Bellingham Metal Arts Guild, a nonprofit created by and for metal arts lovers, has great plans for the year ahead. Under the guidance of new Board President Steven Anderson and a team of enthusiastic members, the guild is growing.
What is metal art? The Guild’s website describes it as “that which is commonly crafted from gold, silver, lead, tin, iron, platinum, or numerous alloys including bronze and steel into decorative pieces like jewelry and sculptures or functional items.”
The founding members of the Guild have all mostly moved on. The new board faced some uncertainty, but they carefully evaluated strategies for the future of BMAG. They all agreed they wanted to find ways to better serve their community.
“There’s a lot we’re working towards accomplishing this year,” Steven says. “A priority is to find how we can better serve the community as a nonprofit.”
The Guild is expanding its demographic, broadening its focus into different areas of metalsmithing besides jewelry and non-ferrous metalwork. Its education committee is brainstorming new classes and working on bringing in new instructors.
“We’re also looking into forming more relationships with local businesses,” Steven says, “with a sponsorship deal already in the works. Beyond that, we’re making many improvements to our current studio in the Harbor Mall.”
Open studio options for members have now been expanded to include evenings. Members pay a modest fee to come in and work on their own projects. With a variety of artisans working in a group setting, this offers a sense of collaboration and community. Memberships, classes and studio rentals help financially support the organization.
The Guild’s physical space was rearranged to enhance the hands-on learning environment. The front room is now an intimate parlor with individual student stations for classes. Relocating the stations to a room with windows makes the workspace brighter.
Other goals for the Guild include expanding into work with ferrous metals such as cast iron, steel and wrought iron, and adding other layers of metalsmithing. New classes are on the horizon, along with other ideas intended to promote interest in metal arts.
The Guild seeks to collaborate and build relationships with other arts organizations and businesses. One outreach was with the company GLDN a direct-to-consumer jewelry company based in La Conner. As a result of the connection Steven made with GLDN, he was offered a job there as a bench jeweler.
His association with the Guild allowed him to make a career shift from his work in a trade, as a former machinist, to more creative work as an artisan. His story is an interesting one.
He lived in Bellingham some time ago and recently returned after traveling to Peru and working the festival circuit. His first jewelry class at BMAG was in early 2018. His instructor, board member and Goldsmith Sacha Bliese, taught him how to make a ring. She said, “making a ring would help him learn the straightforward basics of jewelry making.”
Steven created a striking ring of nickel-silver and brass with the sacred OM symbol on it. He then took six additional metal classes and found he really enjoyed activities at the Guild. He joined the board of directors last May, and was named president in the fall, as the organization began a period of transition.
The best part of Steven’s story is the remarkable influence the guild had on him, and his willingness to step in and take on a role of responsibility.
The Bellingham Metal Arts Guild is eager to showcase the diverse field of metal arts through lectures, demonstrations, classes and guest workshops. Check out their schedule or stop by soon.
Bellingham Metal Arts Guild
2620 N Harbor Loop Drive #6
For more information, find them on Facebook.