Where is Jeweler heaven?

Friends-- I’d really like to hear about where you live, and how it
does/does not work for you in terms of natural beauty, like-minded
people, opportunities and social ambience. I’m hoping this will help
me with a very important issue in my life. Not strictly a jewelry
issue, but one that may be of some interest beyond me, since it is
about feeding the soul. I’ve been an artist all my life. Making
things, and teaching, are all I can/want to do. I was raised way out
in the country (Florida) by a mother from Manhatten, and a
second-generation Floridian father who was an artist, whose
life-view was heavily colored by his Native American grandmother. I
mention these things to give a sense that my spirituality and peace
of mind are tied to the earth, and thrive on quiet, natural
settings. However, I have not lived in such a setting since I left
home to go to college, in 1968. I went to the University of Chicago,
fell in live with a Chicago guy (down to the bone), have been
married to him for 25 years and 4 kids. Now, here’s the issue-- I
can’t stand to live here much longer. I love Evanston, where we
live, but a house that had natural beauty around it, here, would
only be available to the very rich. Our modest bungalo on less than
1/4 acre is now worth maybe $400,000 or more, taxes $7,000 a year.
My husband is a writer-- we’re never going to be well-off. He also
would lose his mind in the isolation that I crave. SO-- does anyone
know of a place where one can live in beauty, near artists and
intellectuals, cheaply? We are beginning a process of visiting
places, in hopes of finding a place that somehow solves our
connundrum. This is possibly the biggest challenge of our marriage,
and I have no idea where to even look. So, friends, thanks for
reading this far. And thanks for any thought you give this problem,
regardless of result. --Noel

Noel I think from what you have discribed I think you should look
at Idaho Falls Idaho It is 100 mi from Jackson, 100 mi. from
Yellowstone park 150 mi from Sun Valley . fishing in town , 20
min, from Sking snowmobiling camping . Living is chepper
here than where you are for sure. Don in I.F.

Ahhh, Noel… welcome to North Carolina! Within a day’s drive of
everything east of the Mississippi River, a very moderate climate,
and just downright beautiful! Then the question becomes, “Do I want
to live near the coast or in the mountains?” There is incredible
beauty in both and the real estate values are unreal. P.S. Jesse
Helms has finally retired and Elizabeth Dole won his seat in the

Fine crafts have a great tradition in the Carolinas, and there is an
active metalsmith community in the Asheville area, in the mountains.
North Carolina pottery has been famous for centuries. The Mint Museum
of Craft+Design, one of the leading fine craft museums in the
country, is right here in Charlotte. http://www.mintmuseum.org. The
famous Penland School is here, and Arrowmont is just “over the hills”
in Tennessee. Blaine Lewis’ school is up the road in Virginia Beach
and William Holland is a few hours away, down in Georgia.

Come pay us a visit… my dogwood trees have lost their flowers, but
my azaleas are blazing and the roses are starting to bloom!

All the best,


Noel, I have observed over the past 38 years that places where
artists move to, because they are affordable, soon become desireable
places for others to live and then the real estate prices begin to
escalate. I observed this in what was soon to be called “SoHo” in
NYC. Friends moved into old unused loft spaces, lived there illegally
for a time, and, soon enough, everyone else wanted to live there. Now
those spaces command millions of $$$. I moved to Nyack, NY 27 years
ago and was able to buy an 1877 Victorian house for $31000. The town
attracted many artists, crafts people, writers, actors, etc. With a
lot of sweat equity it is now worth 16 times what I paid. The
artists, etc, were followed by others who could afford to pay more
and did. The prices have been escalating at about 15% a year for some
time. Most of us who have been here for some time could not afford to
buy here now. You have to get in on the ground floor when attempting
to make the move that you want. I can’t suggest any place in
particular. One has to be willing to take a chance and then
contribute to creating the community that you want. Joel
@Joel_Schwalb www.schwalbstudio.com

Noel–My husband and I live in New York City. As you are finding in
Chicago, it is very expensive to live here. Now that we’ve retired
(just!) we’ve decided to move to Nashville, TN. We read that we can
expect it to be 60% cheaper than NYC, a real draw when living on
reduced incomes. Homes there are not only reasonably priced, but
beautiful as well. Some located at Percy Priest Lake may even
provide the natural setting you’re looking for.

After living all of my adult life in NYC - I came from Ohio to attend
Pratt Institute here - I’m concerned about moving away. I could just
run up to 47th St. on a lunch hour for most of here are wonderful
inspiration for design - and I had hoped would be eventual sites for
my own work one day. Yes, it’s all here - if you want to pay the
price and worry about future terrorist attacks.

But several trips to TN have convinced me to give it a try. (My
husband was a college professor in TN before he relocated to NY where
I met him, so he knows the city well.) The people are warm and
friendly. There appears to be a healthy interest in the crafts.
We’re counting on Vanderbilt University to provide intellectional
stimulation for us - although there are many other colleges in the
area - and Vanderbilt hospital to take good care of us in our aging

We will be moving within the month into a lovely new home that would
cost at least three or four times as much in NYC. We know absolutely
no one in TN, except for the delightful realtor who helped us find
our place. I don’t know if it will be jeweler heaven or not - NYC has
been that in many ways. But, as you say there are other
considerations and I’ve made the ultimate commitment - taking apart
my bench. What an ordeal that was!

Anyway, if you think you’d like to check out TN, I’ll share whatever
info I can. Best of luck in your search! Penny Brackett

Dear Noel, I can certainly relate to your conundrum. I have lived all
over the world, but am a Native Californian. I grew up in Southern
California when it was a rustic showcase of natural beauty. Now it
is unfit for human habitation…except for young career oriented
people on the make for money and some nebulous form of validation.

Urban sophistication and natural wild beauty are, for the most part,
mutually exclusive. One only has to look at a map of the Eastern
United States to immediately perceive that it is essentially " paved
over ". In the west, urban centers sprawl for tens of miles in all
directions. Furthermore, the price of real estate is ridiculously
expensive in all the desireable areas. Anything within thirty miles
of the coast in California is essentially unaffordable unless you go
to the far north beginning in about Eureka. In that area you are
plagued by a seldom seen sun and more neanderthals than many other

If I were in your shoes I would boil my search down to looking at
modest sized cities in the West which have Universities. Flagstaff
,Arizona is one that comes to mind. It is an area of great beauty
and has a fine University and, affordable real estate is not out of
the question. One of the factors to bear in mind is that as a
general rule, the climate tends to be somewhat hot almost anywhere
in the west unless you can find a place that is elevated. Any area
above four thousand feet is also apt to have winter snow. In short,
I would suggest that you assemble a list of small to medium size
towns in the west that are located in areas of natural beauty, have
a university and are also elevated. Bear in mind that the climate in
Arizona at seven thousand feet elevation is about the same as that
near three thousand in the Northwestern states. For what you want,
Western Idaho may have a lot to offer. Santa Fe New Mexico is also
extremely attractive, very art oriented and has a very intellectual
community…however, beware of the real estate prices. Portland
Oregon is another shining example of a combination of art, intellect
and natural beauty.

Life is a series of compromises, but it goes without saying that
where you live is what feeds the soul. Good luck in your quest. I am
sure that you can come closer to your Nirvana without giving up
anything that is meaningful or indispensible. Ron at Mills Gem, Los
Osos, CA.

My goodness Noel, Modest bungalow worth $400,000? With all the
things that you said that influenced your life and what you are
looking for you need to be in New Mexico. You could take half the
money your modest bungalow is worth and buy a very nice house in
Albuquerque or Santa Fe, New Mexico for cash. Take the other half
and invest in your new adventure and have no bills and a great life.
There you will be around all the artist you can stand. The issue of
intellectuals is a matter of definition. I am sure that they have
them and I tend towards the ones up in Los Alamos. I moved here when
I moved back to the states from China by choice. Mainly I was
searching for perfect weather, rocks to climb, bike trails to ride,
etc… and a place to base from as I traveled and did my consulting
work. Basically a place to look forward to coming home to. All that
is here. Unfortunately, my political views do not match this area.
I’m a bit on the conservative side. So I am thinking of heading back
to the hills of Tennessee. Your welcome to my place. It has 180
degree view of the Sandia mountain range, equidistant from Rio Grande
tools and the Home Depot, (heaven for me). It certainly has a great
lab (studio) setup, all the power you could ever want and natural
gas, right where you would want it.

Best Regards,
J. Tyler Teague
JETT Research

Noel, I live in what has been described as the 200th worst city to
live in by Money Magazine. I, however, think it’s a great place to
live. For the $400,000 that your home is worth you could live here
in one of the finest homes in the county with plenty of land around
it to soothe your soul. We have an active arts community, a nice
community theater, and a fabulously renovated old theater that
brings Broadway productions to our city. We have an excellent
symphony. We are only 1.5 hours or less from Chicago, Milwaukee,
and Madison. I live in a very nice home in an average neighborhood
that would sell for around 80,000. There is a community college and
a liberal arts college here and we are only 45 minutes from a state
university that has a jewelry program. I find that I can drive to
most shows in a day, two days for the East coast and Florida. I
live in Rockford, IL.

Deb Karash

Noel at the risk of bringing more competion to my area (grin). let me
say after 30 + years working in the major telecommunication industry
and retireing twice. I have pushed my hobby new profession , to the
front of my ambitions and enjoy live and creativity tremendouly .
basically in your back door I am located in a small town in northern
lower Michigan. nature at it’s best also only 40 miles from good
shopping. if this has peeked your curiosity feel free to contact me
at anytime Dick Bayer by the way just to let you know the distance I
can make O’hare field in about 5 1/2 hours

Noel; Hello.

I have a place in mind for you. It is vertically challenged though,
and if you like the mountains you may not find it heaven. I do
however. God, when he made it, used a level in the layout. Many
marshes around to put the mind at rest.

It is the south shore of Lake Erie in Ohio. Say, somewhere between
Toledo and the far side of Huron. A distance of about 60 miles.
There is something in every price range and home type. The area
around Toledo was known as the Black Swamp and, because of its
inhospitable nature, was the last lands settled in Ohio. It’s rich
in history also. Between Toledo and Port Clinton is a National
Wildlife refuge and a couple of state wildlife areas.

Toledo has artists and Ben Richmond lives in Marblehead (and owns
half the town from what I hear). Harold Roe also lives in Toledo.
The Toledo Art Museum is nothing to sneeze at either. Toledo, at
one time, was the cutting edge of both commercial and artistic glass
work and still is active in this artistic arena. Guess point to
make is that there are like minded people around.

I think you would find it a good compromise between the flatlands of
Florida and shores of Lake Michigan. Chicago is 300 miles and 6
hours away.

Also are active native Indian groups in the area to assist in
meeting that soulful area. On Saturday, April 26, 2003, at 01:54 AM,
Noel Yovovich wrote:

If I can tell you more or help, let me know. It is a great place to
grow up, live, and work. You can contact me off list if you want.

Eric Schmidt

IDAHO! I wish that I could go home so bad, I can taste it. I crave
wide open sky! But, like you, past/present choices prevent me from
returning home! Idaho is affordable, beautiful and has many
locations where artists live and play! See attached
picture! Greenlaughter

[Attachment Removed. Use http://www.ganoksin.com/ftp to share files.


While Seattle itself, where I live, gets pricey in the better
neighborhoods, there are areas within an hour or two’s drive that are
hauntingly beautiful, and fairly economical, while still being within
reach of Seattle’s rich cultural resources. Now mind you, I don’t
mean these areas are actually cheap. Certainly not even close to
that. But you can find areas that are a good deal cheaper than what
you’ve got now, with much of the character you’re looking for at
least very close by. Heading north from Seattle, the Mt.
Vernon/Bellingham area is very pretty, and not as costly as Seattle,
though not quite cheap either. It’s an hour from Seattle, and an
hour and a half from Vancouver WA, another great city. And to the
west you’ve got the San Juan Islands easily accessible, or a bit
longer away, perhaps by ferry, the whole of the wild and wooly Olympic
penninsula. closer by, to the east of us, is the whole of the North
Cascade mountains. Mt. Baker and the whole rest. Beautiful
country. If you actually go up a bit in that direction, many of the
small towns getting up to and into the Cascades are quite reasonably
priced places to live, though the closer you get to that, the farther
you get from the cultural resources of Seattle itself. If you don’t
mind living a ferry ride away from Seattle, the real estate prices on
the other side of the sound on Bainbridge Island are often quite
reasonable. It’s not as convenient if you’re planning to work in
Seattle and commute via the ferries, though lots of folks do it. (It
means an hours commute. But the ferry ride is fun.) As to Seattle
resources, the arts community is very active and rich. You’ve got
the University of Washington here, and a whole slew of active arts
groups and lots of people working in the arts in this area. While
our Opera isn’t yet quite the equal of the lyric in Chicago, it’s
coming along nicely, with a wonderful new opera house in the midst of
construction. And our Symphony orchestra is world class. Lots of
local theatre groups. The Seattle Art Museum isn’t as big, by far,
as the Chicago one, but it’s a fine collection which brings a steady
stream of fine special exhibitions to town.

Now, if you’re a person who craves lots of sunshine, then this may
not be always the place for you. Summers are glorious and sunny, but
the winters tend to be quite gray and we get frequent rain about half
the year (though not more, in inches, than Chicago. Just more
frequent, smaller doses). The tradeoff to the frequency of rain is
that everything here is a heck of a lot greener and more alive than
anything in the midwest. In terms of ecosystmes, we’ve got a lot of
variety. The ocean itself is just a hundred miles away, and the
sound is also salt water with interesting aspects to it and a lively
sea life population. The olypmic mountain area is not only beautiful
and wild mountainous terrain, but a true temperate rain forest
ecology. The Cascades to the east are more tempered than that, but
offer a wonderful winter getaway (Mt Baker has set world records for
snow fall, and is wonderful skiing.) Just the other side of the
Cascades, you quickly can find not only desert ecologies, but also
some very fertile farming areas.

I moved here in '97, and frankly, love the place. wish I’d moved
here decades earlier. It’s got it’s downsides, of course. Most
obviously, transportaion issues, with the main north south highway,
I-5, being one of the most congested in the country. But one learns
to deal with it.

And did I mention the quality of the coffee one can get out here?

Peter Rowe

Dear Noel,

My wife, daughter and myself are living in the South-West of PA. This
is a beautiful region - the nature is stunning, esp. this time a
year - but socially and intellectually, it is very poor (and I just
have the idea that they would lynch me here if they knew about my
political convictions). A couple of miles from here is a little city,
but only steelworkers live there. Since it is a part of the old
industrial axis from Pittsburgh to Detroit, and since steel is not
going well, the living conditions are often poor, although there is
some diversification and restructuring going on. But houses are cheap
and, all by all, it is a beautiful region, even very beautiful.

The problem is that I am starting to lose my brain here - although
figuring out Rhino may have something to do with it too. As you know,
I’m not an American and I don’t really belong here. I never will.
This country is too weird for me - no pin intended whatsoever, and
not only that, it is too conservative and in a state of regression.
Therefore, I decided to sell the house - btw, it is a great house in
every respect (can send you a pic if you want, it’s big too), but the
problem is that my wife doesn’t know this yet - there’s a For Sale
poster on the door of the garage, which is always closed except when
she comes home (it takes some practice). We would ask $ 150.000 for
it. For what concerns social and intellectual contacts, it is the
net which keeps me alive, but I do not find this very satisfactory
anymore. I love to sit at a table, to eat well, to drink a bottle of
wine and to chat with my friends for hours. I miss that so much. I
think that living is so much isolation is really bad - if anything,
it makes you idiosyncratic, since you are unable to test your ideas
in a social way. This is relevant for the artist too, since, while
the artist creates new things, s/he is dependent on the view and the
taste of others for approval.

I really liked the pics you sent me the other day, but I had the
feeling that there was something wrong with your message, as there
was no end - did something go wrong?


Noel - Check out the Smokey Mountains of eastern Tennessee/western
North Carolina. There are areas of relatively high population
density (enough to support an open studio art circuit with dozens of
members), along with great natural beauty and a generally mild
climate. We landed closer up to Virginia because we wanted more

Jim Small
Small Wonders

    As you know, I'm not an American and I don't really belong
here. I never will. This country is too weird for me Best, Will 

Ah, Will, what can I say . . . You’re heRe: you’re an American. It’s
a great place to feel alone in a crowd. We are a nation of
outsiders, at times, and at times, more like a huge family than
you’ll ever see anywhere else. You need to get out more. You’re not
far from me so if you come up to Ithaca, New York, drop in and we’ll
see the sights together. Actually, I’m in Cortland, but Ithaca’s
got more cachet.

David L. Huffman

We currently live in Tacoma, WA. Next month, yippie!!, we’re moving
back to rural Central Florida. I personally wouldn’t put either
area, Puget Sound or Central Florida on your list, for one reason or
another…here’s why…

While in the Puget Sound, you do have the intellectual spirit you
are after, the weather just is awful, IMO. Someone else mentioned
the rain. Well, they say it rains here 2 out of three days in the
winter and fall, and they are right. It rains all day long when it
rains, usually. Just grey and drizzley and icky. Mud everywhere,
blech. In general, it’s a more hurried area, I think. Less time to
sit and relax and enjoy the world. Taxes are pretty outrageous,
regardless of the lack of a state income tax. There is talk of
raising the state sales tax going on right now, which is over 8.5%
in most urban-ish areas. I’m not sure what they are talking about
raising it to, but I’m just glad to be leaving. House prices are
outrageous, as well, unless you get far enough out to not be in an
area with that intellectual stimulation.

Central Florida: lacks the intellectual thing. Lots of arty types
live all over Florida, but there’s also a large proportion of
rednecks. I’m not putting rednecks down, mind you, most of my family
qualifies as such, but it can look a lot like an episode of “King of
the Hill.” It’s cheaper, for sure, and pretty, in it’s own way, but
then you have the heat and humidity to deal with. And bugs. Though
those nasty skeeter eater things up here sure compete with Florida
roaches for sheer shock value.

Dawn Stevenson

Noel, The decision you’re facing is not uncommon. Some members of my
family recently decided to get out of the DC area and move to a
slower paced but still interesting place. They settled on Madison,
WI and were surprised to find that houses were not anywhere as
inexpensive as they expected; to get a much cheaper house they had
to get a much smaller house than they had in Bethesda. Areas that
have everything are in demand and the real estate costs reflect
that. Everything’s relative, including living cheaply. Many of the
other suggestions you’ve received have stressed the natural wonders
of their area; to satisfy your other requirement for a very
stimulating area that’s RELATIVELY inexpensive, you could consider
one of the smaller towns around Providence, RI. You’d spend a much
larger percentage of the proceeds from your current home but might
get get closer to something that would please both of you. Rhode
Island School of Design graduates a lot of jewelers who stay in the
area and RISD has recently announced a 57,000 square foot expansion
of galleries, public areas and research space. Providence is
working hard at revitializing their downtown and I know some artists
(who live on artist’s incomes)who are considering it a ground-floor
opportunity. It has even become a dinner destination for those from
the Boston area! Boston is a little over an hour and New York is
under 3 hours yet there are supprisingly rural areas (some are
economically depressed, some trendy) within 20-30 minutes of
Providence. Beaches are very nearby, mountains and lakes 4 to 5
hours. Just another point of view… I’m enjoying the travelog of


Noel, I have to agree with Ron. I was raised in Santa Barbara in
the early 60’s and 70’s which was absolute paradise. Now it has
become the actors bedroom. I live in Woburn now, just north and
west of Boston. My tiny ranch house has escalated in value nearly
$100K which is great, until I have to buy something again.

I agree with Dave Sebaste. I have been meaning to visit him all
these years, (and I still plan to Dave!), North Carolina sounds
great. It has the weather, low housing prices and a healthy love
for art. I liked Bozeman, Montana too, but their housing is
escalating. Portland Or, isn’t all that dreary, they just tell that
to Californians so we will stop moving there ; - ) It was voted
three times running as the best city to live in.

Karen Christians
10 Walnut St., Woburn MA 01801
Ph. 781 937 3532, Fx. 781 937 3955
Jewelry/Metalarts School & Cooperative Studio
Board Member for the Society of North American Goldsmiths

Noel, Coeur d" Alene Idaho is the best kept secret around. And let’s
all keep it that way! It is the absolute best of both worlds.
Spokane is just 20 minutes away (international airport). You can be
very secluded or right in town. Coeur d" Alene is a resort town so
there is always something going on. I think the resort itself makes
people that lived in the city feel at home (Tall buildings…) We are
in Kootenai county, named of course for the Indians. It is
absolutely breathtaking. Anyone who has ever been here, never
forgets. Start asking around, it’s amazing how many people drove
through on a trip or what not and will tell you what a jewel they
remember it to be. If your husband doesn’t like the idea… tell him
tough… none of us were meant to leave in cities… it’s inhuman!
(ha) Check it out at www.coeurdalene.org Marjorie (in artist heaven)

Just thought I’d offer a defense for the over-priced, paved-over
East Coast. …

OK, I wouldn’t recommend Southeastern Massachusetts, where I live.
Housing prices and taxes are better than what Noel describes in
Chicago, but not what anyone would classify as “cheap.” I love it,
but then, I grew up in the Boston suburbs. And my husband is a
computer engineer, so our proximity to the Boston area’s many
high-tech companies is a big plus.

But New England has lots of beautiful rural areas that are still
affordable. Portland, Maine, for example, plays host to quite a
number of artist-jewelers, as does Camden, Maine, a bit further
north. Yes, you have to like cold weather. But for scenery, the Maine
coastline can certainly hold its own. And Portland is only about a
hour and a half from Boston, with all its history and cultural
amenities, and its very large international airport (the 11th busiest
in the world, you can get there from here.) You can even go by
train: Amtrak’s Down Easter runs several times a day between Portland
and Boston.

Northern New Hampshire and the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont are also
lovely, picturesque areas with plenty of natural beauty and great
outdoor activities, (hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, water sports,etc.)
and housing is still quite affordable. These will take a slightly
longer drive to access the airport, but you can still be in the
Manchester, New Hampshire, terminal in two hours or so. And you can
easily spend the weekend in Boston anytime you have a craving for
live theater or the symphony (Boston’s Symphony Hall is widely
regarded as one of the world’s best venues for classical music.)

One of the great things about working in the arts is we can live
wherever it suits us. For me, the proximity to family was most
important. (My parents and my in-laws live about 50 minutes away, my
sister lives 20 minutes away.) I lived in the Philadelphia area for
about three years in the early '90s, but this was always my home,
and I came back the first chance I got. Even if this year the snow
arrived before Thanksgiving, and I shoveled for the last time (so
far) during the first week of April. (Hey, you notice I didn’t rave
about the weather…)

May you find a great place to live, and may you be happy in your
home, wherever it is!

Suzanne Wade
Phone: (508) 339-7366
Fax: (928) 563-8255