Installment one of our Artist Series: Studio Tour with Third Hand Silversmith.
Julia, the owner of Third Hand Silversmith joined the Intrigue Ink team earlier this year as our marketing and e-commerce queen!
Take a step into her studio and learn more about making jewelry and owning a small business!
Welcome to my silversmithing studio!
My workspace consists mainly of two workbenches, a modest collection of tools, and a lot of art. There isn’t a blank wall in my home, and my studio is no exception...surrounding myself with handmade art from cool people is both joyful and inspiring. My collection of tools has grown slowly over time, and each new addition is exciting! I love seeing the way tools wear over time. Just like well-loved jewelry, each small sign of wear adds to the object’s narrative and makes it more beautiful and meaningful. I’m so excited to show you where I create, daydream, and honestly, spend most of my time. I’ll be sharing some behind the scenes, and answering some of my most asked questions.
Q: What roles do you have in your business?
A: Basically, all of them. I am the owner and sole operator of Third Hand. Of course, I couldn’t do it without the support of my friends, family, and amazing customers, but everything else is my responsibility. The main roles I perform on a daily basis include: designing and creating new jewelry pieces, maintaining my website and social media accounts, bookkeeping, sourcing materials, and tools, packing and shipping orders, and marketing my brand.
Q: How and when did you decide to start selling your jewelry?
A: My first few sales happened pretty organically--they were made by friends who saw my jewelry through Instagram posts. After a few months of selling my jewelry this way, I figured there was enough demand to establish a more solid brand and web presence. Thanks to my BFA in graphic design, I was able to design my own branding in a way I thought best told my story. I set up a website using Shopify, created an Instagram account dedicated to sharing my jewelry, and got the right to building and marketing my brand. I am now in the second official year of running my business, and I continue to grow my audience a little bit more every day!! Growing slowly isn’t a bad thing, especially if you’re a new business owner. It gives you time to perfect your product, make adjustments without too much pressure, and learn ALL the tools you need to successfully run a small creative business.
Q: How do you learn to market your jewelry?
A: I learned the basics of marketing in design school, but most of what I learned came from hours and hours of creating content, experimenting, listening, analyzing, Googling, getting vulnerable and authentic, and just being passionate about what I’m doing. I don’t suggest starting a small creative business if you’re not willing to dig in and learn many, many, new things.
There just isn’t an easy magic formula for marketing your business. I’ve had to think deeply about why I do this, really get to know my customers and supporters, and learn from a lot of mistakes to get to this point.
Q: What are your favorite tools?
A: My favorite tool is this beautiful Green Lion Sawframe. My brain is naturally very focused on aesthetics, and this frame is undeniably the prettiest tool in my studio.
The weirdest tool I have is a child’s cookie monster themed toothbrush (not aesthetic)...but it does the trick at brushing metal dust out of small crevices in jewelry!
Q: Where do you find most of your tools and materials:
A: Rio Grande or Etsy!
Q: How long have you been silversmithing for?
A: 3 years (ish)! I took a few metalsmithing classes at Montana State University, learned A LOT about metalsmithing as a production assistant at Hattie Rex, and spent hundreds of solitary hours in the studio experimenting, failing, learning, and jamming to raaaaad tunes.
Q: How many hours a week do you work on Third Hand?
A: It totally depends. Some days I am so motivated and inspired I’ll spend most of the day in the studio, working on my website, or creating social media content. Other days I’ll sit down at my bench, say “nope” in my head, and go do something else. I know I won’t produce good work if I force it, so I do my best to listen to my intuition and rest when I need to! I prefer a flexible routine to a structured work/play/rest schedule.
Tips for jewelers (or other artists and makers) just starting out?
- Find a community. Whether that looks like a shared studio space or other jewelers you only know from Instagram, you have to have people to support, learn from, and connect with.
- Don't do it all at once. Try new things, have fun, and invest in new tools as you need them/can afford them. Buying an expensive tool just because your favorite jeweler on Instagram has one isn’t cool. Borrow, thrift, and find as many tools as you can for as long as possible! You’ll learn what tools you NEED and what tools you’ll never touch again.
- Be authentic. Being true to yourself in a world that thrives on competition and comparison is hard. But it is possible. Make things you love and are proud of; make things with your hands and your heart; the rest will come naturally.
Keep up with me on Instagram @thirdhandsilversmith...I post new products, behind the scenes, and special sales!
Have a question about silversmithing, running a small creative business, or my studio? Leave it in the comments below or send me a message on Instagram!Shop Julia's work in our store, and at thirdhandsilversmith.com!