20 years ago I picked up a small collection of beads, placed them on some wire and string, and made a few basic bracelets. The result was beautiful, I had created something wonderful in a such a simple way, but that was just the beginning, those simple string and wire bracelets were the start of a life long pattern and an on going quest to find my style.
The first real quest was colour and texture. When you start making jewellery the techniques you use are simple, therefore the only way to make it pop is to use the colours, textures and shapes of the bead. You start to learn what you like and what comes together for you. For me the real colour schemes always seem to work with the blues, greens and purples, mix those with gold, silver or black and you have a lot of the colours I work with when putting together new designs or working on something for myself.
But finding your way is never that easy…after making jewellery just for fun I started to have too much of it, therefore I started to off-load some at cost, practicing with new colour schemes and textures, the feedback was great on them, but by now I wanted to start making more, beads were great but there were so many other things you could work with to make jewellery, that was when I started to work with eye-pins and charms, mixing shapes and styles, creating links and seeing what fit.
Along the way I discovered steampunk, I found that though I loved the style I wanted to create something that felt steampunk but could cross genres, I also still loved over the top styles and more feminine jewellery. This was the birth of my signature style with the bronze, charms and dangling chains. I kept the mechanical look out of it, mostly, and used other themes from steampunk and Victoriana to build my look. This ended up meaning I created elaborate necklaces, with drapes of chains, huge octopus charms, keys, splashes of reds and greens, and maybe just a hint of the gothic.
But along with the charms and the chain, beading was always going to be my first love, I started to learn simple bead-weaving stitches, and found there were limitless things I could make. I absorbed everything I could and eventually discovered cabochons, these gorgeous, flat backed gemstones were stunning and when combined with beads there was no going back. I loved the style of them, the way you could bring out colours and combining them together. Thanks to others I had found a new addition to my style.
My jewellery was starting to feel like my own, and when people were wearing certain pieces they were being asked if I made that. Things were coming together.
This does not mean that I do not play outside of this style, my favourite thing to do is to work on commissions, this way I get to talk to a client and through combining my style with their needs and tastes I get something I would never have created on my own. I often create for those that wear costumes, steampunks, LARPers, cosplayers, theatre groups and more. This means I get to play with different eras, styles and colour schemes. I am inspired by the creations and visions of others.
For any artist we know that where we start isn’t always where we end up, our style will change over time as we learn and as we play. My advice to any jewellery artist starting to find their way and their style is not to worry, play, pick up those beads, buy those crystals, grab a cabochon, you never know what you might find you love to create.
So for all you artists out there, how are you finding your style, what is your colour scheme, what is it that builds your creative passions? I would love to hear from you.