“Believing that there are many sides to one person, I have created jewelry for the complex modern women who DREAMS, ASPIRES, & CREATES the life that she wants to live.”
It has been two weeks since Fall officially started, but I have yet to play Florence and the Machine’s
“Dog Days are Over” and feel the inspiring cold fall air. I seriously can’t wait! I don’t know about you, but there is always something in that air that rejuvenates and makes it easy to start new projects.
After leaving the fine art world to pursue fashion jewelry design, I was a little worried at starting over with a new industry. Happily, I found that utilizing my contemporary art education really helped me move forward in the direction that I wanted to take with designing and handcrafting jewelry.
With any profession, you need to have an “eternally a student” mentality to keep yourself relevant, and once you get out of school you’ll definitely have to be the one to kick your own butt into gear and remember what you learned. It’s been 7 years since receiving my Masters Degree from CalArts but I still use the concepts of creation that I learned while there in my current jewelry practice. Some if it was instilled, some of it I gleaned through example or conversation with others, a lot I found through the years of developing my personal guiding principles, and of course being extremely patient to the process of development.
That being said, I thought I would share these concepts of creative development with you in the hopes that they can be used for your current ventures or maybe inspire a completely new project this Fall. Please take away what you will as they can be used as guidelines only.
PROJECT DEVELOPMENT 101
1 [ Patience & Time] Patience was a difficult one for me to learn right away in school with so many eyes on my work because for some reason I thought I could make a masterpiece on my first try and proclaim it on the mountain top. But since then, I’ve learned that the sooner you learn that being great at what you do takes time plus trial and error, the sooner you’ll get there. Give yourself permission to develop and revise along the way. If you talk to anyone great at their craft, they’ll probably tell you that they worked for it, put in the hours (whether it be “in the zone” or frustrated), and made several revisions until they were truly satisfied with what they had in front of them.
2 [Trial & Error] Experimentation is a place where you can develop your own voice, decide what makes you excited about the thing you are doing, and most importantly figure out what is working and what does not. The more time you put into experimenting, the more you will get out of it. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes or something that just didn’t come out the way you wanted. However, it’s important to learn from every trial and note if there was something that did work out. Look at your victories and failures in pieces and write down what you’ve learned to take that knowledge into your next try. Also, you might be surprised that an unintentional mistake could actually turn into a new technique or style. It’s always good to start small because whatever the outcome, you’ve started. And sometimes that’s the hardest part. In my experience, ideas that live in your head rarely materialize in a concrete form on your first try. You might have to make several reiterations. That way, you can eliminate anything that is just not working and keep the things that are truly great. A great trick of the trade is to work with inexpensive materials that mimic the more expensive material you plan to use for your final piece. Sketches of ideas are always good, but a physical mock-up will really show you what your working with.
3 [Research & Collection] In addition to experimenting, it’s also great to see whats out there in the big ol’ world. You might be surprised and inspired at what you find. No one lives in a vacuum, so it’s very important to see not only what others are doing now, but what has been done in the past. I’ll take inspiration wherever I can get it; from an obscure book at the library, to something I saw on social media, to cladding on the side of a building, to a floral pattern on a piece of fabric. I can be caught taking a photo or a screen shot for my own personal collection to reference later.
An easy way to start collecting your inspiration is Pinterest
. For those of you that are not familiar with this social media device; Users share collections called “boards” of visual bookmarks called “Pins” that they use to do things like plan trips, develop projects, organize events or save articles and recipes. For me, it’s like a treasure trove of images on any subject matter I could ever want – & the best part it’s free! You can also upload your own photos, follow the pins of your favorite taste-makers, and create secret boards for projects you are working on that you want kept private. Please check out No Ordinary Love Handmade’s Pinterest Board to see what gets me going in the morning here
Despite the easy accessibility of the internet, I’m still a fan of the library and books. Pinterest might seem like it has everything in the universe, but it doesn’t (or at least it hasn’t been pinned yet). The library just might have that rare jewel to take your project to the next level..plus all you need to borrow something is a library card!
If you live in Los Angeles and are driving distance to Glendale, CA, check out the beautiful and recently renovated Brand Library. It’s an Arts and Music Library that has the largest music selection West of the Mississippi! The Moracan architecture is to die for as well!
I wanted to share some images from a book on Frank Loyd Wright that interestingly enough had these wonderful drawings by this female architect, Marion Griffin, who designed all of his stained glass windows and drew some of his renderings all the way back in 1904!
4 [Point of View & Continuity] Originality is a very fine line and difficult to achieve, but paramount if you are interested in establishing yourself as a leader in your field.
Be unique not to be special, but to actually make yourself and what you do valuable to the world around you. This is why I can’t stress enough to absolutely take your time in the development stages (1-3). You can’t possibly make yourself valuable, without knowing what’s others are doing and especially without knowing what you are doing that’s different. It’s easy to take an idea from something you’ve seen, but if you don’t make it your own in some way, it’s pretty much just an appropriation/ a copy. That’s fine if that is what you do, but not good if you want to be valuable and competitive. Don’t let this stifle you in the beginning process. Imitation is fine when you are just starting out and you are looking at others for inspiration or learning techniques. You should learn from the best examples.
Once you’ve found your point of view and gained a positive response, stick with it and make subtle variations! Take this with a grain of salt as defining a style is subjective, but you’ll definitely be able to tell when something is an afterthought.
One of my favorite artists is Ellsworth Kelly, who has made an amazing body of work for the past 56 years completely devoted to shape and color:
5 [Technique & Critique] Funny enough this last step could actually be your first step if you would prefer to learn from an expert right away. A class or buying a book is a great way to get you going. When I started No Ordinary Love Handmade, I already had a knack for design and hand craft through my fine art experience, so I simply started making jewelry by using a tutorial I found via Pinterest.
I took baby steps when I first learned. I taught myself to wire wrap, purchasing some tools at Michael’s Arts & Crafts with a coupon. When I was ready a few months later, I went to an in person class and was actually able to refine my technique before I opened my Etsy store and launched my company.
I gave myself a lot of time before learning my next jewelry making technique since I knew learning soldering and metalsmithing would be a big investment. During that intermediate period, I developed my wire wrapping skills so that I was an expert, found my go-to suppliers, and researched the kind of jewelry I wanted to make once I finally learned how to solder. About a year after I first bought my first set of tools, I sold enough pieces to invest in a soldering class! And I took a terrific personal lesson with an established jewelry artist Lucia Pasquinelli in West Los Angeles. There I learned the traditional techniques of metalsmithing in order to “mix with more modern concepts” – which is her awesome teaching philosophy.
Here is a photo of the first two rings I made with her:
…& here are all my new soldering tools for my home studio! So excited to show you all the pretty rings and bracelets that I have created for my fall line!
In addition to taking classes, getting feedback from other professionals or friends in your target demographic is key. Another difficult lesson to learn, which is similar to “not being afraid to fail” is don’t fear negative feedback. If your going to be great at what you do, you’re going to have to deal with people having something to say. However, what will determine how successful you are, is how you actually choose to deal with it. You can either take it personally and let it stifle you OR you can use it as a learning experience. And if it turns out that they are wrong or you just disagree, then it’ll just confirm what you already know, which can’t be so bad.
As for me I’m certainly in the mindset that I’m on a long adventure with this and hope to meet some cool people along the way that are doing the same thing. Stay tuned, in just a few weeks, No Ordinary Love Handmade will be launching our new fall line! But for now, just because you took the time to read this post I’m offering 15% off for this week on your entire purchase – Use coupon code: “FORDREAMERSSALE”.
Wanted to leave you with a teaser of our first commercial for our upcoming fall line, which will be coming out this month!
Until next time!