After day one of a 10-day metalsmithing course at Syracuse University in New York, Robbi Farschman decided that she hated it. She worked at the university as a community organizer and staff were offered 12 complimentary credits for classes of their choice.
So despite a challenging first class, she decided she had to give it another chance. After all, she had taken vacation time for it.
And good thing she did.
Three years later, Farschman made the move to leave a successful, 15-year career in community development to launch lostgirl Metalworks.
At the time, she was working in the economic development department of the university and was overseeing a $30 million creative placemaking project. But she found herself hating it.
With encouragement from her now-husband, Farschman left her job though she had the higher salary of the two and better health insurance. But they sold one of their cars and consolidated a few things to make the dream work.
“I could be dead tomorrow. I could get hit by a bus,” Farschman said. “Honestly, I’m kind of realistic in that way because you just don’t know, right? Do you want to hate the day before?”
And so the journey began. Farschman had been making bead jewelry as a hobbyist since the 2000s, but aside from her metalsmithing course at the university, didn’t yet have the skills or materials for being a full-time metalsmith.
“I had a pair of pliers and a couple of hammers, like I had nothing,” Farschman said. “I laid out four grand off the bat for the tools and a bench and the basic things that I kind of needed to be able to operate.”
Getting started felt kind of scary, Farschman said, but she always dots her i’s and crosses her t’s. She was determined, and paired with her organizational background from the community development world, made it happen.
Fast forward 10 years, and Farschman has developed a style based on experimentation and unexpected materials. She’s sold her work, which is mainly statement pieces, at art shows, through Instagram, and through an email list of dedicated customers.
Being self-taught has enabled her to create her own style. Her work isn’t constricted by someone else’s voice in her head telling her how to make stuff. Everything she makes, aside from a few repeat items she sells on Etsy, is a true one-off, she said.
She started off by creating collections of work, her first being “Machine,” then moving on to “Tribe” and “Evolution.” But eventually she realized she doesn’t intentionally think in terms of collections–she just makes.
“On any given week, I could be doing completely different things,” Farschman said. “I let the crazy in my head come out.”
Lately, she’s been really into arrow and alchemy-inspired pieces based on an experience she had with a shaman four years ago. Their conversation was centered around the number five, and the shaman expressed that “five is the arrow and the path” and that Farschman should stay true to her core.
If you’re itching to see Farschman’s work in person, you’re in luck. She’s hosting an artisan market called life-by-hand at the Larimer Lounge on April 30 with eight other “fine and funky” artists.
Life-by-hand Artisan Market will take place at 2719 Larimer Street on April 30 from 12-6 p.m. You can find Farschman online at lostgirlmetalworks.com or on Instagram at @lostgirlmetal. The artisan market page is on Instagram at @lifebyhandartisanmarket.