Sessin Durgham joined Rio’s Technical Support team in 2006. Prior to that, he worked for five years as a retail bench jeweler making custom designs and has spent the past 27 years attending juried art shows, teaching forging workshops, and selling his wares (or taking home awards for them).
Besides being a 2002 Saul Bell Design Award competition winner, Sessin received the Platinum Honor, part of the prestigious AGTA Spectrum Awards. He has also exhibited at the Festival of the Masters, an exclusive outdoor art show in Orlando reserved for only the country’s top artists.
As impressive a metalsmith and artist as Sessin is, it’s his contagious passion for jewelry-making and his eagerness to help others that make him an indelible part of Rio. If you’ve called us asking for technical support on forging, soldering, or stone setting, or if you’ve encountered someone on our live chat who was unusually enthusiastic about hammers, you were probably chatting with Sessin.
The Tool Tester
“Just days after joining the company, Sessin approached me and asked why we didn’t carry a 35-pound anvil and, more importantly, how quickly could I get him one,” says Bench Tools Buyer, Spencer Baum. “His enthusiasm for metal-forming tools has led to quite a few new additions to our product line, from larger Peddinghaus hammers to more forming stakes to every single item on page 107 of our 2010 Tools & Equipment catalog.” (You know you have to take a look! Oddly enough, he had a strong influence on page 107 of the upcoming 2011 catalog as well!)
In supplying Sessin with the tools that he needs to design, research, and test, we know that the happy result will be that we end up offering great tools to our customers. Suffice it to say, Spencer makes sure that Sessin gets his hands on whatever he wants to test out next.
“I think of Sessin as my crazy uncle who has a story for everything,” says fellow jeweler, Yvonne M. Padilla. “Sometimes, at first, the stories don’t make sense. But somehow they end up looping back to the original conversation, and almost always with a hilarious ending. It’s quite dizzying.” Yvonne and Sessin have worked side-by-side in Tech Support for several years now. “Putting aside the quirky storytelling, he is an amazing jeweler. In just the few years I’ve known him, he has taught me so much. He’s a wonderful artist and a true friend.”
“Because we both went to Northern Arizona University and studied under the same professor, I instantly felt a connection with Sessin,” says jeweler and teammate, Mark Nelson. “And I do think he is a little crazy, but in that brilliant artist way.”
“This one time at the SNAG Conference in Memphis,” Mark remembers, “Sessin wanted some real Southern food. He asked the locals where to go, and we ended up taking a 30-minute cab ride to the outskirts of town. By the end of the ride, the driver and Sessin were good friends and we got to see quite a bit of the town (the food was indeed as great as every one said it would be!). Sessin possesses that wonderful quality of making friends wherever he goes. A kinder more caring person would be hard to find, especially one who is such a great poet.” Take a look for yourself…
The Silent Hammer by Sessin
A silent hammer,
A thousand tear
They lie in storage
Too many a year.
Waiting for that glorious day
When smith and iron come out to play.
The ringing of iron
The hissing of steam
Of metal on thing.
That day will wait another year
When smith and hammer come out to play.
As for me, I first met Sessin in Las Vegas during his photo shoot for the 2002 Saul Bell Design Award competition, years before he joined Rio. In walked this humble, quiet soul with a huge smile and crazy hair.
I interviewed our winners that year, so I got to hear what made Sessin tick: “building stuff,” (he loved building models as a kid), “experimenting with silver, making it sculptural and heavy,” (that would explain the hammer obsession), and always striving to “make something simple and humble, but memorable.” I got to know him as a designer back then; now I get to work with him and see how he influences and helps other jewelers.
He is a treasure, our Sessin. And whether he’s designing award-winning jewelry, talking to (and entertaining) a customer through a jewelry challenge, or cracking up a co-worker, Sessin makes a memorable mark on every person he meets, hammer in hand.