©INTERVIEW WITH CHAUM SPEHAR of NORTHWEST GOODS
Chaum and April Spehar with their son
Chaum and April Spehar were both born in Corvallis, Oregon. Chaum's
parents started their family jewelry business in 1972. Chaum grew up with
the business and gradually learned the skills integral to their craft.
They continue to make Corvallis their home and sell their work online,
at arts festivals, and galleries throughout the Northwest. Chaum's two
brothers as well as his sister have all worked their way through college
in the family business. Since graduating from the University of Oregon,
Chaum and April have become full-time jewelers.
Chaum was kind enough to do an interview with the Loom. I know
you will enjoy learning more about him and his work!
Chaum, when and why did you start Northwest Goods?
We created our website during our off season when our son, Ian, was a newborn.
Moon earrings in brass, copper, and nickel silver blend
What started your interest in metal work?
When I was a kid, I enjoyed working in the shop with my parents learning how to use the tools of our trade. When I was a teenager, I begin to actually make some of the jewelry my parents were selling. I learned how to use a torch and I had fun making different things with it.
How do you come up with your designs?
Many of our designs are family collaborations which evolve with time and customer input. There are many steps involved in the process of making a hair barrette. I begin with cutting the wire, then hand shape it, braze it, hammer it, and then polish the final piece. I am constantly coming up with variations on our basic design and in the end I continue to make the designs which sell.
"regular" scroll barrette in copper
How long does it take to make your design into an actual piece
of jewelry or
It takes approximately a half an hour to make a hair barrette.
"scenic" oak barrette in brass, copper, and nickel silver blend
What metals do you typically work with?
We use brass, copper, and nickel silver in our hair barrettes. The brass and copper are softer and therefore easier to shape than the nickel.
Oak bracelet in brass, copper, and nickel silver blend
Why do you use the nickel silver then?
We use nickel rather than sterling because it is a stiffer metal which holds its shape well in the hair. It is also much more cost effective than sterling. We have tried making and selling the sterling silver barrettes, but our customers preferred the nickel silver.
Does anyone else work with you?
My parents continue to make jewelry as do my two brothers. I have my own shop in my home and work with my wife to run our business. April has had long hair nearly all of her life so I value her input regarding our hair barrettes and our hair sticks.
Where do you sell most of your products?
We sell most of our work at arts festivals and we also wholesale and consign our work through galleries and shops as well as through our website. We plan to continue expanding our business through new opportunities we encounter.
Chaum, thanks so much for sharing with us! We've enjoyed getting to know more about you and your work!
If you're looking for some beautiful hair jewelry, with complimentary jewelry to match, please visit, Northwest Goods online! Besides making beautiful jewelry, Chaum and his wife also sell scented soaps!
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