Yes, I just received a surprising email that said my jury totals weren't high enough for me to be asked to attend a show. It also said: "We had almost 300 applicants this year and the competition was tough. We choose jurors who have expertise in craft and design but as all artists know, you never know what they're going to like from year to year."
I'm not here to whine. That's not me.
Let's find a creative solution for these Jurors.
1) I am sure they want our entrance fees. Do this by dividing "Jewelry" into the categories it deserves.
After all, photography and oil painting both result in images to hang on the wall, albeit by differrent routes.
THEY ARE seperate CATEGORIES!
Why should Metal Clay and Wire Work, although they may both hang around the neck, be lumped into ONE category????
2) Any good executive could find more space to meet the need.
3) Saying that you can only have "x" amount of jewelry artisans in a show is not a natural law of the unniverse. Change.
4) Find Jurors more in tune with the new processes of jewelry.
Any Jurors out there?
Fight my logic....make my day....LOL
Yeah unfortunately when you check out the juried jewellery, it's pretty much formulaic, same style , same formula, same, same, same...It's usually the same people all the time too...
Juried Art Fairs look like upscale Bohemian jewelry stores.
I just realized that for the past 5 years, I haven't lusted over any jewelry at any show except Amy Amdur's fabulous Highland Park Christmas Fair. To this day, I regret not purchasing a 3 inch emerald teardrop pair of earrings.
The Jury system is stifling to any artist.
What a statement! But hear me out please.
I work in many mediums: gold, PMC, silver wire, blown glass, solder, gems, fossils, Swarovski elements, yarn, ribbon, rope, fiber... Those three dots at the end of that sentence is where Art lives. But when I worked the white tent circuit, I was restricted to half of what I could create.
I now have tripled my customer list by doing three things:
1) I go to women's homes and do house parties. With my full range of products, I have never made less than $700 a shot. And there are no fees!
2) I had made all the earrings for my hair stylist's wedding. Just by chance I had both locked jewelry cases with me when I went to the wedding. I sold an unbelievable $2800 by the end of the night.
3) Number 2 taught me to carry my cases wherever I went. The payoff has been amazing.
You see I knit with crystals, silver wire, etc.
Or I invented, patented and create Angel Hair. What is that?
Let me just say that a Madison Professor orders a dozen every year. She says it keeps the kids eyes on her. To date, I have sold over 1,200 of them.
Think I should run one by a JAC jury?
And what category?
Each has earrings, a pendant, creative silver wire work, glass blown beads, stringing, weaving, knitting and 8 hours of assemblage.
I think they need an assemblage catagory. I knew an artist who did fabulous bead weaved bags, OMG gorgeous and the work! Absolute treasures! She did bead weaving, peyote stitched ,I think that's what it was called... Incorporated wonderful carved bone focals or hand made artists bead focals, and she hand made and gem set sterling silver purse frames... and wonderful bead and gem purse straps. These pieces took months to create, she juried them in with jewellery pieces since I'm not sure if they had a wearable art slot for purses or bags 20 years ago......
I met one artist who makes her own hand bound books, making her paper herself! Amazing!
Sadly at the Naples art show,I did see $20 Swarvoski pendants, set in stainless steel settings hanging on leather, pretty obviously assembled pieces.. It does get in and it does bring down the show. I've seen some wonderful hand made flameworked and kiln worked glass focal beads, those I think would really fit into the jewelley catagory and the price points were under $100...
People "rag" on us fine jewellers for our price points, but gold isn't cheap, silver casting grain is a bit cheaper..our tools aren't cheap ,torches aren't cheap,and do need replacing at times due to wear and tear..., consumables (polishing and grinding wheels and brushes) are expensive and gemstones aren't cheap. People forget about the expense it takes us to learn our skills plus set up to even create jewellery. So how on earth can we expect to sell something for a couple hundred dollars other than a simple ring or pendant? You say you don't see a lot of variety at shows in the over priced jewellery, sadly that's more to to with the jury,who pretty much choose homogenious style over variety...
Jewellery gets the hardest jurying, we're supposed to make a good %age of our work ourselves, little if no purchased or manufactured products to produce our work,other than a clasp or a chain to hang it on... while other catagories can use mass produced products, like paints, stretched canvass, purchased frames, purchased weaved fibers and cloth , bead artists purchase their beads mass produced... wire wrappers buy pre-purchased wire,and yet people complain about too much high priced jewellery.
Many jewellers start from raw materials,can't use them in the state in which they arrive... cast or fabricate, even alloy their own metals,( I do).Short of cutting and faceting our own stones,(which I've also done) or casting my own cast glass focals...... the vast majority of jewellers start was raw as possible on materials. Many potters mix their clays and glazes, pottery studios and tools and materials...expensive to set up...many glass artisan work in raw glass ,glass working studio and tools and materials, expensive to set up, all of these materials have to be altered from their original state. I don't know how many painters mix their own pigment but a few may. The old argument of how far to go before it's considered artisan made over assembled can go as far as people want to take it.. If bead weavers start making their own tiny beads themselves,then they would have an idea of what other artisans start with. They have to work to alter it from it's original state before they can even use it in a finished piece.....Purchased and finished beads aren't really a raw material like metal since it's not altered in any significant way but weaved and assembled, exception being those who do make their own beads...
I agree that there shouldn't be any more jewelers in a show than there already are (or maybe even less), but there ought to be more variety among jewelers. Also, I didn't mean to say that there should be $20 strung bead necklaces at a fair, but that there should be a greater range of price points available than there are at some fairs. Not everyone that wants to buy jewelry can afford pieces starting at over $100 (including me), so shouldn't there be something for them, too?
I used to be a bead weaver, and I know how much time and thought goes into a single piece of jewelry (and how hard it is to convince other people of the value of such work). It's not fair that bead weavers, and all other "assemblers," be automatically dismissed because they use manufactured pieces in their designs - that would be like disqualifying all painters that don't grind up their own pigments and hand-make all of their own paints. I don't recall seeing "hand-dyed fiber made from hand-spun wool" among the list of requirements for fiber artists at very many fairs... or at any...
Unfortunately people complain about too much jewellery in shows as it is, if they subdivide jewellery into two categories it will make it even more competitive. Shows don't really want $20 strung bead necklaces in their "gallery" type shows. Hard enough to get in as it is. Shows would make more money on jury fees and we'd end up with more frustrated artists. I do like bead weaved works, a lot of work and creative energy in the pieces...but it's still considered assemblage.. Maybe they need an assemblage catagory,like they do for artists who use vintage and reclaimed pieces in their art. I know a few jewelers who could fall into the assemblage catagory since they use commercially purchased findings for the bulk of their work..
I realize I'm about a year and half late in getting in on this conversation, but I still feel the need to say something.
It seems like plenty of people strongly dislike these "stringer" people. Even among "stringers" there is prejudice (those dirty plastic-bead stringers!). But why fight so hard to exclude all "stringers" from your art fairs, when their very presence is actually REDUCING competition among higher-end jewelers? When it comes to jewelry, perhaps more than any other category, the competition is everything. I'm a jewelry-maker, I should know.
1. The customer that beelines for the $20 necklace would probably not be the same person to hand over $400 for a ring.
2. I've decided against paying jury fees for some art fairs based on their lists of previous year's jewelers. Why? MONOTONE. Every single jeweler in the fair was a high-end precious metal precious stone jeweler, all presumably with similar price points. While each artist's work was exquisite, none stood out from the others. Which means they were all competing equally for the business of the limited pool of customers interested in top-dollar jewelry. That makes for some mighty small pieces of pie... Also, this indicates to me that the jury didn't know or care much about the medium.
3. Creating separate jury categories for jewelry would not have to equate to multiple jewelry categories publicly. If the jury was forced to let in so many precious metals, so many "green" jewelers, so many beaders, etc, within the overall single jewelry category, there would be more internal variety. Some of us clearly fit into one category, others could fall into an "Other" category. No need to pay multiple jury fees, see? More internal variety would appeal to a greater variety of customers AND reduce competition among the different types and price points of jewelry. Would not everyone be happy then?
Disclaimer: I'm new so bear with me....
I hope to learn much here. I started out as a sculptor and tile maker and eventually put those skills to work in jewellery... I worked as a repair jeweller for 4 years,using premade findings for commercial customers.. trying to put commercial findings into some aethetically pleasing arrangement at a customers request. Occationally carving waxes for customers.
I found commercial retail limiting on creativity.
I made a few funky pieces for myself but most in commercial retail didn't get it.
I eventually opened my own store,commercially available inventory and antique jewellery to get folks in the door and one small case of my funky stuff. But lost the store in a fire that originated in the restaurant next door.. loosing our bums,we didn't reopen...so I just sold on line.
I'm new to shows, doing my first one in Winter Park ,Fl. Had no idea there was so much animosity towards jewellery... Once I started looking at show reviews,I saw a lot of "too much jewellery" or "another jeweller" comments... almost afraid to admit I'm a jeweller.....
To me my jewellery is sculpture to be worn any time any place...
I mix differing wax recipes to get my working model material. I alloy most of my metals. I will use moulds that I made from items that I originally carved and cast myself since I do have elements that I use more than once. Most of my work is built in wax,right on the mandrel. The moulded elements have to be altered and recarved to fit into my work as each one will be built around a new gemstone each time.. Moulded elements are not detailed,that all gets added as I go,it's just a plug or base to build on to save time.
Still takes many days to finish a wax for casting...then,casting takes time,cleaning ,polishing,assembling,more soldering.. more polishing, setting,yada,yada.
If a burnout fails,you've lost everything time,money,elctricity for burnout...,and you loose some metal...,then you gotta start all over again...
You can loose it in the investment (plaster),the burnout process,during soldering and assembly,dropping,loosing loose diamonds or gemstones... or at the very end,crack that expensive tourmatline setting it... wait until you crack a diamond...Jack Daniels time!
People don't know the "fails" we jewellers have and how expensive those fails are... not even factoring in tools and supplies,work area... My torches are newer than my house fridge which is 26 years old,my car 24 yrs old,237,000 plus miles...
"Jewelers are legion, likely because of low entry costs, compared to many other disciplines. Old business saw: Easy entry, easy exit. " Not....
Jewellers are more likely to get robbed on the road too.... Conceiled Carry and packing heat...you bet!
I don't feel superior over those who don't make all their components,they have an expensive initial layout too compared to their final pricepoint . I can assume. People like what they like and it doesn't matter you spend,how you do something. People will buy what they like or what they can afford...
This is not a happy picture, but it is an honest one. So it is up to us to live as righteously as possible and be satisfied that we did our best and if fortuitous, to pass that standard on to others. that is our hidden blessing. It will not cure the world, but it will make some parts of it better.
I'd like to change the title of this blog. Here are three recent experiences I had that led me here:
1) I recently had a great discussion with a group of lampworkers. I've started fast down their path and am so eager to absorb any and all information. But one key element ran through the discussion. Most lampworkers do not know HOW to present their own work to it's best advantage.
They are brilliant at throwing beads that incorporate rods from Murano embedded with fine silver giving that "oil slick" look I sooooooo admire. But they want to hang a bead on a silk string and get an award.
2) I took a class from a native Japanese instructor who used an interpretor in class to teach us the new German/Japanese method of using a crochet hook to make beads into a necklace. The base was exciting. But the finish was unworthy of the start.
I'm going to stop there. The last point was inflamatory.
Here's my point: there is an artist who can PUT IT ALL TOGETHER WELL.
Why not let them?
Why can't we all work together better?
Why the elitism? The FEAR?
The title to this blog should have been:
"WHY IS JEWELRY SUCH A COMPETITIVE CATEGORY.....and what can we do about it?
Hi Carla et al,
What do you call a person who solders her silver or other metals;designs in PMC, kilns her own PMC work, patinas or enamels it, etc.; makes all but a few findings; cuts, hammers, shapes copper and silver sheets;lampworks; wireworks; knits metal wire; makes her own metal beads; castes and uses molds I make.........But loves the glitter of those Swarovski crystals, doesn't dive for her own pearls, or mine for her own gemstones?
You know I have a shrine dedicated to you in my studio.
So, don't slay me, goddess.