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A Heartfelt Thanks to Orchidians


#1

About 4 1/2 years ago, I had an idea. The idea was to get out of my
basement, have a nice bench with some basic tools, have a little
gallery and teach some classes on the side. I wrote to the
Orchidians asking for help on a name. And many of you chimed in and
helped me pick the name Metalwerx. My then partner and I opened up
Metalwerx in 450 sq ft of space. Our first brochure was 4 pages,
photocopied and sent to everyone from a local guild address list and
from SNAG. We offered 4 classes. One beginning class, one
Intermediate and two workshops. One of the workshops didn’t run, but
we were off and running. Somebody on Orchid said “isn’t that going
to be hard to balance? I mean making your own work, dealing with
customers and teaching”? You bet! But we wouldn’t have learned any
other way.

Metalwerx is now 4 1/2 years old. My partner left last summer to
pursue her own path of metalsmithing and to take care of two VERY
ACTIVE adorable boys. The studio has grown exponentially and I am
constantly finding ways to add more equipment and develop incredible
workshops. Jesse Grassi is my admin assistant, always there with a
smile and who works long hours. She is the person who answers the
phone and I couldn’t do it without her. There are others, Christine
Quiriy who designs and maintains our excellent website, Lorrie
LeJeune who designs our brochures and ad copy. Maggie Curtin will be
there at the booth with me in Tucson so be sure to say hello. She
has been one of my studiomates from the beginning and who urged me to
return to the Gem Show.

Now every couple of months, I keep hearing of new schools/community
studios cropping up. Metals Edge Studio in Scottsdale is a new
school/community studio which is just about ready to secure space.
There is buzz about another in Colorado one possibly in Montana. If
you are thinking about opening one yourself, all I can say is just
do it! Every day I go to my bench and think, “I love my day job”.
I thank everyone on Orchid who has been so supportive over the years.
I just keep putting the energy out and I get it back tenfold.
Hopefully in about a week or so, I will have some amazing news to
report.

Most of all, I thank Hanuman for this incredible forum. His
dedication is one that I admire and aspire.

-k
Karen Christians
M E T A L W E R X
10 Walnut St.
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone:781/937-3532
Fax: 781/937-3955
http://www.metalwerx.com/
Accredited Jewelry Instruction


#2

Karen, thank you for your post. It hit me at a timely point. Last
night I was contacted again about when am I going to start a
workshop or classes? There is a need here in Asheville, NC for a
small school or workshop. Penland is out of reach time and cost wise
for most learners and a local community college is now only after
numbers with no interest in what the students learn. I know, I used
to teach there. The biggest problem here is affordable workspace
with adequate ventilation and water. Your post is causing me to
rethink many things. Sometimes you do just have step out and “do
it”. I have been laying the ground work for getting back into
business for myself for some time now.

Thanks. Bill


#3
    Karen, thank you for your post. It hit me at a timely point.
Last night I was contacted again about when am I going to start a
workshop or classes? There is a need here in Asheville, NC for a
small school or workshop. Penland is out of reach time and cost
wise for most learners and a local community college is now only
after numbers with no interest in what the students learn. I know,
I used to teach there. The biggest problem here is affordable
workspace with adequate ventilation and water. Your post is causing
me to rethink many things. Sometimes you do just have step out and
"do it". I have been laying the ground work for getting back into
business for myself for some time now. 

Bill, Sometimes you just have to take that first step. Its very
scarey indeed, but if you write your needs down, sketch it out,
research the costs, you can’t go wrong. How many of these people are
interested in a small school or workshop space? I bet there are more
than you think. There are great powers in numbers for ideas,
resources and revenue. Most artists don’t think in business terms.
It’s funny, I have always been so jealous of people who could build
objects and render beautifully. To me, they were the “artist’s
artist” like Michaelangelo. But I discovered that my brain is
hardwired in two places as well, I can think like a business person
but also build decent objects.

Good luck and don’t be afraid to write if you need help.

-k
Karen Christians
M E T A L W E R X
10 Walnut St.
Woburn, MA 01801
Phone:781/937-3532
Fax: 781/937-3955
http://www.metalwerx.com/
Accredited Jewelry Instruction


#4

Hi Bill; I have only recently joined Orchid, so I have not been
following this whole thread. I, too, am in the Asheville area. I
have only been here for 2 years, but have been in the jewelry
business for over 25. I’m not sure if the Community College you are
referring to is Haywood, but they do have jewelry and lapidary
programs, as does as small school/studio in Clyde. I think perhaps
there is some connection between them. While I have some interest, I
have not at this point had either the time or funding to pursue
either.

With the number of good jewelers and other crafters in the region,
it should not be difficult to find a pool of instructors, I would
think. And the need for reasonably priced studio space must be out
there, too. As for me, I would be interested in both a school and
ultimately studio space. Specifically, I need some hands on casting
experience, I would like to learn enameling, and there are a number
of other techniques I would love to learn or improve. Engraving is
another. I would also be willing to teach some classes, perhaps, if
the situation was right. Good studio space is something else I would
be interested in down the road. With the cost of setting up a place
with good lighting, good ventilation and all of the other problems
associated with a shop, perhaps a cooperative type of environment
could be beneficial to many artists. So many of us work with
inadequate systems now that it would have to be an improvement. If
you have any interest in a bit of help, brainstorming, or whatever,
please get in touch. Easiest way to get in touch is through my web
site at http://www.forrest-design.com. Thanks, and good luck. Jim