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Trying to find funding to set up studio

Hi Everyone,

I have been a long time reader of this site but have once posted
once or twice. I feel very lucky to have found this resource.

I graduated from school with my BFA in metalsmithing. (my work is up
in the gallery under Jen Macartney) After telling myself that I would
never neglect my art work, I find myself a year and half later with
nothing to show for it. One of my problems is although I have a job,
I don’t make a lot of money. I can’t seem to find funding to make the
initial purchases needed to set up a small jewelry studio.

I am looking for a grant opportunity that will provide that initial
capital to get myself started. I figure if I look for sale or used
equipment and only get the basics I can do it for under 2,000. I
already found a cast iron leg old jewelers bench that I cleaned up
and re-stained. I love it, so much character, even a big burn on top
to show it been put to good use!). I am itching to make thing does
any one here have any advice? BTW I live in the Philadelphia area.

Thanks you so much and hopefully soon I can we working and
contributing regularly to this forum. It is my New Year resolution!
Happy New Year to all!


Hi Jen,

Good for you that you are writing to this forum. You have touched on
a subject which many BFA graduates are asking. Academic metalsmithing
programs are just now understanding that not everyone teaches
professionally after graduation.

After graduating from Massachusetts College of Art with a BFA, I had
the same situation. Here are my suggestions.

  1. Teach a class at a local adult ed. This is a good way to show
    your work, stay in touch with metals and earn some money for your

  2. Strength in numbers! There is no need to purchase everything
    yourself. I am sure there are others who are also in your position.
    Network around, put up flyers, connect with your college, anything
    to find others who will help you share the rent and tools.

  3. Make friends with an independent jewelry store. They might have
    some older tools that they could let go of.

I know how hard it is to work and make your own work is well. It
sounds like you have made the first step, by asking the question.

Good luck and please feel free to write me.

Best, karen christians, metalwerx

When I was first starting out I always asked for tools for every
birthday and holiday. That worked pretty well.

Other than that, scrounge. Hopefully your area has garage sales and
estate sales. Our area is pretty urban, so we have lots of 2nd hand
buying opportunities. I’ve found at estate sales: flex shafts,
machinist’s tools and tool steel, chasing tools, draw plates, draw
tongs, wax carving tools, abrasive wheels, files, hand drills, tin
snips, pliers.

It’s out there. You don’t need much to get started. Don’t let the
dream of a “perfect studio” keep you from making something.

Look into your state and local art councils. Some have professional
development grants. Unfortunately, you may be too young (not enough
of a track record, I mean) to qualify for some of them.

Another resource is Art Calendar magazine, they list lots of grant

To do your own grant research, visit your local Donor’s Forum
library. You can also pay someone to do your grant research.

If you are young, mobile, and unattached, why not consider a
residency? Most pay a stipend, you get access to the classroom
studio, your own studio space and free room and board. The one at
Arrowmont is 9 months. These things are a wonderful opportunity if
you can get away from your regular life. Do it now, before you have
the house, the car, the seven kids.

Or you could do a shorter stint at Arrowmont or other school, doing
a work study or a studio assistantship. Free tuition, room and

Like most metalsmiths, I hunger for tools. I’ve always found a way
to get whatever tools I wanted/needed. Nothing quite as enjoyable
as reading a nice tools catalog. The possibilities!

Do you ever look at the site?
Even tools that I’d never use, because, well, I don’t want to make
production bangle bracelets, his tools are so awesome, I want them


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

Here is a resource for those doing grant research and writing. It’s
owned and run by the folks at Art Calendar magazine.


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


I don’t have any advice about possible grants but I would suggest
that you start by purchasing a few tools at a time. Start with the
basics, a saw, a couple of hammers, a few pliers, etc. You will be
surprised at what you can accumulate over time. I know that 30 years
ago I didn’t have the luxury of purchasing what $2000 would buy you
today, all at one time. Start producing what you can and as you
accumulate more tools your work can progress accordingly.

Best wishes for your success.

Joel Schwalb

When looking for used tools – just ask! Sometimes people have an
old tool they’re not using, but not actively thinking about selling.
You ask, and they go oh, yes, I have one of those, sure, I’ll sell
it to you.

Go to your local jewelers row, visit the tool suppliers, many post
signs for customers selling used stuff. Do you have a local metals
guild? Join up and ask around.

Check eBay. It’s easier than ever to find used equipment.

Some jewelry suppliers sell scratch and dent equipment for sell. Did
you see the link the other day for Contenti company?

They have a flex shaft for $66.00. $66.00 I say. Unheard of. And it
has a money back guarantee.

I know that wasn’t exactly your question, which was about grant
funding. I don’t think you’ll find grant funding for tools to equip
your studio. Maybe it’s out there. Please, someone, prove me
wrong. I’m pretty well read on grants. I had a part time job for
four years that was grant funded, and I wrote the grants. I’ve
taken classes in grant research and writing and I’ve read up on the

Arts grants that I’ve seen are usually project related. Maybe you
could get some tools that way, picking them up for a project, but it
will take a lot of time and energy to do it that way. Faster to
work some extra hours, find the deals on tools and spend that energy
making the jewelry.

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

Hi - Many states and even counties have grants that local artists
can apply to and get funding for projects; a friend of mine and
talented artist, Tara Herberger, won a grant in Philly to make hand
painted bird houses and put them around parts of the city … I have
friends who have made films and done other projects on Pennsylvania
grants - my own county in upper NY state has artist grants. I think
another great way to make money is to make a piece and submit it to
contests. Some organizations have contests that you can just do a
rendering rather than make the actual piece and most of these
contests have some sort of cash award. Cindy Edelstein of the
Jeweler’s Resource Bureau has a calendar that lists most of the
deadlines as well the the different contests, who to contact, what to
submit as well as other wonderful … I think she sells
it for a mere $35 dollars and it is the greatest resource.

Take Care,

Continue from:

Jen - I very well understand your dilemma in trying to set up your
studio. I was in your position a few years ago. I had to buy cheap
hand tools at first. Everytime I sold a few pieces, I would buy
another tool. I gradually began to accumulate the beginnings of a

But what I want to encourage you to do is to search out grant
opportunities thru your local Arts Council, or similar organization.
In Pinellas County, St. Petersburg, FL, we are lucky to have a good
council, really dedicated to helping emerging artists. (Our grants
are limited to $1600 - but you can get a lot for that!) Over the
past 8 years, I have written 2 grants and was successful in being
able to buy a really good rolling mill and a Bonnie Doon hydraulic
press with various accoutrements. I could never have afforded this
equipment without the grant help. I don’t know what Pennsylvania
provides, but ask around and see if there is something similar
available. It is a competitive process and you will need good
slides of your work. I hope this idea helps - good luck! Gini in
absolutely beautiful Florida

Oh that is a good idea being in PA as well I think it is time to go
for grants to replace my studio I lost in the flood.

America’s Only cameo Artist


Do you know about CERF? They are an excellent organization whose
sole purpose is to assist craftspeople with funding who have lost
mobility, their studio, etc.

Ganoksin’s Guide to Industry Web Sites about The Craft Emergency
Relief Fund (CERF):

  The Craft Emergency Relief Fund is a nonprofit, tax-exempt
  organization that provides support to professional
  craftspeople facing career-threatening emergencies. 

Give them a ring.

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

Hi Jen,

I am also trying to set up a studio, and have decided to take a
second job to provide funds for tool purchases. I have been warned
that a second job can end up being used to pay bills. It also takes
time away from making jewelry.

I’m taking all of the suggestions provided by this forum, because I
really want to get my studio out of the house and above ground
level. Working in the basement sucks!

I will forever be looking for surplus tools. I have been to scrap
yards for free stuff. I can include you on my finds, just email me
off list. I can also help you with lapidary (slabbing rock, cutting,
and polishing stones).

Best of luck!
Jeff Simkins

Stuller is running a huge overstock sale on tools, as well a
closeout sales on tools from swest… check the stuller web site for
the tool specials posted daily. I will also fax a list of the
overstock tools please supply name and fax number

Andy " The Tool Guy" Kroungold
Tool Sales / Technical
Stuller Inc
Phone 800-877-7777 ext. 94194
Fax 337-262-7791

To the woman who is looking for funding to set up a studio, this may
be helpful:


Hi Andy,

How do you find the tools specials on the Stuller website? I tried
but couldn’t find any reference to it - maybe my sight is going
along with everything else.

Please contact the author off list

Jan McClellan