Meet Gemstone Inlay Jewelry Artist Peggy Houchin
ABOVE: Dinosaur Bone Cuffs (his and hers) by Peggy Houchin. Dinosaur bone and sterling silver. Fabrication time: 40+ hours.
Q: Please describe yourself and your work.
A: I am a full-time silversmith and lapidary artist. My love is inlay jewelry, using some of my favorite stones, including dinosaur bone, turquoise, lapis, and jade. I’m selling my work through galleries and online. I have a degree from Colorado State University in Business. I’m an animal lover and my favorite time is spent in my workshop with my dog Mitzi and kitten, Pearl.
Q: Why do you do what you do?
A: I love the creative process of making jewelry and adding beautiful stones. I’ve been creating since I was 5 years old. I made my first “sale” when I was 5; it was a bar of soap made into a fish.
Q: What would you consider your specialty as far as your process goes?
A: My gemstone inlay jewelry work is my specialty and I have a good sense of color. Inlay is very time consuming and very detail oriented. I often have to grind several stones before they will ‘fit’ into my design. I also have a good understanding of rocks. That is very important in inlay jewelry.
Q: Please describe a real life experience that inspired you.
A: I was very fortunate to be able to learn from a Hopi Master Silversmith and spend time on the Hopi reservation. I learned a lot from him and not only jewelry techniques. He inspires me every day with his designs and his spirituality!
Q: What is your favorite part of your work and why?
A: Creating and designing new ideas for gemstone inlay jewelry. It keeps me motivated to try something new. Plus having really happy clients that love wearing my jewelry.
Q: What part of your job as a jewelry artist is your least favorite and why?
A: That’s a tough question since I like all of it. Sometimes, I feel a little overwhelmed with orders, filling galleries, keeping up with the demand.
Q: Please describe what failure means to you.
A: Giving up on my business would be a failure. You have to keep at it everyday and not get discouraged.
Q: Please describe what success means to you.
A: Selling consistently means success; however, being invited to participate in shows and galleries is a wonderful feeling! Also being asked to do commission work means a lot to me!
Q: What is something we may not know about you?
A: I am also a sign language interpreter and work part-time in that profession. My parents were deaf as well as several aunts and uncles. American Sign Language is my first language and I am a CODA (Child of Deaf Adult). My parents taught me how to persevere regardless of your situation.
Q: What is the best piece of advice someone has ever given you?
A: Never take for granted the talent that your Creator has given to you. It can be taken away very quickly, so appreciate it everyday!
Q: What career project do you consider your biggest accomplishment to date?
A: I recently finished a commission of matching dinosaur bone gemstone inlay bracelets. It was a great challenge and I’m very proud of the results.
Q: Please name one key thing you do every workday that helps you be successful?
A: Plan my day and try to stay focused.
Q: What were some of the unexpected hurdles in your career as a gemstone inlay jewelry artist?
A: Juggling all the different things I needed to do besides making jewelry: marketing, advertising, business planning, website maintenance, gallery activities, meeting clients, bookkeeping.
Q: What were some of the unexpected benefits in your career as jewelry artist?
A: All the great people I’ve met being active in the artist community.
Q: What valuable piece of advice can you give to our readers that are aspiring to make a living off their jewelry making?
A: Set realistic goals. Decide how much money you need to make and know that it takes a while to get there. I’ve been working on jewelry for over 20 years and also have an extensive business background. If you can’t do it all, you need to hire help.
Q: Is there anything you would like to add?
A: Take classes when you have the opportunity and don’t be afraid to try new things. There’s no such thing as a mistake. Some of my best work was a result of a “mistake.”
Learn more about Peggy Houchin.