Giving Up Your Life for Art

webgreenonyx1As I sit and contemplate another snow day, my first thought is–Okay!  I have time to “play”! Then I say–“I mean–work”!

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

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.


newwebnewobsessionWorking 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.

In the process of creating an abstract painting

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?

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? moon3villageweb

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.”***

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?

The New Obsession-Handmade

istock_000020448352_mediumSo what is this new obsession to have things handmade?  You see it everywhere. has a new “Handmade” section-supposedly to compete with–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.

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.webmoonstars

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.webswan1

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 Jewelry Studio!

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!

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 anywebmoonscene2 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.

webspinnergold2My 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.  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 brasscuff1some 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

newwebturquoise1So 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 consideration

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. webturqflower2 I will tackle all of these questions and issues over the next 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!

So this is how, as an artist, I see the first question.  I don’t want anyone to ever feel

abstract painting

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?

dryheadWell–let’s take a look.  This Dryhead Agate piece
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.

labradoriteWhen 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 it to you?

Brown Agate Necklace

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. alps1
 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.

newwebturquoisecuffIt 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.

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.

webchrysoprase2Chrysoprase in Sterling Silver.

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

Changing and Growing

newweblynneWell, 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.

copperNow 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!


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