Nov 5th – a beaded hair stick and a single earring
Last night’s NaSeBeMo results are rather slim. My first project — or rather, attempt at a project — was to turn one of my UFO’s into a bracelet. The piece features bead embroidery around a vintage brass filigree and I thought it would make a lovely little bangle. Unfortunately, the filigree was too rigid to work well for a bracelet. I fought with it for far too long, stitching beads and then ripping them back out (for the uninitiated, this is known as “rippit stitch” 😉 before accepting my defeat. That piece will have to be a pendant or barrette.
I did manage to work on a couple of smaller pieces before the night was through. One is a beaded hair stick with a vintage WG glass cab; I’m on the fence as to whether or not to add dangles to this one. The other will be an earring. It features a stunning titanium coated quartz crystal and a faceted iolite. Maybe I’ll make the mate tonight.
I’m not doing the “inspiration Wednesday” thing today, cause I’m just not feeling it at the moment*.
Instead, I’d like to reflect on some design progress that a friend recently pointed out. In 2009, I started playing with a new (to me) earring style that makes use of some of my smaller leather scraps. There were several styles of leaves, and of course, lots of feathers — especially raven feathers (if you scroll through this blog, you may notice that I have a thing for corvids ;). These were accented with mixed metal wire, Swarovski crystals, and assorted gem stones. I debated whether or not to add real feathers.
blue jay earrings 2009
When I created their facebook photo album, I asked my fans if they were “Good, Bad or Ugly?” — which hints at how unsure I was about the style. They were well received, and I kept playing with the designs. These were somewhat tricky at first because I’d never really done such small leather projects. They’re simple enough to make, but working with leather at this scale was new and challenging for me; in addition, I’ve never been much of a wireworker. There are people who can do amazing things with wire, but I am not one of them. My knowledge and experience with that type of jewelry design is limited to the most basic skills.
peacock earrings 2011
I’ve continued to play with this style over time, and I suspect that I’ll continue to do so. They’re admittedly simple designs, but I think the little projects tend to be the ones that build your skills the most (see this earlier post on formative work). There are many artisans who claim that every single piece they make is a one of a kind design. That is admirable — though I always wonder if they are actually selling their work as a substantial portion of their income. As a working artist, it seems like it would be incredibly challenging not to repeat designs, and still create enough to support oneself. But I’m getting off track — my point is that I actually find value in revisiting designs. It helps me to hone my skills and also gives me a yardstick for progress.
raven earrings 2012
The current variations are still not exactly what I saw in my mind’s eye when I began making these; I hope there will be more permutations as time goes on. Still, it’s nice to contrast then and now. I often get restless or frustrated because my “creative vision” is usually far ahead of my actual skills. This is probably a good thing in that it keeps me striving — but sometimes it leads to feeling impatient or being hard on myself. When I can stop long enough to notice progress, it motivates me to keep exploring.
* As to the “Inspiration Wednesday” posts, I think they’ll become a bi-weekly thing. It’s a fun theme that challenges me to think about what inspires me, and having a “prompt” does get me to blog more. I love being able to share these things, and to promote other artists and creative spirits — but it’s starting to make me feel pressured and I don’t like that. Every other week seems more balanced and comfortable for me 🙂
beetle wing earrings with vintage cabs & peacock feathers
I purchased these shimmering green elytra early last year, not entirely sure if I’d be able to use them. They’re incredibly beautiful, but the whole “dead bug” aspect kinda squicks me out a bit — and yes, I do appreciate the irony of that statement, considering that I often play with dead things (leather, feathers, bones). It didn’t take long to overcome my aversion to bugs, though. These beetle wings are absolutely stunning and they’ve been calling to me for months.
Ultimately, time was my biggest hurdle in working with these. I found myself so consumed with deadlines and custom orders, that I never really had free time to explore my ideas for these new and exciting materials. Fortunately, I did carve out a little bit of time at the end of the year just to make something that I wanted to — and it felt great! These earrings are the result. I am currently working on a collar to match — will post photos when it’s completed.
Since it’s the summer solstice (the longest and lightest day of the year) and since I love ravens, I made these little raven feather earrings today. The feathers are made of leather, and all of the wire and earwires are sterling. The stones include rainbow obsidian, gray moonstone and rutilated quartz – all of which have fun play of light effects.