Today was my first full day making jewelry after a semester of teaching. The political climate in the USA can be felt everywhere, even in the classroom. Like a pinched nerve, it nags the spirit. In the studio, I felt like a castaway on an island surrounded by treasure, not really sure if I ever wanted to be rescued. I made two collages and a couple of necklaces. The work flowed out like a long sigh. It will be several weeks before I return to teaching. Until then I will enjoy being marooned.
So much of my life has been about trying again. When I was a teenager, my mom once told me that it was important to be true to oneself. I had no idea what she meant. I thought you had to fit in, work hard to get recognized. I failed at that many times. My kids now say “mom has to commit to her work”. So here I am being an artist. It’s still very hard. I’m still trying again.
Jewelry is easier to sell than paintings. From a practical point of view, it’s clear: it’s easier to accommodate a small, affordable work than a large canvas. Someone once told me that people buy jewelry even in tough times because it can lift the spirit. I am curious about this power. How does it do that? Maybe because we like (need) eye food. Looking at, and holding jewelry is an intimate experience. A meditation of sorts, a right brain micro-holiday; and I think most of my supporters have magpie traits, too.
No matter where I am, my eye will find small pieces of metal, old nails, screws and mysterious bits of hardware that fall off cars and trucks. Their shape, color and texture form unnoticed tiny sculptures on the road and in parking lots. I always pick them up. In thrift stores an unknown force draws me to the counter where the old jewelry is kept. Smooth pebbles and shells on the beach keep me happily hunting for hours. The thought of going to a bead store is so thrilling, that I cannot think of anything else until I actually go and spend a long time handling all the strands, seriously straining the patience of anyone who has the misfortune of accompanying me on the trip. I am not alone in this, I am part of a tribe of stone and bead lovers who have been here on this earth collecting small treasure to adorn others and ourselves ever since our index fingers and thumbs met.
I am a discerning magpie however, only stone, glass and other natural materials will do. Light refracts differently on these materials. There is a beckoning glow about them. I know it when I see it.