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Lapidary Journal has turned another corner


Sifting through the archive after returning from vacation I followed
the thread about Lapidary Journal with growing unease. As a third
generation artesian (I still use my grandfather’s 1950’s Victor ring
welder) the first LJ I can remember really reading was around 1968.
My dad published articles in it in the 70’s. I still look forward to
every issue, just as I do Ornament, Metalsmith, and Art Jewelry.
Every page of every issue of every magazine will not appeal to every
reader. Even though I’m not interested in bead and PMC articles they
are a fact of life based on other’s interests. It isn’t just
magazines that reflect this - look at table after table of beads at
gem shows. I used to go to them to see equipment and now there is
virtually none at regional shows. It is the nature of the industry.
But there are two things we need to remember. First, if magazines
appeal to a wide audience it increases the number of people who are
interested in and appreciate unique, handmade jewelry. Reading about
it is not the same as learning to make it. Second, magazines are
made to entertain as well as inform, so perhaps we shouldn’t be so
hard on them. I, for one, want to make sure that the written word
isn’t only electronic. Sitting in an easy chair with the latest
magazine is a pleasure, even without reading every article. I
recommend that if you aren’t completely happy with LJ then you should
stay in touch with the editors, keep your subscription, and support
the industry by subscribing to every magazine available. Relax. Life
is short.



Hi All,

Have to put in my two cents here…yeah yeah…I know, its been a
while…looong story. Anyway, I would just like to say that in the
two articles written about my work over the years in Lapidary
Journal, I found Merle to be intelligent and professional in her
approach to the magazine and very helpful to the artists. I believe
she was somewhat hamstrung by economics. Aren’t we all? Plus, she
didn’t publish the magazine all by herself. She had others to answer
to. Advertisers matter in a for-profit venture.

In the last LJ article, I requested that the names of the stone,
metal and pearl suppliers that I used to make the featured pieces be
listed at the end of the article. My standard request in the last 6
years or so. I was told, (not by Merle), that no one had ever asked
them to do that before, and that the magazine did not have room.

I… like James… mentioned that it was after all called
"Lapidary" Journal, and I wished to give credit where credit was
due. I don’t make this stuff on my own after all. The article was
printed without the credits, and I was sorry for it.

We will see how the new guard does. I wish them well. Its a tough
market these days.

Lisa, (Goats broke out of the pen yesterday. I found them on the
porch, sacked out with the dogs), Topanga, CA USA


I agree that contacting L J is a waste of time…

I have contacted lapidary Journal in the past and their main
attitudes appear to be apathy and pompous, condescending behavior,
toward all who are manipulated into listening to their pre planned,
passive aggressive, pontificating scripts…



I don’t know why I can’t leave this alone…

The kinds of decisions people wanted Merle to make aren’t made by
magazine editors. They are made by publishers. And they are business
decisions. I would bet that LJ has only retained its name because,
in the marketing world, you don’t give up name recognition. There
hasn’t been a Smith at Smith & Hawken for decades, and there’s no
longer a Hawken either, but they aren’t about to change their name
to Shareholders & Shareholders.

I remember an earlier thread about how few people are now taking up
lapidary as a hobby–never mind as a profession. When the old-timers
in the gem and minerals societies die off, who on earth is going to
subscribe to, or advertise in, a lapidary magazine? Not enough
people to pay the printer, never mind the editor. How many people
on this forum actually (used to) read LJ for the lapidary articles?
If we don’t include the lurkers, I bet I could count them on my
fingers. (Do people like Gerry Galarneau and Steve Green actually
spend their time reading LJ?)

Has anyone else noticed that Bead & Button, now a nice, fat magazine,
used to be smaller than LJ is now? Why might that be? I would bet
that LJ is doing better and better with their spin-off Step-by-Step
magazines. The potential market is much larger. And “we”-- I welcome
any (current or past) Orchidian reader of LJ to include her/himself
in this category–aren’t a big enough market to keep a print
newsletter alive, never mind a four-color magazine. (Do the math:
subtract from 5,500 total Orchidians those who wouldn’t subscribe to
LJ anyway and those who don’t live in the US.)

So, I would also bet that, sometime in the near future, the thriving
Step-by-Step magazines will have all the name recognition they need
and LJ will simply turn its last corner. The grave’s a fine and
private place, and no one there can hear complaints.

Lisa Orlando
Aphrodite’s Ornaments

PS: Has anybody else signed up for the Art Jewelry email list?
Received and responded to their survey about whether they were
publishing (a) too many, (b) too few, or © not enough silver clay
projects? Received the results of that survey? Even if we’d engaged
in an organized effort, we probably couldn’t have overridden the huge
majority that voted for (b) and ©. Sorry, guys. “We” are a
minority and magazine publishers have no reason to care what we’re
interested in. However, we could do what the potters have done, and
start up a skinny little magazine like Clay Times ourselves…

(and Gen Xers, and whatever they call "kids" these days). 

The people who’ve just graduated from college are generation Y.
Those currently in college or high school don’t have a name that I’m
aware of.


Elaine Luther
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay


I have to agree about the content of a ‘lapidary’ mazagine. I could
care less about PMC, beads, or many other things that end up in the
magazine. The reviews of equipment is very skimpy as well. I also
think the projects are often not very practical. Especially the
latest one that’s been going on building some tricycle thing… I’m
not sure what the point is other than exercising skills. It’s not
something that can be worn. If they want to write about fabrication
fine, but make it something that can be worn or is at least pretty.
Why not write more articles on stone setting, pave, channel setting,
etc… cutting even bearings, etc… using jewelry tools effectively
(other than plyers, that’s pretty obvious if you ask me)… granted
I’ve only had the subscription for a year but I’m not very happy with
the content…

Anyway… I’ll be letting my subscription lapse… I can buy a book or
books (used) with the money I save…




I think that what we are all dealing with is change. Everything is
in a constant state of flux…the problem is that humans and human
institutions resist change instead of accomodating it. If we were to
adapt to that change which is beyond our control we might be a lot
happier. The rockhound phenomenon was a product of an era when
people were just becoming very mobile as a result of reliable
transportation and when our natural resources had not yet been
depleted. People found that they could go out in the boondocks and
pick up valuable things lying about on the surface after millenia of
being undisturbed. As this bonanza became less productive the
interest in pursuing rockhounding went into decline. For a
considerable period the “clubs” thrived as people learned how to use
their semi precious rough gems. Thereafter, amateur jewelry making
became fashionable. At the same time, outside forces saw that
ordinary people could make money along the same pursuits and those
forces resulted in the lessening of incentives for amateurs.
Meanwhile, the clubs struggled along and many spiraled into decadence
and dissolution. The clubs that were sensitive to change survived,
and, in some cases, thrived. ( The Tucson Gem and Mineral Society is
a case in point.) Those that are still about are attempting to deal
with the realization that their shows are experiencing declining
attendance and that dealers are increasingly reluctant about
participating in events that are still run so as to appeal only to
insiders. In most cases the clubs make little effort to publicize
their events and/or activities and then moan about lack of
participation. Many clubs don’t even avail themselves of the readily
available FREE publicity which the media are glad to provide for the

More importantly, the rockhound clubs do not recognize the fact that
those outsiders are the future of their perpetuation. Craftspeople,
school children, artists and the general public all appreciate
natural beauty and are willing to buy… BUT, they have to KNOW
about the events. Instead, those events are attended by old
rockhounds that have no intention of spending money on something they
wouldn’t use, especially if they have a ton of it in their garages.

The Tucson Gem and Mineral Society show is held in a gigantic
convention center and every year it experiences an increased PAID
attendance of many tens of thousands of people consisting primarily
of the general public. The club has had the wisdom and foresight to
realize that publicity and change are inevitable concomitants of
survival of all human endeavours. People have to be aware of what
their opportunities might be and they have to be enticed! Ron Mills,
Mills Gem Co. Los Osos, Ca.


I have to confess that reading your posting to Hazel about Merle
made me grin. I think they’re going down the wrong road, as they only
have 80 pages to play with now, and maybe 10 to projects. If they
devote some to a beading project, the beading readers won’t buy it
because there’s only one project, and they already have plenty of
mags to choose from. Same for the PMC people. LJ will end up having
one article on each topic (metalsmithing, glass, beads, PMC, wire)
and will make no one happy.

I’m really sad, as I just adored the magazine during the 90s. The
lapidaries must have been disappointed even then, because the focus
had moved away from lapidary to metalsmithing.

Cheers, Mona



I’m sorry if my post about beading and PMC struck you as it did. I
am a supporter of anything that will get more people interested in
jewelry, whether as a manufacturer or buyer. The problem I have is
that today’s how to magazines have simply given up on anything but
dumbed down projects that feature items they can buy from their
advertisers and never challenge newbies to go further. Most people,
like yourself, want to advance from PMC and beads and want to
solder, fabricate or add stones to your work.

I applaud how-to magazines for attending to fiduciary matters by
promoting articles that their advertisers benefit from, but what
happens when absolute newbies become serious amateurs ready to
devote some money to other techniques and skills? It seems a rather
shortsighted strategy not to allow for some growth in their
readerships ability and knowledge.

I applaud Orchid and Ganoksin, I don’t know what life would be like
without Hanuman’s work, but our needs as jewelers is to have many
different voices; voices in periodicals (both professional and
amateur), hardcover media, Internet, video, and hands on workshops
and shows. We shouldn’t let go of one media just because of the
relative strength of another. This is why we should hold how-to
magazines feet to the fire. It makes them stronger and gives us
another ally in the quest to become all that we can; especially at
that critical beginning when we are full of excitement and energy,
seeking all the we can.




I couldn’t agree with you more.

The feed back I received from the majority of the people who stopped
by my booth reflects your statements here - they are indeed
uninspired and bored by all the junk they see in so many stores.
They are tired of the same old thing, and are willing to pay for a
well made, hand crafted, and unique piece of sterling silver

Well said, Ron.



First, please, it’s “metal clay” not PMC, since that’s a brand name
and there are two brands, PMC and Art Clay. Secondly, I take
exception with the statement, “Right, they aren’t selling it,
they’re wearing it–and giving it to their friends as birthday
presents.” I can tell you, definitively, that they (and I) ARE
selling it. At jewelry shows, juried art shows and fairs, and
anywhere else other “professionally created” jewelry is sold. Metal
clay jewelry is in galleries and museum stores all over the country.
You probably have seen it and not known it was metal clay. Which is
as it should be. Working with metal clay is yet another technique
that is being used in all aspects of jewelry making. It’s as much a
skilled craft as fabricating or casting. And don’t confuse the
inexperienced work of many metal clay artists with the potential of
the medium. A medium, I might add, that is only about 10 years old.
Sophistication and expertise comes with experience and knowledge, and
we are still learning and fine tuning the art of metal clay.

Lastly, there are infinite levels of complexity in jewelry making.
And each has a market. What is a “professional?” Whether you’re
stringing Bali beads and chunks of turquoise for a living, or casting
diamond and ruby pendants, if you are supporting yourself through
your sales, doesn’t that make you a professional? Is there a minimum
level of expertise or minimum amount of machinery one must own in
order to be considered a professional jewelry maker? There are
amateurs at all levels of jewelry making, and those working in PMC or
Art Clay Silver shouldn’t automatically be considered amateurs. I
find that presumption offensive and demeaning.

Jackie Truty
Art Clay World, USA, Inc.



There will always be people who are stuck in that discount mentality

  • they want something for nothing, and will try to nickle and dime
    you to death. It happens in every industry. I try to handle it with
    a sense of humor.

For the past 30+ years, I have worked out in front with the public -
in many varied industries. It’s never a surprise when people say
dumb things. Sometimes people think out loud, and what comes out of
their mouth is only half a thought. Try not to take it personally.
Maybe you can use that “do you make jewelry” as an opening to get
into a conversation about what you actually do. See it as an
opportunity to show your work.

I wish you all the best, and hope you can find a way, in your own
style, to handle the irritating people and turn it around for your


As you are all no doubt aware, all magazines, LJ included, compete
for advertising dollars in an increasingly crowded marketplace.
Recent years have seen the addition of new forums, with Web sites,
broadcast, and cable media all making claims on available
advertising dollars. 

The problem being, that LJ has moved further and further away from
articles that interest the hobbyist and the craftsman You forgot what
the name of the magazine is and what it means. If you would write for
us, the reader, your circulation base would increase and your
advertisers would be coming to you and you would not have to compete
so hard. Speaking of articles, most of the articles written now
seem to be written by reporters and not someone who has actually done
any work in the gem field. A lot of the showcase articles seem geared
toward the fringe artisan, not the mainstream jeweler/artisan.



One minor point there is a Hawken. Paul Hawken, founder of Smith &
Hawken is alive and well. Concerning himself with ecological
projects, I believe.



I have read that those of you who don’t like the direction of the
magazine have called and emailed to complain and have cancelled your
subscriptions, but have any of you submitted articles to LJ?

Have you personally put yourselves on the line to show others how to
do your particular skills?

Have you advertised your store, or product in the magazine?

Or do you just complain about no articles on rock tumbling and cab

I love this forum, even though I find many of the opinions different
than mine, how else will I learn to open my mind and appreciate
thoughts and ideas for themselves not because they are useful to me.



Nancie - I don’t understand where you are coming from with your
remarks about the ‘same old thing’ found in all of the stores.
There are thousands of silver and fashion jewelry manufacturers,
selling literally hundreds of thousands or even millions of designs,
not counting the ‘artisan jewelers’. Perhaps you should start
visiting other stores for more of a perspective on what is available
out there.

To most people out in the real world, not on this list, ‘hand
crafted’ doesn’t mean ‘well made’, it only means ‘more expensive for
the same type of item’. I have seen plenty of ‘hand made’ pieces of
junk, and there are also plenty of ‘well made’ mass produced items
out there. These may not ‘call’ to you, but I bet some of those who
made such nice comments at your booth cooing over your jewelry have
a box full of attractive mass produced jewelry at home, and will be
adding to it in the future. As an example of the futility of the
’hand made’ moniker - we have custom 14K name plates cut for us in
New York. Our customer couldn’t care less that they are 'hand cut’
all they want is their name cut out of a plate, and heaven help us
when the cutter changes the font they cut out so that it doesn’t
exactly match the samples.

Also, if a design is worth making once, shouldn’t it be worth making
again? Why should anyone be limited by a commitment to make 'unique’
pieces if their artistic vision is valid?

Art is where you are willing to see it, not just in your showcase.
There is beauty everywhere, both natural and created. Look around
you; wherever you are, you are surrounded by it. If you narrowly
define art to only include hand crafted, unique pieces of jewelry,
made to your specifications, then you are missing out on a whole

Lee Cornelius
Vegas Jewelers


I am a bead and jewelry store, and we are providing classes in Art
Clay Silver (the “competition” to PMC. One of my regular students is
a man who facets, does silver work and helps out as the only non
family staff to the fine jewelry store two or three doors down from
me. No, he didn’t find out about the classes by being close, he
actually took the first class about 4 months before the fine jewelry
store moved here.=A0He’s just as excited to work in this medium as any
other he does. I think it’s going to become a medium that will find
many artists who do fantastic work and=A0will sell it to the “public”
(and already do) because of its availability. You don’t need tons of
expensive equipment to get started. You can make unusual shapes a
little easier. I personally am having a grand time with it, and have
sold several pieces to the “public”. It is going to take overcoming
an obvious prejudice in some regional areas, but hey, those who look
down their noses will be missing out!

CeltCraft Beads & Jewelry

 Has anyone else noticed that Bead & Button, now a nice, fat
magazine, used to be smaller than LJ is now? Why might that be? I
would bet that LJ is doing better and better with their spin-off
Step-by-Step magazines. 

For the sake of clarity-- Bead & Button has no connection to LJ. It
is published by Kalmbach, the same folks who put out Art Jewelry.
Moreover, Step by Step is a spin-off of Colored Stone…



Hi Jackie,

Sorry I wrote something that was so unclear. First of all, I know
very well that there are two brands of metal clay–I was responding
in the language used by Larry. I probably should have corrected that
misperception myself. But you will note that “metal
clayers”–unlike “PMCers”-- sounds weird. The term used “in the
field,” as you well know, is “metal clay artists.” Some Orchidians
might find that term to be overstating the case, and therefore
difficult to spit out. I have no problem with it–I’m a great fan
of the Artists Way, and I think people can be “scrapbooking
artists” if they want to be.

Also, I was specifically referring the people Larry knows who
aren’t selling their work. I know a lot of them, too. The point I
was trying to make is that there is now an huge and growing group of
(mostly) women who are using their discretionary income to make
jewelry rather than to buy it. Instead of paying $500 for a
necklace, they’re paying $500 for a kiln. Instead of paying $200
for a bracelet, they’re paying $200 for a string of ruby beads.
Instead of paying $65 for a pair of earrings, they’re paying $65
for yet another class at the bead store. The bead stores are
thriving, the beading/ metal clay magazines are thriving, and people
who are trying to make a living selling “art jewelry” aren’t
getting this money. I’ve been in both groups–when I had
discretionary income (lol) and/or was doing shows.

Also, I in no way meant to equate professionalism and excellence. I
know people who have no desire to sell and who make pieces that
could put a master jeweler to shame. I know people who manage to
make at least part of their living selling work that I would be
ashamed to give away. And, as I have said before in this forum,
people like Hadar Jacobson, my first metal clay teacher, aren’t
just artists, they’re (imho) really good artists. They don’t need
to “advance” from metal clay to anything else–anymore than someone
like Lynne Merchant needs to “advance” from wirework (actually, she
would be “going back,” since she studied fabrication at CCAC). Or
anymore than a watercolorist needs to “advance” to oils. Is jewelry
the only “art form” where people are ranked by the media and the
tools they use, rather than by their artistry?

Lisa Orlando
Aphrodite’s Ornaments


I’m not a fan of step by step, it doesn’t give you enough pictures or
instructions. I personally like simply beads…they give you a lot
more designs to try.

Georgeanne Brutscher ZG2
Tascha Designs