Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Just Getting Started

Hi, I am interested in becoming a craft jeweler. I have taken a few
classes, and I have been doing silver pieces with gold accents
(mostly fabricating) for a couple of years now. I also make glass
beads, but I find working with metal much more enjoyable. I am
currently employed as a systems analyst out here in Sacramento, CA,
and I can’t afford to quit my day job just yet as I am the sole
income for a family of 5. What is the best way to work myself
gradually into the business so that I can quit the computers in the
next 5 years or so? I have sold a number of my pieces to friends,
family, and colleagues, and that has allowed me to pay for my tools
and supplies, but is a long way off from paying the mortgage. I
currently have a nice bench, with a good flex shaft, mini-torch and
the basic fabricating tools. I also have a large durston combination
rolling mill that I haven’t even taken the cosmoline off yet. I look
forward to any and all replies. Thanks. Eric

Eric, It is difficult to support a family and start a jewelry
creating business at the same time. When you creating your art,
initially, you will taking time away from your family. You will
need lots of support from your family. If you have young kids
remember they grow pretty fast. If you spend all your spare time
creating you may be very fulfilled but by the time you can create
during the day your kids could be grown up and no longer desire
being with their dad. Most important thing you will need is outlets.
Selling to friends and family helps you get started and does pay
for some tools. It also indicates if your work will be accepted by
the public. Once you have sold to all your friends and family you
will need other outlets or you will start filling your closets with
your work. You might try entering local shows. Normally they take
place on the weekends and will not interfere with your livelihood.
Shows can lead to other outlets. You should take your work to local
stores and galleries that might be interested in your work. Remember
if you sell to stores and do shows you must price your work so that
you do not undercut the stores with your show prices. Good luck Lee

Hey Eric, I’ll pass on the advice I recieved on how to make a slow
transition into jewelry making professionally, as opposed to a
head-first full time leap.

Galleries are a good way to do this - the kind that sells local (or
national) artists work and takes a percentage of the sales (usually
40-50%). It would probably be difficult for you to build up enough
inventory to do retail or wholesale shows, and selling in a gallery
will help you build confidence and know what will sell (though this
will depend much on the galleries clientelle, location, etc.) The
galleries are usually located in the turisty parts of town, where
passerbys are likely to stop in for a look. Prices are often quite
high as well, and customers expect that since the jewelry is often
hand made - not the run of the mill stuff you see in most “fine
jewelry” shops.

Depending on what types of jewelry you make, a good way to get into
a gallery is to build up a collection of 5-15 pieces of jewelry to
present to gallery owners. If it works out well for you then you
can get into more galleries and start making a living from it…
then switch over to doing shows, or wherever you want to go.

Another way to go is using a jewelry rep, but I don’t know much
about how this works. There have been a couple threads about this
in the recent past so you can check the Orchid archives on it.

David Tomich