Metals Studio

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We offer a comprehensive program laying the foundation for a career in contemporary metalsmithing. Our students pursue careers as jewelers, blacksmiths, studio artists and teachers.
The BFA curriculum has a series of classes in jewelry, casting, hollowware, sculpture, blacksmithing, drawing, design and history, in addition to general academic studies.

Projects range from jewelry to architectural ironwork.
Students are exposed to a broad range of techniques and historical metal work in these classes. The use of traditional hand tools, combined with modern technology, is taught with an emphasis on creativity.
Students design and create solutions for functional and aesthetic problems using progressively more advanced tooling and skills.

During the final semesters, students refine their work by creating and exhibiting an individual body of work.

Metals Department Mission
Our mission is to prepare students for a career in metals. The students are taught the traditions and history of metalworking and encouraged to use this information creatively. They are shown images for each project from traditional culturally diverse range of work, side by side with contemporary interpretations. Individual expression is paramount whether the student chooses to work in a traditional or more avant-garde forms of expression.

Emphasis is placed on the use of traditional tooling with the idea of showing the students that it is possible to make work with a limited range of tools or a very small investment in tooling. More expensive and contemporary machines are introduced so that students have the freedom to explore the field with a wide range of ideas and potential.

Our studio is one of the best equipped in the nation. It was established with the idea that the students have the  opportunity to try out a broad range of tooling  and then select and buy only what they will need  to continue their work after having graduated from our program.

 The students are challenged with increasingly difficult technical endeavors that they are asked to put their own slant on.

Individual expression is essential to success as an artist in this field. The students are encouraged through a positive work environment and around the clock access to one of the best facilities in the nation.

Bachelor of Fine Arts and Certificate Programs
The degree in Metals is granted in Jewelry, Blacksmithing, or Hollowware. Emphasis is placed on traditional techniques with a contemporary approach.
All the students begin with foundation classes in drawing and design.

The first metals class for most students is Introduction to Metals / Jewelry. This class is focused on jewelry fabrication. All the other classes add to the knowledge acquired in this class.

Blacksmithing is an introductory class that can be taken at the same time as intro to jewelry or at another time. This is a class in traditional smithing starting with fire control and simple manipulation of forged steel. More than half the class will be devoted to making traditional projects like hooks, and fireplace tools. Once the student has an understanding of the basic techniques they will design a unique the final project using traditional techniques. This is a larger project usually a window grill, gate, table, or sculptural piece. While starting and working on the final project additional techniques and tools will continue to be introduced. It is at this time that the use of contemporary welding equipment and other more modern technologies will be introduced.

 The student can continue to take more classes in blacksmithing and will be working on improving skills and developing a personal vision in their work.

The students are free to choose a traditional approach or a more contemporary approach to their work. The essential component is quality and fine craftsmanship. 
All metals students will take at least two metals classes and one blacksmithing class before they start to specialize.

Both the Metalsmithing and Blacksmithing classes are repeatable. Content will vary from term to term.
In advance metal classes student will begin to explore casting techniques, along with other more advanced jewelry techniques as well as exploring hollowware, box construction and other technically based assignments designed to refine their skills while developing a sense of personal expression. This is necessary in the student’s development.

Occasionally specialty classes will be offered with a specific technique or a concept being explored.
Independent studies classes are for the more advanced students who wish to explore a specific technique or concept. Entrance into this class is at the discretion of the faculty, and will be based on the students written proposal.

The BFA program culminates in the student’s thesis project and exhibition. This is agreed upon between the student and their primary faculty. A committee will be formed of the Metals Faculty and 2 other members of the Faculty or the Artist in Residents. Some times committee members are drawn from the outside artistic community.
Students receive individual attention and support while working closely with the faculty. Students also have access to weeklong intensive workshops that can be taken as noncredit classes or for college credit during the summer.

Studio Profile

  • Learn ancient techniques with contemporary interpretation
  • Enjoy a 6,000-square-foot studio including blacksmithing facility, main bench room, with separate raising, buffing and chemical rooms
  • Develop professional skills from fine jewelry to large-scale sculpture
  • Work with a resident artist, visiting artists, and workshop lecturers
  • Have access to professional groups and studio/gallery visits
  • Experience excellent facilities and equipment
  • Receive individual attention
  • The studio is one of the largest, most comprehensive for traditional metal work in the country. The studio program is anchored with the studio’s faculty and Artist in Residence. This arrangement offers unprecedented access to an informal way of study. Between the faculty and resident artist, an average of about 80 hours a week are logged into the studio. While traditional classes are offered the faculty and artist in resident are working in the studio along side of the students. They can help with technical and aesthetic advise outside of class time.

    The studio is broken up into into specialized rooms. There is the main bench room with 24 traditional jewelry benches, with flex shafts at each bench space. A variety of torches, casting and enameling equipment, hydraulic press, drill presses, milling machine,  and a variety of hand tools.
A buffing room with two dedicated jewelry buffing machines, two larger buffing machines for polishing steel and hollowware, a grinder, split lap machine, stone working equipment, and three tumblers.
A chemical room, primarily used for acid etching, but it has also been used for electro forming, and aluminum anodizing. This specialized equipment is set up according to student interest.
A raising room with over 200 stakes and hammers, two heavy duty sanders, a sandblaster, two anvils, circle shear, step shear, spinning lathe, power rolling mill, large annealing torch, a draw bench, Beverly shear, a water cooled sander, and a power hammer for forging non ferrous metal.
A fully equipped blacksmithing shop with 6 coal forges, 5 gas forges, 7 anvils, 100 pound air hammer and a 50 pound little giant trip hammer, 2 belt sanders, 2 steel cutting band saws, a mig welder, an arch and tig welder, Large layout table, a 50 ton hydraulic press, plasma cutter, drill press, a heavy duty grinder, a large selection of hand tools, treadle hammer, and a large covered outdoor work area with 2 coal forges, anvils and a treadle hammer.
Both the faculty and the Artist in Residence have studio’s in the middle of the metals building. In the Artist in Residence Studio we have recently added  some dedicated cad-cam computer operated 3-D Modeling equipment
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