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The casting not hand made discussion


#1

Perhaps I can simplify this discussion - boil it down to the
essence. If I spend many hours carving a wax model, invest and cast
it, do all the finishing, and present it for sale, a customer lights
up and asks me, “Did YOU make that ?” I can honestly say, “Yes, I
certainly did - every step of the way.” The point FTC or anyone
tried to make about castings not qualifying as handmade(wrought or
any other term) surely intended the huge number of commercial
castings available to the craftsperson who may add a stone and
finish it and sell it as handmade. Those you’ve all identified in
schlock booths, street vendor stalls, etc. What most of us do is
certainly not that and I really don’t feel we should worry another
minute about this subject. It is getting to be like the argument of
how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. : )

Pat


#2

Perhaps I can simplify this discussion - boil it down to the
essence. If I spend many hours carving a wax model, invest and cast
it, do all the finishing, and present it for sale, a customer lights
up and asks me, “Did YOU make that ?” I can honestly say, “Yes, I
certainly did - every step of the way.” The point FTC or anyone
tried to make about castings not qualifying as handmade(wrought or
any other term) surely intended the huge number of commercial
castings available to the craftsperson who may add a stone and
finish it and sell it as handmade. Those you’ve all identified in
schlock booths, street vendor stalls, etc. What most of us do is
certainly not that and I really don’t feel we should worry another
minute about this subject. It is getting to be like the argument of
how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. : )

Pat


#3

Pat, I disagree - (amazing, I know). The answer about the question of
the angels cannot be answered, but a definition of the verb to
duplicate can be found in any dictionary. Furthermore, your criterium
cannot hold. The question is really not who made it, but how. For the
moment, the consensus is very much that a casted piece cannot be
considered hand made and I disagree with this for reasons which
have to do with logic and with truthfullness (or honesty). Will


#4

I’m not sure that I get it. Why do you guys think that stamping
handmade in your work will make an impression?

I cast ingots and saw and carve shapes into jewelry. As best I can
see, these are “handmade”. Sometimes I will carve a wax to more
closely get the shape that I need. I will then use this to cast a
beginning which will be further carved and finished. Does something
here mean that it isn’t hand made? No. What is important is that both
pieces are original and not reproductions.

There is a huge difference between a master and a reproduction and I
treat them differently. Anyone can do a reproduction from an
impression. That is what rubber molds are about.

If you are thinking that your customers are impressed with the fact
that your product is handmade, I beg you to reconsider. Hand made
means $2.00/day in some locales. In over thirty years of building
jewelry, I have come to believe that very few people really consider
how their work gets done. They just want it done and expect a good
job. Of far more import, is the idea that their particular piece is
unique. Not everyone wants unique, many are happy with reproductions,
but individual has meant a lot more to my clients over the years.

A little venting is good for the soul from time to time, especially
when I find out how wrong I am.

Bruce D. Holmgain
JACMBJ


#5
     It is getting to be like the argument of how many angels can
dance on the head of a pin.  : ) 

Well, depends on if you made it by hand to hold a lot of angels
or…

Curiously, the oft-maligned PMC material seems to fit the definition
of handmade better than casting! Is purchasing a facetted stone
buying raw materials? What about tumble finishing? Is an electric
rolling mill cheating compared to hand cranked? Or should we all be
able to planish to a different shape/gauge?

Like many attempts to control what is a chaotic and moving target,

the Guvmint fails again. If people need answers about how something
was made they can ask. If someone purposely defrauds them they
should have recourse.

 Even the creation and widespread use of dictionaries hasn't

prevented ‘drift’ of the language.(remember when hardware and
software were handtools and lingerie?or compare ‘conservative’ in an
old Roget’s thesaurus and a recent one)) I say EMBRACE chaos and
tell people to look around. For one, if it didn’t grow (and many
leather/wood items are highly refined)it was brought out of a mine
(or oil well) BY THE HAND OF MAN. And HEY - GUESS WHAT - ALL
gemstones start being ENHANCED starting with the mud being washed
off of them! ALL of the gems I’ve cut have been greatly ‘enhanced’
thank you. And if you want to enhance the way YOU look, try wearing
some nice jewelry! There is nothing ‘natural’ about avoiding meat -
your ‘wild’ ancestors would not have turned down a fresh kill! In
our present society, you may have the luxury of choosing to eat
’organically’ grown produce - but 1/3 of the earth’s population
would have to DIE if we ALL insisted on organically grown foods! If
it weren’t for synthetic stones and 10K gold, a lot of folks may not
be able to adorn themselves at all!(self adornment - that’s a whole
’nother argument!) Pretty much - everthing I’ve ‘made’ so far has a
lot of hand,mind and heart in it - with some sweat, tears, cursing
and occasionally blood.

I'm gonna tell people I'm so talented, all my stuff IS handmade -

using only one hand! (handsmade should be the Guvmint selected
term).

Carl
1 Lucky Texan


#6

I disagree with Will. The important thing is, who made the model
that got cast. That is where the artistry comes in. Jan


#7

I don’t really care if I can stamp my work ‘handmade’, specifically.
What I try to distinguish is the concept of marketing one’s own work
vs. buying other people’s designs from a catalog and reselling them
after some finishing work. In the case of most of the charms I
produce, there is no technical difference between what I do with
those and what I would do if I were buying raw castings from another
source. The difference is that the designs are mine, not someone
elses. I was discussing off list some of the parallel problems of
terminology in the food industry. One way it is dealt with there is
the use of the word ‘style’, as in Virginia STYLE ham, home STYLE
bread… Sadly it doesn’t sound right here.

I know many artists, of the drawing, painting, etc, variety, who
sell prints from their originals. Those are what I usually buy, as
they are what I can afford. I know the prints are commercially
produced from an original, and that is why they are affordable. The
artist doesn’t have the many hours of work into each individual
print. What makes a difference to me is that I can buy the print
from the artist who created the origninal when I go to street fairs,
studios or galleries. On the other side, there are prints available
of many more ‘famous’ works and artists that have nothing to do with
that artist. To me, there is no connection with that artist when I
buy from some mall store that sells prints of notable works by the
hundreds. Another category entirely is the artist who creates an
original, then hires other painters to create copies of that, a
situation that often has more than one person working on these
recreations. This brings into play the concept of sole authorship.

What I am looking for is a way to distinguish myself from those
sellers who are buying castings from some outside source (or other
mass produced parts), doing some assembly and finish work, and then
marketing those pieces, often as handcrafted. I know that the higher
end juried shows and fancy galleries have ways of eliminating those
folks, but not all of us circulate in that headier atmosphere. I try
to sell through local shops in a tourist area, where many customers,
if they understand the distinction I am trying for, will pay the
price for my type of goods over the cheap imports stuff. Even if I
am not present, I am local, and that seems to have a certain appeal.
I think most of them understand that I can’t afford to 'handmake’
each individual charm, or ring, or whatever, for the prices that my
pieces sell for. Like those prints above, they know that the
reproducibility equals affordability. It is the sense of identity
that goes with buying from the artist, or pieces by a local artist,
that seems to be a selling point. Obviously, this thread has touched
a lot of sore nerves, mine included, judging from the amount of
traffic it has generated and the emotions that are showing. No
matter what level of artistry we are all involved in, or what medium,
we are all challenged by cheap knockoffs in this soft economy. Some
is actual copyright infringement, but most isn’t, so there is really
nothing we can do but try to reach people with the benefits of
buying our products over the cheap stuff. I guess I’m venting, too.
Thanks all, for listening again. Jim


#8
In over thirty years of building jewelry, I have come to believe
that very few people really consider how their work gets done. 

After thirty years of making jewelry I think this statement is
entirely wrong. People are very concerned with the fact that their
jewelry is handmade (I’m not getting into the discussion of cast vs
hand built as we do both) by the jeweler they are dealing with. It
is one of the main reasons my business has been as successful over
the years as it has.

Daniel R. Spirer, GG
Spirer Somes Jewelers
1794 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140
617-491-6000
@spirersomes
www.spirersomes.com


#9

Hi, everyone! We have just subscribed to your forum. We couldn t
leave William Denayer s message without notice. We are Olga and Yury
Shmid, from Russia, Saint Petersburg. Personally Olga is the artist
and the member of Saint Petersburg s United Artists Society. And we
often participate in different exhibitions. Every piece goes through
an elaborate way of creation: starting from the sketch to the ready
thing. We make jewelry using different technologies. Our main
specialization making miniature sculpture images of architectural
monuments, people, animals, mythical creatures, that are later used
in rings, earrings, bracelets and other jewelry. We make our models
manually. We make them out of model wax, but also use special
plastic or bone, which is more often. It gives us possibility to
work out details much better. Then we take the silicon mould off and
make a new cast of metal. Then we work on it until it s perfect. We
carve and stamp it, under the microscope (to see it better). Often
the ready piece doesn t look like the model at the beginning. We
work out every millimeter of the surface very carefully. Then,
according to design, gems are inserted and enamels are laid
(cloisonn=CA, champleve) or something else. That s how we perform
models for jewelry companies, that are then making only a few copies
of exclusive pieces (5-10 units). But it also happens that by means
of casting we manage to create only one unique piece. It also
happens, that when making a 3d jewelry piece ( a necklace, for
example) using mounting, by means of knocking out , soldering,
assembly, an only single detail needs to be casted. It can be named
HANDMADE, can t it? All the equipment here is only a tool to gain a
certain goal. Every thing should have a piece of internal warmness
of the person who made it. Because when we create, we give a piece
of our life to our creations.

Sincerely,
Olga and Yury Shmid


#10
After thirty years of making jewelry I think this statement is
entirely wrong.  People are very concerned with the fact that their
jewelry is handmade (I'm not getting into the discussion of cast vs
hand built as we do both) by the jeweler they are dealing with.  It
is one of the main reasons my business has been as successful

Dan, You have taken what I wrote out of context.

For sure, a lot of customers want to believe that they are relating
their desires to the person that will do the job. They are of the
belief that by relating directly with the jeweler that they will
overcome any breakdown in communication. That had nothing to do with
my suggestion.

I was just pointing out that the customer wants a quality job and
really doesn’t care how that is accomplished. Cast, die struck,
machined or handmade. For this reason, I am moving ahead with the
study and implementation of rapid prototyping for custom jobs. As
yet, I have had no one pull a job because it wouldn’t be handmade.

Bruce Holmgrain
JACMBJ


#11

I started casting many years ago from my holier than thou position
as a fabricator ( haha) when I started to realize that 99.9% of my
clients didn’t care how a piece was made. This was a revelation to
me.

I continue to fabricate custom orders and one of pieces and their
price reflects that difference in technique. I reserve my best stone
materials for my one of and customs also.

For me it became painfully obvious that I as a fabricator could not
produce enough of my own designs to make a living. Also the
fabrication doesn’t fit into the lower price points ( AAAAHHHHH the
artist in me just heard fingernails on the black board) but, the
business pressures are reality. I ALWAYS tell a client how a piece is
made if they ask and make it as clear as I can that the cast work is
a LINE so they know it is not one of. I even hall mark them
differently. Sam Patania, Tucson


#12
 People are very concerned with the fact that their jewelry is
handmade (I'm not getting into the discussion of cast vs hand built
as we do both) by the jeweler they are dealing with.  It is one of
the main reasons my business has been as successful over the years
as it has." 

Hello Daniel, Do I read this well if I say that you tell customers
that your jewelry is handmade (or do you use the vague but safe hand
built?) if the piece has been casted? You do not have to answer and
the question is largely rhetorical anyhow. I still think that it is
right to call a casted piece hand made, on the conditions that the
wax was carved by hand, that the casting was manually controlled and
that no molds were made. Molds belong to the domain of reproduction.
You know that I admire your jewelry very much and it would be
outright dumb if, for some legal reason or whatever, you should be
forbidden to call them hand made. Suppose this were the case, which
interests would be served here? Not these of the creative jeweler.
Best, Will


#13

All, I find this discussion very interesting. Not from all the logic
presented from everyone, but from the fact that the group cannot come
to ageement as to what the term “Handmade” means. Why can a group
not compromise and come up with one solid definition. I find the same
lack of agreement in What is a “well cut stone”, what is
a “custom anything”, what does “natural” mean.

Because there is no one set definition for a word no one really
knows what the words mean. That is the where the less than honest
people in the trade focus thier marketing. My thoughts are simple -
“handmade” should have a concise definition. We in the trade should
agree on the definition. The definition should be taught in schools.
We all should use the same definition. Everyone should compromise
for the benefit of clearer passage of understanding by speech.

Gerry Galarneau


#14

casting is a tool, like a hammer and torch. if you carve your wax,
finish and polish your casting, set your stones, who has the right to
say your piece is machine made? isn’t that the opposite of handmade.
the real debate is not whether it is handmade or not, this all boils
down to how to convey quality to our customers. handmade like it or
not regardless of all the crappy Handmade stuff out there does it.
like magic words their eyes get big, “really, this is handmade” Don’t
be mistaken though, that is not why the item is bought not why they
may come back. it is simply love or lust. that is why a customer will
walk away with a shoddy piece with a great design. that is why the
best made piece may not sell. the difference in love and lust? lust
will sell one piece to a customer. love will keep the customer coming
by again and again. it’s a mixture of good design, workmanship, and
I tell a customer how a piece is made what is special
about it.

feeling uncomfortable about calling your piece handmade because of
the casting? then call it artist made.


#15

My Two cents worth of opinion … Casting is not a tool, it’s a
method of reproduction, for reduced cost. Maybe art, but not
original. Hammers and torches do not “mass produce thousands of
pieces that look exactly the same”, casting does.

Quality… who is to say that casted stuff is quality work? In my
opinion (as someone who works with precious metals) casting is only
as good as the caster… the design may or may not be great, but the
caster’s result may or may not stand up to time. Hand made what a
joke! It is not! The wax may be hand carved, but that’s about as
"hand made" as it gets. The rest is mass production.

Why do they Buy??? Because it’s inexpensive. What can be cast,
cannot be produced by hand at the same price.


#16

Hello Gerry and all, I have been rethinking about the handmade
discussion. Please don’t think that it is my intention to come back
to this over and over. Least of all, I want to make people nervous. I
only see this as a possibility to have an interesting exchange of
ideas.

Let’s go back to the basics, which is the text of the FTC quoted by
Jim Binnion a couple of days ago. As Lee Einer told me today, in
fact, there is nothing in this text which forbids to regard a one
casted piece as handmade. I quote the text again for you to read.
Please tell me which sentence, part of a sentence or which word
excludes a one time casted piece (but not a mold) from being
considered handmade? The text is:

"(a) It is unfair or deceptive to represent, directly or by
implication, that any industry product is hand-made or hand-wrought
unless the entire shaping and forming of such product from raw
materials and its finishing and decoration were accomplished by hand
labor and manually-controlled methods which permit the maker to
control and vary the construction, shape, design, and finish of each
part of each individual product.

Note to paragraph (a): As used herein, “raw materials” include bulk
sheet, strip, wire, and similar items that have not been cut, shaped,
or formed into jewelry parts, semi-finished parts, or blanks.

(b) It is unfair or deceptive to represent, directly or by
implication, that any industry product is hand-forged, hand-engraved,
hand-finished, or hand-polished, or has been otherwise
hand-processed, unless the operation described was accomplished by
hand labor and manually-controlled methods which permit the maker to
control and vary the type, amount, and effect of such operation on
each part of each individual product."

Of course, some people disagree with this reading - although I still
do not know on which basis, which has nevertheless to be found in
this text.

Suppose that we do not accept my reading - so a one time casted
piece would not be considered to be handmade. This leads to a jungle
of complexities which are simply impossible to deal with. In other
words, Gerry, if you think that a definition will help, please go
ahead and try to formulate one. But it is my conviction that you will
not find any satisfactory definition of handmade jewelry if you
exclude casting from it. Some will agree upon your definition and
others will not, and what will you have gained? More confusion? Just
in order to give a couple of problems - but others, such as Lisa
Orlando, have already mentioned a few to which no one replied, and I
do not want to repeat anything: what about PMC? PMC is a clay and is
meant to be worked upon with your hands - still is a piece of
PMC-fired jewelry handmade? If so, why not casting? If not, why not?
I have been filing and cutting a wax ring for at least five hours
today - it isn’t finished yet. Is anyone going to seriously say that
my final result will not be handmade because I’m eventually going to
cast this ring (in a manually controlled way) - which is not a
reproduction of an original? Best, Will


#17

Well it seems I am being drawn into the discussion of what defines
hand made. Regardless of what the various government organizations
deem as appropriate, I can tell you that when I appraise jewelry I
carefully note when it is a designer piece that it is hand made, with
the clarification following of what processes were used to make it
(i.e.:18k yellow gold hand made cast and constructed ring…). In
terms of value on an appraisal, whether the piece comes from a
generic caster or someone like dp(soulof wood), Alan Revere, Steve
Midgett, or any of the other well known jeweler artists makes a big
difference in how the piece is evaluated. It doesn’t actually matter
what the FCC says in this case as the method of production used
doesn’t impact the pricing necessarily and it is critical that it is
clear to the insurance company that they are not dealing with a
truly mass produced piece.

Personally I would define as hand made anything that a machine did
not create from the beginning (which in my mind means that the new
cad cam programs are not producing a hand made product) and that is
not a generic casting which is available for anyone to purchase from
a company. In other words, if you make a wax and cast it, or make a
metal model and cast it, or hand fabricate it, or make your own
casting that you then alter and add hand fabricating to, and you sell
it as your own product, it is hand made.

As for the question of whether customers care about whether their
product is hand made, I would addend my previous comment to this:

  1. Some customers do care very much whether their piece is actually
    hand built.

  2. Some customers simply care that the piece is being produced under
    the auspices of a particular designer.

  3. Some customers don’t care about any of that.

  4. Some customers are nuts no matter what.

Daniel R. Spirer, GG
Spirer Somes Jewelers
1794 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140
617-491-6000
@spirersomes
www.spirersomes.com


#18

In the US at least, the term “handmade” has been defined to some
degree by the FTC, and many on the list have been trying to
disect/critique/interpret the FTC definition. I am not an expert on
FTC guidelines governing jewelry, but unless there is additional
verbiage which I missed, the FTC’s rule is that

23.3

(a) It is unfair or deceptive to represent, directly or by
implication, that any industry product is hand-made or hand-wrought
unless the entire shaping and forming of such product from raw
materials and its finishing and decoration were accomplished by hand
labor and manually-controlled methods which permit the maker to
control and vary the construction, shape, design, and finish of each
part of each individual product.

    Note to paragraph (a):  As used herein, "raw materials"
    include bulk sheet, strip, wire, and similar items that have
    not been cut, shaped, or formed into jewelry parts,
    semi-finished parts, or blanks.

(b) It is unfair or deceptive to represent, directly or by
implication, that any industry product is hand-forged,
hand-engraved, hand-finished, or hand-polished, or has been
otherwise hand-processed, unless the operation described was
accomplished by hand labor and manually-controlled methods which
permit the maker to control and vary the type, amount, and effect of
such operation on each part of each individual product.

I think that it is important to note two things about the FTC rule;
first, the note listing “raw materials” under section (a) is clearly
inclusive rather than exhaustive, hence the use of the term
"include" and the qualifying phrase

and similar items that have not been cut, shaped, or formed into
jewelry parts, semi-finished parts, or blanks.

Based on this language, I don’t see how the FTC’s definition of
handmade excludes cast items, so long as the entire shaping and
forming of such product from raw materials (e.g., casting grain)
and it’s finishing and decoration are accomplished by hand labor and
manually controlled methods which permit the maker to control and
vary the construction, shape, design and finish of each part of each
individual product.

If you want to condense the FTCs rule, you could do so by saying
that it is deceptive to represent a piece of jewelry as hand made
unless the person who made it began with raw materials and used hand
labor and hand-controlled methods which allowed him/her complete
control of the design, shape and finish of every part of the
finished product. This excludes multiple castings from the same
mold, but would not exclude one-of-a-kind cast pieces, nor would it
exlude fabricated pieces with cast elements as long as the cast
element itself was one-of-a-kind rather than mass manufactured.

Or so it seems to me. Does anyone have it in writing, explicitly, ex
cathedra and from the FTC, that no item which was created in whole
or in part by means of lost wax casting, may under any circumstance
be described as “hand made?”

I have to ask, because my common-sense reading of the FTC rule in
this regard is that it includes any method, either hand-labor or
manually controlled, which allows the artist complete control of the
design, construction, shape and finish of each individual piece, and
that is really not a bad definition of “handmade.”

Lee Einer


#19

I’m sure we will never, as a group, all agree on where the line
should be drawn for ‘handmade’. We come from too many different
backgrounds and countries, too many divergent ways of dealing with
definitions and legalities. I have seen so many opinions here on the
subject, and passionate ones at that. I think perhaps we all see the
situation as it relates to our own niche in the jewelry world, and
that is fine. As I have stated earlier, I am not so concerned about
how my work is seen within the group as far as the term handmade
goes. I am mostly concerned with being able to distinguish my
products as being mine, not bought from somewhere else and then
marketed by me. And in this extremely litigious society in America,
I want to be sure I am legally correct. Most likely I will have to
revamp the wording on my web site, and any other promotional
material, to reflect that castings are not, by FTC standards,
handmade. I do hope, though, that there is one common thread between
all of us on the group. That is, I hope that we all agree that
wherever the line of definition is drawn, its main intent is to give
us a tool for fighting the unscrupulous dealers out there who are
misrepresenting what they sell. Perhaps if the FTC wants to nit-pick
about the term handmade, they can come up with a reasonable way of
conveying originality. After all, many of the items being sold by
these importers are actually as ‘handmade’ as our own pieces. The
distinction is that they are handmade by low wage workers in 3rd
world countries, trained to do a specific task. The designs and
materials are totally unrelated to the people doing the assembly. Jim


#20
From " Wax as an Art Form " by Thelma R. Newman  pp. 176 - 178 .
Pub. 1966 first / only edition. 

" Jewelry making has seen a tug of war between two preferences ,
casting and construction . The constructivists ( Di Rivera, Bertoia,
and Gabo primarily ) believed that casting was not hand wrought .
They also believed the uniqueness of handmade jewelry was lost
because of the potential for mass production . They used two
dimensional sheet . Forms were geometric and ameba like. Only direct
processes ( hammering, filing, and soldering etc. ) were acceptable.
This is the Bauhaus school of design ." ( Bahaus - : of, relating to,
or influenced by a school of design noted especially for a program
that synthesized technology, craftsmanship, and design aesthetics ) *

Then came the revolution ." The Dadaists were the first deviators.
Bob Winston and Sam Kramer, in the U.S. moved from objective, flat
design with machine like forms of the Bauhaus school. The Dadists
school evolved a neoteric ( new or modern ) vision with a more
organic and subjective type of design."

( Dadaist - : a movement in art and literature based on deliberate
irrationality and negation of traditional artistic values; also :
the art and literature produced by this movement ) *

Of course it did not stop there, I believe that dissecting art is to
stifle if not kill it. But this will give some indication that this
is not a new argument , nor one which will end soon.

New question - How far need, or should an artist go in
describing the " inner and personal emotions and observations " which
give rise to a particular piece or style of jewelry ?

Is it - If I have to tell you EVERYTHING about this piece, You
are too stupid to appreciate it.

Or is it - The more I tell you, the more you will be able to
SHARE VICARIOUSLY, this intellectual and emotional journey .

Can work speak for its self ?

ROBB - with too much time on his hands.