In January Steve and I went to the Sugarloaf Craft Festival in Chantilly. I wasn't scouting it out as much as I was looking for something for us to do with a newborn baby. But being surrounded by so many craftsmen wound up being pretty inspiring (not that I had time to make jewelry back in January, but I thought about it a lot). I even bought earrings and a bracelet from an artist I've known about for a while. (Thanks, Rosanne!)
So why would I do that? Can't I make jewelry myself? Sure, well, given the time and inclination I could probably make something similar, but one of the things I like to do is surround myself with quality pieces so hopefully I will reflect that in my own work. Strong construction, easy closure, substantial weight, etc. My friend who decorates houses made the suggestion to "study quality" years ago; when you're accustomed to good-quality furnishings it's easier to spot the chintzy stuff. Of course sometimes I struggle because the bargain hunter in me sees a deal, but at least I can tell the difference.