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Stunning Jewelry -- Now How Was it Made?


Greetings, everyone. This artist makes stunning jewelry:

I wonder how it was made. Right now, I make products using gems,
precious metal wire and findings, and silk string. However, I have
many designs – which are quite different from this designers but
are also nature-inspired – that I would like to produce. However, I
do not have a bench and do not have the space to buy one. How would
it be possible for me to have a design of mine mass-produced? Did
this woman cast her items? Did she carve each one individually? I’d
love any guesses that people might have about how it was made. I am
not as concerned about the stones, which I know can be bought or
that a lapidarist can produce, as I am about how she produced all of
the precious metal pieces. I apologize to those who are very
experienced at metalsmithing if my inexperienced comments are not
making sense.


i would suggest contacting her. most artists are willing to tell
people about their work.



The only way I know of to mass produce something is either
die-struck, or cast. These items look cast to me, but I can’t see
the backs of them.

If you have an idea but not the means to mass produce draw it/them
up, send them to someone like or (I only mention them because they are local,
there are a ton more people who do it) and get quotes for producing
your pieces.

Another thing you can try is using PMC and seeing if that works for
you. Now that I think of it there is a possibility they were created
with PMC, although I don’t know that much about how it comes out or
how hard it would be to make the items you saw. However, I don’t
think a PMC route would allow for mass production but you could make
some samples and see what kind of reaction you get before spending
the money on mass producing pieces.

Although, if you don’t have the means to buy a bench to work how
would you fund mass production of a concept without any idea of
market or even if the ideas would sell?



It looks to me like she is casting or perhaps stamping the leaf
elements and then assembling them in various ways. The chains and the
the stone findings are soldered, mostly. It’s a common practice to
combine casting and fabrication - it’s definately not an either/or
situation. Why make a bizzillion leaves when you can pop them out of
a mold, and then assemble them in various ways? As to question #2,
it’s easy to get a piece mass produced - there are people all over who
will do that for you. First you need to do two things though: you
need to make the original, and have it optimized for production -
people who do production can help you with the details - is it too
thin or thick, and such. The other thing you don’t HAVE to do, but
you should - is the piece going to sell, and where is it to be
placed, or are you going to be stuck with 1000 white elephants?


I understand why you want to know but to tell you the truth, I am
concerned about your question and your intent. This person, Laurie
Kaiser, is an artist and I doubt she would appreciate a mass
marketing of her design or even a similar design. I would imagine
that the same feeling would be held by any designer on this board.

Inexperience with metalsmithing does not justify a shortcut to the
end product at the expense of someone who has had to apply a learned
skill to their design. My suggestion is to learn metalsmithing and
then apply your newfound knowledge to an outstanding design of your
own. (By the way, metalsmithing is offered in nearly all of the
larger metropolitan areas, including some at a relatively low cost
through community colleges, cultural art centers, etc.) I, too, am
inexperienced with metalsmithing.

Thanks for letting me speak my opinion on this matter.



I think you could get the same effect by wax carving. It looks like
these were, in fact, wax carved and then cast and molded. If you
don’t have the space to set up a studio, wax carving might be a good
bet for you. I did it for years on my coffee table in the living

I didn’t start off with the hard carving wax which is much easier to
work with using a foredom or something similar. I learned with a red
wax called Sierra red, an alcohol lamp and a wax dripper add some
dental tools and volia, you have my initial set up. I actually still
do a lot of carving in the sierra red. It takes a lot longer than
the hard carving variety, but there’s something so zen about it.

I would strongly recommend making your own original to be used.
You’d be amazed at how the wax seems to take on a life’s of it’s own
while you’re creating. Many of my pieces are happy accidents, or just
kinda come to life as I’m working on them.

Good luck,

However, I don't think a PMC route would allow for mass production
but you could make some samples and see what kind of reaction you
get before spending the money on mass producing pieces. 

You could mass produce with PMC. You would make the first piece,
fire it, then mold it and there you go. You can make as many as you
want from the mold (until the mold poops out, that is).

However, I think you could get a finer finish by wax carving unless
you’re really good with PMC. Any PMC artists want to chime in here?



Thanks for the tips. Your questions are definitely valid. In
response I would like to ask you – how do you figure out whether
one of your pieces will sell? I’d love to have responses from you
other Orchid members about how they figure out which pieces they
make might sell. You have asked a good question, Craig, and one that
I had been wondering for a long time. While many of us get into this
because we are into art, we also must eat, so I’d love to hear about
how people decide which pieces to mass produce for sale.


I understand your concern, but please re-read my original post. I
NEVER spoke about mass producing someone else designs. I just wanted
to make that very clear.

If you re-read my post, I spoke about mass producing my own designs,
which are inspired by nature. I have many drawings that I have made
an artist who woud like to move art I have created in drawing and
painting, into another. You definitely have the right to express
your own opinions, but please do not use a misreading of my post –
which was an honest question from someone who is trying to learn how
move into metalwork – to make your statement.

I would have preferred if you had made your statement independently
of my question, because your concerns, though valid, have no
relation to my question. I currently work primarily with precious
wires and beads and would like to start rendering my drawings in

- how do you figure out whether one of your pieces will sell? I'd
love to have responses from you other Orchid members about how they
figure out which pieces they make might sell.

That’s a funny question. And I do mean funny, ha ha. How do you know
that a painting you paint will sell? It’s art, it’s subjective. Who
knows? I find that the pieces I make for me sell the best. When I
try and be trendy, they bomb.

However, I do not start production until the pieces sell. Everything
is handmade in production— made to order. I make the original and
then a mold and enough castings for my samples. Then, when I take a
wholesale order for a piece it goes into production. I wouldn’t make
100 of something before taking orders for it.

Maybe if I do this long enough I’ll get a better feeling of what
will sell to the general public. I am kinda getting a grip on what my
current stores can sell, and what they’ll purchase, but it’s trial
and error.



Hi Annabel,

re your question and request: how do you figure out whether one of
your pieces will sell? I’d love to have responses from you other
Orchid members about how they figure out which pieces they make
might sell.

First some context. I try to create both large (hang-on-the-wall or
sit-on-the-desk) and small (sit-on-the-lapel,
hang-from-the-neck-or-ear) enamels. Compared with the work seen on
the net my stuff is quite naive. My background is in the natural
sciences and management science. I did a lot of statistical modeling
for my employers and was good at it. Consequently I have tried to
"model" sales of my stuff based on a number of "predictor"
variables. The results have been a big fat goose egg. The only model
I have not tried is Cox regression, and since I no longer have
access to the appropriate software I’ll just have to wonder.

My conclusion, it’s a crapshoot. Some of my pieces have sold (on
consigment) before they were set up on the shelf and others just
collected dust, and I can’t tell why. And I’ve given up trying,
deciding to make what I make because something inside drives to do
so. And whether it sells or not is up to the customer. Once that
realization struck I have had a much more peaceful mind.

Hence may I suggest that you make what you want to make and do it
was well as you can? The sales will come. Now get busy ;^)

I look forward to reading what others have to say.

(who with his wife is doing his first street market sales this Sunday)



Never be ashamed of inexperience, or let anyone else make you feel
that way!

My guess from looking at the pictures, is that she carved her design
in wax, cast the originals herself or sent them out to be cast, and
then made a mold of the finished piece for mass-production, which she
undoubtably paid someone else to do. If she sells to big chains like
Macy’s, I don’t think she could produce enough on her own. Perhaps I
am wrong. I’m not sure how selling to department stores is done, do
you sell to two or three Macy’s or is your collection expected to be
at Macy’s nationwide? Couldn’t tell you that. What I can tell you,
after four years of learning about making jewelry, selling jewelry,
etc, is that people don’t often like to talk about mass production,
and they tell you even less about finding a manufacturer etc. It’s
like some kind of weird secretive process. I started out four years
ago asking questions like you are doing, but didn’t get too many
answers. I guess established artists figure they had to figure it out
for themselves, so why should they give anyone else a shortcut? This
is only MY experience. That’s MY disclaimer. I left my small business
behind, to go to school for the very fundamentals of making jewelry
(night classes) and saved up to buy my supplies a little at a time
and teach myself. Before farming out your ideas to be produced
elsewhere, learn the process yourself. This can be done on a small
scale, especially wax carving. No money for classes? Buy a book.
Anyone can be a designer, not everyone can be an artist. In this day
and age of mass produced EVERYTHING, hand made items have the look
and feel of timelessness. They are also respectful and responsible
art. My personal opinion, (and I stress MY opinion because I know how
finicky people can be) is that this world has seen more mountains of
massed produced items then can ever be consumed and I am not talking
about jewelry per se. I weighed mass production against hand made
only, and went with hand made only, because I did not want my legacy
to be one of adding to the endless pile of “stuff” we humans leave
behind us on this earth. I believe in karma. Am I crazy? Perhaps. I
still buy mass produced things like garbage bags and household crap.
I wish I could opt out, I wish I knew how. What I have decided is not
to mass produce anything myself, not to add to it. I’ll never make a
lot of money from making jewelry. I’m okay with that. I’d rather make
something nice that everyone can afford and enjoy doing it with my
own two hands. MY decision, not neccesarily the way things should or
need to be done. Learn to make it yourself first if you are going to
mass produce it. There is a lot of satisfaction in that. Two classes
that will help you learn the process are wax carving and casting.

Also VERY VERY IMPORTANT, take a class on selling and marketing your
pieces. If you plan on making a living from your efforts, do the
reasearch. Business classes are a big help. FIT has a nice class in
the professional studies department that is helpful called “How to
sell to boutiques”. Baker College online has excellent business
classes as well. Back when I wanted to be a full-time artist, I
realized very late, to my despair, how important this side of the
business is. And I stress BUSINESS. If you don’t have a lot of money
to play with in setting up your jewelry line, educate yourself, or
you will waste money. This side of the process is just as important as
the art. Perhaps more. Good luck to you. I wish you much happiness.

Augest Derenthal
Cry Baby Designs

how do you figure out whether one of your pieces will sell? 

I make jewelry that I would like to have myself. Those pieces always
sell. I find when I get in a hurry, and just make things to have
stock, those pieces don’t sell as well. Still looks like my work,
only not as much heart in it and it always shows. Stay true to your
own taste. You will find that there are always other people that
share that taste…whatever it is.

Lisa, (back from rainy spanish only Miami, staying in a five star
hotel where everything in the room broke…lol) Topanga, CA USA


Thanks so much for all of the advice that you have given me about
the wax carving. I will look into this. What book or DVD when you
were beginning. Thanks again.

You could mass produce with PMC. You would make the first piece,
fire it, then mold it and there you go. You can make as many as you
want from the mold (until the mold poops out, that is). 

Although you COULD make a mold from fired PMC, you will need to
realize that when you reproduce that way, you need to reconsider the
shrinkage since the raw PMC put into the mold will result in a
smaller piece.

PMC products shrink from 15- aprox 30% depening which kind of PMC
product you are using.


Thanks so much for your tips. I really appreciate it. I must say
that that is a big worry of mine. I would hate to be stuck with
1,000 white elephants! How do all of you figure out what pieces to
move forward with? One the one hand one wants to produce the
original piece that one loves. One the other hand, there is the
practical need to pay the bills on time and eat.


The only thing that will tell you whether a piece will sell or not
is historical data and statistics. No one can look at something and
say ‘holy cow! That’s going to make a million bucks!’ because
everyone would be rich if that were the case.

Sales, marketing and knowing what people want is what makes some
successful and others not.



How do you know what will sell??? After 35 years I still can’t tell
if a design will sell or not.

A prime example is a pin I designed several years ago. It was a swan
in flight set with pave rubies on the wing and a diamond for the eye
with black enamel on the bill. It was cast in yellow gold to
complement the red of the rubies. I had this, one of a kind piece, in
inventory for almost 6 years, then one fall show I had a customer
fall in love with it just as the doors of the gallery were opened for
the show. I wrote the ticket and the customer said they would pick it
up and pay for it at the end of the show. I put a red dot on the
price tag and left it in the case. Before the show was over another
customer wanted to buy the piece. The second customer and the
customer who had already bought it were standing in front of the case
going back and forth. One saying I want that pin the other saying you
can’t have it I just bought it. Six years and a lot of shows with no
takers and on the day it sells they are lined up for it. Go figure.
My story and I am sticking to it.

Frank Goss


I agree with you, I am torn between making the pieces that I enjoy
and the repetition ones that sell but are boring to keep making.



Hi Everyone:

It’s funny, I wrote to Thomas Mann last year on this same subject.
He had previously done a lot of the same shows in my area that I
would like to do (whenever I can get in…5 on the waitlist this year
again but that’s another story) and so, I thought he would be a good
source of info on sales. he wrote, “it’s all a crapshoot”. As someone
else said, (and I agree) when I try to make something and go with the
current trend, it doesn’t sell. The customers seem to want a look
into the mind of the person who is creating the jewelry. They are
buying a tiny piece of you (what makes up you) when they buy a piece
of your work. They want to feel a bit of a kinship…at least that’s
what they have expressed to me. This is from a lot of one-on-one
sales to people in town though, I don’t know if it works the same way
at shows. (I’ll let you know though, if I ever get from waitlist to
the real deal :slight_smile: )

Good Luck
Kim Starbard