Mae West famously said that she would try anything once.... I don't know why this resonates so much with me, but it does. It could be my manifesto if I had ever gotten around to writing one. I will write a manifesto one day (remember? I'll try anything once), but up to now I've been busy with other things, like choosing materials for my jewelry.
Jewelry making offers endless choice, in materials, colors, shapes. But jewelry designers have deeply set preferences that bring us back to the same materials time and again. For me the material of choice is silver. For other people the obvious choice might be gold. However after making jewelry for some time I am starting to be intrigued by the idea of working with gold. Will it be as easy to handle as silver? As fun?
I don't think about gold in terms of a metal for me to wear. Gold doesn't go with my skin tone. I have always avoided it, both as a jewelry-maker and a buyer. I can't picture it on myself. Choosing gold for the first time, I would be working on jewelry that no longer looks right against my skin. Even when making something for someone else I have still enjoyed looking at it while in my hands and finding it pleasing to the eye, its color working very well with my skin tone. Even before its final owner gets to see the finished piece, its appearance is evaluated against my bare hands. The moment I start working with gold that will change. No more enjoying the way the jewel I am shaping looks against my skin. These glimpses of the way the final piece might look like when worn will be gone and I will have to just fast-forward through all the intermediate stages and picture it finished and worn by other people.
Switching material might not be such a big deal in the end. But how am I going to cope with working on a jewel without regular glimpses of what it will look like when completed? If you know me you probably know already that I have to find out. I might even try it a second time if it turns out to be good. And possibly a third time just to make sure.
One of the first reasons i like making jewelry is that i get to go and choose stones and beads from some must-see-to-believe store filled to the rafters with strings of wonderful beads or complex contraptions that would please a mechanical engineer. While more and more of these contraptions are now no longer a mystery to me and have therefore lost their mystique, the appeal that semi-precious stone beads have over me is still unchanged.
There is more to these beads that their beauty and shape. These minute object are millions of years old, yet that is something we hardly ever think about. We look at them, take them in, wonder how they will look on us once we wear them and move on.
However, from my point of view beads are so fascinating also for another reason. It is when I look at beads that I get ideas for things to do with them. I might have some vague idea of what I want to design, but until the moment when I hold the right stones in my hand it is still a vague idea. Once the stones are in front of me, though, my idea becomes much more precise. A big hematite bead might inspire me to create a dangle earring. Minuscule hematite beads might make me start working on a tassel earring.
Beads are more than just an embellishment in my jewelry. I make jewelry because of the stones and I draw inspiration from them. This is also the reason my jewelry doesn't come in every color of the rainbow. I tend to go back time and again to the stones I like most and find interesting to work with.
What really appeals to me about them can vary. I like hematite because of its shine and opacity. However, agate and carnelian appeal to me because of the way their color changes in different kinds of light. Does that make me sound like someone a little contradictory? Well, maybe I am. All I know is that I can like more than one thing at the same time. Proof of it is every trip to the store where I buy my beads. In front of a display of a few hundreds of different bead strands featuring a few dozens semi-precious stones in all kinds of sizes and shapes I find myself fairly conflicted. Yes, it is true that I have my favorites, but it is also true that some of the other ones would also be very interesting to work with....In fact I think I already have some good ideas for some of them and maybe I should give in and buy them....Hmmm, if I'm quick I can get there before they close.
I love hematite, onyx, and chocolate.