"One of a kind"
Today I felt moved to write a post that is at the core of why I have my own jewellery business. In a previous blog I covered why I started making jewellery ("Greetings!"). I could, however, have simply made lots of exactly the same thing, cheaply and made myself a profitable little venture. To a certain extent, I did start like this because it's a good way to learn particular skills. I also bought one or two kits, when I was learning beadweaving stitches.
BUT: Why make jewellery like everyone else? Why make the same thing again and again? Where is the joy in that? The fun?
I know I don't want to wear jewellery that everyone else has. I also don't want to be stuck making the same item again and again, although it's fun to explore different ways of making something or use different colours or materials. I must admit I'd like to develop my silversmithing skills at some point but so many other people do this; I want to be different! Even learning from instructions, I very rarely use the suggested colour choices for a piece, unless it is replicating something from life.
I like to explore uniqueness in three ways:
1. Materials. Many of my pieces use UK handmade lampwork glass. I mentioned in a previous post why I love using this ("Materials: Lampwork glass") but the chief appeal is that every bead is unique, even when made in the same glass in the same way- and many I use are one offs. Most lampworkers also have their own unique style of beads and, even when they make their own jewellery as well, it's pretty hard to accidentally make the same piece they would with a bead (unless it's a very simple design). I also love to use semiprecious stones, which are by their very nature individual, come in a huge variety of colours, shapes, patterns and finishes, and are endlessly flexible to include, and even mass produced Japanese seed beads and Swarovski crystals give a wide variety of choice (or just a bit of eye catching twinkle) for incorporating into a design.
2. Construction. I've been increasingly using beadweaving in my pieces, which allows me to explore interesting ways to build shapes and introduce colour and texture. I do also like to use silver, when I don't want the way the piece is made to detract from the focal beads. Sometimes though, basic strung pieces are what beads require. It sounds daft but I usually let the beads show me what they need- going against this often ends up with a frayed temper and dismantling what can be several hours of work (after a great deal of sulking!).
3. Colour and texture. This is my favourite way of differentiating myself. I love to take a colour or tone and explore it, playing with matte and shiny, opaque and transparent, plain and coated finishes. I also like to draw out colours and patterns from a focal bead and enhance it in how it's incorporated into a piece.
I readily admit I don't get it right all of the time. I've spent many hours cursing and pulling things apart repeatedly, or revisiting something I made a long time ago and developing the core idea further. But I'm proud of what I make and hope that wearing it gives you even the smallest part of the pleasure I have in making it.