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

Sentimental Journey—How do you choose your jewelry?

This past summer, I had the privilege of being able to travel to Germany, the Czech Republic, and the south of France.  These are three very different regions, with their own customs, beauty, and geology. French Countryside The beautiful countryside, the alps, the vineyards, and the wonderful architecture of the buildings, inspired me by their shapes, colors, light, and the sensory overload is difficult to describe.  Some regions call to me to return, while others, not so much.

It is much the same when you look at lots of jewelry.  Each piece, with it’s design, stone colors, patterns, and textures all come together to give you a feeling.  Sometimes the feeling is neutral, while other times, this tiny piece of art just calls you. turqb1

Chrysoprase stone earrings on Sterling Silver
Chrysoprase stone earrings on Sterling Silver

I don’t know about you, but sometimes, my eye keeps traveling back to one piece of jewelry, and If I walk away, I will usually regret not purchasing it.  I have never been sorry when I gave in to buy the piece that calls to me, and it usually becomes a favorite that I wear whenever I can.

Has this been your experience?  Please share a picture of your favorite piece of jewelry!  I would love to see!

Changing and Growing– A Makeover

Lynne2Well, it happened.  Over the summer, I had somewhat of an artist’s block.  I was getting tired of making the same things over and over again.  On the one hand, I should have been flattered to be getting orders based on a design that I made, and on the other hand, it was killing my creative juices.  So I got to a point where I didn’t want to go into my studio.  I just didn’t have time to keep up with learning new techniques and trying new things.

So I slowed way down.  I enjoyed vacation, took a break from blogging, social media and going to fairs.  I regrouped.  I took some classes–mostly online.  I refreshed myself.  And guess what?  New ideas are flowing again!  I realized that sometimes I have to say no—and I got in touch with what made me want to do this all in the first place.

Now I am really excited, because I have been starting in on my new designs.  I will still be working with my beautiful stones, but they will be set into new settings.  I will be adding more colorful accents in the chains.  I will be hand making my chains more and more.  I will not rush and I will do very little in the way of production work.  I am a one person artisan jeweler and I will stay that way.

As part of my makeover–this blog will become more consistent and I plan to do features on the stones I use.  I will talk about the process of making a piece for the stone, and take pictures along the way on how it is progressing.  Who knows–maybe a video or two!


A new design
A new design–Using oxidized copper, argentium silver and dichroic glass

Who wants tarnish???

So, you buy a beautiful sterling silver bracelet.  And it is bright and shiny, with no scratches and you are in love with this piece of jewelry.  You paid a premium price because it was an artisan made piece and it is of good, no, superior quality. And within 2 weeks, it begins to tarnish!  Why?  And how can you stop it from happening?  And how do you get rid of it when it happens?

First–the Why…

Sterling silver is made from 92.5 percent fine silver and 7.5% copper alloy.  The reason for this is that fine silver by itself is too soft for most jewelry–so they add copper to strengthen the metal.  Copper is a “dirty” metal which changes color or “oxidizes” making the silver turn dark.

How do you stop tarnish?  You really can’t stop it completely, however there are steps you can take to slow it down. First–you have to know what speeds up tarnish—and some of these are avoidable, others, not so much.  So what speeds up tarnish?

  • Pool chemicals
  • Perfumes
  • Skin Oils
  • Humidity
  • Ammonia
  • Hair Spray
  • Eggs, Mayonnaise, Some salad dressings,
  • And salty foods

So okay–you don’t want to necessarily give all of this up to wear silver. In some cases, you can think ahead and put on jewelry after you spray your hair, or take a shower, etc….but you can’t always avoid contact with chemicals or salt.

How do you slow it down, or remove it all together?

  • Well, to avoid oxidation between wearings, you should store your silver in a Ziploc baggy.  This will surely help.  You can purchase a “Sunshine Cloth” from a jewelry store jewelry supply company (even Amazon sells them) to polish your jewelry before wearing it.  These cloths last a very long time and work wonderfully.  Or you can use one of my favorite techniques–especially for chains, and hard to clean jewelry:
  • Take a Ceramic or glass dish
  • Line it with Aluminum Foil
  • Place your silver jewelry on the foil
  • Sprinkle with Baking Soda
  • Pour boiling water over the jewelry –the aluminum foil interacts with the baking soda and takes away the tarnish!  Use only glass or ceramic pans that can withstand heat!  The jewelry only needs a minute or two to get rid of the tarnish!

In my next blog–I will talk about a new silver alloy that does not tarnish….I am beginning to work with Argentium silver—-I love it and you might too…the same amount of silver so the quality is there.  (This was a sneak peak and a tease….So until next time!

Tarnish is not our friend!
Tarnish is not our friend!

The Four Elements

One of my latest reflections in my artistic journey is trying to figure out what I’m doing?  I mean really, do you know why you do what you do?  Do you REALLY know what you’re doing, or do you just pretend like you know, and keep on plugging???

Someone recently asked me this question, and my answer was “I make jewelry”  He said, “oh yeah? Who do you make it for?”  Me:  “Women of course, and some men, and sometimes children—oh I don’t know–anyone who wants it”  He asked-“then how do you know what to make?”  Me (feeling smaller)  “ummmm…..I make what I feel like—and hope someone wants to buy it.”  He says—“and how is that working for you?”  Me:  “I think, okay, well, I wouldn’t be able to live off this work–I guess not as well as I would like it to.”

This may be one of the most important conversations I have had regarding my jewelry business.  I began to see what he was getting at–I smugly thought I knew who my target market was–but my target was so huge, it was meaningless because I was trying to be everything to everyone.

So—who is my target market?  After much list making, thinking, dreaming, looking at my stuff, looking at my sales, a picture of my target began to emerge.  And something else began to emerge as well—I am NOT selling jewelry.  Well, yes, the object IS a piece of jewelry–but it is not what I am selling.  (Now you are really confused, right?)  As confusing as this sounds, I am seeing things with much more clarity—and here it is.


So what am I NOT SELLING?

I am NOT selling a fashion trend. My work is not time limited, rather, it is classic–to be worn through the years.

I am NOT selling copies of other peoples jewelry.  I am inspired by designs, however I do not sell copies.

I am NOT selling items, I am selling experiences.

I am NOT selling jewelry, I am selling the human desire for connection with nature, for a simpler time

What are YOU selling?  What are YOU buying?  Think about it in all aspects of your life,  it is quite interesting to think about how you would answer….



Passion or Something Else?

What is it, when I wake up in the morning, I am thinking about making jewelry, when I daydream, I am thinking about new ways to create something, when I am driving, I picture my studio—sounds like obsession, right? 

I am not sure why this jewelry metals thing has grabbed me, but I know one thing–I love this obsession!  What exactly do I love?  I love the idea that I can decide what to make, and when to make it.  I can choose what stones, textures, glass, techniques or experiments to work on at any given time.  I decide when I need to take a break.  I can include others or not, depending on the day, or the hour.  I can listen to music, dance while I create, or work in my pajamas!

Unfortunately, this does not translate (yet) that I can make a living with this–I do have a full time job as a music therapist–that I love—but I have to say I wish there were more hours in the day—anyone else feeling like this?  And yes, I do sell my jewelry!

Who Am I?

Creek5Well, it has been awhile since I posted…I have been going through an identity crisis of sorts. As a jewelry artist–I wondered, what makes me make what I do? Does it speak to me? Does it speak to others? Then one day, I was doing something unrelated and boring–and it came to me.

I have always loved pretty rocks–ever since I was a small child. But you can’t easily carry bunches of pretty rocks to share with others. I almost became a geologist–but I didn’t want to do all that technical stuff. So for years, I did nothing with that passion–and pursued my other love, music.

In my later years, I was in a store one day and saw some beautiful stone beads–and was overwhelmed by the urge to make a necklace–so I purchased the requisite tools and made my first necklace—I figured it out!!! I can wear beautiful stones and share them that way! Beading became metalworking, eventually culminating in many jewelry pieces. I had too many to wear, so I began to give some away, then I opened a store (after all, I need to fund this passion). I buy all of the beautiful cabochons and beads that I can afford and transform them into wearable stones!

That is who I am! I transform nature’s beautiful stones into wearable art–therefore my designs are simple, to show off the natural beauty of nature’s work! Now I feel like I have more focus—and understanding of what I am doing as a jewelry artist–

Oh yeah–and sometimes I play with glass–trying to mimic nature’s beauty—