History and travel have always been closely intertwined throughout my lifetime. When I was younger, my parents always spoke about their travels. Before I was born, they went on two different adventures, each for one entire year, and they would tell me these stories of their time abroad. One of the trips was to Australia and New Zealand, and another took them through Europe and parts of Africa.
My grandfather was also someone who traveled a lot for his job and between his journals, letters back to the family, and the little trinkets he brought back, I grew up knowing about his stories. We still have coins and stamps from his travels. I used to wear a ring that he had given to my grandmother back in the day, and in one of the letters I read, I found that he got it in China.
When I was 5 years old, our first trip overseas was to Spain. We stayed there for three or four weeks, and covered a lot of ground. We always traveled on a budget, which was a part of the fun, but we managed to cram in so much on those trips. After that first trip, we returned to Europe every year. I saw some amazing things growing up, and some memories are lost to my youth, but as I get back into the research for my jewelry, all of a sudden I’ll look at something and realize I’ve seen it, or I had been there.
My father is someone who loves architecture and hiking mountains, while my mother loves looking at all the local crafts. They both share a love for museums, and every one we went to, they’d impart their personal fascination about an object to me. I was always in awe of everything. I soaked up everything I could on those trips.
Some of the things that I think about are more general, like having been to Europe before it became the European Union and having to deal with the changing of money in each country. On one trip, we were driving back and forth between Italy and Austria and France, and my father thought it would be funny to see how many countries we could get stamped in our passports.
I also got to see major world events. One year, we went to Rome for Easter, and Pope John Paul made his last appearance and then passed away a few days later. We got see to his last speech, and then later attend his funeral. It was totally nuts, but it stuck with me.
I had moved to Spain after graduating from college, and not really knowing what to do next, I found a job teaching English. I lived there for three years, and during that time I did a lot of solo traveling. I went to places that I hadn’t visited before, like Budapest, Berlin and Istanbul, and got to know Spain much more intimately. I visited some obscure towns in Spain that were known mostly to locals. Sometimes the only reason to visit these places was because they had a really good local wine, haha!
When I was living over there, I thought a lot about what I’d do next in my life. I thought I‘d get into organic farming, so I stayed on a farm in an isolated town in Ireland to learn more. The night before my plane flight, I finally looked at where I was going, and saw that the place had a population of 432, with two pubs and a church. “What have I gotten myself into??,” I asked myself. It was one of the best experiences I'd had, but I also realized I wasn’t cut out for farming.
While I loved Spain, there were things about it that felt limiting. Job opportunities for one thing were very scarce, and when I moved back home I wanted to find the thing that gave me the most freedom. I took one class in metalsmithing and I immediately began seeing all of the possibilities. I did a little more research and realized that I didn’t have to limit myself to taking classes just in the States, but that there were workshops available to anyone all over the world. In that, I found my purpose in traveling again.
I haven’t limited myself to just classes. I knew that wherever I went, I could gather inspiration for jewelry. That desire to get inspired has already taken me to Greece and Florence, and it feels like just the tip of iceberg. These museums are filled with unbelievable treasures and to get a first hand glimpse at what people from the Ancient World or the Renaissance were able to make, is really what I find the most inspiring. Plus, if you time it to go during off-season, you can get these museums to yourself for the most part with the added bonus of an off-season discount.
I love incorporating history and travel into my work because it makes things more exciting, and with a little more flavor. I never run out of inspiration and the more I learn about history, whether it’s on a broad scale or more detailed information, I feel like I can tap into so many different sources and combine these things in such a way that doesn’t make it obviously one thing or another. It’s becomes this ongoing conversation of old and new, something from this place or that, between one artist and another. It all converges and intersects to create a piece of jewelry.
Anyway, that’s it for now. Catch you in the next post!