Yes, the jewelry craft world is in a crisis. Yes, those who do
really beautiful, really skilled work, and "make everything
themselves," are struggling--that's what I heard from many art
jewelers at the ACC/SF. That's why I decided to back off from
trying to make a living at it myself. But I have posted before
about one (yes, there are more) of the reasons this is
happening--at the same time that the bead stores are proliferating
and doing very well indeed.
Lots of consumers of jewelry want to become producers of jewelry
(did you know that, from a certain unmentionable perspective, this
is a very good sign?). I started as a consumer. I followed the same
route as a whole lot of other Baby Boomers (and Gen Xers, and
whatever they call "kids" these days). I took a beaded earring
class. I took a stringing class. I took wirework. I took 10
different kinds of advanced wirework. I went to nearby art centers
and studied some fabrication. I studied PMC. I did a few shows (and
my jewelry was purchased primarily by artists so, look, ma, I'm an
artist!). Now I'm back at the bead stores, where thousands of us
are studying fabrication with butane torches.
Can you guess how many things at the ACC I looked at, and loved, and
couldn't afford? Are you surprised to hear that I then tried to
figure out how they were made and whether I might be able to make
dumbed-down versions for myself? Do you have any idea how many women
at the show I overheard talking and knew were engaged in the same
effort? "Ooooh, cool! It's not keum boo... maybe sweat soldering...?
The two favorite subjects of magazines are beads and PMC. What's
the point of learning how to make beaded jewelry when stores can
buy the stuff by the truckload from low labor markets?
The point is to have something you can wear that's exactly what you
want, envisioned by your own mind's eye, and made by your own two
I also fail to see the point of including so much about
PMC. The only people I know making jewelry from PMC aren't trying
to sell the work to stores or the general public.
Right, they aren't selling it, they're wearing it--and giving it to
their friends as birthday presents. And they have an absolutely
insatiable desire for more articles, because lots of them feel
insecure. I find most of the magazines less than compelling now,
too, but that's only because I have more hubris than a lot of my
cohorts. Or because I had my 15 minutes of professionalism, so now
I'm an artist, with a self-image to protect.
I know that LJ used to include more articles that were of interest
to professionals. But am I wrong in believing that it was begun as
a magazine for amateurs, i.e. rockhounds? Maybe it's merely
returning to its roots. Beaders and PMCers are the rockhounds of
the new millennium.
who will have to sell something soon, in order to justify having a dba