i am so happy to announce that starting this month, a lil' expression will be featuring a creative guest blogger every month! to kick off the new tradition, kim o'brien will be telling us about her lovely craft & what inspires her. enjoy!
I'd like to think of my jewelry as timeless. To me it is a lot like iron work in that it is lasting and (hopefully) always in style. It seems to be a stretch to say that I am influenced by two things that seem so diametrically opposed, but my other inspiration is nature. To me they fit together, iron work is a gate to a garden, a wall to a grassy yard, its rungs create a window to peer at flowers through. They compliment and contrast each other at the same time. One stands through all of the seasons, while the other falls to seed to bloom later.
In my iron work series, I add texture to mimic a weathered gate and add abstract flowers to some pieces, bringing my two muses together. My textures are created in various ways. Some are painstaking, made by drawing line after line with a scribe. While other textures I create by using an old dinged up hammer whose surface mars silver to perfection. My dot series are just simple gestures of color used to capture parts of seasons that I enjoy. My favorite of the autumn colors is goldenrod, I love seeing those tall weeds pop up in the fall.
What I love most about being a jeweler is the making. Using tools, playing with fire and getting good and dirty. I've given up on having nice nails as I spend most of my days sanding them away while I clean up my creations. Now that I am making full time I am pleased to say I get to work in pink combat boots and jeans every day and I love it! What I don't love (and what we speak of so little) is that it is hard. I don't get to just make jewelry. I have to package it, gets stores to carry it, price it, sell it, promote it. It is tough work and work that one can only do out of love. If you are thinking of turning your hobby into a full time gig you need to consider a few things. First, price your work to sell at wholesale or you will never make a living. The next important thing is you must love what you make so much that you are ready to live your life around it. Then, get ready not to have a steady paycheck for a long time. I've been at this full time only a year and I am still working out the kinks. It is tough and done out of love.
When I am in a creative rut, I grab my camera and adorable dog and set out for a walk. We go to new neighborhoods, sample the coffee and croissants there. While we are strolling the area I take pictures, lots of them. I look for colors, textures, patterns, flowers, gates, designs and capture it all. At night I sit down and take it all in. Seeing what I like about each photo, looking for colors or gestures to create in metal. I do rough sketches of my ideas. Some sketches stay around for years and others are made into metal immediately. My other source of inspiration is looking at works of other artists and jewelers, especially from the Art Nouveau movement. Art Nouveau seems to capture the style I am ultimately aiming for. Bright patterns, flowers, lines and gestures are brought together to create amazing images. Ultimately my goal is to make limited series of work so I can show in galleries and move slowly away from the craft fair hustle and bustle. Oh, and my other goal is to stay in my pink boots and jeans. Even with all of the heartache, I don't want to give up making jewelry. In fact, it is something I need to do.