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Metalsmiths Make Art in Bristol

The artists of Beehive Handmade use hardcore hand tools to build intricate, refined houseware

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Beehive Handmade, a metalsmithing studio tucked away in Bristol, offers unique, vintage-style pieces that hold deeper meaning within their intricate lines and shapes.

Artists Sandra Bonazoli and Jim Dowd have been metalsmiths for over 20 years and in business together for 17. Sandra loved to wear jewelry when she was younger and started to really connect with the “very intimate, small, precise making of things,” which led her to a Masters at UMass Dartmouth in jewelry and metals.

All of their work starts with a hand-drawn idea, which they then scan onto the computer for a more refined and precise design. They use traditional metalsmithing hand tools to realize the design, drawing on their hydraulic press and milling machine when needed, before sending it out to get molded. The piece is later shipped out from their studio.

Although the duo originally made kitchenware only, they’ve expanded to baby spoons, cups, picture frames, jewelry, holiday ornaments, desk and dresser pieces and hooks. All pieces are both useful and deeply meaningful in their design, Sandra says. She incorporates symbols from folk art and mid-century modern design into her work, blending clean lines and abstract shapes with narrative significance.

“We’re never going to make anything trendy and disposable,” she says. “We want to make things that bring happiness to people in a very everyday way.” She incorporates symbols from folk art and mid-century modern design into her work, blending clean lines and abstract shapes with narrative significance.

Beehive Handmade distributes pieces to stores throughout the country and locally, including Isherwood & Company in Newport, Simmons Cafe & Market in Little Compton and Muse in Warren.