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Explaining Metalsmithing

I’ve often described metalsmithing as the process of manipulating
metal by using heat and carefully directed force to take advantage
of metal’s innate plasticity. When a customer asks how I create my
complex fabricated jewelry, I explain that, much like a woodworker,
I begin with raw materials (sheet, wire and tubing) which I cut,
shape, reassemble and embellish.

This explanation becomes especially helpful when I get the customer
who asks if I can just melt down their old wedding ring and “smash
it into a new design.” <<…Yeah…sure…>>

It’s interesting the associations (and baggage) we attach to
different terms. I rarely refer to myself as a “Jeweler” (although I
do make jewelry) because to my mind, that term evokes images of
mass-produced, manufactured jewelry with loads of faceted stones.
I’ve also found that this is the image the general public seems to
have, prompting the immediate question, "So where is your store?"
That’s often followed up with “Can you cut a ruby I mined up at
Spruce Pine?”

More commonly, I refer to myself as a “Goldsmith” (although I work
equally with silver) or “Metalsmith”. I found when I used the term
"Silversmith" people assumed I made southwestern-style Native
American jewelry or hollowware. When I say that I’m a "Metalsmith"
folks ask, “You mean, like blacksmithing?”

So sometimes I say that I design and create jewelry and wearable
art. Then they assume I string beads (and sometimes I do). I also
make boxes and reliquaries, chalices, talismans and ritual
tools…along with wearable pieces of art made from precious metals,
and anything else that interests me. I use Earth, Fire,
Air and Water to manifest what my Spirit envisions, so I suppose I’m
also a Shaman.

Mostly I just tell them I’m blessed to be able to play for a living.
<< Big grin! >>

Walk in Beauty,
Susannah Ravenswing
Jewels of the Spirit
Winston-Salem, NC - Where the sourwoods are turning red and we’re installing
the ceiling in my new tree-house studio this weekend! Yippee!!!