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The Heat is Still On… - Society of North American Goldsmiths

The Heat is Still On…

From presentations to blogs to candid photos, we’ve gathered highlights from the conference.

SNAG’s 41st annual conference was held in Phoenix/Scottsdale, AZ from May 23-26, 2012. Share in the excitement and energy of the Heat conference and check out the post-conference wrap-up below and the program flip-book to the right. Plus see our huge list of thank yous!

Conference Photos

Keynote Address & Presentations

Garth Clark.jpgGarth Clark
Art Dealer/Historian/Critic
Santa Fe, NM

“Who’s Your Daddy?”
What part of the visual arts world does metalsmithing and jewelry belong to: crafts, design, art? Garth Clark looks at the changing landscape with craft diminishing in importance, design in ascendency, and art remaining a tough sell. The lecture explores the marketplace for the field in the past and its challenges today.

Listen to Garth Clark’s keynote presentation at the SNAG 2012 Conference in Phoenix. Click here to listen to the MP3 recording.


Megan_Auman.jpgMegan Auman
Designer/Maker/Educator/Business Owner/Entrepreneur
Jonestown, PA

“Creating a Culture of Profit”
Talking about and pursuing profit is beneficial to both the creativity and longevity of our field. The current business landscape provides an opportunity to pursue profit while striving for creativity and innovation. Yet, this pursuit of profit is missing from many conversations in the metalsmithing community. This presentation will address the importance of pursuing profit, why conversations about profit are essential for our field, and for the new business landscape where someone can both fulfill their artistic vision and build a profitable business.

Listen to Megan’s presentation at the SNAG 2012 Conference in Phoenix. Click here to listen to the MP3 recording.


Professional Development Seminar: When it Absolutely, Positively Needs to Be There: The Ins and Outs of Shipping

Click here to listen to and view these very informative presentations, along with very helpful handouts.



2012 Lifetime Achievement Award

SNAG bestowed its prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award on J. Fred Woell for a lifetime of exceptional service and achievement in art and education that spans 50+ years.

The award ceremony took place at the SNAG conference, with Woell giving a short presentation of his life and work, and the conference was also dedicated to him. Read more about Woell and watch for the piece about him in Metalsmith later in 2012. View a pdf containing images of Woell’s work and listen to the Lifetime Achievement Award presentation.

Blog Excerpts from 2012 Conferees

Hilary Halstead Scott
I am revitalized, re-energized and refocused! Last week’s annual Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG) conference is better than a trip to the spa. SNAG is an organization dedicated to metalsmiths including jewelers and sculptors in all metals, not just gold…The SNAG conference consists of a series of lectures on the issues facing metalsmiths today, technical developments, artist profiles and even historic periods in the craft.

The trunk show at the end of the week was the cherry on top of my conference experience. I found myself circling the room over and over again taking in all the beautiful pieces. It was fun to see the work of talented young artists right alongside some of the best known names in the jewelry arts. I had my eye on a lot of things but I couldn’t leave without picking up a couple pieces by Ashley Buchanan, a young jeweler with a flair for clean lines and color.

I left the conference feeling overwhelmed by the emotion of the jewelry arts. So many artists spoke so eloquently about putting their essence into their craft. The quality of the work at SNAG and the genuine love of its participants for the metal arts was moving. It made me proud to be a part of this amazing community. Read More


Alene Geed
I attended my first Metalsmith Conference last week. The attendees consisted of over 600 jewelry and vessel designers who use metals as their primary medium. This can be silver, gold, copper, steel, titanium, pewter and other alloys. Designers are a pretty creative bunch. I was amazed at the variety of jewelry in particular.

My two favorite parts of the event were:

1. Meeting other jewelers and having the opportunity to discuss some of our common issues with design and the jewelry business. and
2. Perusing the books that were available for purchase. I have never seen such a selection of jewelry design and how-to books! Lots of fun.

My overall impression of the conference was… Terrific and inspiring! I look forward to keeping a dialogue with the designers I met. Read More


Liz Steiner
I loved setting this year. I thought the resort was beautiful and I loved the heat and the desert… I loved seeing Betsy Douglas’s Pin Swap pins from the past 20+ years. I loved, loved, loved all the exhibitions. No the layout wasn’t super great, but that’s not a SNAG thing, that’s a City of Phoenix thing.I would have loved to have been in any of the exhibitions this year, and I thought the organizers did a fantastic job.

But I think the thing I enjoyed the most about this conference is the fact that I knew so many people and got to reconnect with so many old friends. I remember my first conference, Cleveland in 2005 where I only knew the couple of people from Kent I was with. It makes me feel good, like I actually have a place in this field, like I am actually someone worth knowing, or the simple fact that my introvert self has actually managed to put myself out there enough to meet people.I love this field, despite the pitfalls and the difficulty. I love the work that we make and the people that I somehow, almost miraculously find myself included in.
I also loved the band. I totally danced my ass off. Read More


Amy Tavern, Spotlight On Presenter 2012
Conference highlights for me include the lecture by Bettina Speckner, acquiring a few souvenirs at the Trunk Show Sale, and spending time with dear friends. The conference was fantastic and I am honored that I got to participate at the level I did…giving a lecture, jurying a show, exhibiting my work…it’s good to give back and I was honored to do so.

Thank you to Becky, Tedd, and Lynette, conference chairs, and thank you to SNAG! Read More


Michelle Startzman
I had an amazing time at the SNAG Conference here in Phoenix a couple of weeks ago! This was my second time attending the conference, and this time it was slightly less overwhelming, having known what to expect. It was still jam packed with things to do, which was exhausting, but very inspiring and amazing!

I think the highlights for me were the Education Dialogue, Megan Auman’s talk, and the Trunk Show. As well as of course meeting new people and seeing people I hadn’t seen in awhile. It’s so great having those few days to spend with so many metal smiths with interests that are the same as my own.

The conference kicked off with the Pin Swap Pool Party. It was awesome! There was a mariachi band and a mechanical bull, and I was able to swap for some cool pins! The exhibition crawl was amazing as well. Read More

Email Feedback From Conferees

Great event. I had a ball and have always loved my contact with the SNAG world. My experience was of one of the best organized events ever.
—Garth Clark

The conference was fantastic! The auction, dinner, lectures, and exhibitions were outstanding this year. Very nice job. Thank you for everything!
—Lisa Johnson

What a wonderful conference this was. The venue reminded many of us of the days of meeting on a campus where we were self contained and no one was leaving to explore the city sites. There were so many lovely areas to sit and visit with people and the inside/outside living was a treat for so many like you in the northwest where it’s still chilly and damp.
Sending my appreciation and warm regards,
—Eleanor Moty

Attending the SNAG 2012 conference was a life changing opportunity for me. Getting to meet personal heroes such as Amy Tavern, listen to artists talk about the skills and techniques they have developed over the years, and network with other students really opened my eyes as to how big and diverse our field really is.  The most amazing experience I had at the conference was getting to see so much fresh, new work on display. I have never seen so much work from our field in one place! I cannot wait to apply all that I have learned at this conference to my studio practice.
Emile Mulcahey, student, Virginia Commonwealth University

The SNAG conference is a hotbed of interaction, ideas and inspiration.  Attending this year’s conference has rejuvenated my creative drive and validated the idea that I can turn my passion into a career. One of my goals while attending the SNAG conference was to network with metalsmiths from Colorado, where I plan to set up my studio. I was thrilled to make valuable connections with my Colorado peers and since the conference we have been working on setting up a local critique group with the other metals students in town.
Crista Reid, student, California College of the Arts

During the SNAG conference I went to as many speakers as I could. I really enjoyed the spotlight on Loring Taoka. I also participated in the trunk sale. I got to see first hand how other artists viewed my work. I am very excited to be part of the metalsmithing world. I plan to attend next year’s SNAG conference in Toronto.
Beth Zarden-Benson, student, University of Wisconsin Whitewater

It was eye-opening to me to learn what can be done with titanium and niobium during Reactive Metals’ demo, who knew you could forge it out so easily? I look forward to exploring the metals further this summer and in graduate school, I have so much more to think about now.  I was also able to meet David Huang, one of my inspirations, and talk about his work with him.  The conference was a very eye-opening experience in every aspect.
Karen Donovan, student, Skidmore College

This was my second year attending the SNAG conference, and like last year I found it to be fun, educational and most importantly inspirational. This year was especially important for me to attend, as I was in both the SNAG Annual Juried Student Exhibition, “Fusion,” and the SNAG Presentation of Student Work, “Metamorphic.” I felt honored and privileged to be accepted and to see my work in person in both of the shows.
Alex Anderson, student, Humboldt State University

I took away knowledge from the lectures, viewed amazing jewelry and networked with people that I would otherwise not be able to speak with.  Additionally, I made great friends from other schools that I know I will keep in touch with for the rest of my career in the jewelry field.
Andrea “Andi” Harriman, student, Savannah College of Art and Design

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