Joel, I would like to explore a little more your proposition that “I
[sic] becomes our responsibility to educate the general public about
this” (the art and craft of making jewelry).
To begin, I have the luxury of being an amateur. I derive no income
from what I do. So perhaps what I have to say is irrelevant in the
professional world. Having said that, this is what I have done for
the last three years at a local annual rock and gem show and at one
craft show. I torch fire enamels at the show. I use MAP gas and a
very robust stainless steel mesh on a tripod. I start with a piece of
well aged copper, clean it and the embellish it by either stamping it
or texturing it with the a small hammer with a pointed tip. Then
clean it once more, and apply a transparent slush enamel. At the same
time as this is going on I pass around some very large frits of
enamel both opaque and transparent, mentioning that they are over 100
years old (I inherited them). I explain how it looks like glass and
how metal oxides are used to create the colour. Then I ignite the
torch (that’s when the crowd gets even larger) and show the "magic"
of this opaque powder becoming clear so that we can see the design
beneath. Once cooled and depending on my inclination I’ll add wire
and explain how cloisonn� is created or add sift some colors on.
I also show examples of enamel work and people want to buy them
right then and there. By attaching a pin back I know that I can sell
these pieces for about $10 to $20, not much, but when it takes only
10 to 15 minutes to produce a piece that amounts to about $40 per
hour, which is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.
Now, I understand that we cannot expect gem setters, casters and
fabricators to bring the workshop to the show. But isn’t it possible
to bring something of the craft along to the show? Otherwise how does
one distinguish oneself from retailers?
One other thought, I have recently been reading (sampling) five
books from our local library on marketing (I am a reseacher/analyst
who use quantitative methods to solve business problems) to reconnect
myself with what I do. I have found these books to be extremely
enlightening. Might I suggest that if one is “in the trade” one would
find that reading any book on marketing to be a worthwhile use of