I feel very fortunate as a bead and found object jewellery designer-maker (try saying that quickly!), to work with not only some fascinating beads and objects, but some true works of art. It's funny - it's something I've been musing on a lot as I begin to pick up my silver-smithing skills again this year, and think about dabbling in lampwork and possibly even polymer as the year progresses. I have always loved to work with things that already exist, even when creating my own original compositions. As a musician - something I pick up whenever I can - I sang and played pieces which were already composed - pieces of music which had often existed for 100s of years. The challenge is to make your performance worthy of the composer's art, to bring not necessarily something new in my opinion (originality does not always mean the best and most authentic version of something!) but to bring yourself to the music, in the moment - to create something of beauty and share it with others.
As well as performing, I did a lot of composition during my years studying music. I love sitting down with a blank sheet of manuscript and a piano, and creating something from scratch - from a set of notes that many, many others have worked with before and will do in the future, and come up with something new. Something you. It's magical, and I'll be honest - a lot more strenuous (at least for me!) than whipping up a pair of pretty earrings!
Even with composing music however, my favourite thing to do was and is to set words. Words! I just love them. Other people's words, never my own (I fear I have very little talent there, my wordsmith-ness extends to this blog and not much further). To respond to something already in existence. It really is marvellous to work with poems and words, and transform them into something of myself.
And that's how I feel with beads. If you're a frequent reader here, you'll know that along with making my own handwoven beads, I also love to work with as many other bead artists' handmade beads in different media, as I can get my hands on!
Here's one of my latest pieces - a handmade necklace featuring handmade art beads from Soul Silver (the polka dot turquoise lampwork tab up the right-hand side), a pewter swirl hook clasp from Green Girl Studios, and a wonderfully grungy etched lampwork glass heart from Helen Chalmers. How lucky am I that can not only work with Sally Soul Silver and Helen's beads, but also call them my friends? We are often craft fair buddies. I've added in a couple of my own handwoven rondelles, and a whole bunch of pressed glass beads and tiny glass seed beads.
As for Looking Out? These colours seemed to me to be a typical Scottish sea scene (on a bright day, mind!). Vivid, deep hues of the sea and the sky, and dark, foreboding colours of the rocks and possibly/probably a forbidding sky somewhere. What is more inspiring than the sea? But the title also strikes me as particularly apt for my way of working. Not just looking inwards to my own artist's soul, but outwards to the art that exists before my eyes - responding to that which already is.