Monday, June 08, 2015
Here's a little behind-the-scenes insight for you all, thoughts about my jewelry and art and business, two years out of school and a year-and-a-half into the gallery:
- I still buy double the materials I need for most custom jewelry projects. I am a firm believer that Murphy is always riding shotgun, and things will go wrong at the most inopportune times. No matter how careful I am with planning and measuring, mistakes happen. Things melt or are cut wrong. Also, the black hole that lurks in all jeweler's studios will swallow up pieces of metal or tiny gemstones that manage to escape our death grip or drop through our inner thighs a nanosecond after we slam them together because something has fallen off the bench. Between the possibility of ruining or losing a critical component, I have to have double materials on hand. Expensive, but I have no regrets.
- For tricky client projects, I make prototypes. Often at my own expense in terms of hours and materials, but I still see myself as such a learner that it makes sense this way, for now. I want to make sure that things will work, materials will behave, that I'm not promising something I can't deliver. I understand the piece so much more after making a prototype. At a certain point, I imagine being comfortable and experienced enough that I don't have to buy double materials and don't have to spend quite so much time in the prototype phase. I think of it as building a knowledge library that I can access in the future. I take really good notes on what I am doing, and what specifically I am learning from not just the prototypes, but all the work I make.
- I make most of my jewelry by fabricating. This means I start "from scratch" using different dimensions of wire and sheet as the building blocks for a finished piece. Occasionally I will make pieces using lost wax casting, where you start with a wax model, make a mold, and then cast in metal. Casting and fabricating have significantly different design and production challenges. Fabricating to me is like miniature engineering. You have to be exceptionally precise and consider the order in which you do things. Casting is more like sculpting a beautiful wax and then following instructions, like baking a cake. To get more pieces, you just "bake" another round. Casting is way more efficient, time and cost wise...but it's the mental and structural challenge of fabricating that really gets me. So a big challenge for my business is that I prefer the slow and expensive but technically brilliant way of working.
- Custom work is what keeps coming to me, which is exciting. I have made some really incredible pieces for people this year. I can't share all of them yet, which is the burden of the jeweler who must keep secrets, but I am very excited and will be able to post photos in the coming weeks.