Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Birth of a Designer

I never considered myself a designer. I really never had that spark of ingenuity that designers have. I would see something new and clever and think to myself, "What a great idea! Why didn't I think of that?" I learned to read all kinds of patterns, crochet, knitting and sewing. I learned to follow directions in any how-to book from basic woodworking to wire jewelry. But I couldn't look at a stack of fabric or wood or beads and say to myself, "Ah, hah! This would make a great whoziwhatzit if I did this with it!" I could take an existing idea or design and make it, adding a bit of my own personality into it, but I never had my own original idea or design plan.

My hubby works with iron and a coal forge. Watching him take an unyeilding piece of iron, heat it red hot and then quickly hammer and flatten and bend it to his will while it was maleable fascinated me. While perusing his blacksmithing books one day, I saw a few pieces of hamered copper. They were so beautiful! Iron is heavy and dark and rustic. But the copper was delicate, bright and refined. And suddenly, whatever was blocking my ingenuity let go and my mind flooded with ideas, concepts and designs. But I didn't know how to get it from my head to a finished product.

From the first time I saw the beauty of hammered copper I knew I wanted to make jewelry with it. But I wanted to use the methods my hubby used with iron. I didn't want to take a sheet of copper and cut it into the shapes I saw in my head. I wanted to hammer and shape a piece of copper rod. I started by making a plain neckwire to showcase a wired pendant. It was beautiful, but too plain. Then I made a neckwire with a swirl at one end. I get a ton of compliments on it, but I wanted something more delicate. I spent a lot of time learning how to shape and flatten the copper, texturizing the surface with the smallest ball pien hammer I could find.

As I developed my piening technique, I discovered the life inside the copper. It flows and ripples like water. Every hammer stroke gives it more life. A solid rod of copper, smooth and straight, becomes a delicate, organic shape, reflecting light and begging to be touched. Suddenly, I could see it! I could look at a piece of copper and see a finished design. All the techniques and skills I've developed over the years have come together. I can take my raw materials and create the images in my mind. I found my spark of ingenuity and today, I can finally say to myself, I am a designer.


Jennifer-Ancientgamecupboard said...

I love that piece, sew! How exciting to reach that point as an artist~

decadentdiamond said...

What a lovely post, and a lovely piece. I love copper, in fact I'm wearing a copper-coloured dress right now!

Elizabeth said...

You have always had incredible talent, kiddo, just didn't have that "something" you thought you should have. Now you have found it - but it has taken learning all the things you have learned in order to find this. Don't ever think the years were wasted - they were productive.
And they led to where you are now. You come from a family of "late bloomers," and you fit perfectly!

Hey Harriet said...

Your jewelry is gorgeous. & Yes YOU are a wonderful designer! Glad you've realised that :) Very nice blog you have also!

Boni said...

Your jewelry is amazing !
Thanks for a wonderful journey into a talented mind !

Beth Millner said...

Great post! I have had some of the same experiences as I have grown artistically!

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i sew because i cannot draw.