At Work: Anne Holman’s light and airy space for designing her jewelry

At Work — By on August 15, 2011 at 8:00 am

Anne Holman’s bright and spacious studio would be a wonderful space to create things. She found the 1,700-square-foot space in The Millworks Building about a year ago and loved it the second she saw it. The huge windows that provide natural light, the beautiful floors, and the fact that the inside temperature remains pleasant year round were all great features. She was able to find a few friends to share the space and they each have their own corner and have extra room to do photoshoots and mock setups for booths.

Anne Holman, wearing her grandmother's ring. Her earrings and silver rings are her own creations.

Holman has been creating jewelry she sells under the name Anne Holman Jewelry Design for five years full time. It has been a wonderful way for her to showcase her artistic talents while making a living. You have probably seen her set up at various shows around Columbus and her jewelry is also sold in several stores here and around the country.

She was always making things as a child. In middle school, she was creating earrings and selling them in the local Hallmark store for $6 a pair. During high school, she took a jewelry workshop at the University of Akron along with a couple of other art classes. Although at the time she did not know that jewelry would be her life’s work, she did realize she had a passion for art. That led her to convince her parents she wanted to go to art school, specifically the Columbus College of Art and Design.

At CCAD, she started her focus in Illustration and then switched to Fine Arts to be able to build things. As part of that program, she took a printmaking class, Intaglio, that had her working with copper plates. Then she discovered her love of working with metal.

“I gravitated toward jewelry because I knew it was something I could sell and make a business around. It was a practical way to sell artwork to make a living,” says Holman.

CCAD did not offer any jewelry making classes at the time, so she read many books at the Columbus Metropolitan Library to learn the skills she needed. Jewelry making tools can be expensive and can tend toward very specific use. Holman started with only a couple of hammers and a saw, then slowly added pieces as she needed them and could afford them. Her traditional jewelry bench was a graduation gift.

Her traditional jewelry bench.

Holman feels she would be really satisfied with her business if it grew to support her and one or two employees.

“I’ve let the business grow naturally and not force it to be anything its not −or I’m not− ready for,” she says. Her brand is her name and she likes making the work herself adding, “I don’t want it to lose the hand of me.”

Collection of tools.

One of her goals was to have her work published, which she accomplished in 2008 in the book 500 Pendants & Lockets: Contemporary Interpretations of Classic Adornments by Lark Books. Her work was also a part of the Lark Studio Series: Pendants by Ray Hemachandra and will also be in the soon-to-be-released The New Artisans: Handmade Designs for Contemporary Living, by Olivier Dupon, published by Thames & Hudson.

She would also like to work on more high-end, one-of-a-kind pieces, showcasing the fine art side of her talents.

Sterling silver Ohio pendants awaiting chains.

The beautiful pieces Holman creates incorporate old things with previous lives and gives them “another chance to be important to somebody.” Practicing ethical metalsmith methods is the foundation of her business.

“I use recycled precious metals in the making of my jewelry,” Holman says. “None of the metals [silver and gold] are newly mined. All are refined from existing precious metal scrap. I also use various antique reclaimed glass cabochons and buttons in my work.”

She has found much of her inspiration comes from her family history. One of her grandmothers collected many pieces of silver jewelry as well as coins, treasures and mementos from her worldly travels. On the day we spoke, Holman was wearing one of her grandmother’s rings− a beautiful piece incorporating a blue flower design.

Map pieces ready for sale.

Holman has always had a love for maps, as you can see in many of the pieces she creates. After her other grandmother passed away, the family discovered an old scrapbook containing her life’s memories. Reading through it, Holman discovered that as a single young lady, her great-grandmother had been working as an assistant to a cartographer in Washington, D.C. It was a fun connection to discover in her family!

Holman enjoys having her business in Columbus.

“It’s an affordable city to live in and that has made it possible to do things that could be difficult in other cities,” she shares. She feels Columbus is very supportive of independent business owners and I would have to agree with her since Tiny Canary Indie Design Market – a craft fair for independent designers she put together with Aline Yamada – had a successful three-year run.

Working at her soldering desk.

Now that she has found success with a life’s work she enjoys, Holman has returned to CCAD as an instructor in the Undergraduate Jewlery program for jewelry/metals. She enjoys seeing the enthusiasm other people have for the craft. She has found a mentor in Kelly Malec-Kosak, an associate professor for Fine Arts and Graduate Studies and also chair of Dimensional Studies at CCAD. Holman and Malec-Kosak bonded immediately.

Attending art fairs and shows around the country has proven to be immensely helpful to Holman’s success.

“My first show was the CCAD Student Art Sale and now I do about a dozen shows around Ohio and nearby states,” she says. “Shows are a good way to get immediate feedback and interact with customers.”

She has also found they are great for networking and getting contacts for commissions. Many shop owners also attend shows looking for products to stock in their stores.

Anne Holman's booth as seen at the Pittsburgh Three Rivers Arts Festival. Photo by Anne Holman.

Setting up a shop on Etsy.com and having a great web presence is also an invaluable tool.

“I don’t know that I could have started as quickly as I could, making a living doing this if it hadn’t been for the internet,” Holman says. She has recently also set up a Facebook page where you can Like Anne Holman Jewelry Design.

[Read More about How to Sell Successfully Using Etsy.com]

[And if you are on a small budget, Read More about How to Design a Great Business Website for Less than $200]

A local jewelry supply shop Holman likes is Wm. Werkhaven & Son, Inc. − a third generation family-owned and operated company in the jewelry and tool supply business for 87 years, located at 2630 N. High St., Columbus, OH 43202.

Visit AnneHolman.com to shop online.

Do you know of, have, or work in a creative workspace and would like to be featured in this series? If so, contact Anne Evans.

Anne Evans Anne Evans (48 Articles)

Anne Evans is the Co-Founder and Director of Operations for The Metropreneur and Columbus Underground. She also regularly contributes to both sites with features focusing on living (At Home) and working (At Work) in urban areas and creative spaces. She enjoys scrapbooking, parties, her family and restoring a 100+ year old home close to Downtown Columbus.


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