Two weeks ago (has it been that long?!) I took my husband's zippy red hatchback up the road to Fuquay-Varina and held court with her majesty, Jessica Jordan of Rosy Revolver fame.
She taught me to set one stone on top of another, changed my creative life with a little thing called Prips Flux (oh, and the miter jig) and showed me a myriad of other techniques to take my metal smithing to the next level.
The whole experience boosted my confidence and encouraged me to take what I had learned and make it mine. I hold on to this sentiment fiercely as I have watched in the past two years as trends have trickled into the jewelry industry only to be overworked to the point of please...kill it before it dies.
I've also watched as perfectly good and talented budding artists have chained themselves to these trends, even stooping so low as to copy...yes, I said the "c" word...copy the work of other artists in an attempt to cash in on not only the popularity of the trend, but also the artist whom they have copied.
It's depressing really.
I found an artist on Etsy last week who was literally copying the work of another Etsy artist (albeit, with slightly different bells and whistles) and I couldn't help but ask myself if her sentiments were really hers. Who did it first? Who sawed out that first dang deer with antlers...AH!! There, I said it. (Of course, these artists aren't to blame for the gluttonous amount of antlers on the market, no, for that...I blame Anthropologie.)
I was acutely aware of this the whole time I was with Jessica last week.
She has a style that is all her own, it comes from the life she's led, the books she's read, the family she's loved, the places she's been and a million other influences that are uniquely hers.
That being said,
I would like to explain my style, the inspiration and influence that drove me to saw out...wait for it...antlers! (AH!!)
For this, you'll have to come with me to middle school.
I had a history teacher, Mr. Bender, that made everything about history seem amazing. He had lived most of his life in Scotland and having been steeped in medieval history, he passed that love along to me....he didn't mean to I don't think, but excitement is infectious.
I had never read Le Morte d'Arthur but we did in his class and I'll never forget watching this actress with black curly frizzy hair portraying Guinevere on the tv and me thinking, "That's me!!"
Of course, one fairy tale naturally leads to another and after that my library trips mostly consisted of wizards and knights and ladies with bell sleeves, but also hobbits and dwarves and dragons. Oh, and Knights Templar and the Holy Grail with a bit of chivalry thrown in.
So you see, last week after I made these:
The itch was still there to capture the imagination of that little girl who painted her room with blood red walls and cut up calendars by Edmund Blair Leighton to hang above her bed.
So I turned to antlers, but I also turned to imagery. I remember Mr. Bender talking about the Coat of Arms, the heraldic symbols used by medieval knights and families to represent themselves and their proudest moments.
Each image meant something, each moon, each sword, each laurel, each fleur-de-lis said something to your foe or friend that did not need words.
With my heart and hands, I'm creating a collection, a legitimate assemblage of an idea that has been blossoming in my heart since I was a girl fueled by the people I've known, the books I've read, and the cities I've visited (there is nothing like a jaunt through the Tower of London to make you want bell sleeves).
It started with the midi rings and it's continuing here:
The antlers of the stag represent strength and fortitude.
The moon represents serenity.
The sword, justice and honor.
They are mindfully combined to mean something for the wearer about the wearer and they are only the first in a series of pieces, all with meanings drawn from traditions that are centuries old.
I'm working when I can and I hope to show you everything in the coming week.
In the meantime, I hope you have what it takes to be you, I know I'm working with heart and hands to be me.