In the Studio with Nancy, Volume 7, 11/15/23 Volume Seven

Nancy L.T. Hamilton

Welcome to: In the Studio with Nancy

News and Babblings

Hi Everyone!  These newsletters appear to be rarer than hen’s teeth lately.  I apologize.  As many of you know, I can’t keep up with myself.  I guess, Hawaii knocked me off my game. (I don’t know what game that would be, but I think my position is “Bench Warmer“).

Warning:  this Newsletter is a bit scattered and long-winded – kinda like me.


So, what’s been happening?  Well, we have 4 new videos coming out on YouTube very soon (or it is out already – depending on when you receive the newsletter).  There is also an accompanying web page – nach! The videos are called: 1. Making washers 2. How to use a disc cutter. 3 & 4. Making a Solderless Bead Part One and Part Two.

  (You’ve seen these before!)

3 new videos we are also working on:  Butt soldering, Sweat soldering, “T” Soldering. 

This summer and fall has been hectic with lots of traveling, cat problems, remodeling, writing, planning, designing, etc.  Also read some great travel/sailing books.  My two favorite books are both by the same author:  Happier than a Billionaire and Happier than a Billionaire – the Sequel.  Written by Nadine Hays Pisani.   I have NEVER (and I mean NEVER) laughed so much while reading a book.  In fact, I was not allowed to read Happier in the bed as I kept waking my husband up with my snorting!  I love Nadine’s husband.

Also, (finally) taking a Spanish class because I’m bound and determined to be fluent!!!!!

Saw the Bulgari show at the De Young in San Francisco and thought about breaking the glass and borrowing a few pieces. But, as I am no longer 3 years old and can control my impulses and was fully aware that all those people in uniform weren’t there to help me escape with the goods, I elected to not “borrow” anything.  The jewelry was gem encrusted and very beautiful but, I came away with the feeling that some people have just too much money.


 I’ve also been getting my I’s dotted and my T’s crossed for my class with Art is You in September of 2014, in Petaluma, CA.  The ladies who run Art is you, are very well organized and needed my class information almost a year in advance. I’ll be teaching a class on how to make the Riveted Cuff (shown below).  Sign-ups start on January 1, 2014.  Class size is VERY limited (six, I think).

 The Cuff.

I’m just now, finishing the jewelry studio at Chimera (in Petaluma, CA).  I will be teaching the first class to be taught there! The class, An Evolution of Ideas: A Beginning Jewelry Class with Nancy LT hamilton is a two day class. Dates are:  December (12/7/13 through 12/8/13 – Saturday and Sunday).

In this class,  I’m throwing away some of the rules and will be experimenting with a new way of teaching (for me, at least).  This class will be based on the idea of “allowing our minds to wander aimlessly among ideas” – quote from Sugata Mitra – winner of the 2010 TED prize. Don’t know about TED?

Register for the class at Chimera (just scroll down the page a bit).
The class price, for the two days, is $225.00 US.  There are only 6 spots available.

My Friends

So, I have this friend who I call Chuckles – which is not really his name, but that’s what I call him.  Chuckles is a VERY amusing guy as well as my first supporter and, dare I say, Fan.  Chuckles makes some very interesting things (he’s my kind of crazy). The following images are Chuckles creative response to owning THE mailbox to hit.  Thanks Numero Uno for letting me share.

The story:  Mailbox is hit by baseball bat or car or roving dinosaur. Chuckles improvises and with his amazingly “off” sense of humor comes up with design #1.
On the left is a photo of design #1 (after the 1st collision) and, on the right, design #1 after the SECOND mailbox collision.  This knock down accomplished via a young driver.

 So, Chuckles being the funny, creative guy that he is, puts up an “eco-friendly”, cost efficient and easily replaced, mail receptacle – complete with “pick-up please” flag.   Now, he’s the victim of drive-by lookie loos.  Can’t wait to see the next one, Chuckles!

  One more “Chuckles image” – his Halloween decoration.

I admire creativity in all of its myriad forms.  Thanks Chuckles for being so creative and always making me laugh!  Nurby

Email of the (Months – ’cause this newsletter is months behind)

On selling your work

Hi Patrick, … I started selling jewelry because my friends nagged me to.  I never thought my work was any good but, they drove me nuts.  I finally called a gallery, printed up a price sheet, walked in (sweating and shaking) and showed the owner my work.  I almost fainted when she took it all!

Now, of course, you need to do some leg work and seek out places that carry work that is either similar to yours or as adventurous or quiet as your work may be.  Also, price points are a good thing to check out.  Are all the pieces $500.00 and up or are they $19.99?  If you sell $500.00 pieces you obviously don’t want your work in the dollar store and vice versa.  If you do avant garde work, it won’t be a good fit in a country store – you get the idea.
Prepare your jewelry before you go.  Shine it up, take off tarnish, give the gemstones a good scrub with soap and water.  Present the jewelry in a velvet drawer  or other method for making it look great.  Don’t forget to wear some of your work or bring a “helper” friend.  Have them wearing your jewelry.   The helpers are also great for encouragement and support. By wearing your work, you are showcasing it. I’ve had gallery owners take the rings off my fingers and the necklaces off my neck.
Be prepared to spend an hour or two with the owner or manager – which is why you call for an appointment.  Galleries and shops are always looking for new work.  You can also email images of your work to galleries/shops that are too far to travel to.  But, they will probably want to see your work in person so, if you trust them, you might need to mail a piece or two.
Nowadays, most galleries work on a commission basis – as opposed to buying your work outright.  Although, some still do buy.  The best I’ve seen is a 35% (they get) 65% (you get).  Most places are 50/50 or at worst: 60/40 – with you getting the 40%.  At trunk shows, you can often see a 20/80 split or trade the show holder for jewelry.
On pricing:  due to the markup of your work, you have to price your work so that you get the cost of your materials back (including tax, shipping and time spent shopping – gas for the car – if that’s part of your cost) and make enough to cover your labor. Otherwise, why sell?  I have cried at the small checks that I’ve received for pieces that took several weeks/months to make. With the markup required for selling in galleries and stores, it’s hard to balance getting what you should get, with what you can sell your work for.  I make one of a kind pieces and they are labor intensive.  The big joke between me and a few of my jeweler friends is that we make .50 an hour!  That’s because, labor prices can be flexible but, not your material cost!  I might make a piece that took 30 hours, cost 50.00 in materials and end up selling it for $350.00.  That means I made 10.00 an hour for that piece.  If I did production work, my costs would, obviously, be less. But, I spend a lot of time experimenting and will probably never see a return on those hours spent – except for the skills that I learn.  We usually can’t get away with charging for our experimentation but, we should.
Selling option 1:  One of the things I was taught, was if you’re going to put the time into it, make it in gold.  The same piece made in copper or silver will fetch 1/10th or less the price.  The same goes with stones.  People don’t mind spending the big bucks on diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds.  These are the stones that are assigned a high cultural value – just like gold or platinum.  So, one of the best ways to make money, is to make it in gold with precious stones.  

Saying that, I don’t make my jewelry from any of the above ingredients (well maybe a bit of gold and a diamond or two).  I think the value should be in the idea, the execution and the concept.  Go copper and plastic!My friend Nikki Couppee, is a shining example (pun intended) who illustrates that beautiful, creative jewelry does not require precious materials.  Precious, after all, is subjective.

  Made from plastic, brass, steel and found objects, etc., Nikki turns “throw away” materials into gems.

Selling option 2: The next way (which is also a good idea to do with the gold too) is to make multiples.  Make them fast, with low material costs and sell in volume.  Lost wax casting is a great way to make multiples and to reduce the amount of time creating reusable elements. Your research and development costs are absorbed piece by piece. Another way to get the big bucks, is to get so well known and collectible, that you can command the prices you want. Get into museums!
Selling option three:  Shows.  Sign up for local craft shows.  Put together a booth.  Get your name out there.  Join local art groups, have trunk shows.  In my area, we have Art Trails and Art at the Source – shows where for two weekends people visit your studio and are able to purchase your work.  A friend of mine started this way and now does big shows all over the country. She makes a good living at her work.  With this method, you get all the money less booth fees, additional help costs, travel expenses, meals, hotels, etc. 
Get noticed:  send photos to Art Jewelry Magazine, Craft Magazine, Wire Magazine, etc.  Write articles, do a blog, MAKE VIDEOS.  Enter competitions.  Grow, learn, be fearless.  Work everyday to grow your business and your craft.   


If you sell retail, don’t forget to charge sales tax.  Put that tax money into a separate account and don’t touch it until it’s tax time. You don’t want a to get stuck with a large tax bill and not have the cash to pay it. If you sell through galleries or stores, you are selling wholesale and don’t have to pay sales tax. The stores charge and collect the sales tax. (Check with your local laws though).  These aren’t the only ways to sell your work – just all that I can think of at the moment.  Be as creative in selling your work as you are in designing it. 
Here’s a tale of success!  I had a student about five years ago who I knew had “it”. She had great hand/eye coordination, great design sense, wonderful ideas.  She took a few classes with me and within the year started doing local shows. At the time, she was a real estate agent and wanted a different, more creative career.  She decided to rent space at the SF International Gift Fair and was very successful.  Next, she did the ASD Las Vegas and Nordstrom’s, Brookstone, and other large retailers ordered her products.  Now, she produces thousands of pieces for a variety of catalogs and other vendors.  She is no longer a real estate agent!  


This quote is from Sir Ken Robinson in the TED video:  How Schools Kill Creativity.  Sir Ken Robinson is a very funny guy on a mission.  That mission is, in his own words: “to transform the culture of education and organizations with a richer conception of human creativity and intelligence.”

“We are educating people out of their creative capacities…we don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it.”

As a child, were you told you couldn’t make a living as (pick one or several) an artist, actor, dancer, athlete, singer, designer, writer, etc.?  Well, “they” were wrong!  Sir Ken Robinson has written several books on creative capacities, that will help you re-discover the creativity that is in all of us.    
 Anna Mazoñ.    Metal Clay Jewelry

Vernissage  Unique Jewelry

Hiromi Suter   OMG!

I’m going to shut up soon – really! 

Did you know that Ganoksin, besides having tons of jewelry related information, has blogs?  You can start your own or read the ones already up.  Pretty cool place.  I found Hiromi Suter there via Metalwerx’s (link to their blog at Ganoksin).  

While we’re on the subject of great jewelry sites, “Metalwerx is dedicated to supporting jewelry and the metal arts through educational programming that fosters artistic and technical development while encouraging community growth and arts appreciation.”  Great place to visit.

Thanks for listening.  Hope to see you soon.  Happy Creating.    



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