While it is always sad to see someone give up their dream for a 9 to
5 job, there is an upside to Dave Sebaste’s situation too. Sometimes
it is liberating to know that you can design what you want, without
the worry of paying the bills with that design. It is sometimes too
easy to fall into the trap of designing what will sell in today’s
market, while sacrificing that great idea you have because it is too
far outside the realm of the audience available to you.
I work full time and design and create jewelry in my “spare time”
(mostly found after the kids go to bed) and while it can be
frustrating, it also allows me some freedom to experiment with
styles and techniques with a lot less worry than if I paid my
grocery bill with income earned from jewelry sales. Sales of my
original design jewelry amounted to about 11% of our total income,
though most of that money will actually go towards more tools and
not living expenses. Going to work for someone else is sometimes a
drag, but it is great to come home and turn myself loose at the
bench and make something happen. It even seems like the designing
part comes more easily when I have been occupied with totally
different tasks during the day.Perhaps I need to use both sides of
my brain each day to stay balanced!
Congratulations to all of you that can make your jewelry be a full
time job. For the rest of us, take heart. Our opportunities may be
right around the corner, and using your full time paycheck to
support yourself right now will often allow you to learn the jewelry
business thing on a slower, more comfortable curve.
Best of luck to you, Dave, and consider yourself a free man to
create that absolutely awesome piece that has been hiding in the
back of your mind!
david lee jeweler
Mason City, Iowa where it has finally snowed, and I keep telling
myself it will soon be spring!
I really like Brenda’s view of Dave Sebaste’s situation though I too
feel it sad that Dave must give up his dream…even if temporarily.
Hang in there Dave, as long as we see you on Orchid the days will be
My story really begins about 30 years ago. We were in Korea with the
Government and, the thing for American wives to do at that time was
get custom jewelry made by the Korean artisans. I took to purchasing
stones for my wife and she had a favorite jeweler, Hong’s Turtle
Jewelery, who made all her stuff. That is when I really became
interested. A couple of years later when we arrived in Taiwan on
another assignment, things started rolling. A Chinese friend taught
me to cut stones (and he was tough - it had to be perfect). I
designed and either built my own equipment or had it made in local
machine shops. Set up a little room at home and cut most of the
night away. The international ladies would buy my stones and I
recommended them to one jeweler I liked, Min Mai of Shih Lin. In
time, he offered to teach me silver/gold smithing so I studied with
him for about a year.
When we returned to the States, I set up my little shop at home and
began learning on my own and taking classes at the Patuxent Lapidary
Guild in MD. I never did this for a living (always looking forward to
my Govt pension) but built up a clientel of about 200 people who
would not buy anywhere else. Mostly custom designs, lots of remounts,
and tons of repairs. Sold stuff locally but no gallerys or stores.
There was enough $ coming in to equip a very nice shop with modern
equipment and a bit left over. Traveled a lot with the Govt and that
allowed me to build my inventory of pearls, stones, etc.
Then I retired in 94 and we moved to FL. Mostly lost my clientel
though a few still remain. So I just fiddled in our new and cramped
townhome garage. We moved into a new home and I had a larger garage.
I became involved with the Florida Gold Coast Gem and Mineral Society
in Ft Lauderdale and began teaching lapidary. Then came a chance to
teach at the Boca Raton Museum of Art School where I have now been
for about a year.
Now I have several small personal lines I make including Florida
Black Coral jewelry and a few others, which are beginning to sell
very nicely through word of mouth and some local exhibits. My other
passion now though is teaching, which is another excellent way for
one to receive compensation. I never knew I would enjoy such
satisfaction from my long learned skills as teaching them to others.
And the monetary rewards certainly boost the pension as well.
By the way, any of you out there who might think you know it
all…just start teaching. You’ll learn in a hurry that students
have a perchant for asking the one question to which you have no
answer. The fun is in finding the answer. Now if I only had another
50 years left to have fun! Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle
Studio in SOFL where simple elegance IS fine jewelry!
Morning Mark: I enjoyed your story describing all of your endeavors.
As you know, you carry some of my dichroic pieces. Your work is
awesome & your designs beautiful. If this is any indication of what
can be purchased, you should do well. It’s a terrible economic time
for all of us & now the threat of war looming. Would it be feasible
for you to start teaching classes? Just a thought.
Fondly, Audie Beller of Audie’s Images…