Starting Off with a Bang

Starting Off with a Bang

Assistant Professor Arthur Hash models a huge 3D-printed neckpiece created in collaboration with Los Angeles-based artist Skullphone.

Assistant Professor Arthur Hash, a new faculty member in Jewelry + Metalsmithing, takes full responsibility for the incessant banging echoing through the halls of the Metcalf Building this early in the semester. Sophomores in his metalsmithing class are already hard at work hammering out their own flatware designs as a means of “learning a new technique and using it to solve a design problem,” he explains.

Just weeks after relocating to Providence from Boone, NC, Hash is feeling the benefits of his new life at RISD. “In classes I taught before RISD I’d say, ‘Let’s take a five-minute break’ and students would disappear for 20 minutes,” he recalls. “Students here don’t want to take a break. They want to keep working!”

In addition to being excited about the commitment and caliber of the students he’s working with, Hash is also thrilled to be part of a team. In his most recent position at Appalachian State University he was a “department of one.” Actually, he concedes, there was a part-time adjunct who taught some classes, but it was nothing like the community of artists and designers he’s already tapped into here in Providence.

“It’s so great to have colleagues,” Hash exudes, “and to live in a town with so many like-minded folks! There’s a rich history of craft in the mountains of North Carolina, but there isn’t a lot of industry. People don’t land there to set up shop.”

Hash got an intense intro to Providence’s creative community before the start of classes last week, meeting local metalsmiths like Boris Bally on the city’s Westside and visiting historic jewelry supply house Wolf E. Myrow. “It’s a jeweler’s dream come true!” he says of the Myrow experience. “The warehouse is as big as a football field with shelves and shelves of everything. You walk around with a cardboard box and pick up gemstones, chains, clasps, settings . . ..”

Hash’s enthusiasm also comes through when he talks about RISD. “There are lots of exciting things going on in every department here,” he says. “Last semester, for example, J+M students collaborated with Ceramics majors to create wearable objects. I met a bunch of people at the new faculty gathering and am really looking forward to crossing mediums and taking advantage of those interdisciplinary learning opportunities.”

Although he laments how little time he’s had recently to work in his own studio, Hash says his practice has always involved a lot of experimentation. He developed a method for etching metal, for example, using saltwater and electricity instead of harsh chemical acids. “The methods I had been using were dirty and unpredictable,” he explains. “I created resists using vinyl stickers made with a laser cutter. Stickers work just fine with saltwater, and the process is very user-friendly.

“The point,” Hash adds, “is to use technology to make something you wouldn’t be able to make by hand. I love pairing old-world and new-world techniques.”

Hash hopes to bring his extensive experience using digital tools like CAD/CAM, 3D printing software and laser engravers—along with the tried-and-true techniques he’s developed—to J+M studios here. “Often the work I do in my studio parallels what I’m introducing in my classes,” he notes. “I’m very open about my research. I blog about it and deposit ideas online that other designers are free to use. I believe in sharing information—especially with students, who are the future of the field.”

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