Artist Bio: Sessin Durgham and the Art Nun

by Metalwerx on September 24, 2018

For those who have had the pleasure of meeting Sessin, you are probably familiar with his enthusiasm for forging metal and his knack for storytelling. His stories are boisterous, hilarious, and always have you at the edge of your seat (both in an anticipation, but also because you might fall out of your seat laughing). Sessin has truly lived a story-worthy life.


When we asked Sessin to tell us about his introduction to Jewelry and Metalworking it came as little surprise when he had an amazing story to tell. It is certainly an unconventional introduction the jewelry making, and it conjures up some pretty amusing imagery…


His journey towards becoming a master metalsmith has been filled with many memorable stories, and this one is where the stories start.


It all started with a young Sessin attending St. Francis De Salles High School in Columbus, Ohio.  It was here that Sessin was taught the basics of silversmithing; cut, file, solder, sand, and sand again. Sister Marion McRae (“The Art Nun”) taught a tightly regimented class, strictly focusing on craftsmanship and functionality.  In Sessin’s own words “The word ‘Art’ was not uttered until we were able to complete all projects to her specifications using only hand tools and manual abrasives. This was the light bulb moment for me. The seeds were firmly planted and I knew this would be a lifetime pursuit”.  At Metalwerx we call this “catching the jewelry bug”; it is quite contagious, and once you’ve caught it there’s no going back!


Sessin’s need to keep making jewelry led him to the Watchmakers Supply store to collect everything he would need to start making jewelry at home.  “I got a plumbers torch, ring mandrel, miscellaneous hand tools,  silver wire and sheet at $2.05 spot price all placed in a heavy gauge paper bag. On my way home I could not stop looking into that bag of tools! Inside that brown paper bag another lifetime pursuit was simultaneously born. An unintended consequence. I had instantly become obsessed with tools. My first studio set up was born in my childhood bedroom. From that time on I always had a studio in my home and now always looking for the next best tool. My lifelong passion for making jewelry objects and my passion for tools converged later in life when I switched from a studio jewelry artist, to adviser to other studio jewelry artists.  It was an easy transition passing on my own excitement and knowledge of tools and techniques to fellow Jewelry artists”


As it turns out, this was just the beginning for Sessin and Sister Marion McRae, Sister Marion would later break the news to Sessin’s parents that Sessin was a natural born artist, and there was nothing they could do but encourage him. Sessin and Sister Marion McRae, have kept in touch all these years, until her passing in 2016. It is safe to say Sister Marion McRae has made a life long impact on Sessin.


Sessin Durgham, the now multiple award-winning silversmith, is a 2002 Saul Bell Design Award winner, as well as a Spectrum Award winner, and has even received the Platinum Honor, as part of the AGTA Spectrum Awards!


With approximately 30 years of experience, and many awards of recognition, Sessin has recently teamed up with Otto Frei to bring you the finest tools in the industry. Together they created the “Sessin Peddiman Silversmithing and Forming Hammer Kit”, which combines all of Sessin’s favorite hammers.


To learn more from Sessin, and hear some of his wild stories first hand you can meet Sessin at Metalwerx Marketplace October 20th-21st. You will find him in the Otto Frei booth where he will be helping customers pick out the best tools for their work!


Artist Bio: Catching up with Laura Wood

by Metalwerx on August 30, 2018

Through the thick early morning fog, shine the rays of morning sunlight, and the silhouette of the neighboring mountains. With lush greenery right outside her studio window and the crisp mountain air, Laura Wood’s newest adventure has her settled in for a 3 year residency at Penland Mountain School, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. It is here, that you will find her sawing, forming, and powder coating her latest creations.

Laura Wood TopLaura is best known for her bold, vibrant, and voluminous powder coated jewelry. Her intentions were not always to create jewelry however. When Laura first began her college career at University of Georgia it was for performative dance. It is easy to see how this attention and familiarly to movement and the physical body has beautifully manifested itself into the jewelry she makes today.

My interest in body as site began with self-expression through dance and performative arts. The human form, as a result, offers continual inspiration in how I create jewelry. Though my work is sculpturally autonomous, it is intended to have a direct relationship to the body, as another dynamic canvas through which to facilitate tactile transformation while pushing the line into three dimensions. The collaboration between body and object is given deep consideration when choosing scale and material. My physicality, as an expression of my creativity, has shifted to the creation of these sculptural forms while seeking to maintain the lyrical elements that both creative outlets share.


Working as a studio artist now for many years, Laura has developed a strict artistic process that involves maintaining a strong but simple color palette as well as refined attention to form and design, color application, and stone setting. In more recent months she has begun exploring the addition of new colors and it has inspired many new ideas.  Since beginning her residency at Penland Laura has had the freedom of time to explore her work further.


We can’t help but love these newest pieces, taking on a larger scale and mixture of materials such as powder coating, beads, and leather cord.  It is with great anticipation that we announce Laura’s upcoming workshop at Metalwerx.

To learn more from Laura check out her upcoming workshop at Metalwerx, “Designing for Powder Coating” on Sept. 21st -23rd



Artist Bio: Paulette Werger

July 26, 2018

  We sat down with artist, maker, and Metalwerx instructor Paulette Werger to talk about the origins of her interest in metalsmithing, her career in teaching, and how she keeps things fresh in the studio. What was your first introduction to Jewelry and Metals? When did you know that you wanted to be a metalsmith? […]

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Arist Bio: Victoria Lansford

June 28, 2018

A day in the life of Victoria Lansford is multifaceted to say the least- it is a masterful balancing act, consisting of business work, writing for one of her many books or blogs, creating instructional videos, and most importantly creating stunning work in metal.   For those of you that are not acquainted with Victoria’s […]

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Metalwerx Maker Sharon Stafford- Weaving with Wire

May 24, 2018

Over, under, over, under, over, under…. music quietly running threw her head phones. All you can hear is the sound of metal wires lightly brushing against each other. The level of concentrations is palpable as Sharon’s fingers carefully bend and manipulate the metal wires of the woven pod she is sculpting. It is a process […]

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Metalwerx Online Auction Fundraiser 2018!

March 29, 2018

This fall Metalwerx celebrated it’s 20th year anniversary! Over the past two decades Metalwerx has evolved from a small in-studio classroom to the hustle and bustling nationwide know school for jewelry and metal arts.  So how did Metalwerx manifest into the school it is today?  The answer is pretty simple, it’s because of you!  Students, […]

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Metalwerx pays it forward to a Haitian Community

November 28, 2017

On Wednesday November 22, 12 artists assembled in the Metalwerx studio to complete a project in the spirit of giving and of gratitude. The task was to complete 15 gold wedding bands for a group of women who live in Haiti and are to be married in December 2017, but do not have the resources […]

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Program Feature: Friends of Metalwerx Scholarship Program

October 26, 2017

Our Friends of Metalwerx Scholarship program provides opportunities that enable qualified students to attend metalsmithing and jewelry making classes and workshops at a reduced cost. This program has seen immense growth in the past year thanks to the generosity of individual donors and the Waltham Cultural Council in 2017, and our organization is looking to […]

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A Day in the Life of a Metalwerx Marketplace Attendee

September 29, 2017

Metalwerx Marketplace 2017 offers a diverse group of merchants and service providers catering to jewelers, metalsmiths and makers.  The 3-day event features a special opening celebration on Friday evening, followed by two full days to shop, stock up on all the products you need, find new resources, and attend informative lectures and demonstrations in our […]

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Artist Bio: Laura Wood

July 26, 2017

Laura Wood was first introduced to jewelry as an undergraduate at the University of Georgia where she graduated with a BFA in Jewelry and Metalsmithing. From there, she studied at East Carolina University earning an MFA in Metal Design. During her time at ECU, Laura was the founding voice of the annual ECU Symposium, a […]

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