Monday, June 6, 2011

Monday's Musings: Is it me?

Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.

Oscar Wilde

I was flipping through one of the popular beading magazines the other day, and I came across an article featuring the work of an artist that I'm familiar with and I found myself saying out loud, "Oh..that's ____'s work!" So, that got me to thinking, what was it about that piece that let me know instantly that it was her creation and not someone else's?

For that matter, what is it about any piece of art that tells me immediately who created it?
On the flip side, why is it that when I see a copy (it could be the same exact beads and same exact composition), I can spot it in a minute. 

I believe it's because of what Oscar Wilde said, it's really a snapshot of the artist and their specific personality.  

Asymmetrical vs. Balanced
I lean always toward balanced. I am truly most comfortable with routine, I hate surprises and if I'm doing something brand new, I have to have a plan. A symmetrical piece speaks to my sense of calm and tranquility and sense of order.
I see someone who designs asymmetrically as being a person who is more off the cuff, a person who likes to go with the flow and just let things happen. Definitely a person who likes surprises and thinks that the best vacations are the ones where you get hopelessly lost.

Matte vs. Shiny
This one is most associated with the wearer and not the designer, but I think anyone creates jewelry they wouldn't wear.
Me? I'm matte all the way. I like jewelry that makes a statement with subtle changes in color and finish. I do like large pieces, but I want the piece to be a part of the whole, I don't want it to really be the star of the show. Besides, I just like the chalky finish of a matte bead when I'm working with it, it has an earthiness to it that really speaks to me.

I see artists who lean towards shiny, bright transparent pieces as a person who likes to incorporate light into their work. It's difficult to work with faceted stones and bright beads because now you have to contend with the finish and not just the bead or its color. This kind of person creates jewelry that's meant to catch the eye with little glints of light and probably has a personality that does the same.

Precious vs. Base
I'm a base metal girl. Now, I will say this, I've kinda been forced to become a base metal girl because of budget restrictions, however, even with silver, I tend to lean towards the matte, aged silver as opposed to the bright and polished silver.
But, I like the earthiness of copper and bronze, I'm the kind of person that enjoys a challenge because while silver and gold have inherit properties that make them precious, it's my challenge to take a piece and make it precious even if it's wrapped in copper or backed in bronze and I think that artists working in those mediums have to do the same. At the same time, because they are less expensive, there's less fear involved with working with those metals, less a chance that you'll mess up!

The silver and gold artists are some of the best around. I always think of them as having no fear. They display a confidence with their work, a belief in themselves and their abilities that even if they do mess up an expensive piece, they can get it back on track and still create someting beautiful out of it.

Now, obviously, even as I write this, I'm thinking of crossovers, of people who I know who love bright and shiny, but don't want the spotlight, or of people who work with base metal on such a scale that the piece becomes the centerpoint of the entire look, but this is how I see my work and why I choose the colors, shapes and finishes that I choose.

If you're just starting out in making jewelry or you've been making it for years, I suggest you take a moment to sit down and really figure out what's unique about you and your style and the kind of jewelry you want to make (and wear).
Are you shiny or matte?
Do you like large chunky pieces or smaller dainty pieces that are softer to wear?
Do you like the vintage look of filigree or would a handmade hammered clasp be more your style?

I've got a cabinet full of beads that I bought just because they looked pretty and everyone else was buying them.
But they aren't me and now they're just sitting there shoved to the side to make room for big chunks of ocean jasper and antique copper findings.
In the end, you'll be much happier if you can say "yes" when you ask yourself, "Is it me?"


  1. Hi Marcie,
    Thank you for the question to ask one's self. I asked myself, and I would have to say that I'm a shiny, dainty type of jewelry designer that every once and awhile steps out of my comfort zone to make something out of the norm for me.

  2. You are so very brilliant! I love your style and it communicates all those things about you! I have never sat down to consider this but I will. I like to have a balance and to put the unexpected in there. Something that might not be apparent, something you need to search for. I am not a bling-y sort of girl, but I like a little flash. I am using these techniques now for a very special project that I am working on.

    Thank you for this most excellent post!
    Enjoy the day!

  3. Those are some great thoughts, Marcie!
    I am having some sort of identity crisis, beading-wise, right now - so these points are really worthwhile thinking about for me. Part of it probably has to do with me obsessing about metal clay all the time... It could also have to do with me demanding of myself to always do great things, and I don't think I'm really there yet. Hm.

    I'm also a big fan of the matte beads! Unfortunately, I've got a ton of shiny beads that I stocked up like crazy when I starteed beading.

  4. I have a split inventory of both shiny and matte beads. I like the dimension created from combining matte and shiney in a piece. I do seem to gravitate to the galvanized silver, nickel plated and copper seed beads.

  5. I love your blog! This is such a thoughtful and thought provoking post. Thanks!