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First Art show experience

Greetings to all that advised me!

I have now finished my first juried art show. It was successful. Out
of 175 vendors 18 sold jewelry. But according to some of the people
who bought from me, I was the only silversmith. The rest were
wrappers and stringers- but they did have some very well done items.

The funny comment concerning some of my work- Two middle aged women
were examining a cab pendant and one whispered to the other “you can
get one like ths from Avon” I didn’t even have a moment to comment
because they scurried out…What in the world would
you say to that?

What is a tasteful way to advertise that all of the jewelry in my
booth is made by me…from sheet and wire sterling?

Thanks group. You are really encouraging.

LOL from Avon you say nothing and let them buy their plastic
pendants at Avon

If they had given you a moment I think the obvious start would be
that is a genuine gemstone not plastic.

yes advertise hand made by you

Silver & Cameo Heritage Jewelry

Congratulations, Jean! Don’t worry about answering to the Avon
comment women. They simply are not in your customer base. Your booth
time is best spent on folks to whom you have at least a slight
chance of selling to. If the booth is empty and you have time to talk
to them, fine. Just remain informative, upbeat, and friendly. Maybe
you will learn something about their perceptions that could be
helpful in the future.


What is a tasteful way to advertise that all of the jewelry in my
booth is made by me...from sheet and wire sterling? 

I think it would be super to have photos of YOU in your studio,
making things. Specific enough that you could say, “here I am sawing
the metal out with my jeweler’s saw.” etc.

Have the photos made into durable signs. Either on vinyl with
grommets, or just mounted and laminated.

That gets the idea through to everyone, visually.

Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay

I would make no comment at all to them, but focus my efforts on those
who understand what they are looking at. Price is a very tough issue
to argue with ignorant people. Keep your efforts closely focused on
those who appreciate your type of work, and don’t worry about trying
to reach every single person who walks in your booth/store.

Ed in Kokomo

Jean congrats on your first show. I find it amazing that at even the
best juried shows people will still ask me if I make it myself. A
tasteful way of telling about your work it to make an artist
statement stating whatever you would like people to know about you
and your work (some shows even require this) print it on a standard
size piece of paper, frame it and display it where it can be read.
You will be surprised how many people will take the time to read it.

Dave Owen


I have always thought the best way to convey that everything is made
by me is to be seen actually making something. I know I work with a
lot of beads and this type of work is very manageable anywhere there
is a flat surface and you work mainly in metal…but maybe there is
a little part of your work that you can demonstrate.

You have to find something (even if it is a small detail) that will
make you stand out from Avon…something to make you unique

Kim Starbard

Thanks to all who responded to my “Avon” shoppers. And Elaine- I
will take some digitals of me working at my bench. Soldering buffing,
forging etc. I will have them made into posters and hang them inside
my canopy. I love that idea. I did not respond to the ladies when
suggested buying from Avon because I had no time…I spend the few
seconds before they left with my mouth hanging open. I also didn’t
mention that two other gals were drawing little diagrams of my work.
Now that was irritating. I am sure they stole some of my design ideas
and stone combinations. they could have at least bought the pieces
they wanted to copy!


Jean, if you had had an opening, you might have said, “Yes, Avon has
some nice designs” (in my opinion, some of their jewelry was
well-designed; I can’t say anything about their recent lines). If
you have their attention, then you could discuss the hand-made,
plastic, and other comments. If you had the time and energy, you
could ask them what they think about one-off (or limited-edition)
jewelry vs. the type that is whonked out by the hundreds, much of it
by machine, and point out the differences.

This way, you have a positive contact, and you’ve done some
educational work, too.

I like Elaine’s idea of photos of you doing your jewelry work.

Judy Bjorkman
Owego, NY

I find it amazing that at even the best juried shows people will
still ask me if I make it myself. 

I have a slightly more benign interpretation of this phenomenon.
Most of the time, I don’t think people doubt that the work is hand
made by the artist-- they are still not accustomed to finding
themselves face to face with the person who actually created
something. They ask "Did you really make all these things yourself?"
and I smile and say, “With my very own ten little fingers!” and
waggle those exact fingers in the air. It is an expression of awe,
not doubt.

A related reaction that I have observed all my life is astonishment
that I just made something. The idea that the
object/drawing,/ring/whatever was finished just last night or an
hour ago seems to especially baffle people. This one I can’t
explain. At a benefit, once, I sat and made simple rings for people
all evening, while they stood there. You’d have thought I was making
them fur coats, they were so pleased. And they fit!

Few people, these days, have much contact with the creative process,
or own anything that was custom-made for them. They have
complicated-- and conflicted-- feelings about people who do creative
work, and about the work itself.

I’m sure many of you have encoutered people who wanted to be friends
with you, not because they were drawn to you for your qualities as a
human being, but because of their fascination with talent. I think
of this as “moth to the flame syndrome”. It makes me very
uncomfortable, and I avoid such people as much as possible.

Anyway, try not to hold people’s unconsidered reactions against
them-- we all do it, in one context or another.


I'm sure many of you have encoutered people who wanted to be
friends with you, not because they were drawn to you for your
qualities as a human being, but because of their fascination with
talent. I think of this as "moth to the flame syndrome". It makes
me very uncomfortable, and I avoid such people as much as possible. 

Thanks so much for bringing this up!

I am baffled by situations like the one described by Noel and don’t
really understand how to establish boundaries with people when this
type of thing happens.

If anyone has any input or experiences to add at all, I would really
be grateful.


Kim Starbard

Hi group,

With respect to recent posts about what people say at shows, how
some folks keep saying the darnedest things, how uneducated we think
they are, and the nerve of them to ask for a discount, here are my
twenty cents worth… I really think a lot of people just don’t
know how to start a dialogue with us. Think of what you say when you
walk into a new shop, a booth at a show, a gallery opening, an
artist’s studio. Are we all so smart that we know how everything is
made, how someone came up with a certain idea, what motivated a
particular combination of colors or techniques? Do we all think
before we open our mouths every time? I’d sure like to know the
perfect opening line every time. I’m sure we have all felt irritated
at what we think are silly if not stupid questions, but gosh isn’t
this a way to politely encourage a conversation with a potential
buyer? Often I read articles how people feel the computer age has
taken the “personal” out of commerce. Well, it’s our duty to speak,
inform, engage, react, educate and enjoy the trade. Please, why the
defensiveness! And offensiveness. Do we want to sit idly by and have
hundreds of silent people come into our stores, booths, co-ops and
the like, or do we want customers and relationships! My favorite one
of all times is a guy who came in my store and promptly told me that
all his friends shopped here, therefore he deserves a discount. I
kindly asked “well, what would make you happy”? I thought he’s faint!
He fumbled around for quite awhile and said gee five or ten percent
would be great. I had to chuckle to myself cause I was thinking he’s
gonna ask for the moon! I replied ten percent it is! I learned a
gigantic lesson from that encounter. We really ultimately have the
control of our transactions. We can say no, I’m sorry I can’t do
that, or we can say yes, and be happy with the sale, bottom line. The
interior design ladies who got into the show without the “right
stuff”… Do you want the sale, or is it a big can of worms?
Only you can know, and only you can treat these gals like potential
customers and speak to them like such, or decline the sale. Growing a
business is more than making great jewelry, and there is no room for
assumptions no matter how long you’ve been at it. I’m still learning
in my thirty fifth year in business. I truly love reading all the
posts every morning but today I felt like I had witnessed a little
too much customer bashing. At the end of the day, we’re ALL customers
and wouldn’t it be great if we all took the time to really talk to
each other?

who does not mean this as a personal attack on anyone and
who is never at a loss for words…

Today I did my first Art Show. My jewellery was classified as visual
art. It was held in the park across the street from where I live in
front of the art gallery. The park is one where you go to if you want
to feel like you are someplace in the wilds. There is a large lake
stocked with fish, turtles, all kinds of ducks and geese (even an
Egyptian goose). There is a floating bridge where many weddings take
place, plenty of playgrounds and water parks yet it is not visible
from the surrounding streets and it is right in the middle of our
little city. Well it turned out to be very warm and beautiful out.
Not only were the regulars you see walking around the park (it has a
2.2 mile paved walkway all around the lake) but hundreds of people
turned out to hear the music and enjoy the arts. Maybe I take
exception to things because I do view my jewellery as a visual art
and I love talking to people. I had a great time. I didn’t care if I
didn’t sell a thing, the music was extremely good, the array of arts
was wonderful and I did end up not only making a lot of money but got
several contracts for weddings and Christmas gifts. I met and talked
to old friends and met a huge number of new friends. All in all it
was a great day and I was sorry to see it end, but wait there is
another one on the 19th of this month Hurray. For those of you who
are afraid to try something different - don’t hesitate take the
plunge, you may hate it you may love it but at least you can honestly
say that you tried it. For me it was a taste of heaven and fun.
Leaving me exhausted but full of life and love.


Anyway, try not to hold people's unconsidered reactions against
them-- > we all do it, in one context or another. 

I’m a little behind on this, but, Noel, this is only one of the
nails you hit directly on the head! This one really made me think!

And your points about the relationships between creators and their
customers also had me nodding along. Well put!

Allan Mason