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The Future of Metalsmithing

A bunch of us at Kraftwerks were listening Daniel Ballard talk about
950 Palladium alloy and its features. I was sitting next to Nancy
Monkman and remarked with all of the new alloys, colors, structure,
resistance to tarnish metals, how will the future generations of
bench jewelers know how to work on our heirlooms of the present.

I got thinking about the Peabody Anthropology Museum at Harvard when
I had the privilege to search endless trays of small chips of
pottery, bone and beads from American Indians in 1200AD. Then it hit

What about creating a kind of metals archive for our future?

Imagine when you visit the Smithsonian Museum and standing beside
the beautiful jewelry and mineral collections, are
examples of metals we use as goldsmiths/metalsmiths. While at the
museum, you come to a case of copper ore. Besides it is a piece of
copper sheet, wire, bar, and something created by a metalsmith at
that time. You move on to gold, silver, platinum and all the alloys
and colors in between. What would this say about our history, how we
invent, how we think and most importantly, how we create?

Imagine if future generations inherit or purchase a piece of antique
jewelry or a teapot from 2006 and they needed to make a repair, how
wonderful it would be to have the the metal available and the
accompanying documentation to restore the work to its original state.

My question is, what are we doing, if anything, to document our
growing knowledge of metals and where would the be

School for Jewelry and the Metalarts
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
781 891 3854

The Future…

Wow, Karen you sure can come up with wonderful ideas!

Your thought is starting the way… Maybe jewelry stores would take
this idea to educate people how talented metalsmithers are by
creating with fascinating material from our planet. It is amazing
how unconscious our whole society is about alot of things we do as
jewlers…and i think respecting our resources and the artists by
naming them in galleries is so important… I guess the only way to
get any message across is to be an example, which is harder to do
than the idea…

So, Start a little museum in your foyer, how cool is that womyn! You
are a trend setter, once the right person see’s it they will run
with it… heehee


Karen, this has be to one of the best ideas I’ve heard about
preserving the Arts. I’m big on researching historical references and
scouring volumes of archival photos when “digging” for ideas for new
jewelry collections. Just think if we had never discovered jewelry
examples from the Egyptians, Byzantines, Sumerians, etc. How far
behind would the progression of our work and ingenuity in jewelry be?

This would be great at the Smithsonian and a step in the right
direction. At the rate that technology is growing and sadly, as many
of the generation after me (I’m an 80’s baby) are becoming less
interested in the Crafting Arts like jewelry, this would be a great
"gift to the future".

Cheryl Anderson


I think so too. I think we have to act to preserve our own future
and our own legacy of metalsmithing.

I’ll tell you a little story. My sister is an art broker who
inherited a very large authenticated Pre-Columbian gold and jade
collection. I was allowed to pick out some choice pieces before the
collection was auctioned off to private collectors and to a few
museums. I own two of the gold pieces, a little frog and a lobster.
They are high copper content gold and I have marveled at the way
loops were formed for a bail, or the little tail on the lobster which
was hammered.

Beside the obvious figurines of a jaguar, a bead, fertility beads,
etc., there was a 3.5 cm by 10mm length of polished jade which was
formed into a taper. My sister couldn’t figure out what in the world
this piece was for. It had no obvious decorative value. When I put it
into my hand, I realized that it was a tool for burnishing gold. I
got chills and goosebumps just holding this 3000 year old piece of
jade and wondered who had used it and on what kind of art. Wow.

I think it is important for our heritage and for later generations.

School for Jewelry and the Metalarts
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
781 891 3854