Never give up on art

i have been self stunned with lethargy as I witness the shriveling
of the desire for art, in this country. First warning is the
proposal by city governments to delete Art and Music as a first
choice from grammer and highschools, if funds in the school system
decline. Art is primarily utilized by our capitalistic society, for
advertising anyway, and studio art of most types, as in college
majors, is a dream come true, if you can make it work in some way.
Only problem is that chasing the dream usually means that you must
find a way to operate in the “economic system”(pay the bills), by
mass production- selling to the low and middle class, or
prostituting your talents to the wealthy and corporations. I think
that people want to look as stylish as ever, but will only do it by
purchasing something hopefully as stylish, for far less cash than
they would have, before 9/11. As technicians, jewelers can keep
afloat to some degree insofar as necessary items are needed, like
weddings, birthdays, anniversaries etc. But when it comes to art
pieces, i don’t know what to say. Did we have this thread recently?
I hope it wasn’t me who started it! dp

True art jewelry is where my jeweling heart truly lays-but alas, my
stomach grew hungry. Central Indiana is not exactly the art mecca of
the world, but thats where my destiny has encamped me so far. Truly
unique,fine quality,art type jewelry pieces have been a tough sell
here, at least at a price that one would want to stake their sole
budget on. I am in a heavy, heavy industrial area and what sells best
here is what we term as ‘more flash fo’ da’ cash’ type of stuff, like
diamond clusters,Italian charm bracelets, and tennis bracelets with
diamonds often not any better than frozen spit. Everyone seems to
want what their sister or their neighbor has, so ‘one-of-a-kinds’ are
a bit tough to sell at prices that satisfy the factory mentality of
adornment. But I have made a wonderful living servicing all this
commercially mass produced ‘gems’. I still continue to produce a
few unique items from time to time ,just to satisfy my own
desires,and if I wait long enough, eventually it all sells. I’ve even
produced(for my ownkeeping) a solid 18k set of Monopoly tokens,with
about 300 hours of wax model making to produce the most intricate
details of each piece, and complete with handmade walnut bases for
each. I will never give up on art-I will just keep satisifying the
demand for my area,where, as an independent jeweler I am most called
for. Almost daily, I have a new repair customer that walks in my door
with words saying something to the tune of ‘I’ve been told that if
YOU can’t repair this, it can’t be done!’ Those words alone tell me
I have become an artist of jewelry repair! Ed

         i have been self stunned with lethargy as I witness the
shriveling of the desire for art, in this country 

I love this thread. In my higher minded moments, and I’m speaking of
art now, I too get discouraged about the art market in this country.
Then I wonder at myself about why should I consider myself above the
fray of the general economy. This economy is TERRIBLE. Terrible for
everyone not just us art types.

These are the times to learn business, to take the time to get the
nuts and bolts of small business in order and hang on. These times
can serve us well, cull the art gene pool, and prepare us for better

I do have the benefit of having 2 previous generations to look back
on and see how they struggled to survive and don’t really see any
difference in today and then. Production has always been necessary in
some fashion for my family to continue working. The art pieces, the
pieces of my families work which are really WORTH something in the
long run ,are investments to any purchaser and have to be considered
as such when planning, making and selling. Believe me, sometimes I
say screw it, well not that way but anyway, and make what ever the
hell I want to make, then get bitter as it sits there in my show

Compromise is the art of living to fight another day. Sam Patania,

    i have been self stunned with lethargy as I witness the
shriveling of the desire for art, in this country. 

Good thread. And this goes hand in had with the gender one. The
key in all of this is education. With so much going against us in
the US (art is still revered in the rest of the world), it is up to
us, in any way we can to educate our public. By wearing jewelry, or
art jewelry (I call it studio jewelry), we have an opportunity to
educate our public about what we do and how we do it. Many of you
have been writing about personal pieces that you wear. It is these
stories that pass on a heritage, or talk about who we are in the

I have several young kids working with me at Metalwerx. Their
reasons for coming are as varied as they are. But through these
kids, I have gone to their schools, loaded with my slides and a few
examples of “in process” pieces. These kids are fascinated and
eager to learn. As the dollar begins shrinking, it is important to
explore new markets and educate new minds.

If you own a jewelry store, you have a great opportuntity to invite
some of your customers to a group show and tell. Serve a little
food and drink and they become “special” and part of your store’s
inner circle. Show them your sketchbooks, show some enthusasim for
what you do and the passion for creating.

Once a semester I take my students for a field trip. Somtimes it is
a local gallery like Mobilia which deals in nothing but studio
jewelry. Or maybe it is a museum. I contact the curator and tell
them I would like to bring a small group through. Maybe 10 people
max. The curator takes over and brings pieces out of storage to
show and tell.

It’s easy to sit around and whine about the good ole days of better
economic conditions, but what are we really doing about it? My
friend Sam Patania, made a beautiful and HUGE sterling silver
candlestick. This is a venture out of his regular bench work, and
by taking on this commission he has opened the door for new and
different work.


Karen Christians
10 Walnut St.
Woburn, MA 01801
Ph: 781 937 3532
Fx: 781 937 3955
email: @Karen_Christians
Board Member of SNAG

I am blessed in that I no longer have to make a living with my
creations. My true love is making my sterling silver pottery. I
can create my pieces without worrying about selling them.

It has always frustrated me when someone asks what are they for. I
consider them art and they serve no purpose other than to hopefully
please the eye.

How many artist create things that serve a function other than to
please the eye. Jewelers are lucky that they can make beautiful
pieces of art that can be worn. These pieces serve a two fold

My pottery does not create any rapid selling frenzy but I still
cannot stop creating them. I take great joy in seeing my wax
carvings turn into what I consider beautiful pieces of art. I have
found enough collectors interested in my work to at least prevent my
closets from being filled with my creations.

I find myself not wanting to sell any of my current larger and more
intricate pieces because I feel I might not make another one as the
eyes and hands tire out. I guess I will be the one who enjoys many
pieces I have made. They will be passed on to my kids and probably
sold for the value of the silver.

Sorry for the bag of wind but this post interested my and reminded
my how blessed I am in not having to make a living from my art. Lee

Interesting how people look at things differently. Lee said he/she
was blessed in not having to make a living from my art. I feel the
exact opposite. I consider myself so very, very blessed that I’m able
to make my living from my art. It’s amazed me for the last 27 years
in fact. I still can’t believe how lucky I am…

I tire of the fight on occasion, I really do. But, I know that the
fight is the thing keeping me going, keeping me innovative, keeping
me alive. On the one hand I would love to have a car that just runs
with out so much prayer, a house of my own and no worries about where
my kids will spend the time between school and when my ex or I can
pick them up. On the other hand I am now going to work on my class
outline for Metalwerx about artists and business, am able to teach my
kids about the value of hard work, and am constantly forced into
creativity , something I love and wouldn’t do if I were comfortable.

Sam Patania, Tucson

Bonnie: Your right, I feel very grateful that I can keep bread on
the table by doing what I love to do, even if it is 80% drudge work
trying to keep up by doing decent work at or near off shore labor
rates. But when The Muse sings in your ear, it sure sounds sweet and
it feel’s so nice when some body tells you that’s a beautiful piece
I’ll take it,

Thats how I have always looked at it ,Bonnie. I tell people all the
time that I haven’t had to work a day in years and years, because I
love what I do, and don’t consider it to be work. I guess I’m one of
the luckiest people in the world! Ed-Kokomo