Hello Internet World, my name is Anne Bujold and I have been doing metal work in various capacities since 2004. I started my journey in the Metalsmithing Department at Oregon College of Art and Craft, which focused mostly on jewelry and non-ferrous work. In 2006 I received scholarships to attend my first blacksmithing classes, at Haystack Mountain School of Craft and Penland School of Craft. I was enthralled, to say the least. Before that, I had no idea that blacksmithing was a thing people did, let alone that there was a contemporary art movement within the craft. And let alone that it was something that women could do.
After graduating into the bleak economy of the 2008 recession, it took me a few years and several false starts to begin to get my feet under me. I rented shop space in NE Portland, OR, (where I lived at the time) and began to try to build a business. My trajectory changed when I took the job as Studio Manager where I had gone to school. I started doing some teaching, and realized how much passion I have for sharing tools and techniques, especially with high school students and other women.
I was part of the initial organizing of what has become SIBs, which began in 2017. I am deeply passionate about encouraging EVERYONE who has an interest in metal arts to jump in and give it a try! I held so many erroneous, internalized beliefs about what I couldn’t do, and I would do anything to get that time back. It can be really hard when you think you’re inherently incapable of things like math and using big loud power tools. I wish I understood that everyone starts at the beginning, and that all skills can be learned through practice.
One of my biggest struggles has been reconciling my femininity with my perception of what constitutes a “real blacksmith.” I felt like I had to be serious and gruff, and that's not the entirety of who I am. I started to address this in my work when I returned to school to get my MFA in 2016. My piece, “Flamingo-a-go-go” was one of my efforts to incorporate alternative materials with forging and forming work. I got interested in ideas about material and craft history, and how those histories influence the contemporary aesthetics of the field, as well as how the historically male-dominated nature of blacksmithing impacts how we understand the work. I have always held some fascination with boundaries and divisions, so I like the play of hard and soft materials, as well as the hyper-saturated pink contrasting with dark metal. There are also strings of pearls in the piece, which are a nod to pioneering blacksmith Elizabeth Brim, who is known for forging with her pearls on. These days, I feel more comfortable with myself, and I don't worry as much as I used to about my femininity impacting whether or not I'll be taken "seriously."
I recently completed a two-year residency at the Appalachian Center for Craft, and am living in Watertown, TN, while collaborating with local smith Abe Pardee on a public art project. I am so grateful that I’ve continued to pursue this work, and I couldn’t have done so without the support of my peers and mentors.
I encourage every and any one to try their hand at all avenues of creative expression. I look forward to building SIBs into a positive force that will help to open doors for aspiring smiths from all backgrounds. The field as a whole will benefit from bringing new and diverse perspectives to the center. I look forward to seeing the bright future we can build together!
Photo Credit: Jennifer Martinez