Confessions of a Metalsmith
Handmade or handcrafted items are becoming more and more sought after by shoppers. I know because I am the shopper who shops for those items that are made by artisans. When I am shopping, I want to connect with the artist behind the product, and to be able to ask questions and get direct answers is an absolute plus!
I can't tell you how many times I have been asked if I actually make everything that I sell on my website. That is a GREAT question to ask, especially if you are looking for handcrafted items. Silversmiths or metalsmiths generally fabricate every part of their jewelry designs. And "YES" my jewelry is handcrafted from raw sheets of copper, sterling silver and sometimes gold, fabricating each part of my jewelry designs and even forging the metal to create curves for my cuff bracelets. Each of my jewelry pieces is handcrafted by me in my home studio using traditional metalsmithing techniques ... just a little hard work and a lot of patience is nothing compared to seeing that finished jewelry design.
When it comes to making the chain for my pendants, well that's a whole different question. I recently started designing my own chains, which is something that I haven't always done. Chain making entails a lot of time and this adds to the expense of the finished piece. That being said, I recently designed an aquamarine pendant on a handmade chain and it was so worth the outcome of this one-of-a-kind jewelry design.
Another question I am asked: How many employees do you have? Employees - WHAT EMPLOYEES??? There are no bench assistants, web designers, photographers, shipping and receiving or cleaning crew. This is a one woman studio and I am she. Of course I have my multiple cat and dog helpers that stop by for some ear scratching or to lie on my workbench right in the middle of what I am working on at the moment. But they're not my employees - they are my family.
I don't think I have been asked this question but in case you were wondering, I ONLY work with gemstones and fossils. AND, if you do not already know, geology is how this all started. Yes, I am a geologist turned jewelry designer. It wasn't a prerequisite but it sounds really cool. Actually, I have been a collector of rocks and fossils every since I can remember. I couldn't imagine ever designing jewelry with anything else. Nature shares with us these wonderful earth crystals and fossils and I get to showcase them in my handmade jewelry designs.
Silversmithing or metalsmith (the title depends on who you ask) is a lot of hard work and there are days when things don't go so well, but I learn something new in my studio every single day. I get to be creative, surround myself with beautiful gemstones and fossils, and build a piece of jewelry from start to finish - I really DO have the best job in the world.