Changing Mediums

Hello Everyone:

As most of you know, I am a beginner in metalsmithing. I have been
working in beads for a few years now and I am successful in this area
(and thankful for that fact). However, it has been my dream for a
long time to work with metal. I am now using the beads as a way to
pay for my growing supply of tools and additional metals classes. I
am in a good geographical area for this and have been considering
classes at FIT and Metalwerx as they are both close enough. My
question is on switching my mediums. Is there anyone who would be
willing to post their experience on this? Has anyone changed gears
in their career and, if so, did you do it gradually or quit you
current medium cold turkey (so to speak)? I find it hard to make
enough time for learning and experimenting while still filling orders
and making money. If I am non-metal jewelry to the jury right now and
I start to incorporate metal into my work, at what point do I have to
be metal jewelry? Can I apply in 2 different mediums and see which
one gets into the show?

Thanks in advance for any help.
Kim Starbard
Cove Beads

Hi Kim,

I’ve actually done just the opposite from you. I started in metals,
was using the studio at the school where I learned until one fall
found that I was without (the school had a small fire which caused a
lot of smoke damage) I had severl large craft shows scheduled later
that fall and had nowhere to make my jewelry. So I said to myself.
“I guess I’d better learn to do beadwork!”.

So I bought a bunch of books and learned. That was several years ago
and I still focus primarily on metalsmithing…but accent my work
with beads.

I think you’ll find that this puts you in a much higher category
insofar as what you can charge for your work because beaders are
beaders…meaning, they buy their findinings and simply assemble
(I’m not saying there’s no creativity in this…there certainly is
in the choices of beads to incorporate) but when you create your head
pins…when you make the clasp when you solder the jump rings YOU
made to the necklace YOU made and THEN attach the beads…well,
you get some serious respect and most importantly, can charge a whole
LOT more!

So, in my opinion, you’re not changing mediums, you’re simply
augmenting. I mean, you’re not going to stop beading because you’re
working with metal, now are you? See how you can mix the two. I
think you’ll find a whole new world. Surf the net to get inspiration.
There’s a whole lot more you can do with both areas under your belt.

Oh and about who you are to the jury…you’re mixed media, Cause
you are! (as Martha says, “it’s a good thing”.) Good luck to you! And
if you want to go to Tucson for the gem show, let me know. I’ll send
you the info on the house I"ll be sharing with other

I hope this helps,
Polly Spencer
Mary Amalia Jewelry
148 High St.
Portland, Me. 04101

Hi Kim,

In your mail you speak of your sucess with beads, I think it would
be an awful shame to move forwards leaving your beading skills
behind. Why not bring the two mediums together and create something
very individual to you, this could give you an edge in this very
competitive market.

"Best of Luck"
Dublin, Ireland

Hi Kim,

My question is on switching my mediums. Is there anyone who would
be willing to post their experience on this? 

I too transitioned from beads to metal and stones (more than ten
years ago) and it was definitely not done cold turkey. However I was
not making a living from my beadwork at the time so I doubt my
experience is relevant to you. Regardless, I have still not left
beadwork entirely behind and I frequently string a necklace to
complement a metal and stone centerpiece.

Can I apply in 2 different mediums and see which one gets into the

Often, yes, but it depends on the show and you’ll have to check with
the show prospectus or promoter. I know that the ACC shows do allow
this. You would however have to submit two separate applications and
two separate jury fees. If both applications happen to be accepted,
you are then allowed to display both lines; otherwise you may only
display the line of jewelry that was accepted.

HTH, Beth