It usually starts with a subject I become interested in. I pick up one book, will find a few lines that conjure up an image, and off I go. I have an extremely vivid imagination and it’s kind of like a beast that I need to keep feeding.
I grew up with travel in my life and those experiences can be traced throughout my jewelry. It almost felt a shame to not talk about travel through my jewelry since I traveled so much with my parents as a kid. Since the pandemic, I've been traveling through the internet. I take virtual museum tours, I 'walk' down streets in Google Maps, and I save all these places on my Google account as if I were to see them in person. Before the pandemic, I had gone to Greece and Italy to gather inspiration and to expand on my jewelry skills. It's something that I think is essential to how I design, and to how it all begins.
As much as I love travel, one thing that’s interesting about my process is that I have to live in New Mexico’s wide open spaces to allow my brain to think clearly. The expanse and the openness here allows the memories and the lectures and the readings to brew into jewelry designs. I can't explain it, but it's an important element to my creations. I thrive with the balance of being abroad and then coming home.
For me, once I got into a subject like history, I never really stop reading. I pick up one book and then another and then scour the internet for more details to get leads on other thoughts/tangents. And I think that’s the thing that’s so special about history is that once you start to understand the basics, then you start to really dig deep and focus on an area or a time period or a time period in a specific area that affected a certain group of people. You begin refining and that sort of relationship to a subject forces you to really look at the details, and it’s the details that make up a piece of jewelry.
I’m not the type of person to envision a single piece of jewelry, but rather a body of work. I can see a series of pieces coming together to create a whole. To get to a finished product though takes months. While working on one collection, ideas for a new one will start surfacing as I’m working. An idea that recently popped into my head that I’d be making two years from now (because I already have two other collections set out to finish before approaching this one) would be to select lines from traditional Puerto Rican music and turn them into earrings somehow. I’ve been wanting to make a collection centered around Puerto Rico for many years, but every idea I’ve had has always seemed obvious but this one would be really fun.
If I were to pursue it, I’d start by listening to music and selecting the songs I liked best. I think I would make something inspired by the tempo, the rhythm, the instruments, the setting in which these traditional songs take place. I would write down the lines that conjure the most vivid images and then start drawing outlines of earrings. I like to draw the basic forms first and then start to fill in with the specifics where I would oil paint an image.
After those steps, I go about gathering materials. This could be gems, wood varieties, paints, gold leaf, metals, enamel colors. Sometimes I approach one design at a time but usually I do the mundane tasks first to try to make the creating part go smoothly. This looks like cutting wire to melt into granules so that I have a nice stash on hand, or twisting wire, or making all the bezels for the gems that I’ll include in a collection, or sawing all the wood panels into their forms and prepping them with gesso so that they can be ready for oil paint. It helps tremendously to have all those steps finished so that I can take my time with other steps like the oil painting.
And that’s just how a collection starts. There’s still setting stones, preserving the paintings, soldering everything together, polishing, photographing, setting prices, listing each one with a description, and then putting it out into the world. And then, it starts all over again. It truly is one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done, I love everything about jewelry and this business.
Writing Prompt No. 4
Describe what the beginning of a design or what you have to do to start making a piece. This is a great way to share your journal or sketchbook with photos, your work space as you're putting ideas together, a mood board, or whatever gets you inspired/started. What sparks your designs? Where do you go for inspiration? How do you stay inspired? Do you usually have the materials on hand, or are you experimental with every piece that you make?
In a later post, we'll talk about process so this isn't a process post. This is about your ideas, the things that live in your head that you turn to paper or to metal or on to canvas. This could even be about how your entire creative journey started for you.
As always, you can use the same title I've used for your blog post, email newsletter, or caption for social media. This content is designed to encourage 'community over competition' and I'd love to read your response to these prompts. You can send me a link or forward me your email newsletter to my email, email@example.com. I will share my favorites on IG stories and/or right here on my website.
Thanks so much. The next prompt will be posted on February 23rd.
Stay tuned and stay well,