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Truth or dare


ok… I started witrh a mininal education in jewelry making from a
college coarse. two years later i was injured on the job as a
construction worker and decieded to take what i had and go for it! I
made a display box that held 15 pieces and filled it with my first
creations… Boy was i excited. I almost imediatley began making
sales and i did 10-30$ pieces…two weeks later i went to answer the
phone at a bar and somebody walked off with my case… i was
devistated but i recouped …built another box and went back at it…
two weeks later i was at a party…took off my coat and danged if it
doesn’t happen again! Boy that one hurt! Anyway i learned my lesson
about hanging on to my work and it never happened again till two
years ago at greyhound… that time it was 15,000$… Grrrrrr!
Anyway I have always dealt by word of mouth and the two times i
tried to open a door and did not have enough backing to withstand
the first year. Perhaps next year I will be able to open a door and
hang my shingle… Giving up will always defeat… trying is losing a
battle but not the war! Ringman…30 years later


Happy New Year Everyone!

I guess it’s my turn. Close to 20 years ago my previous spouse, then
just dating, gave me a hand-made silver ring with a piece of common
green opal he dug himself in B.C., Canada. I was hooked.

From there I took every evening or weekend course I could find out
about and afford as well as joined the local rock and lapidary club.
I also learned rock hunting, lapidary, faceting and anything else of
interest. I was like a large sponge in soak up mode. My ex also had
most of the basic equipment to do silversmithing so he started to
teach me. Found out that though he was great at lapidary he wasn’t as
good at silversmithing. So I concentrated on the Silver. I did it as
a hobby for about 2 years and then I was offered a job to go work for
a local shop where they sold equipment, stones and silver, plus the
husband did make and repair jewellery. It was like going to school
and getting paid for it. After 2 1/2 years and being told I was the
best employee that they had ever had, I asked to fill the part-time
position that they were looking for and help to train the new
full-time person (so I could start to do a little more jewellery
myself). Instead, due to a little personality conflict with the wife,
I was let go. First time fired, and only time, what a blow.

After a while of nursing hurt feelings, I realized that my wages had
gone into some business schooling and most of the supplies and tools
I needed for a while. My ex told me that I should make jewellery full
time and look after the house of course, and look for places to sell
our jewellery and rocks that we had collected. Started getting into
any and all craft sales I could.

Then we moved south of Calgary, into a artsy area and I discovered
Farmers markets. After again trying all the sales I could at first
get into, the next year only went back to the few where I made money.
Eventually giving most of those up as I got into the Farmers Markets.
They are different from the Flea markets where everyone wants it for

I went as far as I could there as I was not allowed to expand into
taking credit cards or checks. Eventually I woke up and took a look
at my situation. I decided I finally had to start living for me and
moved back to Calgary by myself. After a year of getting my health
back together and moving around a few times I met a great guy that
said I could rent a couple of rooms in his house to live and do my
jewellery, of course we were dating anyway. So I closed my eyes and
leaped into a whole new story. We married a year later and he built
me a wonderful silversmithing area in the basement. Now he even goes
with me to shows to help me sell, which is great as he is handsome
and the ladies (my best customers) like him:-).

After a year away from the markets and making jewellery, it was nice
to be making jewellery again. It was also great to get back to all my
friends at my markets. I also opened a business bank account and
started to accept Visa, Debit, M/C. I also changed my focus from all
low end and imported jewellery & rock to some imported and much
higher end, one-of-a-kind jewellery and Crystals. I also started to
consign friends jewellery for variety as most of them were not sales
people, and I am pretty good at PR.

Now, two years later, even with a poor Christmas sales season,
because of poor weather, I am still doing twice what I was doing
before I made all the big changes. During the winter when I am not
selling at shows, I am teaching at the local College, as well as rock
& mineral classes to the Grade 3 students. I am also making more
jewellery and finally taking some of the courses that I have wanted
to for 10 years to upgrade my skills. I also plan to finally get some
of my better pieces into galleries this year.

One of the best things about rocks & minerals, or jewellery making
is that you can’t know it all. When you think you do, you will meet
someone who does it different or better :-).

Karen Bahr “the Rocklady” (@Rocklady) K.I.S. Creations
May your gems always sparkle.


Sue I think we all had a bad year as to getting out of a mall that
will put money in your pocket. Your mall gets percentage of your
sales? I have my store and I own it and it has a lot of advantages
that a mall will not. Just think you want to close early you can if
you want you can have trunk shows for your customers with deep
pockets after hours .you do not have a mall to tell you what time to
work. I think you will do well out side a mall.

good luck


I just wanted to throw my 2 cents into the truth or dare and add a
couple of suggestions; Ive been doing jewelry since 1974. My works
gone from st uff I would hate to be associated with to work Im quite
proud of. 2 years a go I moved out of the basement and got a studio
in our backyard which has made me much more productive, happy and
credible, I think. Ive always been ve ry fortunate to have my
husband supporting my habit. I supplemented by teaching for 10
years. Most all of my income went into tools, equipment, materials
and then my studio. Now all of those things are paid for, I m
finally making a profit. I do a lot of custom work and have
established a good reputation as a skilled jewelry artist. So it
seems like I always h ave enough work to keep me busy. The last 3
years I think I could finally li ve on my jewelry income if I had to.
Maybe not well but I would still be al ive J But this has been a
tough year for me too. Last year I didnt get in 2 shows I was
counting on and made only about half as much as I usually do at the
ones I did. Ive had 3 people back out of custom work, I was count
ing on. (Now that will teach me to procrastinate.) In fact Ive
decided t hat Im going to charge a $50 consultation/design fee that
will go towards the cost of the custom piece, yet be non-refundable
should they decide to bac k out for whatever reason. Just about the
time I get discouraged though, someone will call and ask if they can
come by because they need a gift. There is one thing that Ive done
with my jewelry though that has reall y enhanced my life and might
really help some of you at hard times. Its called bartering. I am
the Barter Queen. I have been able to get things I couldnt afford,
or wanted by trading. So if you cant Sell your jewelry, trade it. I
have traded for the following things ie; All the a rt in my house,
my furniture reupholstered, hand sewn maternity clothes, hav ing my
taxes done, my house cleaned, painting lessons, piano lessons, voice
lessons and believe it or not even the birth of one of my boys!
Actually it wasnt for jewelry. I calligraphied the certificates and
illustrated a brochure for a Midwife Association in Texas, in trade
for having a midwif e deliver my son. In fact Im going to start
having some kid start teach ing me Photoshop next week in trade for a
necklace. Ive also got someone redoing my website for jewelry. I
mean this doesnt even begin to list everything Ive traded for. So
get creative. If you have a customer w ho likes your work and cant
afford it. Find out what they do and see if you can use their
product or services and see if theyll like to trade. Th at way
everyone comes out ahead. One other little bit of info. A friend of
mine is a painter and she turned me on to a book that has been
incredibly inspiring. I can hardly put it down. Its called The
Mystery of Ma king It by Jack White. He is a painter that has gone
from selling a $10 painting in 1991 to him and his wife sold over 3
million dollars worth of paintings last year! And that was after the
galleries took half! The wh ole book is about how to sell your
artwork. Even though hes a painter, everything Ive read I can apply
to selling my jewelry. He also has a new one out called the Magic of
Selling Art which Im going to borrow as soon as Im done with this
one. It has really lit a fire under me to get to work! I must say
the book is huge. Its an E-book so its in a note book and is about 2
inches thick. Anyway my girlfriend has used many of his tactics in
shows recently and her sales definitely increased. Total disclaimer
here, I just wanted to share. The website for the book is www


There is one thing that Ive done
with my jewelry though that has reall y enhanced my life and might
really help some of you at hard times. Its called bartering. I am
the Barter Queen. I have been able to get things I couldnt afford,
or wanted by trading. So if you cant Sell your jewelry, trade it.

Yes, yes, yes! While my jewelry business pretty much doesn’t go
toward the household income at this point because we don’t need it
to (I tend to put it all right back into my business to buy
higher-end stones, tools, marketing/advertising, tools, or tools (did
I mention tools?)) for the past 3 christmas seasons I have managed to
barter almost all gifts for our 3 small children, services with my
midwife for the birth of our son 4 months ago, the custom database
and initial programming for my website, handmade clothing for my
children, medicinal herbs with an herbalist, handmade bath
products… basically anything and everything for daily living, I
can barter for with other artisans. The positive thing about
bartering is often they then come back to buy later on (or their gift
recipients do). I like making my jewelry available to people who
otherwise wouldn’t have the money to buy from me and I think I’ll
continue to do it, no matter how well my business is doing. There is
just something personally satisfying in using my goods as a direct
commodity - something I don’t get neccessarily from an outright sale.
I guess, when you look at it like that, I am contributing more to
our household than it would appear at first glance.

I do hope, though, to start pulling some money from my business for
our household. I did start this business under the pretense of
helping defray my loss of income when our first child was born. At
first I did take some out for the household, but as my husband’s
income increased, I felt my business would be best served putting the
money back into it (read: I became a stone and tool junkie). I have
been in business 5 years and will be celebrating the 2nd anniversary
of my web store this year. My goal now is to start paying for the
house projects as we continue finishing the house we have built and I
hope that this year will pay for an expansion to it (which includes a
studio for me and an office for my husband and which, conveniently,
contains a business deduction).

Carrie Otterson
Wired Contemporary Jewelry


Hello all, well, I jumped into my business full time about 5 years
ago. Have been making jewelry since i was a kid. Started with
beading, took classes in highschool, where I fell in love with wax.
Got married, divorced, and remarried. And got back to my jewelry,
just as a side show. Had a baby girl, and I made jewelry, as she
colored me pictures in her “little shop”, half walled off, right next
to mine.

For several years, it was part time, while I was a full time mom,
then full time work after she got into school. Finally, I realized
that I was spending 70 hrs at work, and the rest of the time trying
to make & sell my jewelry. 5 years ago, I quit the job, be at home
mom again, and full time designer. It really made a difference in my
work. Now I homeschool, and design & make my work, and love it. This
last year has been lower in sales, but I am not giving up. I am
looking into galleries, developing the website, and expanding the
base of non-show sales.

So, percentage wise for the house, I don’t know rightly, but I have
been paying all the business exspences, and paying myself a small
salary. As well as the business pays for all travelling. Not too

My daughter has been to Florida to see the manatees, Arizona and the
petrified forests, Washington DC and the Smithsonian, and this year
I am taking her & dad to London. (only partial business trip,
though) She’s seen and learned so much more than she would have in
regular school, and I get to enjoy my passion for creating jewelry,
and spend time with my child. The only bad thing, is missing my
husband, as he’s been in school, so he couldn’t travel as much with
us. LOL

All in all, as long as I can make and sell my work, I will. I
haven’t reached my goal, of it being the only income needed for the
house yet. So I have a ways to go.

the Royal Exchange~Jewelers
Bristol Ren Faire, Kansas City Ren Faire

 Its called bartering.  I am the Barter Queen.  I have been able to
get things I couldnt afford, or wanted by trading.  So if you cant
Sell your jewelry, trade it. 

Carrie: I second your "Yes, yes, yes! " response. I can’t tell you
all the things I have bartered for with jewelry in exchange. I got
an antique china cabinet repaired, computer repairs, etc. in exchange
for jewelry, including knotting several triple strands of pearls in
exchange for some much needed carpentry. It’s a great way to do
business. You just have to exchange on the basis of your expertise
and theirs - and it has to be a fair exchange - a dollar based trade
rarely works. If some of you have not tried it yet, go for it.
You’ll be surprised at how willing people are to barter in this day
and age - they get something special that they otherwise wouldn’t be
able to buy and you get much needed services done.


     Its called bartering.  I am the Barter Queen.  I have been
able to get things I couldnt afford, or wanted by trading.  So if
you cant Sell your jewelry, trade it. Carrie:  I second your "Yes,
yes, yes! " response. 

Hi Friends,

A word of caution… be discreet in bartering. Famous artist Peter
Max was busted - big time - by the I.R.S. (the tax man) for his
practice of bartering for goods and services. The value of a bartered
transaction was deemed income and his tax bill was accordingly
recalculated… to the tune of a few million dollars over several

I can’t wait 'til it warms up so we can go ride our new his 'n hers
bikes, though…


All the best,