I’m a collector of quotes. One of my favorite quotes was written by Brenda Laurel, a brilliant researcher and writer, among other accomplishments:

“A design isn’t finished until someone is using it.”

I’ve often thought about this statement when I’m working on a piece of jewelry.

For me, the creative process, though perhaps not the same every time, usually involves all the same design elements. Thoughts, sights and feelings inspire shape, color and form. If I’m feeling like I can’t see a piece completely I will then draw it out loosely onto a piece of paper. I don’t know why I don’t include this step more often because it’s a clean and sure bit of designing.

Most recently this sketch, became this necklace called “Life Force.”

​Endless Possibilities in Design

Sometimes, it’s at this stage of the making where specific colors are chosen, glass rods picked out and lined up strategically beside me at my work station. Most times, the color choice is intuitive, without a lot of thought – just a quick sorting through my glass.

The torch is then lit and the oxygen concentrator brought to life, filling my studio space with its comforting rhythmic hum and tick. I like to work to music or sometimes with just the window open to hear the birds and the day’s business.

I then create little glassy orbs by winding the molten glass around a clay-coated stainless steel mandrel, then further designing by using previously pulled strings of glass, or crushed glass, or bits of precious metals and so much more.

The Design Comes to Life

What can be done at this stage is endless and I run the risk of putting you to sleep if I were to begin down that road! It is precisely these countless possibilities that make this form of art infinitely interesting to me.

Once a bead is finished at the torch, it’s quickly placed into a hot kiln and annealed overnight. Normally, I will make enough beads at a session so that I could possibly complete one or two pieces of jewelry the next day.

The following morning the beads must be soaked while on the mandrel, then removed from the steel rod and the clay cleaned from the center hole. Admittedly, we have come to one single part of the process that I would happily hire out if I happened to be a woman of means.

Adding the Finishing Touches

The beads are then washed again, dried and laid out on my work desk, ready to be paired with a stone and a metal for the finished piece of jewelry. Lately, I most always choose turquoise and silver.

I’ve recently begun to fabricate my own clasps. This step comes after the piece has been partially created so that I can more easily “see” the finished clasp in my mind before I begin. I usually do the metal work on another day, but sometimes I’m so excited to finish a piece and I’ll do it all in one long day.

Letting My Creation into the World

My work is sold online and through physical galleries. Both require me to take photos first. So, the next step in this process is the beauty shot and then the photo editing or computer work.

It’s another day of work separate from the glass itself. In a day, I can shoot one or two pieces, next photo edit, write up the script for each piece, then upload all and list them online, or I will email a specific gallery if I think it would be something they’d like in their collection.

A Wise Man Once Said, “No Man is an Island”

All of this work means nothing. All the work that is lovingly put into each of my designs means very little if not for the woman at the other end. She is the one who looks at the finished bracelet and envisions it on her wrist or the necklace around her neck and then wants it enough to acquire it.

This is the delicious swirl of symbiotic energy that must be completed for each design to be truly finished or complete.

Indeed, a design isn’t finished until someone else is using it, or has enjoyed it in some way. I think there may be a wonderful life metaphor in there somewhere.

Have you ever stood in front of a painting and felt like you’ve shared something intimate with the artist? Do you own a piece of jewelry that has inexplicably become a favorite or a good luck piece? What are the wonderful examples of design with which you surround yourself? Please share in the comments.

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