A friend of mine that I hadn’t seen in months and months dropped by the other day. It was show and tell: He has been working on some new pieces, some mouth watering luscious stones. His creative use of color gives him that illusive edge we all desire. This personage would be Michael Boyd, of course. His work is always an inspiration, the way he plays with color like paint on a canvas…. ok enough of that. So my thoughts today revolve around design, color and stones. As jewelers or contemporary metalsmiths we all know that once you learn the rules you must discard them. Throw out any rule that stands in the way, in favor of what will make that stone stop a heart. Michael’s work is a living breathing example of just that. I have seen him take very inexpensive or found objects and put them together with very expensive objects and create the illusion that they have and always will belong together. Set that diamond upside down if it is necessary or create a new way to suspend a stone from a chain. Awareness of color and texture, weight, line, the power of positive and negative space and above all the sense of play.
The fine art of incorporating a stone into the design so that color and texture and line make you believe the stone was born there not just stuck on the surface is a continuing battle for me. It forces me to continually add to my bucket of skills and to push my patience. Jewelers have to fight the time battle either real or imagined. I certainly am no exception to the age old controversy about art, time and materials. Nonetheless, only time with the materials and the tools will give you the skills to produce what you see in you minds eye. Another age old story; you have to learn the rules before you can discard them. There is so much to learn and after 18 years, I am still a beginner. After Michael’s visit I am now inspired to go play in my studio not just work. Jewelers and stones, stones and jewelers it will ever be thus.
Some of us are stone junkies some of us are tool junkies I raise my hand and admit that I am both. We neglect the linoleum in the kitchen in favor of a new tool or maybe those rocks we just couldn’t turn down at the gem fair. I have a friend, an art patron who has been buying jewelry and art objects for years. She is a junkie. She has been fighting the disease by ordering custom pieces and having changes made in the jewelry she has bought. Finally she is jumping in and has now started buying tools. She is tired of trying to communicate her ideas to other craftsmen. Soon to be retired she can now start taking classes and workshops learning the rules so she can break them. It was inevitable really.
I have become a fan of workshops. They make you work and think differently and they can add significantly to your bucket of skills. The ongoing criticism of course is that no one ever goes home and actually uses the information. That point is certainly arguable but I find them a complete joy. This would be somewhat of a confession since I was less than overjoyed at turning over my personal space to 4 or 5 workshops a year. The fabulous energy more than compensates for the sacrifice.
I would suggest if you are incurable. If you have just returned from Tucson with a bag of treasures and you are not quite sure what to do with them but, you are sure that commercial findings and glue on, stick on pendants just won’t work anymore consider jumping in the pool by taking some workshops. Specifically a stone setting class then go break some rules and just play.