At a recent workshop, Brigitte Clavette held a bowl aloft and declared, “Now you can save your own life.” That sounds dramatic, but when it comes to teaching jewellery and metal arts at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design (NBCCD), Clavette takes her work seriously.
“That bowl was hammered from a six-inch metal disc, but you can drink out of it. You can dig, you can scrape, you can eat,” she says. “The value of the handmade, and what that signifies for our life, is important.”
Clavette, a metal artist whose work is held by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and by the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, has taught at the Fredericton college since the mid-1980s and is now head of the Jewellery and Metal Arts Studio, one of four fine craft programs. While it has changed over the years, the most significant recent addition has been the incorporation of 3D printing. “We cast everything we can get our hands on. We cast dead stuff, we cast plastics, we cast wax, and now [students] can cast 3D stuff they’re printing.” Students use RhinoGold, software used by commercial jewellers, but Clavette says the school doesn’t want cookie-cutter art. “What I want to show is that you can develop your idea on a computer and then subvert that and bring it into real life.”
NBCCD classes have a maximum of 12 students, which helps sustain its dedication to one-on-one mentorship. During the two-year diploma program, students learn basic benchwork techniques—filing, cutting, soldering and using fine materials, as well as hammering skills—and the operation of machinery used to make vessel forms and flatware. The school provides first-year students with a set of tools, valued at about $800. In second year, students must buy their own set.
Read the full Maclean’s article here.