Sunday, May 3, 2009
Working with Hands: Jewelry Project on Art Deco
I've been spending many weekend hours on a jewelry project: a multi-shaped metal chain with hanging elements that show different techniques such as riveting, hammering, sawing, stone-setting and soldering.
Like my sister, I like working with hands, especially on minature creations. I chose jewelry because I wanted to focus on my hands. This was the closest I could get to experiencing the way goldsmiths hone their skills on perfecting certain techniques.
I have recently realized that jewelry-making helps me appreciate small objects around me. Why take the time to file and sand a tiny sterling silver ring for hours when the same design that has been factory-produced can be easily bought at a store for under $20? Unless you try it for yourself, you'd never know the satisfaction that comes from wearing a fun design that you created with your own hands.
After weeks spent on research for this project, I decided to use geometric Art Deco shapes and vibrant colors that I loved so much in Miami. I played around with copper, bronze and sterling silver metal sheets and wires, and purchased mother of pearl and strawberry opal among the many stones that I bought that day.
One of the greatest things about creating things with hands is that you get to explore your imagination through your body. There are many ways of tapping the unconscious associated with unbounded creativity, and jewelry-making turned out to be just that perfect medium for me.
The process of making jewelry can be extremely labor intensive. Sawing a metal sheet can take up to hours and metal sheets tend to heat up pretty quickly. For this reason, jewelry-making requires harmonious coordination between the mind and the body. I remember burning the tip of my bezel, a metal crown used for stone-setting, by not paying close attention to what my hand was doing while soldering. Not only do you have to listen to the great ideas forming in your head, but also, you have to observe and understand the limitations of your body. Usually, the latter can be fixed with the help of jeweler's tools such as handy plyers or hammers in various sizes and shapes for molding.
Jewelry-making proved to be a challenging activity but also a very fascinating one. I discovered facts about myself and my thinking process by designing in my head and executing the design through my hands simultaneously. If you ever wonder what that feels like, drop those machine-made earrings and go sign up for the next jewelry class in your area.
Note: I'll be uploading the pictures of the final product on this page.