SNAG's Metalsmith and non-metal objects

Hi All. I know we had a thread about the content of Metalsmith some
time ago, but I’m weighing in again. As I flipped through the
current issue, I kept seeing non-metal objects pictured. So, I
started counting. I found at least 14 non-metal objects editorially
featured and photographed, a significant percentage. And that’s not
including a number of other things that apparently had metal content
that was not visible, the cover photo of a foot for example. Why have
any non-metal at all? What part of “metalsmith” don’t they get?



Where do you draw the line, metals-wise? Are stones metal? How about
enamel? Wood? Etc.


the cover photo of a foot for example. Why have any non-metal at
all? What part of "metalsmith" don't they get? 

I have to agree with you Allan… Strange Photo to have on a
magazine cover… Now, Being a creative thinker AND I speak
French… The Foot translated into French is "C’est Le Pied " which
is a French expression (street Talk) meaning “wow, That’s Cool” Be it
cool or not… makes no sense on a metalsmith magazine… Unless they
are appealing to the French market since they are the only people in
the world that could technically apply a meaning to the foot Photo…

Thats my 2 cents worth !
Daniel Grandi

Where do you draw the line, metals-wise? Are stones metal? How
about enamel? Wood? Etc. 

I am not Alan, and the readership will draw the line. If the people
who support the magazine by purchasing it do not relate to the
content, a line will be drawn.

The previous discussion and discontent expressed on this forum about
Metalsmith was that the work portrayed was not relating to the medium
that some people assume the name relates to.

For some reason, people who buy Metalsmith have a distorted
perspective that METAL is the subject. Not wood, not stone, not
enamel. Wood, stone, and enamel are incorporated into designs with
metal. Remove metal from the design, and it is not relevant to
metalsmithing. They do not have sewing projects in a gunsmithing

I gave up Metalsmith a long time ago. I get more out of looking at
the websites of metalsmiths on Orchid. Much more satisfying, to me.

To me Orchid is as much about design as it is about technique.

This forum has a mission statement. Orchid members create with a lot
of different materials, not just metal. The majority of what I see

Orchid members fits into the context of Orchid"s mission statement.

What is the mission statement for Metalsmith?

Richard Hart G.G.
Denver, Co.

I should have been more clear when I originally ranted about
"non-metal" content in Metalsmith. What I was referring to were
objects that had no metal content at all. Sorry for the confusion.



Where do you draw the line, metals-wise? Are stones metal? How
about enamel? Wood? Etc. 

I think the line that Allan might be describing is when the object
has no discernible metal as a component at all… all plastic or
leather & waxed thread as examples.

All the best,

J Collier

I am not Alan, and the readership will draw the line. 

I agree with Richard. If Metalsmith isn’t careful it will go the way
of Lapidary Journal. Lapidary Journal was the magazine for people
who were into rocks and the cutting and polishing of rocks. They lost
my subscribership when they did the how-to article on the PMC covered

It slowly evolved into a beading and PMC magazine. And is now called
Jewelry Artist with in tiny print Lapidary Journal. It’s a sign of
the times. Lapidary work doesn’t fit into the “Want it now!” attitude
as of late.

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan

I don’t get the magazine, but from what I’m reading it sounds like
the magazine needs to change its name from Metalsmith to Modern
Jewelry, or something similar. It is quite possible to make lovely,
well designed, well crafted jewelry out of materials that don’t
include metal. If, however, they are going to call themselves
“Metalsmith”, then they should stick to items that fit with their
name - which would mean not just including metal, but including
WORKED metal… since that IS what smithing is all about!

Beth Wicker
Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio

I agree with Richard. If Metalsmith isn't careful it will go the
way of Lapidary Journal. 

I doubt it. Lapidary Journal was only a magazine, and had to depend
entirely on it’s identity as such, and readership based on it’s
magazine identity. Metalsmith, in contrast, is the publication arm of
the Society of North American Goldsmiths, and organization with a
considerably wider identity and merely the magazine. Metalsmith’s
"agenda" or look, or mission statement (if there is one?) isn’t based
just on itself, but is rather more a reflection of the activities
and membership and interests of SNAG itself. A simple look at the
variety of people at any of the SNAG conferences, and the variety of
work shown at those conferences, as well as the work shown quite
specifically in the student slide shows, as well as in presentations
by more established artists, will quickly demonstrate that the
definition of “metalsmith” or “metalsmithing” used by SNAG members is
somewhat broader in scope than many production jewelers would
prefer. Metalsmith magazine is not driven by the jewelry industry, by
jewelry making hobbyists, or by production jewelers and their
definitions. It’s driven simply by the desires, interests, and needs
of active SNAG members. That makes it quite different from Lapidary
Journal, which is driven totally by it’s readership’s desires.

And since SNAG both currently, and historically over it’s whole
history has long accepted the notion that metalsmithing and art
derived from the metals traditions can encompass many more materials
and techniques than solely actual metals. Consider that the term
"metalsmith" itself was coined because it was felt that terms like
silversmith or goldsmith were too restrictive, with artists working
in more than just one metal. With that history, it’s natural enough
that, in common with the art world itself, acceptance of new and
alternative materials and technologies should come naturally to the
metalsmithing field. The primary group of people who seem to oppose
the inclusion of such alternative materials (resins, plastics,
CAD/CAM derived materials, and who knows what all else) into the
definition of metalsmithing, or on the pages of Metalsmith magazine,
are those who’s professional lives as jewelers simply has focused on
the traditional metals of jewelry making. Nothing wrong with that,
but just understand that from the beginning of SNAG or the academic
art school programs in metals, traditional jewelry metals were a
subset of the materials used. People who voice too much objection to
the inclusion of new and non metallic materials in Metalsmith
magazine are simply ignoring the whole origin of the organization,
the magazine, and the academic art school world they orginated in.
They try to fit a large round peg into a much smaller square

Peter Rowe

I think the line that Allan might be describing is when the object
has no discernible metal as a component at all... all plastic or
leather & waxed thread as examples. 

I tend to agree with this statement and concept.

not beat anyone over the head with the obvious but the name of the
organization is Society of North American Goldsmiths or SNAG and the
publication is Metalsmith.

The name of the organization and the publication impies a mission
statement even if none is stated and thus responsibly demand a
certain amount of focus in certain areas of the craft/ art / guild
/skill of metal and or metal working.

as a couple of points of Encouragement, If theleadership of SNAG
want to focus on plastic, wood, ceramic, fabric, feathers and non
metal materials they should do that as an add on or special section
once a year.

if the reasons for focusing on these sorts of trendy “Anticraft"
genres” is they cant find metal artists to write about then they
should look no further than this forum every one on this forum is a
perfect candidate for feature in any issue metalsmith magazine -
warm regards Goo

Lapidary Journal HAS lost its rock orientation. But even the current
owners/editors have heard the resistance to the name change and
increased the prominence of the ‘Lapidary Journal’ title on the
cover. I must have missed, or blocked out, the Cheeto article, but I
don’t think I’ll lose any sleep over it. I’ll take Lap Jrnl over
Metalsmith any day for interesting content, even if it’s not perfect.

FYI, Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist magazine now says it is adding
more lapidary content to it’s magazine. I guess we’ll have to wait
and see just exactly where they’ll set the dividing line. I
personally like the jewelry articles, but have no plans to try my
hand at stone cutting, although I may read the articles out of

Mary Partlan
White Branch Designs

By this reasoning, Beth, shouldn’t the name “Orchid” be changed as
well? Aren’t there people who are signing who are under the
impression that this is a group of exotic plant devotees?


Every bit of advice I’ve ever gotten here has left my orchids
smashed, burned, or dissolved in acid. Really, this is the worst
gardening forum I’ve ever been a member of.


Back in college, I dated Dick Van Dyke’s daughter for a while. She
told me her father did a TV episode where he had his own motorcycle
club, called the “Wild Orchids”, if I remember correctly. In that
particular show, he wore a cool leather motorcycle jacket that the
costume dept. had embroidered the words “Wild Orchids” with some
orchid flowers on the back. She was given the jacket after the
filming, she told me.

So I had always thought that this Orchid forum was some kind of cult
offshoot from the Dick Van Dyke show…

Jay Whaley
Whaley Studios

By this reasoning, Beth, shouldn't the name "Orchid" be changed as

Definition of metalsmith: A smith, or metalsmith, is a person
involved in the shaping of metal objects.

A craftsman fashioning tools or works of art out of various metals.
Perhaps Society of North American Metalsmiths should change their
name to Society of North American Thread, Fiber, Wood, Plastic,
Resin, Polymer, Rubber, Ferris and non-ferris metal, Organic Material
and Found Object Artists.

There are materials that can be used to make jewelry that are not
metal, but that does not mean that someone who makes jewelry can be
called a metalsmith.

Stairs to this intellectual ivory tower are too steep for me.

Richard Hart G.G.
Denver, Co.

By this reasoning, Beth, shouldn't the name "Orchid" be changed as
well? Aren't there people who are signing who are under the
impression that this is a group of exotic plant devotees? 

No - Orchid never said/implied it was anything else. My understanding
from the posts is that Metalsmith did… which frankly is part of
the problem. It sounds like they are re-positioning themselves, and
that is always hard to do when you try to keep the same name.
Changing names if you are changing directions significantly is often
a better choice.

I perceive the Metalsmith issue as one where they used to be one
thing, have morphed into another, but have not, as far as is
apparent through posts (again - not a subscriber - don’t know)
clarified their position. This is what their website says:

Inspirational, innovative, and thought-provoking Fascinating
articles, intriguing artists, Engrossing guest columns, Captivating
exhibition and book reviews, Illustrated throughout with gorgeous
images of stunning work, Stimulating intellectual and visual interest

Please note that nowhere does it say “jewelry”, “metal”,
“smithing”… sort of proves my point that they don’t seem to
have a clear sense of direction and position.

Now here is the Orchid listing: This is what shows on Google:

Orchid - The Most Powerful Social Network, Forums, Blogs and… The
Most Powerful Social Network, forums blogs and gallery site for
jewelers - More than 8500 members worldwide!!

(by the way Metalsmith doesn’t show on Google’s first page, except
as a link under the SNAG page)

When you click the link, as I did for Metalsmith, this is what I

Orchid jewelry forum is a moderated e-mail-based discussion group.
Sending one message to orchid sends mail to all other members of

Very clear and concise, no question what this group and site are
about. How you could read that and think this would be a group
dealing with orchid plants (which I raise) beats me…

Beth Wicker
Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio

Hi all,

Speaking as someone who’s talked to various SNAG folks at various
times, and has done some research into the history of the group,
“Metalsmith” was never the perfect choice for the magazine’s name,
and “Goldsmith” was never the perfect choice for the organization.
They were just the least bad options. “Metalsmith’s” original name
was “Golddust”. That’s not a whole lot more descriptive, is it?

Basically, they were what was agreed upon after nobody could come up
with anything better. Every so often, there’s a move to change the
name, either of the organization, or of the magazine, but somehow
none of the proposed new names seems to work as well.

The joke I heard was that Phil Fike made some crack about “Well
we’ve really hit a SNAG now…” at one of the early conference
discussions about names, and it stuck. I’ve also seen buttons from one
of the early 80’s conferences where somebody was ?Maybe joking? about
some acronym that came out “SPAM”.

So, don’t like the names? Come up with something better. We’ve been
trying for 40 years.

Brian Meek.
Chair of the SNAG 40th Anniversary Committee for the Philly Conference.

So, don't like the names? Come up with something better. We've
been trying for 40 years. 

I don’t think most metal smiths want to come up with a new name,
they want metalsmith mag to come up with better content that fits the
name. It just does not really matter, if metalsmith mag does not want
to feature metal, the metalsmiths of the world should not read it. I
have not in years and I quit advertising in it also. All metalsmith
did is make me mad when I opened it, so why get it. I am not
intellectual enough to understand the content so I just subscribe to
more sailing magazines instead. By the way, my Thanksgiving will be
spent sailing and grilling hotdogs on the boat. My last stress free
day of the year.

Bill Wismar

Wow–yet again.

I am constantly surprised by how high the feelings run in the
annual–semi-annual, tri-annual?-- discussion of SNAG and

As a member of Orchid and SNAG (as many of you are) I have seen the
pundits in both groups demonstrate disdain for the other. But lately,
to my 51 year old eyes, the bulk of the bashing seems to be coming
fro the floral side.

Speaking only for myself, I’m thankful that Orchid is here. I’m
thankful that SNAG is here. And I’m thankful that the field is wide
enough for all points of view.

Happy Thanksgiving.
Andy, in rainy Seattle