Color or shape? Object or architecture? People are always asking what inspires my designs. One of my friends has asked me multiple times if color or shape inspire me more, and I can only reply “yes.” Pinning down what inspires me is as elusive as…well, what inspires me.
Super Stones (Gemstones, that is)
Stones: light, color, imperfections, facets. Honestly a gemstone often begs to be used in a certain way. The trick is to let yourself be influenced by the materials, not only strive to do with them what you had initially planned. We can all agree that pearls can make a beautiful strand worn around a woman’s neck, but that’s not all they can become. Some of my favorite pieces incorporate baroque pearls, which are not at all what most people envision when they hear the word “pearl.” I love to let a stone lead me to its truth and create something entirely new in the process.
At the moment, these incredible Dendritic Opals have captivated my attention. Dendritic Opals are thought to have properties of giving hope to life. What will they be transformed into on the workbench?
Long ago I realized that I like to transform things – from chrysalis to cocoon to butterfly, so goes my design aesthetic. Silver isn’t just silver to me. It can be bent and shaped, it can be oxidized or welded to other metals, it can be shiny or matte. The same with gold – yes, pure gold can be beautiful and create a statement, but 22k gold fused to reticulated silver? Now, that’s metalsmithing magic. Techniques like Keum-Boo and hand texturing with Dremels or blades, and handmaking my beads. That’s where the real magic occurs for me. Taking the traditional metals of my trade and finding a new shape, a new way to set a stone, a new mix of tone and color. That’s the beauty of being a designer, the freedom to explore and – every once in a while – come up with something completely unexpected.
My Super Power
So, when I’m asked what inspires my designs, the truth is anything and everything. If I have one super power as a jewelry designer it’s my genuine openness to every experience that comes my way. My designs have been inspired by the breathtaking Chilean Fjords, the Northern Lights, the bamboo screen in a hotel room, the color of the ocean and the ring of atols in the Pacific. The Japanese concept of Wabi Sabi, or “beauty in imperfection,” speaks to me and I lean in to the truth of my joy in asymmetry, rough and smooth balancing each other, the imperfect setting of the perfect stone, the clean lines of metal set with mismatched gemstones. It’s not designing an “anniversary collection” or a “birthstone collection,” it’s designing the pieces that I see in my mind when I reflect on an experience or relationship.
My super power, the truth that guides my design is…there is no single influence. There is what I see and experience in the world, and how I choose to incorporate it into my design. Whatever your profession, keeping your eyes open to the world around you is a great way to be inspired. You could even call it your super power.
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