Last year, I wrote a creative manifesto in the hopes that I’d revisit it and add something new to the list each year. But I actually want to write an entirely new manifesto that outlines where I'm heading with my jewelry.
This is a list of things that I feel passionate about and what you can expect from me in the future.
Boundaries as a Compass
Ever since I began saying 'no' to certain things that weren’t working for me, it’s like I can’t stop setting new boundaries. But I don’t see these boundaries as being limitations but rather a compass for making the kind of work that speaks most to me and that I feel most confident in sharing with you.
This new compass will ultimately inform my designs, my business practices, and my online presence. Here are several things that you will notice in my work this year:
Working exclusively in one-of-a-kind designs.
I enjoy designing so much that I’ve decided to fully embrace this aspect of my creative flow and see where it goes. I love coming up with a design and working through it in my head. After putting it to paper and letting it sit for a few days, I can approach it with a plan of assembly. It does take longer to create work this way, but a) I feel much more myself when I can create work like this, and b) I know that the more I engage in this practice, the better I’ll get at designing.
No longer taking commissions.
I have thoroughly enjoyed the custom work that I’ve been asked to make in the past and it’s felt like a huge honor to even be asked to make special work for you but in all honesty, I’m not fully comfortable with it. I still feel relatively ‘young’ in my jewelry career and that I have a long ways to go before I can actually take on projects for someone else. I feel like I have an aesthetic to develop, I still have a style that I need to explore, and while all commissions have been loved by the customers, I carry this angst around with me because it wasn’t completely my design and I felt like I could never truly achieve what you had in mind.
Exploring systems with how to engage online.
I have always wanted a blog for my website and if I’m honest, I just haven’t put in the care and effort that a good quality blog deserves. This means that some of the time that I allot for my daily social media usage will shift more towards my website. I have tested a number of systems from emailing often, to posting daily on social media, but nothing gives me more satisfaction than writing and exploring my creative voice. Being able to share that with you through this blog is so important to me. I want to give this a fair chance and see where it goes.
I love putting together bodies of work and this last one, the Vanitas Collection, has inspired me to pursue themed collections again. They develop slowly and I have to really plan every aspect of the collection but they bring me a lot of joy because I can share new ideas with you and dig deeper into my craft. Here are a few thoughts on timing and how I’d like to organize my years to come:
When to expect new work.
I had to be realistic with myself and ask how many collections could I seriously put out each year? I think ideally, I can create three collections each year. I’ve also decided on releasing collections during specific months. Obviously this can change, but right now I’d like to put out new work every February, June, and November of the year. This will give me enough time to plan and make everything.
Taking things slowly.
I know my rhythm and I don’t like to rush or be rushed. A part of what gives me joy is showing you my process, sharing with you the interesting history that I’ve learned, and having you engage in the emotional aspect of my work. I am deeply against moving at a fast pace just for the sake of making money that month or that week. I’ve also been reevaluating what it means to be an artist, and I feel like social media has created this framework where we’re all under pressure to constantly create, be on the move, and produce as much as possible. Unfortunately, that isn’t aligning with what I want to do and share with you. Thankfully, oil painting takes weeks to fully cure and is a technique that forces me to slow down and appreciate the process.
Quality as the Driving Force
I admire when an artist puts in immense care and thought into their work. You can notice the quality of their craftsmanship immediately and understand why their work stands out above others. Why do some artists/artisans excel more than others? Because they value certain parts of the making process whether it be in the materials and/or in their technical execution. Below are a few thoughts I have on quality and how I will continue to use them as guidelines in my work:
I feel like I have found that my calling is combining miniature oil painting with traditional metalsmithing techniques. Through some stumbling over the years, I had to lean into a technique I had learned in the past (oil painting) and figure out how to apply it to a jewelry scale. This direction has given me so much pleasure and I absolutely cannot wait to expand on it. I have a lot to learn about myself as an artist, but you will definitely see that my work will be centered around oil painting. I know that with time my skills will improve, my designs will become more refined, and that I’ll be able to come up with jewelry that I can confidently put out into the world.
Since starting AyC, I have done everything I can to learn about my materials and supplies. It’s most important to me that the majority of my materials are purchased locally. I’m very lucky to be in New Mexico, a place that caters to a variety of artists and artisans, but I’ve had to find and establish relationships with my suppliers so that I can gain insider knowledge. These relationships are crucial to what and how I buy my materials. I don’t like to invest in cheap materials, so I ask a bunch of questions before making any decision.
I also question the environmental impact of the materials. One thing that I stand behind is making sure that any of the precious metals (sterling silver and gold) are 100% recycled. I switched to packaging that is paper-only for recycling purposes and I don’t put my business name on any of the boxes so that they can be reused. More and more of my pieces are becoming vegan-friendly, meaning that I’m using less animal products in my work (ie pearls). I am committed to learning and making decisions that are healthy for the environment, in support of local or small businesses (if not local, then US-based), and to sourcing high-quality materials and gemstones.