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Letter from the President – April 2015

ZettleSterlingDear Members, It is with both joy and sadness in my heart that I write my last letter to you as the President of SNAG. What an adventure it has been! So much has happened during my term as President and some of it, to be honest, was challenging. I would go as far as to say that it has been one of the most challenging things I have ever done, but it has had its rewards. I take many priceless things with me, such as:

  • a deep sense of satisfaction having given myself to a cause other than my own immediate concerns
  • giving back to my community, a community that has supported me over the years
  • building new friendships and camaraderie
  • an improved sense of self
  • a deeper appreciation for those that serve
  • a deeper knowledge of SNAG that could not be acquired without serving on the Board
  • strengthened ties to our community that I have come to call my family.

I want to thank you for having faith, electing, and supporting me over the last few years. It has been a great experience working with the Board, Gwynne Rukenbrod Smith, and the rest of the staff in this capacity. I have learned so much from my role serving on the Board and as President. Yes… volunteering comes with its challenges, but the rewards far outweigh these. I ask each and every one of you to consider the tremendous benefits of volunteering and to think about your role in this organization. I hope that you will consider SNAG when you think of where and how you spend your time volunteering. SNAG really does need you!  If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Volunteer Coordinator Katie Poterela.

Nicole_JacquardPresident-Elect Nicole Jacquard will be taking over the reins in May. It has been a pleasure working with Nicole over the last year and getting to know her better. For those of you who do not know Nicole, she is a sincere and kind person, she is diplomatic, level headed, and has a very balanced perspective. I wish Nicole the very best and will be lending her a helping hand and advice if she asks.

As you can imagine, Nicole gives me confidence to step down knowing SNAG is in her capable hands. I will pass the torch to Nicole during the Membership Meeting at our Boston Conference on Friday, May 22nd. If you are at the conference, please consider attending this meeting, not just to see the passing of the torch, but more importantly, to learn what is happening in your community. This is one of the most important events at the conference. It is imperative to educate yourself on what has happened over the past year and what we’ve been planning  for the future. It is also a great opportunity to meet Board members, talk with them in person, and learn about Board service.

Since I am on the topic of the conference, I would also like to mention that there will be several significant SNAG members honored at the conference, including:

  • Fred Fenster will be awarded the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award during the opening ceremonies. Fred FensterFred is a Founding Father of SNAG, jeweler and silversmith, as well as Professor Emeritus at University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • The Volunteer Recognition Award will be presented to Harriete Estel-Berman. This new award was created to publicly acknowledge and honor volunteer contributions to the highest extent. HarrietHarriete is known for her outstanding work on the Professional Development Seminar Leadership Committee, which she was part of for many years before becoming its Chair. The award ceremony to honor Harriete will take place during the membership meeting.

VRA pin - Ross Tanner designMore about the pin being created for the Volunteer Recognition Award: Grand Valley State University’s Department of Art and Design student Ross Tanner (Graphic Design, 15′) won a design competition held by GVSU’s Jewelry and Metalsmithing Area. As well as GVSU donating the materials to create this gorgeous pin, the students in the Intermediate/Advance Jewelry and Metalsmithing class will work together to create five pins for future award winners.

In closing, I cannot express how much it has meant to me to be able to serve you and the organization as a whole. It has been a humbling, fulfilling, and productive experience and most importantly….one that I will always hold close. I would like to thank the Board, Gwynne, and staff for their countless hours given to the betterment of our community.

I hope to see you all at the conference in Boston!

Happy Smithing,
Renee Zettle-Sterling


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In Remembrance: J. Fred Woell

LAA_Fred_Woell, Eleanor, CindyIt is with sadness that we share the passing of another metalsmith. J. Fred Woell died April 2, 2015 at his home in Deer Isle, Maine. He was 81.

Woell was “known for using political and social commentary in the creation of jewelry,” according to a statement released by The Metal Museum Executive Director Carissa Hussong. “He was renowned for his found object assemblages, reflecting and critiquing the throwaway culture of late 20th century America with his characteristic wry humor.”

J Fred WoellHe taught at The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater; Boston University; Swain School of Design, New Bedford, MA; Haystack Mountain School, Deer Isle, ME; and SUNY/New Paltz, NY. His works are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Art and Design, (formerly Contemporary Crafts Museum) NYC; L.A. County Museum of Art, CA; Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; Houston Art Museum, TX; and the Hermitage State Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.

Woell received the Lifetime Achievement Award from SNAG in 2012, and the Florida National Metalsmiths Hall of Fame award in 2010. He held MFAs from University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, University of Wisconsin, and Cranbrook Academy.

The new documentary film about Woell titled J. Fred Woell: An American Vision is a documentary that features interviews with: Paul Smith, former director of the Museum of Contemporary Craft; Helen Drutt, curator and educator; and Glenn Adamson, former director of the Museum of Arts and Design, among others. The film is sponsored by the Union of Maine Visual Artists.


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Technical Article: “Micro TIG: Art Welding” by Sessin Durgham

This article serves as just the tip of the iceberg of the enormous possibilities created by the newest micro welding machines. Lower and lower price points are definitely making this technology available to the individual as well as educational programs.

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In Remembrance: Bobby Hansson

Bobby HanssonBobby Hansson passed away in March 2015. He was a photographer of craft and sculpture for thirty years, during which time he was the principal photographer for catalogs produced by the American Craft Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and he taught photography at the School of Visual Art.

He started making sculpture, objects, furniture, and musical instruments from found objects in 1955. In 1996, he produced a how-to book titled, The Fine Art of the Tin Can.

Bobby Hansson workHansson started teaching tin-can-art workshops at Penland in 1997 and taught regularly until 2011. He also taught workshops at Arrowmont, Campbell Folk School, Haystack, Peters Valley, and Touchstone.

Read more on the Penland blog


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In Remembrance: Manfred Bischoff

Manfred BischoffManfred Bischoff (1947-2015) was one of the great goldsmiths of Europe. Born in Germany, Bischoff lived and worked in Munich and Berlin before relocating to Italy. Bischoff had a fascination with language, a sardonic wit, and an unerring eye for simple beauty. Bischoff’s themes are universal: fear, love, mortality, and sexuality. His exquisite objects in gold, silver, coral, and occasionally jade and diamonds are encased in sense of isolation and psychological uncertainty. Though small, they are charged with intellectual complexity, and indeed with monumentality. His work can be found in collections including the Danner-Stiftung Collection, Munich, the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and the Power House Museum, Sydney, NSW.

source: Isabelle Stewart Gardner MuseumManfred Bischoff work