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Thursday, June 25, 2020

Random Yapping from the Studio

Sorry... no real musings this week.

First off, I'm two days late.  Apologies.

I have three custom orders on my plate and I'm procrastinating.  Anyone else feel huge pressure when it comes to custom orders?

Anyway, to get this out of the way, yes, I did meet my weekly goal of making at least 10 pieces of jewelry.  As a matter of fact, I made 14.  Twelve of the 14 were more of the hammer textured gold-fill earrings.

The other two pieces were a bracelet cuff similar to one I made earlier... this is the new one (sorry, quick photo in the gallery)...

... and my first attempt at champleve enamel on fine silver.


So I'm happy for reaching the goal two weeks in a row.  Ha ha ha!  

I'm sure I had more to say but the power just came back on (PG&E scheduled all day outage) and I have so things I have to take care of so any biz babble will wait until next week.  

New Year's Resolutions Always Get the Better of Me

I want to make another resolution of sorts.  I want to try to get a photo of every piece of jewelry before I take it to one of the galleries.  It's rather nice having a record of my work.  I go back and reference things quite a bit.

There.  Now that I'ver written it down, and in public no less, does that make it official?

So I did manage to hit my "10" this week.  I had eight, but I figured if I'm going to the gallery anyway, I should make it worth my effort so I made two more simple pendants that were in a style I've been doing with earrings for a couple weeks.

Some of my other pieces were distinctly NOT simple pendants.  So... this week I tried my hand at something I'd been wanting to do for quite some time.  I tried cloisonne.  I managed two pieces.  For the first, I used transparent enamels, but kind of forgot what I read about "warm colors" and silver.  It's okay... I'm still cool with a rust-red sun.  So for the second piece, I used opaques (just while I get my bearings on the whole "warm colors" things).  These are the two pieces and I owe a huge thanks to anyone who's ever written a book on enameling, shared a tip on Facebook, or posted an online video.  I'm most likely going to be taking a proper class later this year (I've got Merry-Lee Rae in mind as well as Pam East).

Then I made some spinner rings because I have two more outstanding custom orders and I like to make spinner rings in small batches because it's so much easier than doing one at a time from start to finish.  And next to the spinners is a ring that was going to be a spinner but I decided to just leave it as a wide band ring instead.  

Then in an attempt to be timely at something for a change, I decided to make some heart jewelry.  I wasn't really sure what I was going to do but here's what ended up happening.

So there we go.  Ten pieces in one week.  It felt really good to take the majority of these to the gallery and start to fill my case.

So the bad news is that as usual my jewelry is all over the place, style-wise... but the good news is I've been at this for three weeks in a row... meeting my new year's resolution.  Whoohoo!  

Okay, next week I may add to my weekly post with some actual musings.  I've been thinking lately about some very nice people in this industry... and some not so nice people (although it's probably not malicious... just their personality).  Okay, dishing later.  Toodles!

Quit Trying to Define Art

Last week I promised you I was gonna dish.  So here's the deal.  Not everyone is self-actualized... many artists I know are thin-skinned... Do we allow people's words to affect us, even though we know we shouldn't?  There was an incident a few months back where I posted an image on social media of some pendants that were made using a technique that, while not requiring a lot of skill, can still produce some nice results and turns out a ton of people are interested in it.

Everything was going great until one person decided to go off on a tirade about how "it's not art!".  Well, dude, first of all, I never SAID it was art.  I said, "Hey guys, here's the results of some of my experiments with blah-blah-blah technique."  And sometimes just knowing how to do something can LEAD to art as the interested party learns the technique and takes it in their own direction. And this is a great example.  The technique in question was using purchased water-slide decals and firing them onto enamel.  After learning how to do that, I now create my own drawings and turn them into my own decals.  But I *started out* by using purchased decals first.  Sometimes babysteps are involved.  Secondly, why are you being so condescending?  Alas, in my non-confrontational way, of course I said none of that aloud... I basically just ignored him.  But my post (and all the "oohs" and "ahs" for my post), must have really pushed one of his buttons because he continued... on and on ... and on and on and on.  Comment after comment about what art is and isn't and how what I was showing is a sham, etc.  And as if commenting ad nauseam on MY post wasn't enough, he went on to start two or three of his own threads informing the public what art is and isn't.  One creation might take more work and/or skill than another creation, but there is no cause to ever bash someone's efforts in public.  And as I've said, sometimes what we do is the beginning of a learned skill and we know full well we have a ways to go to work on that particular technique.

Also, no one can tell me what art is and isn't.  Art can't actually be defined because it's subjective... like "love".  I was reading an article the other day on the exploration of the meaning of art which described art this way: "Art is often considered the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions."  I won't disagree.  I don't see anything in there about "Oh, you can't use THIS item or THIS technique, 'cause those aren't art!" 

The article continues with: "The meaning of art is explored in a branch of philosophy known as aesthetics."  I could go on but won't because there are billions of articles on the subject of the definition of art.  

Anyway, my second point is, to me, much more serious and relevant.  What did this person's negative comments do to all the budding jewelry artists who may be currently exploring that technique or other equally less-challenging techniques?  Unfortunately, I know one of the effects for sure because I heard from more than a few members of that Facebook Group who said after reading that no way were they going to post any of their own work.  Oh my gosh, this destroys my soul.  

Please please please...  if you're anyone in power, if you're anyone full of confidence, if you're anyone who is the master of their art form... use your power for good, not evil.  If you're strong, pick up the weak, don't tread on them.  I'm here to tell you that your words do have an effect.  

I know some people believe that if a person is really serious about their work, they won't be swayed by negativity that comes their way.  But this is the real world and not everyone is so self-actualized that they can carry on confidently in the face of vitriol.  

I think you get my point so now I need to switch gears and tell you about the opposite... the nurturers.  There are people who encourage, inspire, and assist others.  There are people who seem to just naturally be supportive.  I admire these people because I know first hand the effect it can have on someone's art.  Again, should it?  Probably not, but the reality is that it most often does.  I am not a duck and water doesn't just flow off my back.  Artists are generally passionate and emotional people, and most of the ones I know do let their environment affect them from time to time.

So I'd like to give a big shoutout to two people who I admire for being, not only at the top of their respective fields in jewelry making, but two great examples of supportive, inspiring artists.  I've never seen either one of these artists talk down to anyone, disparage anyone's work, or just be negative or condescending in the slightest.  There are many, many artists like this, but these two are people I've had interactions with in such a way that I was really touched by how NOT condescending they were.  And if anyone would have the right to be condescending it would be someone at the top of their game.  Instead, they reach out to everyone equally and treat others with respect.  

So thank you Jill Tower and Pam East for being great examples of what a strong artist can do for the up-and-coming artists.  (You should click on their links because their talent is amazing!)

And now for the mundane stuff.  :-)  We're in week five now of my new year's resolution to create 10 pieces of jewelry each week.  Some were fun experiments that took me all day.  Others were... not.

The first piece I made was my third attempt at cloisonne and since I messed up the silver even before I started the enamel portion of the project, I knew I was keeping this one for myself.

After that, I made three more prong-set Jasper heart pendants, similar to but each slightly different from the one I made last week.

I made two cloisonne heart pendants...

Then I made a two pair of hammer textured sterling silver heart earrings (very lightweight).

And finally I made two double-sided heart pendants using the rolling mill.  One I took to the Auburn gallery, the other I donated to the High Hand gallery for a raffle there this Sunday.

Did I mention tomorrow I start a four-day workshop at Metal Arts Academy in Auburn?  I'm taking a class on filigree taught by Valentina Caprini.  Very excited... a little nervous (but that's just because I'm the nervous type).

Encouraging Creativity

Wow, what a week.  I'm going to start off with my weekly jewelry update this time, then we'll follow up from last week.

So... I did NOT meet my quota of 10 pieces of jewelry last week and it's okay.  I give myself a pardon when something out of the ordinary comes up... and it did.

Last week I had the great good fortune of being able to take a four-day intensive workshop with guest instructor Valentina Caprini.  She is a traditionally trained Italian filigree artist as well as being just a really awesome artist all around.  The class was being hosted by the Metal Arts Academy in Auburn, CA.

I won't get too much into explaining the things we learned (sorry, I'm behind in everything), but I will definitely say Valentina pushed us all out of our comfort zones (in a good way).  At the end of the workshop, we each had a unique and personal piece displaying the traditional technique of filigree with a contemporary jewelry flair.  I wish I'd taken photos of the works of the other students... I was so impressed with everyone.

Here's my piece...

The other things I made this week (four jewelry items in total) include, two pair of the hammered heart earrings...

And one pair of large(ish) hammered disk earrings...

So that's four pieces for the week, but I think next week will make up for this.  AND... now I have a new technique/skill to work on and throw into my own jewelry mix.  Yay!

Now, as a follow up to last week, I want to share with you some of the comments that people wrote about my blog post.  As you may recall, last week I mused about how some people discourage rather than encourage artistic creativity on the internet.  This seemed to be a real hot topic and I was touched by the outpouring of support in defense of being a nurturer rather than a critic.  Although some people misunderstood and thought I had my feelings hurt... that was untrue and it was not what the blog post was about.  I was perfectly fine but I was appauled to think how newbies may have been interpreting the criticism.

Anyway, I wanted to compile some of the love :-) and share it with you here.  Since my Facebook profile as well as this blog are public, I feel I am not taking liberties by sharing public comments in one place.  The reason I want to share these comments is because some of them are extremely eloquent and because I want more and more people to know that there are totally a ton of inclusion nurturers out there... also to know that many of us have experienced this negative type of criticism, so if it ever happens to you, you're in good company.  The following are not all the great comments by a long shot, but I wanted to at least post some of the ones that I thought shared extra supportive sentiments.

"Everyone starts somewhere and sharing allows us to learn and grow. One of my favorite book recommendations is Show your Work by Austin Kleon. Show Your Work!"

"Thank you for sharing your heart, we have all prob experienced "this" person at some point or another. I actually had a glass peep stop me at a show when I was wearing a best selling design offering to demo how to do it "correctly". I just smiled and thanked HIM and walked on."

"As artists we all have felt the cut of the negative comment. Pulling ourselves out of the hole it leaves us in is another challenge that we shouldn't have to face."

"Laura, your blog post really touched my heart! I also love that you are trying new techniques and pushing your skills. Its the only way to grow. When I see "critiques" go off the rails like that... ugh. I'm sorry you experienced it directly, and you have exactly the right perspective about learning techniques and baby steps, etc. I'm with you 100%!"

"I just read your blog and it really spoke to me. I feel that some people are just bullies who hide behind the veil of social media. Their purpose is just to criticize, not give helpful advice. The only way they can feel better about themselves is to put someone else down. Logically, you know what they’re doing, but emotionally it has an effect."

"If your spirit is flying as you make then that is "art" regardless of some high definition of "ART" may be for some. I wonder if some consider Andy Worhol was just a clip-art guy or Marcel Duchamp and the "Readymade" genre to be on a par with "Sham-WOW""

"For me the negative comments get stuck in my head, much more so than positive ones. I was never encouraged to pursue art growing up or even as an adult. Positive feedback helps us know we're heading in the right direction. Very few of us are masters of a craft when we start out, those who are, that's great but most of us need to learn. I'm grateful to people like you who freely share knowledge and encourage others along their journey."

"It is Dreadful that such a person felt entitled to give such thoughtless and cruel Posts... there are degrees of Artistry & Originality of Creativity that We All go thru as we Learn A New Technique or Skill... and We Often Must Master a Technique by Practicing the Techniques Pioneered By Artisans Before Us... This is a Necessary aspect as we evolve our Own Artistry and Our Own Craftsmanship Skills and as we go from Student, to Art Practicer, to Artisan to Master / Artist... But there is the Employment Of Artistry in every Step on Our Path... And it is only a Very Damaged Mind that Can Not Understand That!  Students learning from a Master are Often Instructed to Try a “Study” of the Masters Works by Trying to Draw or Paint a Portion Of The Masters Painting in Order to Understand Brush Strokes and Light.  Apprentices in many Crafts are often instructed to make the same item as the Master, to Perfect Techniques. This has been done for a Thousand Years... Of course as we grow in Our Own Artistry we Develop Our Own Imagery. That is Very Important. We mustn’t Copy or Plagiarize our Masters... But we can not learn and grow our skills without Studying Their Process.  Their Imagery is Precious and It Belongs Solely & Entirely to the Artist who Designed it... But The Skills are for all Artists / Artisans.  And of course Many Iconic Images are for Use By All Humans. Anyone can Draw a Heart or a Rose Etc... Even some Patterns & Subjects Belongs to All Humanity At Large. They are Part of Our Human Lexicon. They are in the Public Domain!  But I do believe that as we learn, we must endeavor to make the Heart Or Rose or Pattern Etc... Your Own Somehow... But All artists are allowed to visit the basics of world Imagery."

"There’s this pervasive, mistaken belief that one must have “talent” in order to engage in artistic pursuits. My personal experiences combined with 20+ years teaching arts to adults, I can tell you that nothing could be further from the truth. Art is for everyone at every level. Practicing an art form, any art form, can be a form of meditation. It doesn’t have to have an end goal or finished product. Just the act of applying color to a page, or changing the shape of clay, can get you out of your own head for a while. The activity itself can calm the mind and bring its own joy and contentment.  I love encouraging my students to play and explore; to try and fail and make mistakes and find hidden successes they weren’t expecting. When you let go of a “finished product”, and embrace the process, it’s very freeing. By disrespecting or disparaging people who are trying new thing, you strip them of that joy and discourage them from even trying. That is what makes me the most sad about all this."

"I have felt crushed by comments, or even a lack of them. I don't share like I used to, either. But I'm probably more self-critical of my work than anyone else."

Thank you to everyone who has ever encouraged creativity!!!

Practicing Cloisonne

This will be short and sweet.  Nothing more than an accounting of my weekly progress.  

Continuing to practice my ability to fuse fine silver, I made 8 small simple champleve disk pendants and a pair of earrings in the same manner.  I was happy that out of 10 attempts at fusing, I managed to end up with 10 finished pieces (the earrings used two disks, of course).

So here is the array of that work.

Then I also did this piece... and that makes 10 pieces of jewelry for the week.