If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time you may have noticed that there’s been very little in the way of new jewellery lately. Aside from blog hops and the like, I haven’t shared any new jewellery here at all this year. The reason being there wasn’t really any. I was very taken up with making beads and didn’t have any proper time for making jewellery , aside from magazine stuff. But, finally, I’ve got some made and listed.
(painted coins – Graceful Willow)
But it wasn’t just the ceramics that was taking up my time. I don’t tend to talk very candidly on this blog but I’ve decided to give it a bit of a go this once.
(ceramic droppers – Scorched Earth)
The thing is, around the turn of the year, I had a little jewellery-making crisis. I was preparing for a Christmas craft fair, working out my table plan. I had a hangover, one of those joyously self-accusatory hangovers that just tells you what a fool you are and that all is useless. (enamel plates – 4 Ophelia)
And I stood and looked at my stock and just felt…. ‘meh…’. At the time I wasn’t wholly sure what the problem was – and a good part was the hangover (I managed to persuade myself that all my stock was terrible – and perhaps I should just not go), but I think part of the issue was the lack of coherence in what I was making. There’d be something pretty and folksy here, something kinda primitive there, something vintage looking here, something I made along a particular theme for a magazine there, something strange and gothic here, a sorta tribal bracelet there, some things I made because I thought people would buy them as gifts, some things that were made because there needed to be some more affordable items. You get the picture….
What I really should have been thinking is, ‘This is all over the place’.
(polymer bicones – Graceful Willow Beads)
I know many think differently, but I’ve never been very comfortable with describing my own jewellery as ‘art’. I feel happier with the word ‘designer’ or even that modish term ‘designer maker’. I guess it stems partly from when I studied Fine Art when I was younger. After doing a foundation course post A-levels, I went and did two years of a fine art degree at Chelsea College of Art and Design. At the time, Chelsea was one of a number of colleges – Central St Martins, London College of Fashion, London College of Printing, Camberwell College of Art – then called The London Institute. The different disciplines and modes of making were split, and, I guess, there was a certain sense of hierarchy, certainly from the Fine Art point of view, as the name would suggest. Not saying that’s right or… or… that’s just how it was…
One thing that didn’t happen on the degree course was life drawing. I think it still happened on the Foundation, but I guess that amongst the undergraduates and up, it was seen as a rather antiquated practice. So, it’s funny that taking up a life drawing class now has, in a small way, caused me to think some more about how ‘artists’ (whoever they are!) work and how that relates to what I do.
(lampwork beads – Glass Bead Art)
There’s a point that the tutor at the life drawing class likes to make. It’s one of those self-evident and yet provoking things: How can you expect to get any better if you keep doing the same thing?
Part of the problem I had with what I was doing was that I’d fallen into patterns of how I made things: bracelets go like this; earrings are like that. (Even though the styles may have varied.) I decided to spend some time avoiding those habits to some extent.(ceramic connectors – Scorched Earth)
Working on my ceramic beads has also lead me to think about how I go about making jewellery in a different light as well – inevitably. There’s much more to say on that but that’s for another day….
(polymer beads – Humblebeads)
I’ve ended up on a bit of a primitive thread, jewellery-wise, right now. I’m conscious that there are a number of designers out there who make wonderful jewellery in this sort of a style and are all over it. When I say ‘conscious’, I mean ‘very conscious’. But it’s given me a place to work from and one I feel relatively comfortable with. And there’s another reason, too: I’ve just been mad keen for patina-ing (is patinating a proper word?). I’ve finally found something – on this side of the pond – that will give a patina to just about anything, and so I’ve ended up patina-ing the b’jeezus out of everything.
(ceramics – Scorched Earth)
Here I used some old sieve brooch findings that I discovered in a tub of ancient findings – things I’d bought in the early days of beading where you pick things up indiscriminately, thinking, ‘yeah, I’ll use that’ (or, at least, that’s what I did). I chopped the tips off them and fashioned them into connectors of a sort. Here’s more old sieves.
(ceramic spikes – Scorched Earth)
(ceramic drops – Scorched Earth)
I’ve also been on a bit of an asymmetrical earring drive.
(ceramic spike – Scorched Earth; ceramic connector – Ragged Robyn)
(ceramic leaf – Something to do Beads; ceramic spike – Scorched Earth; lampwork – Glass Bead Art; enamel link – C-Koop)
(ceramic drop – Scorched Earth)
I’m aware that I’m falling into some mannerisms, but… …Ultimately, I’m hoping that I might be able to blend all those divergent materials and tastes that led to all those clashing pieces on my Xmas market table – the vintage, the primitive, the pretty, the grungy, the folksy, the rustic, etc., etc., etc., and maybe – just maybe – I’ll manage to establish something that is properly mine.
(glass ring – Outwest; ceramic coin – Something to do Beads; ceramic connector – Scorched Earth; lampwork barrel – Helen Chalmers; lampwork rondelle – Puffafish)
That’s kind of what I tried in this necklace! I seem to be a bit scared of the more ‘pretty’ colours at the moment. I guess that gives me another challenge.
(ceramic tablets – Scorched Earth)
Another thing: after all my years of Lit-ing, I decided I really needed to pull my socks up on the title front. I’m almost – almost – enjoying it.
Anyway, I think I’ve rattled on self-indulgently quite long enough. I’ll leave you with the rest of the latest crop of earrings and necklaces. Again, all are listed in the shop. There are bracelets too but I’ll save them for another day.
(ceramic barrel – Happy Fallout; ceramic beads – Something to do Beads; ceramic ring – Scorched Earth)
(tin caps – Lorelei Eurto)
(ceramic drops – Scorched Earth)
(ceramic building – Jubilee; ceramic ring and point – Marsha Neal; ceramic pendant – Scorched Earth)
(polymer bicones – Graceful Willow)
(lampwork beads – Magdalena Ruiz)
(ceramic pendant – Something to do Beads)
(ceramic drops – Scorched Earth)
(ceramic spike, disc and toggle – Scorched Earth; ceramic round – Something to do Beads)
(lampwork beads – Glass Bead Art; ceramic drops – Scorched Earth)