Southern Illinois Metalsmiths Society Prepares for 19th Annual Fine Craft Auction

Oct 26, 2017

The Southern Illinois Metalsmiths Society will have their 19th annual fine craft auction on October 28th.

The yearly fundraiser is used to support the blacksmithing and metalsmithing classes at SIU.

Forging steel is not an easy task.

It takes a lot of heat and a lot of pounding either by hand or machine.

The students in the in blacksmithing class are busy hammering out items for the SIMS fine craft auction that takes place October 28th at 17th st in Murphysboro.

It’s the 19th year for the auction and the money raised will be put back into the program.

Power Forging Hammer
Credit Benjy Jeffords / WSIU

“To offset any deficits that we might have in the program through state budgetary issues or just things that we need, consumables or equipment or educational experiences.”

"The students really get to see sort of a market value for their works."- Rick Smith, Professor

Professor Rick Smith says the fundraiser usually brings in around ten thousand dollars, that the department greatly needs.

“Without the auction as a fundraising device, we really would have a hard time functioning, our operating budget is very low per semester and so it really makes all the difference.”

Smith also uses the auction as a chance to teach his students something they usually won’t learn in the lab.

“The other nice thing about the auction is the students really get to see sort of a market value for their works and its an intro into running a small business and I’ve always tried to run the SIMS auction as a small corporation where there’s a board of officers and a financial officer. The student are committed to giving a financial statement prior to the auction and after so we can see what revenue was generated at what levels and we can make good prioritized decisions on where that money can go.”

On top of learning the business aspect of selling art, Smith has another lesson to grind into his students.

“They do get to see first hand how people respond to what they made you know in a buying situation and sometimes that can be a real eye opener, you know they might think their piece is really great and it might not sell or they might think the reverse and it sells and does really well, so its kind of a crap shoot for them but it does give them a sense of what it might take to get somebodies pocket book loosened up to pay for so.”

Graduate student Addison Delisle (Dee-Lyle) uses his skills for crafting metal into useful objects and donated to the auction for the last three years.

“I’m working on a traditional style axe sort of in the theme of the conference because that’s what were making so I thought I would give it a try as well.”

Students like Delisle and others in the School of Art and Design contribute a lot of products to the auction, but its not just students involved.

“SIU has such a promenade position in the metalsmithing field, we have a lot of professional affiliations, we have well known black smithing and metal smithing artist, we have really great alumni who are in a very good position now because of their time here both undergrad and grad so I think the combination between producing so many high quality professional metal workers and knowing so many of them they are will to support our program.”

With students, alumni and other artists donating items to the auction, Smith says there’s something for everyone, especially this time of the year.

The prices range from a few dollars to over a thousand dollars.

“The items will run the gambit, from hollow wear, functional items like candle sticks, tools, knives, we like to get the jewelers upstairs to make jewelry for us, that tends to be a real popular item for a lot of people, a lot of folks coming to the sale are looking Christmas or other gifts for folks and we do a whole line of bottle openers things like that its really everything and anything and of coarse there’s sculptural items, non functional type things.”

If auctions aren’t your thing then you might be interested in going to the public demonstrations during the day on Saturday.

One of the visiting artists will be extracting iron from rocks while another visiting artist will turn the metal into an axe.

“The conference is tagged with the fund raising event, we have two visiting artist who come and do demonstrations for us and its an educational outreach, so students here can come for free and we encourage students from other programs to come down as well as the general public, so they actually get to see live demonstrations, presentations of the visiting artist work.”

Giving these students a day of learning while they are giving back to their program at the same time.

“I’m really amazed at how the students take this on as a fundraiser educational event community outreach and they do a wonderful job, my roll as a professor is just a little bit as a director to help them along and they do all the work and they put back into their program which gives them ownership of it.”

The public demonstration starts at 9am Saturday and the auction begins at 5pm.