I recently returned from presenting at the Colorado Metalsmithing Association's 2023 Conference "Beneath the Surface." Many many thanks to Ryan Gardner, Kim Harrell and the rest of the CoMA team. It was such a great experience, I wanted to share it here. I highly recommend going to their conference - it is the perfect size to relax, learn, make new friends. You don't have to be from Colorado, you don't even have to become a member!
Barbara Minor was the first presenter on Saturday afternoon - she wowed the audience with her breadth of knowledge of enameling as well as showing some amazing samples and a demo of enamel tips and tricks that were worth the price of admission.
Saturday evening was full of laughs as Andy Cooperman and Dana Cassara led rounds of Jewelry/Metals Trivia - we all learned important things like what B&S stands for, and what metal the Washington Monument is capped with and why.
Sunday morning started off with David Huang's heartfelt presentation on his vessel-making - interesting details of his work history (amazing deep relief figural chasing, also his first production work was handmade books!), and a very satisfying raising demo.
In the afternoon we heard from Paulette Werger, an east-coast silver and pewtersmith who does both jewelry and flatware. Gorgeous work, entertaining and inspiring speaker who told us about a recent HUGE spoon commission she had finished just before the conference. She also did a fascinating keumboo demo, explaining the process in more technical detail than I'd ever heard.
In between all the presentations, folks were shopping at the nearby vendor booths and silent auction, full of donated goodies like tools, books, finished work and even some mondobop gear!
The next day was Bette Barnett in the morning, then my presentation in the afternoon. Bette did a fabulous job explaining her path and how her work has evolved, and her demo had everyone's rapt attention as she fused powdered silver to steel.
Right before my presentation, there was a sobering member spotlight presentation by Rocky Riviera, a local CoMA member. His house and studio had been destroyed by the Marshall Fire just a few years back - a terrible tragedy. He documented his losses and the items that survived; powerful and difficult to see. But the good side was his story of how the Colorado metals community rallied to his side, raising money and donating tools. I doubt there was a dry eye in the room.
Not an easy act to follow! I showed images of my early work, starting with ceramics then photo-etched and fabricated silver vessels in school. I told the story of how I met Earl Bushey while teaching at Monterey Peninsula College, and how he and his friends generously let me join their mokume gane club. I demonstrated chisel patterning, and was delighted by the fun, intelligent questions from the audience.
CoMA was such a great experience, I went home and signed up to be a member immediately! I don't know if I'll make it to their next conference, but such a great organization deserves to be supported. It could really serve as a model for any regional metals organization - such a supportive, friendly group! I left feeling like I had a huge new group of friends.
Educator, metalsmith, jeweler, maker of custom mokume gane jewelry and wedding rings.