Arrowmont Connections: John Cogswell, Silversmith

Arrowmont is a special community full of creative people – a family who know that coming together and making art is important. We talk a lot about the Arrowmont Experience – connecting through craft and community. That connection exists beyond physical proximity. It is in shared memories and new ideas. It lives in the friendships we make with each other. It grows when we learn and support one another.

Whether on campus or off, we are connected as members of the Arrowmont family. Over the next few weeks, we are going to share stories from our community of instructors, residents, and students in a new series, Arrowmont Connections.

John Cogswell is a jeweler, silversmith, educator and author/illustrator. Recently retired from SUNY New Paltz, New York, he previously taught at Parsons School of Design, the Pratt Institute and Hofstra University. Cogswell is also the former director of the Jewelry and Metalsmithing Department at the 92nd Street Y in New York City.    He is the author and illustrator of Creative Stonesetting and has served as a technical consultant and contributing author for several contemporary jewelry texts.

John has been an Arrowmont instructor for 30 years. He participated in the new video series, Arrowmont Craft Conversations, and shared some of his history and why he returns to Arrowmont year after year.

He shares the following advice for functional silversmith design:

“One of the things we do, as silversmiths, is everything that we make has purpose and has a function. One of the things that I try to impress on all of my students is to say to them…[your object] should fulfill three functions:

1. It should look good to the eye

2. It should feel good in the hand

3. And it should do/serve the function for which it is designed.

It should do what it’s supposed to do.

John said in an interview with Zina Saunders, “By the time I’m partway through a piece, my mind is always on the next project. And I love that. My wife says I just sort of bounce off walls and wander through life, and I probably do. But it’s a wonderful journey, and I like not knowing what tomorrow will bring, because every discovery is fresh and new.

Watch John’s Arrowmont Craft Conversation video to experience more:

Arrowmont Craft Conversations: John Cogswell – Silversmith


John Cogswell on the web:


Video “Arrowmont 2016 Workshop Demonstration”:

Arrowmont Craft Conversation Video:

Creative Stonesetting book:


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