Monday, December 19, 2011

Wet to Wearable

Posted by Lora Hart
Artistic Advisor

I wore one of my own necklaces to Thanksgiving dinner and my lovely hostess just plotzed over it! She loved the focal Inro type box, the chain design and the overall "look" of the piece. She liked it so much that at the next family dinner, her husband snuck over to my seat and whispered that he'd like to give her a similar piece for Xmas. How fun!! A commission for the holidays. What stress! A commission for the holidays.

The original inspiration
I never do commissions. I'm a teacher foremost and a maker second. I don't really have the dedicated time it takes to do justice to custom designed work. Or the energy to get it done before the buyer forgets that they ordered something in the first place.

The only reason I agreed this time was that it was a design I had done before. I knew exactly how to construct it, how to embellish it, how to hang it, and what kind of patina to give it. I'd worked out all the bugs years ago when I made the first version. It was like sleepwalking. In fact, it was so easy that it went from wet to wearable in 4 days. Not solid working time of course. There were blog posts to edit, and books to write, and kitties to snuggle, in between the forming and sanding and setting and polishing. Making it was a pleasure. And I can't wait to see my benefactress wearing one of my pieces at the next event.

The whole process went so well that the next time I'm jewelry bound, I'm going to try to plan the entire design out on paper before opening a single packet of clay. I have a small wearhouse of unused focal pieces, molded elements, clasps, and chain waiting until I have an imaginative thunderbolt that will inspire me to transform it into wearable jewelry. And I think that somehow I'm not alone.

The finished commission

How much thought do you give to the completed piece before you begin to form the focal? Do you sketch? Make maquettes? Work out the steps in polymer clay?

Kait Schott, Ashley Akers

Do you know what kind of suspension mechanism (bail) you'll create before you start? If you'll add riveted pearls or found objects after it's fired? And what about the hanging material? How many of you are happy to simply hang your work on commercially made chain or finished necklaces?

Meghan Patrice Riley, Bob Ebendorf, Mia Maljojoki (the pink 'chain' is knotted silk)

Have you given thought to alternative materials? How do you think planning in advance would help take your work to a more creative level?

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