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Exactly was is handmade?


#1

Hello all,

OK, so I graduated from jewelry school last year, I’ve been crazy
making inventory and am finally getting ready to open my
website…In an attempt to describe my pieces using the correct
terminology and properly inform my customers, I’ve come across a
concern. This topic is probably considered a “newbie” type question
(which I am) so I hope it doesn’t deter you from responding…I
would really appreciate some serious input from all the
knowledgeable people in this forum.

Here goes. I make all my jewelry pieces by “hand”…however the
following situations come to mind…Is it considered proper to label
items “Handcrafted/Handmade” IF:

  1. a piece of jewelry is cast is it considered “handcrafted?” In
    other words, I make my own wax mold, cast it, set stones,
    finish…etc.

  2. I purchase an already made ring shank, and I proceed to create a
    finished gemstone set ring

  3. I purchase an already made component, a bezel setting, and
    proceed to embellish it and use it as part of a final piece

  4. part of an already existing piece of jewelry is used to make a
    brand new piece, as in using a setting from a ring and turn it into
    a pendant

  5. an item is purchased as a finished piece, however, it is
    "modified" (adding/removing/changing stones or other modification)
    into a new piece

I realize some of these sound as one and the same situation, but I’m
trying to think of as many specific scenarios as possible. I’m sure
as soon as I click “send” I’ll come with another…so feel free to
add any other possibilities you can think of :wink: I’m really anxious
to hear your input.

Thank you!
Pat

Patricia Marrone


#2

one of the great unanswered questions that has been debated on many
forums, however, by your email address it appears that you life in
the US, then the Federal Trade Commission guidelines are your law.
See them at:

Good luck, these are not precise definitions, but this is the law in
the US.

John


#3

Pat,

Is it considered proper to label items "Handcrafted/Handmade" 

If you figure out a simple and efficient way to video your work at
the bench, and post it to your website, then your customers will know
exactly what you are “hand making”. The perceived value of your work
will increase.


#4

Hi Pat,

Great question!

I think the answer to your question is it depends.

A lot of it is up to you and your audience. Different environments
have different standards.

I make everything by hand except for most earring backs, and seldom
have things cast as I prefer to fabricate, although I do out source
my engraving (AU Enterprises is great in case any one is looking!).

To me (and I think my customers) the best thing you can do is be
honest about whatever you are doing. Im not sure you need to disclose
that you have some one else cast your wax. In the case of “part of an
already existing piece of jewelry is used to make a brand new piece”,
you may want to say something along the lines of “up cycled
component”.

As a side note, having juried a few exhibitions and art fair,
premade components in images are a total turn off. I totally
understand trying to hit price points and what not but for images,
perhaps not including premade chains might be a good thing. I
recently saw an an artists website (and I wish I could remember who
it was) she made large steel rectangular wall pieces with organic
elements on a colored backing covered in resin and similar designs in
pendant scale. Her website had images of the pendants as one price
and then you could buy a variety of different types of premade chain
to have it strung on. I really liked the fact that she didn’t try to
say the chain was her own manufacturing but she could sell you one
as a convenience.

I hope this is of some help,
Christine
christinebossler.com


#5

Its an interesting question.

However, my thoughts on it are as follows.

I wouldnt worry about the precise description, wether its hand made
or not. I suggest you think along the following lines.

  1. its my work,

  2. I interpret the materials in the following way,

  3. I pull each individual design together from all the contributing
    elements.

  4. Its all made by me in my workshop.

Folk dont expect to be told you dont in fact mine your own gold or
cut and facet your own diamonds. do you get the idea? Leave out the
definition of hand made. It goes without saying from the 4 items
listed above.

My advice to you as well as having a website, you actually do some
craft shows with your work Theres absolutely NO substitute for the
experience you will gain from dealing directly with your clients. Its
the fastest way to make progress. Just be yourself. Also, people love
the personal attention they get from the person who actually made the
item there looking at! Its the easiest way to make the connection
that leads to a sale.

Ted.


#6

Search the Orchid archives you will find a long list if discussion
on this subject Quite honestly Myself, and others possibly, dread
seeing this Topic hashed over again


#7

I would say ‘yes’ to all situations. You’ve created something new,
by hand, in all.


#8
Search the Orchid archives you will find a long list if discussion
on this subject Quite honestly Myself, and others possibly, dread
seeing this Topic hashed over again 

Ditto! This is not a new subject at all. However, if we are going to
do it again, can we at least define parameters of the discussion.
What are we trying to do here? Are we trying to find legal way to
attach “handmade” label to a work which has no other merit than been
labeled “handmade”; or we really trying to understand what it really
means? Is that a letter of the law or a spirit of the law that we are
searching?

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#9

Hi Pat,

If you had never asked that question on this forum you probably could
have spent your whole career happily saying what you do is
"hand-crafted" and it is unlikely that the statement would ever have
been challenged. But there is this FTC definition that seems to have
sorted the question out along the lines of the concerns of the
handmade movement as it was in the 1960s. Casting, no matter how
hands-on it is done, is not technically handmade or handcrafted
according to these rules. But guess what? Hardly anybody knows that
and quite a lot of people who do know it think it is unfair. And
there are no art-cops waiting to slap you with fraud charges if you
call work that involved casting as “hand-crafted”.

Personally, I don’t think that the FTC rules constitute a cultural
consensus. Most regular people who watched you work all day would
certainly describe what you do as craftsmanship. Very few would feel
the need to make a distinction between how you work and some high
ideal of hand-craftsmanship. You would be foolish to impose limits
on yourself that interfere with more important goals, just to stay
withing the bounds of the FTC definition of hand-crafted. Don’t
worry about it. Now that you are out of school, it is what your
customers think of your work that matters, not so much your peers.

Stephen Walker


#10

The phrase “handmade by me” grates on my ears. I can’t tell you the
grammatical reason, and I understand the meaning, but something like
"I make jewelry by hand" sounds better to my ears.

Maureen M


#11
But there is this FTC definition that seems to have sorted the
question out along the lines of the concerns of the handmade
movement as it was in the 1960s. Casting, no matter how hands-on it
is done, is not technically handmade or handcrafted according to
these rules. But guess what? Hardly anybody knows that and quite a
lot of people who do know it think it is unfair. And there are no
art-cops waiting to slap you with fraud charges if you call work
that involved casting as "hand-crafted". 

The reason that “handmade jewellery” has special protection under
FTC rules is that if it really handmade, it is of much higher quality
than anything that can be made by casting. There is no reason why
handmade jewellery cannot last many decades, and with proper
maintenance centuries.

If some, who specialize in casting, think it is unfair, the easy way
to disabuse oneself of that notion is simply to hand fabricate a few
pieces from their casting repertoire. The difference will be
self-evident.

A few words about enforcement. There maybe no art cops, but there
are real cops. Since we have FTC definition of what is handmade,
mislabeling is a fraud, which is a criminal offense. Because
jewellery involves large sums of money, there are other criminal
charges that can result. So do not take it lightly.

For practical demonstration of how handmade process is done, on my
website there are several videos. My jewellery is only handmade.
Would not have it any other way.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#12

Hi Leonid,

Ditto! This is not a new subject at all. However, if we are going
to do it again, can we at least define parameters of the
discussion. What are we trying to do here? Are we trying to find
legal way to attach "handmade" label to a work which has no other
merit than been labeled "handmade"; or we really trying to
understand what it really means? Is that a letter of the law or a
spirit of the law that we are searching? 

The “hand made” label doesn’t effect me at all in Australia.

However if I were to move to America, I would think the legal
ramifications of what “hand made” technically is so that I wouldn’t
get sued, would be very helpful.

The spirit of the law is something that we don’t hear about much in
the Australian legal system. Our laws are based on interpretation,
and that interpretation can be argued. However there are black and
white points in our law which cannot be argued.

Is the “hand made” label a black and white point in your law?

Regards Charles A.


#13
The phrase "handmade by me" grates on my ears. I can't tell you
the grammatical reason, and I understand the meaning, but something
like "I make jewelry by hand" sounds better to my ears. 

Hi Maureen,

“I make jewellery by hand”…
“I make jewellery mostly by hand”…

This got my brain ticking over. Do we really use our hands
exclusively to hand make jewellery? The answer is “of course not we
use tools”, not just our hands.

PMC creates jewellery that can be made almost totally by hand… you
still need a heat source to transform the clay to a metal, but
that’s technically more hand made than any traditional jeweller.

If the law states “hand tools”, then that opens a lot more
possibilities.

Does anyone have a link to the law?

Regards Charles A.


#14

Hi Leonid, et. al,

The following comes from the FTC Guides for the Jewelry, Precious
Metals, and Pewter Industries.

23.3 Misuse of the terms “hand-made”, hand-polished." etc.

(a) It is unfair or deceptive to represent, directly or by
implication, that any industry product is hand-made or hand-wrought
unless the entire shaping and forming of such product from raw
materials and its finishing and decoration were accomplished by hand
labor and manually-controlled methods which permit the maker to
control and vary the construction, shape, design, and finish of each
part of each individual product.

Note to paragraph (a): As used herein, “raw materials” include bulk
sheet, strip, wire, and similar items that have not been cut, shaped,
or formed into jewelry parts, semi-finished parts, or blanks.

(b) It is unfair or deceptive to represent, directly or by
implication, that any industry product is hand-forged, hand-engraved,
hand-finished, or hand-polished, or has been otherwise
hand-processed, unless the operation described was accomplished by
hand labor and manually-controlled methods which permit the maker to
control and vary the type, amount, and effect of such operation on
each part of each individual product.

The documents does not state or imply that “/it is of much higher
quality than anything that can be made by casting/”, that’s a value
judgement, and it’s subjective.

“/There is no reason why handmade jewellery cannot last many
decades, and with proper maintenance centuries/.” This can be said of
any jewellery cast or hand wrought, there are many examples in
archaeology that support this fact. I have many books in my library
showing examples of dark age jewellery, my computer have many high
res images kindly provided by the British Museum (provided free,
they’re really top notch).

Personally I don’t think the definition is unfair, but I think the
definition is way to general. A tribal jeweller could look at this
and tell jewellers that use power tools that they misusing the term
hand-made.

A cunning lawyer would be able to play with this guide very easily.
It needs to be tighter.

“Hand labor and manually-controlled methods” This part could be
interpreted that “only hand labor, and methods that do not contain
automated processes” if you melt and cast at home, there’s nothing
automated about that. I’m not a lawyer, and I can see the holes in
the guide.

This is a concern for those that come under it’s jurisdiction, you
should petition to get section 23.3 tightened up, at the very least
it would stop me typing :wink:

Regards Charles A.

P.S. I don’t specialise in any one technique, I use what’s necessary
to get the job done. Hand-wrought or casting, I use both, both
methods are fun, and both methods have things the other cannot do.


#15

Ok, maybe dumb question… You guys keep referring to casting and the
ramifications of the FTC rules. How are beaders/bead-weavers
affected? Sorry if this has been addressed already. I did not see it.


#16
Is the "hand made" label a black and white point in your law? 

If law, or regulation, or definition can be circumvented by
artificially complying with it, but at the same time able to
contravene the original intention, - than there is no point in having
one. Handmade jewellery sells for at least 10 times of it’s casting
counterparts. The special protection is needed because without it,
counterfeit handmade would made the term meaningless.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#17

Hello there,

I’d like to thank you for your replies. I am rather new to this forum
and even though I had searched Orchid before posting, I had not found
anything…today I realized the search box kept reverting to “Tips
from the Jewelers Bench Archive” and not searching in the “orchid
archives.” Now I found it and shall read on.

Thus far, (7/16/12) I’d like to extend a special thank you to Joy
Raskin, Christine Bossler, George Farquharson, John Rasmussen, Robin
Polizzi, Ted Frater and Stephen Walker for your helpful replies.
Appreciatively,

Pat
Patricia Marrone


#18
If law, or regulation, or definition can be circumvented by
artificially complying with it, but at the same time able to
contravene the original intention, - than there is no point in
having one. Handmade jewellery sells for at least 10 times of it's
casting counterparts. The special protection is needed because
without it, counterfeit handmade would made the term meaningless. 

It’s okay Leonid, I found the FTC’s page, and the definition is
extremely loose to the point of it barely being a “protection” at
all.

The hand made Native American jewellery is something I saw a while
back that was very interesting. It was marked “handmade”, but it was
cast sterling silver, cast in a a sand and motor oil medium. There
were no automatic processes involved, all casting and finishing was
done by hand.

The problem is that there’s no original intention specified in the
"Guides for Jewelry, Precious Metals, and Pewter Industries"
document. It’s a very loose document, and open to interpretation.

True I would pay more for a hand forged piece of jewellery, due to
an appreciation of the work involved (actually I’d just make it
myself), but many wouldn’t. A lot of the great jewellery houses use
casting mixed with wrought fabrication techniques, the prices are
based on the names not the manufacturing technique.

Section 23.3 could allow a lot of items to be labelled “handmade”,
and it wouldn’t be misuse due to the way the section is worded.

From your point of view casting “cannot” be considered “handmade”,
unfortunately section 23.3 doesn’t appear to reflect your view.

Do you know of any cases where this section has been tested in a
court of law or a tribunal? I would find it interesting to see how
they went.

Regards Charles A.


#19
PMC creates jewellery that can be made almost totally by hand...
you still need a heat source to transform the clay to a metal, but
that's technically more hand made than any traditional jeweller. 

And yet, interestingly, Wanaree Tanner has worked out how to get a
computer controlled cutting machine to cut unfired metal clay!

Elaine
CreativeTextureTools.com


#20
Ok, maybe dumb question... You guys keep referring to casting and
the ramifications of the FTC rules. How are beaders/bead-weavers
affected? Sorry if this has been addressed already. I did not see
it. 

Here’s the link to the relevant document :-

Regards Charles A.