because I'm at a loss as to how to go further.
I just pulled Andrew’s quote out of another thread - there are a
couple right now that this new one will try to summarize, I hope.
This isn’t pointed at Andrew in particular, and I’m hoping it’s a
dialog, not just a monologue… Just a bit of strategy, not now-to.
So, you’re work is selling now and then and you’re happy with that -
a little story, first:
Many will remember that I started working in jewelry in the turquoise
business in Albuquerque, some 150 years ago LOL… After awhile we
had 100 silversmiths doing piecework - checking out materials, taking
them home, doing “their thing” and bringing back jewelry - me, too.
We sold retail and also wholesale - dealers would come in and buy 200
pieces at a steep discount. One day I was working the counter, with
one of those dealers. I watched him go through the ring trays, cherry
picking all of my rings out, one = by one - my work was supposed to
be Indian, which I’m not, so there was no input from me. He just
cleaned the trays - hundreds of rings- ou= t of all my work. THAT’S
I don’t have the objectivity to really say why, but there are some
things I can say: One of my co-workers at the time told me, “I love
your work be= cause it’s always so happy - you can just see it
smiling!” That’s art… More importantly, my work was clean and
straight. Bezels were “perfect” (I’ll only say that nothing is really
perfect once, here), and perfectly set, with the stones at just the
right height. What was supposed= to be round was round, what was
supposed to be centered was centered. All the things that were the
same size WERE the same size, and curves were regular, graceful and
identical when they were supposed to be. Shanks were centered on ring
tops, and everything was smooth and comfortable. Fundamental
craftsmanship - can’t beat it with a stick.
Most importantly of all: They were polished like nobody’s business.
#1) LEARN HOW TO POLISH!
You’re not making jewelry for yourself, so don’t MAKE jewelry for
yourself, unless you’re intending to buy your own product. That’s not
to say that you shouldnt make “what you like” on another level -
don’t make jewelry you hate, either. Listen to your audience and
give them what they want, whether you personally like it or not.
That’s your job, if you’re going to sell it. They are not “wrong”,
they DO get it, they just don’t like it enough to buy it, so make
something they DO like. Hand in hand with that is the “One Trick
Pony” syndrome. Many people have 'a thing". Many people… “I
make stuff that’s covered with beads dangling off everywhere”. See
that a lot, lately. If I don’t like beads, then I won’t buy
~anything~ that you make, no matter what. Broaden your horizons,
broaden your audience.
I liked the idea of engraving, so I bought some gravers and books
some 35 years ago. To this day I’m a mediocre engraver, in the
scheme of things. There’s no (or rarely) a magic bullet that’s going
to make you a jeweler, and chasing the latest seminars is no
different. MUCH more important than learning Chinese Snake Skin
Overlay is getting really, really excellent with the torch, and the
saw, and your pliers and hammers. When you have a deep skill base,
you’ll find that new things come easily, and also have some context
to plug into. Ditto for design - I can make anything I can imagine,
too, and I can imagine lots of things. Somebody long ago told me,
“The day you quit building monuments is the day you start being a
success”. I’ve seen a great many castle rings, but I’ve never seen
one on anybody’s hand… It’s when you find something that you
can make that’s real, that people want, that you can make
consistently, that you’ll start moving. And then you do it again, and
again - that’s a career in jewelry.
Finally (I have work to do…). When you get over mill products is
when you’ll rise to the next level of jewelry. I have in front of me
a circle of 14ga silver wire bent into a circle with a stone on top,
tastefully textured, of course, by someone else. It’s a commodity
piece, sure, but it’s also boring. There’s no dimension or anything
remotely crafted about it, just a circle of milled wire. Actually
craft some shank and you’ll have something with personality, which
is to say art. But of course you need to learn how, first.
OK, really finally. Your work is original because nobody ever made
it before. Almost none of it is truly original - “It’s a table
ring…” and there’s no reason why it has to be. There’s a point
where “new” or “fresh” crosses the line into strange. People like
innovative jewelry, they don’t like strange jewelry. As I wrote in
my blog - most people want steak and potatoes, or maybe macaroni and
cheese. Maybe Steak Diane, maybe macaroni with Swiss goat cheese.
They don’t want a grass and dirt omelet with snake eggs, and they
just won’t buy it. Enough, somebody else talk…