What is Art Jewelry?

I can’t believe that after all these years in the jewelry industry that I didn’t know that Art Jewelry was an official-ish title. I had always categorized my work as Bridge Jewelry; the bridge between costume and fine jewelry. I suppose my work still falls into the Bridge category, but there is a difference.

Sterling Silver and Blue Glass Art Jewelry Ring

Definition of Art Jewelry

According to Wikipedia, the value of Art Jewelry “emphasizes creative expression and design” rather than the value of the metals and gemstones as in Fine Jewelry. So, while craftsmanship can be important in both, the artistic expression is more of the focus in Art Jewelry.

The Wikipedia article goes on to say that, Art Jewelry “shares beliefs and values, education and training, circumstances of production, and networks of distribution and publicity with the wider field of studio craft. Art jewelry also has links to fine art and design.”

Sterling Silver and Red Glass Poison Berry Earrings

What Materials are Used in Art Jewelry?

Just like all art, anything goes. It could be cardboard and craft paste, OR, it can be those same high end materials that Fine Jewelry relies on.

My work falls somewhere in the middle, and I espouse one of the distinguishing factors of Art Jewelry: I create as many of my components by hand as possible, ensuring that every piece is one-of-a-kind, in limited small batch runs.

I fuse, grind, and polish, all of the glass stones in my collections. I sometimes use stones that are cut and polished by other artists (not machine made), and often refine the stones that I do purchase. I make all of my own ear wires, links, jump rings, and connectors. The only thing machine-made that I use are sometimes lobster clasps, and sections of chain that I modify, patina, and re-finish, with hand-picked closures. And I’ve had a foray into making some petite rings with cubic zirconias.

Custom Red Fused Glass Berry Cabochons

My Customers are Artistically-Literate

Art Nouveau was a big contributor to the Art Jewelry movement and I love this quote from the wiki page:

Art nouveau jewelry from France and Belgium was also an important contributor to art jewelry. Worn by wealthy and artistically-literate clients.

That is how I am going to envision my customers now. “Artistically-literate,” because my goal is to create for people who appreciate the arts, and need art with and around them as much as possible.

Custom Handmade Glass and Sterling Silver Jewelry Components

Beyond the Materials Why My Jewelry is Art Jewelry

I’ve had this burning inside of me to explain to people who haven’t seen it in person, what it is about my work that is moving. The definition of Art Jewelry does that.

Expression. Uniqueness. Focus on process. Intentionality.

If you are an art lover, these are all things that you can feel when you stand face to face with a piece of art that resonates with you. Who wouldn’t want that on their body at all times?

Here is an example: I used to think, “Meh, square boxes of color on a canvas,” when I saw photos of Rothko’s paintings. And then I saw one in person. I literally had to hold back tears. It was a weird experience, that I’d never had before. It vibrated. You could feel it. I’ll never forget that.

It’s the same overwhelmingly moving feeling I get when I go to kids events at school, or to a concert of one of my most favorite artists. You experience their hearts (or the heart of the teachers, in the kids example) that goes into their craft, their process, their love of the game.

But anyway, I’ve digressed. If you’re an artist that makes jewelry, or a jewelry fan that loves art, you really should read the Wiki article. It’s pretty fascinating.

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How to Take Art with You Everywhere

Do You Need Art Like I Do?

I’m sure you’ve heard artists say that they need to create. It’s a compulsion. I’m one of those artists. But I also need art around me, whether I’m creating or not.

I know this is going to sound weird, but having art all around me makes me feel like I’m in a warm, safe, cocoon.

These little guys sit atop the cabinets in my studio, and watch over me.

I’ve been known to carry artist-made glass beads, in my pocket. If I’m in a place where I can’t take them out to enjoy looking at them, just a quick fondle in my hoodie pocket soothes me.

The dilemma came in when I would wear things without pockets. Then what? Easy solution: only wear things with pockets, right?

 

I Found a Better Solution: Jewelry

I was never a jewelry-wearing person. I mean, I like a sparkly thing as much as the next gal, but traditional gems and metal don’t do it for me. 

I don’t know why it’s taken me so long but I finally realized that I could make any kind of jewelry I wanted. Well, duh. Isn’t that what an artist does?

I didn’t have to make what I thought people wanted to wear. I could make art. Art to wear. I feel silly admitting that because it’s so obvious, isn’t it?

Upcoming Mirror Mirror Collection - Sterling silver, moonstone, and glass.

So that’s what I’m doing. I’m creating art that you can wear, so that you always have inspiration right there with you.

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Mirror Mirror on the Wall

How Inspiration Strikes

To be honest, the inspiration for this upcoming collection came from the stones themselves.

I’ve mentioned before that my rocks talk to me. So, that’s where I usually go first. I had purchased some moonstones a while back and was enthralled with their sparkle and depth.

I loved them so much that I hung them on my desk light above my work bench so we could hang out. As I sat with them I got the distinct feeling that they wanted to be included in a collection that had something to do with the divine feminine. They’re very on trend, these mighty little stones.

You can see where we started. Neither of us were feeling it until about the 8th sketch. Then, bam! There it was.

Mirror Mirror.

As I continue to work on the collection it has me thinking about women’s issues. How we give so much power to what we see in the mirror because of what we’ve lived our entires lives hearing about our appearance.

I started to feel sad and disappointed because I knew that these gems wanted to be uplifting, and I felt that I was failing them with my thoughts

Disney Villains are More Interesting

Then I remembered, part of the problem that we, as women, have taken on is exactly what I was doing. Trying to ignore that there ARE issues, and putting on that smile that is expected of us.

Oh, no, no, no. I couldn’t have that. That’s when I heard the evil queen chime with a “Mwuahahahaha. I have just what you need.”

I decided to dive into the duality that we all have inside us, and harness the power of the evil queen with some poisoned apples and berries.

I know. Taking a little darker turn, yes? But if you think about it, the villains are usually more interesting, aren’t they?

As I worked I wondered why that was. The only thing I could come up with was that I think we secretly long to be able to do some of the shit that they do. I mean, set our sights on something and go for it without having to hold back. Show the world the power that we have inside us because whether good, or bad, we’re pretty damn powerful.

I can’t wait to show you how the next phase is shaping up!

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