Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Master of One vs. Renaissance Woman

Master of One vs. Renaissance Woman  

As babies, we are sponges.  Gathering information and experience from everything around us, trying everything at least once.  In the midst of the first five formative years of our lives, we bank those experiences and skills away to use at later times.  We focus on becoming a well-rounded human being – someone that is prepared to meet the world head on.  

But it seems like many people are far more concerned with branding themselves as something, anything.  Making themselves stand out by focusing on only one aspect of their experience or their skills.  And then marketing themselves as that and ONLY that to the world. 

I have such a hard time when people ask me what I do.  Of course, they are asking what I do for a living.  Because that question helps us to categorize each other into neat, little boxes.  Humans begin to categorize from a very young age and it just keeps going...and that is ok.  But that one aspect of our life, our job, is not necessarily a great indicator of who someone is as a person.  

But that is such a narrow aspect of what life is.  Life is the journey.  As cliché as that is.  Goals and pinpoints on a to-do list, ambitions and aspirations are not the point.  They are the window dressing, the things that happen that help to shape who you are, but are not WHO you are.

Take myself for example – I sell jewelry supplies.  That’s my job.  But does that tell you much about me?  I joke with my friends that I sell jewelry supplies because I have collected beads my entire life and I have limited hobbies, but that isn’t what gets me up in the morning or keeps me up late at night.
It isn’t what inspires me or drives me through my life.  No one thing does.   

I am an artist, a woman, a wife, a mother, a student, a writer, a cook, painter, singer, decorator, spastic dancer, homebody and adventurer.  Human beings are not singular focus creatures.  Our brains are must too large and intricate for that.  And who says you have to categorize yourself or brand yourself as one thing?  Who says? 

Once upon a time, people focused on enriching their lives through education, community, art, experience, travel, anything really.  Our founding fathers are never described as only one thing.  They were inventors, writers, lawyers, scholars, artists, revolutionaries, craftsman, musicians – they weren’t JUST a founding father.  Their lives were rich with experience and skills.  Skills they USED.  Skills they celebrated.  They were renaissance men.  

So please, stop worrying about being a master of one and start your own personal renaissance.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Repurposing Vintage into Bridal

Repurposing Vintage into Bridal

Once upon a time about 8 years ago, I married a bald headed man in the midst of sleeping grape vines in Wine Country.  It was December, cold and clear – and to keep costs down, we got married on a Sunday and DIY’d most of the decorations, floral and table settings.  I even made my own jewelry – because as a jewelry designer, I definitely could make exactly what I wanted.

In the midst of the flurry that is wedding planning, I forgot something pretty important. 

 Something old, something new
Something borrowed, something blue
And a silver sixpence in her shoe.

Words from an old English poem that every bride knows by heart.  Well, maybe not the “silver sixpence in her shoe” bit, but the rest…definitely.  And I don’t know about you – but when I was a bride, it was a scramble at the last minute to find all those things and somehow carry them in a dress with no pockets.  After my honeymoon, while sitting down to think about Spring and Bridal design ideas, I remembered that scramble.  And thought about how I could help my Bridal clients from having the same problem. 

The repurposing of vintage/antique components into modern design is not a new one.  Every one of us has bits and pieces of broken costume jewelry that most times gets thrown into a junk drawer or thrown out.  But in my case, a love of vintage/antique costume jewelry started early thanks to a very image conscious grandmother who loved her sparkles.  I’d amassed a collection of vintage jewelry pieces as well as bits of broken jewelry along the way.  While looking at these pieces next to my collection of antique chandelier crystals, I had an idea.

Why not combine vintage and new elements and knock out these all at once? 
Something old -  Use a vintage rhinestone pin/pendant/locket

Something new – Use new gemstones as accents 

Something borrowed – Work with a bride to add a piece of her own costume jewelry into the design

Something blue – Add a piece of blue to the design, a crystal or bead at the clasp. 

And voila – suddenly an easy way to add a single item that had all these elements in one.  No need for pockets or trying to wrangle an evening bag while meeting and greeting or walking up the aisle.    

Hands free to hug and dance the night away.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Cultural Appropriation in Art & Jewelry Design

Cultural Appropriation in Art & Jewelry Design

As artists, we are inspired by everything around us – from nature to books, other designers, other cultures.  Inspiration abounds.  Artistic movements like Art Nouveau, Impressionism, and Art Deco where inspired by nature and the female form, geometric shapes and a need to see beyond the surface.  Those movements were also inspired by the art forms of other cultures.

Art has always been about expressing ideas and feelings in a way that captures the imagination and touches the soul.  Human beings are compelled to create things that endure.  To question the world around them as they endeavor to create beauty. 

But there is always a fine line between appreciating and celebrating a culture other than your own in your work, and cultural appropriation.

Cultural Appropriation is defined as the adoption or use of only certain elements of a culture not one’s own in a way that demeans or is disrespectful because of lack of understanding.

Artists have to be especially careful when marketing items they have made that are inspired by other cultures.  There are specific Federal Laws, like the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Indian Arts & Crafts Act of 1990 which protect cultural arts from copycats and misrepresentation.  If you are not a recognized member of a Native American tribe, you cannot market your art/craft as Native American and to do so will subject you to fines and/or prison terms.  That goes for meta tags and hashtags as well.

We, as artists, also have to be respectful in how we are portraying a culture not our own in our work and should endeavor to educate ourselves in the culture that inspires us so we don’t inadvertently create something offensive.  If you have questions, ask.  Be curious.  Open a dialog.  Learn and appreciate the many cultures that the U.S. has to offer – but realize that each culture has their own unique narrative.  And cultural appropriation can overshadow that narrative.  

 So be mindful and respectful.  And be inspired.