Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Am I a Jeweler?

What am I?

  • Jeweler
  • Jewelry maker
  • Craftsperson
  • Metalsmith
  • Artist
  • Jewelry artist 
  • Designer.
I'm often asked what I do for a living.  Usually I just blurt out, "I make jewelry".

But I think maybe at times I'd like to sound more official.  "I make jewelry" almost sounds like a hobby.  It's true, I *do* make jewelry.  But the phrase just connotes (to me, anyway) an inaccurate picture.  Or incomplete, at least.

So what am I?

I often refrain from referring to myself as an artist.  Why?  Sometimes it's because "artist" to me is often linked with painting.  We all know that's not true... there are SO many kinds of art.  But it's frequently the first thing that comes to mind with the word "artist".

Also "artist" doesn't just role off my tongue in reference to myself.  It's like, you can call OTHER people artists, but you don't call yourself an artist.  In the same way that you can say OTHER people make beautiful jewelry but you don't usually say you yourself make beautiful jewelry.  Well, maybe you do.  But I don't.  It feels too much like I'm complimenting my own work.  When it comes to my own work, I'd prefer to hear the compliments from others.

Don't get me wrong, I'll definitely tell you how happy I am with a piece, how much I like how something turned out, how great a piece looks with such-and-such outfit, etc.  But I don't think I usually tell people I make amazing, beautiful, really cool jewelry.

I have used the term "jewelry artist" before.  That at least explains the medium.

I'm really liking the word "metalsmith".  There are notes of "worker", "craftsman", and "artist" in there.  Metalsmith seems to neither imply hobbyest nor esoteric artist.  It's more down-to-earth and even a little intriguing.

I've always like craftsperson or craftsmen but I don't think others get the same thing from the word as I do.  Because I really do consider myself a budding craftsperson.  I'm someone who works in my studio every day trying to get better at a chosen craft.  I work with my hands, making each piece from start to finish.

I am very much more a craftsperson than I am a designer.

I do design, that's for sure, but to me a designer has aspirations to come up with designs that can go into mass production.  I don't.  That's where I'd be more like an artist then than a designer.  I want to be the person who handcrafts each piece that will be sold under my name.  I have no desire to come up with designs that will be produced then sold in Macy's, Neiman-Marcus, or the Sundance catalog.

Which is a shame.  I think there's a lot more money in designing than in making.  (If you're successful.)  But it just doesn't interest me.  Not now anyway.  I really enjoy the hands-on process. 

So when people ask you what you do for a living, what do you say?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject.  Please leave me a comment if you like.  Thanks!

Here's one meme making the rounds...





17 comments:

  1. Very interesting I've often wondered this myself. I stay with Jewelry artist because I use my own work and other artisan components and I'd like to think I create wearable art lol. I don't say designer as I'm not designing items that will be mass produced, or metalsmith as I do t metalsmith... although I do work with metal wire etc. It's definitely something to think of but I stick with jewelry artist atleast for now. I've heard many metalsmiths refer to themselves more recently as jeweler's ... .?? Good for thought thanks Laura

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your input. I do think I probably use "jewelry artist" the most as well.

      Delete
  2. I have the same problem, I also like the word metalsmith but it doesn't convey the jewellery part, so I tend to default to "I make jewelry" like you, but then follow up by showing them a ring I'm wearing - one that I am proud of at the time. An example always helps :o)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. GMTA :-)

      I only recently started wearing my own jewelry, rings in particular.

      It is fun to show an example while I'm explaining. You are so right.

      Delete
    2. I still try to use the term jeweler, when saying this in public. In writing online, I get more creative such as goldsmith/jewelry designer. Back to the term "jeweler", I had to repeat this several times for a banker, when he was filling out paperwork for me. It was like he was too young to know what this is. Wow, kind of like it was an archaic profession. What we go through:-)

      Delete
    3. Christine, that's too funny about the banker.

      Although I love the idea/sound of having an "archaic profession". Hee hee

      Delete
  3. I use silversmith because I have always worked with sterling silver but I also say I make jewelry which really sounds like a hobby, not sure I line that

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nice to hear I'm not the only one who feels a "hobby" reaction from others when I say I make jewelry.

      Silversmith... I like that.

      Delete
  4. A gentleman I have taken classes from says,"When you an correct your own mistakes yourself you are a jeweler!"

    I don't all myself that it is either a metalsmith or jewelry artist depending on the situation. Thought you might enjoy the quote though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Lucy, thanks for posting. I like that quote!

      Delete
  5. I have taken several classes from Michael David Sturlin and his definition is this ~ Goldsmiths make jewelry regardless of the materials you work in, gold, silver, bronze, it is the scale of your work that defines the terms.
    ~Silversmiths make larger items like bowls, plates, small sculptures, etc.
    ~Metalsmiths make large items, statues, large installations, etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's totally news to me. Wow! I assumed goldsmiths work almost exclusively with gold. How interesting!

      Delete
  6. "I make jewelry" came first and stuck for a long while...and it still slips out sometimes. Now, I say I design and fabricate jewelry to sell in my online shop. A little more info can spur conversation, but I think many people tend to minimize their skills. If someone asks my hubby what he does, he would say I work in a lab, rather than I'm a senior scientist and we test medical devices for FDA which might lead to more interest and conversation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You work in a lab. Ha ha ha! That's funny. Sigh...

      Delete
    2. Did that come out right? He's the scientist!

      Delete
    3. Oh... I wasn't paying close enough attention. But the laugh is the same.

      I wasn't laughing at the idea of you working in a lab... I was laughing at the idea of referring to a "senior scientist" as someone who "works in a lab". :-)

      Delete
  7. I usually say "I design and make jewelry." (To which one person responded, "You mean, like, from a kit?") Um. No. Most people just kind of look at me with expectation in their expression, as if to say, "And... ???" But I'm also a writer with a dozen published books to my credit. When I say, "I'm a writer," of course they ask, "Oh, what do you write?" Not a simple answer, since my books can be divided into two very different types/audiences. I also read Tarot cards and do astrology. I usually don't even go there at all. LOL

    ReplyDelete