The big news down here in Camp Cooper/Cameron is that we're moving to Seattle. My husband, TurboNerd, has accepted a position working for a big geek farm, and so it's time to up stakes from Marvelous Melbourne (Australia) to Superb Seattle (in the USA).

We have just finished a scouting trip to Seattle, during which I was able to check out the Pratt Fine Arts Center and Danaca Design, both places where a wayward jeweller might find a place to stretch her saw-frame, if she happened to be without her own studio for a time. At Pratt I met jewellery studio minder Joshua Mans, while the next day I found Dana Cassara, of Danaca fame, still in her shop/gallery having finished a morning class in the workshops beyond. She is the current president of  the Seattle Metals Guild, so I was honoured to be given a personal tour of her teaching/workshop space.

In the very short time I spent at each of these places, I noticed (or was informed) of a few little differences between my own metalsmithing practices and current best practice in Washington. Some are purely of my own making but still, they won't wash in a group environment. For instance, I put stainless steel in my pickle, because it's my pickle and I work in stainless. Others issues were more of a surprise to me - the Pratt studios don't have propane torches as it's considered dangerous (because it sinks in our atmosphere and can thus collect unbeknownst to the user), so they use acetylene mixed with air.

I was already well informed of the voltage difference between the US and Australia, when I ordered a Paragon kiln earlier this year, and it came untested (and thus didn't work. Luckily the remedy in my case was simple.) Such issues remind one that one's coveted (and massive) sandblast cabinet contains a vacuum unit that's probably wired specifically for 240 volts, and thus will be useless with out a large converter unit. Never mind the 10amp air compressor.

Hmmm. Maybe some things just aren't meant to travel...

With this weight of evidence pointing to at least a few workshop changes, and the chance of encountering a bit of a learning curve in order to continue in my profession to my usual standard, I've been thinking. What else is going to change? And how will altering my method alter the outcome?

In short:

What's going to happen to my work?

Stay tuned folks...

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Tags: Australia, Melbourne, Seattle, USA, equipment, jewellery, metalsmithing, tools

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Comment by Tamsin Leighton-Boyce on January 4, 2012 at 5:27am

wow what a change! sounds very exciting. I will be following your progress! 

Comment by Tegan Wallace on January 3, 2012 at 3:48pm

(Early) welcome to Seattle, Melissa! I'm Dana's SMG Vice Pres and I spend a lot of time working at Danaca, too. Welcome to our metals community - we're a pretty friendly lot. I hope the relocation goes well and am looking forward to meeting you!

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A modern metalsmith/metal artist can be found working in traditional metals as well as in nontraditional materials. The designs can range from the classic to the extravagant, and the techniques can either be centuries old or decidedly current.

The wide range of expression preferences, design options, materials, and processes has lead within our field to unfavorable misconceptions, misunderstandings and in some cases even outright disdain between artists. Can the metal and jewelry field overcome its division and send out a much-needed signal?

We appreciate and respect our historical past and acknowledge that current materials have a rightful place in jewelry/object making!

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