The Artisan Series: 3-D Printing with Metalsmith and Graphic Designer Aaron Holderman

 In Culture

I’ve long been passionate about connecting with and telling the stories of the creatives who make up St. Louis. As part of an organization dedicated to raising awareness for local artisans, and as someone with a deep interest in the narrative of the handcrafted movement, I’m collaborating with Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design to explore the scene and share a few interesting stories of local makers along the way. A visit to the Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design Graphics Studio introduced me to Aaron Holderman, who merges 3-D printing and metalsmithing to create.

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The unexpected hum of a 3-D printer in the basement studios at Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design at Grand Center can be heard among the wood saws, spinning clay wheels and the sounds of metal being hammered into the desired shape. Along with the more traditional craft mediums, 3-D printing has earned itself a place on the class roster at Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design. Metalsmith artist and graphic designer, Aaron Holderman, is leading the way with classes and workshops in 3-D printing at Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design.

With a BFA from SIUE in metalsmithing, Holderman has worked for a number of jewelers, specializing in design and stone-setting. While at a SNAG (Society of North American Goldsmiths) conference, a presentation on 3-D printing caught Holderman’s attention. “Someone gave a presentation about using Rhino, which is a 3-D CAD software, in their jewelry work. I just thought that it was something really cool that I needed to learn.”

Playing around with the 3-D CAD software proved valuable for Holderman. “I had been kind of doing 3-D work for fun. Then one day the owner needed something designed, so I went home and taught myself how to do it,” he says. Soon after, Holderman made the transition from metalsmithing to graphic design as a full-time job.

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Since April 2013, Holderman has led 3-D printing classes and workshops at Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design, like Intro to 3-D, but his real expertise shines in the course that combines his love of 3-D software with his background in metalsmithing: Merging 3D Printing and Metals. “It’s really cool to be able to produce something on the computer and see it turn out,” he says. “I can be very exact with things on the computer, then cast it, verses making something by hand and that one piece being all there is.”

Try your hand at 3-D making and experience the graphics lab at Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design at Grand Center during the Intro to 3D Making course or stop by for the free CraftTech Makerspace Sundays, Presented by Boeing.

If you’ve enjoyed reading the Artisan Series, consider attending the Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design’s Makers Ball on April 30. A celebration of makers and the power of craft, the annual gala is an interactive event with surprises around every corner. Proceeds go to support Craft Alliance’s Artist-in-Residence Program and Crafting-a-Future, a teen mentoring program. Hosted at the Palladium in the heart of St. Louis, Makers Ball will feature artist demos, a live auction and much more. Tickets are available at

This post was created in partnership with Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design.

About Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design
Established in 1964, Craft Alliance Center of Art + Design provides inspiration and education in contemporary craft to a national community of artists, collectors, students and the art-viewing public. Amongst the classes offered at Craft Alliance, you can take a course in the Metals Studio taught by Andersen herself.

About the Author
Jessica Leitch is a St. Louis creative with a passion for supporting local and telling the story of how the makers’ movement is manifesting right here in St. Louis. As the Contributing Lifestyle Editor for ALIVE Magazine, Jessica lends her talents as a writer and stylist. She also writes and art directs her own award-winning blog, City in A Jar.

All photos by Brandon Halley.

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