunite/
then we have this blog, a Flickr Group (at ) a Twitter account that I have let lapse into oblivion (not enough hours in the day)
and we just recently added a very informal etsy team ( )

Anything else you want to tell us about the group?
I think it’s a great group of creatives, and I’ve met some really wonderful people through the 3 years since I started it. I look forward to greeting my fellow ‘smiths every day, and seeing the works that we are merrily creating in our studios. I think Metalsmiths Unite stays fresh because it is constantly evolving- every day there are new topics being shared, in real time - with hundreds of dedicated craftspeople from all around the wold.

What can the members do, to help make it successful?
 Don't be shy- participate and keep posting your metalsmithing related posts! Volunteer to write a blog post or two (you can even use one of your own blog posts on your personal blog if you think it is interesting to the metalsmithing community)
Give encouragement to newbies, continue to add your metalsmithing friends to the group, let the group know what it is that YOU want out of the group.

strap "slide bead" bracelets 2011 (compare to painting below)
Metalsmiths Unite's success is created by active participation -
Above ALL- continue the groups mission to be open to all levels and disciplines in our craft - including everyone from museum level artists to hobbyists and enthusiasts. That we continue our community in the spirit of sharing and open dialogue, with respect for our differences and the creation of bridges of understanding.

MBZ, What is your background?
Silk painting with stitching 1998
I’ve earned a studio diploma (concentrating in painting)  from School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (SMFA) and a BFA from Tufts University. I studied metalsmithing as an apprentice for the summers home from college (6 days a week, silversmithing, mostly forging and soldering)
In my previous incarnation as a painter I was the recipient of a 10 week scholarship at Skowhegan school of painting and sculpture (1989).
I’ve worked for production metalsmiths in Providence RI (my mother lives there). I studied and taught metalsmithing in Florence Italy (my husband’s home town, where we lived from 97-2000)
I’ve taught here in Tucson, I continue to give demos and workshops (metalsmithing and pewter work).
 President of Arizona Designer Craftsmen (southern chapter) 2006/7 .
Fall 2011 postcard for my jewelry line "Cosmo's Moon"- "

2007-2009 goldsmith for a custom ring designer ( , where I was making a lot of mokume inlay bands)
I currently work for myself , designing and creating a line of jewelry for online sales in my etsy shops ( ) and I also do goldsmithing for a private opal company here in Tucson.

OK- I think that's enough info for now- Please let me know if you have any questions about Metalsmiths Unite- I will do my best to answer them-
in the mean time- may the flux be with you, and your striker be forever sparky
ciao-Maureen BZ
my personal sites:


  1. Fabulous interview Maureen!
    Was great to get to know you even more :)

  2. Great interview. It would be hard to feel isolation now with over 900 metalsmithing friends!! Thanks for sticking to it :)