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Perceived Honesty


#1

My wife and I have a problem.

We vend at shows, from Art Festivals to Farmer’s Markets, and we
want people to know what we do.

Both of us create ALL of our components from raw material. My wife
creates All of our beads and does all of our wire work, from
chains and clasps to ear wire. I do All of our gemstone cutting and
all of our metal smithing.

Neither of us are accredited or affiliated with anything in the
jewelry industry, except that I am a member of this community.

Our problem seems to be that often people seem to not believe us
when we tell them that we make everything. After all, who the heck
has time for that? And why would a couple so talented ever exist and
work at little street fairs? So, any ideas on how we might find more
believability? We even have pictures in our booth of us working in
our shop. We definitely notice a “disconnect” when we tell people
what we do. We would stop telling them and let the work speak for
itself, but many actually do “come around” when informed of our
personal involvement.

We’ve been working on this for 14 years, and are purplexed.

Any ideas?

TL Goodwin
Lapidary/Metalsmith
http://thepacifikimage.com


#2

Todd- Get used to it. After almost 40 years of making jewelry and
trying to explain just what it is that I do, people’s eyes still
glaze over when I explain that,“Yes I really make this stuff from the
raw 24k shot, alloy it, pour an ingot, roll out the metal, make wire,
and fabricate from there.”

Folks just thought that I was buying the stuff already made and
reselling it. They just couldn’t make the connect, especially since
my stuff was often very high end and well finished. They see slick
and think machine made.

It’s part of the 20-21st century lifestyle. Most every one buys
stuff already made, and the vast majority of people in the “first
world” have no concept what so ever of actually making stuff. They
just assume that robots,

computers and machines do all of the work.

Just look on Craig’s List under "Jobs- Art, Media and, Design. It’s
all about computer skills. Not actually using a pencil and brush.

Many, many people today have no idea where even food comes from.

It’s easier to get folks over the age of 70 to believe me because
they grew up in a world where many women made there own clothes and
grew and preserved their own food. The men often worked in industrial
settings and made stuff like furniture and cars.

Thank goodness for the new “Make”, (makezine.com), movement. Young
folks are once again starting to take the time honored ways of
crafting things by hand.

Who knows, maybe the next generation of 20-30 somethings will get
us?

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer
www.timpthywgreen.com


#3
Our problem seems to be that often people seem to not believe us
when we tell them that we make everything. So, any ideas on how we
might find more believability? 

The people who say this are thoughtless and,unfortunately, they turn
up at all the shows. They also say things like “my daughter could
make this - she’s in a high school art class”. You might hear less of
it at the bigger regional juried art festivals, but you are still
going to hear it. Just smile and try to ignore them best you can. It
sounds like you are already doing all you can to educate the public,
short of actually demonstrating one or both of your skills.

As to belonging to organizations and accrediation, these might help
if you want to teach, or if you have a retail store, but it probably
won’t help much at fairs. You are part of the community of artisans
that is milliniums old, even if the public doesn’t “get it”.

Ray Gabriel
raygabriel.com


#4

Hello TL, Have you considered setting up a small bench to take to
shows and set up in your booth. Even without a torch, you could at
least do some wirework and look busy. People seem to be attracted to
a booth with activity more than a place that looks deserted. It would
show that you guys actually do the work yourselves.

Good luck. Tom Arnold


#5

Todd, I wouldn’t worry about it. Like you, I do everything myself,
and I mean everything except the lapidary work. However, I have found
that the public really doesn’t seem to care. The only ones who are
interested are other jewelers, who are curious about some technique I
have used. I always take time to explain it in detail to them.

However, the buying public buys something because the finished
product appeals to them. I have yet to find any who are interested in
how it was made, or the fact that I made it entirely myself.

I once went to great pains to assemble a little display showing all
the steps involved in making my cloisonne enamel jewelry–the fine
silver base, the initial clear enamel over it, the wires in place,
the first layers of enamel, etc. Etc. Etc… Very very few were at all
interested in it. I finally stopped lugging it around to shows.

There will always be “artists,” at shows who use components, and
things made from kits or “how to instructions,” found in all the
jewelry magazines. Sadly, the buying public does not seem to be aware
of this.

However, what really pleases me is that I get a lot of comments on
my clasps, which are intricately made, set with stones, and easy to
open and close—not your run-of-the-mill twisted wire hooks.

The public is not aware that I made it myself, nor do they care.
They like the piece, so they buy it.

But, the reason they liked it and bought it is that is is different
from what others are offering.

So take enjoyment in the fact that yours is a truly original
creation, made from scratch by you and your wife., and don’t be
concerned that the public is really not interested. The fact that
they buy it shows that they do appreciate the time and work you put
into it.

Alma Rands


#6

Hi Todd,

I agree with the statement about doing some of the work at the fair
if possible, but I also understand a lot of the art fairs will not
allow flames and such in the booth… Invest in some large photos to
hang within the booth space to show the work in progress. This
should be enough…

Christine
www.christinebossler.com


#7

I have yet to find any who are interested in how it was made, or the
fact that I made it entirely myself.

I find that very interesting - I wonder if it is regional? In my
part of the country (the south), folks love that I make it myself,
want to know a bit about how, what materials, etc. The reason I sell
over the stringers/beaders around here is that I DO make it myself,
even when strung. And use gemstone beads, not glass and plastic.

Interesting how things work differently in different places.

Although it is the look of the piece that pulls them in first!

Beth Wicker
Three Cats and a Dog Design Studio
http://www.bethwicker.com


#8

Photos. A small set of photos of work in progress with each of you
doing the work and close-ups in progress. Picture says 1000 words.

Marianne


#9
the vast majority of people in the world have no concept what so
ever of actually making stuff. They just assume that robots,
computers and machines do all of the work. 

my favorite comment for my high end, very carved, wood jewelry is;
“are those made from molds or do you handmake them ?” i do not like
doing straight craft shows, i much rather do music festivals(mostly
jazz) that have crafts, that way there is music, drink, less
children, is much more relaxed/fun, later hours, dave


#10

Todd,

Our problem seems to be that often people seem to not believe us
when we tell them that we make everything. After all, who the heck
has time for that? And why would a couple so talented ever exist
and work at little street fairs? 

First, ask yourself why you need to validate your honesty from
others. If you are honest and you know you are, you don’t have to
defend yourself. Whether anyone believes you or not is something that
is not in your control. When someone doesn’t believe you, ask them
why they would say that? I find that responding to a question with a
question puts the onus on them to explain their comment. When you
know who you really are, you don’t have to answer to anyone.

Good luck,
Roxan O’Brien
www.designsbyroxan.com


#11
There will always be "artists," at shows who use components, and
things made from kits or "how to instructions," found in all the
jewelry magazines. Sadly, the buying public does not seem to be
aware of this. 

The vast majority of purchasers are buying something because it
appeals to them; not because it is a piece of “art”. Who produced it
or how it was produced are of little concern. The use of components
does not negate any artistic effort that may exist in a piece. Would
it be correct to state that a painting is not art because the painter
did not make the canvas and brushes or compound the paints from raw
materials? While there are many pieces produced from components that
are run-of-the-mill, there are also those where the finish piece
shows true inspiration and are truly art.


#12
They just assume that robots, computers and machines do all of the
work. Just look on Craig's List under "Jobs- Art, Media and,
Design. It's all bout computer skills. Not actually using a pencil
and brush

This is why I always tout art in schools. Without it, people don’t
graspthe concept of how the art was made. And get this… here is an
example of it’s applications to real life!

Jackie
Jacqueline Bell Johnson, dba.
www.sylasstudios.com


#13
my favorite comment for my high end, very carved, wood jewelry is;
"are those made from molds or do you handmake them ?" i do not
like doing straight craft shows,, i much rather do music
festivals(mostly jazz) that have crafts,, that way there is music,
drink,,, less children,,, is much more relaxed/fun,, later hours, 

I was doing a show a few years ago that had a beer garden. One
gentleman who had obviously spent a great deal of time in the beer
garden was checking out my jewelry. He pointed to a piece set with a
crazy lace agate cab and asked how I got all those little lines in
it.

I usually avoid shows that are based around music, food, or alcohol.
Don’t get me wrong I enjoy beer, music, and eating (In that specific
order too!). But if people are coming for music, food, or alcohol
then they are more inclined to spend their money having a good time
and jewelry or art is secondary. Unless you get the inebriated big
time spenders showing off their gold cards. Plus packing up in the
dark is never fun. And if the festival goes late into the night you
might come back to your tent being broken into and people sleeping
off the previous night. Been there; done that.

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
rockymountainwonders.com


#14

Talking about my work comes fairly easily when a potential buyer is
interested in a particular item. Many are not familiar with certain
construction processes, Japanese alloys or understand why a patina
might be used. I consider it a part of my job to share and educate.
Of course I’ve always believed this added interest and value to the
work and would help make the sale. Isn’t that what we all want, to
have our work understood and appreciated enough that it sells
readily?

Then there was a recent trunk show. For nearly three hours I did
nothing but write up receipts and put piece after piece in boxes for
buyers to take home. There was no time to mingle or even once
explain that this piece was of fine silver and that one was of
shibuichi and the other had no solder in favor of cold connections to
preserve the patina and so on.

Breaking free to get a soda I heard one woman ask another, “How does
this look on me?” The other responded, “It looks great! I think you
should get it.”

And that was a new chapter in my education. Sometimes it has nothing
to do at all with what the artist/jeweler thinks things should be.

All the best,
J Collier
Metalsmith
http://jlcollier.com


#15
Breaking free to get a soda I heard one woman ask another, "How
does this look on me?" The other responded, "It looks great! I
think you should get it." And that was a new chapter in my education.
Sometimes it has nothing to do at all with what the artist/jeweler
thinks things should be. 

That’s right!

When I was a financial planner in my other life, the first thing we
were told in our training was “Don’t talk too much - your clients
don’t need to know everything you do - only what’s pertinent to
them”. And true that was.

With jewelry, I find that most people don’t really give a hang how
something is made - they are concerned with “does it look good on
me? Can I wear it with lots of things? and can I afford it?” In the
case of they generally do want to know what the stone is
so they can tell others "I saw this beautiful xxxxxxx (whatever gem
or mineral it was) and just had to have it!

Occasionally you do find that customer who really is interested in
how something was made and who prefers things totally “hand made” to
"purchased", but it’s rare.

Just my 2 cents worth.
K


#16

I want to thank you all and I hope this thread will continue for a
bit.

One of the most interesting points seems to be “Just Don’t Care
about what others think”. I’ve never really cared to define myself
though other people definitions, but I have been hurt by them anyway.
It is a great, if not apathetic, attitude.

“Let the work speak for itself” is powerful and practical. I can see
it’s only half of it. I say this because of the attractiveness of
Mass Produced and Imported Pieces. But yes, let the work speak for
itself.

Of course I wasn’t referring to all of the people who come into our
booth. Some are glad to hear of our involvement with our work. Some
would not have bought pieces from us originally had we not told them
about our work. Our work has attracted customers who are now part of
our extended family.

Other jewelry artist often are not interested in what we do. There
is a lot of jealousy and disbelief issued by these people. If not
that, then plain old Attitude. And it could very well be a regional
thing. When we go outside of our Pacific Northwest region, we always
seem to get a better response.

And we do have pictures of us in our booth that show us working.

I guess we are doing all we can. Evidently I was hoping for an easy
solution to a complex problem. I can’t think of everything. I was
hoping there was something easy that I missed.

Thank you all.

TL Goodwin
Lapidary/Metalsmith
http://thepacifikimage.com


#17

I have a booklet in my booth with pictures of my workshop, showing my
goldsmith’s bench, wax bench, casting machine, vacuum machine, kiln,
assembly bench, office desk, etc. This is there mostly for the
skeptical person who asks if I really make all this. The pictures
show a big commitment of money, space, and time that I have in
setting up and maintaining my studio. Usually the only ones who look
at the book are husbands waiting for their wives to get done in the
booth.

M’lou


#18

Everyone has different interests. When I finally get to go on a
cruise (hopefully before I need a walker), the first place I’m going
on that boat is the engine room. My guess is that there will only be
a handful of other people headed the same direction (Neil will
probably already be down there), most will be headed to the bar or
the waterslide. I have a burning desire to know how things work. My
Grandpa gave me a pocketwatch for my tenth birthday. I took it
straight down to the basement and disassembled it. Most people don’t
want to know how a watch works, they just want to know what time it
is. I couldn’t have cared less what time it was, I wanted to know
what the heck kind of tap and die set they used to thread those
little bitty screws. I’ll bet most of us on Orchid are of the same
mindset, but we are in the minority.

When I was young and first starting out in our soft sided mobile
studio (read that tent) I tried to explain to everyone that even
slowed down to look at our wares every step in everything I did,
assuming everyone had the same insatiable appetite for technical
knowledge that I did. I thought it was a great sales tool. The
blacksmith in a nearby tent pulled me aside one day and told me “They
don’t want to hear about the pregnancy, just show them the baby”, and
then explained to me that most people really don’t care how things
are built, only that they work as advertised. He told me that the
more I tried to explain what I did, the more their eyes would glaze
over and the less interest they would have in the jewelry we were
trying to sell. He was right. It wasn’t a sales tool, it was a sales
stopper.

At that point in my career, making everything by hand was an
absolute creative necessity for me. After about ten years I figured
out that making tubing and other things that are available from
supply houses was (from a strictly business perspective) somewhat of
a fool’s errand that only I cared about. It didn’t seem to matter to
anyone else and some people flat out didn’t believe that I made
everything from wax blocks, 10 gauge flat stock or 5mm square wire
that I alloyed and cast in my trusty ingot mold. They sure didn’t
want to pay extra for it, in fact many thought it should be cheaper
as there were no expensive mass produced parts or pieces. The issue
seemed to be why would you make parts instead of buying them if not
to save a little money? This included people in the trade, too. They
were the worst!

I have since decided to make things in which mass produced parts and
findings have no place. Many of the pieces I make now can only be
made entirely one-off, by hand, and I try to make it obvious in the
design and construction to even the casual observer. Now I only
explain in detail how I do things to people that ask detailed
questions, or that show more than a casual interest in the techniques
involved. They are the ones that care. They will believe you and are
the only ones that will be impressed by your efforts and truly
appreciate what you put into it. Most of them will appreciate it
enough to become repeat customers and even good friends. They are the
people that need to see the engine room or the galley before hanging
out at the pool.

Don’t worry if not everyone cares or even believes that you make
everything completely by hand. Most people just don’t give a damn. If
they think it’s pretty, it goes with their sweater and it’s fairly
priced, they’ll buy it. If they don’t, they won’t. Regardless of how
you constructed it. The truth is you probably do it more for your own
creative need than anything else (it may be fun, but it sure isn’t a
money-maker to make your own tubing, sheet and wire from grain). So
do it for you and don’t be concerned if almost everyone else seems
uninterested. You can catch up with them in the bar on the Promenade
Deck after you’ve figured out how the lifeboat davits were put
together.

Dave


#19

Sorry David, The last cruise I went on, no one was permitted anywhere
near the engine room. Guess they were concerned about security.

Alma Rands


#20
Sorry David, The last cruise I went on, no one was permitted
anywhere near the engine room. Guess they were concerned about
security. 

OH NO! Say it ain’t so, Alma! I didn’t even consider that! Bummer.

I guess Neil and I will just have to meet in the bar and drown our
sorrows in a few martinis. Seeing as they probably won’t let us get
anywhere near the steering wheel or throttle either.

Dave