Studio Notes: Join a Jewelry-Making Organization — Membership Has Its Benefits

Do you work long hours in your studio? Has your social life disappeared, because you’re on the road doing shows or working into the night maximizing SEO for your web site? Consider joining a bead society, a metalsmith guild, a rock club, online group, or other organization that fits your jewelry-making obsession. If you’re just starting out, it’s a goldmine of answers and future opportunities.

But for me, as a working metalsmith, these groups are an extension of my career.

Here are three organizations and specific benefits I have received this year:

Michigan Silversmiths Guild

(check your own state for similar organizations) $30 a year
• Free lunch at the annual meeting. (I live to eat.)
• Participation in the Guild’s booth during the coveted Ann Arbor Art Fair. Eight of us generated more than $11,000 in sales during the four-day event. And there were plenty of people to do set up and tear down in the heat. Imagine.
• Lots of events and a newsletter to let me know about them. See:
• An online gallery at the MSG website where I can post 10 recent images of my work.
• The opportunity to come up with an idea, get the appropriate approvals and do it. In progress: I’m working on a show for eight nationally recognized members at a high-traffic, hot-selling venue during the holidays in 2018.

The Society of North American Goldsmiths, $94 per year
• I joined recently. In the first issue of the magazine, I found a vendor who sells a hard-to-find sterling chain for $10 a foot versus $40 at a gem show. I restocked.
• I’ve read lots of technical articles in print and in their online archives.
• The member site contains hundreds of profiles, photos and contact information on artistic jewelers, which is handy for me as a writer.
• SNAG maintains directories, including a five-page list of places where I could teach.
• The annual meeting in Portland, OR, May 2018 provides me with opportunities to learn more about the use of industrial technology as an aid for jewelry making. Besides, I’ll be able to room for free with my son, who lives there.
• SNAG offers a slew of grants that I can dream about applying for.

Ganoksin Orchid Community, free or donation
• If you join, you can post a problem and several of the world’s metalsmithing superstars will answer you.
• The daily emails of posts are like getting letters from family members — even the dysfunctional ones. But the site is well managed and the discussions make me feel as if I have friends all over.
• A California member named Deb taught me over the phone how to electrically etch images onto sterling silver sheet. This involved a lot of careful communication, advance planning, the purchase of equipment and materials to her specifications, and some very creative, spur-of-the-moment problem solving. But it worked and was free. (!)
• The site’s archives go way back and are loaded with numerous articles, posts and images.

These are just three possibilities. If you have your own favorites, let me know. I’ll check them out and share.

Betsy Lehndorff has been writing for Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist since 2010. Her story on Colorado diamonds appears in the September-October issue and she will be writing about her experience in Kate Wolf’s class in 2018 along with her grant writing adventures as a silversmith. You can reach her at [email protected]

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