Community, Gallery Event

Trade Show Trades

Notes from an interview with Micki Lippe about her collection of Art Jewelry Trades 

by Claire Ramsey  

A craft trade show is a marketplace where wholesalers can purchase and order objects to sell in their shops and galleries, and where regular shoppers can shop on retail days. The American Craft Council shows are a well-known example, particularly the Baltimore and San Francisco shows, although ACC now holds shows in various places, and even online. Micki Lippe’s first trade show was the Baltimore ACC show and thus began her extensive collection of art jewelry. 

Micki learned about the Baltimore ACC show through a fellow artist when she lived in Charlottesville and had a studio set-up in a building shared by multiple artists. That Baltimore show featured about 800 exhibitors showing a range of crafts, from jewelry to ceramics, clothing, toys, and puppets. She recalls two very busy wholesale days – she took between $35,000 and $50,000 in orders and shipped up to $100,000 in orders afterwards because of her repeat customers. Three wholesale days followed the two retail days, although some retail shoppers re-invented themselves as wholesalers by passing out business cards they’d had printed as if they owned businesses.  

Artists were juried into the show the old-fashioned way, by submitting professionally shot slides of their work, and then checking their mailboxes every day for an acceptance letter. Once accepted they were assigned a spot at the show venue – a chalked off space on a concrete floor. Artists had to bring everything for their stalls – carpet, vitrines, lights, Sears utility shelves and fabric to hide their industrial look, and various ways to display their goods. Micki tells of stuffing “Mr. Carpet” into her car from the dashboard to the back window, hauling Abstracta display cases, driving to shows, and inventing such things as layers of plexiglass shards (shattered by her own hands) and expensive plexiglass balls as settings for displays. Artists often brought their families along to shows. Micki paid her kids when they worked for her at shows, and at one show Micki’s daughter Tanya, at age 12 reportedly “made trouble” with the other kids because she told them about her paycheck.  At one show w/o awnings in Virginia the summer heat and humidity turned her jewelry into “little branding irons.” 

Micki sold at trade shows in Rhinebeck NY, Baltimore, Dallas, and San Francisco, and at smaller outdoor shows, and eventually flew to trade shows with her wares and her display equipment. At one show, a group of well-off appearing women showed their business cards, and looked over her goods, gushing that they loved her jewelry. One of them stayed at Micki’s stall and pored over her jewelry. When the other women returned and asked their friend what she had ordered, she reported “I didn’t order anything because I have a closet full of clothes with Peter Pan collars and none of the necklaces would look good with my clothes. I need clothes like hers,” pointing to Micki who that she was wearing a kimono type top she’d bought for $10.00 someplace.  

When shows were slow on retail days, artists would start trading. Wholesale days were usually busy but when things slowed down, there was time to wander through the stalls and see what other artists were doing. Trades were always based on the value of the pieces. An artist would say “I like that, do you want to trade?” and they would negotiate. Micki displayed a variety of pieces with a range of prices, and traded mainly pairs of earrings from her production lines, or, if she was trading for a more expensive item from another maker, a box of a Micki Lippe pieces. Micki traded so that she’d have “something to take home,” and in addition to jewelry, acquired ceramics, clothing, and hand puppets for her husband Bill. She sometimes purchased pieces from other artists, knowing that sales were artists’ livelihood. It was fun to wear jewelry that others had made, until people asked whether she’d made it herself. There came a point when she could not bear to see “the disappointed looks on their faces” when she said that she hadn’t made the piece. Eventually she stopped wearing the bounty from her trades. “I amassed all of that jewelry but ended up not wearing it” and as many jewelers do, promoted her own work by wearing it.  


The pieces curated by Maru Almeida for the exhibition in the Danaca Design Gallery Showroom, demonstrate techniques that Micki did not use herself, but that she found useful when teaching. They illustrate creativity and imaginative thinking. She admires intricate pieces assembled without solder, creative cold connections or use of tubing, and makers who creatively use minimal tools, or who innovate ways to use the materials at hand. She recalls a teacher she met in Germany soon after the wall came down, when sheets of wax for casting were not available. She needed a big sheet to cast a candleholder in honor of a poet, so took a tray from the lunchroom, melted some wax and made her own sheet by flooding the tray.  

See COLLECTION: A curated selection of art jewelry collected by Micki Lippe in the Danaca Design Gallery Showroom September 12 – October 10. 

Join Micki for a reception and guided tour Saturday, October 8, 1:00 – 2:30 RSVP required. Event is currently full. Please email to be added to the waitlist.

During many years on the road, doing American Craft Council shows, like many artists, Micki traded with fellow makers. It is one of the best ways to build a fine collection of interesting jewelry. This section of 35 pieces curated by Maru Almeida includes brooches, earrings and necklaces created by a wide range of artists, over the course of a couple decades. These include work from Bob Ebendorf, Ford and Forlano and Diane Falkenhagen. Micki hopes that a peek at this collection will serve to provide design and technical inspiration to other makers. This is your chance to see the back of the brooch! 

COLLECTION: Treasures from a Jeweler’s Perspective is a new exhibition series in the Danaca Design Gallery Showroom. Art jewelers are collectors. Tools, gems, jewelry, imagery, and rusty metal; honestly I do not think I’ve ever met an art jeweler who did not collect at least one of the above. More often than not, all and more. The inspiration for this new gallery series is to peek into a single jeweler’s collection. Just one of them. This September we will explore a selection of jewelry works collected by local jeweler Micki Lippe. 

Community, Gallery Event

Battle of the Rings – RING SMACKDOWN 2022

The jury has ruled. These 64 incredible rings have arrived to Seattle from across the globe to compete in The International RING SMACKDOWN 2022. Voting begins Monday April 4 at 9:00 am, mark your calendars! If you don’t know what I’m talking about then it’s time you get informed! All 64 rings will be available to view in person in our Gallery Showroom. Be sure to follow us on Instagram too because that is where the real fun is @danacadesignstudio  

Read more HERE! 

Classes, Gallery Event

June Surprises, July Dreams

battle of the rings Champion

Dear Friends,

June was full of surprises and the biggest for me was anticipating who would be crowned Champion of the Ring Smackdown 2020! After a grueling month of competition, Karen Keller of Pyrus Designs took the big win with her lovely ring, “Secrets Safe with Me” made from sterling silver and bolder opal.

Karen says, “This hand fabricated flip ring is full of surprises! One side has a galactic boulder opal simply set in a shadow box frame. The second side features a hand sawn beetle. Beetles are symbols of resilience and hard work while boulder opals are believed to bring clarity and emotional security. This piece also contains a ‘secret drawer’…although small, it is meant for any personal keepsake/secret. The last surprise is its versatility. It wears just as beautifully as a pendant as it a does ring!”

Karen made this ring especial for the competition. She took the opportunity to challenge herself and was rewarded well. Let’s all take a lesson from Karen! What a memorable adventure the Battle of the Rings 2020 was. It helped many people get through a tough spring and it certainly kept us all on our toes at Danaca Design. There’s no doubt, we will do this again next year. See ALL the rings HERE. Some of my personal favorites, which I will be featuring on Instagram over the next week, are still for sale!


In other exciting news we held our first class in the newly retrofitted Danaca Design studio space, the Beginning Jewelry Series: Introduction workshop. It was a small class which was a great way to get familiar with the new layout and covid protocols. I was concerned it wouldn’t be as much fun as B.C. (before Covid!) but this excellent group of students proved otherwise. Our new class limit is 6 students and our protocol is strict. Take a look at it HERE.

newly retrofitted studio

We’re starting to open up more workshops for the summer so if you’re ready to get back into the studio, we’re ready for you.  Check the website for regular updates, To make room for Covid-safe classes something had to give; sadly, for a variety of reasons, our storefront gallery became the sacrificial beast. This decision was not made lightly. Fortunately, our online gallery has taken off! So if you are looking for a special piece of jewelry for yourself or a friend please make Danaca Design Gallery a part of your shopping experience.

Although we celebrate our anniversary at Danaca Design every year in December, it was July 1, 2003 when I took the plunge and rented the building on University Way, 17 years ago… I had this idea that it would be cool to create a gathering space for people to learn and share knowledge of metalsmithing, my passion, without being locked into a long term class. And that this place could provide the tools and atmosphere for individuals to grow creatively and thus personally. It was quite a dream for a single, thirty-something-year old with no savings account, but I’ll be darned if that dream didn’t materialize.

Of course it wouldn’t have been possible without you, so cheers to you all! I say, let’s keep dreaming. I can dream with a mask on, can you?

Danajewelry studio classes beginning student projects

Community, Gallery Event

Crowning Glory Series: Ancient History from Diadem to Tiara and Crown

This coming March Danaca Design will be hosting a show featuring tiaras and crowns in many forms called Crowning Glory: Ruling Our Own Destinies, Directing Our Own Paths. While the artists will be exploring the diverse cultural, artistic, historic, and social narratives of these accessories April decided to look into the history of these royal accessories to use as a post on the Danaca Design blog. It turned out to be a fascinating subject so instead of making one post she turned it into a four part series being posted every Monday in February leading up to our show opening and reception on Friday, March 2, 6-8:30pm. This week part 1 is focused on the ancient history of tiaras and crowns.

Tiaras, crowns, these head ornaments have been used for centuries to symbolize social superiority and power, have a history going back to ancient Egypt and Greece. Originally these head pieces were called a “diadem” derived from the Ancient Greek “dia dein” meaning “to bind around”. The ancient Egyptian pharaohs would wear gold head-bands that could be decorated with tassels and other ornaments that hung over the forehead, temple, or even down to the shoulders.

An excellent example of this is the diadem discovered in the tomb of Tutankhamun, King of Egypt in ca. 1339-1329 b.c.e. (pictured above) Discovered during the excavation of his tomb in 1922 the kings mummy was adorned with a gold diadem formed in a circlet, at the front a detachable gold ornament with the head of a vulture and the body of a cobra, symbolizing the unification of Lower and Upper Egypt. It is also inlaid with glass, obsidian, carnelian, malachite, chalcedony, and lapis lazuli.

In Ancient Greece diadems were made from all kinds of metal, and with a limited amount of gold available, Greek metalsmiths would decorate them with embossed rosettes, filigree, and other motifs such as the Heracles knot which was found frequently in Hellenistic jewelry. Once Alexander the Great opened up the gold supply from the Persian Empire in 331 B.C.E. the styles became even more elaborate and often contained intricate garlands of tassles, leaves, and flowers.

The shift from diadems as just a circular band to what we now consider tiaras and crowns today is attributed to Ancient Persia, now Iran. The original term “tiara” is Persian in origin and in its original form describes the high peaked head decoration worn by Persian kings. However in ancient Persia crowns were worn in many forms and ancient authors did not always distinguish clearly among the various terms for them, making the most reliable evidence for forms of Persian crowns/tiaras are the depictions on objects such as monuments and coins.

Kings from the Achaemenid period wore tall and serrated golden crowns, called a crenelated crown, which was adorned with gold leaves and colorful jewels. The 22 or 24 serrations of the crown symbolized towers, battlements, temples, or the Sun. The Achaemenid queen wore a jeweled crown with a thin piece of cloth reaching her knees attached. Based on historical documents it seems that the only difference between the King and Queen’s head wear was the thin cloth.

However it was not just the royal Persians that wore head covers to denote status in society. From writings by the ancient Greeks it appears that a tiara was a soft headdress often with a high point and members of the Median upper class wore these high, crested tiaras. Median civilians and officers covered their heads with round and soft egg-shaped felt caps which were decorated with lace. Ancient reliefs depict archers with these caps and a crenelated diadem worn over them. Upper class Achaemenid women wore long headscarves some reaching down to their ankles. This shawl-like headdress was not wrapped under the neck but was usually worn with a diadem on top very similar to many popular bridal veil styles worn today.

Well that wraps up part 1 of this 4 part series. Honestly it is really hard to figure out when to stop because their is just so much fascinating history but if you want to check out more really cool pictures of ancient diadem, crowns, and more I suggest going to The Metropolitan Museum’s website at where you can browse their entire collection online.

Check back next Monday to find out about the crowns and tiaras of south and east Asia…I can’t wait.