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Intro and questions about shows


I am fairly new to the list and am thrilled by the that I
have gleaned simply from the archives alone! I am a full-time mom
and self-taught wire-worker (I’m not much of a traditionalist when it
comes to wire-wrapping) and have been in business for a little over
three years (I started selling my jewelry after my first child was
born in order to supplement my family’s income). I have just started
getting my feet wet teaching myself (with the help of many wonderful
books) how to work with sheet metal and the questions I have on that
subject alone will keep me busy here for weeks. (If anyone has any
suggestions/tips for teaching oneself, please let me know.) Since I
have small children around me all of the time I have decided to see
what I can do without getting into soldering. I know this limits me
tremendously and really inhibits the design process in many ways but
it also forces me to look beyond the conventional and to experiment
with cold joining in non-traditional ways.

My business up to this point has been pretty much online as well as
custom work for several of my customers but I find that I am ready to
take the next step and enter the show arena. In a previous life I
did trade-show conventions but I’m afraid that hasn’t prepared me at
all to know what exactly I am required to have in the way of booths
at indoor and outdoor jewelry shows. Simple things such as whether I
should have my own tent/booth setup, tables, etc. or whether they are
typically provided at shows, or available for an additional cost
elude me. If I do need my own tent, etc. is there a way to go about
putting a booth together economically or is my outlay going to be
pretty hefty no matter what? I do have my signs already done, but
beyond that I’m at a loss. I was reading in the archives and I
really liked the suggestion of using sand in clear containers for
displays (seams like a very economical approach at this point) and
was wondering whether anyone knows of a source for clear shallow
cases with locking lids or some such thing? Also, where in the world
does one find colored sands (our local pet store only had white)?
Another thing that I would like some input on is how does one
determine how many pieces to take to a show? I’m afraid of getting
to one and finding that I didn’t bring enough or that I’ve got way
too much. Is there a rule of thumb to go by? What do I need to
worry about in the way of taxes if I’m doing an out-of-state show?

As I’m sure there are many questions I haven’t even thought of, any
suggestions/tips/sources anyone has for someone just starting into
the world of shows would be greatly appreciated.

I look forward to learning from this extraordinary community and
appreciate your help!

Carrie Otterson
Wired Contemporary Jewelry
in the beautiful Applachian Mountains of Southeastern Kentucky


if you haven’t already, find Tim McCreight’s book The Complete
Metalsmith. He discusses mostly soldering, but he also covers cold
joins, like rivets.

also, the September 2000 issue of Lapidary Journal has an article on
The Home Studio and Kids. in the article is a box addressing Safety

I hope I have been of help to you. Good luck!


Hi Carrie,

I’m dealing with many of the same issues and questions you raised.
Here are some vendors I found for cases: (Seems to be down now, but is usually

Display items:

Rio Grande also has an extensive catalog of display items. You can
request the catalog through their Web site:

Hope this helps get you going in the right direction!


Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)


I am also a self-taught jeweler/mom with a shop in my basement. You
have lots of questions that the many knowledgable people here will
help you with. I could write a book in response to your one email here
but you will get many more experienced people giving you input. About
the taxes at out of state shows: When I was excepted into an out of
state show they (the show organizers)sent along on how to
take care of the taxes. It was just a matter of requesting a certain
form from the tax people in that state (if you go online and search
around a little you can easily email for the form) telling them I was
intending to do a once a year show in their state. I was sent a form
which I completed and mailed in. I was sent another form that I
filled out immediately after the show , wrote acheck to pay the sales
tax which I mailed in the same envelope and it was done. There was no
other expense involved. Do you have a tax ID # in the state you live
in? I believe I needed that number.Don’t consider that an obstacle as
it was spelled out and done easily. If you want to exchange ideas on
working on your jewelry while playing mom at the same time, we can do
that. Just email me at


Hello Carrie Otterson,

You have so many questions... just like most of us who sort of oozed

into doing shows. Do scan the archives, and check out an article
written by Suzanne Wade for AJM(?) with several good hints.
(Suzanne, please correct my errors here.) One thing that will be a
sure hit at any show is your ability to wire wrap if you can be
viewed while you work. If possible, take another person to tend shop
and take orders so you can demonstrate to the folks who come by.
That means take your tools and a supply of stones and wire rather
than a multitude of finished pieces. My experience is that people
love to buy something they have watched in construction. Also take
some examples to show how you can wrap unusual momentos like natural
stones, unusual pieces of wood, beach glass, artifacts, shark teeth,
etc. Be sure to have a stack of business cards out there so that
people can call you later. (There has been much about the
well-designed business card, so I won’t go there.) All states are
glad to have another person collecting sales taxes for them. Get the
sales tax certificate in your home state, and ask them for advice on
obtaining certification in neighboring states. Another resource is
the state’s homepage - look for their dept. of revenue. Be sure to
get instructions on what records you need to keep and what tax rates
to use. I get sand from the local river and use some driftwood to
allow draping chains and propping up pieces. Kentucky should have
lots of creeks and rivers. While in Tucson, I saw some wonderful
black sand left over from gold panning - it is apparently hemitite
and sparkles like druzy! Heck, you could use small grains like
thistle seed or rice. Feel free to contact me offline. I’m sure
you’ll get lots of advice. Judy in Kansas

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
Extension Associate
221 Call Hall Kansas State Univerisity
Manhattan KS 66506
(785) 532-1213 FAX (785) 532-5681