Studio Notes: Show Girl and Jewelry Designer Hannah Long Thrives on the Road
South Florida jewelry designer Hannah Long participates in almost 40 art shows a year all over the country. And despite this mind-numbing whirlwind of activity, she loves making and selling one-of-a-kind pieces.
How does she do it???
Her Jewelry Style: architectural yet organic, often large scale, incorporating black coral, pearls, diamonds, colorful cabochons, sea glass, sterling silver, gold alloys, fabrication out of sheet and wire, and some castings. “I do most of my own lapidary work, so I leave a lot of stones roughish,” she says. “I use a lot of stuff that I find on the beaches in South Florida.”
Prices: $30 to over $350
Venues: Indoor and outdoor shows throughout Florida including Miami, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach and other lucrative spots; the St. James Court Art Show, Louisville, KY; Art Fair on the Square, Madison, WI; John Michael Kohler Center, Sheboygan, WI; Columbia Arts Festival on the Plaza, Columbia, MD; King Street Art Festival in Alexandria, VA. Hannah also does pop-up shows and sells her work on etsy.
Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram/INK361 at http://ink361.com/app/users/ig-449233167/hannahlongjewelry/photos; http://www.hannahlongjewelry.com/
Show Secret: When Hannah runs out of handmade merchandise away from home, she looks for an empty bench at nearby jewelry making studios. In Washington DC she made new merchandise at JewelryClassDC. Friendly and outgoing, she also picks up new skills and techniques from others. “I’m a new jeweler and I’m just starting to learn more fine-jewelry skills. So I’m not sure what my pieces will look like a year from now.”
Secret Tool: Her computer. Hannah maintains a steady facebook presence, going online at Wi-Fi cafes. She researches new opportunities, finds places to stay, communicates with friends, and especially, she posts images of happy clients wearing her jewelry.
Vehicle: 2016 Ford Transit Connect van. This replaces the VW bug she was using previously – “a total clown car with a tent hanging out the roof,” she says.
Miles on vehicle to date: 51,000
Cheap accommodations: “It has been a blessing and a joy to stay with customers and friends across the country this summer. I don’t know how I could have afforded four months on the road otherwise. In every city where I’ve done a show this year, I’ve met amazing women metalsmiths, who have let me use their shops and always wind up welcoming me into their homes as well. A lot of times, though, I don’t want to talk to anyone after a show (after talking to thousands of people that day) so I find cheap hotel rooms. I share rooms with other artists all the time, too.”
Favorite Road Foods: Seaweed chips, fresh fruit when she can find it; dining at local restaurants.
High Points: seeing one of her handmade cuffs on the wrist of a fellow airline passenger; trading jewelry for art; delivering custom earrings to a client at the National Public Radio office in Washington, DC; jumping off a cliff into a spring-fed pond with her mother in Missouri.
Low point: the risk of theft
2018 Goal: more quality and less quantity shows. She’s on the wait list for the American Craft Council Baltimore wholesale/retail show in February 2018.
Success? “At this moment, I’m trying to pay for everything business-wise and don’t feel successful. …I’m not really paying myself yet. I think the hustle and not being afraid to make an ass of yourself is one solution.”
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@example.com.