AR 319 Student WorkAR_319_Student_Work.html
AR 319 Syllabus
AR 319 Sample AssignmentsAR_319_Sample_Assignments.html
AR 371/372 IndependentAR_371_372_Independent_Study.html
AR 319 MetalsmithingAR_319_Metalsmithing.html
AR 320 Jewelry & Metals IIAR_320_J%26MII.html
AR 219 Jewelry & Metals IAR_219_J%26MI.html



COURSE DESCRIPTION:  Metalsmithing is a four (4) credit, advanced level studio art course designed to build upon skills and concepts introduced in AR 219; Jewelry & Metals I.  “Metalsmithing”, in theory and practice, denotes the transforming of metal by controlled, deliberate impact.  To smith is to smite ( -verb: to beat or strike forcefully.  from O.E. “smiten”).  Thus, students of metalsmithing will learn to exploit the plastic qualities of metal (malleability and ductility) by the force of hammers, anvils, stakes, and swages; engaging processes that have remained largely unchanged for millennia.

Technical demonstrations and hands-on exercises provide the foundation for learning in this course.  Major assignments are designed to kindle individual inventiveness, encourage a diversity of solutions, and promote a substantial demonstration of technical skill and understanding.  As skill and insight are dependent upon proper repetitive practice, the importance of consistent, focused out-of-class work cannot be over-stated. 

For purposes of clarity, this course is partitioned into the following three (3) broad topic areas: 

  1. Phase 1:  Hollowforming and Shell-structures

  2. Phase 2:  Forging

  3. Phase 3: Raising and Holloware

COURSE STRUCTURE:  Classes meet formally six (6) hours per week in Saisselin 207 (the Jewelry & Metals studio). Hands-on studio activities will frame approximately three-quarters of scheduled class time, the balance being comprised of lectures, group critiques, and technical demonstrations.  Supplemental gallery talks, “slide” presentations, and visiting artist workshops may also be scheduled as time and interest permits.  Group critiques (approximately 5 per semester) are an essential component of this course; attendance and participation at critiques is compulsory.  Quizzes on safety and related technical information may be given as deemed appropriate.

ASSIGNMENTS:  In each of the three Phases students will complete one (short-term) exercise and one (long-term) major assignment.  The primary purpose of each exercise is to advance technical proficiencies, whereas major assignments promote a fuller integration of the aesthetic, the intellectual, and the technical. 

Traditional principles and theories of composition and design are foregrounded in many assignments and exercises.  The prospectus for each assignment will outline the objectives, timeframe, and technical parameters to be followed.  All assignments are designed to balance technical skill-building with design theory (aesthetics) and creative problem-solving; encouraging students to uncover unique , personally derived solutions within the framework of traditional precedents.

COURSE GOALS:  Consistent with other courses in the Jewelry and Metalsmithing sequence, AR 319 endeavors to build bridges between a broad range of disciplines, within this department and beyond.  For this reason, creative problem solving is at the fore of every assignment undertaken.  Likewise, students in AR 319 will rigorously examine and contest aesthetic theories through their creative work, as well as through critiques.   The development of skill and insight (perspicacity) is accomplished through consistent, often demanding, technical practice, supported by targeted and thorough lecture- demonstrations.  With this as background, the major goals of this course are:

1) The exploration of formal aesthetic principles and concepts, common to all of the visual/plastic arts;

2) The broadening of personal aesthetic sensibilities and creative problem-solving skills;

3) The achievement of proficiency in the techniques and processes introduced, with an emphasis on studio safety;

4) The understanding of traditional and contemporary issues in jewelry and metalsmithing, and studio art practice in general (e.g. the concept of craft-as-art and its relevance to individual student work.);

5) The broadening of critical skills through participation in class discussions and critiques; requiring an understanding of the relevant criteria, vocabulary, and the practical aspects of critical discourse.

EVALUATION AND GRADING: All assignments are evaluated on the basis of quality

Quality may be evidenced in many forms;  intellectual insight, aesthetic sensibility, and technical acumen are particularly important quality-yardsticks for a studio artist.  The quality of engagement (that is, effort) is best evidenced by work which reflects high levels of initiative, perseverance, and an applied understanding of the techniques and concepts presented in the course.

The Skidmore College Catalogue states that “grades are assigned on the following basis”:

Distinguished work = A+, A

Superior work = A-, B+, B

Satisfactory work = B-, C+, C

Passing, poor-quality work = C-, D+, D

Failure, no credit earned = F

Attendance and participation are MANDATORY!  Late arrivals, inadequate preparation and lack of participation (especially during critiques) will incur grade penalties; negatively effecting a student’s final grade for the course. 

As a rule students will be forgiven two absences* during the semester.  Each additional absence may lower the final grade as much as one full letter.  Students are solely responsible for all work missed during an absence.   In circumstances where essential safety information has been missed, a student MUST arrange a special meeting with their instructor before proceeding.  Note:  A "late attendance" or “early departure” will be regarded as an "absence" when any portion of a significant activity (i.e. demonstration or critique) is missed.  For more information on the attendance policy see Jewelry and Metalsmithing Studio Policies.

*In circumstances where a serious health impairment or family crisis leads to a prolonged absence, students should contact their instructor (as soon as practical) to discuss the nature of the problem and possible options for completing coursework.

Late work will be penalized one full letter grade for each class period beyond the due date.  No work will be accepted beyond the third scheduled class period after the due date.  Work will be recorded as late when it is not completely finished before the beginning of class on the day it is due.

Plagiarism (and other unethical practices) will not, under any circumstances, be tolerated.  Students are expected to embrace the very highest standards of Academic Integrity (see the Skidmore Honor Code). 




    AR 319,, Metalsmithing, provides an introduction to three (3) distinct bodies of technique used to form and shape malleable metal: hollowforming (shell-structures), cold-forging, and raising (holloware).  The following is an overview of assignments, lectures, and demonstrations which will comprise each of the three phases of this course:

    Phase I; Hollowforming:  For centuries, Hollowforming was the predominant method of production for decorative and utilitarian metalwares.  But, as a consequence of nineteenth century manufacturing advances and twentieth century design sensibilities (characterized by severe, planar assemblages), hollowforming seemed destined to become another obsolete hand-craft tradition.   Then, in the late twentieth century, studio metalsmiths rediscovered the creative potential of traditional hollowforming processes (due in large measure to the Finnish silversmith, Heikki Seppa).  Invigorated by new methods, new theories, and a new vocabulary of form, studio metalsmiths began producing work of serious sculptural consequence.

    Hollowforming is perhaps less descriptive of a single process than of an objective.  By using hammers, stakes, swages, and hardwood forms, metal is "moved" (stretched and compressed) into complex curvilinear, dimensional forms or "shell-structures".  As a consequence, the forms produced can be remarkably rigid yet light-weight, with a vast potential for surface variation.  However, as metal does not easily surrender to its plastic potential it is essential that students understand not only the techniques as demonstrated, but also the physics of the materials and processes involved.

Assignments and Exercises:  Students will be assigned one short-duration exercise (creating a monoshell) prior to beginning work on the major hollowforming assignment (see prospectus at the end of this syllabus). 

    Phase II; Cold Forging:  In this process the plastic potential of metal is pressed, quite literally, to its limits.   Specialized hammers (i.e. the silversmith's cross-peen) are used to flatten (reduce) and elongate thick metal rods and bar-stock to create linear forms which are structurally tensile, and dimensionally dynamic.  These forms may be equated to a calligraphic brush stroke in which linear modulation lends energy and proportion to the lines expressed.  Intermittent annealing is essential to maintaining (or rather regaining) the plasticity of metal subjected to the stresses of forging.  It is therefore important to understand the physical characteristics of each specific metal being used and, through repeated practice, gain a sense for how, in the hands of the artist, the hammer and anvil can be both forceful and sensitive tools of expression.

Assignments and Exercises:  Students will be assigned one short-duration exercise (forging sampler) prior to beginning work on the major forging assignment (see prospectus at the end of this syllabus).

Phase III; Vessels (Raising):  The vessel is among the most elemental of utilitarian forms.  Historically, it has served as both an object of utility, and an emblem of prestige and commemoration.  Raising is a centuries old process used for creating vessels and other volumetric forms in metal.  The process begins with a disc of sheet metal (a blank) which is methodically compressed over steel  t-stakes with a specialized cross-peen raising hammer.  To develop proper technique it is essential that every detail of the demonstration sequence be carefully noted.  The raising process, more than any other studied in this course, demands that students be disciplined, tenacious, and meticulous in their practice. 

Assignments and Exercises:  Students will be assigned one short-duration raising exercise prior to beginning work on the major vessel assignment (see prospectus at the end of this syllabus).

Studio Safety is an essential component of this course.  Students are expected to read and follow all Department and Studio Safety Guidelines.  These are posted and available to all students.  ALL demonstrations will include important safety information.  Students who have not attended these demonstrations or are otherwise apprehensive about a process must speak with their instructor before attempting to use the tools or equipment in question.   

NOTE:  Students are required to keep a combined Sketchbook/Notebook throughout the semester.  This should include detailed lecture and demonstration notes (with illustrations when appropriate) and may be collected for grading without advanced notice.

An extensive library of books and periodicals is available in the Jewelry& Metals studio (compliments of your instructor).  Please keep these volumes clean, organized, and available to all. Do NOT borrow them for personal use or remove them from the studio without the expressed permission of your instructor.  Additionally, a wealth of books and journals on metalsmithing, craft media and the decorative arts are available in The Scribner Library.

AR 319 Syllabi

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