I find myself exploring the same images again and again, always trying to clothe them in new form, in hopes of more closely expressing their essence as I understand it.
In my new "Lotus/Alhambra" brooch, I unite two images that have fascinated me for some time, one, of a lotus flower, and the second, of the mosaics at the Alhambra in Spain.
The design is abstract, but not without real-world connections. For me, the red European glass beads recall both the mosaics at the Alhambra in Spain, and the petals of a lotus flower, scattered on a lotus pond. I see the small sterling tendrils as drops of dew or lotus seeds.
It would have been wiser, I'm sure, to cast the 25 sterling silver bezels that house the red beads, but I decided to fabricate them one by one. This introduced imperfections of size and shape which I really like. There is a meditative quality to this kind of repetitive metal work, and the hours pass quickly...although the work can be hard on the hands!
It would surely have been wiser to make this piece smaller, but I allowed it to adopt its own scale. Over the years I've realized that it's better to create with a light touch rather than a heavy hand, to let the piece lead me to where it needs to go, rather than impose a predetermined direction. I follow a path of creativity that is illuminated partly by my own ideas, partly by the demands of the materials, and partly by a mysterious, ineffable something else. Trusting the path is part of the process.
Actually I did make a smaller version of this brooch in 2015, but I didn't photograph it. That version was very different, in that all of the bezels sat flat, on the same plane, with only two or three sterling elements, situated between rather than above the bezels. I wanted this version to be different, so I situated the bezels at angles, and floated more sterling elements between and above them.
Below, an image of the brooch above in process, as I worked to lay out the design on a battered old soldering board. Next, I hope to make a third version, maybe incorporating other sterling silver elements. Maybe a bit smaller too, so it's lighter to wear, and less labor-intensive.
People often ask me, "How long did it take you to make that?" I don't tally my hours, so I don't have a good answer.
"About a week," would be one answer. "The last 30 years," would be another, for I am approaching my 30th anniversary as a full-time studio jeweler, and I had neither the design ideas nor the technical ability for this kind of work when I first started out. A third answer might involve my maternal grandmother, a gifted colorist, or my maternal grandfather, a civil engineer, because a love of design also enriched their lives and careers.
Another new piece is the "Reversible Cantilevered Alhambra" Necklace, shown below. Getting the sections to glide over one another smoothly posed an engineering challenge that I was able to solve by fabricating tiny sterling silver connectors. The connectors also allowed me to make the necklace reversible.