Saturday, March 19, 2011

I love making rings.

Heavy, blackened, organic and free form with surprising elements.
Elements one wouldn't expect to be treated so royally as to be set in silver.
 An ordinary shell like so many millions of others. 
An imperfect mold of wood grain. 
A melted piece of cracked glass.

Way back when I was first making metal jewelry, I tried so hard to be perfect.
Learning about the different metals, what they do with different temperatures of heat, how to make ends meet seamlessly, how to envision the completed item from the blackened, crusty thing you were working on.
And then it happened. The perfect set of rings!
I was instantly bored.
They sit in my jewelry box, as a testament that I could. But I don't wanna.
I wanna make stuff that I can't stop looking at. Stuff that is undeniably handmade. 
Hand Wrought.
I want my stuff to look damaged and asymmetrical.
Dredged up from the sea or dug up from a forgotten time, changed by the depth and heat and moisture of the earth.

When I look at the ancient ear rings from Roman times, their ring is crooked, uneven with varying thicknesses from hammering by hand with hand made tools. Time gave it character and nicks and gauges.

Ancient Roman Ring
I want that for my work.
I want the flaws to symbolize the beauty in being works of progress.
Souls with potential. 
I want the woman who wears my jewelry to feel empowered by its character, when she sees it on her finger to feel self satisfaction, when she hears it clink against her pen, computer keyboard  or cocktail to feel control.
I want her to gesture wildly while she talks so she can see how the ring moves with her hand. Watch it catch the attention of the listener so she can boldly state her opinion or knowledge.

I do not want the weight of the metal to be a status symbol but rather the weight of self awareness.
I hope this makes sense to some of you. I know it doesn't to some and that's okay too.
Jewelry has the gaudy right to simply be pretty without heavy analysis or symbolism. 

I was trying to explain to my neighbor what sort of jewelry I like to make and I used words like encrusted, ancient, used, chewed up. He replied "That doesn't sound very appealing."
Which made me laugh because he is right.
But it is a heck of a lot more freeing to create with abandon rather than try to produce something a machine can make in mere minutes.


  1. Shannon, you said this so beautifully! I fully agree with you!!!! Thank you for saying this! I feel the same way, too!

  2. This is such a great philosophy ... which is borne out in the beautiful rings! Wow! And how freeing! Looking forward to a rendezvous in FL!

  3. "The weight of self awareness" will be clanking around in my head all day. I love that as a description for jewelry! Is that Roman glass in the bottom ring?

  4. Beautifully stated. I understand that completely and beautiful rings.

  5. i know exactly what you mean. my day job is working in a silversmith's studio. everything has to be perfect and just so. three wraps, clean and shiny. perfect, perfect, perfect. i come home and my jewelry has to be grungy and assymetrical and so far away from 'just so'.

    preach it, sister!

  6. Do what you love, or you won't love what you're doing.

  7. You are very talented! I LOVE the look of your rings. Very rustic and used. Great post!

  8. It makes sense to me and I love the look of your rings! I never wear rings but these make me wish I did!

  9. I love your philosophy, and I totally understand what you mean. It is hard to let go of the need for perfection, but once you do it's really freeing! And that applies to all aspects of life :D Your rings have infinitely more beauty and character than one of a thousand perfect copies. Boring!

  10. Love them - every single one :-)

  11. Girlfriend I hear ya. I totally love that look. I think it brings a life to the work, a spirit. It's why I love old African Trade beads. When you hold them you can feel they have a history and soul.

  12. Loved reading your thoughts on creating..not at all 'heavy analysis'..more like 'refreshing insight'. You said it so well..

  13. Love the organic quality of your designs. Free form elements from nature are so much more interesting than machined perfection. A kink in the wire; a fingerprint in the clay; a wobbly circle let us find beauty in reality. Too many things in our lives are artificially enhanced.
    Erin S

  14. Ahh yes a treasure with character. A beautiful thing thats been on a journey which only its cracks and crevices know..its Secrets. I dont blame you! There is nothing more boring then plain and perfect. Well said and the things you make..all have their own tales to tell!

  15. Again.....I soo agree you! I Love the organic look when metal is textured and shows work marks and isn't symetrical....its soo much more apealing then perfection. It LOOKS handmade. I am thinking about taking the R.A.W. challenge on flickr......its a big commitment though, a ring a week for a year...but how fun it could be! Imagine all those rings:)

  16. I hear you, Shannon. It is wabi sabi...

  17. Great rings. Great outlook!! You say it so well.

  18. It certainly appeals to me. I love the weathered, rusty, aged look--anything that looks like it's been dug up from the earth after having lain there for hundreds of years. It has some secret history that is so much more interesting than new and shiny.

  19. Yum. It sounds appealing to me! I am glad that I went back in time to find this post. I have a ring that is just that... flawed, chunky, asymmetrical, unbalanced. I love it. I am excited that you are doing rings. Any chance they will be listed for sale? These are just the sort that I gravitate to. Because I want to be a woman of power with a ring that says look at me, I am unique, I am different, I am unlike anything you have seen yet.

    Enjoy the day!

  20. Well said! It's an unending quest for me - finding the right words to describe my work that, like yours, is more about feeling than speaking. There's 'crunchy', 'dug up', 'archaeological find', for pages.
    Anyway, lovely post and beautiful thoughts that are a perfect complement to your work.
    best - kvk
    work verification - 'undiz' maybe that could describe it as well

  21. I read this to my husband...we both laughed...I have a similar vision...he doesn't really get it lol...but he helps me a ton!

  22. Girl, you sure as hell can write! I am so totally with you on this! THIS is what is meant by "making it your own"! It tells a story--yours, not anybody else's. Thanks for expressing it so clearly!

  23. Made with true heart is the only way to go and you do it so well!


  24. AMEN SISTER!!!!! :) After jurying for an art guild years ago, I recieved a SCATHING review. Out of about 15-20 comments, there were 2 decent ones - Minimum use of purchased materials, and consistency in overall theme or expression. BUT, they'd already dinged me on my "expression" elsewhere. I had remarks like "sand sand sand", "file file file" "needs more polish" "too rustic"... practic metalsmithing techniques more, needs balance, etc etc. After re-reading it over and over, and having my own little pity party, it finally got funny. THey just didn't get it. They just didn't like my art. And that's ok. I don't WANT it to be perfect. I just want it to be perfect to me. And hopefully someone else will appreciate that. Your jewelry Shannon, is perfectly crusty. Perfectly rugged and aged. It's absolutely GORGEOUS!! And I LOVE my ring!! THanks for this great post.


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