A couple of weeks ago, a friend and I leaned on each other … each of us were having a hard time and so we spent the day just nosing around town, getting errands done, distracting. I wanted to go to Value Village to look at metal bits, all the while wishing I could get into the piles of things people normally throw away to dig for delights like the old leather keychain I found at the flea market recently. Somehow that made me realize I could probably get some leather belts for pretty cheap, so I bought up a few. My friend calmly followed me around while I dug up some old spoons and helped me sort out the real leather from the fake. At one point during the day, he called me a visionary.
It was stunning. I would never have chosen that word for myself, but at the same time, it also resonated. As weird as it feels to allow such a strong word to be applied to me, I also have to admit that technically, it’s true – I do “see” designs from components. All the time I’m hunting for things – rusty crap, leather belts, beads, gemstones, beach trash – I’m quickly evaluating their usefulness. If it’s a component I’ve never used before, I have to visualize how it might connect to other pieces before I’ll commit to taking it home, so my brain is always going a mile a minute trying to invent jewellery. My whole life I was able to imagine the end result of any crafty project I was working on, even as a child. I actually recall coming up with the prototype for a cat head sculpture using a styrofoam ball and some pipe cleaners, and writing down the instructions for how someone could create it.
Which brings me to another day, another distraction: my dearest younger brother and I spent the day antiquing this past weekend. He helped me make decisions and offer bargaining deals on bags and boxes of random rusty junk (photos to come). At some point in the day he talked about his perception of what it is that I do. He remembers me bouncing from medium to medium, craft to craft, and he feels that I’ve found a focus for all of those things which have come together into this crazy world of making jewellery for folks to enjoy and cherish. His feeling, his understanding of my work is that I “take hard things and make them soft.” Again, some truth to this resonated within me.
These two short discussions have pushed my ideas about myself and my work inward. I’ve been feeling a change in my style and my influences recently. I can feel it, but I can’t – quite – see it yet. The visions aren’t perfect, after all. So, with the release of the 12th edition of the Think and Design Jewelry tutorial series, an amazing set of tutorials that I’ve been reading for a year but not actively doing anything about, I decided it was time to go back and actually start working the exercises. Being a visionary doesn’t do much if you don’t have a focus, or worse, if you forget the ideas you do have! So for the past few days, I’ve been sketching. I’m following the exercises in the TaD series to help me explore various design structures, to help push my work into whatever new direction it’s going to take next. And hopefully, I’ll be creating beautiful new jewellery along the way.