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Artistic Feelings

trying to deal with the business aspects of selling coping
with shop owners who hold my jewelry in the back room instead of
showing it in a timely manner,especially with the holiday season
coming up;having original pieces copied and mass produced; dealing
with upcoming show requirements; I’m finding that all of this takes my
creative energy and annihilates it. how do the rest of you deal with
all these business aspects and keep the positive energy going to
continue creating??? Exhausted Lisa Check out my new web page:

Hi Lisa, read your posting, and checked out your web site. i really
enjoyed seeing your work, and also the work done by the Gnome Hollow
wildlife rehab centre. I hope this positive feedback helps you feel
less creatively exhausted. Christine

Lisa, I can’t say any thing that will tell you that in time this will
stop. It won’t. As a small business, putting your work in the public
eye, if it sells, it will be copied. You can copyright all of your
work, but it does take time and money. It may be worth it. On a
positive note, if you developed something, and a technique that
enables you to do it quickly, and efficiently, you will have the
opportunity to use this and make your monies off of it for a while,
before the vultures hone in. (Perhaps the time you are sick of making
them.) Another thing, is not to discuss to much of how they are made.
This does give us jewelers a bit of a reputation for being snotty, but
as you are learning, it is a difficult trade, and highly competitive.
Don’t tell people all of the techniques involved, unless it is
something that will let the consumer and your buyers know that it is a
difficult piece to make, and time consuming. if it is time consuming,
it is less likely to be stolen. (and if you develop a method for
shaving off the time, don’t tell them (unless you think it would be
deceptive not to)) Also, use techniques that you know can’t be cast.
If it can’t be cast, it is harder to send out/overseas to be

and go out with other artists for coffee!!!

A. Austin

I don’t know if this thought will help. But I have a very wise freind
who once told me that there is always another creative idea, when we
were discussing my own concerns about having ideas stolen. Since he
and I had that conversation, I have completely let go of my worries
and anger about this sort of thing. The people who steal ideas are so
poor in terms of their creative capacity - and those, like us, who
keep on creating, are so much the richer. A lot of times it’s not the
work that’s exhausting. It’s the worry.

A. Austin, It seems to me that your comments to Lisa are in direct
contradiction of what this forum is. Orchid is a means for jewelers
to help one another, and, incidentally, not appear so snotty all the
time. Everyone on this forum is always open with all of their methods
and business models. It seems to me that to recommend otherwise would
mean that you do not have any idea what this is all about.

Daniel R. Spirer, GG
Spirer Somes Jewelers
1794 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140

Hi Lisa -

One thing that has always benefitted me in dealing with the "hard"
stuff (that doesn’t just “go away”!) is to deal with it promptily.
So, in other words . . . once, I walked into a shop where my work was
strewn around and I couldn’t even find it to take inventory - and it
also taken off my identifying cards and placed by someone else’s work
with their name linked to it. Well, I wasn’t a happy camper, but I
just very calmly said something to the manager - who then changed how
it was arranged. They were no doubt using "their’ creativity in
arranging things in the shop - but I noticed a marked change in sales
when the work was together and zippo sales when it was lost in the
shuffle. It was actually beneficial to both of us to change the
arrangement - but she wasn’t aware of how it directly affected my
sales (btw - the work was on consignment). These types of problems
are never something I “feel” comfortable with - but speaking up and
"tackling’ the problems as they come up does create change and
facilitate moving on. So, I definitely have found that it is to my
benefit to communicate and actually, it is essential . . . and I am
actually getting a little better at speaking up now! Another option
is to get a sales rep who handles those types of problems. :slight_smile:

Once, I had an appointment at a gallery shop in SF, when I was on a
trip - and the buyer was interested in my work (on consignment) and I
was interested in the shop - until he opened a closed cabinet that had
LOTS of very nice consignment jewelry work in it. My immediate
feeling was - I’m not so sure I want to be in this gallery unless I
know that the work will be shown. At that time, I decided that I
would be better to create a time frame for trying a new shop and see
how sales go - not leave it open ended. If they want to purchase work
wholesale and do whatever rotation works for their shop - then,
perhaps that would have been okay - however, I would have liked to
have known their pattern - because of sending customers to find things
at a particular shop. What actually happened in that case was that
the shop closed before the time frame for when they wanted my work
(on consignment) - but i was getting my “ducks in a row” to be
prepared with questions of my concerns and to have it in a contract.

Back in October this year, there were a few strings on Orchid titled,
“Creative Block” and “New Life and Aritist’s Way” - that you might
enjoy looking up if you missed them. I think you would find the info
in those responses of interest. We are all different, but I know that
for myself, the process of working with the book, “The Artists Way” by
Julia Cameron has been very beneficial in helping me to recapture the
joy of our multidimensional work - and to find avenues that are

I think that in time - we get better at understanding the workings of
the business world and can move through it with a little more grace
and ease. I really liked A. Austin’s reply for your question. The
copying issue for sure comes with our territory - and his answer was
great. It does take time to heal and move through these experiences.
Connecting with other artists is very helpful and even just knowing
that the norm is what he described - is very helpful . . . it doesn’t
make it acceptable. But bottom line is to go back to being
"genuinely" free of the difficulties along the way and keep moving.
This forum has been great in providing a better understanding for the
many problems of our medium -the technical, business and also those
at a personal level - and to me, hearing the insights of others’
experiences helps a lot!

Aloha, Cynthia @Cynthia_Wiig

I want to thank everyone for all the responses to my question of
dealing with the negatives business processes that weigh on our
creative feelings. You’ve all been a great help! Thanks for being
there. Without this forum, I would have not had such wonderful
teachers and friends to get me thru this starting of a new
career.Thank you Dr. Aspler for making it possible. Lisa

Check out my new web page:

Daniel, My post was not in any way meant to be snotty, and yes this
forum is a wonderful outlet and resource for jewelers around the
globe… BUT, that doesn’t mean that every one on this sight is going
to sit down for a chit chat and tell all others what their top seller
is, how to make it, where to get the sources for materials, and the
methods that they use to make it cost effective and profitable. I was
trying to say if you have a profitable piece, and can do a limited
edition or even production run of it, run with it while you can. If
others want to copy you, let them figure out for them selves how to.
Don’t help those who want to use your product under their name for
their profit. Simple business sense. And to copyright. Now, that is
also not to imply that people on this forum would even try to copy.
And tools and techniques are always a valuable discussion, to those
discussing it, as well as the rest of us reading it and learning from
it. I in no way meant my previous post to hint at inhibiting free
discussion as we have on this board. All I was trying to say was to
watch what you do say… and even though it may benefit others to know
everything you do, sometimes the best way for all, is to let some one
work for the that you, I, or any one else has worked to

I do apologize for having offended you, and I agree that Orchid is an
invaluable tool, and resource in our community.

A. Austin

Respectfully, I must comment that Mr. Spirer seems to have misread A.
Austin’s original post on this subject, and misunderstood her

Not to argue the point, but I must agree in principle with the
original statement he objected to. In my own development of the
technique I work with I have spent literally thousands of hours in
refining and expanding the basic structure I began with. As several on
this forum can attest, anyone who has written to me offline with an
inquiry regarding crochet, or my application of it, has received
helpful from me addressing their specific questions, as
best as I have been able to provide. I don’t, however, share many of
the aspects one should acquire from their own honest efforts and
hours of research and practice. To do so would ultimately be to the
detriment of what it takes to truly become adept and accomplished in
this particular technique. I feel there is still a requisite amount
of dedication and discipline involved in any person’s own artistic
development, regardless of the material or the subject of one’s

Common business sense should also prevail, how many manufacturers
willingly share all of the details of their formulas, technological
developments, and/or trade secrets with their direct competitors?
Would it be prudent or advisable for them to do so?

Michael David Sturlin, jewelry artist
Michael Sturlin Studio, Scottsdale Arizona USA

Showing support for Mr. Spirer (of whom I am a personal fan of his
posts)…I think we as artists have somewhat of an obligation to
share our knowledge. (though this does NOT mean you have to sell
yourself out.) Do you know the great masters of Chinese Martial Arts
always share their knowledge. They tell those that will be teachers
"you do not teach the forms exact " This way you protect your best
secrets, and share your knowledge at the same time. Isn’t that what
this website is about? Those with knowledge sharing their knowledge?
I 'm sure that everything out their being done has been done before
and will be done in the future , trade secrets or not. that’s the
beauty of it. The methods may be different, but there is not that
much “originality” out there as far as new and exciting htings to do
with the metals we work with. From engraving to weaving to sculpture
to fabrication to casting to mounting…look in your history books,
and it’s all there. Maybe it’s a different techinique , but that’s
all that changes. Mr. Spirer and education supporter… -julia

I’ve not read all the posts to this particular thread, so pardon me
if I’m a bit off topic. As a metalsmith wannabe, I am ever so
appreciative of the generosity of my teachers. I am familiar with
feelings of fear that someone will “steal” my designs, however, to
counteract this, I am almost daily reminded that any 5 people of a
similar skill level, given the same assignment to create
such-and-such, and using the same techniques and even materials, will
produce 5 different objects. It’s just the way it works. We’re all
unique and this is reflected in what we create.

So, thanks for all you generous souls, I’m learning so much and it’s

Christine, in Littleton, Mass., USA, who woke up thinking of metal.

Common business sense should also prevail, how many manufacturers
willingly share all of the details of their formulas, technological
developments, and/or trade secrets with their direct competitors?
Would it be prudent or advisable for them to do so?

Does it not benefit us all if everyone improves their skills and
abilities as jewelers? Does that not make the entire jewelry
industry a better place to do business in? Would it not be better if
there were no cheap hack rip-offs but rather high quality rip-offs?
If we all strive to do the best we can and let others know how we do
it than the trade AS A WHOLE will benefit. More people will want and
appreciate high end, well made, jewelry which translates into more
sales for ALL jewelers. Every one of us who makes their own jewelry
will always put something of ourselves into our work. That piece of
us makes it different and unique to us. No one can take that away
from you. An example: I make a signature style earrings that is a
little face (mask) made out of 22k gold on an earwire, with a small
stone set on the earwire. Now I am not the first, or the last, person
to make a face on a piece of jewelry. Historically we, as jewelers,
have had a long history of making faces on jewelry. I am always happy
to show any other craftsperson exactly how the piece is made. I will
show you the exact chasing tools I use to make it and take you through
from beginning to end. However the faces will never be my faces
because A) I have made my own chasing tools and a copy of them will
not be exactly the same (it can’t be because I hand cut them) B)
Even if I give you my tools, your hand won’t strike the metal in
exactly the same way, and C) I didn’t make them. They may look like
my faces but I didn’t make them. But personally I would love it if
you all went out and made some face earrings just like it because
people will come to my store and say “Gee I saw someone with some
great looking earrings that had faces on them. You got any?” And
that translates into more sales for me. Almost all painters start with
the same basic drawing courses and are taught about the paints they
are going to work with. Picasso went to a traditional art school as a
youth and learn the basics of painting. It was then up to him to take
what he learned and do something with it. I have never seen an art
school that didn’t teach all the basics in a thorough manner. They
don’t say “we aren’t going to teach you how to make THIS color because
it is the color we arrived at by mixing these other colors together,
so you will have to find another color to use.” Many teaching
artists teach what they know and understand, both in terms of
technique and their concept of art. It is up to their students to take
this and do something different with it. Those who do, go on to
become great artists themselves. The others may be more commercial or
may become copiers of their teachers, but what they produce is still
not the same as the original teacher’s work. They can’t produce it
because they aren’t their teacher.

Daniel R. Spirer, GG
Spirer Somes Jewelers
1794 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140

I had one more thought on this subject after my last post on it. Let
us not forget that it was only after the Linde Company began
producing synthetic star sapphires in quantity that natural star
sapphires became more commercially and generally popular. In other
words Mother Nature’s art form was only widely recognized for what it
was after the imitators had copied it.

Spirer Somes Jewelers
1794 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140

Well said, Daniel!!

I’m amazed when I come upon individuals not willing to help others,
but fortunately, those have been few and far between.

I can’t help but believe that if one truly loves what they are doing,
the enthusiasm will bubble over and the desire to share will just
occur naturally.

As you said so eloquently, the world is large enough to accommodate
more than one talented artist, as each will leave his or her unique
and indelible mark on each piece they create. =)

Pepr Tokens of

Daniel, Well done! I heartily agree with you…Freedom of
is a basic tenet of a modern enlightened society…as
opposed to the mediaeval guild attititude that fosters a mypoic
,cloistered ,“me first” attitude. Nothing is static and any mechanism
that attempts to thwart the free exchange of ideas, techniques and
concepts is doomed to self-inflicted death.This, after all, is the
basic premise of Orchid…the free exchange of experience,
techniques and ideas. We all benefit as we all grow through expanded
awareness and knowledge. In an oppressive milieu, exchange of
is confined to a select few who use it to exploit others.
In our democracies there is an ever present danger of domination by
powerful selfish interests and we must constantly be on the alert.
This awareness should just as readily apply to the
artistic/technological community. Ron at Mills Gem, Los Osos, CA.
(Tyson Wells Early Show.)

mario here

I would like to be copyed that would say that my work is worth
something, I like to share ideas and expiriences or I would not be on
orchid where everybody is redy to share his expirience with eweribody
when I see some piece I imagin how would I do that and that is a
sketch for new piece, new aproach to do something beeter Im not
interested in doing something exactley the same as autor, but beter
and if he is not glad that somebody is doing something beter and more
beutiful from his sugestion he shoud not expose his work but keep it
for him self there would be no civilization when people would not
share ideas, we would stay as a cave man, what would be if the man who
inwented the wheel did not say he did that but kept it for him self ?
We should share cnowlege and expirence to do bether. there is one
member of Orchid who is interested in cuting repetitive shapes, if he
wants some he can show skatches and he will get as many as orchidians
are there on line

Before we get all hot and bothered about the free exchange of ideas,
when I started this post I was not concerned with ripping off of
techniques…where would I be without the free exchange and wonderful
help that I’ve gotten from this list. What I was upset over was the
theft of a design . a particular design that came from my head and my
heart…not the technique that I used which is centuries old…I am
forever indebted to the experienced jewelers that have taught me on
this list and other metal list that I belong to because without your
help I would not be where I am. I too show others that are starting
out and let them watch what I’m doing. That’s a wonderful part of the
arts and the crafts that we must keep going…I do believe that we need
to at least make an effort to come up with our own designs to use
these technique to produce…Design Technique …two different things.

 What I was upset over was the theft of a design . a particular
design that came from my head and my heart...not the technique that
I used  which is centuries old >> 

I can relate to that. If you have a particular inspiration and know
that someone deliberately filched your idea and profited from it
at your expense, it can hurt.

BUT…let me tell you a funny experience: I had some interesting
crystals which demanded a distinctive, unusual setting. Nothing
seemed right, so I left them alone. One day, the idea for a
striking neckpiece incorporating the crystals occurred to me. I
worked the whole thing out, got everything done except setting the
crystals, and went to see an exhibit of fine crafts. On the wall
were dozens of photographs of the artists’ works, and DARN if there
wasn’t ‘my’ masterpiece hanging among them. The stones were
different, but the rest of the thing could almost have been a twin to
mine. In this case, two people with similar materials attacked a
problem the same way. I do not know the artist; but I often
wonder…if she were to see me wearing my creation, would she think
I ripped off her idea? Dee

I normally just sit by and listen to the wonderful I have
found on this list. It is awsome. But let me tell you that I have
only been doing this for 3 years and I am trying to make a living at
it for my daughter and myself. I did own a rock shop many years ago
and that experience has carried forward and taught me alot. But it
was IMPOSSIBLE to find anyone who wwould share with me.
Luckily through this list I have found a local person., who is
wonderful, that has shared his knowledge and expertise. Robert
Kardow, out of San Marcos.Texas. Instead of doing a gold piece for me,
instead he explained to me how to do it myself. And showed me how to
order the supplies and everything. What more could one person ask
for?? No one and I mean no one else in my area would offer to help
me like this for free. He is a really nice person and does wonderful,
original work.

This list is so very important to me, I see new things and have
inspiration and hope every day from here. Do you all not see what I

I am normally very quiet but had to put in my 2 pennies. From Texas
where it is 70 degrees today and sunny.

bggarret --again it is not the jewelry techniques or even designing
tips that is at issue, rather the blatant theft of a design for
money and/or fame. I am a firm believer in sharing knowledge and even
design innovation. Unfortunately, many jewelers refuse to share their
years of experience because of a worry of losing their jobs to new
comers, possibly creating their own compition,or just plain old
wanting to-know-something-you-don’t-know ego thing. I have run into
all of these things growing up in a time when there were few schools
and open forums (that I was aware of or could afford) and most
traditional jewelers were trying to keep their jobs or just wanted to
have someone to solder chains and size rings, so they could do the
good stuff. If they had their way, many of us would still be sizing
and soldering. Keep up the good search, always quest for more
knowledge and use it --Marty