Cynthia Eid to teach shellforming, June 23-27

by Metalwerx on May 17, 2010

Metalwerx instructor Cynthia Eid
Metalwerx instructor Cynthia Eid

Meet Cynthia Eid: award-winning jeweler, longtime Metalwerx board member, globe-trotting teacher, and banjo picker. Cindy kicks off the 2010 Metalwerx Summer With The Masters series with a five-day course entitled “Creatively Hammering Anticlastic and Synclastic Jewelry” (June 23-27). Students familiar with her classes know to expect an exciting and comprehensive learning experience. It’s no surprise her workshops are quick to fill up.

Cynthia Eid has been hammering and forming metal for more than forty years. She is known all over the world for her sculptural jewelry, hollowware, and Judaica, and as a pioneer and avid proponent of Argentium Silver. But at Metalwerx, we know her mostly as the guiding presence that has helped steer the nonprofit school to a rock-solid—and fiscally solvent—establishment. That, and her gentle humor and love for teaching the art of metalsmithing.

Rivers and Canyons, a spiculum neckpiece by Cynthia Eid

Rivers and Canyons spiculum neckpiece by Cynthia Eid

Cindy possesses an insider’s knowledge of the institutional history of Metalwerx. She remembers when the plan to found a jewelry-making school with a community-minded purpose was “just a glimmer” in the eye of Karen Christians. The concept struck a chord with Cindy, who recalled her own struggles when she was first starting out.

“I can remember being at a SNAG conference and Karen telling me about a dream she had of a school that was also a community. I thought it was a great idea, because when I graduated from school I was lonely and it was difficult. You need to get your tools together, you need people to talk to,” she said. When Metalwerx opened in a tiny storefront in Woburn, Mass., in 1997, Cindy was around to teach classes and workshops. She eventually helped with the school’s incorporation and was one of the first to join the board. Today, she shares that capacity with three other respected members of the jewelry industry, Sumner Silverman, Mary Stachura, and Munya Avigail Upin.

“The way it is now is pretty darn incredible. I’m so proud that we’re surviving,” she said.  While so many notable art centers have not outlasted the recent economic slump, the school is holding steady at its current location, which it has occupied near downtown Waltham, Mass., since 2002. Cindy believes part of its success is because it has always been run as a business, and is not dependent on grants.  Metalwerx graciously accepts donations, however, and more formal fundraising projects may become necessary as the school continues to grow.

Cynthia Eid’s prominence and contacts in the industry have led to involvement in the development of new tools. After working with Lee Marshall as part of the development team at Bonny Doon, which makes hydraulic presses and tools, the relationship has continued with Marshall’s new saw business, Knew Concepts. In fact, the new jewelers’ hand saws exist because of the potential Cynthia saw in the saw frame that is part of the award-winning Precision Saw Guide 2. The saws were an instant hit when they came to the market after three years of Cindy telling Lee that if he scaled it down, jewelers would love it. Cynthia tells the story of how the saws were developed in her blog, http://ceid.userblogs.ganoksin.coms/2010/01/06/development-of-the-newest-knew-concept-saw

One item she has wholeheartedly embraced is Argentium Silver. When she first heard there was a metal that eliminated the pain of firescale, she began to search for it, but the only sources were in England. Getting metals across the Atlantic was no picnic, but she finally found a source and amassed as much material as she could. When she learned that Argentium Silver would be produced in the U.S., she published an article in SNAG News, sharing what she’d learned “the hard way.” Today, when it comes to silver, Cynthia Eid works exclusively in Argentium Silver.

Pod-oid, brooch by Cynthia Eid

Pod-oid, brooch by Cynthia Eid

Her latest venture in tool development ties into her summer class and a book about shellforming that she is co-authoring with a friend. She will introduce to the workshop participants the new “Eid/Longhi No-Twist Anticlastic Stake.” The delrin stakes are designed to stay put in the vise. They come in two sizes, medium and small, and will be available through Allcraft Jewelry Supply Company.

The other name on the anticlastic stake belongs to Betty Helen Longhi, Cindy’s long-time friend and co-writer of “Shellforming for Jewelers and Silversmiths: Creative Paths to Form.” The book has been in the works for some time, and it will still be another two years before it becomes available, through Tim McCreight’s Brynmorgen Press.

Educator, author, and artist, Cindy is also a vocalist and banjo player with the Reiner Family Band, which consists of herself, her husband, champion fiddler David Reiner, and their two sons, Andy Reiner and Eric Eid-Reiner. True to her nature as a hammering virtuoso, she plays banjo in the down-picking style known as clawhammer.  She also plays the bodhran, an Irish drum. The group plays a mixture of traditional and old-time music including bluegrass, swing, ragtime, Irish, Cajun, Klezmer, and more.

“My goal was never to be in a band, it was just to be with my husband,” who lent her a banjo to learn with, she said.  “When the kids said it would be nice to have a band, I thought, ‘I’m going to be involved. But should I be a roadie, or be a part of the fun?’” The answer was obvious, she said. “Might as well be part of the fun.”

The Reiner Family Band performs locally at Club Passim in Cambridge, Mass., on July 12, 2010. You can hear some of their music at http://reinerfamilyband.com . For more about Cynthia Eid, please visit her website at http://cynthiaeid.com.

(By Yleana Martinez)

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