I've just been asked to speak at a jewelry and metals
conference in Melbourne, Australia titled "Inherited
Futures--Technologies to Trap Ideas."
That sounds like an interesting talk, Don. Will transcripts be
available afterwards? I’d love to have a copy to post on my site, if
It would be my guess that the most common use of the computer
by metalsmiths in their studio work or business is in CAD, but that
fewer metalsmiths have the resources for CAM. As was recently
suggested on Orchid, given the expense of the equipment and the
remarkably quick obsolescence of any technology these days, it may
make more sense to job out CAM processes to shops that specialize
in this sort of work instead of investing tens of thousands of
dollars in your own equipment.
Like I was telling Jim, it doesn’t have to cost that much. It’s not
that big a deal to set up a benchtop CNC mill as a studio tool
1. How do you use computer technology in your studio work?
I am interested in natural forms and textures. I often make molds
of various natural objects, and use these in jewelry and sculpture. I
find that computer technology makes it possible to capture 3d surface
digitally, which makes it easy to manipulate- much easier
than dealing with molded surfaces directly. Also, since this digital
data is scale-independent, I’m able to use much larger objects-
putting a mountain range on a ring, for instance, and to use very
small things- a trilobite’s eye, for instance- at a larger scale.
2. Do you use it to produce multiples (production work) for
the markets such as craft shows and trade shows?
I’m working up to a production line, but I don’t get very excited
by this type of sales venue. I suppose they really require a more
nomadic sort of person.
3. How has the use of computers changed your studio work and
In my work, digital scanning and milling technology made possible
an extension of my artistic focus into areas I had only dreamed
about. Carving becomes as fluid as casting; few materials are out of
reach. I feel I’m at the edge of an ocean of unexplored
possibilities. In my business, the internet has made it possible for
me to connect with people in entirely new ways. While I never wanted
to be a storekeeper, I’m now able to fit retail sales into my
schedule without having to maintain a constant physical presence in a
4. Do you job out some of the processes to industrial resources
such as machine shops or CAD/CAM specialty facilities?
While I’ve sent some things out for scanning, I’ve mostly been
concentrating on things I can do in my own studio- I haven’t run out
of ideas yet…
I'd appreciate any answers you care to provide.
No problem, Don- feel free to contact me for more details on any of