Last week, I wanted to create a sample for a new class. I always base my class projects on the techniques they'll make use of - and let my students put their own spin on the design. Likewise I like to reveal my own artistic voice in every piece of metal clay or traditional jewelry work *I* produce. For this project the techniques I wanted to include were 1. a template for a custom bail 2. a cabochon set with milled bezel wire 3. a two-part firing for the pendant (once for the pendant base and again for the addition of the bezel wire) 4. a riveted element.
Starting with those parameters, I wanted to make a piece that displayed my creative vocabulary and could easily be identified as my work. Often times as teachers, we want to make samples that are universally appealing and that our students can identify with. This attitude sometimes translates our intention into a jewel that is beautiful - but nondescript. One of my core beliefs as an instructor and artist is that it's always possible to produce an item that looks unique to the maker, even when one is taking a class or following a set of specific instructions.
I decided to sketch a few ideas before breaking out the clay - an unusual method for me to take. Usually I open a new package of my favorite material to just see where it takes me. But this time I wanted to be more mindful and explore various ways to "get the job done." I knew I wanted to include a number of my go-to design choices - namely slip printing, a double 'mickey mouse ear' style hanging mechanism, and an historical element (this time a wink to Victorian Lover's Eye jewelry).
I bought a quantity of clear quartz cabochons at the 2010 PMC Conference with the intent of setting them over interesting or colorful objects. I've used the quartz to magnify handmade felt, a small out-of-focus picture of my Mother, and a piece of gilded leather torn from an old jewelry box. This time I used a common object that every one of you has in your wallets right now! Can you guess who's behind the quartz?
I'm very pleased with the way my sample came out. You can see that I'm not a skilled fine artist. My drawings/sketches are very rudimentary - but they helped me refine the nebulous idea I had in mind, and even gave me a few options for future designs. Next step? Hanging it of course! I'm imagining a few different chain assemblages that will compliment the materials used and style of the design. Perhaps I should continue in the same vein and sketch a few variations on my theme.