I am thinking of cancelling my SNAG membership… I hardly find any
professional benefits anymore from being belong to that_once_revered
organization… i hardly read anymore their metalsmith magazine, it
has almost no topics related to practical goldsmithing, and
frankly speaking, facebook and orchid are doing much better job in
offering peer to peer networking platforms. plus, i have’t seen any
exceptional vision nor mission from SNAG executives for years… so
why are YOU still a member??
I am thinking of cancelling my SNAG membership… I hardly find any
Dan-I was a member back in the early 70s when it was still all about
metals and craftsmanship.
I still have some early copies of Metalsmith Mag. I quit decades ago
when it became all about conceptual art. Don’t get me wrong. I went
to art school and appreciate the more intellectual side of art, but
it’s not what I do.
I’m more about making stuff that will wear well for a very very long
time. I also prefer to be paid money for my work instead of begging
for grants. Oh, and I really like fire more than glue.
Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
I hardly find any professional benefits anymore from being belong to that_once_revered organization...
I never thought it meant much. Never was a member, never wanted to
Why to stay with SNAG?
Honest truth? I don’t know. Inertia probably. I’ve been a member off
andon for more than 20 years. I’ve presented at conferences, and
even chairedthe 40th Anniversary Committee. I knew (slightly) and
respected (deeply) anumber of the “Founding Fathers”, and what
little I do, I do out of respectfor their goals for the
organization, not because I get much of anything out of it myself. I
There are a number of very good people who’ve given much of
themselves to itover the years. That legacy deserves acknowledgement
On the other hand, I get so much value from it that I can’t remember
if my membership has lapsed again. Now that I think of it, it
probably has. Other than glancing at the pictures, I don’t even
bother reading Metalsmtih. Haven’t in years. I wrote a blog post
years ago, the last time the Exhibitionin Print exploded in their
faces, about my take on why the magazine was such an issue for so
Take a look at that, it’ll give you some sense on my take on the
field. Theshort form is that the Orchid crowd is all working jewelers
and metalsmiths, while SNAG is run by academics who have totally
different concerns about career growth. This leads them to value
different sorts of artwork. Things that the working jewelers who have
to sell their work to people other than a tenure committee can’t
afford to indulge in.
I’m not a member of SNAG, but it seems that the local university
faculty and students are. Perhaps their focus is on creating art. If
the organization no longer benefits you, why continue the membership?
Judy in Kansas
I used to be a member, looked forward eagerly to all the articles in
Metalsmith, and attended several of the meetings which were held in
the Northwest. Then their focus became strictly conceptual art,
lovely to look at, but unwearable. The entire emphasis was “thinking
outside of the box,” or “pushing the envelope.” All well and good,
but my needs were for more practical such as I get on
"Orchid." I am not belittling the “art” approach to making jewelry,
it is vitally important, but when “art” became the major and sole
focus of SNAG, it ceased to serve my interests.
Earlier my husband, John, wrote about his take on SNAG. We don’t
always again on points made for education and the arts. I, too, was
a member earlier on but over the years had to scale back on
memberships and chose to stay local with MAG (Metal Arts Guild) here
in the Bay Area. However, after teaching casting for several up at
CCAC-yes, that’show I still refer to Calif. College of the Arts, and
down at The Adobe ArtCenter for over 32 years, I am rejoining SNAG
and have used Metalsmithas a reference source and inspiration. I
don’t think that all publications can fill the varying needs for
those studying in the metals field. I bring in back issues of
JCK-Jewelers Circular Keystone, current issues of American Craft and
back issues of Lapidary Journal etc.
So, for my needs, I believe that SNAG is still a viable option and
recommend both it and MAG to those who want to grow, learn and be
inspired. Just my 2$ worth.
Jo-Ann Maggiora Donivan
This is an interesting question which comes up every couple of years
concerning SNAG. I am not a conceptual artist by any means, never
was, can’t imagine myself becoming one. Having said that I LOVE the
SNAG conferences. I get my batteries all charged up there and can’t
wait to take my son to Minneapolis for the next one. It is another
world for me, one which I used to snicker at before I went to the
I don’t know what the role of academic art jewelry is. Most of it is
too far out to compare to the role of runway couture clothing fashion
which has the role of pushing the aesthetic. More to my way of
thinking the Ganoksin competition about color in jewelry has more
importance to me to push the jewelry aesthetic than what I see in
academic art jewelry. I think at the very least the runway couture
clothing has to fit a human body (well anyway a skinny model’s body)
for the length of the runway so it has to have some construction
which can be modified to make a line of clothing that actually makes
money for all concerned. Art jewelry doesn’t have the kind of money
or marketing behind it so it just sort of skims along in the
I don’t know, there seems to be room in this world for the fantasy
sculpture coming from academia and I truly enjoy the SNAG conference
so what do I know?
Sam Patania, Tucson
Dan, This is a topic that has long been an issue for me. I do not
belong to SNAG but have frequently considered joining and gotten so
far as filling out the membership form. I find the notion of a group
like SNAG to be very appealing but I have learned that anytime I
start to consider joining that I should just go look through a copy
of Metalsmith and the feeling will quickly pass. In general I have
found the quality of all of the commonly available published jewelry
magazines/journals to be near rock bottom in content. The only one I
still maintain a subscription to is JCK. As far as membership in a
jewelers organization goes I think the choices are slim and you would
probably be better off looking for a local group. Scott
checked out SNAG a while back. I am not into ART JEWELLERY.
I agree with Jo I’m more about making stuff that will wear well for a
very very long time. I also prefer to be paid money for my work
instead of begging for grants. Oh, and I really like fire more than
How many members of SNAG sell fine jewellery? Do they make haute
Such an interesting and emotionally/intellectually charged topic
I am a member of SNAG, and have been for over 30 years. I, too, have
respect for the founders and their intentions for the organization.
I, too, believe that those intentions have been lost in the haze of
academic conceptual art and I would like to see the organization
re-embrace those original intentions, without, and this is
important, neglecting that portion of the membership that focuses on
the more esoteric and conceptual bodies of work. Although it may be
difficult, it is essential that all perspectives in our field be
welcomed into SNAG, all perspectives treated with respect and, most
especially, offered visibility/exposure via Metalsmith.
One of the problems with Metalsmith is that the focus has not been
inclusive. The magazine has wrapped itself up in a repetitive and
exclusive perspective that, in general, and especially in the
Exhibition in Print, neglects work by artists who are not involved
or enrolled (or previously enrolled) in academic institutions, whose
work is as they say, ‘out there’. One of the percs of those
involvements is the development of connections, and those
connections build layers and layers of support over the years.
Without that support, there might be fewer articles in Metalsmith
that cover work that is esoteric and perhaps, but not necessarily,
wearable, and more interest in work that is devoted to Excellence in
design and construction (though esotericism does not preclude
excellence. this is a hard discussion isn’t it!). I certainly do not
suggest an exclusion of any segment of the SNAG population that
chooses to join the community, whatever that segment may call
itself. I’m suggesting that Metalsmith is out of balance and has not
represented the make-up of the long term membership for a very long
time, and that, accordingly, the membership has tipped out of
balance as a result. The magazine ought to consider representing
artists/artisans as well as artist/designers.
I think as Brian suggests, the problem is also associated with the
names. SNAG and Metalsmith. The implications of both names is that
the work of the membership (and in the magazine) will reflect an
interest in gold and other metals. The expectation, when reading
Metalsmith, is that one will encounter work made in those materials.
The disappointment of some former members and many Orchidians is the
result of that unfulfilled expectation and, as such, is
understandable. And I believe that disappointment is at the root of
how emotionally charged this thread is.
There are, as many have suggested, other periodicals that cover the
making and art of jewelry, though not necessarily the art of design
or conceptual art as it applies to jewelry. Many of them cover
innovation in the field better than Metalsmith, as I’ve found that
Metalsmith tends to repeat themes and sometimes artisans regularly.
Most do not cover jewelry as sculpture as well as Metalsmith. Most
are not able to intelligently discuss the development of innovative
work as well as Metalsmith, and this is a major asset of those
aforementioned academic connections. This latter aspect of the
magazine is something that I do value. Talking about what we do (or
do not do), is interesting to me, and can be inspiring.
All of that being said, I intend to maintain my membership in SNAG.
I, too, along with Sam, love the conferences. When the Presentations
get too heady, I redirect myself to catching up with old friends,
viewing exhibitions (wonderful exhibitions), shopping in the vendor
room, attending demo’s, making connection, etc. I have volunteered
for projects many times with SNAG, including as Workshop Coordinator
for a long ago Boston conference. I developed a five year
fundraising project for SNAG’s Educational Endowment Program
(SNAGLinks) and at the recent Toronto conference participated as a
Portfolio Reviewer (now that was interesting and fun). In short, the
rewards of membership come from how one chooses to share one’s
skills and one’s presence. I am always inspired by the energy,
creativity, enthusiasm, friendships, skills, talents, community, and
membership of SNAG, and I bring that inspiration into the studio
with me. In fact, those percs are very much like what I get from
Orchid (and Ganoksin)!
And one more thought, and really it’s a question. is it possible for
one organization to include all the various approaches to making
adornment, as SNAG attempts to do? And MJSA? and… And, if
possible, how can a balanced inclusiveness be accomplished with an
all volunteer ‘army’.
There is absolutely no benefit to paying for most memberships that I
have seen in more than 35 years as a goldsmith. the Society of
American Silversmiths had a decent savings on purchasing metals but
vendors say they don’t honour that discount any longer. Why pay for
SNAG’s magazine when you can go to a bookseller’s store and read in
15 minutes free and then re-shelve it since it has no practical
and unless you belong to the clique receive certain
grants (the same recipients seem to receive the same grants over and
over. seems pretty fishy to me anyway!)? In short; there is no reason
to pay for a conceptual art jewellery magazine if you aren’t making
conceptual jewellery or can’t access a computer and the www.
You can find “art jewellery” images and euro-style conceptual
jewellery on the web for free! And as Jo said."I don’t use glue"
either!!! that pretty much sums up the direction of SNA. artists,
I’m not sure the term goldsmith is applicable or a true description
of the organisation any more. It is loosely associated with
gold-smithing. or fabrication in any way, much less a discussion of
relevant topics in the field or developing trends in the craft. What
then is the point? In short, its a dying organization with the same
old-same old for the past six or so years as the board simply changes
I’m glad you brought this up. I value my company membership far more
than any North American metalsmithing memberships available. and
trade magazines are too pricey for a bunch of advertisements. I
prefer to MAKE actual hand fabricated jewellery and teach others
about metalsmithing than to entertain memberships in organizations
that serve a very few., and personally, I would far rather spend my
money on metals than a magazine of little interest that can be had by
the issue! The NC Soc. of goldsmiths and even the AFMS do more to
promote metalsmithing than SNAG- despite the glossy magazine. that is
mostly conceptual these days. Though there are a number of facilities
in the “Arts & Crafts Triangle” (though more oriented to novices)
operated by metalsmithing/jewellery training concerns or
mineralogical societies that are more affined to promoting
goldsmithing (albeit silver given the cost of metals as it has become
in the past 6 + years) than SNAG. and as an organisation that is
supposedly the society of NA goldsmiths, it does not serve
educational or practical goldsmithing at all. Who then does it serve?
from what I have seen - solely, the board.
As to the “Board”…its an exclusive group (of a cliquish nature
these days) serving to reinforce their professional credentials more
than any promotion or furthering of the art and sciences involved in
goldsmithing or metalsmithing in general. As far as I can tell, there
is no reason to support it, unless there is an issue of the magazine
you wish to buy for some reason. Novices may be better off with a
subscription to Lapidary Journal/Jewelry Artist magazine or even Rock
and Gem for topics on making jewellery or lapidary arts if not to see
a “gallery” of recent works of hand made jewellery by actual
metalsmiths than anything SNAG offers. It is a sad state of things
when North America has no journeyman trade programmes or
apprenticeships and there is no professional organization lobbying
for, or establishing something resembling an organised and structured
course that will result in the furthering of or future of the arts
and sciences involved in the goldsmith’s trade, much less support
for the art, as does Mexico and other Central and South American
countries or Canada and EU nations. The US is not terribly focused on
anything more than creating marginal service industry employment
opportunities or training, with Food service being the main objective
serving tourism in a given area more than an actual arts impetus in
any social sector. If one isn’t born into a family business, nor
creates their own independent jewellery trade related business then
the opportunities are quite limited and even fewer schools are
certified for students to get federal assistance to attend and
participate in a comprehensive programme that will end in the
establishment of a livelihood in metalsmithing, in general much less
specifically in goldsmithing. With a model like the Worshipful
Company of Goldsmiths to go by, having a rich tradition and extensive
resources and support, it is odd to me that the colonies are still
far behind the old world system of guilds and trade organisations
that seek to train newer generations in the propagation of the craft.
it'll give you some sense on my take on the field. The short form is that the Orchid crowd is all working jewelers and metalsmiths, while SNAG is run by academics
I have some time to kill for a bit - just wrote a used-car sized
check to a vendor and my day is done. My finger’s sore from all that
I read Brian’s blog and there’s another posting today on this topic
that is along the same lines, in it’s way. In my mind, both missed
the point. I’ll say that I went to the SNAG dinner here in San
Francisco when it was here and had a fine time, and met some fine
people. I think, without pointing fingers, that youDO have two
crowds: those who just make jewelry and those who believe their own
PR. One word we use for people who believe their own PR is
"pretentious". That word often has negative connotations but there
are those who are full of themselves in every field and the word
applies to them, too. I’m a jewelry designer - you’re a jewelry
designer. That person is more of a benchworker, assembling Stuller
parts, which is a noble careerin itself - nothing wrong with that. I
view it as success and my definition of success is most people’s.
Obama didn’t just TALK about being president, he ran for president
and the American people elected him. You can sit there all day about
how your own personal definition is not that but it doesn’t change
the fact that mine is. You either have product that touches people
and they want to possess enough to pay you for it or you don’t. If
it’s art-to-wear and people want THAT, then good for you. My price
points go into five figures, theirs is more like $500 and hers is
under $50. Fine, we all have our place in the world. Proclaiming
that one is a jewelry designer who can’t sell jewelry enough to make
a decent living at it is just so much smoke, to me. That’s a
hobbyist. So, it’s simple. We are jewelry designers. Some of us just
design jewelry and some of us need to believe our own PR, even if
sometimes that PR isn’t even true but it sure sounds good and feels
good, doesn’t it?I got no use for it, myself, I have a business to
Regarding SAS discounts, I’m in total shock that any discounter would
not honor our agreement without first contacting me. If anyone has
had this problem, please contact me at sas at silversmithing.com so I
can resolve the issue right away. In the meantime, I will contact
every discounter and confirm that they are still in the program.
Jeff Herman, Founder
Society of American Silversmiths
Thank you Linda Kaye-Moses! I believe that you have beautifully
articulated how many of us feel. All I can say is “ditto”.
One of the problems with Metalsmith is that the focus has not been inclusive. The magazine has wrapped itself up in a repetitive and exclusive perspective that, in general, and especially in the Exhibition in Print, neglects work by artists who are not involved or enrolled (or previously enrolled) in academic institutions, whose work is as they say, 'out there'.
This is a huge reason why I was disappointed in SNAG after joining,
and let my brief membership lapse. Seems to have developed into an
inbred network of sorts.
Furthermore, calling itself “goldsmiths”, but touting everything
else but Gold, shows how weak in skillsets their leadership is/has
I suppose SNAG reflects the enormous gap between American and
European schools of (ahem), thought/skills, on what “jewelry” get
taught and passed down from teacher/mentor, to student/apprentice.
It appears that the American schools leave their students
ill-prepared to survive in the commercial arena. So they gather in a
circle for support.
lost in the haze of academic conceptual art
if you think SNAG is out there look at The Australian National
University (ANU) site for jewellery courses.
As some one who made fashion and couture jewellery out of many
materials much this stuff just makes me laugh.
It is not practical to wear. And if it was for a catwalk/runway why
not get a beautiful model for the photo?
In the 1980’s my work was regularly in Vogue, Mode, Cosmo etc in
Australia. Left that side of the business as I became addicted to
gold, silver and gems. But I still like to set my resin "Black Opal"
in silver for the lucky very few. Thinking of entering the Orchid
colour competition with an over he top piece, still wearable though.
So the only real metric for judging whether a person can call
themselves a jeweler or a jewelry designer is sales?
What then is the point? In short, its a dying organization with the sameold-same old for the past six or so years as the board simply changes positions!
I think the point has been made that SNAG has lost it’s credibility
with most of us. Most of the working jewelers I know don’t even know
what it is.
To change direction a bit, this is the magazine that "Metalsmith"
could be, and should be: finewoodworking.com
It’s another genre, and I bring it up becauseof how good it is - I
imagine some readers here will be happy to find it, though. I
believe it’s still quarterly, I don’t subscribe.
I’ll point out the truly informative articles, truly intelligent
tool and equipment reviews, and videos, and everything. Just over to
the right sideis the small toolbar with blogs, knots and gallery.
Knots is their forum, open to anyone who registers. The gallery, you
will notice, has anything and everything that has a certain level of
quality. Right next to an uber-modern concoction there is a classic
pie crust table or Chippendalestyle chair. Uncensored,
unadulterated, unsnobbed, real people doing real things, pro,
amateur and in-between. Their annual photo book is a sight to
behold, too. Now, if Metalsmith even approached such a format I’d
subscribe in a heartbeat. They won’t…
Funny you should mention fine woodworking. I’m in CT at the moment,
after having had a booth (knew concepts) at a Fine Woodworking Live
event. Thinkingabout this thread, I made a point of chatting up FW’s
editor. My object was to pick his brains about the economics and
editorial issues with a magazine like FW. I agree, I’d MUCH rather
read a metals version of FW than the current Mentalsmith.
For unrelated reasons, I expect I’ll be talking to the current SNAG
president when I get home. I plan on bringing up both this thread,
as well as my conversation with Asa with her when we talk. If
anything comes of it, I’ll report back.
Meanwhile, about the “Goldsmithing” part of the name: that’s been an
issue longer than SNAG has had a name. One of the very first
controversies the not-yet-established organization had was what to
call itself. SNAG ended up being the least objected-to suggestion.
Every 6-8 years somebody gets on a kick to change it, but nobody has
come up with anything better yet.
I don’t know exactly what it stood for, but one of the original name
suggestions would have come out as SPAM. So it could have been