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I wish someone have told me


#1

Hello everyone!

First of all I just want to thank everyone for all their
contributions to these forums…it’s really an incredible resource!
to these forums…it’s really an incredible resource!

I’m just starting out…and for the first time I have my very own
studio space… My budget is limited and thus far it is in a very DIY
state…lots of homemade items (i.e. bench, drafting desk, etc)…

I am wondering if any of you have advice for someone starting out.

Thanks in advance, and I appreciate all your time!


#2

My advise would be to study hard and stay in school and become a
paper shuffler of some sort.

But back to reality, probably since you’ve chosen this profession
you’re a little off an artist and you wouldn’t be happy making a lot
of money anyway…


#3
  1. Keep all your “mistakes”. They will be “winners” in about 2
    years. You will learn how to make the difference in the meantime.

  2. No one know it all, not even the ‘expert’.

  3. No matter the cost of silver, it is still an affordable PRECIOUS
    metal. Don’t let the gold snobs get you down. If you can work silver
    at the expert level, you can do ANYTHING. (See #2).

  4. Everyone can teach you something, even the people who irritate
    you beyond belief.

best regards,
Kelley Dragon


#4

“Listen to everyone, but don’t be afraid to do something different.”

Just starting out… with jewellery start small.

I’m going to get a rolling mill as soon as I can, there is so much
you can’t do without one :frowning:

Regards Charles A.


#5

Never, ever, if you can help it, use repair solder for any reason
whatsoever.


#6

Hello,

I’ve only one advice for you. Don’t be cheap and know your products.
Price them accordingly and most of all… stay honnest to others and
to yourself.

Wishing you all the best.

Have fun and enjoy
Pedro


#7

While you are learning to be the best artisan you can be, please be
sure to learn the language of finance and how to manage a business.

I have seen too many talented and gifted artists live frustrated and
worried lives because they ended up broke.

Tim and I are so blessed that we have been paid all these years to
do things that we would have done for free anyway.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
Jo Haemer
www.timothywgreen.com


#8
I'm going to get a rolling mill as soon as I can, there is so much
you can't do without one :-( 

This is true, but much of what you can do with one, you can do with
a hammer.


#9

I’ve done mega well without a rolling mill for the past 3 yrs. If my
sister didn’t bless me with a few hundred pounds, i’d still be
’unspoilt’! Have fun + turn mistakes in2 magic pieces! They sell,
MUCH 2 yr surprise!!

Hilda


#10
My advise would be to study hard and stay in school andbecome a
paper shuffler of some sort. But back to reality, probably since
you've chosen this profession you're a little off an artist and you
wouldn't be happy making a lot of money anyway.. 

Hmmm, I don’t find that very encouraging… Like Tonya, I love
making jewelry and have fantasized about quitting my corporate job
to do this full time. I’ve taken classes and workshops constantly for
the past 10 years and even though I consider myself just a hobbyist
(because I have never sold anything), my pieces are definitely good
enough to sell and I get stopped a lot from strangers complimenting
me on my jewelry.

Why do I hesitate to quit my job and jump in? Because I have talked
to a lot of people on the “inside” and almost all of them say; “don’t
do it unless you want to work a lot for little money and you get no
respect” When I was younger, one of my instructors told me that if I
wanted to be a studio artist I should marry a doctor first. Well, I
did get married, but he’s not a doctor, and I have 2 young children.
I probably could quit my job to do this full time, but I’m scared.
Would I feel so stifled by the pressures of keeping a business going
that I would lose that sense of joy and creativity that I feel when
I am at the bench?

It’s interesting, people on the “outside” tell me that I’m wasting my
time working in an office and that I should just follow my passion
and talent and DO IT! But then I listen to people on the “inside” who
talk about what a hard living it is… If any of you on the "inside"
have some good positive (and still realistic) advice, I would really
appreciate hearing it!

Thanks,
Jennifer


#11

Learn business, it sucks the life out of you if you don’t know it no
matter how talented you are. Time takes time, longevity in business is
acheived by staying in business a long time, there is no secrets to
it other than that. Don’t bother to try and figure out the market.
Don’t expect the thing that sold really quick last time to sell
again, but it might…

Success comes and goes, weird, huh? it is never a simple upward
slope, it’s a rollercoaster.

Do what you love, your income would be the same anyway. You can’t do
everything.

Get Quickbooks and JewelryDesignManager programs. Don’t think that,“
if I just get this tool my life will be wonderful and I’ll make SO
much more money and people will love me”

Sam Patania
Tucson


#12

I assume you want to make a living at this. Until you make a name,
you can only get so much for your labor. So sell stones along with
your labor. The stones should be commensurate with the quality of the
work. don’t let it get lopsided.

Develop solid relationships with stone suppliers. After awhile you
can get memo privileges (not all stone dealers do memo so scout them
out first). Then you don’t have to stock very much in stones unless
you want to. This keeps your cash flow healthier. Yes, by all means
try to make a profit but be very aware of your cashflow. Sometimes
cashflow is more important than profit. Good cash flow let’s you pay
your bills on time which lets you have continued access to the goods,
be they metals or stones or whatever. Without cash flow there is no
profit. Keep that wheel well greased.

You will usually pay more for memo stones but you can complete and
get paid for the job before you have to pay for the memo. Sweet deal
huh? However if you are making a planned line of finished goods and
are reasonably certain of good sell through, its better to outright
buy in sufficient quantity. Sometimes you can get terms on the
purchase which hopefully let’s you bring the goods to market before
you have to shell out for those materials. Again, cash flow is
critical.

And try to have some fun along the way.


#13

I’ve lived by my dreams & visions, literally, all my life. I’d
learned a particular technique, had created with it part time for
about 1-1/2 yrs. I was single, my kids were grown and gone. I had a
job earning more money than I ever had & more friends than I ever
had in a town back east. My Creator told me it was time to go, so I
did. I gave away nearly every thing I owned, lived out of a borrowed
teepee in the foothills of The Smokies with my cat. I was heading
back west. Two weeks later I met a man I married that year. I could
write a book about my adventures on the road, any Indian artist who
lives this lifestyle can. My faith was always very strong. I could
paint an amazing picture of the museums I sold to, along with
celebreties. However, there was a lot of downsides to this life also.
Staying on the road, like I did, drained me financially, let alone
physically. I thought that marriage would last forever & it painfully
didn’t. That initially started June 1990. If I’d created my jewelry
part time and kept a day job I would have had over double the amount
of social security & probably a pension or some other form of
retirement, than what I have coming in right now. In the art world
we may be spirits of the wind, but we’re also living in a physical
reality. We’re all held accountable to someone, something (as Bob
Dylan sang “you’ve got to serve somebody”. It’s different for each
individual. No one told me, think about retirement, or just “think”.
If it’s a major decision I pray about it & sleep on it. Hope this
helps some.

Good luck to you & God bless you.
Sharon Perdasofpy


#14

Hi Jennifer,

Jennifer here,

I quit my corporate job for my passion. Spent money on equipment,
supplies, everything I need to create beautiful pieces of jewelry
art. I can sit and make pieces till my heart is content and teach.
Right now, teaching is the only way I have an income and I do enjoy
doing it. But can I feed myself, let alone my family? Hardly. I’m
starting a mentoring course for women next month, to help me learn
business management and I am hoping that this helps. I’ve
advertised, talked to people, marketed verbally, passed out cards and
I’m known, I am redoing my website to include pricing (hadn’t
previously), ready to do internet marketing.

So, that’s where I’m at and my prices are too high for Etsy and I
really don’t think I’m an Etsy person, but I could be wrong. I would
like to believe that I can sell regardless of the economy, but I have
to figure out how.

Jennifer Friedman
Ventura, CA


#15

I’m going to get a rolling mill as soon as I can, there is so much
you can’t do without one :frowning:

This is true, but much of what you can do with one, you can do
with a hammer. 

Well I should have add “easily”.

I want to make large sheets, and don’t want to Frankenstein them, or
beat an ingot into a sheet. Doing that by hand is not something I
want to do.

I was looking at the price of rolling mills, and can get reasonable
units, but they are limited to jewellery size rollings, which is
fine for jewellery, but of course I have more things to do, so I’ll
have to design a larger unit, and get a local machinist to build it
for me. Surprisingly, it’s going to work out about the same cost.

Regards Charles A.


#16
And try to have some fun along the way. 

When I’m not pulling my hair out over some impossible job, I’m
making wine in my shop. And sometimes even consuming it.


#17

Hello Jennifer,

I can only encourage you to follow your heart…I can only advise on
what I myself have experienced? I spent years going to silver
jewellery making classes while working in the corporate world. At
25, I started a 5-year apprenticeip to feed my dream. at 30, I had
two babies, a small house, a large debt and a supportive husband. I
bought a truck-load of scap equipment from a “fire-sale”… no
really, there had been a fire and the equipment had been damaged. It
took time and effort… I set up with what I had from home and bit
by bit, built up my client base, starting from dealing with my
neighbour over the wall. The reality is, there are ups and downs…
If you employ someone, you become an employer - which takes time…
If you supply a retailer, you become a supplier - and you have no
identity… If you supply a gallery - you sign a lot of rights over
to them… If you work for someone else - you are just the
employee…

So, what to do? I advise, start small, you don’t need to compete
with debt-ridden retailers…keep an index card of each and every one
of your clients so that you can contact them again. Photograph
everything that you do so that you can have things to show people
without having to keep a stock (and remind them that their piece will
also be featured in the book, because you only make unique items!)
Promote yourself, word-of-mouth is the best way to get business.
Remind your satisfied clients that you work on referrals. Send them
reminders, have parties… Remember that if you get more orders than
you can cope with, you then have to decide if you are now going to
become a business (and relinquish control of your own art) or remain
small so as to keep your identity and enjoyment in what you do? IT
CAN BE DONE. It can also be lucrative, satisfying, flexible. Keep
your promises. If you say something will be ready in three weeks,
deliver it in two…

The time spent at the bench is therapy for some… It is possible to
make a bit of profit, but the good comes with the bad, you have to
dedicate time to book-keeping, paperwork and promotional stuff too,
but it doesn’t have to be all the time…

Above all, when you feel that it’s not fun anymore, something has
run away with you, stop, look, and go back a few steps… You might
just find that some well-intentioned business person has recognised a
good thing and want to make money out of you! (now you need to
decide, do you want fame and glory, or just to be content with who
and what YOU are??)

Set up facebook page, but, careful with what info you give out if
you work from home. (eg. don’t publicise your address…)

It really all boils down to the fact that you can manage yourself,
or you can sell yourself so that someone else can do the paperwork -
but part of your soul goes with the deal… All the best of “hard
work” to you,

Gwen Doran


#18

My advise would be to study hard and stay in school andbecome a
paper shuffler of some sort. But back to reality, probably since
you’ve chosen this profession you’re (a little off wouldn’t be
happy making a lot of money anyway…

I don't find that very encouraging... 

I’m sorry. But many people who are not jewelers think that, because
some of us wear expensive jewelry, or have expensive jewelry in our
display cases, therefore we MUST be well off. And some of us are. But
the phrase “starving artist” is pretty true. You gotta love making
stuff with your hands enough to risk getting stabbed, cut, burned,
ripped off, etc. to be a bench jeweler. You sure might get filthy
rich, but likely you won’t. You might also get throat cancer. Too
many of us do.


#19

Jennifer

When I was younger, one of my instructors told me that if Iwanted
to be a studio artist I should marry a doctor first. Well, Idid
get married, but he's not a doctor, and I have 2 young children. I
probably could quit my job to do this full time, but I'm scared.
Would I feel so stifled by the pressures of keeping a business
goingthat I would lose that sense of joy and creativity that I feel
whenI am at the bench?

I cannot believe you had an instructor tell you to marry a doctor
first. Wow. How unbelievable for a teacher to be so negative ~ what
a shame. Well, let metell you my story and you can take it for what
it is worth. I am a mother oftwo small children and an RN. I just
wanted to be a metalsmith ever since I first began making anything
and came to realize that I did not mind my job but it was stopping
me from staying home with my children and doing what I really
lovedto do.

So, when my children were babies I quit being an RN but moonlighted
here and there. It was the best thing I ever did. This freedom
allows me to stay at home~ my studio isat home~ and your creativity
and skill just blossom. Ihave been doing this for 8 years now.

I make a regular full~ timemodest living and make what I would make
as an RN. I work mybuttoff to do this. I work the jobs of four
people: marketing/website, accountant, sales, and jewelry
fabrication. I teach, sell in a gallery, artshow, internet, etsy. To
be totally honest with you it’s great.

Yes, I work hard butit’s for myself and I love it. Sometimes during
arts how season I can’t even keep up to production. What a great
problem to have. I am home when my children get homefrom school and
I close up shop till they go to bed. We vacation whenever we want. We
take the day off when school is off. Mom is home with soup on the
stove and coffee in the pot. There is never any doubting that and it
makes our home a happy one. Changes everything. Money can’t touch
that kind of freeom. Money can’t touch that kind of security in your
children when they know where Mom is~ because she is at home. School
field trip no longer takes a back seat to the office and commuting.
There is no longer a power struggle between home, work, family and
yourself.

So, anyway I love it. I just took a class with one of my favorite
instructors. She is 75 years old (I am 36) and has been teaching
since she was 36, a graduate in metals from UW-Madison. Some of the
work I have seen of hers leaves mespeechless. We were both grinnning
at a project we were doing and I could still sense her great
enthusiam for her work. I asked her if it ever got old and she said
"How could it! I still have so much to learn (meaning herself).
Anything is possible We can create anything!" Now, that is a
teacher…

I cannot imagine being 75 years old and feeling that way about being
a nurse or workingin an off ice for someone else. I will be 75 years
old (God willing) and still have muchto learn, hammer in hand.

Happy Creating
Joy


#20
If any of you on the "inside" have some good positive (and still
realistic) advice, I would really appreciate hearing it! 

Well, Jennifer, this thread has gone beyond the OP simple question -
that’s good, I guess.

First:

Don't let the gold snobs get you down. If you can work silver at
the expert level, you can do ANYTHING 

There’s someone with ~issues~. It takes a huge investment to get
anywhere near the top, or even to make a good living.

Again, cash flow is critical. 

And Neil nails it, as usual. Jennifer’s question is, “Should I quit
my day job (even though I’ve never sold anything)”. No, no, no and
no. Jennifer needs to ask why nobody has bought anything…They
will, if they really want something. I get compliments on each and
every thing I make - it’s nice but that’s all it is. I made the lamp
in our bedroom and everybody says, “WOW, you made THAT!!!” But
nobody has ever asked me to make a lamp for them, not once. It is
very, very VERY simple:

In order for you to make $50,000/yr, you need to net $1k on 50
pieces - one a week, roughly. Or you need to net $100 on 500 pieces

  • ten a week, roughly. That is, you need to SELL that much. Anybody
    can make jewelry - children do it in school every day - it’s selling
    it that’s the hard part. There’s a reason why so many “art” jewelers
    actually make their living teaching schools… There are a
    myriad of ways to make jewelry happen, though. Some are content
    making lunch money in flea markets, some do it part time and little
    by little success comes and it becomes full time. But to just quit a
    career and jump headlong into it, expecting the world to beat a path
    to your door, is really not realistic or smart. Take some pieces and
    approach some gallery or other venue - at least you’ll get feedback.
    Maybe they’ll say wow…

I have a 15ct. rhodolite garnet coming up with a diamond surround -
maybe 20 stones, I don’t know yet. My raw materials will be a
handful of 14kt scrap, and I figure around 4-5 hours to turn that
into an elegant, beautiful (not just utilitarian…) pendant, out
the door. I’ll clear $600-$800 on that, plus profit on the stones,
and it’s bought before it’s made. When you can do that, quit your
day job - or GET a job in a shop that will teach you how to do it
and invest 5 years in professional training.