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Jewelry making fever


I discovered not too long ago but it has been a
Wonderful and Invaluable source of info. and advice as I teach myself
how to construct jewelry. Am still VERY “green”! The more I learn,
the more I see that I have/want learn!

The question I would like to pose may seem silly but I have to ask.
Here goes…Is it just me, or is “the fever” for creating jewelry
shared by all of you who are many years experienced? My spouse can’t
quite understand how I can spend all of my free time at the bench!
Please, anybody care to expound on this??

A beginner, Carol

Hi Carol,

I imagine you will get many replies like this, but yes, the fever
does rage on even after many years! I started in college with a Fine
Arts major and decided to concentrate on jewelry and metalsmithing.
I spent all the time I could working in the jewelry studio. That was
12 years ago. Now it is my profession and I still want to spend all
time I can at my bench. I would never want to do anything else.


Hi Carol, The excitement of creating any type of art work never ends
as long as you let yourself go and be creative. The thrill will be
somewhat watered down if you have to create only items that the
customer likes at the expense of your likes. I was very fortunate
with my creations in that it was mostly a hobby which allowed me to
create things that I like. I never really concerned myself about
what would sell. Fortunately the art I created always found people
how appreciated it.

You will find that there are so many ways to create jewelry that you
will never run out of inspiration. Try to always create new styles.
You will be inspired by a piece of jewelry and realize that with
some modification you will create a new creation.

It is very pleasing to create something unique but the great joy
comes when someone likes it enough to buy it. That is the ultimate
compliment. You are embarking on a great adventure and if you
follow it you will always be thrilled by your creations. Just
remember that you have a family and friends that also need your
attention. Some times that creative urge needs to be set aside for
social activities. Your orchid friend Lee Epperson

About the “fever” I wonder if it might be our nature. First it was
photography in high school. At university I lucked into cell biology
and learned to cut sections about .15 mm square and at thickness
thinner than the wavelength of green light. Then for about four hours
at a time I would stare at the electron microscope projections to get
the “perfect” record. I am obsessive and compulsive,… and harmless.

About twelve years ago I made my own kiln, bought six enamels, some
copper, other paraphernalia, and a book costing $4.25 by Jean O’Hara
and Jo Rebert because I wanted to know how to make a cigarette case
like the one my mum had. Also my my first gift to my wife was a
cloisonn=E9 pill box, and she knew what that was. Now, I search for th=
perfect enamel piece, knowing it’s an unattainable goal; and I don’t
care. Why do I do this? Because a bad day’s playing with metal and
fusing a glass to it is better than a good day’s work (I’m an
amateur). For me it’s all about seeing something in my head and
trying to see if it can be reality (more often than not the reality
barely resembles the idea). Part of my drive is the faint and absurd
hope that I maybe there is a chance for immortality; my small brick
in the mansion of humanity (“Alfred made me”). Also my fever is
reinforced by the positive feedback of my peers. Around the
neighborhood I am known as an artist; and the label makes me feel
that I am unique and special. I get invited to the occasional show or
fair, and thus I feel “needed”.

The work keeps me humble in that the metal, enamel and kiln work
according to their rules and not mine. “We” work together to create
the piece. I see first hand the laws of physics and chemistry at
work, and that is very satisfying. I read about my subject and learn
about the richness of history, and I feel an almost mystical rapport
with Theophilus in that he appears to be speaking to me (despite my
logical mind saying that the work is a translation based on a number
of manuscripts close to a 1000 years old). I believe that I see more
and experience a richness in life as a result of studying my hobby.
(Yes, I took a hard look at the jewelry worn both in the Lord of the
Rings and in the Star Wars saga).

My only question is whether I would feel this way if I were to try
and make my living by pursuing my craft. What compromises would I
have to make so as to feed my family? And would those compromises
dull the fever?

I also know that I am not alone; Orchid proves it.


Hi Carol, First I think you need to be aware that apparently you have
found your passion. Realize that for those that haven’t or can’t
support you in yours, no amount of explaination will make someone
understand what you feel, cause it’s a feelin’ thing. Some people
don’t ever find what you have found. Be grateful aand thankful every
day. Perserverence pays off. Spend time with people who support and
encourage you. If you believe your creativity is a gift, find a way
to express it. I have had the fever for 30 years.

 Is it just me, or is "the fever" for creating jewelry shared by
all of you who are many years experienced? 

Welcome to Orchid, Carol! Great question! It causes us to reflect
upon, and re-examine why we do what we do.

I’d call it a passion. I’m reasonably capable at other forms of
visual art, but nothing moves me the way working with gems and
beautiful metal does. I’m intrigued by the fact that something I’ve
made might be dug up by future archaeologists, thousands of years
from now, relatively unchanged. Other forms of art I’ve created are
much more vulnerable and fleeting.

I love the fact that the gemstones I use are nature’s works of art.
There is something so basic and primal in my love of beautiful stone.
I’ve never done it, but have visions of laying all my gemstones out
and rolling around naked on them! :wink: Maybe that’s too much

One of the unique characteristics of our chosen form of expression
is that our clients can actually enjoy and interact with our art. It
doesn’t just hang on the wall in the dining room, or sit on a
pedestal in the living room. People take it out, wear it around town,
and show it off to their friends. It makes them feel special, and not
just for a passing moment of covetous ownership.

When I get into a groove, or rhythm at the bench, I am exceedingly
happy and feel quite self-actualized. Its a feeling this is what I am
supposed to be doing, and all is in harmony. Its surprisingly tough
to achieve this state on a regular basis, with myriad
responsibilities and distractions. The satisfaction of actually
creating something tangible is especially gratifying in this society
where people spend their lives in careers shuffling papers,
administrating, computing, customer servicing, etc., and not ever
actually producing anything.

I’m sure there are a lot more facets that contribute to my
compulsion to pursue this dream, contrary to any sane person’s
judgment, but I’ll just call it passion.

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

Greeting and Welcome Carol, We are all creators and for the fortunate
we can tap into that at a depth that brings fulfillment. Shortly
after the very first cave art, like 10’s to 100’s of thousands of
years, came the jewelry makers. Yes sitting in the woods grinding
tooth, shell, and bone, with flat carving tools :smiley:

Go for it!
“Life, what a beautiful design”

Carol, Yes, the fever lasts, if you feed it properly. Make new
stuff, or make things in new ways, and it will become more and more
interesting. If you get stuck doing the same thing over and over,
though, it might pall a little bit.

I’m incredibly lucky, since I have a real day-job and can afford to
be a starving artist on the side. It means that I don’t generally
have to do anything I don’t want to do, artistically, and I’ve
cheerfully sent potential customers to my “competitors” when I didn’t
regard their requests as being within my field, or of sufficient

Coincidentally, I’ve just taken on a job that will tax my short
attention span a bit, since I’m building up inventory for a “boutique
show” next month, and I have to make a bunch of similar pieces,
even though I’m not into mass-production. My likeliest seller is
going to be some relatively inexpensive earrings, and I’m trying
really hard to make a lot of them, but I just can’t bring myself to
make more than a pair or two before I’m haring off on another
experimental piece or trying a different way to do the same thing. I
know I’d be better off, as far as efficiency goes, if I just buckled
down and made a couple of dozen of the darned things, but it would be
boring, beautiful as they might individually be.

Anyway, over twenty years of doing jewelry, off and on, and a
lifetime of fiddling with all sorts of intricate junk, I’ve never
really lost the joy of mastering complexity or creating beauty, and I
expect to keep it going for a long time.

Have fun!

I got the fever in 1970, hammering out my first piece of silver
jewelry. I even have a photo of me wearing that piece, with a look
of fulfillment on my face. That passion has never left me.

Now as before, time flies when I am at my bench. I often find myself
working into the wee hours, just the same as I did 30 years ago.
It’s hard to stop. Just a little more…

I felt the same vitality and excitement again last week, as I
completed a 22k gold Thai chain bracelet. What fun!

It sure beats flipping burgers.

Boy are we lucky!

Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts
760 Market Street - Suite 900
San Francisco, CA 94102
tel: 415-391-4179 fax: 415-391-7570


Hello Orchidland, I have to say the “fever” includes anything that
puts me into the “zone” where I lose track of time, and don’t
recognize ordinary stimulii such as hunger, thirst, or sleepiness!
Noise is tuned out and one’s focus is complete on the project. Hate
to say it, but sometimes gardening does this to me and suddenly I’ll
realize I’m trying to weed by the light of the moon! My spouse
doesn’t understand this strange single-mindedness. My children
(luckily) survived quite nicely, thank you.

Sometimes the "fever" wakes me up a dawn with a fascinating idea...

and I really enjoy mulling over the latest project as I drift off to
sleep. We can count ourselves fortunate to experience the high from
creating wonder from metal and stone.

Judy in Kansas
Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
Biological and Agricultural Engineering
237 Seaton Hall
Kansas State University
Manhattan KS 66506
(785) 532-2936

I got the fever in 1970, hammering out my first piece of silver
jewelry. I even have a photo of me wearing that piece, with a look
of fulfillment on my face. That passion has never left me. 

Alan, I had to smile at this. Twelve years ago, my first teacher
had us first melt and pour the silver, then draw the wire. We made a
simple round sterling ring, about 16 ga.- and I still wear it
sometimes. I often wonder if the teacher knew what he started for
me- if I knew where he was, I would tell him. You are lucky, Alan-
you get to do that for other people as well- Anne