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The Intimate Connection Between Body and Object.

Metalsmithing & Jewelry

MECA’s Metalsmithing and Jewelry Program rivals all others. You will be challenged, supported, and driven by artist-educators who are as passionate about teaching as they are about their own studio practice.

From your very first metals and jewelry class, you will begin to develop a grounding in traditional craftsmanship and visual sensitivity, and a work ethic you never imagined.

Your studio—your own bench—will be your home. Master the technical skills of soldering, fabrication, forming, raising, finishing, stone setting, and fine goldsmithing in non-ferrous metals. Learn the art of enameling and casting, and the language of the multiple. Translate traditional skills into unexpected materials like wood, marble, plastics, and resin. Continue the tradition of holloware. Get unparalleled professional training. Take your technical skills to an entirely new level by grappling with theory and entering the dialogue on craft as both noun and verb.

Unparalleled access to facilities, equipment, and space. Facilities are equipped for jewelry making and traditional holloware. Each major will have their own bench and full access to studio equipment that includes casting, enameling, forming, and raising facilities, a small-scale lathe, stone cutting equipment, and a new MECA Fab Lab.

Spotlight

  • Faculty
  • Alumni
  • Student
  • Betsy Lewis '16

    Student Perspective: Betsy Lewis (Metalsmithing & Jewelry Design '16) from Maine College of . . .

    Student Perspective: Betsy Lewis (Metalsmithing & Jewelry Design ’16) from Maine College of Art. To view more of Betsy’s work, view her portfolio online here.Read More

  • Catherine Quattrociocchi '17

    MECA has expanded the way that I think about materials. It has given me the freedom to experiment with . . .

    Catherine Quattrociocchi ’17 (Metalsmithing & Jewelry) was accepted into the juried exhibition Any Portmanteau in a Storm, a showcase in the blending of techniques, materials, and ideas to create the perfect storm of conceptual creativity through Wearable Art. The opening reception is Saturday, April 2, 6:00–8:00pm and the . . .Read More

  • Mary Forst '16 & Betsy Lewis '16

    Two Metalsmithing & Jewelry Design majors, Betsy Lewis '16 and Mary Forst '16, were accepted into . . .

    Two Metalsmithing & Jewelry Design majors, Betsy Lewis ’16 and Mary Forst ’16, were accepted into national exhibitions. Betsy is exhibiting in Craft Forms 2015, dedicated to enhancing the public’s awareness of fine contemporary craft, while providing a venue for established and emerging artists to share their . . .Read More

  • Betsy Lewis '16

    My internship gave me a sense of where I want to be in ten years. The work I did and the people I met gave me . . .

    Not content to spend her summer with one internship, Elizabeth “Betsy” Lewis traveled to New York City to intern for jewelry designer Janice Grzyb, as well as Erin Daily and Brian Weissman, owners of Brooklyn Metal Works. “My objectives for this summer were to be thrown into the depths of the metals industry,” Betsy explains, . . .Read More

  • Tegan Curry ’02

    Tegan Curry is from Bar Harbor, Maine, and currently produces six lines of jewelry.  Growing up, she spent . . .

    Tegan Curry is from Bar Harbor, Maine, and currently produces six lines of jewelry.  Growing up, she spent summers on the ocean working for her dad, with plenty of time to explore the coastline. Her latest product, LobsterBand Rings, stands apart from her other work and was inspired by finding various colored lobster bands while . . .Read More

  • Jeffrey Herman ’81

    When you think about what artists like Hal know, there is no comparison. I received a first-rate education, . . .

    Jeffrey Herman ’81 came to Portland School of Art (PSA) before it was called MECA, before it was housed in an historic flagship six-floor department store and before it offered courses such as the “Art of Business.” Today he is the owner of a highly successful business, Herman Silver Restoration and Conservation, and founder of . . .Read More

  • Chaya Caron '99

    Chaya Caron ’99 began designing jewelry at the age of 16, graduating in 1999 with a BFA in Jewelry & . . .

    Chaya Caron ’99 began designing jewelry at the age of 16, graduating in 1999 with a BFA in Jewelry & Metalsmithing. She pursued business education studies at the University of Maine and apprenticed under three goldsmiths. She is the owner of Chaya Studio Jewelry and her collection is inspired by her love of nature, conscious . . .Read More

  • Aaron Patrick Decker ’12

    Every jewel has a person out there, my job is to unite them.

    In 2012, as a senior at MECA majoring in Metalsmithing & Jewelry, Aaron Patrick Decker ’12 was awarded a prestigious Windgate Fellowship, which allowed him to participate in artist residencies at the Turnov international Jewelry Symposium in Turnov, Czech Republic; at the Estonian Academy of Fine Arts; and at the Association of . . .Read More

  • Sharon Portelance '82

    After receiving her BFA in Jewelry and Silversmithing in 1982 from the Portland School of Art (now Maine . . .

    After receiving her BFA in Jewelry and Silversmithing in 1982 from the Portland School of Art (now Maine College of Art), Professor Portelance traveled the country, ultimately settling in Seattle, Washington, where she began her studio practice and discovered what was to become her future in teaching at the Pratt Fine Arts Center in . . .Read More

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Outcomes

  • Formal

    Students gain an understanding of the expressive nature of both two- and three-dimensional form in relationship to the human body and independent objects such as hollowware. Students have grounding in formal design language, problem-solving skills, and critical thinking. They develop the ability to choose appropriate techniques, materials, and formal design language to develop a visual vocabulary in service to content.

  • Conceptual

    Students acquire knowledge about the history of jewelry and metalsmithing, the field’s contemporary theories and practices, and relevant critical language. Students gain skills to develop a self-directed body of work and articulate their work within both a historical and contemporary context. Students develop an understanding of the potential and limitations of non-ferrous metals and any other materials used, along with their social, cultural, and conceptual implications. Students gain competency and confidence in their own process of working: how to generate, develop, and execute ideas.

  • Technical

    Students gain competency and confidence in technical skills that include: soldering, fabrication techniques, forming, raising, multiple finishing methods, stone setting and fine goldsmithing skills in non-ferrous metals, enameling, and chasing and repousse. Students gain knowledge of the potential and limitations of non-ferrous metals’ physical characteristics and structural value, and any related health and safety concerns. Students understand standard safety procedures regarding chemicals and toxic materials. They are competent in proper tool usage and care. Students encounter and develop an understanding of the nature of risk-taking with their work and their relationship to it.

  • Professional

    Students learn to write an artist statement, professional resume, cover letter, and artist bio. They work with a professional photographer to gain optimum visual documentation of their work. They seek out and research opportunities in the field through the use of the web, professional organizations, publications and periodicals, and gain an understanding of how to approach a gallery. Students gain experience in applying for juried exhibitions, displaying work in a professional and effective manner, and mastering the basic business practices needed to run a sole proprietorship, i.e. bookkeeping for tax purposes, pricing work, studio start-up costs, registering yourself as a business in any given state, and using a CPA to advantage.

FAQs

  • What are some of the career paths for someone who majors in Metalsmithing & Jewelry?

    Students can become a bench jeweler for a jewelry store, set up a gallery and studio, or become a self-sustaining one of a kind jeweler or production jeweler. Other options include the field of teaching art, management within a large jewelry corporation, graduate school, or the profession of a watchmaker.

  • How do you prepare your students for the real world?

    Beyond our Professional Practice courses, students are also required each year as a major to apply for a juried national student exhibition, We encourage students to do internships and we work with local jewelers and metalsmiths to provide competitive opportunities for our students. Once a major, students learn to develop their own studio practice. Students are expected to work more independently while learning to generate, develop, and execute work from self-determined areas of inquiry.

  • What are some examples of what your alums are doing?

    Examples include gallery owners,educators, studio artists, watchmaker, bench jewelers, jewelry sales reps, self-employed as independent jewelers, exhibit work at craft shows, museums and galleries, many students continue on to graduate school. Students also leave the institution with such skills as technical proficiency (the ability to manipulate and construct with materials, are visually acute, gain critical capabilities, and are creative problem solvers). These skills can be applied to many fields in the arts, in industry, and in an entrepreneurial business practice. Our students are empowered to think creatively and many have the ability to link unorthodox connections between seemingly unrelated ideas. This kind of insight regardless of what they choose to do, encourages new ways of thinking and can solve problems at large.

  • What are the prerequisites to major in Metalsmithing & Jewelry?

    Students must complete MJ 101 and any of the five rotating elective courses that include Casting, Tableware, Enameling, Design for Production, and Independent Projects.

  • What unique skills do your students get?

    Students learn how to learn. They learn how to design, develop ideas, and execute them with skill. They learn how to research and pursue answers to questions on their own. There is a strong emphasis in developing all aspects of ones work that include strong technical skills and design sensibility in relationship to one’s idea as well as developing on tools and mechanics (the way things work).

  • Will I be able to incorporate other media or interests with my work as a Metalsmithing & Jewelry major?

    As students move through the program they are also encouraged to explore non-traditional materials and their potential meaning in relationship to jewelry and hollowware. Students learn how to transfer the technical and problem solving skills they learned in metal to manipulate new materials. Students have incorporated multiple materials in their work that include felt, wood, orange peels, pantyhose, plastic, gut, glass, rubber and much more.

  • What are some of the classes that are offered in your department?

    After gaining basic skills in MJ 101, the 1st and 2nd year elective classes focus on introducing students to multiple aspects of the field that include enameling, casting, tableware, and production. All assignments address technique, design considerations, and concept in relationship to the diverse formats of jewelry and hollowware.

  • What are some of the unique aspects of this program?

    Students begin by learning how to view metal as a plastic, malleable, seductive material. All of the techniques that students need to begin expressing their ideas is covered in Metals I and II. These techniques are taught through ideas and concepts.

  • What are the faculty like?

    Our faculty are working artists and dedicated educators who bring diverse expertise and aspects of the field to the classroom. Their voices both compliment one another and provide varying viewpoints to a student's experience and artwork.

  • What are your facilities like?

    Facilities include general elective classroom space with enameling facilities, a forming and casting room, a finishing room, and majors studio space. Our studio is well equipped to learn techniques required to become a successful jeweler and metalsmith. These techniques include basic jewelry and metalsmithing skills as well as specific equipment necessary to learn forming, raising, enameling, and casting. Our majors share a generous studio space where each students has their own bench and storage for two years.

  • What are some examples of internships your students have done in the past?

    Portland has a wealth of self-employed jewelers in the Portland area and many of our students have pursued internships with them. For example Folia, a local gallery and jewelry shop, has hired many of our students to do internships. Patti Daunis, another locally successful jeweler who does shows throughout the country also hires students. These students are exposed to a number of new technical skills and begin to see the inside operations of what it takes to run and own a business. Students have also pursued internships in NYC, Vermont, and Seattle, Washington. If a student is interested in developing a production line we will work with them to find the appropriate person to do an internship with so that they also learn the many aspects of designing for production. This year three students will be doing internships with the Metalsmithing & Jewelry faculty over the summer. Students will learn about various ways in which different artists pursue their work and learn new technical skills as well.

  • How many students (juniors and seniors) do you typically have in your major?

    Anywhere from 10-18 students.

Program

To major in Metalsmithing & Jewelry, students take:

Preparation (1st & 2nd Year)
Metalsmithing & Jewelry I (MJ 101) and (1) MJ 200-Level Studio Elective

Junior Year (3rd Year)
Metalsmithing & Jewelry Majors Studio (MJ 301-MJ 302), Introduction to the Discipline (MJ 351), Junior Seminar (SEM 352-3-4), and (2) Approved Studio Electives

Senior Year (4th Year)
Metalsmithing & Jewelry Majors Studio (MJ 401-MJ 402), Senior Synthesis (SEM 451-SEM 452), and (2) Approved Studio Electives

Workspace & Tools

Facilities are equipped for jewelry making and traditional holloware. Each major will have their own bench and full access to studio equipment  that includes casting, enameling, forming, and raising facilities, a small-scale lathe, desktop 3-D printer, and a CNC router.

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  • My objectives were to be thrown into the depths of the metals industry. My internship gave me a sense of where I want to be in ten years. The work I did and the people I met gave me a lot of ideas about what I can do, and the kind of artist I want to be.

    Betsy Lewis '16  2016  //  Boca Raton, FL
  • I grew up in rural Maine without access to art education in my public school. Fortunately, my parents recognized my ability and allowed me to move in that direction. Art school literally saved my life. The question shouldn’t be how will you make a living; it should be how will you make a life.

    Elizabeth Prior '82    //  Portland, Maine
  • 24/7 access to facilities is why I came to MECA. Being able to individually structure your studio practice is important. It’s great to be encouraged to explore any material or idea that you’re interested in.

    Emily Rogstad  2013  //  Metalsmithing & Jewelry  //  East Calais, VT

What do our alumni do?

Statistics from the 2015 Strategic National Arts Alumni project (SNAAP)

Did you know?

57% is the national average for arts alumni that work as professional artists.

47% is the national average for arts alumni that are self employed, independent contractors, or freelance workers.

63

Work as professional artists

23

Work as graphic designers, illustrators, or art directors

16

Founded a business

23

Work as craft artists

38

Work as fine artists

29

Work as art teachers

17

Pursued an MFA after graduation

49

Are self-employed, independent contractors or freelance workers

91

Make art in their personal time

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