Rant about SNAG and Clasp

I wonder if anyone else feels the way I do about these conferences.
I know I am ranting and “poor me-ing” but I got the info booklet for
Clasp today, and it upset me! (It upset me because it looks so
appealing and I can’t go!)

I would LOVE to have gone to SNAG a couple of weeks ago. It would
have been great for me to meet a bunch of you folks and others and to
help market my new book by putting a face with my name. I heard
about some of the talks and seminars and wish I could have been there
to learn some things! I would also LOVE to go to Clasp. (My teaching
schedule DOES conflict with the dates but i might be able to TRY to
work it in…). The Clasp conference looks so inviting!

however, i cannot afford to go to either one! With the registration
fee, hotel, food, and transportation, I just simply do not have the

I have just spent $1000 on getting a new credit card terminal and
printer. I have thousands of dollars out in booth fees for craft
fairs. I must save money in order to buy more materials so i can
make more jewelry to put out on consignment and to make for the craft
fairs I have paid for. (I do not buy materials on credit.) I must
pay for my studio rent and utilities. I own my own small 900 square
foot home and live by myself and must cover all those bills alone. I
drive an older Honda that gets great gas mileage, but I mostly walk
to work! I do not spend a bunch of money on useless items like
starbucks coffee or expensive clothing. I shop at the discount
grocery, for god’s sake! I DO save money to take an overseas trip
every other year, but I go to Asia where it is less expensive, not to

I feel I am fairly successful in my business. I have written 3 books
on how to make jewelry/metal work, I sell my work at several
reputable galleries, I get accepted into fairly good craft fairs,
and I teach at really great craft schools. I would like to be able to
network and learn more about the world I operate in. I would like to
learn more about what other people are doing and making in this
industry. I would like to learn how to be a better business person.
I feel these conferences are designed for people like me, and yet I
can’t even afford to go.

So…am I wrong in thinking that these conferences are designed for
people like me? Or are they designed for even more successful
“business people” instead of craft artists?

I guess I am doing something wrong, but I am not sure what it is.
It’s frustrating.

I’m curious what other people think!


I would like to learn how to be a better business person. I feel
these conferences are designed for people like me, and yet I can't
even afford to go.

Looks to me (from the outside) like an issue of priorities. Raise
your prices, work more, skip a trip to Asia next time…perhaps you
could attend two or three of your favorite conferences for the price
of a trip overseas. Maybe the gleaned from the
conferences will help you to make more money; so that you can in the
coming years take the Asian trips, and continue to attend the

Matthew Crawford

Many states have grant programs where you can apply for all or part
of the expenses related to going to a conference. The application can
be quite easy.

I would say that yes, SNAG is for you. The actual registration fee is
quite cheap for SNAG, it’s just the hotel and travel that add up.

SNAG will be getting closer and closer to you over the next few
years and you should be able to drive, and some years it will be in
areas not so expensive as Chicago.

Clasp, I agree, looks good, but is pricier than SNAG.


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

Hi Joanna:

I’d like to preface by saying that I visited your website the other
day and it looks great. Very well done photos and original work. I
would have written before. but I didn’t want to be a sycophant and I
didn’t know you needed any kind of pep talk.

This is a shock to me because I thought you must be doing great. i
like your work and (as I said when i got the book) I loved your book.

Well, on going to Clasp. I’m no expert, but this affair is a new one
and(as such) probably is in need of teachers. it’s just a guess, but
seeing as how they don’t have their full line-up of teaching
offerings out yet…I am wondering if it might still be up in the
air. Possibly they are in need of instructors. It’s worth a shot and
the worst that could happen is they say no thanks. I for one would
happily pay to take a class with you. Why don’t you get your resume
together and call them? Then they will pay you to go to Clasp…or at
least part of it, right?

On selling, again I am no expert. If you have had a few accounts for
a while and they are successful, could you negotiate for the
galleries to buy your work outright? If I am correct, the gallery
usually gets a discount for paying up front. This could be a good
incentive for some of your accounts to make the switch.

Other outlets for selling your work…have you heard of guild.com?
It’s a website with good networking and catalog selling
opportunities. It could give you more exposure. You have to have
multiples so it’s really not the venue for selling one-of-a-kind
work, but I can tell you that the catalog is beautiful and I think
your work is a good fit for it. If I understand it right, you make
the sale and then you send the work. The Guild gets a cut (of course)
but the important thing is that you make the sale first and then you
send the work. less risk right? Does anyone else have any experience
with the Guild?

good luck Joanna

Does anyone else have any experience with the Guild? 

I’m represented by Guild.com. They operate as a 50/50 gallery
regarding fees, and allow you to set your own shipment dates. They
want you to have a number of your production pieces on hand for
immediate shipment (within 2 weeks), but I typically just make the
pieces as they are ordered. And they do allow you to show/sell
one-of-a-kind items. I think they jury 3-4 times a year. They’re
prompt in getting you a check (30 days), and are available on the
phone any time. A great place to be, as it costs nothing until you
sell a piece.

Matthew Crawford


I feel your pain! For years as a goldsmith and designer the demands
of production and financial constraints of running ones own business
kept me from gaining many educational and business related
opportunities, presented at conferences, I could not (time wise or
price wise) afford to attend.

Not to rub it in, but SNAG in Chicago was wonderful from a social
aspect. Over 900 attendees, the most there has been at a conference
in many years and only the 3rd SNAG conference I have been lucky
enough to attend during my career. I was able to attend because it
was only a 2 hour drive away. The pre- conference Professional
Development Seminar was by far the most impressive and helpful group
of speakers to present! Kudos to Berman, Cooperman and Friedlich for
putting it together!

I hope to attend Clasp, but in trade-off I have not traveled
overseas in 10 years, nor have I had a vacation in 10 years, unless
you count maternity leave. I will not get a vacation this year, and
unfortunately, this means my 9 year old son will again be denied his
long sought after trip to Disneyland. These are all hard choices to
make. Like so many things in life we have to choose one or the other
based on the greatest immediate need and make those choices work for
us. Frustration and guilt walk hand-in-hand with a life devoted to
the Arts.

These conferences are designed to help the craft artisan / business
person. You are not doing anything wrong. You are just taking care of
your business first. That is what will make it happen for you in the
long run.

Nanz Aalund
Associate Editor / Art Jewelry magazine
21027 Crossroads Circle / Waukesha WI 53187-1612
262.796.8776 ext.228


The registration price of SNAG is about 1/3 that of CLASP. I’m not
sure how the hotel and fight costs compare, but I imagine that they
are similar. I think that each conference offers something different,
with CLASP representing the more conservative or, perhaps, trade
oriented side of the coin and SNAG the more academic. But you know
all this already, I’m sure, and it has been rehashed to death on this

I wonder if you could find a way to attend CLASP or SNAG with a
vendor. I have friends who have attended SNAG regularly as booth
helpers. They miss many presentations but meet lots of people and
still get to network. Another thought is to approach the Lark folks
or whoever is selling your book and look at the possibility of having
a book signing. This gets the book out, gets your face out and may
help to defray costs if the promoter chips in.

It is expensive to attend SNAG, but the bulk of those costs are
hotel, flight, meals and tools. If you can drive, or stay with a
friend or even a cheaper hotel, some costs can be mitigated. Avoid
going out to group dinners which can add up. Don’t buy tools–yeah,
right! Don’t pony up the dollars for the banquet. Perhaps you can
look into the possibility of teaching a pre or post conference
workshop which would help defray costs. (What workshops are offered
is usually the concern of the local hosting group…)

Next year, I have heard, that there will be camping available in
Memphis for SNAG. You may want to check that out and see if it’s,
indeed, true.

Hope to see you there.
Take care, Andy Cooperman


First let me say that I looked at your website and your work is
really quite fabulous.

Second, let me say that I agree with you completely about SNAG and
Clasp. I do go to the SNAG meetings–and see friends and colleagues
that I have met thru SNAG. But the cost of SNAG pales beside CLasp. I
would really love to go to Clasp–it seems to be for people like
us–studio artists, etc. But the cost is prohibitive–even without
room and board. Don’t know how this will be resolved–maybe there
will be some adjustment after the first “convergence” in September. I
think there was a short thread about this subject a couple of months
ago–maybe the powers that be (re Clasp) can respond and let us know
why the cost is so high.

(Looking forward to seeing your books and was happy to see Suzanne
Pugh on your links page!!)

I’m going to guess that the reason CLASP is so expensive ($700) is
due, in part, to the advertising costs. I’m finding full color slicks
in nearly every publication I receive along with mailings from
various sponsors. CLASP’s list of speakers seems to be extensive too.

I’m surprised that this kind of conference could not combined with
SNAG - the goals seem similar to me and I will assume that attendees
will be similar too. And SNAG is one of the sponsors.

Hello Orchidland,

I’ve attended many conferences all over the US and have found that
they are invariably held at pricey hotels. (In my day job, I
routinely make arrangements for lodging and meals for remote
classes.) There are several considerations for the organizer -
accessibility for travelers, adequate meeting space, availability of
meals on site, ambiance (classy place) for the attendees, etc. It’s a
conundrum. Very difficult to meet all those considerations and still
keep the price low.

However, let me share about the most reasonably priced conference
I’ve attended. It was in Breckenridge, CO… during the off, off
season. That means week days in September, between summer tourists
and winter skiiers. The rooms were great, the place was practically
empty except for our group, meals were quite nice, and my little
suite (with hot tub and kitchenette) was $79/night!! The only downer
was accessibility for those traveling in by air. They had to rent a
car and drive a ways into the mountains from the airport.

Undoubtedly there are other such summer/ski resorts that offer
exceptional rates for those times between their high seasons. Just a
thought for national conference organizers, whoever they may be.

Judy in Kansas

maybe the powers that be (re Clasp) can respond and let us know
why the cost is so high. 

I hope they do-- I would also like to know.

But I was just remembering what a friend said to me at SNAG. She is
in marketing, and attends conferences frequently. She was amazed
that such a major conference could be offered for so little cost!
Apparently, marketing conferences cost much more. I pointed out to
her that nobody pays their own way to a marketing conference.

So maybe Clasp is aimed at people who would not be paying their own
way! It may be an acceptable expense to even a relatively small
company, and it does seem to have a more business and technical

I, too, would love to go, but it is totally out of the question.


Hi Joanna,

I assume Lark isn’t sending you to these conferences because they
have a tight marketing budget, or because they believe the audience
for your book won’t be there. I suggest that you put together a
written argument about why sending you would be a good investment.
Couldn’t hurt. (As a former book publicist, I’d be happy to
correspond with you about this–email me off list, if you wish.)

I will probably not go to SNAG again until it comes back to
California. I suspect that a lot of the academics who do go have
departmental budgets backing them up. However, I did go to part of
SNAG/SF, for free. The most wondrous Dana Singer gave me a
scholarship. Obviously, if she gives one to every Orchidian who can’t
afford the conference, SNAG will go broke (on the other hand, they
could have picked a less elegant hotel as their venue, which would
have lowered the price). But I may be the pushiest person on
Orchid–I was, after all, a publicist–so, if I’m broke when it
comes around again, I will try for another scholarship, and I suggest
that you try, too.

As for the banquet, I wandered around the halls and powder rooms,
asking if anyone had an extra ticket. I was very gratified, but not
surprised, to find that someone did. Maybe I lead a charmed life, or
maybe I just have excellent scavenger instincts, but such events are
surprisingly common in my life.

On the other hand… People get really creative about housing, etc.,
when it comes to Tucson. Is that because Tucson is easier, and SNAG
picks cities where housing is difficult? Did the SNAG Orchid Dinner
fall short because not enough Orchidians care about going to SNAG, or
because too many who care can’t afford it? If the latter is true,
then maybe we can get creative about SNAG, too. And the time to begin
is now, not in 10 months, so thank you for starting this thread.

As for Clasp, I really do wish somebody who was involved with the
organizing process, and with setting the prices, would post a little
explanation. This isn’t the first time someone has posted about how
they couldn’t possibly afford to go.

Lisa Orlando
Albion, CA, US

The Clasp conference will have no vendors, no tools, supplies or
books. I talked to the Rio folks at the SNAG conference, they told me
the Clasp conference and the Symposium that prefaces it will have
only presentations and no goods to buy. That can save some money, at
least for me.

Susan Thornton

Having signed one of my staff up for CLASP, I wasn’t surprised at the
cost (that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like it lower!) Conferences that
don’t have a lot of sponsorship, and have well known speakers are
usually very expensive, such as those put on by management groups and
software companies. I agree that meals should be included, perhaps,
but I’m hoping to get a lot of bang for the buck. One would think
that with Rio Grande putting this on, it would be more reasonably
priced. Of course, they also don’t say what the maximum attendance is
going to be. Fewer people, higher prices per person.

Jackie Truty
Art Clay World, USA, Inc.

Clasp conference and the Symposium that prefaces it will have only
presentations and no goods to buy. That can save some money, at
least for me. 

I can’t help but see this a little differently… it means that I
would spend just as much, but come home without the big bag of
stones and tools I got at SNAG.


I have been reading with interest the discussion about Clasp vs.
SNAG. I think each have their own merits. Honestly, I don’t need any
more stones, hammers, or tools. I have plenty. What I need is a
creative shot in the arm to put all those tools, stones, pearls and
widgets to work. There is no doubt that the registration cost is a
stretch for me. You see that price tag out there and go “whoa.” When
I finally started to think about how much I spend at SNAG on top of
the registration fee in tools and stones, the average is about $500.
So for once I go home with a few less stones piling in my box.

You would think that because the school at Metalwerx is right down
the hall, that I would have time to take advantage of all those great
workshops. The fact is, in order to keep Metalwerx running, I am in
front of my computer and sit with a phone in hand my all day long,
and by the time the weekend rolls around, I like to go home and see
the nice man I married 26 years ago.

What Clasp means for me is a kind of retreat. No vendors, no big
events, just time just for myself and to meet other metalsmiths and
jewelers. When this is over, I am hoping to reconnect my hands with
my heart, and meet a whole new group of people who share my passion.


Karen Christians
50 Guinan St.
Waltham, MA 02451
Ph. 781/891-3854 Fax 3857
Jewelry/Metalarts School & Cooperative Studio


thank you for your input regarding Clasp. I too have no need for
additional tools and money spent, I need to apply myself. So the idea
of a conference for the enjoyments sounds relaxing.

Jennifer Friedman
Ventura, CA