Where to live and work after the job

I feel that I usually get a lot more than I give in this forum–but
I guess that won’t keep me from posting again.

I would appreciate suggestions, ideas, comments:My husband and I are
in our mid fifties. He is a woodcrafter, making fine furniture out
of native (Texas right now) hardwoods and I am a silver/goldsmith,
self-taught, in my third year. Right now our income (paltry) comes
pharmacy work with my jewelry work still in the red and his
woodworking in the black but done on commission only. Within the
next 5 to 10 years we would like to be in residence in a new place
and we want to just work at our passions–furniture and jewelry.

The question is where? We both agree that although we are getting by
financially here and we’ve been here 19 years, we don’t really fit
the community (or it doesn’t fit us). What we want is to live and
work where there is a bit more diversity in culture and where there
are more artisans that we might find to be friends with. A place
where there are people who are spiritual and freethinking without
believing that being seen in church regularly substitutes for growth
and introspection. We don’t want the “house and yard” scene to take
care of and we don’t want that pressure to “keep up with the
Jones’s” in that or any other respect. We would like to have a
live/work space that is clean and practical without a lot of upkeep
or frill, maybe a workshop and living area in the back and a gallery
area in the front. Mostly, though, we want to live where there is a
preponderance of other artisans living, working, and selling.

I know a lot of the realization of this dream will depend on where
we are financially when the time comes and how much freedom we have
to relocate. If we can get by, sell our wares and still eat, and
make like-minded friends it will be a dream come true.

J. (Sue) Ellington

Sue; Do NOT I repeat DO NOT consider western or central Tennessee.
Eastern Not so bad, Memphis Nashville not worth the hassle, Knoxville
is good as there are tourist attractions abounding, along with
Dolly’s front side, One of the best areas I know of for Crafting and
artistry is Ashville North Carolina, Plus there are constant art and
craft shows near by. Memphis is so vastly over priced and all that
sells there is Bling Bling, Nashville, isn’t really receptive to arts
Not as much as the “Country Music Capitol Of The World” should be,
mostly a flash but trash clientele. I used to wholesale a bunch of
14Kt. With two Carats of frozen spit for 300.00. Actually they were
diamonds but not what any one in their right mind would class as
Precious Stones (sorry Mr. Spiers) these would have been better used
on saw blades or drills. These wouldn’t make it to Semi Precious; I
would sell 20 or thirty a week to stores up there, I guess when the
light hit them just right the had some sparkle, Texas is a hard
market too. I used to do well in Austin but that got hard as did the
Galleria in Houston. Fredericksburg still seems to be doing OK not as
good as it was, but no place is. At least Fredericksburg is a nice
community. I wish I could afford to leave Tennessee and move there.
Good artist base, good tourist traffic, I think those are things we
need to look for. Traveling this year may not be as common as in past
years and discretionary spending probably won’t be as high either
Peace Y’all Kenneth Ferrell

Kenneth-- Austin is having a hard time because of their economy. One
of the nicest galleries finally closed its doors.

Fredericksburg (I was the pharmacist at the hospital there) is a
very backward and cliquish place to live. The do things the way they
have always done them and they don’t want new ideas or new ways or
new people unless the follow the leader.

J. Sue

OK, your talking about my world here, I agree that Western and
Middle Tennessee are not the place to be (for any reason)!! Middle
TN isn’t as bad as West, it’s nastly on all levels! I live in East
Tennessee, about 20 miles from Knoxville. there are more people with
more money to spend in Knoxville & Gatlingberg. Gatlinberg has a
nice Crafters niche, if you like to be in a crowd of people, (I
don’t like people that much myself). There is a Craft School there
that has some Metalsmithing classes http://www.arrowmont.org/ I’m
looking into.

As for the Dolly reference ( I was forced by the Kindergarden class
to go once this year, That was enough, I’ll have to go again when my
son is in the 3rd grade with that class) I always miss the
blacksmith actually doing something, it’s all I can do to keep my
hands off his smithing tools, lol

Kenneth, where are you located in TN ???

Jurnee Moon

Hi, again, Sue, A while ago, I posted a question about “Where is
Jeweler Heaven?” I got a goodly number of responses and suggestions.
If you want to see them, and cannot for some reason find them in the
archives (try “jewelry heaven” or just “heaven”), I saved them all
and will pass them along. Our goals are not identical, but probably
close enough for it to be useful. Let me know if you want me to try
to send them.

By the way, I don’t know PA very well, but am under the impression
that, because of the failure of the coal industry, much of it is
quite depressed. It is very beautiful, and probably not expensive,
but possibly difficult to earn a living locally. But don’t take my
word for it.


Dear Sue,

I am mindful of the classic American movie " Texasville" after
having read your letter. Small towns can be stifling, but they also
bring with them a sense of community and belonging. On the other
hand, if their intellectual horizons are limited they can be
prison-like. Based on your lifestyle and vocational commitments I
would recommend that you consider places like Santa Fe, New Mexico,
where there is a community orientation toward the arts. Durango ,
Colorado is another community which is urbane yet rustic. Both
communities are located in awesome natural settings. Never succumb
to the assumption that one town is like the next…each town is a
world in itself and the variety is infinite ! Too many people cop
out and give up the quest…Ron Mills at Mills Gem Company,
Los Osos, Ca.

The question is where? 

I’m an intermittent subscriber to The Crafts Report. More than once
I’ve noticed an ad, run by the city of Cumberland, Maryland, urging
readers to consider relocating to their fair city. The web address
they give for more is www.ci.cumberland.md.us.
Cumberland appears to be located on the thin strip of Maryland that
is sandwiched between Pennsylvania and West Virginia. From the photo
on the first page of the website, it looks like a beautiful area.

When I was at SNAG in St. Petersburg, Florida this past
whenever-it-was, I really liked the city. It has a living, breathing
downtown, served by locally owned businesses. And it’s not populated
entirely by frail old people; there are all sorts of people living
in St. Pete. There are at least 2 museums and a university to keep
the city well-stocked with young people. And the Gulf coast is close
by and just beautiful, and Fort DeSoto state park is not far away.
Homes within the city appear to be reasonably priced. They even have
bicycle lanes in the streets and buses, as well as a trolley that
runs a loop through the downtown area. I was pleasantly surprised by
St. Pete.

Just a couple of places to think about…

Christine in Littleton, Massachusetts
No one deserves lung cancer.


Take a look at Ann Arbor, MI. If you can take the lack of heat in
the winter and snow and a different landscape than TX you might like

It is an artist type of town as well as a college town. Univ. of

Their Art Fair in the summer is way cool and big.


Hi Sue,

One place that I haven’t seen mentioned is Arizona.

Depending on the type of climate you’re looking for, desert,
mountains, hot/dry (warm/hot) temperate (cold/warm) AZ can
accommodate you. The places to live range from areas like Phoenix
(over a million) & Tucson to smaller locales like Flagstaff, Tubac,
Prescott, Bisbee etc. There’s also the possibility of an acreage out
in the boondocks.

Many of the locales in AZ have an assortment of
artists/craftspeople. There are local & statewide organizations for
them & many shops to sell our wares in. Additionally, there are the
annual gem/jewelry shows in Tucson & Quartzite & the JCK show in
Phoenix. Plus the BIG Orchid dinner every Feb in Tucson!

Compared to many of the other metropolitan areas of the US, the cost
of living is lower (but growing) in AZ.


Sue, Come to Columbus Ohio! As we learned the day before yesterday on
Orchid, OSU is working on a new jewelery department. So is Columbus
College of Art and Design. Why, because for the last ~20 years or
The Department of Recs and Parks through Cultural Arts Center as
well as other fine facilities, as well as the Leo Yassinov Jewish
Community Center, have been turning out interested ambitious amateur
and professional metal-smiths. There are tools and work shops for
casters, stone cutters, and fabricators of all kinds, as well as
sculptors, painters, textile artists—because the cost of living
here is reasonable, the cost of the classes is reasonable. Inside
the “outer-belt” there are many neighborhoods, all different, but
all compelling and diverse that one might be interested in.
Checkout Clintonville, my home, German Village, Old Town East, and
the Short North, which started it all 15-20 years when “artists” and
“homosexuals” decided that the center of the city was really the
place to be. If you are a pharmacist, Merck is here, Batelle, and
Ross labs, as well as a hospital every 3 miles including the
renowned OSU medical center. We don’t have an ocean, or a mountain
(there was a movement to get us one, but we got a few arenas
instead- we had the first soccer stadium in the united states for
our Columbus Crew) but there are many lovely ravines cutting their
way through the city from the high ground (not all that darn high)
and the the rivers, all interconnected by 20 miles of multi use
trails. Come for a festival, we have one about every week throughout
the summer, this weekend is the Latino fest, next week we are all
breathlessly awaiting the com-fest www.comfest.com the oldest non
profit, non corporate festival in the United States. Come to
Columbus. Columbus would be glad to have you.


I haven’t been to Austin in several years, I just kind of liked it,
I used to have a few accounts there. Gosh I still have a couple of
clients in Fredericksburg, they just phone us their orders. I guess I
liked it because it was so different from the Dallas/Ft.Worth area Or
Texoma. I guess with all the old-line German farmers and their Sontag
houses it is different. I have never been there for more than a few
days at a time, I have an Aunt that resides there perhaps that’s why
I liked it, (and the sales were ususly good) Well I will stand behind
my warning for West and or Central Tennessee. Y’all can and do get
beat with the bible belt regularly, Specially round these here parts.
Although they have learned not to run when my daughter or I go into
town, they just look down and turn away as they make the sign of a

Kenneth Ferrell

Hi, folks,

It seems to me at this moment that, of the answers to this query
about where to live, and my earlier “jeweler heaven” one, few, if
any people have written, “Come live in my town!” It doesn’t seem
as though many of us are really pleased with where we actually are.
Who out there thinks you’re in the best possible spot for you?


Take a look at Keystone Heights Florida. I am selling my small
jewelry store that has supported me well for 22 years now. My price
is extreemley reasonable. 30 minutes from Jacksonville beaches and
20 from the University of Florida in Gainesville. A nice way of



I’m one who is very happy living and working where I am. I live in a
beautiful Hudson River Valley village, 20 miles north of Manhattan.
To me it is the best of all worlds, a great, diverse community very
near, but far enough from, a great diverse city. I have lived and
worked here for 27 years. My kids grew up here and now live nearby
with their kids. My clients visit me, by appointment, in my home
studio with a separate entrance. My website business is now 7 years
old and steadily growing.

I am an avid kayaker and last year built a kayak and use it on the
Hudson River which is about 500 feet from my door. My home has
increased in value by nearly 20 times but I would not think of
selling and taking the money and run. Life is too good hear to leave.

Joel Schwalb

Hi, I’m pretty happy over here in Ibiza, a little 25x 10 mile island
off the coast of Spain…lots of tourists to sell to in the Summer,
nice and quiet in the Winter…weather is good…bit too hot in
July and August…of course being an island, it’s a bit difficult to
get to shows on the mainland, but we do have 2 shows here every
year,and there’s one on the neighbouring big island of Mallorca.We
live in the countryside away from the tourist areas,so that’s nice
too…although now a lot of land in our little valley is being built
on by a multi millionaire,and is starting to look like a suburb…but
he only visits for a couple of months a year, so that’s ok too…

Steve Holden

    Who out there thinks you're in the best possible spot for you? 

That would be me. Thing is, I like a more or less blank canvas.
This area is perfect for the long game.


Cheap, good real estate , in town or out; almost zero sprawl,
beautiful vistas, excellent public schools, possibly the best in the
country, easy access to the interstate, short drive to NY, Boston,
Philly, lots or nearby high brow culture, find the right circles,
you’ll make lots of friends right away.


Better love winter, cause there’s plenty of it, economy is more or
less permanently shot due to the mass exodus of manufacturers to
overseas and tax break haven states like Texas; small town mindset
with a “kick-me” sign on it’s back and a “what’s the use” attitude
about fixing things.

So why am I here? Well, I have no competition worth worrying about,
so I’ve got growth potential only limited by my own ambitions.
Doesn’t matter that the economy is crippled, people still fix their
jewelry, and some people always have money, and I’m starting to find
them. Besides, who says I have to sell here? In nearby Ithaca,
there’s a pretty sizable art culture, and it’s “the” cool town. It’s
similar to Ann Arbor Michigan in many ways, with Ivy League Cornell
sitting up on the hill, and the Carl Sagan stuff all over, the
Commons, etc. It’s great, and one of the reasons I moved here. But
that’s Ithaca, and people in Ithaca don’t know why anyone would want
to live here in Cortland. Well, I guess for all their liberal
politics and political correctness, they are missing something.
There’s a lot of sincerity in a working class town, and it’s nowhere
else to be found, in my humble opinion. I guess I just have a soft
spot for the working man. I suppose I’d still be back in Detroit
(nobody understands what’s to love about Detroit) if not for the fact
that poor Detroit is so far gone it’s practically impossible for
one’s children to get any kind of an education, let alone a safe one.
I’ve managed to find a hard-core die-hard group of artists here,
real good ones too, who are just chomping at the bit to turn this
place into a first rate “culture gulch”, and we’re not taking no for
an answer. You wanna visit and see for yourself? Email me. You want
something along the lines of a turn-key Starbucks ridden quality of
life town, well, try Denver (oops, too crowded), Seattle (oops, too
expensive now), Ashville (love it, is it sprawling yet?), Pheonix
(yikes! got money?) you get the picture? I don’t want to be
someplace crawling with late arrivals and hanger’s on. I wanna build

David L. Huffman

David,I feel the same way you do about living in Maine. I have only
lived here for a year,coming from a short distance in N.H.

There are so many places to continue studying and so many well known
artists hidden up here in Maine. The state supports the Arts and
the atmosphere is wonderful. I live in southern Me. and living is
not cheap as it is in parts of the north. Where incidently,many
craftspeople have settled. I love the weather,since I do not
function well in the heat.

I feel that Cortland has the potential of being another Ithica.
Good luck to you and the rest of your art community.

P.S. Hanuman,See you and Ton Sat. So Excited.

I live in a beautiful Hudson River Valley village, 20 miles north
of Manhattan. To me it is the best of all worlds, 

Thanks, Joel,

How is the cost of living, there? For example, here in Evanston,
next to Chicago and a mile from the Lake, our modest bungallo on 1/4
acre is probably worth close to $500,000 (we paid $125,000 20 years
ago) and our taxes are around $7,000 per annum. The schools are
great, but we’ll only need them another two years.

Are you near Beacon? That’s the only area on the Hudson I know at
all-- years ago, I used to visit my uncle Pete (Seeger) there.
Lord!-- 40 years ago! Boy, now I feel old…

Anyway, thanks!

I’ve been thinking about this and am not sure I want to encourage
migration to Kansas, but I’ll proceed.

Our cost of living is low. We’re seeing an influx of coast folks,
mostly returning to the old home state… they can buy a nice home
for a fraction of their proceeds from selling their over-priced
house in CA or NY. There is even a small town giving away lots to
anyone who wants to build a home there. As one in-law from CA puts
it, “In Kansas, we can live comfortably and put some money away. In
CA, it would be a struggle, and living paycheck to paycheck.”

There are about 2.5 million in the whole state, and about 66% of
those live in three metro areas. (I’m in the remaining 34%) KC is
central to the country and allows inexpensive (so far) air travel to
almost anywhere.

Weather has been sorta weird lately, but historically the summers
are warm to hot and the winters are cool to frigid with absolutely
lovely spring and fall weather.

Not quite the buckle of the Bible belt, but close. Things are
loosening up though, and in communities with institutions of higher
education, it’s almost liberal! Guess that means there is some
place for everyone.

Public schools are generally excellent and most HS grads go on to
college - then promptly leave the state. They live and work
somewhere with a high cost of living, eventually sell out and in
many cases, return for a safer, quieter life.

Like I said, I’m not sure about encouraging migration. Perhaps I
should have left out the good stuff . Take it for what it’s

Judy in Kansas, where it’s supposed to be a sunny, hot (89 F) day,
perfect for my in-laws who are fishing for walleye. Guess what
we’re having for dinner!

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
B.A.E. 237 Seaton Hall
Kansas State University
Manhatttan KS 66506
(785) 532-2936 FAX (785) 532-6944

Dear Sue,

I used to live in Wimberley but moved 2 years ago to the Smoky
Mountains near Gatlinburg and 1 hour from Asheville. I am now 1 day
or less from all my shows, and St Louis is a day and a little more.
Asheville is beautiful and full of diversity, but can be pricey.
Ohio is a great state but there is snow up there. By the way, which
gallery closed in Austin?

Good luck…
Andrea in the Smoky Mtns