Is HandCrafted Jewelry Becoming Obsolete?

With Computer Assisted Design and 3D Printers–Jewelry Design is changing—does this mean that jewelers can no longer make a living by creating their jewelry by hand?  Does this mean the end of brick and mortar jewelry stores?  The end of “Handcrafted?”

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Handcrafted jewelry–a dying art?

In March, I attended the MJSA conference, which is a jewelry manufacturing show, where vendors demonstrate the latest and greatest  gadgets to make your jewelry.  They also had on site workshops and demonstrations.  It was here where a well regarded guru presenter told us that unless we learned CAD-CAM, we would never be able to make a living being a bench jeweler. (CAD-CAM is a jewelry design computer program that offers 3-D imaging in a very realistic form that looks like a photo of a real piece of jewelry).

He also said we would also need to invest in a 3-D Printer to create wax designs to send off to have cast–you can make one or thousands of the same design.  Wait—What????

Not only that, but he said jewelry stores will be obsolete.  Soon, most will buy jewelry on line or in big box stores.

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WOW!  And the person sitting next to me confirmed that she closed her jewelry store in NY and she showed me her 3D designs–she sells her jewelry online in this way.  They looked like real pieces–and she said they don’t even exist—yet.  A customer would order it, and she would promise it to them in 3 weeks–it gets sent off to be cast, and a jeweler would then finish it off (polish, set the stone, and so forth).  

Wow again!  I sat there, very deflated.  I don’t want to do CAD CAM.  I don’t want to send a computer design, I want to hand design something–to create a piece of art by hand.  I want to take the sheet of metal, and saw, hammer, shape, form, file, sand, solder and manipulate the hell out of it, to come up with something different.

I can’t put my soul into a computer program.

I can’t put my soul into a computer program.  I can only put my soul in a piece that I worked from beginning to end.  I don’t want to make a thousand of the same thing.

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Peach Drusy and Jade in Sterling Silver

My pieces are far from perfect–they are not machined–but they have character.

And then the lightbulb

lightbulb2COMPRcame on over my head…My customer doesn’t want one of a thousand either.  My customer wants to be independent, wants to express, is organic, natural, wants art, and will search for the piece that matches her/his personality, mood and sense of style.

Maybe I will never be wealthy as a solo bench jeweler.  Maybe I will be among a shrinking group of jewelry artists who make pieces from beginning to end.  But what I will have is an artistic soul that will remain intact, and customers who treasure their pieces for what they are….

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These rings available here at SilverSpiral Creations

Lynne Patnode is a jewelry artist whose mission is to create wearable jewelry art from Nature’s most beautiful stones, sea glass, and artifacts.  She also creates glass art jewelry to emulate nature’s beauty.  Her website is SilverSpiral Creations

 

 

 

 

What is Your Gemstone Personality?

Personality and Gemstones

Did you ever wonder about your personiStock_000052623198_Mediumality and how it resembles some of the gemstones you love or hate?    Did you ever think about the how the color or type of gemstone relates to you personally?

To get to the heart of these questions, I did some research on the meanings of gemstones to find out more about how they fit into our daily lives.  Here are some of the impressions and facts I found:

  • Gemstones represent wealth, power, status, beauty, assurance, and protections
  • For centuries, many cultures believed hiding gemstones in garments or against your chest would provide health and protection. 
  • Gemstones are from deep in the earth, many believe they hold answers to life’s questions that we must face.
  • Gemstone colors represent how a person is perceived–strong, weak, emotional, wealthy or poor

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So How Do Gemstones Relate to Personality?

Many people believe that the stones you choose relate to your personality.

I think the best way to answer this question is by looking at the “meaning”  attributed to each gemstone, and extract your personality traits based on the stones you are drawn to.  There are many such charts available online, and from what I can tell, most are in agreement with each other.  I have an open mind about the metaphysical properties and meanings of these gemstones, and when I compare the stones that I choose with the properties, I find them to be pretty close to my feelings about who I am.  Here are some charts you can look at, for you to decide for yourself!

Mystic jewel        Free Spirit Emporium        Crystal Guide     Healing Crystals

I would love to hear from you!  Do you have a personality that relates to a gemstone?  If so, which one!  For example, one of my favorite gemstones is fluorite (as pictured above) and I am a person who is always seeking peace (I have always been a peace maker).  Fluorite is a stone that helps with inner peace.

So,  do you think this is a stretch?  Or do you believe in this?  I would love to know!

Have a wonderful and peaceful week, everyone!

Lynne Patnode 

Visit Silverspiral Creations

 

Envy or Desire? What is it Really?

The other day, I was speaking with a co-worker (I work in a school system during the day), and we got on to the subject of envy.  You see, she is one of those people everyone admires.  She can be a powerhouse and I envy her for her ability to keep her home beautiful, and for her amazing garden designs (she is a master gardener).  Sometimes, the envy is so strong, I start to feel bad about myself.

Single Family Cape Cod Home
New England Garden

Now my home is  what you would call  “lived in”,  and my gardens have some weeds–only some of the hardiest flowers survive.  Don’t get me wrong, my house is presentable, it is just not the presentation that her home is.

My friend finds this to be natural for her, and she did not seem to understand why this would be difficult for me.

On the other hand, she told me that she envied  me!  She wished she could make jewelry out of stones and glass (she is one of my best customers) and would give anything to have that ability—and she told me that she feels bad about herself for not having that ability.

I have always believed that you can do what ever you desire!  I couldn’t understand why she couldn’t take some  metals classes and learn about jewelry making.

Well–of course she could take classes and learn to make jewelry.  And I could take classes and become a master gardener, if these are things we really DESIRED…  So what is Desire????

RoseQ1The question is-do we use the word envy and desire interchangeably?   Is it enough to desire something or do we really need PASSION to go along with the desire.  

I firmly believe that we are wired to do different and wonderful things. I also believe we develop strong passions that drive us.   In the case of my co-worker, she is driven and beautifully creative in designing her gardens and the interior decorating of her home.  Her creativity is a passion and feeds her need and desire to have a beautiful environment which she tells me is very important to her.   Her gardens are a work of art and nature.

My passion has always been to make and build with my hands, and I have a deep love  and respect for what nature creates.  My desire is to create beauty that people can take and enjoy as they so choose.  My creativity centers on the building of something beautiful–also works of art and nature, yet so very different from home and gardens.  Plus, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to do all of those things that others do.

So—How are YOU Wired?  And do you envy others for what they can do and you can’t?  Do you have the passion to do something beautiful?  If so, what is it?  Have you ever envied someone, and then followed that person’s passion?  Did you get passionate about something from envy?

And what role does money play in envy or desire?  Does money help with the drive to try something new?  Would money make a difference in the passions you would follow? Would you have less envy with more money?  Or do you envy those who live a simple life with less?   I would love to hear from you about what your thoughts are!  I welcome your comments

Coming Soon

 

Also–Silverspiral Creations is starting a newsletter with lots of goodies coming your way!  Sign up for the March Newsletter by March 1st and receive a 40% off coupon for any single jewelry item from my  Etsy Shop!  EACH MONTH, you will get a free PDF download–in March it will be 10 Tips–Caring for your Art Jewelry.  After March it is gone–and a new surprise will come your way.

SIGN UP HERE TO GET THE NEWSLETTER!

 

Or you can visit my Website   SilverSpiral Creations

 

Giving Up Your Life for Art

Greenonyx3As I sit and contemplate another snow day, my first thought is–Okay!  I have time to “play!” Then I say–“I mean–work!”

You see-I have 2 lives…By day a music therapist in a school system, and by night I am a jewelry artist-

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So what does this work-play mean?  It means spending another day in the studio designing and creating more art.  And for most people, it sounds like a dream–to have the ability to make and create things whenever they want. To have NO supervisor or boss that dictates how your day will go, to not have a critique of your work, to decide what your hours will be and how much time you will spend during your lunch hour.  Sounds great–right?

It would be my fantasy to live this way–to be an artist and to live life the way I want to.  Unfortunately–it is only a fantasy for most artists.  Very few  can command the money for their art that to make a living, and must work at other steady jobs in order to be able to create.

I am fortunate in that I have a creative full time job as a music therapist, another way in which I am able to express myself through art.  And I love my job–helping others use music as a way to express themselves, to learn, to heal, and to develop a sense of self.  But I am also passionately drawn to the solitude of creating my own piece, with my own ideas.

Painting of abstract painting with paintbrushes

Working in a school system does allow me the schedule to create jewelry art on the “off” hours, and I use every opportunity to create that is available to me.  This means nights and weekends where I am not out socializing, spending time with neighbors and friends.

I believe this is the story of many artists.  There are so many creative souls out there–yet our society says art is not a priority–it is an “extra” a “frill” and that one must make a living elsewhere.  That art is play, and play is not work.

hands working on pottery wheel

Well–Can you imagine a life without the beauty of art?  Music, paintings, sculpture, jewelry, metalwork, textiles, architecture, graphic design–these are all arts!  What is the value of this?  And how many artists have given up their social lives to create for us?

Lynne Patnode makes sterling silver stone jewelry. You can see her creations at SilverSpiral Creations Etsy Shop and you can visit her website at Here

Man's hand playing piano.

 

 

 

Jewelry is So Important—WHY?

Did you ever wonder why jewelry is all around you–why it is so important to us humans?

Jewelry is such an intimate object, and a very personal experience.  I find that when I see a piece of jewelry for sale, it either “calls me” or it doesn’t.  As a jewelry artist and seller, I notice that many times, someone will come by my booth, pick up a piece of jewelry, try it on, put it back down and sometimes move on.  They return later, try it on again–look at a few other items, come back try it  on again–and ultimately purchase it.  They often tell me they just “have to buy it” –Has this happened to you?  moonscene2

What about online?  If you are browsing through jewelry sites or Etsy, do you favorite certain items that call you?  Do you return later to buy that item that calls you the loudest?

So what is the psychology behind this–and why do YOU wear jewelry?  I did a little research, and found one that really brought it home for me:

  • Jewelry is created and designed for the human body.
  • The optimal position to view jewelry is while it is worn on another person’s body.
  • Jewelry is most valued by artists and patrons for its ability to bridge two people.
  • Wearing jewelry provides the moment, the object and the location for the activation of jewelry’s meaning.
  • Some collectors strengthen their relationships to artists by continuing to support and collect their jewelry.

“The wearer presents studio art jewelry in the public sphere, giving many viewers their first opportunity to engage with the work of art. In addition to their immediate response to the object and the intent of the artist, the viewer receives an unending stream of non-verbal communication from the wearer. Jewelry completes the necessary triangulation between the artist and viewer through the body and actions of the wearer.”***

***09/20/2010
So what is it for you?  Do you wear jewelry to stand out?  To connect with an artist? To fit in with a trend?  To create a look to go with a piece of an outfit?  To connect with Nature? To create meaning?  For metaphysical or healing reasons?  To show status or wealth?
I think we might choose our jewelry for many different reasons…and sometimes we change based on the stages and circumstances of our lives.  Whatever the reason, jewelry is an intimate decision–after all, we wear it on our own bodies–other than clothing–what can be more intimate than that?
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The New Obsession-Handmade

So what is this new obsession to have things handmade?  You see it everywhere.  Amazon.com has a new “Handmade” section-supposedly to compete with Etsy.com–but I see handmade popping up everywhere.  Martha Stewart has a handmade initiative, as do many other major retailers–even Ebay is trying to hop on to this bandwagon.Etsy-Feb

So what is driving this trend?  After researching a little, I found out that customers want to connect with the maker of items.  This gives their new acquisition more meaning, something which we all seek.moonstars2

Another driver for this trend is the human desire to be individual–we have been told over the years that we need to have the latest designer this and that–but after high school–do we really want to look like everyone else?

There is also the need for us as humans to have an impact on our society, and buying from local, handmade artisans helps to support the community, contributing to art and beauty in our society.  Buying handmade also allows us to make statements about our own beauty–not physically, but spiritually–whether it is buying furniture for your home, accessories for your room, jewelry for yourself or gifts for family and friends.IMG_2180

There is also a need to return to our roots–we are nostalgic for things that were made by our ancestors, grandparents and parents–we want to replicate this by purchasing handmade.

This has become a trend for gift giving–people want their gifts to be memorable, not always utilitarian, or something that can be easily found in stores.

So there you have it–a willingness to pay a little more for all of these wonderful benefits!  Do you buy handmade?

The 800 Pound Gorilla, Let’s Get Him Out of the Room!

Hello again.  This is Part II of “How to Talk to an Artist,” a blog series about wanting a special something custom made just for you.  Last time, we spoke about having the confidence to approach an artist to ask for a custom order.  Today, let’s talk about making that order! moons1

Since I am an artisan jeweler, I am going to use jewelry as my example, but this would be true if you wanted to order any custom art, painting, sculpture, glasswork, pottery, woodwork, any art!

So what is stopping you from asking for that order?  Well there is an 800 pound Gorilla in the room, and that is price.  It seems to be the biggest hurdle for both customer and artist to jump through, and often stops an order before it begins.Goldsyn3

My thought on this, from an artist’s point of view, is to discuss this first and foremost, even before hearing what the custom order is going to be.  Most often, a customer has an idea of what s/he is willing to spend on something for themselves.  For example, I got an order the other day, where the customer says, I really always wanted a gold bracelet, a big cuff that has a flared shape, and is about 2 inches wide, with a pretty wavy pattern on it.  So I asked her, what did she think it would cost for something like that, and she answered that she thought that would be about $200. Brasscuff1 Unfortunately, if that were to be made with gold, the material alone would have been approximately $1400 with gold prices the way they are.  But instead of discouraging her, I mentioned some ways she could get the look she wanted, using gold-filled metal or gold plated metal, and perhaps she could be happy if the cuff were 1.5 inches to 1.75 inches wide.  I would make a prototype in brass, and she could see, or maybe she would like it in brass, which is a gold tone.    But because price was out in the open, it became fun to discuss the possibilities!  She made an order, and ended up paying $225.00 for a gold-filled metal bracelet that was 1.5 inches wide, and she couldn’t be happier.

In other words, we found a way to fulfill her desire!  And it wasn’t the least bit uncomfortable!

What do you think about this?  From either an artist’s point of view or from a customer’s perspective?  Are you willing to talk about pricing first?  Let me know in the comments section what you think!

Cheers!  Lynne

SilverSpiral Creations

 

How to Talk to an Artist Part 1

So you want a beautiful, personalized piece of art.  Maybe it is art jewelry, maybe a painting, pottery, sculpture, or other art.  You want it to be unique, your own, and perhaps you need it to be affordable.  Some of us are lucky enough to not have to worry about cost, but let’s face it–for most of us, cost is a huge considerationfuschiadruzy

So how do you convey that to an artist?  If you are like me, speaking with an artist can be a bit intimidating.  You have an idea of what you want–so you wonder, “can they make it?”  “Will it be in a price range I can handle?”  “What if the artist doesn’t really understand me, and s/he creates it, and I don’t like it?”  “If the price quote is too high, I will feel embarrassed if I have to tell him/her that it is too expensive for me.”

These are all very good and very real questions and concerns.  I can’t speak for all artists, but perhaps I can tell you how I feel about these questions and what works for me.  I will tackle all of these questions and issues over the nflowerdome2ext several blogs, and I invite artisans and customers alike to comment and add to these thoughts.

So let’s tackle the first question.  “I want _________ art.  Can you make it?”   When you approach me for art jewelry, I love it when you start with “I have always wanted….Can you make that?”  As an artist, I will want to know many things about what you are thinking.  I will often ask for a quick sketch or outline, so I know the shape, the concept, and proportions.  I will ask if there is a color stone or jewel in mind.  I would want to know what you would wear their jewelry for, or what wardrobe you want it to be paired with.

I want to know what color metal you want-_ silver, brass or copper, or maybe even gold…Then I want to know the price range you would want to pay for that piece.  Do you want me to take artistic “license” with the piece, or do you have a very specific design.  And if so, I need lots more detail.  Most of my customers want me to take artistic license and that can be both fun and scary!  Etsy-Feb

So this is how, as an artist, I see the first question.  I don’t want anyone to ever feel intimidated.  I welcome questions and inquiries.  And if it is something I cannot make, I will be the first to tell you that, and hopefully I could refer you to someone who can.  Also, if your ideal piece cannot fit into your price range, there may be other alternatives to give you what you are looking for.  It’s all about working together, and communication!

In the next blog, we will discuss price ranges, how this topic is so often uncomfortable, and perhaps explore strategies to make this a satisfactory discussion for both artist and customer.  We will discuss how price can often seem like a barrier, and how this might be overcome…Until then–have a wonderful week!

Lynne SilverSpiral Creations Website Here

 

Why is Handmade Jewelry So Expensive?

This is a question I get all the time! If I can go to the “Department” Store, I can get a piece of nice jewelry for half the price!  Why should I buy something handmade?

Well–let’s take a look.  This Dryhead Agate pieceDryhead2W is handmade from start to finish.  The stone was mined in the Western USA.  A miner sold the rough stone to a lapidary artist, who made it into a beautiful cabochon, finding the best part of the stone and creating this beauty.  I come along and purchased this stone from him, and I “dressed” it up using sterling silver.  The silver is purchased, then it is formed using techniques such as rolling, stamping, soldering, shaping and forming.  The silver is designed around this individual stone.  It is a one of a kind stone–not mass produced, and you cannot find the exact shape, color or design of this stone.  Therefore, the silver around it is also unique.  Your jewelry is NOT worn by anyone else.  At the department store, the jewelry is designed by a jeweler, then most often sent overseas to be created, with stones that are mass produced, and the silver is molded by machine into a form, then filed, sanded and polished by skilled laborers.  No one cares about the jewelry they are making. And they are not making it for “you” a particular customer.Labeye4A

When you purchase something handmade from start to finish, and it is something you like, it is something you can have that came from the soul of the artist.  It is a connection that you cannot get from a mass produced item.  In the case of my stone jewelry, it is the soul of 2 artists–the one who created the stone, and the one who created the silver dressing around the stone.

What is that worth to you?  laguna