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Non-jeweler designers at shows


Some years back I heard that ACC does not allow any manufactured
findings. Is this true?

Thank you
Sally Pataky
Sungem Design

This doesn’t fall strictly within the realm of this thread, but it
is a related question: Is it improper to feature cast jewelry at an
art/craft show if your casting is done by a third party?

In my case, the designs, the original waxes, and all of the
finishing are my own work, but I don’t have mold-making skills or
equipment and can’t do casting in my studio. I am still quite new to
the world of juried shows, and I’ve often wondered whether to
include my cast work in my slides, or just stick strictly to the
hand-fabricated, one-off pieces. My cast jewelry is my bread and
butter, but I often feel that it’s somehow less worthy to be
included among my fabricated pieces at an upscale show.

Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts!

Jessee Smith

I have a story with a different twist. I was recently commissioned
to make a piece of jewelry to enter in the AGTA Spectrum event. I
knew going in that only the designer would be mentioned. As it
turned out the piece did win first place in one of the categories.
The complaint I have is that this in no way celebrates all the
aspects of the industry, What of those who supplied the stones,
metals, or whoever may have had a hand in it. Quite a few of my
friends who are in the jewelry industry have asked why I would
bother making something that would bring no recognition for myself.
It was the money (just kidding). I made it for my own satisfaction
as well as the challenge. We (the actual craftspeople) rarely get
the accolades we think we may deserve. The same individual wanted me
to make some more pieces for this years event. Problem is there is
not enough time left so I refused it this round. I may have been
,shall we say, more willing if the industry celebrated all of us.


I've always resented having "casted work" next to my hand made
(fabricated  from sheet and wire) [& tube] 

amen! i have met people who make a living simply carving wax designs
for ‘jewelry artists’ to bury & then pour melted metal into a hole.
i had casting equipment that served me very well - but only as a
doorstop - until storm gabrielle drowned the virgin unit in
saltwater in the garage two days after 9/11 & it went to recycle

here is where i ‘trip the light fantastic’ on multiple toes:
casting, as i see it, serves as a ‘safe & easy’ way to marry various
components of a design without having to know how to do it with
flux, flair, solder, style and - passion. i can’t see myself
describing to a customer at a show how the piece she likes came to
be, “there i was sweating at the mailbox waiting for the wax
carvings to show up. i spent hours deciding how many copies to cast.
then i held my breath while the metal temperature got higher &
higher until …” instead of “wow, when i saw this piece of opal
rough deep in the bucket at the miner’s table it was already
promising to be a super design. i couldn’t wait to get it to a wheel
& start coaxing the best fire …”

it ranks with sticking anything from a strawberry to a dead insect
into a tank with diodes, anodes, 6-toed toads, and a sliver of metal
to coat the object, which is then used to make a ‘jewelry design’.

to put it into current olympics’ vernacular: it’s like some athletes
bringing catapults onto the field, loading in their discus,
javelins, puts, or hammers & hitting the ‘on’ switch; their end
results are the same as those of the people who worked hard to
learn, practice & perfect their specialty, but to me they would lack
honesty, how-to & heart.

ive people,
life is supposed to be ‘stimulating’ not ‘simulating’ - are you using your ‘T’?

This is a point I want to bring up as well. Most of my handmade
jewelry, being filigree, is pretty high end. About 12 years ago, I
had access to casting equipment and cast a number of my designs.
These I could sell cheaper to the general public. Until I get casting
equipment again, I would plan for myself to make a few pieces and
have them mass cast for sale at shows and wholesale, but also present
my more expensive pieces. I cannot necessarily rely on my handwork to
make my income at shows, at least not at the shows I’ve been to here
in Norway. People here rarely want to spend more than $15-30 at
street markets, christmas markets etc on a single item. I cannot make
my filigree work for that market, so I’ve had to make lower end
pieces to be my ‘bread and butter’ while showing and occationally
selling one of my handmade filigree pieces. I’m hoping the market in
the USA will be better for me for my filigree work, but I don’t see
that it would be wrong for me to have some of my designs mass
produced and sold ALONG with my handcrafted work at shows. Again, I
suppose it’s the issue of prints vs. original art. But if I cannot
make a living off my designs/work, my work won’t get made at all! Of
course, it is also important to inform the buyer that the pieces they
are buying for $25 are cast while the pieces for $100 are not. I
cannot represent cast, mass produced versions of my work as equal to
my handcrafts.

I do, however, agree that the people who do pure, non-creative,
assembly or resale at crafts shows should not be allowed to do so.
When I was in a crafts co-op in Southern Maryland many years
ago…they allowed 2 of each discipline to join. Where jewelry was
concerned, it was me with handcrafted filigree and a family who
bought cast pieces and glued paua shell pieces in them. Guess who
sold better? Not me! Plenty of oos and ahs, but when it came time to
part with money in one’s pocket, even at lower than I should have had
prices, the junk won.

This whole subject is a grey zone…and must, unfortunately, be
evaluated on a case by case basis.


Noel and all Orchidians,

this whole situations is very tricky because of the education
situation here in the US. There is no such thing as a regulated
system, everybody can call himself/herself an artist, a designer or
a craftsperson. In Germany for example you have to have a University
degree (MA of MFA) to be an Artist, which is the highest possible
degree, you also can be a Master Goldsmith (3-4 years of
apprenticeship + master school) or you can be a Goldsmith (3-4 years
apprenticeship). That’s it. Everything you finish will give you a
certification which you show with every application - no cheating
and pretending-to-be. This whole system makes it so much easier and
situations like Noel described will not happen - she would not be
able to attend a show.

Edith Schneider Jewelry
P.O.Box 52001
Palo Alto, CA 94303
(650) 813 9755

   Casting is nothing more than reproduction work... and oh, I
hate to say this, "similar to PRINTS" There is only ONE original...
the rest are copies! 

How about limited editions? What if you have one casting made of an
original wax and don’t repeat it? Into what category would that


    here is where i 'trip the light fantastic' on multiple toes:
casting, as i see it, serves as a 'safe & easy' way to marry
various components of a design without having to know how to do it
with flux, flair, solder, style and - passion. 

'fraid I have to chime in again here. I am well versed and competent
at soldering and most other aspects of jewelry-making. In fact I can
pierce just about anything at any size and complexity. I work with
torches for metals as well as torches for glass. I use a kiln for
enamelling and ceramic elements. I do not consider myself to be even
close skillwise to the likes of someone like Alan Revere but I have
the skills you speak of - and I also have the PASSION.

How presumptuous you are to assume that because someone has the
desire to cast something that this is not "art/studio/etc. jewelry"
or passionate/stylish for that matter. Casting is not the sole source
of my work and maybe for some it is, but consider what the individual
person is that is using the castings is using them for. And how they
are using them for that matter.


Hi all,

I have been reading his subject for a while now. And I must say that
I don’t agree totally with most off you. I in the first place call
myself a jeweldesigner. And I’m well proud off that!! And next to
that I’m also a silver-goldsmith. I studied first 5 years to be a
designer. I took a kinds off designclasses going from composition
over 3D small object and basic architecture. Quit a hard study and
long late nights to get your stuff done. And most often the design
wouldn’t be good enough for the teacher, so you could start all over
again. A good designer is also an artist and god knows he has to
work very hard for this. When your a goldsmith it doesn’t mean
automaticly that you are also a good designer.

Take for example a famous architect, like Richard Rogers or Frank L.
Wright, they design the building and sometimes the furniture too.
But have you ever heard them actually build a house? No! And are the
workers who build the house as famous as the archtect? No! As a
craftsman who do somebodies design you know in advance that the
designer will get the glory. If you can’t deal with that you should
have become a designer yourself. But luckely most of the
jeweldesigners are goldsmiths themself like me. I can’t stand people
messing in with my work. I’m kind off selfish I think on this
subject. So that’s why I took on the study off goldsmith (4 years
fulltime) and became a certified master Goldsmith. I know what it
takes to actually make jewels. I do all off my works from scratch
(the idea) till the actual finished piece. Ok, I might cheat a bit
(by sending my wax to a company who can cast), but that is most
often because I can’t afford the expensive machinery yet.

But remind that a jeweldesigner is not always a goldsmith and that a
goldsmith isn’t always a jeweldesigner.

I’m sorry if I’m sounding a bit harsh, but I just have to get this
off me. I like being a designer. And I didn’t like all the negative
words about it. I mean no offence to any of you who think otherwise.

Kristel Verhaert
Peter Benoitstraat 21 bus 5
3500 Hasselt

IVE, I must address this thread. You are talking to someone who
labors long and hard, carving wax not to sell but to cast for myself,
every sweaty inch of the way. I have arthritic hands that mostly
hurt, but still the wax calls to me to be sculpted and carved. It is
a passion! I can solder, form, fabricate too, but it hurts even more
and doesn’t feed my soul. You have seen what I create. I can bring
out an image of someone’s dear pet dog, that includes it’s
personality, or a sleeping fox that shows the hairs between the pads
of it’s feet, and it gives me Joy to do it. Now I’ve been bringing
the portrait of John Burgess out of a three-inch slice of hard
carving wax, a little at a time, with assorted problems like finding
voids in the wax too late to discard the whole thing and start over.
His wife says “She’s got 'im!” I know I have! It looks like he might
turn and speak any day now. I will not be able to do the casting
myself, this time, though. It’s too large and will be done in bronze.
It will have to go to the foundry. Where is there the bigot who says
I am not the artist, or because I have chosen, or perhaps more
correctly been chosen, to specialize in this form of self-expression
and art, not worthy because I’m not fabricating ? There is a major
disconnect out there.

The term castings could just as well be stampings, the way components
are used to build a piece. The gathering and soldering together of
assorted parts may still be a creation, might it not? I do not do
that, of course, and pay scant attention to those who do - it doesn’t
interest me. But there is something wrong with this discussion, which
crops up too frequently. There is a misunderstanding of the process
and it’s application perhaps? Not every creative person can excel at
every form of metalsmithing, beading, casting, designing, etc. Many
choose, for whatever reason, to specialize at what they love or what
they do best. That fact should not diminish any one artisan. There
should not be prejudice in this area any more than there should be
among race, creed or color - yet there is. Perhaps we need a new term
or category for those who assemble components in artistic ways, that
will not demean those who create their designs in wax. An artist can
as well sculpt in wax as in clay or stone, after all. There should
not be these misunderstandings put out before beginners who may not
understand all the terminology yet, nor the processes. Casting is a

Sure there are the lazy, the not ethical, the downright dishonest
among us. I’ve met cheats on this list, oh horror of horrors, and
then there are the ignorant. Are we a community attempting to share
give support, do what we can to improve the lot of
jewelry makers everywhere, and most of all Educate? I Thought So ! We
find, too, the ego simply out there to show off, pose, or feel
superior. Is there any thought to the future reader of these
archives, who will marvel at the dissension and discord, the errors
and argument, the downright meaness (rarely)? Perhaps before
clicking that Send button, we’d all do well to sleep on it, proof it,
double check our postings? Think about that. We all rush, send typos,
etc. and do the best we can as a rule, but do think about posterity
as often as you can. Me too. And, let me contribute here the
that Cast or Casting(s) are correct terms. There is no
such word as Casted.

Live, Love, Create.

Very well put, the casting process is a very powerful resource. With
some imagination you are able to create designs and patterns that
can not be achieved in any other fashion. Yes more commonly used for
large runs on mass produced pieces, casting also has quite a bit to
offer to the “open minded” jeweler. I grow increasingly tired of
this purist mindset.

Hello Orchidians,

Jessee’s question: Is it improper to feature cast jewelry at an
art/craft show if your casting is done by a third party?

Perhaps “feature” is the key word. I incorporate such castings by
soldering additional material around them or to them. Sometimes the
casting is used as a base for a bezel. Like Jessee I don’t have
casting equipment, and send a metal master (my original constructed
work) to my caster (hi Daniel) for making waxes and castings.

It’s important to be honest about the castings. I can’t say anyone
has been put off by their use. Using my castings provides a
significant time savings that translates into more attractive prices.
Besides, it’s fun to find different ways to incorporate the castings
into all kinds of jewelry… sort of like using “found” objects.

Just my US$.02, Judy in Kansas, where the tornado sirens went off
twice last night! No damage and a welcome 3.5 inches rainfall.

     Someone told me I needed 300 pieces to enter a show...any
idea if this is accurate. 

I just went through this for my first show. After figuring my
expenses as close to the last dime as I could (including travel,
food, booth supplies, etc), I created a simple spreadsheet with my
inventory listed one column with each type of item’s price, then
three sell-through columns: minimum, moderate, maximum; and finally
Gross and Net figures. I plugged in numbers for what I reasonably
could guess would be sales numbers of each item, then looked at the
totals and made decisions about which prices could be bumped up or
needed to go down, or if I needed additional inventory.

It calmed me down, made me feel more or less in control, and set me
up pretty well for the show.

As it turned out the first 2 days I did pretty well but not great
(in the “minimum to moderate” columns). But on the third day a freak
microburst totally wrecked my booth and I lost all sales so it was a
wash. I made my expenses excluding repairs.

What I would have done differently: spot marketing before the show
(small ads in local weekly or daily or art flyer to introduce my work
to the market); sent out press releases of my own to target market
publications’ editorial depts; and paid more for a better location.


    I've always resented having "casted work" next to my hand made
(fabricated  from sheet and wire) [& tube] 

Well I have to jump in on this one, some of you are lumping all
casting into the reproduction bucket. There are many artist out there
who do one of a kind wax work and cast it themselves. I have many
pieces that have cast elements and hand made elements in them.
Cutting wax can be just as inspiring and stimulating as working with
metal. I do have a few items that I have molds for and I make many
pieces of them, but I do not see any difference between that and the
fabricator that makes 100 pieces of the same style on an assembly
line type operation. Where is the stimulation bending the same length
of wire on a jig and hammering the same piece of wire in the same
place and then soldering the same piece of wire to the same piece of
plate and setting the same type of stone 100 times. Just because its
handmade doesn’t mean its a great piece of art. By the way there are
many designers out there who have someone else fabricate their
designs for them so don’t go assuming just because its fabricated
that they did it. Why don’t we insist that all the great bronze works
by the old masters be taken out of the museums since they were cast.

Bill Wismar

My , My such casting bashing going on in this thread. I was raised
as a fabricator in a fabricator family and casting was cheating.
Until I tried it. Lets see, the history of casting is just as
interesting and valid as that of fabricating, maybe even older.

Production (rubber molds) casting which came into being a short time
ago in metalsmithing terms, is a way to hit a price point in my
opinion and while that is absolutely crass busines college talk I
would not be able to pursue my art work with out it as a professional
artist. If the craft shows are supposed to be “pure” art work, that
is one of a kind or variations of a theme, and they are letting in
production work then it is the fault of the shows.

I was not under the impression that art work was stuck in such
puritanical ideology as to not include any methods of achieving
finished work. I do agree that production work is a far cry from one
of pieces, the designing is different to get good castings but, also
I believe that much of the production work is actually fabricated in
such johnny come lately ( to the metalsmithing art world) as India,
Thailand and China, oops, maybe they aren’t so johnny after all?

Sam (attempting to be inclusive due most likely to age) Patania,
Tucson @Sam_Patania

It seems to me that most, if not all shows result in a heck of a lot
of people arguing about whether or not the winners or even the
participants are worthy of even entering the show unless said
participant creates only with the methods of the complainant’s
personal preference. One camp is opposed to casting, another is
opposed to using findings. One is opposed to PMC, another detests
using gemstones they haven’t cut themselves. The differences of
opinion are almost as varied as the resulting jewelry.

Somebody posted a list of things to do, not do, worry about, and not
worry about here on Orchid. I wish I could remember the thread but,
alas! my memory has gone the way of my waistline. Anyway, one of the
items on the list went something like: “Don’t enter shows or
contests, they just aren’t good for you.” Now I see what that poster
meant by it. So many people are adversarial about what their views
are on juried shows and, while it is only my opinion, I think it
only causes bad feelings about the jewelry industry, both within,
and without. Nope, they just aren’t good for you.

Every Sunday, I meet for breakfast with friends at a local “greasy
spoon” deli and grill. We call it “Deli Church.” The tradition at
Deli Church is that we bring something we’ve made or are in the
process of making to discuss and share. More often than not, we’ll
bring stones we’re cutting, or have cut (usually opal, we’re all
incorrigible opalholics) and the setting for the stone(s). The tone
is never adversarial or even competitive. It isn’t that it’s not
allowed, only that nobody would ever think that there is one correct
way to arrive at your vision. A typical comment could be: “Oh wow,
you cast that piece? I would have forged it, using this-or-that
hammer on my whatever anvil and chased the design with such-and-such
a punch, but check out the piece I cast for this baby. I’ll be
soldering a bezel here, and then I’ll…”

I’m not sharing this part of my life with the world to say I’m
better than it, or in some way above it, but I am saying that we
should at least respect each other’s methods without condemning them
as useless or somehow less artistic, genuine or valid. Not everybody
molds their waxes or designs for commercial reproduction. Sure, I
cast. I also cut my own stones (but not all of the ones I use in my
designs, some I bought) and forge, roll sheet and wire (that I’ve
cast into an ingot first) and, with flux aplenty, torch it all into
something I like. If somebody else likes it enough to shell out
their hard-earned cash for it, that’s far more validation than some
jury’s opinion.

As far as this thread, isn’t it up to the show’s authorities to
determine whether a designer who had nothing to do with actually
making the piece is allowed to enter? If she is allowed, and it
bothers you so much…well, that’s just not good for you. Expect
something else to stick in your craw at each and every show you
enter. That is, unless you win. Then it’ll be somebody else’s turn
to complain.

James in SoFl who is hoping to make it up to see Don at the Boca
Museum of Art on Saturday

Hi Judy,

You have stumbled into another corner of the ART vs CRAFT war. The
modern CRAFT movement basically took a lot of its identity from the
Arts and Crafts movement and the writings of William Morris and
others of that period. From this modern Craft has developed a very
strong emphasis on the designer and maker being the same person
whereas in the ART camp it is the CONCEPT that is all important and
the execution is secondary at best. So you will find that most
people that identify themselves as Crafts people feel strongly that
exhibitors at craft shows should be both designers and makers of the
work that they show and folks that identify as Artists are less
concerned about this distinction.

Like all generalizations this one is overly broad but I think it is
basically correct.

Jim Binnion

James Binnion Metal Arts
Phone (360) 756-6550
Toll Free (877) 408 7287
Fax (360) 756-2160

Member of the Better Business Bureau

ACC does not allow any manufactured findings.  Is this true? 

sally - can’t tell if it’s true or not but i always remember what the
Lapidary Journal quoted a top judge as saying, “whenever i see a
piece with a commercial clasp on it i just pass over it…”


I cannot support the suggestion that we would be better off if “you
have to have a University degree (MA of MFA) to be an Artist”. I am
an artist, have been all my life, and no one else can say I’m not,
any more than they can say I’m not a woman. I can’t stand the idea
that the pursuit of art should be limited to those who can afford to
get a degree! This is not the solution to the problems we encounter.

I’m gratified to hear that others on the list share my concerns
about the designer who does not actually make her jewelry. The
consensus seems to be something between “off with her head” and
"well, it’s OK if the designs are really good" (like the sculptors
mentioned). The woman who sparked the thread is, remember, a student
of mine, and a nice person. I don’t think it occurs to her that she
is doing anything controversial, but I will try to get a chance to
talk to her further about just how she works and who actually does
the construction. Her stuff appears nice enough, though I have only
seen the pieces she routinely wears. This is not a simple or
clear-cut issue. The eyewear that Deb Stoner designs (designed?) for
a fashion house was not produced by her, and no one objects. Tiffany
didn’t hand-produce his designs, nor did Cartier. Don’t know about
Lalique, but I doubt it. I very much doubt that Tom Mann hand makes
every piece he sells. No one can make that much stuff (can they?) Of
course, these people all presumably have/had the skills, so they
could have made everything… “To every complex problem there is a
simple solution… and it is always wrong.”


What is  the difference between a "designer" and an "artist"?

well, being both, and sometimes at the same time, i can only say
that it always seemed to me that designers were artists that created
product for commercial purpose, namely to resell. a designer could
be an artist, but didn’t necesserily have to create the actual first
sample as long as they could conceive and communicate a pleasing
article. unlike stylists, who mainly “shop” or scan magazines for
ideas that others copy for commercial endevour. the highest level of
artists create because they are driven to do so and often give away
much of the art that clutters their space & lives. should they
become so lucky that their work finds a market within their lives
they are still artists. (and by the way, does it make a difference
if an artist designs “inside out,” or, “outside in?” the latter is
also a designer.)

as far as the shows go, imho, the commercial ones should allow
designers, (but not, "stylists,) and certainly not resellers. a show
claiming to have “craft persons, and artists,” (shows where much of
the public come to view as if in a museum,) should be restricted to
creators, unless the art itself is of a “reproductive,” nature,
(collage, lets say, or re-working of found objects??!!) but that
should be declared- by the by-laws of the shows & the honesty of the
participants- or they risk karma kontamination.

my 2 pence
de-tech studio, also doing photoshop, but in a very low tech way.