BFAJewelry + Metal Arts
Create original jewelry, functional objects, and sculpture that bring your personal views and interests to life.
The Jewelry and Metal Arts program, founded in 1912, is one of the oldest and most recognized in the field. You’ll explore a variety of processes for jewelry making and design through courses taught by nationally and internationally renowned faculty. Our location in the Bay Area gives us instant access to world-class museums and galleries, a large metalsmithing community, and materials suppliers.
Blend the traditional and cutting-edge
With faculty guidance, you’ll use rapid prototyping equipment, including 3D printers, jewelry welders, and laser cutters to create innovative designs. Blending craft-based processes with cutting-edge technology helps you develop a unique aesthetic approach that’s compelling and original. You’ll also expand your ways of thinking and making during internships with professional Bay Area metal artists.
The main Jewelry and Metal Arts studio has three main work areas that include professional jeweler’s benches and a breadth of jewelry tools. We cover the full range of techniques to help you master metalsmithing, contemporary jewelry design, sculpture, and installations:
- Cold connections
- Hinges and mechanisms
- Production methods
Examining metal as a creative medium
You’ll examine metal through basic metalworking techniques, including filing, sawing and piercing, soldering, and forming. Then you’ll build upon these skills while studying the history of the metalsmithing field and other fine arts practices. Your goal is to lay the groundwork for your own original concepts.
Our curriculum challenges you to develop your techniques even further by emphasizing fabrication, concepts, and narrative. You’ll begin to create personally expressive work that engages with contemporary discourse. Opportunities to use traditional and contemporary techniques help you visualize and experiment with interesting dichotomies.
Project-based work and special techniques
As you develop a cohesive body of work for your senior solo show, you’ll take project-based courses that challenge you to conceptualize and create quickly. Themes, such as specific art history movements and personal narratives, help you find new sources of inspiration. You’ll have the opportunity to take four special technique courses in casting, enameling, production, and holloware to explore these skills in-depth.
Learn the tools of the trade
- Rolling mill
- Anvils, stakes, and hammers
- Centrifugal and vacuum casting equipment
- Annealing torch
- Polishing, grinding, and etching tools
- Enameling kilns
- Shears and other hand tools
- Hydraulic press
- Pulse arc welder
- Resin 3D printer
Additional shops and studios
Our faculty are nationally and internationally recognized artists in jewelry, sculpture, metal arts, architectural detailing, large-scale public art, and installations. They work one-on-one with students to build their conceptual and technical skills while helping them bridge the gap between the program and other fine arts and design disciplines at CCA.
Co-chair Marilyn da Silva’s work tells stories through images and representational work. She creates sculpture and wearable pieces with her trademark surface treatment of gesso and colored pencil. Her work has appeared in national and international museums and galleries, including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the National Gallery of Australia. She was selected Master Metalsmith at the National Ornamental Metals Museum, and is an ACC Fellow. Recently, da Silva was selected as a Master of the Medium by the James Renwick Alliance in Washington, D.C.
Co-chair Curtis Arima is a metalsmith who makes jewelry and sculpture in his Berkeley studio. His work has appeared in the National Ornamental Metal Museum, Vennel Gallery in Scotland, and the Sculpture Objects and Functional Art Design Fair in New York and Chicago. Arima has been nominated for a NICHE Instructor of the Year award and received a Best of Show award at the Innovations in Contemporary Craft exhibitions in Richmond, California.
Every undergraduate student participates in the First Year Core program, an opportunity to explore a wide range of materials and tools. Faculty from many different disciplines guide studio projects, group critiques, and discussions on foundational theory to help set students up for success. The program brings in national and international guest artists for lectures, workshops, and student critiques.
Our alumni start their own businesses, teach at fine arts colleges, exhibit their work in museums and galleries, are accepted into artist residencies, and attend leading graduate programs, where they continue to collaborate with other metalsmiths and artists.
Their interdisciplinary approach to form makes them extremely competitive for national awards. Recently, four of our alumni received prestigious Windgate Fellowships for exemplary skill in craft. Another recent alum won the SECA award and a solo show at SFMOMA. Wherever they are in their careers, our students continue to create ambitious work that pushes the boundaries of metal arts.
Potential career paths
- Fine artist working with galleries and museums
- Production studio artist working with wholesale shows and shops
- Designer for wholesale manufacturing
- Sales expert in a jewelry shop or art gallery
- Fine artist in custom jewelry and objects
- Arts writer/critic
- Gallery owner
Our applicants are often just as excited about research as they are about making objects. Some want to make wearable objects and fine jewelry, while others want to blur the lines between design, craft, and fine art. We look for promising artists who want to dedicate time and space to rewarding craftsmanship.