Tuesday, May 10, 2011

In praise of small things

Reading the blogs of my two favourite girls recently, there was a similarity mentioned, that details make the difference. Fanci spoke about having the good supplies making your work easier, and Corvid singled out a tiny handmade nail from a parcel (from Fanci, delightfully enough- aren't we the three fates!) and mused on what I'd said in an old convo- that God is in the details.

So I figured I'd make a post about it. It's a tutorial sort of, it's also sort of a love letter to supplies. We all love supplies, there's no doubt about it. Business may boom, business may suck- we might have a creative drought or an art flood- whatever the circumstances, we almost always never say no to new supplies.

A History of Galactic Warfare, Vol.I

When I finally ordered the crystals you saw in the supply post recently, I felt a wave of joy. I've been putting off buying crystals for a long time because of my ethics- I pride myself that a lot of my supply is second-hand in some way, and these crystals are not. I don't know who made them, what country they were mined in and even how they were mined. I searched and found there really was no alternative.

ethically obtained crystals- while they're my preferred choice, they don't come drilled, nor do they have the clarity that I need.

I could just use vintage beads that looked like clear quartz, especially since most of it was 'lucite' (it's plastic, people- own it) and that just doesn't compare with the weight, tonal variations and shine of rock. But the muse doesn't understand ethics. All she knows is there are things she MUST have me make, and if crystals are an unavoidable part of that, so be it. We must humour honour the muse.

Anyway...let's see some details.


3 blue beads. The first is just a plain round blue bead- taken from a cheap thrift necklace. The 2nd one is a wobbly hand-cast one from a vintage Indian string. The 3rd one is an antique faceted bead, made with a metallic finish and hand-cut somewhere around 1900. They look different up close like this, and while you might think any blue bead will do when you want one, I promise you these subtle variations make a difference in your work.

4 black beads- well no, not exactly black. Some black beads when held to the light will be purple, brown, blue or green, since it is hard to get a true black when any kind of transparency is involved. The 1st one is a big-holed one from India, roughly made. The 2nd is a neat and tidy factory bead, the 3rd is a Roman bead (yes, as in made by ancient Romans) and the 4th is a faceted metallic of unknown age.

3 clear beads- a frosted oval, a pink-tinged rose quartz , a faceted primitive sand cast.

Okay so you're getting the picture- what bead you use depends on the look and feel of your finished piece, and by choosing just the right (and not necessarily the more expensive) bead, you're changing the face of your piece enormously.

Let's see it in action!


An earring. Nice enough- good tarnish detail on the bow. But with a factory-made ear hook and a plastic bead...well, there's not a lot of joy there, huh? So take out that factory hook and replace it with a hand-made one, and swap out the plastic bead and put in a glass one on a handmade headpin.


Suddenly you have something that looks special, even though the ingredients aren't.


On the left- basic headpin, factory hook. On the right- handmade hook, handmade wrapped headpin. Maybe 10c difference in manufacturing cost. Which one would you pay $25 a pair for?

Detail is so so SO important in your work. If you want to make pretty things and do well from it, then go ahead and use whatever you want, I'm not saying that's bad. But if you want your work to really stand out, to look handmade, to look artisan, to look unique - get the details. Trust me when I say this- it's half the work done for you! All your awesome ideas will look 200% better because you've listened to the details.

The North- earrings made just that little bit more special with unique crackle beads

Now go buy some pretty things!

Tomorrow I shall show you something else- the method I use when working at my desk. It's a process that has helped me organise my creative thoughts (as if you really could) to such a degree than I'm hoping in sharing it, it might work for you as it does for me.

6 comments:

Corvid Delights said...

That third photo you have up with the ethically obtained crystals is one of the prettiest photographs I have seen. Look how creamy white some of those opaque crystal points are! A very insightful post on detail. Handmade ear hooks and head pins really do make such a difference. Can't wait to see the next blog.

Jill said...

I have to agree with you, I've always made nearly all the parts of any given piece for my work. Every part is harmonious with every other. It's such a pleasure too, to be creatively self-sufficient.

Lisa @FishyFaceDesigns said...

I always say each pice tells a story...Most times I wish I knew the story but often try to imagine. Your love and passion for your jewelry comes out thru your post and in every piece I have seen on your blog! Love it!
Take care!

Little Brown Sparrow said...

@Corvid Delights There is a really nice creamy frost to those quartz points, I've never seen anything like it.

fanciful devices said...

look at you all bloggety all the sudden! I love yr pics... and also, taking pics super close-up makes everything look more beautiful. i've tried to tell folks about the earring wire thing, some folks are like 'im not worried about that little part' and then wonder why they cant make stuff as nice as mine. all the details count!

emma said...

Hihi - a big fan here in the Uk,I've followed your blog for ages. Also would love to hear more about your creative process if you still plan to share.