earrings and ring

Staying original

earrings and ring

My reluctance to repeat designs is a tenacious way of staying original, right?

One of the best aspects of opening your studio for customers to visit, look and shop is that it is a lovely conversation. The best feeling as a designer and a maker is realizing that what you make often resonates with others, the common thread becomes alive. I have the distinct pleasure of having some wonderful artists and designers as my customers. One has been buying my work since my very first retail show back in 1995 or 1996, the first Portland Craft Show. And not just that they bought a piece of my work, but it was a “signature” piece, one that had been published in books and in American Craft. That transaction has also blossomed into a wonderful friendship between the four of us (spouses included). This particular customer was even very forgiving and supportive as I morphed out of being a jeweler, rode random career waves etc. Through thick and thin, they would inquire, what I have been making and when could they take a look.

This has been profoundly meaningful to me because it has allowed me to resurface and begin again, which is no easy feat (and I will leave it at that).

But Lynda was not alone, there others who visited I was so grateful to see, who may have known me in various capacities, but were all excited to be here as much as I was. Seeing my tools and set up in my little perch of a studio that is propped on the edge of my house, dovetailing with the plants and animals out of the windows, which give my eyes a rest from time to time.

Some friends and customers came wearing my work, many of the pieces I may have forgotten, but remembered once again as I see them come alive being worn. I realize that sometimes my best work, are things I should “put into production” because they would “sell well”. Here is where I either go right or wrong, for some reason I have a hard time repeating myself. I am easily bored, so I have to keep dreaming up new ideas and playing. Perhaps it is a stubborn inner child (or too much art school -thinking money poisons everything- and it can). But lets face it, I do need to strike a balance, we all do. But I refuse to stop playing, in fact now I am going to “play harder” if that makes any sense.

Amy wears my slanted "cluster" bubbles in sterling.
Amy wears my slanted “cluster” bubbles in sterling.

I suppose I just want my customers to know that for better or for worse, when you buy my work you are getting an original, and most likely there is only one, or possibly two, or three similar items you could ever cross paths with. While I do cast some elements and I occasionally make multiples, but after that first batch of items I am likely to have moved on. All my old molds aged out (cracked/stick together/died), and I am debating whether to go back to repeat and rebuild or tweak designs, or forego casting altogether, as it is costly.

I am no shrinking violet when it comes to using materials, when I was a painter I loved thick and juicy brushstrokes, non of that dry brush on canvas look for me, I am more of a Rembrandt (I love looking at his paintings up close), hot juicy strokes of red and yellow sitting right up off the surface. So with metal (really with wax, which is what I carve), I love it feeling solid, not wishy washy or weak. But with metal prices high I may begin studying the value of lightness, and for that study I look to Calvino, in his Six Memos for the Next Millennium;

 

“Whenever humanity seems condemned to heaviness, I think I should fly like Perseus into a different space. I don’t mean escaping into dreams or into the irrational. I mean that I have to change my approach, look at the world from a different perspective, with a different logic and with fresh methods of cognition {for me – making} and verification. The images of lightness that I seek should not fade away like dreams dissolved by the realities of present and future…”

 

So we will see what 2016 brings as I enter into a year trying to juggle fewer responsibilities, and with that I hope comes lightness. But certainly I hope to evade the trap of becoming known for one thing, I am too much of a polymath. I also hope to evade the feeling of heaviness in life.

Thank you friends and others

Well this post meandered a bit, but it was also to say a very special thank you to friends and others who took the time out of your busy weekend to come by to say hi and to shop for yourself or with others, it was so nice to end 2015 this way.

two rings on DD
Danuta and her two rings purchased in previous years.