uncertainty and the evolution of a new collection

These last days have been something of a roller coaster ride.  I've been alternating between wonderful creative bursts during the day and nights that have bordered on "dark night of the soul" depression.

I go from feeling terribly uncertain about where I'm headed, what I'm doing, why I'm doing it, wandering around the house trying to do something productive, to sitting back down at my worktable, pulling out components, remembering bits and tucked away fragments, assembling prototypes and experiments, seeing potential and direction and focus and then realizing I've come around to something that feels like hope.

Here's where I am right now ...

As I sit here trying not to get lost in my feelings of uncertainty and inner confusion, trying to stay positive and know that it always works out, one thing I'm really looking forward to is the release of Jonathan Fields new book, UNCERTAINTY, Turning Fear & Doubt Into Fuel For Brilliance.  Here's the exceptionally well done and really inspiring trailer.

Could the timing be any more perfect ... I don't think so.  I had an advance digital copy that I only got part of the way through, so I know what's in store and I'm excited.  The timing is, well ... timely.

So while I'm still wafting around in my own uncertainty, I have been making some headway in putting together the new jewelry collection.  I thought I'd share some of my process and the unfolding evolution of this collection ...

You may remember, the gathering of inspiration started with the purchase of Cara May's sweater from Niche.  While chatting with the artist, ideas for jewelry started to flow fast and furious.  I got to thinking about that bag of fossilized bone I'd been hoarding and decided I needed more!  That led to putting in a request to my in-laws to see if they'd like to part with some of their stash.  Here's my massive haul of fossilized treasure.  The starting place for my new jewelry collection ...

The sweater is knitted in part with wool coated steel wire from Habu Textiles.  That led me to ordering Hadar's steel metal clay.  Okay, so the jury's still out on steel metal clay.  It's a total pain to fire and, while almost everything has survived, it's not a for sure guarantee that everything will fire properly.  Just when I was ready to hate it and chalk my $50 investment up to experience, I decided I actually like the look of the pieces.  I'm still figuring it all out and it's a pain, but I'm going to use the 150 grams I bought, turning it into a very limited collection.

The progression so far ...

One thing I had read but forgot, the steel tends to warp and curl, a very nice thing in my book.  Only thing, these pieces curled the wrong way.  So I wet them down and put some card stock over them to flatten them back out.  I really do love this shape - long, thin, curved and slightly textured.

This is my first batch of components ready to fire.  I've got some experiments happening here.  I've embedded raw rubies and sapphires in a couple of pieces and wrapped a bit of the clay around a couple of forged bailing wiring rings  ... all of which should survive the 1700 degree firing.  The pain part of the firing is that you have to fire in two stages, one to burn out the binder and the higher, sintering phase and then you can only fire a few pieces at a time ... these pieces took two firings.

I'm still trying to figure out the finishing of the components.  The pieces emerge black and crusty.  Here's the contrast between straight out of the kiln and sanded with polishing paper.  The rubies survived but the piece broke in half; I'm thinking I'll still be able to use the pieces. 

I tumbled everything in various ways ... steel shot for several hours gets rid of the crusty look, but my usual abrasive media is just not abrasive enough.  My 400 grit polishing paper seems to be the best follow-up to the steel shot, but I really want to try a steel brush and coarser sanding paper.  I've also put a coating of Renaissance Wax on everything ... just in case.

Now I've got the core components - steel and fossils ... what next?  That's been the big question and a contributing factor to my mood swings and ponderous navel gazing.  So I've been taking a few breaks to let the ideas rest, the juices mingle and stew.  Yesterday, after a short burst of cleaning and some de-cluttering, I headed back to my worktable.

I'm thinking it started with pulling out those luscious teal glass beads I bought in July.  Then drilling a big chunk of bone and remembering those other big Ghana glass beads I had stashed here and there and oh man, what about those vintage Venetian glass beads I've had for 15 years and can you believe it, they've got that same teal in them and oh yeah, don't forget those big chunks of Roman glass and doesn't this all look just amazing with the ochre of my sweater and lo and behold ... I have my color palette.

teal Ghana glass and bronze metal clay spacers

vintage Venetian glass, Ghana glass, fossils
Roman glass and ochre, rust and ruby bead drawers

figuring out how it's all going to go together ... flourite, Roman glass, fossils, steel

some prototypes against my sweater ... a very promising start

So that's where I am right now. 
Goodness, this has taken a really long time to put together and those beautiful components are calling me back to the worktable.  Plus I want to use up the other 100 grams of steel clay, 'cause it's going to take a couple of days to get it all fired ... still not happy about that, but I'm just going with it for now.

Let me know what you think!
l i g a - kvk