Well hello there! Allow me to introduce myself; my name is Jennifer Merchant, I am a studio jeweler from Minneapolis, MN. I studied metalsmithing at the Savannah College of Art and Design, and now work in alternative materials. I love to work with my hands, so being a craft artist for a living is pretty much my dream job.


Minneapolis is a wonderful place to create and has a great art community. It is also the home to this year’s Society of North American Goldsmiths conference “From Grains to Gold.” When I first heard that the SNAG conference was coming to my city I knew this would be my chance to finally go. I have been meaning to get to a conference for the past 10 years. I had a chance to go as a field trip during my undergrad studies at SCAD in 2004, but being that it fell over spring break and I had already booked a trip to the Bahamas I missed it.


Upon the conclusion of SNAG’s Toronto conference last year, the co-chairs for this year’s Minneapolis conference hosted an informational meeting. During the meeting Britta Kauppila, Emily Johnson, and Dominique Bereiter shared their experiences in Toronto and discussed their plans as co-chairs for the Minneapolis conference. They also talked about volunteer opportunities to help with conference planning. I had no idea that much of the SNAG conference was planned by volunteers. Here were three of my jewelry friends that had already been working on conference planning for the past year, I thought that was so interesting and wanted to help too. It came to my attention during the meeting that there was a group in charge of events and planning the final night party. Did someone say party? I love parties! I love to plan parties! Where do I sign up?! A few days later I received an email from Britta, the chair of the social events committee, welcoming me to the group. I couldn’t wait for our first meeting.


I was so glad to join the committee. I love music and dancing, and have a lot of friends that are party promoters and DJs. I figured I could use my network to help throw a great final night party for SNAG. I had been itching to plan a big event for a long time, and since I don’t have the funds to do that sort of thing on my own, this was a great opportunity to get some experience.


Our first group meeting took place in June 2013. The social events committee is lead by Britta Kauppila, and consists of myself, jeweler Patricia Schmidt, and jeweler Melissa Lovingood. The committee is in charge of all the fun stuff at the conference like the pin swap, after parties, the final night party, and other activities to help bring conference goers together. During this meeting Britta explained that there were a lot of changes happening with SNAG and the conference. SNAG is under new leadership this year and many new people are planning the conference. These changes brought about a great opportunity to try out some new ideas and breathe new life into this long standing event. One of the changes that I was excited to learn about was the idea that the final night party was going to be held in conjunction with SNAG’s annual conference fundraising event. The event in past years had been a jewelry fashion show the Exhibition in Motion. This year SNAG wanted to try something different. The four of us were a buzz with ideas. This was exciting and I couldn’t wait to get started making it all happen.

I look forward to sharing more with all of you in my next post, and hope to get a chance to meet some of you at this year’s conference! For those of you with past experiences volunteering at or for the SNAG conference, I invite you to share some of you stories in the comments below.

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Replies to This Discussion

Looking forward to reading your blog and meeting you at SNAG! Good luck with the final preparations 

I'm looking foward to your posts Jennifer; I've always wanted to attend a SNAG conference but living in a US territory makes it difficult. Hopefully one of these years!


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