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by Skylar Glandon
August 26, 2018
Something exciting happened at the Stagecoach this past Wednesday, August 24th.
This past May we received a phone call from a lady who was in charge of organizing events for a group of Crime Scene Investigator wives. Every summer they get together and travel to a different community for a tour. This year they decided to spend a few days exploring all there is to see and do in Kearney, NE. The lady on the phone had heard about our handmade jewelry and asked if our silversmith would be willing to do a demonstration for them. Gary Glandon agreed and got to work planning for this presentation.
There are places in the country where handmade jewelry is very common. Travel to Santa Fe, for instance, and you will find an entire culture based around the art form. In Kearney, NE, however, it is much less prevalent. We are very fortunate to have one of the only silversmiths in the area who can create beautiful handmade jewelry right here. Gary can also size silver and gold rings and repair your pieces without sending them off. He originally learned from Native American jewelry artists and has been practicing his craft for over 30 years. Seeing him work is absolutely fascinating.
A live demonstration of handmade jewelry does pose a few challenges. First, Gary's workbench, where all the magic happens, is in a back room and not very suitable for an audience. He has so many tools and equipment that it can be difficult for one or two people to observe, let alone a large group. Even if he could fit that many people in there, most of his work is very small and precise which makes viewing troublesome.
Another major issue with demonstrating the process of creating handmade jewelry is time. A common question Gary receives is, "how long does handmade jewelry take?" This is always a difficult question for him to answer. Every piece of handmade jewelry takes a different amount of time depending on how much work is required. Some pieces are relatively simple, while others require a lot of thought-out preparation. Also, with operating the Stagecoach, Gary rarely has a chance to sit down and handmake something in one sitting. His skills are in high demand with people needing repairs, custom work, or sizing rings. It seems like there is always some sort of interruption going on, such as a phone call, a large group of customers coming in, or his son (ahem) pestering him.
While Gary may be reluctant to give an estimate of how much time a handmade piece of jewelry can take, I will say that it can take hours. You can see the problem with giving a live demonstration to a group of people. We had to come up with a workaround, a presentation that would be interesting but not take too long.
His plan was to show a few different unfinished pieces in various stages of development. He would explain each step of how he would create a piece of handmade jewelry. About a weeks beforehand, Gary made a beautiful Royston Turquoise pendant that demonstrated a variety of different techniques that he could explain to the group. I wrote about this pendant last week and you can see it here: New Royston Turquoise Pendant by Gary Glandon. However, it turned out so beautifully that a customer purchased it the night before his presentation. We searched around frantically for another piece of jewelry that Gary could display. There are plenty of his pieces around, but few that really showed off his talent as well as the turquoise pendant. Finally, he found a perfect pendant that he had custom-made for a lady that was on layaway. You do what you gotta do, right?
On Wednesday, about fifteen women came for the presentation. Gary brought out a few of his most essential tools to show, including hammers, files, and his tiny saw. Because he was taught by Native American jewelry artists, he gave a quick history of their work and then showed the steps that he goes through with handmade jewelry.
His presentation lasted about fifteen minutes then the ladies asked a few questions. One asked where his stones come from. Gary told them that he goes to the Southwest and buys most of his turquoise stones directly from the miners. To ensure that his handmade turquoise jewelry is not only beautiful but also high-quality, he picks out every stone himself. A few other questions were asked and then the ladies got some time to look around at all of the unique items that the Stagecoach has to offer. After his presentation, we asked Gary how it went. He replied that he didn't notice anyone fall asleep so he was happy.
This was a fun experience for us that I wish we could do more often. There are not many places, especially in Nebraska, that create handmade jewelry right on site. At the Stagecoach, you have the unique opportunity to speak with the artist, to ask him questions, and find out what makes handmade jewelry really unique. It is our hope that this gives you a better understanding and appreciation of the piece that you are purchasing.
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