Workshop Relocation

I need some help/suggestions. I have a workshop with workstations
for up to 12 students. and am located 30 miles from Philadelphia in
Bucks County PA. I would like to relocate to an area with less
traffic, lower cost of living, more serious students, and something
interesting to do when I’m not teaching. I’m leaning toward Arizona
somewhere near Sedona. I want to be able to teach/cut stones because
I want to, not because the rent is due. A small retail shop would be
nice, but I don’t have the funds to buy at this time. ANY
SUGGESTIONS? Please delete original message when replying.


Fred Krauter Specializing in jewelry techniques
Gristmill Craft School and hand cut stones
64 Beulah Rd.
New Britain, PA 18901 @Fred_Krauter1

Hi, Fred

Sedona might be a good possibility. It is a sort of art colony
anyhow, with a lot of serious artists. I don’t know about the expenses
there, though.

But one of the problems with relocating to a small relatively
isolated place such as that is finding enough students. Probably
wouldn’t b e too many living there now. They would probably have to be
willing to relocate (move) there, and housing (since it is also a
tourist area) might be both scarce and expensive. On the other hand,
someone who would be willing (and able) to relocate there would
definitely be more serious! And if you did have a small retail shop,
it would probably do pretty well.

Another somewhat similar area you might consider, in the southwest,
would be Taos. It might be better attuned to your needs and wants.

Probably you would do best locating somewhere not too far from a
good-sized population center from which you could draw your students.
But far enough away (off the main highways) that housing for them
would not be too expensive. Of course, being out-of-the-way would mean
a retail store would probably not do too well.


Hi Fred,

You live in a nice area! We lived near Woodstock NY from '77-82. So I
can relate to getting to an area with a lower cost of living. To say
nothing about nice weather.

Now about AZ.

There are several different types of climate & life style (& cost of
living) in AZ. Generally, the Phoenix area is most congested & highest
priced. The next large area is Tucson, about 800,000. However, Tucson
is more laid back & not as cosmopolitan as Phoenix. After that comes
Flagstaff & Prescott. Flags’ in Northern AZ, about 100,000. Can’t
comment on the cost of living.

Climate wise Flag’s cooler than Tucson or Phoenix. It’s about 4500
ft, so they get snow every winter & some serious storms. In the summer
it’s about 20 deg cooler than Phoenix. Tucson is about 2400 ft &
Phoenix about 1400. Prescott is about 100 mi N of Phoenix at about
3500 ft. Sedona is about 50 mi So of Flag, about 4000 ft. They get
snow as well.

From what I’ve heard, the Sedona area is undergoing quite real estate
boom. Lots of folks from CA are moving in. There are a lot of
developers doing condos & timeshares as well. It’s starting to get a
high priced rep. BTW: Jim Kaufman (intarsia) lives in the Sedona area.

Prescott is also growing, ( hell, all of AZ is growing) but not as
fast as some areas. All of the folks I’ve talked to that live there
seem to like it. Not many negative comments.

have all the benefits of a large metro area & few of the hassles.
Tucson is home to the U of AZ, Davis Monthan Air Base, the Desert
Museum, Kitt Peak Nat Observatory, Raytheon Missile Systems, IBM, many
small hi tech cos & not to be forgotten, the Feb Gem show! There’s
also some very good hiking, rock hounding & gold prospecting within a
1 hr drive of Tucson. If you’re a skier, Tucson’s got the most
southerly ski slop in the US

The cost of living isn’t too high. The colder months (Nov- Apr) see
lots of snow birds. Many of them are looking for things to do & indulge
in new hobbies. There are lots of active artists (all disciplines, but
many lapidaries & metalsmiths) in the Tucson area. There are 2 local
clubs( Tucson Gem & Mineral, Old Pueblo Lapidary) that have club
houses & regular meetings & classes. The county & city parks & rec
depts have studios & offer classes. There’s a statewide organization,
AZ Designer Craftsman, for the artists/craftsperson. There groups
within it for the various disciplines.

Another area you might consider is Sierra Vista. It’s SE of Tucson
about 1 1/2 hr. It’s the home of Ft. Huchuca. Of late there seem to be
a lot of folks retiring there. Can’t tell you much about it. It’s
about 3000 ft & about 75,000 (I think).

If you’re looking to set up a school & want something to do when
you’re not teaching, just about anywhere in AZ would fill the bill.

If you’ve got any specific questions, fire away. I’ll try to answer

So you’ll know where I’m coming from. My wife & I were both born &
raised in Iowa. I started working for IBM there. They moved me to NY &
then to AZ. I retired in AZ in '91. Both our kids (& grand kids) live
in Tucson. If I had it to do all over, I’d do it again. AZ (Tucson) is
a great place to live!

Hi Fred; I have been interested in teaching privately myself. I have
the degrees and the bench experience, plus 5 years of college level
teaching experience. I have a friend down state with whom I’ve
discussed this idea, so there might be investors. I also have a
friend up here with acreage he’d love to see used for the building of
a craft school, like Pennland or the old Black Mountain experiment.
I live in the northwestern-most part of Michigans lower peninsula.
This area is growing quickly, but it’s still very affordable, and
there are no schools outside of established acadaemia that teach this
trade that I know of in Michigan. Winter is a bit longer up here,
but it’s very beautiful and there’s hunting, fishing, boating,
hiking, etc. galore. If you’re interested in the southwest, this may
be a bit cold for you, but consider it, and consider contacting me if
you’re interested.

Good Luck,
David L. Huffman

Fred, Funny we are in opposite sides of the spectrum. I live within
25 miles of Sedona… and any one who says they are having a
real-estate boom, needs to consider what they consider a boom. Since
I have lived out here I have seen 1/6 acre non perk tested lots
selling for over $130,000.00 getting property to rent that you can
work in runs about 1.00/sf. The arts here are very tourist oriented.
The prices have been going up from there, and now are ridiculous, I
don’t know if I would call it a boom or robbery.

If you don’t have a problem selling kokepelli or dogs with bandanas
on their necks you will do fine, other wise you better hold on to your
markets when you leave. I make a decent living, but I don’t sell a
thing here in the south west. I was even told by more than one
gallery that if I could put coyotes or cactus on my smithing they
would take it… and they all wanted to do consignment; I no longer do

I wish you the best of luck if you do decide to move to AZ, but
Sedona just isn’t the Mecca they tout themselves to be. If you can
cater to the tourist market you could have it made, but otherwise, if
you want your market to be any where near where you live, I would
stick to the Tucson area.

Sedona is mostly snow birds, retirees, and people who work in the
“service” industry. more people come to Sedona a year than the grand
canyon, and that has a HUGE and TOTAL influence on the economy here.
The reason I am saying that we are on different ends of the spectrum
is that I am considering moving out of this artistic black hole, and
going some where where the arts are something more than tourism, and
where there is more to do and more cultural events. I really dearly
miss at least having the opportunity of going to a gallery opening, or
a show, or some sort of event. Don’t let all the “galleries” here fool
you, they are galleries as much as the GAP is high fashion.

Take a look at Tucson if you like AZ, it still has all the out door
activities, with more options of things to do, and less catering to
the tourist dollar. (percentage wise at least)

Alex Austin
Austin Creations
PO Box 1109
Rimrock Az, 86335

(520) 567-3044
fax (520) 567-3345

Dear David I think we have “talked” before but what part of the
mitten do you live in ? I’m in Flint, also would you consider
teaching one student (me) and if you would at what price? In this
town there is no metalsmithing instruction available at all except
for an adult ed class that runs about 16 weeks a year and we keep it
going as much for a social club as a classroom since 99% of the
"students" ( there are about 6 of us ) have their own shops or work
at retail outlets …when one of us gets the chance to go to a
seminar or real learning experiance we share what we learned ( thats
how I learned to make chain ) as best we can, but nothing beats real
instruction. As an alternative maybe you would consider coming here
to teach a few weekend classes ? Thanks for your time. Ron


I read your posting with interest. I first went to Sedona about 8
years ago, before the “boom”/robbery that everyone has been enjoying.
I was very taken with Sedona and always wanted to go back. Last
year, seven years later, I finally did. I was so disappointed that
Sedona seemed to have lost a lot of its charm, in only the seven
years since I had first been there. It was, indeed, "touristy,"
overpriced, and what I would call “chachka heaven.” None of the work
I had seen out there seven years earlier, in terms of quality or
sophistication, seemed to be there - at least not at what would be
called reasonably or fairly priced. It was very disappointing.

We did, however, get to visit both Prescott and Flagstaff. Both were
charming little towns, but I wonder if they get the numbers of
people, both local and tourist, to support a move there for someone
who makes a living fabricating jewelry.

Again, thanks for your thoughts – very interesting, your take on
today’s Sedona - I thought I was the only one! --Madeline (P.S.: Does
Sedona still have those Pink Jeep tours?)

Dear Madeline,

Your observations about Sedona, as well as those of others, are very
perceptive and to the point. Those charming burgs that graced the
pages of Arizona Highways magazine for the past half century have
been loved to death. Alien Angelenos ( Los Angeles refugees) are
populating Arizona by the droves and, in the process, bringing their
culture of urban chaos and desecration with them. Sedona is fast
developing a Mexican border town atmosphere replete with crass
hucksterism. I was there last summer and couldn’t believe that there
were people occupying the sidewalk pitching discounts at stores full
of Chinese junk ! Crossing the street at mid day is a life
threatening experience. All this in a place that has some of the most
beautiful scenery in the world ! Gawd help us all !

As for the rest of Arizona, much of the foregoing apllies as well.
Prescott is one of the fastest growing towns in America and yet it is
already succumbing to urban congestion. ( We tried to get into the
downtown area one morning and there was gridlock at the main off
ramp…yeah…off ramp! This charming little “town” now has
freeways and there are beaucoups more on the way. Housing tracts are
going in 5000 units at a time. Flagstaff is still relatvely charming,
but it too is growing and smitten with commuter gridlock. Payson is
exploding with new shopping centers and chaotic expansion with urban
blight mixed with glitzy super sized parking lots. Phoenix is beyond
redemption…another Los Angeles which no longer relies on imported
smog from L.A. as it is generating plenty of its own. Tucson still
has some charm, but it sprawls more than any city of its size that I
know of. Frankly, however, both Phoenix and Tucson have the most
ungodly climates that I can imagine. I lived in Tucson for six months
one summer and the temperature was up to a hundred degrees F. every
day ! Phoenix is regularly 110 degrees during the summer. Tucson as
the added distinction of being both hot AND humid in the summertime.

The “La La” lands are a thing of the past. Here on the California
coast property values are escalating so fast that ordinary people are
being displaced by the moneyed elite. Real estate values have doubled
in the last five to seven years.

Don’t even dream of relocating until you have thoroughly researched
the area you are considering…in an ever escalating era of rapid
change, the dream land that beckons you may not be the same place it
was. Ron at Mills Gem, Los Osos, CA.

Hi, All-

I live in Phoenix, and I can tell you that the last time I visited
Sedona it was a gross disappointment. It has become the kind of
tourist place where the big seller is cheap southwestern style jewelry
with reconstituted turquoise. Also a big seller in Sedona is anything
you want to impute spiritual/metaphysical powers to, from crystals to
feathers to fetishes. I toured the shops when I was in Sedona, and
there were only one or two of them offering one-of-a-kind,
well-crafted jewelry. One of the two had most of it’s handmade,
one-of-a-kind items out of the case, in a pile marked “half off.”

You may want to check out Jerome, AZ. Jerome is a restored mining
town in the Bradshaw Mountains. It has a few galleries, and they do
offer the work of local jewelers. It is probably no place to get rich
quick, but it is small and beautiful and yet fairly well trafficked in
the tourist season. It is right up the road from Reactive Metals, a
plus if you work with titanium, niobium, or japanese laminates.

Lee Einer

Hi Madeline,

Having just returned from a driving trip to and from Taos, NM, and
going through Flagstaff AZ, I can say unequivocally, that there is
plenty of support for people fabricating jewelry and selling it. In
fact, there are many people throughout that area who do just that, and
have for more years than we’ve been around…most of them are called,
“Native Americans”…lol…I saw wonderful work everywhere I went,
and most of it at prices that I couldn’t afford to sell at in a
million years.

For example, while in Santa Fe, I bought a pair of slab cut
traditional turquoise earrings as a gift. They were a simple, flat,
graduated teardrop slices, about 2 1/2" long, hand cut and polished,
pierced at the top, and notched three times on the bottom edges…a
traditional sign that the work was done in the Santo Domingo Pueblo.
The turquoise came from the Sleeping Beauty mine, and they were the
purest bluest things that I’d ever seen. The earring were attached
with simple sterling loops at the tops, and hung on ear wires. Clean
simple well balanced elegance. Sallie and Domingo Pacheco sold them to
me for $20, off of the blanket that they had spread on the plaza.

They were only two of the many Native jewelers that I encountered on
my trip…I saw and met more of the same in Flagstaff…and
hey…there seemed to be lots of room for non-Natives too, although
by and large, that work appeared to be a heck of a lot less
interesting…or maybe all of those chile peppers that I chomped
down, blurred my vision… [grin]

Regarding Sedona, since I grew up in and around that area many years
ago, I have since learned to loathe what the fruit and nut set have
done to Sedona…The rangers there spend an awful lot of time cleaning
up the rock “prayer circles” that they find in the
wilderness…attempting to replace the rocks into a semblance of the
former formations that took millions of years to occur before the
new-age tourists decided that it would be more esthetically pleasing
if they fixed the rocks into shapes that someone told them would be
more “spiritual”…bah…

Anyway, loads of jewelry in that area, and surely room for more.

Lisa, (One more load of slightly guided opinions from the resident
curmudgeon… :slight_smile: ), Topanga, CA, USA

I can’t offer any detailed but how about Madison,
Wisconsin? I spent a week there a few years ago, attending a
conference, and fell in love with the city. It seems to be pedestrian
and cyclist friendly, there’s plenty of fresh water to play in, has a
university plunk in the middle of downtown, a fun farmer’s market
every Saturday (?) morning in the summer. It’s also home to,
whatever that might mean.

I love just about every place I visit! Montreal’s pretty nice, too,
but probably very cold in winter.


I don’t think Prescott would work, either. Neat town, and not too
tourist-oriented, but off the “main tracks.” . Flagstaff might work,
beint right on a main highway; but there you would definitely be in
competition with the Indian jewelry makers.


Hi, Lisa – you need to be wary of inexpensive Indian jewelry bought
from Indians off blankets in plazas, and at the viewpoints at Grand
Canyon, roadside stands at scenic viewpoints, etc etc etc. Especially
around tourist areas.

All too much of it was “made in Taiwan” (and not by Indians!) I
asked one Indian once if that was silver, and she said something like
"Oh, No! We use something better, that doesn’t tarnish!" I’m not saying
you necessarily got “took”; just that you need to beware!


Hi Madeline,

Yep, Sedona still has pink jeep tours. I can’t tell you if it would
be easier to make a living in any of the other Northern AZ areas as I
don’t live there, but I can tell you a bit about the demographics. AZ
is growing fast, and eventually we are bound to get a few people who
are not snowbirds and retirees. Currently Flag and Prescott are known
for being college oriented towns. Flagg depends on Northern AZ Uni
for almost half of it’s population. Prescott has Yavapai College and
Emery Riddle University… And again, a fair percentage of the
population are these students.

I actually live within 25 miles of Sedona, and I don’t sell a single
thing in this state except for during the Tucson Trade shows, when I
show at the Gem and Jewelery Exchange. I may eventually be hooked up
with some of the higher end gallery type stores in Phoenix and Tucson,
but those really are the only metropolitan areas of this state that
are not wholly dependant on seasonal resources, tourists, snow birds,
and students.

I love the location of where I live, I love being able to take a day
off to go hikeing, and bordering a national forest right in front of
my house. But, the draw backs are beginning to out weigh the
advantages… BUT, I am also still considered young, and VERY young
out here in AZ, that too may be part of my problem. If you feel you
may be able to find peers out here, then by all means do take a
serious look at AZ, because, even from one such as my self; who wants
to move away… Arizona is one of the most beautiful and wonderfull
places to live physically and environmentally… It is the social, the
arts, and culture that are the parts that I am leaving in order to try
to find.

but, the pink jeep tours are still running, and they have expanded
and have a few other jeep tours going on as well, some historic sights
tours, and all sorts of other things… Tourism is the only Sedona

Alex Austin
Austin Creations
PO Box 1109
Rimrock Az, 86335

It’s been depressing reading all this talk about Arizona becoming a
cheap huckster’s paradise, even if it is pretty accurate. In a sense,
it has always been like this but now that the crowds are so huge it’s
getting more difficult to avoid the cheap crassness.

I was born and raised in Arizona but I’ve been living in London the
last few years (out of the frying pan and into the fire for traffic
and congestion…) so I’ve seen the towns like Sedona, Jerome,
Prescott, etc… deteriorate into places you wouldn’t want to visit,
much less live in. My parents old house in Jerome cost $11,000 in
1979, now it would sell for $200,000. That kind of boom really changes

Still, even if you accept all the negatives, I think there are some
areas worth looking at seriously. Sedona would be one of my personal
last choices for reasons already well covered by others. Your choices
really depend on what sort of school you offer. If you give short
courses and students don’t need to actually live permanantly nearby
then you’ve got many options. If you must be easily accesable and near
population centers, well that does change things.

One great area to look at if you want to be reasonably near Phoenix
but away from the boom areas is the Globe/Miami area. It’s an old
copper mining area and one of the most beautiful parts of the state.
Only 1.5 hours from Phx. but the road there doesn’t really go anywhere
that brings much traffic so it’s still pretty cheap and unspoiled.
DON’T expect to sell your jewellery there, you’ll be disapointed. In
the far southeast you might look at Bisbee or even Douglas on the
border. It is gorgeous down there but quite a trek even from Tucson.
If it’s red rocks you want you can have them without Sedona or a high
price tag. There is property up near the Paria Plateau and the
Vermillion Cliffs (way past Sedona towards the four corners area)
that makes Sedona’s red rocks look like toy sand piles. With a bit of
research you could find land with water up there for $200 to $500 per
acre, seriously. I paid $5000 for 40 acres with a well 15 years ago
and the place is still deserted. Of course it is VERY remote and
sometimes difficult to get to, even with a good four wheel drive.
Personaly, I have a perverse love for the really barren, hot desert.
When I move back I’ll be looking at the far southwest towards Mexico
and the Sea of Cortez.

For cities, Tucson is the first choice. It is a very liveable little
city. Sure it sprawls, but that’s the way it goes in the desert.
People don’t crowd together when they have that much space to grow
into. It really is first rate place to live (and it has the gem show).
It has a totaly different feeling than Phoenix and is a place you
could really love.

Phoenix, on the other hand, is a tough place to get all misty eyed
about. To say the least. Even so, I can think of a few places (well,
maybe only one) that are quite decent in Phx. Check out Sunnyslope.
It’s roughly bordered by 19th Ave and 16th St and Dunlop Ave to Cactus
on the north. These are very rough boundries because it is set in and
around the phoenix mountain parks. It used to be a place for TB
patients from back east to go and die. Now it is rapidly filling with
yuppies but the zoning rules are very flexible and the neighbors
intransigent so the process is going slowly. Think dangerous hardcore
bikers, Vietnamese imigrants, yuppies, and Arizona old timers with
HUGE collections of rocks and lapidary tools in their backyards. If I
were there now I would buy property in the Slope straight away. It is
close to the city centre, beautifull, and the old timers are going to
die and the prices shoot up. It will be a worse (if safer) place when
that happens but still pretty good.

Hi Margaret,

You’re right about imitation jewelry being rampant. The Santa Fe
Plaza has an interesting arrangement though. All of the Natives on the
mercado…the covered walkway across from the central park…are
required to register. They are issued badges with their names and
tribal affiliations along with an ID code. Only natives are allowed to
sell their work at this spot.

The native artists that sell there, guarantee that the work that
they present for sale is fabricated by them. Most of the turquoise is
cut by the artist as well. If you want the cheezy imitation foreign
junk, that’s sold across the street in the park by the white people.
At least everyone selling the stuff on the day that I was there was

I have to add that I’m biased though…(in case you can’t
tell…lol…). My uncle Jim has one of the largest private
collections of Native American art in the United States, so I was
pretty much born around Indians and reservations, exposed to wonderful
work since I was a mere flea. I think that it might be one of the
reasons that I ended up loving jewelry so much. The work I’ve seen
has so inspired me.

I think that most working jewelers would be able to easily identify
the low end fakes.

I’ve been told that if turquoise has been dyed, it will sweat when
you heat it. Can any of you gemologists out there tell me if that is
accurate? Cheers! Lisa, (out again in the meadows on the horse…the
wildflowers are everywhere. Lupine, Poppies, Blue Dicks, Phacelia,
Indian Warriors, Skullcap, Penstemon, loads of Catalina Mariposa
Lillies, too many others to name…and tons of Poison
Oak…ick!) Topanga, CA, USA

I can second the comments about “Indian silver” jewellery bought
roadside being a bit questionable. I had some friends who ran a small
wholesale shop in Tempe, and every couple of months they would drive
up to the Navaho Nation with a carload of Taiwanese junk and come back
with $30,000 or so dollars. That translates into quite a few roadside
sales. I have seen some exquisite beadwork going for a song though.

I might as well throw in 2 cents here as well. I like the Michigan
idea. I vacationed up to Mackinaw Island last summer. (So why can’t
I remember how to spell it!!) It was sure a great drive up along
Lake Michigan as we came from Chicago. There were a series of great
little resort towns on the way, Sagatuk I think it was, had numerous
galleries. (I suppose in reality there are a lot of regulations on
who can own or rent places of business on the island). But my fantasy
would be to set up a jewelry gallery right there on the main street,(
no motorized traffic allowed on the island) right next to one of
their great FUDGE SHOPS. Well I guess that doesn’t help you out with
teaching classes, but think of the FUDGE!!!


Michigan is great in the summer…but come November, the clouds come
in and the sunny days are fewer and farther between. If you’re one of
those people who suffer from SADD(Seasonal Affective Disorder) you
’ll have to become a snowbird if you want to be productive during
those dark and dreary winter months.


I’ve been to Mackinaw Isle as well. The shops and the area are,
indeed, lovely. However, you run into the same problem there as with
places such as Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, etc. Traffic dies after
the summer. For a summer business, though, it would probably do
great. Just be prepared to get out after Labor Day.