Tuesday, May 21, 2013


(This is my six minute lecture I gave at SNAG this year. Hence the short and sweet of it all.)

My name is Arthur Hash.  I am currently an Instructional Support
Technician for the Metal Program and the Digital Fabrication Lab in Fine
Arts at the State University of New York at New Paltz. I have an
undergraduate degree in Craft/Material Studies from Virginia
Commonwealth University and Masters degree in metalsmithing and
jewelry design from Indiana University at Bloomington.  I am honored
to be invited to lecture at this years conference.  This will be my
ninth conference.  Thank you so much.

 As a maker, designer and metalsmith it is my desire, like many, to
create an object that lures in an unsuspecting audience.  For me, the
link between the audience and the piece has always been the maker.  An
object, made real through the skilled manipulation of carefully
selected materials, is heavy with history, tradition and purpose. In
the world of metals, tools, and how they are used can sometimes define
a piece.  My tools allow me to create a body of work that reveals a
history, my love of material and thoughtful experimentation.  These
objects form a procession of sorts. One after another they march into
existence, ever evolving, increasing in number and building upon the
last, creating new trajectories for exploration.  My approach is
pre-meditative, sometimes spontaneous but always compulsive.

Making to me, has become instinctual, in many ways it is like
parallel parking a car.

As you are pulling into a parking space, cutting the wheel, pausing, looking back, checking
your mirrors, you develop a spatial awareness that extends just past
the end of the hood.  When you the swing the wheel and the car fits
neatly into a space you exhale and pat yourself on the back
Often you come in at an awkward angle, or maybe you underestimate
the size of the space, in either case you back up an start again.
 Knowing the weight of a brooch, the size of a bracelet, the amount of
material needed to make that perfect piece becomes this instinctual
feeling, freeing you to think about other aspects of the work. Sometimes you have to
start over, sometimes you melt the piece, sometimes it just doesn’t
work out, but the more you go back to the beginning, the more you can
execute that perfect parking job.

Out there just beyond the hood, just beyond the end of the hammer,
just beyond the norm is where I like to work.  Stretching my
comfort zone allows me to extend my spatial awareness and ultimately
informs the next piece.

By linking both old and new I consider myself a hybrid-craftsmen.  I
do not consider myself bound by a traditional adherence to technique
and material.  By having this freedom I believe that I have the
ability to move between the lines, blurring the boundaries of what
falls under the umbrella of crafts.  It allows me to take on projects
that challenge my skill set and combine my traditional metals hand
skills with new methods of making.  It is my dedication, to improve
upon what I know, my love of the material and my physical need to MAKE
that keeps me firmly planted within the wide world of metals.

           For the most part I believe that craftsmen understand that
mastering a skill requires years of dedication.  For us, reputation,
quality and credibility are built not in days but years. The path to
success is lined with hard work and sleepless nights.

The truth is, now, right now, the gap between the drawing board and
the bench is getting smaller and smaller.  With the aid of rapid
prototyping, we now have the ability to design and manufacture an
object in hours not days.  But like all tools, these machines need a
trained operator. Just as the skilled hand of the master silversmith
reaches for the proper hammer or graver so too shall the hybrid
craftsmen reach for a laser engraver or 3D printer.  As time passes
the use of this technology will be a mainstay and the successful will
master its purpose.

This technology is changing our studios.  It is changing how we
communicate, how we interact, and most importantly HOW we make. It is
not the magic fix-all, it is not an eraser and it certainly does not
make you a master. It is however closing the gap.  If HOW we wield a
hammer defines us, what happens when the hammer disappears?  Can just
the object be enough?  Can just the IDEA of an object be enough?

This is probably one of the most important questions to the ask those
participating in our field.  Does adding technology to a craft
education mean loosing craft?  I certainly think that this is not the
case but I do believe that we all need be open to the possibility of
change. As email and social media have revolutionized communication the
3D printer and other digital fabrication techniques will revolutionize
the artisan craftsman.

As new makers enter the field, they come with a certain skill set that
is different than that of their predecessors.  As we adapt to educate
this new breed of makers, we need to continue to emphasize the
importance of making objects by hand.  Both traditional and
non-traditional approaches need to co-exist in the metals studio. A
strong connection between the brain and hand exists with the swing of
a hammer, click of a mouse or the click of a pen.  Only through
experience can one gain the skills to improve…

The longer I participate in the field, the more artists I meet, the
larger the field seems.  I have come to realize that there is a space for all
makers within metals and that nothing should be left out.  The hybrid
craftsmen will be a new face in our field, using new technology to
understand and master traditional techniques, ultimately creating new
exciting objects that will push the boundaries of metals.