9 May 2010

This week I have mostly been spiralling and coiling

Design is a funny business. As I’ve written about before, finished designs come about through all manner of routes. Some designs take form through the determination to achieve a particular result or overcome a problem, some just happen because that is where the metal takes you, some pieces end up the way they do because something either went wrong, or didn’t work as expected and you’re making the best of the change in direction.

Sometimes I simply dream the making of the design (I have one such piece in progress and will blog about it when finished) or I wake up with it fully formed after my subconscious has toiled away on a thorny problem, from the previous day, whilst I slept.

Further to my earlier blog about working extensively with copper, I took the idea of bracelet links I made at that time and made similar links into earrings.

Please click on any of the photographs to see a larger view.

But one phenomena that does happen for me on a regular basis is the branching out of ideas from one initial thought. You start off working a piece – either on paper, or actually with materials – and as you’re working, either another idea occurs to you from the shapes before you, or you change direction from your original idea. I have the mental picture that ideas reside in the shape of a tree – some branches become dead ends and never bear fruit, others keep growing and changing direction – growing to overlap other ideas and sometimes merging.

My figure of 8 links merged with last weeks spiral links in this antiqued copper bracelet. I’d vowed in an earlier blog that I would spend all day Tuesday locked into making things and I did indeed manage that and this was one of the results – although this was not one of the ideas in my head when I switched the light on above my workbench.

I often find that I therefore work in very particular periods of closely associated themes and I very much doubt that I am alone in this. This can arise where the mind gets locked into an idea and others just flow from it, or from a more practical perspective, once you get set up for a particular technique, it’s easier to make more of the same, or similar, at the same time. I also often find that it takes a few copies of a component before I get the measurements and technique just right and once I have and am on a roll, it’s worth making a few of the same thing once the creative rhythm is established.

My commission necklace had required spiral wrapped beads too, so whilst working them, I used the same technique in this bracelet, inter-spaced with coiled copper links, I’d also used in another commission design. I’d initially tried with a larger gauge of wire, but they came out far too big for the bracelet, but made a good basis for a pair of earrings, featuring lovely spring green serpentine jade ovals:

Earrings to match the bracelet above.

This is just how it was this week. I received a commission for a necklace and earring set based on a design I’d not made for some time – and in a period before I made such meticulous notes on techniques, tools used and measurements, to make returning to past-worked designs that bit easier.

So I had to set about working out how I’d previously made the figure of 8 links at the core of the design – and having done so and got into a rhythm and consequently consistent in my workmanship – I made more than needed and worked these into some brand new pieces – and I’m nowhere near done yet, I still have more ideas in mind to work on – just from one innocuous little hammered figure of 8 link.

I even found myself working it together with the spiral links I’d got locked into last week – the two were of a weight and texture that co-ordinated well, so some pieces show two themes merged into something new.

The antiqued copper bracelet shown was worked entirely from the one gauge of raw copper wire, as shown.

3 thoughts on “This week I have mostly been spiralling and coiling

  1. The green in combination with the copper is stunning. I’ve done similar things – taking something that didn’t quite work as a necklace, and create a bracelet with the components. It helps me feel like I didn’t just waste my time!

  2. I love that feeling when you are working on something and ideas for taking it further come tumbling one after the other… The bracelet with the green beads is absolutely beautiful.

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