I have been making southwest jewelry since 1973 mostly as a hobby.
I invested my hobby profit in tools and art.
I quit my engineering job in 1982 with the Arizona Public Service
working on the Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant and became a full time
silversmith. Some times the pickings were slim but I always managed
to pay my bills. I sold both wholesale and retail. Everything was
paid for. Three daughters through college and a home and car paid
In 1997 my three top customers quite. One lost about 1.5 million
dollars in inventory which was stolen at a show and quit doing about
30 wholesale shows a year. One gallery closed their doors and one
gallery quit selling silver.
The timing was right for me to retire early and do my silversmithing
as a hobby again.
I have never regretted leaving my high salary job as an engineer to
pursue my creative self.
My wife still works because she wants something to do. Her income
allows her to have a lot of luxuries. With Social Security, pension
and hobby income I still pay all the bills.
It would have been a great struggle if I had tried to follow my
creative career from the start. In 1979 I had the opportunity to
try me luck at being a full time silversmith. Fortunately I did not
leave my engineering job. Shortly after my wife had to have open
chest surgery and two daughters needed braces.
Having a full time job allowed me to build up my tools and skills
before I decided to leave the ulcer producing engineering job behind
and make a living at creating.
In Phoenix where it was 112 in my rock cutting station today.