Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Expecting the unexpected ...

I sometimes wonder how other jewelry designers work.  Do they have a firm plan in mind?  Do they sketch out their ideas in pencil with an eraser at the ready?  Do they visualize the finished product right from the outset?

I know I don't.  Usually I don't have a clue.  I begin with a very general idea or inspiration, and it might be anything.  For this project, it began with a tiny, pretty ocean jasper cabochon.  The circle.  An orb. 

Okay, so far so good -- I had a name for the piece.  Then what?  The rounded triangle shape of the piece reminded me of those wonderful '50's retro coffee tables, and that led me to think about something asymmetrical yet not.  So I began building a necklace around that idea, and with each step came an unexpected change.  I rolled individual balls of silver and lined them up in ways that pleased my eye.  I fired the piece and photographed it, wondering (agonizing!) over whether or not I should oxidize it. 

I decided that yes, I needed to, in order to emphasize the texture of the piece.

Once that was done, I began to visualize how I would integrate the focal piece into a finished necklace.  Keep it simple and attach it to a silver chain?  Perhaps add a few glass beads that might echo the depth of the ocean for accent?  I ran to my supply closet and began going through all the wonderful glass beads in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes that I protectively hoard until just the right project comes along.  Finally, I find some tiny boro beads meant to be used as spacers that are just the right colors and size to complement -- but not overwhelm -- my focal.  Hours are spent bending and shaping sterling silver wire; making connections; forming a necklace.  Carefully crafting a sterling silver spiral clasp to complete the circle.  Oxidizing the sterling wire and lovingly polishing it back up, by hand.  Admiring it, and marveling at the wonder of having made this myself, with my own two hands.

And thinking that by now, I should know myself well enough to know to expect the unexpected when I sit down at the workbench to create.

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