Be a Player: The Value of Playing for Creativity and Jewelry Design

I read something on Facebook recently about the value and effect of play on creativity. It struck a chord with me immediately, as I'd been wondering why I hadn't been inspired to make anything in awhile. What had happened to my . . . what shall I call it, my mojo? Even with a desk full of gorgeous jewelry-making supplies and inspiring jewelry design books and mags, I was inexplicably lagging.

 

But as soon as I read the quote about play, that little light bulb over my head lit up and I remembered that's where my successes come from, those little serendipity jewelry designs that just snap together during . . . play. It's the times when I sit down at my work table with nothing in particular planned and just start piecing things together, putting this stone with that filigree or wondering how these bits would look layered over those baubles in a bezel full of resin. . . .

 

So last weekend, when the stifling heat of a southern Louisiana summer gave way to precious rain–albeit stay-inside-rain–I knew it was time to play. I played with the electroforming kit loaned to me by a friend months ago–why I waited so long, I have no idea–and I electroplated everything I could get my hands on. Then I started playing with patinas to add that pretty verdigris on the copper that I love so much.

During the electroforming waiting times, I played with resin. I filled bezels with pearls and resin, I layered papers and other tidbits into collage art for a larger bezel, and I oh-so-slowly managed to get a dried raspberry-colored little clover flower embedded in resin without too many bubbles. (There are some bubbles, but I don't even care, because the little thing is adorable anyway.) I've been wanting to try that since I was awed and inspired by Sylwia Calus's resin-embedded dandelions in her sisicata shop on Etsy.

I also played with wire. Inspired by Lilian Chen's big bold wire designs, I twisted some super-shiny half-round wire into flower upon flower, simple five-petal flowers with those big loopy childlike petals. I love how the half-round wire shines, and I don't know why or how but I swear it's easier to work with, "freehand" that is, than round wire . . . something I wouldn't have known had I not played with it with my bare hands.

It didn't take long until I got the urge to whack something–it seems hammering is never far away from a metalsmith's mind–so I experimented with thinning the ends of some new copper wire. I'd been meaning to test the theory I'd always heard, that if you hammer wires that are overlapping, they'll break. So I loosely braided some of the copper wire and whacked on it awhile, until the wires felt that they were fusing together. It didn't break, but when I tried to curve it around a ring mandrel, it did bend a little too sharply in the overlapping areas, making me worry that it might break if I pushed it. Lesson learned!

I had a great weekend playing with resin, wire, hammers, mandrels, and of course electroforming–and I ended up with some neat projects that you'll see in the future on JMD. More importantly, I feel like I got my "mojo" back and, perhaps most importantly, I reminded myself of the importance of play when it comes to designing jewelry or creative endeavors of any kind. So play, friends! Play to your heart's content. You never know what will come out of it.

And, in the middle of all that playing, you might find that you need a little inspiration–or just feel like seeing how other designers play and create jewelry. Our jewelry design DVD, Successful Jewelry: Design Idea to Wearable Art, is a great place to do all of that, as it takes you into the studios of three successful metalworkers (Layne Freedline, Steven Ford, and Helen Driggs), who share their designs and the thought process and meanings behind them. It's available as a DVD or as an instant download, for those of you who want to play RIGHT NOW!

Do you believe in the power of playing for your creativity? How do you get your mojo going when it comes to jewelry design? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

My resources:
wire:
Parawire
resin: ICE Resin by Susan Lenart Kazmer and MagicGlos by Lisa Pavelka
patina: Swellegant by Christi Friesen
bezels: Nunn Design and Art Mechanique by Susan Lenart Kazmer
Lilian Chen's Gold Gatsby Design on Facebook
Sylwia Calus's
sisicata Etsy shop

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