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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Standing in my Truth

The process of art-making continues to teach me, every single day. I don’t know why that still surprises me. I could be tooling around, doing the same thing I’ve always done and BAM! something hits me.

Glass chunks. Experimenting for upcoming jewelry collection.

As you know, I’ve gone through a business rebranding this year. Along with that I’ve tried to really hone in on what it is that I’m trying to accomplish. I came up with the name Quirky&Odd because I’ve always been a little quirky, my work has never really been mainstream, and I wanted to stand more in my truth.

Laying out glass pieces in preparation for forming in the kiln.

What I’d realized this week was that I hadn’t been standing in my truth. I was still designing based on a model that doesn’t fit me; one where I consider the market in a way that doesn’t ring clear with me. Don’t get me wrong…I want to make some amazing stuff that y’all will love, that’s for sure!

I think this “issue” is one that separates one type of artist from another. I’m realizing that I’m in the camp of artists that need to create based on what is in them, as opposed to designing with what customers will buy, in mind.

It’s a conundrum. Of course you want to sell your work, and of course you want to make what people love. On the other hand, trying to figure out what people like is not an easy task–at least not for me. I find that people love my work more when I’m creating what I want to create. That’s the quirky stuff. The one-of-a-kind stuff. The “Wow, this is different, I haven’t seen anything like this before” stuff. It’s also what feeds my soul.

Ready to be put though a 5 hour melting, annealing, and cooling process in my Paragon SC3 kiln. Do me proud, babies.

So, that’s where I am right now, and that’s where I’m heading. I’m getting back to listening to my materials and environment for where to proceed next. What to make next. What to explore further. Sometimes it takes me on a wild good chase that comes up empty, but I always learn something in the process. Sometimes it ends up being pure magic.

I’ve decided that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. I’ll be counting on my Inner Sanctum VIP-ers for their valued input!

NOTE: The pictures in this post are the start of me getting back to following what comes to me. This week, in a meditation I got an idea for a collection. I’ll reveal more as the experiments proceed and it starts to come together physically. I’m really excited about it, and I hope you will be, too.

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