Monday, January 19, 2015

Zen and the Art of Jewelry Making

Tanya Lochridge Jewelry Red Poppy Jasper, Carnelian, Smoky Quartz, African Opal & Aventurine Gemstone Gold Vermeil Bracelet

There is something intrinsically Zen about the making of jewelry. If you’ve ever taken a look at my jewelry you’ll know that I employ a wide array of techniques in my pieces. Long ago I stopped using any technique that requires top-grade ventilation, fire and strong chemicals for my safety; but most importantly, the safety of others! While I loved metalsmithing all those years ago, at this time in my life, my preference is one of wrapping and twisting wire, tossing it with gemstones, rocks, glass and chain and discovering just what turns up when all is said and done. Unlike the old metalsmithing days, nothing I do today starts with a sketch or drawing of any type; and I like that. I’m very kinesthetic and so I dump beads of all types onto the work bench, and play a game of mix and match until I am happy with what I see. No design technique really or is there a method to my madness?

Tanya Lochridge Jewelry Green Mist Jasper, Pearl, Czech Glass Sterling Silver Bracelet

Design technique or not, I know that it is usually fun at the end of the day when I take a look at how things unfolded in the semi-finished pieces. I never give a critical eye at this point. I'm afraid that would be too harsh. Instead I turn out the lights, shut down the shop and focus on other projects – none of which relate to jewelry! In the morning, I’ll come back to the studio and with a fresh eye I allow the critical self to make suggestions and adjustments if needed. It’s at this point that pieces either move forward for production in very small batches or they will find a space in my personal collection and never see the light of the jewelry site/shop. Not quite sure what aspect pushes the design one way or another. I do know that if components are exorbitantly expensive or hard to come by, the piece usually becomes a one-of-a-kind and seldom goes up for sale. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule all the time and a few pieces are sold as one-of-a-kind much like you would find in a gallery; but the numbers each year are pretty small.

Tanya Lochridge Jewelry Kazuri Bead Coco Confection 3-Strand Bracelet

As for the “mass marketability” of any one piece – over the years I have been approached and explored opportunities to ghost design for other manufacturers. Sometimes I think it would be fun to see thousands of my pieces lined up on store shelves of large clothing chains and sold through electronic outlets; but, somehow, all of the group planning and kanoodling that goes into making a product en mass, I fear, would take the fun out of jewelry-making for me. I know…probably not the best financial thinking…but for now, I am quite content doing small production runs, working with a tiny team of local craftspeople when necessary, and knowing that only a handful of you will be able to style my pieces in your own unique way. No cookie-cutter looks for you!

Tanya Lochridge Jewelry Pink & Black Heart Lampwork, Czech Glass & Rose Quartz Gemstone Bracelet

As for the Zen of it all – there is something quite soothing for me in the repetitive nature of many of the techniques I use day in and day out. The bending and twisting of wire to achieve a perfect wrap gives me great satisfaction. Having one of you comment on something as minute as the perfection of my wrapping technique – I know it sounds crackers – but it makes me happy to know that the quality gets noticed. My immense love of and obsession with small things is nourished everyday—and taking those small things and artistically putting them together to make pretty bigger things brings me joy. So see…while it can be frustrating at times…it really is a bit of therapy for my soul. That’s what keeps me going every day.

Tanya Lochridge Jewelry Green Mist Jasper, Pearl, Czech Glass Sterling Silver Bracelet

P.S. Curious…do you fret over the minutiae of life or are you a big picture thinker? I look forward to reading your comments. And, now I am pondering which I might be…when it comes to life. Also, I appreciate you sticking with me here while I go though the process of learning to use my new camera, struggling with a new photo set in the process. All this technology is giving this granny a headache!! But...oddball that I am...I love it!