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Informal survey of metalsmiths

For quite some time I have been wondering how many people truly
make their living with metalsmithing? 

I have made a living at my craft/art for over 30 years. At first it
was very modest, but I got by, with shared apartments or a place in
the country without utilities. Now I live just fine, with a modern
equipped house, health insurance, vacations, and hobbies (my horse),
too. My husband is in another business that pulls in more money than
I do, and so we live better than I could alone, but I can make it and
do fine on my own income, I’m glad to say.

I sell unlimited edition silver castings, and one-of-a-kind silver &
gold pieces, at retail craft shows, in galleries & stores, on the
internet, and by special order. It’s working for me, but I do have to
make a lot of work which I consider “product” rather than my dream
pieces. That’s okay; I like the processes as well as the artistic
aspect of this work.

M’lou Brubaker, Jeweler
Goodland, MN

I have been able make my living with metal work for about 7 years
now. It took a couple of false starts and a lot of long hours to do
it. It can be done, it would have been much easier if I had some
training in running a business to start with. I did have some good
advice from and a fine example set by a a friend who is in the art
jewelry business (thanks Kim) and my own business would have started
much easier if I had just listened to her more and had a few less
stars in my eyes :slight_smile:

Jim Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts
Phone (360) 756-6550
Toll Free (877) 408 7287
Fax (360) 756-2160

Member of the Better Business Bureau

In re: Jim Binnions’ Response,

Dear Jim,

I like your level headed response to the issue of “Informal survey of
metalsmiths” The dichotomy separating idealists and realists is
inherent in your experience… Younger , inexperienced idealists
oversimplify their dreams by thinking that they can build better
mousetraps and that they mgiht have some magical ability that will
exempt them from dealing with reality. Not so ! Reality is paying the
rent, buying food and nurturing the baby that you hadn’t planned. The
Walt Disney version of reality won’t hack it ! Business is all about
survival…you might liken it to i-n-f-r-a-s-t-r-u-c-t–u-r-e. It
is the skeleton that supports the body. It is the mechanism that
enables you.

On the other hand…business does not mean that you have to be a
money grubbing parasite. It is simply the mechanism that you must
use to remain viable and functional…it is a means to an end.
Without it you will not succeed. You are not in business to sell
business; you ARE in business to sell product !

Business is crass…it is boring…it is tedious…it is
also vital and necessary! (No, I am not talking about sewage systems)
I am simply stating the obvious…nothing is free !

Ron MIlls , Mills Gem Co, Los Osos, Ca.