There's a few things on my mind this morning as I sit down to write this post. The first thing is that I am going to be finishing a pair of earrings today that I've been working on for two weeks already. The second thing that I've been thinking about is my experience in Florence, Italy with master jeweler, Alessandro Dari.
These thoughts are somehow connected in that this new earring design really challenged me to push myself both technically and design-wise. Alessandro did the same to me when I went to study with him. He would give me an example of a project, and tell me to recreate it and then wouldn't give me any instructions; I had to figure it out myself.
That lesson of figuring it out for myself is totally in alignment with how I make and design my work. I don't approach too many projects with the idea that I'd do this technique, this technique, and this technique, but rather draw out the design and then come up with the methods on the spot. It's a fascinating way of working, and kind of different to how many jewelers approach their work. Most jewelers want to get really good at a few techniques and that's what they become known for, whereas each of my designs calls for a particular set of techniques and that's how my creations are made.
I also don't just stick to the metalsmithing world. Today, for example after I finish these earrings, I will start on another pair where I will be oil painting on a small square of walnut wood. Once I've completed my miniature painting, I will let the oil paints completely dry for about one month, and then I will set my painting in serling silver and turn them into earrings.
This Year of Earrings challenge has really opened my mind to a whole world of possibilities. I'm thrilled to be able to create really unique work, while also trying to make pieces that are a little more everyday. Balance between everything is essential for me to be truly creative.
I've also been thinking about our relationship to time, which ties back to Alessandro and these new earrings. Alessandro was someone who took all the time in the world to complete his idea. And his work, especially in person and especially as a student, is utterly incredible. He will no cut corners and he will not sacrifice a part of the design for the sake of time. It was enlightening to be around someone like that.
In the US, we're particularly obsessed with timing because "time is money," or "time is of the essence." But how does that affect good work? Trust me, I've rushed through projects just to keep my hours down so that a piece wouldn't be too expensive. And I've decided to leave out a design element because it wouldn't taken my time, which meant more money. But then at the end of the day, I always felt like something was missing.
On the flip side, you don't want to make every piece be super time-consuming because then that mentality could start bordering on perfectionism which is also not what I'm looking for in my work. But I have to say that this idea of counting your hours, keeping a spreadsheet of every single thing that you do for a piece, is exhausting and a creativity killer.
I'm here for the process. I'm here to take in life's pleasures and enjoy them. I love what I do, so why not really, truly, honestly love it? You know what I mean? These new earrings have been a fantastic exercise because I've been able to dive into that super creative realm and cut loose.
I can't wait for you to see the final result!
Thanks so much for reading and take care,