Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Just an Update

Just an FYI-
After 6 years of working to keep the Metalsmiths Unite group a positive and fun place for metalsmiths new and experienced, I needed to stop and take care of myself (I suffer from Chronic Pain), so I shut MU down in December 2014.

It was a difficult decision, but the right thing to do- not only so that I could have more time to recover my health, but also to put a stop to the constant bickering that had infected the group.
The community needed to have a fresh start, so one of my friends in MU helped me take the group off of Facebook entirely.

No regrets, it was fun while it lasted- I've met so many good people through the online metals community, and continue to read many posts in the groups that remain (such as the Coffee house and Advanced Goldsmithing to name a couple) And I am enjoying the right to lurk!

thanks for reading- Please check out my personal blog "Maureen BZ metal mom blog" to keep in touch, salutations and comments always welcome!
ciao- M

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Metalsmiths Unite Artist Spotlight- Mario Cesari

Metalsmiths Unite is a large group of artists from around the world- Today we get to visit Pennabilli Italy, home to the Mario Cesari, metalsmithing artist. As an artist, Mario is fortunate to call Italy home from which  he has been able to do a good bit of traveling and learning diverse techniques in their original origins.  The following is my recent interview with Mario- Enjoy!


MBZ: How would you describe what you do as an artist?
Mario Cesari: I make objects that I like, mostly in metal, I research, I teach.
 "Whoever does not love his work cannot hope that it will please others"-anon.

MBZ: what inspires your designs?
Mario Cesari: Venezia (Venice) is my home town. Byzantine decoration filled my eyes since I was young.
 Later I was conquered by Japanese art, admiring it in the Oriental Art Museum of Venezia.
 Finally when I was in London I discovered Celtic metalwork. 

Presently the rationale of nature plays a large part in my creations, I live in the country and love macro photography. 
Things made by fellow craftsmen are often a great source of inspiration. 
When I create a new object, be it pen, knife, box, ring etc., I make a few versions of it till I'm satisfied, technically and aesthetically, I rely on some kind of serendipity, until it is finished you can't judge it. How many sketches or pages painters and musicians had to make before their final versions? (Adams Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep)

Mario and friends in Nepal
MBZ: how long have you been involved in this type of making? (how did you start?)

Mario Cesari: When I was younger I was a radio officer as well as my brother. Once he disembarked from a ship going to decommissioning, bringing home an antenna, made of strands of copper wire. Having no better use for it, he started to make rings, bracelets and necklaces, then he silver plated them and sold them on the streets. I helped him and was hooked to metalwork, I attended a free class on copper engraving and printing, taught myself raising and sinking and the most common bench techniques.

Feeling the need to learn the various techniques in their place of origin, I traveled a lot coupling work and study: in London, I registered with the Goldsmiths' Hall, and learned blacksmithing, repoussée and chasing; in Kathmandu, invited by a nepalese silversmith, I learned small-scale sand casting and other traditional Nepalese techniques. I studied granulation and other ancient Etruscan techniques in Tuscany Forty years later I'm still learning: I learned Kum-boo from one of my students. (Ford : "Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty." )

beautiful Pennabilli Italy
MBZ: where are you located?Mario Cesari: In the early eighties I went to live in Pennabilli (, in central Italy, a village in the hills of the Mareccchia river valley, surrounded by woods near Monte Carpegna. The zone is rich of historical buildings, dating back to roman and medieval time. In Pennabilli there's a very important museum on the history of numbers (

MBZ: do you have a website or etsy/artfire/etc store?
Mario Cesari: 

About 10 years ago I learned html and made my site .

I sell in Etsy,
and Boticca,
I also have a blog  in Ganoksin, http://ganoksin/blog/pennabilli 
tutorials in Picasa web albums,
and a FB page Mario Cesari's Page

MBZ: what other ways do you market your work?
Mario Cesari: I participate in fairs and markets in my zone, half a dozen times a year. I sell to private customers, sometimes to participants in my classes

MBZ:  ah, so you teach? where can one find a class with you?
Mario Cesari: I teach in my studio (here's a list of classes on my website) which is small so I can have one or two students at a time. Usually they come for a short class, a couple of days exploring some technique. Now and then I teach classes in private schools.

MBZ: You have so many diverse experiences! Do you have any sage advice for newcomers that you would like to share?
Mario Cesari-
Yes! Three sage advices:
- Art and craft are two different realms (, neither one is superior to the other; there is bad art and there is good craftsmanship.
An artisan must know well tool, technique and material. (Chesterton The artistic temperament is a disease that affects amateurs). 
I hope that you enjoy creating things new, leaving the mark of the tools and of your imagination on your pieces. 

Don't think you need the latest tool or product, (good one Mario! -MBZ) have only what is necessary; make yourself simple tools, modify to your needs the worn out or cheap ones.
If you have patience, read this page by Octavio Paz (Octavio Paz essay), it is inspiring.

MBZ: where do you envision your work going in the next year? (artistic direction)

Mario Cesari- I will hopefully finish writing a book on cuttlefish bone casting (and find a publisher), I will pass to a CMS for my site, must organize and put online a lot of content that's almost ready and waiting
! There will certainly be a project that will engage me, don't know yet which. In the past years the important projects that I carried on have always been unexpected commissions: making fibulas, knives, calla shaped jewels, buckles, a cross for a bishop... asked for different techniques, forging, forming, chasing, cuttlefish bone casting.



MBZ: Thanks so much for this interview Mario- it's been good to get to know you a little more through these answers! Before we sign off, is there anything else you would like to share?
(Gaudi Originalidad es volver al origen). The state of the art cannot be shared, you have to practice yourself. I can't stop exploring cuttlefish bone casting and forging. The former gives you  a variety of textures, and design possibilities; the latter is the fastest way to make objects and has a charm of its own. 

We will look forward to seeing the fruits of your experimentation in the future! Thanks again for your patience with me (MBZ- I took a really long time getting this together- so sorry) And thank you for sharing yourself with the Metalsmiths Unite community (and beyond)
Ciao! or, as Mario says, "Chow" -

Thanks everyone who reads these interviews- we look forward to reading your comments!

As always, MU members are always welcome to be interviewed on this blog! The post will stay up for at least a week and we will add your website to our list of links. Anyone interested in this should contact me, Maureen BZ via Facebook messenger, or by email at

Please take some time today to read through some of our other blog posts- there are interviews with many of our fellow MU members, technical articles about metalsmithing, and some general metalsmith related posts.
Also- be sure to check out our pages (in the tabs at the top of this page)! Where you can find our mission statement, the rules that we follow in the group, and a request for donations, which help keep this organization alive and running ASAP (as smoothly as possible)


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Soldering clamps- tips from Master Goldsmith James Miller FIPG

This is a post about Soldering clamps that James Miller posted for members of the Metalsmiths Unite 2.0 group on Facebook
this is an example of one of James Miller's works- gold and enamel, with hand cut crystal.

If you don’t already know James (aka Jim Miller) it is safe to say that he is one of our most accomplished goldsmiths in the MU2.0 group- He is known for his precision piercing and enameled goldsmithed works that have been used or worn by many notable clients such as sultans, royals (British monarchy) and the upper crust of British society. 

 the following is the post on the Metalsmiths Unite 2.0 wall ***********************************************************
James Miller- “Gloria Lenon asked about my stainless steel soldering clamps, I have posted this before, but for anyone who missed it here is my soldering clamps details sheet. I use 0.9mm. thick stainless steel sheet, pierced into strips of about 4mm x 100mm, then bend them to shape with pliers and they last a surprisingly long time. Sorry to those who have already seen this before.”
Jim Miller : Sheet 20 Gauge (Grade 304) - Buy Small Quantities Online - 
www.allmetalsinc.comBuy Small Quantities of Stainless Sheet 20 Gauge (Grade 304) at the Online Metals Store

from MU member Jennifer Polson - Jim, how are you cutting your strips of steel? You mentioned piercing, are you just cutting strips with your jeweler's saw, or are you using separating disk? I bought some steel from Industrial Metal Supply in California, and it may be about 18 gauge. IMS used their big sheet cutter to make strips for me, they're between 5-7 mm wide. Should I try to halve them?

Reply: Jim Miller Jennifer, I use 0.90mm. thick stainless and yes I just pierce the strips with a jeweller's saw.Most of my clamps are made from 100mm. long strips of 3mm or 4mm widths.

MBZ-Also- it should be noted that James has a book written about him and his astonishing works of art- 
it can be found online at:

Thanks for reading- May the Flux be with you!- Maureen BZ