Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Inspiration from an Old Sketchbook

After I graduated college, I went to New York for the summer to intern at the Museum of Modern Art (a great experience), then in the fall traveled to Venice for a three month internship at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection (incredible experience). This was such an amazing time in my life, full of art and exploration. I kept a sketchbook while in Venice, and tended to focus on small decorative areas of larger medieval and renaissance artworks. After Venice, my friend Heather and I traveled to some other places in Italy, then on to Greece. Then she returned to Italy and I went on to Turkey, back to Italy, then Spain (by way of Nice), and finally, Switzerland. Even though I had never made a piece of jewelry at that point, it was on my mind a lot during these three months of travel. In fact, most of my souvenirs were pieces of jewelry made by local artists. I knew I wanted to make jewelry someday, so my sketchbook included interesting pieces of jewelry and other art that I saw along the way..

Recently I pulled out this sketchbook hoping for some inspiration for a new piece of jewelry. I found a drawing of a floral decoration from the Accademia Museum in Venice. I didn't note what it was, but I think it was probably a decorative element on an altarpiece frame. Here's the sketchbook page, and the flower I wanted to use is in the lower left.

And here are the resulting pieces of jewelry:
A 1" wide flower pendant (I also made a smaller one that is 3/4" wide.)

Matching earrings with pale pink pearls
The jewelry above is available in the "Flowers" section of my Etsy shop:

Who knows? Maybe some other new pieces will come from old sketches. Meanwhile, just for kicks, here are some other drawings from that sketchbook.
Sketches from the Archeological Museum, Iraklion, Crete (Greece)

These sketches are from the Byzantine Museum in Athens (Greece). I actually made a pendant many years ago, inspired by the drawing in the upper left (see below).

Now for some non-jewelry decorative sketches...

From Durer's "Jesus Among the Doctors," Thyssen Bornemisza Museum, Madrid

A work by Goya in the Prado Museum, Madrid

Not sure what this was from, but it was a work in the Thyssen Bornemisza Museum, Madrid

My beautiful Venice

Monday, April 2, 2012

Nobody's Perfect

Last month I was invited to join a great group of metalsmiths who all sell on Etsy--the EtsyMetal team. Once a month they have a blog carnival where several group members all blog on the same topic. This month's topic is "Nobody's Perfect," blogging about pieces that didn't happen as planned, or some variation on that theme.

I feel like I have too much experience in this area! What you see in my Etsy shop or on my website are the pieces that did turn out right. The ones that didn't have either been recycled, relegated to scrap, are in my personal jewelry box, or sitting in my studio half-finished (and there have been many of them).

Things usually don't turn out either because of faulty design, or for one of the following reasons.

1) Gravity, or not thinking about the laws of physics. I like asymmetrical things, but asymmetry still has to be balanced so that things don't hang at odd angles--this has happened to me several times. It can be a challenge to figure out what will work during the design and construction phase of a jewelry piece. It is often hard to test  the gravitational pull on an object until is is done. I wish I had some images to show you, but these pieces have all been recycled or put into the scrap pile!

2) Forgetting about mirror images. Earrings, to look right, need to be mirror images of each other if they have an asymmetrical design. Assuming they are hanging right (see #1 above), I also need to make sure they don't look exactly the same (see below for what I'm talking about). The flower on one of these earrings should be leaning on the opposite side of the frame.

3) Never finishing. I have several projects that didn't turn out the way I intended because they've never turned out! I occasionally start a project and then get frustrated halfway through and never finish the piece. Or I get nervous I'll mess it up so I don't finish it. Or I feel that the design is not right, and start over with something new. Below is a granulated silver bead that is tarnished because it's been sitting around for about 10 years. The problem? I'm afraid to drill a hole in it so I can actually use it! Below that are some Egyptian inspired cloisonne components I made while learning enameling. I would love to put them into a pendant along with the star sapphire pictured with them, but I messed up on the pendant design (melted a bezel when I was almost done) and was so mad that I never got back to it. That was probably about 10 years ago too! One of these days I will, because  I really love them, and they'll make a dramatic necklace. Maybe I'll hang it on one of the fine silver chains I started to weave and never finished!

Part of being an artist is trial and error. You will always have some things that work better than others. It's all part of the process of learning and growing!

See what other EtsyMetal team members have to say about this topic:
Inbar Baraket:
Beth Cyr:
Wildflower Designs:
Michele Grady Designs:
TK Metal Arts:
Evelyn Markasky: