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Educate gallery

Orchid freinds, mostly I listen and learn very rarely speak. I am
helping some friends at an old gallery in downtown San Antonio learn
about jewelry as an art. Now they only have one “artist” who glues
her own beautiful lapidary work into a base metal belt buckle
findings. They are quoted as saying “buying a stone and just
creating a finding is not art”.

Please help me here guys, I thought I would need more support for
impact other than my own opinion., email offline, my presentation to
their board is on July 7th.

Thank you
Barbara Garrett
(830) 980-3513

Dear Orchid Friends: My other email sounded so dorkey I felt compelled
to re write it. The gallery in San Antonio is trying to expand on
jewelry. They only have one artist that does the beautiful lapidary
work. But I believe it is outdated. It is glued into very
inexpensive base metal findings.

They have available several silversmiths who do very good work but
purchase the stones and do not do the lapidary work. When told this,
the chair-person in charge of this area stated “well, we don’t feel
that by just making the finding that this is art.” That is why we
don’t want those people because they are not artists. The majority
of the work must be the art. It is similar to a painting being
framed. The frame is not the art. " unquote

I have requested to go before the board to try to fix this uneducated
frame of mind. On such short notice it would be difficult to get any
head of a college metals department to go, and I wanted more impact
for them other than just my opinion. This would give them food for
thought, maybe something to read after I left.

Thank you all, love to listen and learn, Barbara Garrett

Take them to your nearest Neiman Marcus (or comparable store) and
show them the “art jewelry” that sells for BIGGGG BUCKKKKS!!! Would
they not like to receive the gallery cut on each of those sales?

Virginia Lyons

If I understand the arguement correctly it is specious. Their artist
uses base metal findings she buys to enhance her lapidary work: your
artists use a stone to enhance her jewelry work. I see no conceptual
difference between the two. After all both are logically doing the
same thing - combining a bought element with their developed element.
By the gallery’s definition, the only artist would be someone who
combines two developed elements.


Making Jewellery is a craft, just as painting is a craft. We can talk
about the painterliness of a canvas, meaning how skilfully the work is
make in terms of the use of the paint, how long it will cling to the
canvass. Leonardo’s last supper is great art but bad craft.

If the intention of the craftsman is to make art - then it is art -
good bad or indifferent. Putting a bezel around a stone, affixing
findings and polishing is the craft. The art lies in the design.

Tony Konrath
Electric Pencil
1002 Fleming Street
Key West
Florida 33040

Hello Barbara, What an interesting approach from a gallery! I think
jewelry is a version of sculpture … on a very small scale and
sometimes incorporating many artifacts. Remington’s marvelous bronze
castings, if done in miniature, would be jewelry. What would their
opinion be if the lapidary artist collaborated with a silversmith to
make original settings for the stones. The more I think about it, I
wonder if there is “something rotten in Denmark.” Surely these
people can’t be so obtuse that they consider stones glued into
mass-produced mountings superior to original, hand- crafted silver
work - with or without stones. Which piece would produce the larger
commission? There’s got to be a history here. Good luck in solving
the mystery! Judy in Kansas where there are many galleries seeking
artists who craft fine, original silver and gold jewelry pieces. Judy
M. Willingham, R.S. Extension Associate 221 Call Hall Kansas State
Univerisity Manhattan KS 66506 (785) 532-1213 FAX (785) 532-5681

    They are quoted as saying "buying a stone and just creating a
finding is not art". 

Barbara, what sort of are you looking for?

Perhaps something like the Orchid gallery could help them understand
that not all “findings” are the same?

Do you need a book or dissertation, or would a pictorial
representation help? What about some of the design books that talk
about the inspiration of nature/design in jewelry? (Mine are all
packed now or I’d give you specific titles/ISBNs)

At the expense of potentially offending other Orchiders, I’m reminded
at this point of people who believe that only the faceup of a piece of
jewelry matters, and that the backside can ugly and
unfinished…slapping together findings is neither craft nor art, it’s
true. When one adds judgment and skill to create something well made,
one approaches craft, and adding in originality and inspiration, one
reaches art…

–Kat Tanaka

Dear Barbara Garrett,

In regards to enlightening the minds of the Gallery personnel, it
sounds as though they have their own idea and judgement as to what
constitutes art. There are always those individuals who want to
label and define what is or isn’t art according to their own
personal likes, dislikes and interpretation. Unfortunately you may be
looking at a losing proposition.

Aside from the ridiculous statement that “we don’t feel that this is
art” are they indeed themselves professional artists who work in the
discipline of metals and jewelry?

As a matter of fact, the majority of professional jewelry artists
that I am aquainted with do not cut their own stones, which is most
frequently another completely separate realm of jewelry artistry
falling under the various categories of the lapidary arts. Whether it
is cutting cabochon stones, doing inlay work, carving cameos, or
faceting these are generally pertaining to disciplines
outside the boundaries of metalsmithing.

There are numerous artists (in the southwest especially) who do cut
their own stones such as inlay artists, however quite often the person
who does the metal work is not the same person who does the inlay
work. Personally, I fail to see what bearing or implication this has
upon whether their work is somehow more ART than those artists who
purchase stones from a stone cutter or lapidary artist.

If the gallery directors chose to look into the more than 7000 year
history of precious metal ornament, art and adornment on this planet,
it would be surprisingly easy for them to realize the goldsmiths and
lapidaries are more frequently than not, separate guilds.

My humble opinion for what it is worth. If you wish to contact me
offline you are welcome to do so. Best regards,

Michael David Sturlin, jewelry artist

Do all of the painters at the gallery formulate their own paint? Are
the ceramists required to mix their own glazes? Stones are our color
palette, not cutting them ourselves is irrelevant. Perhaps the
lapidaries know how well their glued settings would sell if people
were offered a real alternative.

Good Luck,

I designed a baby mobile which was made by jeweler Joe Rissin. The
idea was based on a votive crown (c. 680 a.d.). It ended up costing
ALOT more than I originally anticipated and came out looking strange
but beautiful. I made the joke that many jewelers call their work
"wearable art" and I would have to call this piece “unwearable
jewelry”. As they used to say in art school, “Is it art yet?” Rebeca

Hi Barbara,

Someone once said something like “Never try to teach a pig to sing.
It’s a project doomed to failure and it iritates the pig.”

These people’s quirky definition of what’s art isn’t going to be the
only strange aspect of dealing with them. Why spend effort and gather
frustration on a crusade not likely to succeed.

I can lend you a ten foot pole which you could use to avoid these


 The majority of the work must be the art.  It  is similar to a
painting being framed.  The frame is not the art.  "  unquote  

Huh??? Unless stones are in a setting, they aren’t jewelry. They’re
examples of the lapidary art. Settings (hopefully) enhance the beauty
of the stone and ,if well executed, are works of art in their own
right. Findings,(clips,clasps, catches,hooks and pins) may or may not
be decorative,but should never detract from a piece. Also, if you
have watched the Antiques Road show, you might remember some of these
old paintings brought in by folks who learn that the painting is
worth about fifty dollars, but the frame…? That is a seventeenth
century masterpiece carved by the great (whoever) and is so rare and
in such great condition that it’s worth sixty thousand dollars.
So----how is one to determine what is art? (Rhetorical question)

Barbara, I can’t resist putting in my 2 cents worth. Art is the
creative expression that gives meaning to something. The objects and
materials used in this endeavor are the medium. Imparting
perspective, structure. level. and order to the medium (whatever it
is) by creatively reshaping, combining, contrasting, etc. the artist
(creator) is giving it meaning and expressing themselves and what
their life means. The impact this process has on those who view the
object runs the gamet from being stunned by beholding beauty or
ugliness, joy or sadness, tears or laughter. If your art (creative
expression of who you are and what your life means) does not provoke
a response, it probably isn’t really art. So, the metal work as well
as the lapidary work is art. Done right, they compliment each other
and amplify the meaning. Done wrong, they discount each other and
diminish the meaning.