Jewelry Artists Tell All: Our Most Embarrassing Moments in the Jewelry Studio and Beyond
We’ve all had them. Those little (and not so little) accidents in the jewelry studio and misunderstandings that keep us humble at the bench. Thankfully, a lot of them occur in private while we’re working solo. But there are also embarrassing moments that take place in front of a customer or a room full of students. If you’re nodding your head in recognition, fear not! You are not alone.
Designer Kristen Baird makes fine jewelry and participates in a lot of shows. She says, “Most people don’t realize what actually happens in a jewelry studio–the fact that it’s a dirty and not so glamorous environment most of the time. My most embarrassing stories usually revolve around leaving the studio without looking at myself in the mirror. There have been occasions where I show up to an event and someone pulls me to the side to let me know that I have black (polishing compound) smudges on my face or the dreaded ‘compound mustache.'”
Riveting Essentials inventor Gwen Youngblood had a more dangerous situation. She says, “I was finishing up a busy week at a national show. I had given everyone the ‘torch safety’ spiel: Watch where you point the torch, everything will be hot, don’t reach over a lit or unlit torch, blah, blah, blah. Fast forward a few minutes and I was trying to help a student with soldering and . . . wait for it, wait for it . . . Yup, I reached in front of a lit torch and burned my hand. Really burned it. Yikes!!”
When she first started making jewelry, Halstead jewelry studio coordinator Erica Stice got a brand-new Dremel tool and was super excited to use it. She leaned in to get a closer look at her work and, next thing you know, disaster. “My bangs got wrapped up in it; the Dremel started smoking and died. I had to use scissors to cut my hair out of the tool.” Ouch.
No One Got Hurt, So It’s OK to Laugh
Thankfully, not all embarrassing jewelry studio moments involve physical injury. Now That’s a Jig! inventor Brenda Schweder has caught many of hers on film during her weekly Facebook Live broadcasts. She says, “I’ve broadcast upside down, via incorrect camera angles, and have even accidentally cut off the broadcast several times. There have been times when I’ve had to run to another room to get the sample I forgot to bring into the jewelry studio; had to dive down to the floor for a plummeting jump ring; fished through my top to pull out my lavaliere microphone. I’ve gone live with only lip liner and no accompanying lipstick filled in–twice.
“But, I think the topper-of-toppers was when Miss Mara Mae, my gray-striped tabby, stole the show with her undulating heaving (to my escalating horror), which ended in an extremely audible cat-vomit sound that (I will thank the Gods forever for this) stayed off camera! And the show must go on!”
Embarrassing Moments Live, In Person
Then, there are those embarrassing moments that happen live and in person. Author Kate Richbourg says, “My jewelry studio is my happy place. A place that houses my beloved jewelry tools and supplies and where I can let my creativity flow. This past year I was so excited that after over 20 years as a jewelry maker and instructor, I decided to take part in a big Open Studio event that happens over several weekends in May in the San Francisco Bay Area. [Editor’s note: That’s a peek at Kate’s gorgeous jewelry studio at the top of this page.]
“I was a little nervous, I have to admit. Opening my studio to the masses and being an ‘artist’ on view slightly terrified me. Teaching classes is one thing, and the thing I am most comfortable with. But showing my work as Kate Richbourg Jewelry Artist always makes me a little nervous at the onset. It’s that same feeling you have when right before your party starts, you have a fleeting worry that no one will come.
“The day arrives, and after some positive pep talk, I am ready! I hang signs, put out food and drink, and spiff up my jewelry display. At 11 o’clock on the nose, a lady pokes her head in quizzically. My first visitor! I go for it! Welcoming her in, offering her refreshment, and sharing my art all in my best Kate Richbourg professional voice! After a few minutes of small talk and a couple of hors d’oeuvres, she puts down her plate, thanks me and says, ‘This was really nice, but I am actually here to pick up some work from the architect that is in this building; do you know which way their offices are?’
“I don’t think I turned too red . . . maybe just slightly pink . . . and pointed the way. My takeaway? Every greeting for the rest of the day was prefaced with, ‘Hi! Are you here for the open studio?”
Katie’s Embarrassing Moments in Class
My own embarrassing moments have taken place in front of a class–packed the wrong size head pins; caused myself injury–sawed into my finger during class; occurred on camera–spun my Spin-n-Bead too fast, dipped the needle and sent seed beads flying. And at a store grand opening, one person showed up to meet me. And there are many, many more.
When you’re putting your art and yourself out there in the world, there are bound to be some embarrassing moments. As Einstein said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” Chalk it up to a lesson learned and keep on keeping on.
What’s your most embarrassing jewelry studio moment? We’d love to hear in the comments below!
KATIE HACKER is the host of the public television program Beads, Baubles and Jewels.
Don’t let potential embarrassment stop you! Get into the jewelry studio and have fun learning and making jewelry with these artists!