Experience with in-store demos

I’ve been asked to demonstrate some aspect of silver
jewellery-making for one evening in a busy gift store that carries my
work. It occurs to me to consult the collective wisdom of Orchid -
what are your experiences with in-store demos? What activities have
worked well in public, out-of-studio? Is there anything you would
want to avoid next time?

Susan Ellenton

what are your experiences with in-store demos? What activities
have worked well in public, out-of-studio? Is there anything you
would want to avoid next time? 

I do prong settings for cabs at shows. The prong setting is of my
own design and I make them up in advance. It is a great selling tool
for people to select a cab or polished flat that I have for sale and
have it set while they wait. I make the settings in advance so all I
have to do is size them and finish and polish them. All can be done
with simple hand tools and a dremel. This year I got a table top
bench for a more professional appearance. The bench has all the tools
I need so it’s just a matter of remembering to grab it when I’m
packing up for a show.

It also draws attention to my booth. People stop, watch, and ask
questions. You also need someone else to help customers and watch for
shoplifters. My SO is the salesman and some shows the work is

You are probably going to run into problems trying to drag your
whole bench with you into a store and try to solder so you need to
think of simple designs that you can complete in the store.

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
Rocky Mountain Wonders
Colorado Springs, Colorado

Hey Susan

with possible insurance problems, many places don’t like torches. Try
intricate piercing, or hammer texturing - the noise will get their

It depends on what you normally do in your work apart from
soldering. Riveting, bezel setting stones on prepared pieces, forming
up a ring on a mandrel, doming block & punches.

People like being able to handle the tools as well, particularly
small, pretty, old or strange-looking ones - I have an attractive
chasing hammer that is beautifully weighted, always popular, and some
tiny files.

We have a wonderful show in Oxfordshire every July, called Art in
Action, where artists set up a form of their workshop in marquees -
everything from glass-blowing, woodwork, metalwork, textiles, to
painting & sculpture.

I was fortunate to be invited to demonstrate three years running,
and the public were very interested in all aspects of the process.
Mind you, enamelling in a field with all the dust was challenging!

Sales were very high, and it seems that once people understand the
time & skills involved in making the work, they are prepared to pay
the price asked.

Hope your demonstration increases your sales.


I did at demo at the art center that I sometimes display at last

I thought long and hard about whether to take my torch along. Since
I use a B sized acetylene tank it is not as easy to move as it would
be with smaller tanks. Also, if I started soldering I would need to
transport pickle and worry about ventilation. Additionally I had
some concerns about safety when using a torch in an uncontrolled
environment surrounded by people.

The resolution I came up with was modeled on what television chefs
do. I produced the same object in several different stages of
completion and worked through each stage talking about each stage as
I went along. For my demo I made a pair of earrings with a bezel set
stone, so I would cut and shape a bezel in preparation for soldering.
Once I reached the soldering point I brought out one that was already
soldered together. I then did some adjustments to the height and
shaped the bezel, also I cut out a backing plate for the bezel. I
then brought out a bezel with the back soldered on… I continued in
this manner until I completed one half of the earring set…

Scott Steward

I am not familiar with enameling yet, however I have seen these
glass etching domes at Hobby Lobby, they werent expensive but they
were clear and enclosed with handling gloves(?) not sure about the
terms but they remided me of the ICU baby box my son was in when he
was born. But it could help take the stress out of fighting dust.


I am currently involved in a 10 day demonstration and exhibition at
a small museum and have set up a soldering station outside in the
yard through the fire exit (a couple of fire bricks on a small
barbeque - the lid can be closed) - works well unless it rains hard -
I am using a mouth blown torch with a 5Kg propane tank. Goes down
well as the punters like the flames, I also use a lighter gas torch
for small items/chains etc.

Robin Key
Clavis Jewellery
Aberdeen, Scotland