In the Making: We Wield the Hammer

September 24, 2021

“In that instant, I knew—now that she’s seen a woman do what she’s never seen a woman do before, she can dream it for herself. And if she wants to do it, who’s going to teach her? That was the catalyst for We Wield the Hammer.”

On Thursday, September 23, 2021, we talked with Karen Smith, Founder and Executive Director of We Wield the Hammer, along with Ann Cahoon JM ’02, NBSS Jewelry Making & Repair Department Head. It was a powerful conversation on the beauty and uniqueness of working with metal, joys and challenges of teaching others, and work still left to do to bring more access and inclusion in the metalsmithing and jewelry making industry.

View a video of the full conversation above.

While training with a master goldsmith in Senegal, Karen was greeted daily by a young girl who would come to watch them at work. The girl had never seen a woman do this kind of trade and was mesmerized. This life-changing experience led Karen to wonder how she could create greater representation for young girls and women in the field.

Enter We Wield the Hammer (WWTH), which Karen founded to offer young women of African descent opportunities for artistic equity, economic empowerment, and access to a vocation through metalsmithing. The field is traditionally unavailable to women and girls, particularly those from marginalized backgrounds both In the U.S. and abroad. WWTH exists to identify, train, track, and support these women in their paths, most of whom might not have otherwise chosen such a career.

“In the Making” is a public programs series where we connect with a range of new voices, fields, and perspectives. Learn more and view a full list of events on the series homepage.