"It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child." - Pablo Picasso
I've always loved this quote from Picasso. Art is often going back to the beginning. I'm drawn to the art that calls at a primal level. Something that stirs the memory of a story that was told before us - a story of the ancients.
Making custom wedding rings, I am often struck how lovers see themselves in their own world and their love as the center of their own special universe.
Spirals are found throughout nature. A seashell's curve, a hawk following it's prey, even weather patterns and beach formations occur in spirals. NASA's site has some wonderful images of Spiral Galaxies. They inspired me to think of how I can recreate the spiral symbol in my jewelry to reflect that special center of the universe love.
This year of 2014 I'm giving myself permission to make things without the creation being shown, tweeted, blogged or sold.
My creative business is a big part of my life. Since it's so public on social media, it's hard for me to make things without feeling I need to take pictures, tweet it, and share each step of the way.
Sometimes, I just need to have fun, without a camera. Fun for me is creating, even in mediums, like fiber and paint, that I'm not very talented with.
Teach Your Parents Well
I learned this lesson from my sons, two creative and talented guys. They practice everyday, solely for the love of the music and art. Over this winter break, as I see them and hear them practicing so hard, I realize I have so much to learn from them.
So, I've gone back to playing with art collages, which I haven't done in a few years. I'm also learning to crochet. I'm even thinking of pulling beads out of storage and making a freeform peyote necklace, another thing I haven't done in years. I have no expectations for the creations. Yet, my creative mind is getting so excited about this, that I am filling up my sketchbook with ideas for future metal jewelry designs.
"The essential part of creativity is not being afraid to fail."
I have faith, from past experiences, that whatever good lessons I learn from working in other mediums will show in my metal jewelry work eventually. For now, I'm just enjoying the process of creating in different materials.
Isn't that what winter is for? I hope you can also enjoy being inside and be a child again with your art.
My kids sometimes laugh at me, that I have a poster of Bob Dylan hanging in my studio. What can I say, I am an old hippie. I continue to find inspiration in his lyrics and life. Here are 5 sources of inspiration.
"Don't Follow Leaders..."
If something I make happens to be trending, that's cool. But I don't run after what's in style. I feel there are plenty of other jewelers and jewelry makers who are happy to do that. So, there's no need for me to follow. My jewelry isn't about fashion, anyway. I try hard to make jewelry that matters - to me and to you. A memory, a story, a milestone, a mystery - they don't follow leaders, but they are what I try to include in my creations. They are what matter to me.
"When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose."
It can be liberating and an opportunity when my items aren't selling or situations change for the worse. This is when I can make big changes to my style, venue or focus. I did this in 2009, when the economy collapsed. Instead of struggling for little sales, I went to a jeweler's technical school full time and learned the trade from experts. It was one of the best things I ever did, but I never would have had the time if sales were strong. Currently, I'm in the process of making my own website a true representation of my work. Although I've been "working on my website" for years, it was the changes in policy and focus by management on the Etsy site that pushed me to stop relying on Etsy (a venue out of my control) and use my own site to sell jewelry.
"Just keep on keeping on, down the avenue..."
Some people call it The Never Ending Tour. Dylan's done a hundred tour dates a year, for the last 30 years. Plus, he has recorded 35 albums in 50 years. That is an example of consistency. My goal is to be consistent and just keep on keeping on. As I move along on the journey, the inspirations and creations come to meet me.
"May you stay, forever young.."
Young is an attitude, a way of approaching the world and one's art. It's curiosity and enthusiasm. It's exploring new techniques. This is really all I want for life. That's a wonderful blessing to wish on someone. So, let's wish it on each other.
May you (and I) stay forever young!
Are there song lyrics or a certain celebrity that inspire you? Let me know in the comments.
Here's the space where I create. Let me take you for a tour.
Shown above is my jeweler's bench. It's where 90% of the work happens. Next to it is the soldering station with a fume extractor above the charcoal block. The table is an old sewing machine cabinet with ceramic tiles placed on top. My torch is next to it. Notice on the right my dvd and cd collection. I watch dvds on the portable player on the bench, while I'm doing the more mundane parts of the work.
The studio is divided in half - one side for design and paperwork - the other for tools and bench. The antique desk has been with me for most of my life. I wrote poetry on it when I was a teen. Now it is where I sketch design ideas. I gave up using it for decades when it was too small for a computer. Now I can slip my iPad into the shelf, so it's back in daily use.
There's my muse up on the wall. He's a great reminder that if you follow your passion, the world will catch up to you sooner or later. I also have my pantograph engraver here and pegboards in antique frames to hang tools and wires.
I bought barely any new furniture for my studio. This antique dresser fits well beneath an extra kitchen island formica top. I use this area for cleaning, etching and other messy procedures.
When I'm sitting at my bench, I can spin around and use my rolling mill, dapping blocks or other hammering tools. They are on a little vintage school desk, which are perfect bases for workshop tools. The clear acrylic box can go into my bench so that dirty, dusty grinding is contained. There's an additonal desk for wax work or laptop work.
As you can see, I have everything I need, in a small space. My next need is some bright paint on the walls along with some inspirational artwork.
Do you have a picture of your workspace online? Please share! I'd love to see it.
Today I did a repair to my favorite studio chair. The leather to the armrests has flaked off. I used the classic DIY upholstery solution, ducktape. This is not your grandmother's duck tape.
I love leopardskin in the studio!
As promised, here's a short video of my new water torch in action.
You can learn more about it in my previous blog post, where I explained why I'm excited about this new tool in my studio.
If you'd like more detailed information on what it's like to set the torch up, see my videos 1-7 on utube (shown below).
The final video (8 of 8) shows me actually using the torch.
What was your most recent tool purchase? Is it as fun as you thought it would be? Let me know.
Thanks for stopping by!
There are three things that are essential for me to do any work as a jeweler. The flexshaft, the bench and the torch.
The type of torch, for a jeweler, can dictate limitations in metal and form. Some torches don't get hot enough for certain metals and some torches don't provide enough control for certain forms. The torch I had was limited for both.
After considering it for years, I recently bought a water torch. It's a unique type of torch and not at all common for Jeweler's, although it is becoming more used because of safety issues. Most jewelers use torches that require a gas in a pressurized canister. Many also use oxygen tanks, to get a hotter flame.
The water torch doesn't need stored gas, because it creates the gas itself. Using electricity, it breaks the bonds of oxygen and hydrogen which creates a gas. The gas is created, on demand. It's so safe that the hoses to the flame are plastic tubing, similar to tubes to the ice-maker on a refrigerator. I like that there are no dangerous stored gases in the studio.
Here's a picture of my torch. It's a Hydroflux Welder from Okai. I had an opportunity to visit the factory, which is in Union, New Jersey. The people there were so incredibly nice. That, plus the fact that the torch is (New) JerseyMade, just like me and my jewelry, makes it extra special.
In my next post, I'll show the torch in action. For those who care, I'll share videos of the steps I went through to set the torch up.
The takeaway is, I now have more power, a hotter flame and less limitations to make new designs! I'm so excited to take the work to the next level. This new torch will make it possible.
What a nice way to start the day. My Ancient Rustic Opal Engagement Ring was featured on the front page of Etsy this morning.
Here's a copy of the collection that was shown. My ring is the last picture. It sold right away, but I have more Australian opals to make a few similar but unique rings.
I'm trying to stick with the Brooch a Day challenge again. I decided that each day I will try to incorporate some part of my day into the pin that I create. Today, I was figuring how to balance things in my life. So, I started with a circle. Then divided the circle into a texture and a non-texture.
There's always a pull between one thing and another. Embrace them both and wear them like a badge. Balance.
Mary Lu Wason
is a studio jeweler. Here she shares the inspirations, discoveries and process of creating her art jewelry collections.