Thursday, March 13, 2014

Materials Libraries

Over the years I have collected lots and lots of materials. Beads ancient and new, pot shards, shells, rocks, faceted gemstones, metals, coins, stamps, antiquities, heirlooms, junk jewelry, found objects. You name it, I probably have it somewhere in my studio.

Despite the fact that I've been accumulating many of these items since childhood, it took me a long time to realize that my work is, in fact, materials driven. These objects are the starting point for my compositions, and I needed an effective way to categorize and display them, both for my own work and to show to others.

Brainstorming how to display my materials.

I started by figuring out the materials display for the showroom. I wanted to give people a glimpse of what inspires me, what the ingredients are to my work. Sort of like a painter's palette but in three dimensions.

Materials vignettes in vintage jewelry boxes, on display in the Ali Amaro showroom.

For the showroom, I ended up using some jewelry boxes from the 1960's and filling them with a sampling of materials. I wanted the mix of colors and textures to be visually appealing as well as to tell a little bit of the process story. Every so often I plan to switch up the selection of materials in these boxes.

For my own work in studio, however, I need a more functional version. My desk tends to become covered in materials and this clutter drives me nuts. I need to have lots of objects out and at hand because this is how I compose, but they also need to be corralled somehow. So I repurposed some oversized drawer organizers and made a big tray full of the materials that currently inspire me.

Materials library work tray #1 in my studio.

This is a small sampling of my entire materials collection, because I work a lot better when I have fewer options (even though this still is a lot of stuff!). Limiting my options allows me to see more creative possibilities. I think I will build some sort of a shelf that can accommodate these large trays, that way I can have several of them and still have a way to clear my desk at the end of the day.

For the rest of the objects in my collection, I have a storage system using clear plastic bins with labels according to materials type. This makes it easy to find things, as well as to create custom materials libraries to show clients depending on their interests.

Materials storage in plastic bins.

Do you have the challenge of organizing multiple materials/inputs in your work? What sort of solutions have you discovered? Please share in the comments.


alphawoman said...

My cookbooks are everywhere - spilling from a make shift bookcase, on the ledge above the kitchen, in boxes, stacked in the garage. I can not stop buying them!! How you doing? The other day I knocked over an earring tree and lost one of your beautiful earrings - my fav! I went nuts trying to find it and thank God I did!

Ali la Loca said...

~alphawoman - Hi!!! I'm so glad you found that earring, but I still remember exactly which ones they are so I could have tried to make a replacement if needed. :) I am doing well, in a nutshell I finished art school and have opened my own gallery/showroom space near our house. It's been crazy but very rewarding. Family is all good, Rico is all good, cats are all good. What about you? I'll go catch up now over at your place. :)