There are times late at night, when your faculty has called in sick
two days before a sold out workshop, a commission whose deadline has
passed and the piece has melted, again, or the first snowfall in your
new space is two feet and rising. Sometimes, you wonder, is it all
Then a letter which I enclose below, of a student that I have worked
with, who lived through these tumultuous teenage years, comes to my
mailbox. I cry and I smile and I say, yes, it is all worth it.
When I was 13 yrs-old I had the opportunity to explore my
passion for the arts at an intensive three-week art camp, and
on the advice of a friend, I chose metalsmithing and jewelry
construction as one of my primary studios. I fell right into
it, and fell in love with it. Even then I knew metalsmithing
would be a lifelong pursuit.
I attended the camp again two years later, but my family and I
soon realized the inefficiency of spending exorbitant amounts
of money for three weeks-worth of training, once every two
years. Metalwerx however, seemed like a viable and promising
I had taken a beginning silversmithing class there, and the
environment of friendly instruction and professionalism, as
well as the extensive resources of the studio, far surpassed
the quality of anything I had experienced before.
As I spent more time at the studio I came to appreciate just
how unique a place it was. Karen Christians had furnished a
studio with an impressive selection of equipment and supplies,
while bringing in prolific artists from around the world.
Studio-mates would shuffle in and out the door and I’d revel in
their work and their company, and of course, they would always
take the time to inquire about my current projects.
Unfortunately, bad times struck. My father was laid-off in
April of 2002, the summer before my junior year, and the last
thing we could do was continue to pay for metalsmithing
classes, but Karen saw my passion and my predicament, and
offered me a position as an apprentice and production
Not only did I gain experience in production work, but I was
able to work on my own portfolio pieces and complete an
award-winning commission while making extraordinary friends.
One day at the studio a woman with a Mexican accent came over
to my bench and complimented me on my piece. Her name was
Rocio Heredia, a master of chasing and repousse but an
otherwise eager-to-learn-metalsmith who like myself, had
discovered something incredible and artistically satisfying in
Metalwerx. Impressed with my art, she offered to design a
website for me and to this day we correspond and add pieces to
our acclaimed site.
She has been one out of many amazing people I have met through
the studio. Through financial hardship, my parents’ turbulent
divorce and the many trials of high school, I have continued to
apprentice at the studio. Metalwerx has offered me a place to
unwind, to seek inspiration and communicate it in my art, often
with the guidance and insight of Karen.
My most recent and most meaningful piece came out of a writing
exercise I did with Karen one afternoon last year. She led me
through a sort of written meditation aimed at purging mental
junk and getting to what was really on my mind, what would
become the subject of my piece. After nearly an hour of
scribbling, the piece solidified in my mind, a representation
of the forces which obscure the truth in the form of a pair of
glasses. Every step of the process, Karen helped me realize my
design from the photoetching of George W. to red enamel paint.
I will be attending Harvard College in the fall, and I have no
doubt that the sheet of slides attached to my application, in
combination with my extensive metalsmithing experience as an
apprentice, student, production assistant and semi-professional
jeweler, made me stand out amongst the 20,000 applicants to the
class of 2008. Although I92ll have
plenty to do this coming school year, I have no intention of
discontinuing my work at the studio. Metalwerx has been too
valuable a part of my life.
M E T A L W E R X
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
Ph. 781/891-3854 Fax 3857
Jewelry/Metalarts School & Cooperative Studio