Sunday, April 27, 2014

3xR Week 15: Tropical Daydream

I've been daydreaming about a tropical paradise while at the bench lately, so I was really pleased when I pulled out the scrap for this weeks ring.

Sterling Silver, Fine Silver, and Aventurine Ring
 There is a flaw in the Aventurine cab, but I like to imagine it's a dolphin or whale swimming through warm green waters.

The scrap consisted of the rolled down heavy wire I've used on the last few rings, a strip of fine silver bezel left behind from a beach pottery pendant, a round bezel that I was able to stretch to fit this cabochon, and the outer edge from cutting out who knows what that I was able to roll down to back the cabochon.

For a look at what the other 3xR artists are up to head over to the 3xR 2014 Flickr group. This ring and many other pieces from the challenge are available in my Etsy Shop!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

3xR Week 14

I was sure I was making another ring when I pulled together this assortment of scrap for week 14. 

Turns out I was making a pair of earrings! 

Sterling Silver, Agate

The back plates are piercings from setting stones, the wire is from a wire wrapping attempt gone wrong, and the stones have been hanging out for a while. I've been told these earrings look like ice cream cones. Now I can't see anything else. 

You can check out what all the other 3xR artists are creating over a the 3xR 2014 Flickr group

Thanks for reading! 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

3xR Week 13: Hidden Treasure

Eco friendly Onyx and Silver Ring

Bits of this and that.

Silver Scrap

A treasure found while rummaging through some inherited rocks.

Tumbled rocks inherited from my husbands grandfather the lapidary work still attached to huge nails

A little experimentation

Ring in progress

Resulting in an unusual ring. 

Silver and Onyx Ring

You can check out what the other 3xR artists are up to over at the 3xR flickr group or take a look at more of my eco friendly work in my Etsy shop.

Thanks for reading! 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Art of Letting Go and the Power of the Object

I want to keep every single thing I make. I wouldn't necessarily call myself a hoarder (unless we are are talking about paper, which somehow seems to fill every possible paper receptacle in a flash), and I've actually only held on to a handful of pieces for myself, but every single time I hold something up and deem it "finished" I have a serious inner struggle. It plays out something like this:

Turquoise and Sterling Silver Ring

Self: This is perfect (holds it up and out for a better look). I want to keep it (slips item on and looks in mirror if necessary). I'm going to keep it.
More reasonable self: Should I keep it? I barely wear the pieces I've already collected.
Self: I'm sure I will wear it. In fact, keeping it will probably encourage me to make plans and get out more just so I can wear it.
Super romantic self: Certainly I'll run into someone "important" while wearing it and they will strike up a conversation when they see the piece. My work will be discovered and I'll be valued for that work. The next thing you know I'll be travelling the world learning from masters, researching metalsmiths past and present, visiting museums and galleries around the world, vacationing in far off places, and ...
Self: but that's not really the point. The point is this piece is meaningful. I worked hard on it. It reminds me of (insert something sentimental), and I am truly pleased with the final aesthetic and feeling it evokes.
More reasonable self: OK, I wont keep it. It should go to someone who will enjoy it, wear it, and who might possibly make their own sentimental associations with it. I can't keep everything. If I find that I really miss it when it's gone I'll revisit the idea and make something similar for myself. Also, money.

There are about 50 things from that inner dialogue that could be explored in greater depth: nurturing relationships, access to travel, art, and education, hubris, our relationship to work, how we determine value and self worth, whether or not it's healthy to have this conversation with myself so often or at all, etc. Also, money. But what I'm most interested in now is the power of an object. It's something I think about a lot while working at the bench. Even more so as I've begun incorporating more stones into my work. Some of which were collected almost a decade ago.

Labradorite, Quartz, Moonstone

A stone shines from a finished piece of jewelry that hangs from my neck or sits atop my finger. A stone in a piece that has just received its final polish after hours of detailed work often accompanied by cramped fingers and world music. A stone that was inserted and removed from its bezel to determine the appropriate bezel shape and height, that was wrapped in bezel wire, that was traced and sketched into a design, that was chosen from a tray of other stones in my studio, that was found in my favorite bead shop, or rock shop, or gem fair, or jewelry class. And with the stone comes all the associations from those places. The place where I went to purchase a kit for my first metalsmithing class and later perused with friends or family in search of the perfect tiny treasure. The place without any heat where I've lost many hours bundled up in jackets and scarves with freezing fingers touching stones and fossils that were somehow even colder. The place our metals class visited on a field trip to Oregon to look at potential grad schools, a house that was constructed of rocks complete with carved rock dioramas of religious scenes in its stairwell, a two story tree faced in petrified wood, and an assortment of specimens in the small gift shop on the bottom floor. The place where I found my mentor, lasting friendships, and my passion.

From Chapman's Gem and Mineral
Each stone and each finished piece holds a small window of time filled with associations that give the object power. Associations known only to me, or in some cases the eventual buyer if they are the type who is interested in the history of a piece. A window of time preceded by a similar but all too different window of time experienced by the retailer, the stone cutter, and the rock hound, occasionally all the same person. A window of time sometimes lengthened and informed if the item is shown at a gallery or taken to a craft fair where I'm allowed to interact with the public. A window of time followed by the experience of the buyer. Perhaps the "real" owner of the piece. The person who will give the piece, or receive the piece. The person who will wear the piece often or store it away in a box with other precious mementos. The object begins to hold a completely different set of associations perhaps a different form of power. All related through the connections that we make with the people and places around us. Perhaps driven by a need to remember or relate to others through the objects in our world.

And so when a piece is finished a struggle ensues. A tug of war between the desire to hold on to the experiences and ideas captured in the piece, and the desire to put the work out there and move on to the next discussion.

Druzy Agate and Sterling Silver

Thanks for reading!