Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Farpoints: The beauty of fails

Many things draw me to jewelry making, but some of the larger things are the relative smallness of the components and fast payoff of completion, as well as a sense of boundary-less-ness with its permissive jumble of disciplines and dynamics.

For me, making jewelry seems to be the perfect art genre. In it I find elements of and allusions to fashion, mixed media collage, sculpture, and alchemy, all of which I've had great interest in but never the fortitude or passion enough to truly focus on any of them for any serious study or effort. There's also ample freedom for conceptualism, which is a huge part of my creative process. That sounds pretty abstract, and it is, but I find even though it may be abstract and overly and perhaps stupidly intellectualized, I can use it my own way and create some tangible things, again relying on the smallness of components and ease of completion.

The alchemy aspect is becoming a big part of it for me as I have turned to altering exisiting and creating components from scratch. I make a lot of mistakes and have a lot of fails, and of course that's built-in. The other thing that drives me is the conceptual part. I've had a lot of ideas for larger projects, and although I haven't been able to devote enough time and energy to follow through with anything totally, I end up with a lot of stand-alone pieces of jewelry. I thought I'd share a couple.

The first here, pictured above, is a headband. I have a larger, project idea, possibly even for a book eventually, of making jewelry pieces based on those in Star Trek. Here is the inspiration below: Deanna Troi's fabulously just-post-disco-1987's-vision-of-the-distant-future metallic braided headband from Encounter at Farpoint, the very first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

I remember the 'metallic' trend oh so well. I had several metallic shirts, and there was one that was basically unwearable because it was literally constructed with metal threads. So anyway, I knew exactly what I wanted to use to make the headband to lend it a sense of authenticity: a metallic shirt from 1987.

Didn't turn out so great, as the metallic threads reverted to their true nature upon being stripped--which is apparently tinsel. I also had no idea how to braid it and my first attempts were really dumb, I mean far dumber than you see here--so I scrapped the braiding and simply macramed two strips using the hairband base as the middle cord. The result is that it worked out structurally and now I at least know how to pretty easily make a fancy hairband. I just need to find the right fabric to fashion the Farpoint hairband.

Next, these, another type of far 'point':
Faux sugar beads. I've made beads in the past using faux frit, ground up polymer clay and glitter on resin and poly beads, but I really wanted to try to get the look using real glass. I have a lampwork kit that I haven't even opened yet, so obviously I could just dig that out and teach myself how to make actual sugar beads, or order them--but it's not about that; I have a lot of sugar beads and know I can acquire them. I just like the challenge of fashioning a weird bastardized version of something from materials not really intended for such. I want to make an effigy of sugar beads, a weird voodoo doll of them, not actual sugar beads.

Anyway, here I used a base of Indian glass beads with dimensional black fabric paint as the faux frit. It looked a lot better before it dried. I tried to mimic the splattering of real frit, but it seems too accidental to be mimicked by hand with placements. It needs to go on randomly to achieve the fractal pattern. Also, there isn't enough variation in texture or size of frit. I'm going to add some black glitter and dried ground polymer clay to the mix and also let go of wanting to have a glass bead base because it just does not affix permanently even with a sealant. I'll use a polymer clay base. Always, I go back to polymer.


  1. This idea of taking something (a sugar bead) and making it out of completely different ingredients, is fascinating! I can't wait to see the finished polymer beads.

  2. A really great post, I like your thorough explanation on what draws you to jewelry making and how you are able to explore all these different mediums on an approachable scale. I have long admired the eclecticism in your shop, and how you have very different representations of multiple genres. Having struggled with direction and focus and the inability to commit to just one streamlined cohesive "look" (that Etsy encourages) it is always thrilling for me to see variety, trials and failures. Your background wallpaper looks really cool also.

  3. Fascinating thought process and experiment...

  4. Thanks for your comments, guys. Stregata and Alice, I will definitely be posting the final version of the sugar beads! While I was digging for something a couple days ago, I came across some super tiny microbead holeless things I bought--totally forgot about them. So that is going to make them really give them the look, I think.

    Corvid, thanks--I definitely would struggle with cohesive and streamlining, not only in my own production but also especially in my Etsy shop, as I feel I have two distinct customer bases interested in two different types of offerings. I even considered opening an additional shop to address it, but since I already have a vintage shop I felt like I would just start getting too compartmentalized and it would overly complicate things and/or be too indulgent with that 'conceptual' dynamic I deal with. Got to keep that in line.

  5. i like the black faux beads...all of your beads are so amazing...love them. can't wait though, to see the finished bead project!