Should I Become a Silversmith?
Silversmiths create works of art with silver and, therefore, must learn careful techniques to use when sculpting or casting. Some silversmiths work in fabrication of bowls and ornamental objects, while others design and create jewelry. Precautions need to be taken when working with chemicals or sharp tools. Silversmiths are often independent artists and need to have business management, marketing, and sales skills, along with artistic skills.
|Education Level||No degree required; 6-month to 1-year training programs are common; some fine arts metalworkers earn bachelor's and master's degrees|
|Field of Study||Jewelry design, fine art|
|Experience||Experience or apprenticeship is typically required|
|Key Skills||Creativity, critical thinking skills; artistic ability; production skills; manual dexterity; proficiency with specialized tools and techniques|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$37,060 (for jewelers and precious stone and metal workers)|
Sources: O*Net Online, *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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Steps to Become a Silversmith
Step 1: Earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree
A Bachelor of Fine Arts program might explore the fundamental aspects of silversmithing, from art history to general metalsmithing techniques, such as casting and enameling. Design and drawing techniques are essential to silversmithing. It is important the smith create a representation of the desired object in order to plan precisely what will be needed to bring it to life. Silversmiths learn to work with a variety of metals rather than only silver because many of their creations combine more than one type of metal. Programs are also available to help the student work toward creating his or her first silver portfolio. Because many silversmiths go into business for themselves, many find it useful to possess knowledge of bookkeeping and other aspects of business operation, which can be accomplished by taking business courses.
Step 2: Earn a Master of Fine Arts
Completing a Master of Fine Arts degree program requires the student to learn advanced silversmithing and metalsmithing techniques. The curriculum delves into electroforming, a process that uses sculpted wax forms and electroplating to create hollowware, vessels, and sculptures. Aspiring silversmiths are given greater freedom to explore ways of blending their creative vision with metals and gems. Imagination and experimentation are encouraged in this program.
Step 3: Complete a Graduate Portfolio
Silversmiths, like other artists, present their credentials in portfolio form. Artists' portfolios display their work and ideas in 2-dimensional form through photographs and sketches. These show off the artists' talent to potential employers and customers. Use this portfolio to attract potential clients and customers.
Step 4: Find a Job
Many silversmiths work as freelancers or open businesses on their own. Silversmith artisans who do custom design often work for jewelry shops. Silversmiths may also work for larger companies, including jewelry retailers and auction houses.
Silversmiths might consider joining a professional organization. For silversmiths, the nationally recognized professional organization is the Society of American Silversmiths (SAS). The SAS provides assistance outlets for new silversmiths, including career-building advice, supply discounts, and online technical advice.
Step 5: Continue Training and Education for Career Advancement
Silversmithing techniques are quickly advancing. Staying on top of the latest trends and technologies by attending seminars, workshops, and training programs opens new artistic and business opportunities. Additionally, adding marketing, sales, and business management skills strengthens career prospects and longevity.
To summarize, silversmiths can complete specialized training programs and apprenticeships to learn the skills needed to work in the field. Degree programs in fine arts or jewelry design are also available.