Giana Galati was house-cleaning in Roseville when she met the woman who would change her career and life forever.
At home, Galati had picked up some wire-wrap and beading. She enjoyed jewelry, but didn’t know the right words to look up. She always wanted more: Her reaction when she saw other jewelry pieces was, ’how did they make that?’
As part of Hacker Lab’s new class packs discounts program, offering classes in bulk to help members level-up, Hacker Lab is featuring stories on teachers and their paths to get there.
One day — 8 or so years ago, Galati recalled inside Hacker Lab’s new campus at 26th and R, after helping Trent Dean, another teacher pick the right solder — Galati was cleaning a client’s house when her client asked what she did.
Galati explained she didn’t know where to start.
“She said, ‘I’ve been making jewelry for 20 years. I’ll show you the metal shop’” Galati was stunned. “It proved fateful. She showed me all her work. We did an apprenticeship — after that I wanted to learn more and more.”
Galati went on to study at American River and Sacramento City Colleges, one of the last students to before their shops shut down; teach herself and learn from mentors. Galati has since become Hacker Lab’s lead jewelry teacher, bringing her minimalist style with geometric angles and a passion for the human form and condition to students and with her own work at Vivid Venus. Her larger metal sculptures—handcrafted and welded from steel—have been featured inside Hacker Lab and at shows around the city.
An artist reborn
Galati found a mentor at American River College, Thomas Ramey, and another at Hacker Lab. She had built a home studio, learned from school and found an itch for adding welding to her skills. But when she learned how much the tools cost to do more, she joined Hacker Lab.
She stayed for the community, she said.
“It’s nice to talk to people as an artist. I would make something and someone would ask about it. That was good feedback,” Galati said.
Hacker Lab upgraded its jewelry studio from a handful of tools to a full professional studio, thanks to a RAILS grant from the City of Sacramento after Hacker Lab cofounders Gina Lujan and Eric Ullrich learned jewelry is one of the most accessible maker trades people can learn.
Galati made six pieces for ArtStreet, a temporary exhibit, and produced work for the 100 under 100 art show at WAL. She also showed a live art piece with models wearing multiple pieces at Hacker Lab’s Second Saturday art show.
Sherri Morris, a recent four-class student of Galati’s at Hacker Lab, said Galati’s teaching style was student-first.
“I took one of her classes per week. Each week’s lesson built on the last. I really appreciated Giana’s easygoing, hands-on instruction and generosity with her knowledge,” Morris said. “Her ability to guide and work with each of us at our own pace made it a no-pressure zone. She made sure everyone got the attention and detailed instruction needed.”
“Her own work is so well designed and beautifully made that it’s obvious she is a truly inspired artist with a passion and deep understanding of the craft,” Morris added. “I feel privileged she shared her time and expertise with me.
Galati says she likes working at Hacker Lab since she’s always learning. She’s a kinesthetic learner, she said, so learns while doing. It’s a lot of problem solving.
“It’s my therapy — you have to have a clear, calm presence while making it. That’s why I enjoy teaching it; I enjoy people calming and getting in the zone while hammering out a cuff.”
She wishes she could thank the woman who showed her she could learn it all, but Galati doesn’t remember her name.
“It’s hard to break in the you don’t know the words to look up online,” Galati said. “I still learn from the students … I don’t consider myself an expert. It reminds me of that state when I was thirsty to learn, which is where I try to be.”