Meet the Amazing Aran Testa of Borneo – a Metalsmith in the Jungle!

Around the World with Xuron® Tools, featuring Aran Testa.

Welcome to our new “Around the World” Maker Series, where we feature jewelers, model hobbyists, and makers of all types from around the globe. What do they all have in common? They all use Xuron® tools!

Our first featured Maker is Aran Testa, aka Jungle Silversmith. She is a jungle-living metalsmith inspired by nature who lives in Brunei, Borneo. We asked her a few questions in a short interview that we’ll share with you below.

In case you’re wondering, Brunei is a tiny nation on the island of Borneo, consisting of two distinct sections surrounded by Malaysia and the South China Sea. It’s known for its beaches and biodiverse rainforest, much of which is protected within reserves. What a rich source of inspiration this must be!

How and when did you discover metalsmithing?

I’ve always loved anything and everything creative, but I let my artistic side go once I had a young family. When we moved to Brunei, it meant I had more time, and I decided, if not now, when? I traveled to Kuala Lumpur to take metalsmith classes, something I had wanted to do since school.

All creative people occasionally get “stuck.” If this happens to you, too, how do you reset and awaken your creativity?

It’s so true; it happens to us all. Whether due to the dreaded imposter syndrome or feeling creatively stuck, I find the best way out is to start small with no pressure. I tend to tidy, make balls from scrap, or create components and links. Usually, soon enough, I am back to my normal self.

You live in a relatively remote part of the world (Borneo). Is it difficult to find supplies, and what advice would you give others living in remote areas where suppliers are less accessible?

Yes, living here has been both a blessing and a curse in my metalsmithing. Although I have more time to be creative and some great inspiration from the jungle, supplies take forever to get here, and as you can imagine, it’s very costly. Living anywhere remote means you have to plan really well!

Rio Grande is an authorized Xuron® retailer.
Rio Grande (Online Store, USA)

How did you discover Xuron® tools, and which do you use?

I first found Xuron through my Rio Grande catalog (the good old days). I used to sit in bed and leaf through it, planning projects and the tools I needed. I love my Xuron® flush cutters and couldn’t be without them.

What are your hobbies or other interests when not working with metals?

What a view to see while working on her quilt.
Aran teaches arts and crafts at a local community center. She says, “What a view to look at whilst working on my quilt.”

Walking on the beach is how I start many of my days. All is good once I’ve had some fresh air and got moving in nature. I also volunteer to teach art, sewing, and quilting to adults. It’s so rewarding to see someone arrive thinking they can’t do it and leave with their own creation at the end of the session.

What aspect of your creative journey do you value the most?

Especially being remote, my online community and the network of support it provides is truly valuable to me. Whether we are artisans, tool makers, or creators, supporting each other is the key to our collective success.

Aran doesn’t just talk about her online community; she’s actively building and supporting it. Her recent, very successful design challenge asked for participants to use 20/22 gauge copper to create a small hammered-shaped dish. She coached participants in the challenge from start to finish, and we saw many comments about how fun and educational it was. One of these entries is below:

Entry by thebeadedpony on Instagram to JungleSilversmith's March 2024 design challenge.
A lovely hammered small dish entry by thebeadedpony on Instagram to JungleSilversmith’s March 2024 design challenge.

She’s launching a new design challenge in July 2024, and we’re really looking forward to it! Follow @junglesilversmith on Instagram and watch for updates—this challenge will be one you don’t want to miss!

Thank you, Aran, for collaborating with us on this blog post and for all that you do to foster community in your artistic endeavors!

Xuron® Model TK4200 Metalsmith's Tool Kit.
Xuron® Model TK4200 Metalsmith’s Tool Kit

Subscribers Always Win!

The Xuron® Model TK4200 Metalsmith’s Tool Kit provides everything you need to get the job done right. This professional-grade kit includes the 2175 Maxi-Shear™ Flush Cutter, 9180NS Metal Scissors, and 485FN Flat Nose Pliers. We’re offering this useful tool kit as the prize in this month’s subscriber-only giveaway!

One name will be randomly drawn from our active subscriber list on June 24, 2024. If you are not yet subscribed, please use the form below to do so. From that point forward, as long as you’re an active subscriber, you will be automatically entered into each Xuron® Jewelry Tools News subscriber-only giveaway!

Let’s take a look at each component of the TK4200 Metalsmith’s Tool Kit:

2175 Maxi-Shear™ Flush Cutter

The 2175 Maxi-Shear™ Flush Cutter has been a favorite of metalsmiths for years. Its oval cutting head and larger handle make it the perfect companion for working with soft wires up to 12 AWG (2mm). Like all Xuron® cutters, the 2175 offers our Micro-Shear® blade bypass action, resulting in flat, clean, flush cuts.

Here's how Xuron® Micro-Shear® Flush Cutters work.
How Xuron® Micro-Shear® and Maxi-Shear™ Flush Cutters work

9180NS Metal Scissors

The 9180NS Metal Scissors is a non-serrated version of our 9180 High Durability Scissors for applications where serrations are unnecessary or desired. Traditional metal shears are bulky and heavy, have no return spring, and are hard to operate. In contrast, the 9180NS is smaller, lightweight, and has a gentle return spring. It easily cuts through jump rings, leaving a flat end on both sides of the ring. The 9180NS is ideal for cutting non-ferrous sheet metals up to 20 ga. (.8 mm) and soft wire up to 16 ga (1.3 mm).

485FN Flat Nose Pliers

Finally, the 485FN Flat Nose Pliers are perfect for bending, forming, grasping, holding, and flattening wire and other materials. Their flat, smooth surface allows for greater gripping strength and durability, making them ideal for bending and manipulating wire without marring the surface. These pliers are slightly narrower than others on the market, making them more versatile and allowing you to work with a wide variety of material sizes.

Why you need the Xuron® Model TK4200 Metalsmith’s Tool kit in your toolbox

Whether you’re a seasoned metalsmith or just starting out, the Xuron® Model TK4200 Metalsmith’s Tool Kit has everything you need to create beautiful works of art. With tools for cutting, holding, and shaping/manipulating wire and sheet metal, this professional-grade kit is essential for any metalworker. All three tools come wrapped in a protective canvas pouch to keep them clean and organized.

Enter our TK4200 Metalsmith Subscriber-Only Giveaway Below:

 

 

 

Abby Robey

I am the Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Xuron Corporation. I've had the pleasure of working here for 25 years and one of my favorite parts of the job is meeting Xuron® tool users and hearing the feedback about the products we make.

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