We Wield the Hammer [WWTH] exists to identify, train, track and support young women of African descent who might not otherwise choose a career as a metalsmith. WWTH seeks to offer opportunities for artistic equity, economic empowerment and access to a vocation which is very often traditionally unavailable to women, particularly marginalized women and girls. Our training program begins the process of leveling the playing field in many ways, most especially at the entry point of skill building.
Read more about the vision here.
Imagined in Senegal, Incubated in Oakland
WWTH was founded in 2019 in Oakland, CA, though the idea for the program was gestated in Dakar, Senegal. The project is a training program that teaches the fundamentals of metalsmithing; the course is a an 8-week session designed to teach fabrication using precious metals. Through this course, the students learn the art and practice using copper, brass and sterling silver. Graduates of the program can then go on to apprentice with local jewelers or even start their own businesses.
"This is my first opportunity to be a student in a learning environment made for black women by black women and I’ve learned a lot by how freeing it feels."
– Adeniji, WWTH class of 2019
Karen Smith, The Founder
Karen Smith, Executive Director of WWTH, is a self-taught metal artist and arts educator. A Brooklyn, NY transplant, she is a longtime Oakland resident and was inspired to start the program after an apprenticeship in Dakar, Senegal. Her passion is to bring this vocation to women and girls of African descent around the globe.
There are many ways to support WWTH students. We invite you to make a tax-deductible monetary or in-kind donation; your gift makes a huge difference and goes directly to operations. You may also set up recurring donations or donate to WWTH through your company’s charitable giving program. We also encourage you to purchase WWTH's merchandise and to gift them items from their wishlist. WWTH also welcomes volunteers.