I read something today written by Michelle Skiba, whose finely crafted and presented hand-bound journals with beautifully organic wooden covers I have admired for several years. It is:
Craftsmanship is something that develops slowly over time through years of steady practice. It is about showing up everyday and doing the same thing over and over.
I especially love the part about doing the same thing over and over, every day. It is the zen beauty of simple repetition that builds the hand skills and mastery of tools and techniques so that something effortless can flow from the beyond and illuminate one’s craft and art in those moments of non-effort.
Really, it means making things isn’t difficult. All you have to do is have passion, and show up.
It is said that every good artist must have her obsession.
Mine, right here and now, is Druzy. Drusy. Druzies. Drusies. Specifically, natural colored druzies – The stones with ripe, berry hues and crisp, glacial heavenly blues – Unreal, ghostly grays – Rich rare emerald greens of endless grasslands – Deep night-sky true blacks with the gleam of stars – And all a-glimmer with every movement of your body – Completely natural colors and textures but beautiful almost beyond belief –
Druzies: Natural minerals that – over aeons – form sparkling beds of even crystals like sugar-coated gemstones.
Each stone has its strong and unmistakable personality. Each tells me what to make with it, of it, around it, for it. Tiny landscapes, they are to me the natural world concentrated into the miniature realm of the jeweler and the jewel; the wearable and symbolic object; the beautifully deliberate together with wilderness incarnate.
Druzies fulfill my need for contrast in my work – Something willed, something wild. Something bright, something dark. Something polished, something very rough, ancient and barbaric.
Womankind [and mankind’s] age-old fascination with gems and precious stones – I have always skirted the edges of it, preferring the clean forms and direct workings of metal itself – but druzies have seduced me with their brilliant + color-rich character.
Watch with me. Let’s see what happens.
Smoke Ring : Hand-Sculpted Ring with Sterling Silver, Chalcedony Druzy, White Sapphire. US size 6.5-7. One of a Kind.
I’d often admired those great honking wooden earrings that seemed they would gauge a big hole in your ears with a wooden stick that you pushed through your earlobe to attach the two parts making it look sculpturally-fantastic and painful all at once. I’d also often wondered how they’d look in metal, being a metal-head myself. Wonder no more.
These babies look so slick and ultra-modern with their hole-y gold and their gunmetal-blue patina you can’t wait to stab them through your tender lobes. All sterling silver and 23 karat gold, and the modeled little silver spear-points are a nice touch. I guess I was thinking about javelins along with stabbing and wearable weaponry. I had also been itching to use the gorgeous scraps left from other, more rigidly controlled Keum-bo projects – Thus the hole-y gold, which I love. Since they are irregular, the hoop/posts are reversible and present differently from each angle.
It does take a bit more mindfulness and presence to put these pieces on, one must admit. And for that reason they are not for everyone, but for those who don’t mind tweaking their jewels/armor/adornments and like that bitter edge with their morning coffee. But once they’re started they’re easy to finish fastening and the nicely-finished metal posts must feel so much smoother and sleeker than their wooden counterparts. Maybe: Pistol meets bow-and-arrow?
Last night fusing gold to silver at my bench I had the most delicious feeling of being in kindergarten or first grade.
Keum-bo can be detailed, almost tedious work. And yet it isn’t quite repetitive; to reach every little nook, corner and hidden crevice of a tiny textural landscape it takes a certain sensitivity and focus – not pressing too hard, wrists loose and tools held lightly, like a violin bow.
My contact lenses dry out as I hover intently above my kiln; I am careful not to burn myself as I tweezer miniscule objects to and fro. I trace approximate shapes and trim them with fanatical care via miniature scissors; I quench my burnishers often to keep them from sticking to the hot metal and breathe subtly so that I don’t blow the fantastically fragile gold foil into kingdom come. Sometimes, I get impatient.
Mostly, though, it is peaceful, solitary, meditative work. I turn off the music; anything is distracting in this raw late night space. Delicate, specific work; like a surgeon’s or a child’s.
And it reminds me suddenly of that beautiful time I had almost forgotten – a lost long-ago world of concentration and bliss in the coloring of a shape; cutting a twist, a curve and a brutal angle with plastic-handled scissors to join all the other twists and curves; submerging completely into the rich waters of a single, intense pursuit as simple and as and pure as the marking of a line – then another, then another line.
It’s a funny, endearing feeling; to re-remember these beginnings, these sources. I feel completely a child-me as I cut, and place, and burnish, loving the waiting, loving the silence, loving the sweet melting of gold into silver.