Somehow I haven’t represented my art well. Being an artist with a small business is a great job with lots of flexibility. It also means you need to wear a lot of hats- marketer, manufacturer, PR guru, social media expert, shipping department, creative input, and bookkeeper. I often take for granted that people understand that when I say “handsmithed by English Norman” that means I made it- with my hands.
Today at a luncheon, a friend who receives all of my emails and marketing asked about the necklace I was wearing. She wanted something for a friend and was headed to 2 jewelry trunk shows that day to find something. Another friend pointed out to her that the other shows were just mass-manufactured, “English actually makes all of her work.” Friend One was surprised, “You actually make all of your jewelry?!”
I just had to laugh. Clearly, I don’t toot my horn enough or explain very well what I do. Yes, I make all of my jewelry by hand. Over the years, I’ve struggled with the terms “handmade,” “handcrafted,” “handforged,” “handsmithed,” or anything to denote my work is made by me with my hands. Recently, my dear husband found an article where the new words are “artisan designed and artisan crafted.” Well, I guess that applies, too!
Friends who know me from carpool or baseball games or ballet class (not mine!) are often surprised to know that I wield a plumber’s torch attached to an acetylene tank to create delicately smithed pieces. Going into a tool shop or hardware store is a fantastic place to spend a few hours. Hammers, drills, and files (not the paper kind) are my friends! Granted, they don’t talk back, but that can be a good thing :)
The “artisan designed” and “artisan crafted” is part of what sets my work apart. All of my pieces start out as a flat piece of Argentium silver or circles of silver wire. I use the rolling mill to texture, hammers to forge, dies to pierce, dapping tools to shape, pliers to twist, and solder to hold all the pieces together. Each earring top is a carefully formed curve I designed to stay in your ear without a plastic back. The toggle I use is my own design created in reaction to the escalating price of silver which put the manufactured clasps out of my price range.
So, whatever the term, I do make all of my own work, components, and jewelry. I list my profession as "silversmith" and enjoy the challenge of taking a design and turning it into wearable art with metal. Artisan, handsmithed, silversmithed- it all means made in my studio by me in Atlanta and that's is what makes it unique.
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