Sunday, July 19, 2009

The value of being different

by Heather Marrow of Studio DTQ

Have you ever found a beautiful cast or mass produced component whether online, in a store or from a show that you just had to have, and once you got it home, realized you have to clean, sand or "fix" it before it was "perfect?" I have...many times. It was one of the main reasons I decided to make my own connectors, embellishments, toggles... jewelry components in general. I also decided if I had to keep modifying something else's work, I might as well be making my own! My thought process is this: if I make my own stuff, I can control what I’m creating and offer something truly unique and to me, MY vision makes what I do worth, well, DOING.

Put another way, haven't you ever looked at an item and thought..."I’d absolutely love this sweater if it were longer." Or, "If this handbag had "this" texture, I’d buy it in a second." That same situation applies for me and clasps, connectors and toggles -oh my! (I find nothing wrong with channeling a little Judy Garland, here. Those shoes were TDF!) Settling is never an option for me and compels me when I create components. It's an energy you have to strive for; you want to see this thing come to life.

Maybe this will help. I have a little set of guidelines I use for creating components:
  1. Keep with a theme, texture or color. Obvious, but not always so...
  2. What do I want to say with this design? Goth, Romantic, Energy, etc....
  3. My imagination is my ONLY limit! Will mixing these two elements implode the sun? (Just kidding!)
While making jewelry and gifts, I find the more handmade components I incorporate in a particular piece, the stronger the emotion or mood is stirred. And by controlling which feelings are evoked, I also control the continuity of my vision and define a clearer meaning from its composition.

Being the creator of said part, I dictate the size, the materials used, etc- the whole feel of the jewelry is transformed into what I want to see. Plus, I know the measure of the quality, what material the component is made of and how well it is constructed. As an artist, "One of a Kind" is king and I like to believe the more parts I can manufacture, modify or create myself, the more special my creation becomes- to me and to the person who takes it home.

Talking with the perspective customer, I can relate more confidence in my work; and in turn, they feel better about their purchase as they are more informed. They not only walk away with a wonderful design, they have a richer story that can be told about it, as well. Complicated? Maybe. A stronger truth? Absolutely.

I use copper or sterling silver and if the wind shifts, I mix them. The wind can shift again and I could use another material...who knows? Being fluid is being creative in my book. Once I decide what component I want to make then I take my time with its construction; possibly as long as three hours, depending on what I want it to look like, or the emotion I want to covey and the process I want to use. Even small parts need the proper thought and attention to detail. If the component is the focal of my work, and it has been in the past, it can take longer to create.

I don't have a set routine here; I may have an idea in my head and sketch it out or work on the fly and create as I go along. Sometimes spontaneity "works" and I only need to envision and create once. Sometimes I have the finished project elude me or just not "gel" and have to scrap what I'm working on altogether; it isn't a's art.

And I don't consider it a waste of time if it doesn't work out, either. First and foremost- I don't want to offer anything to anyone I won't use myself so it must have quality to its construction, function and form. And a little playfulness doesn't hurt either! I do get in my own way at times, especially with the business side of things. The ability to be more organized is more desirable; but I'm not sure it wouldn't also take away from my creative process. A sacrifice, but a willing one, for me to be sure. Tell that to my messy bench!

Creating "art with heart" is gratifying to me; it's the adventure of discovery that makes me pick up my tools everyday. Who doesn't love an adventure? So, if it speaks to whoever is holding it, looking at it online or studying it in a book, I win. I've made a connection to that person. And to me, that's a major rush!

The SATeam blog features artisan handmade creations by the etsy starving artists jewelry team. SATeam members create handcrafted jewelry and beads. More information about our team and its current etsy shop owner members can be found at


galadryl said...

That is a wonderful article. Thank you very much.

casualgal said...

Great article Heather!!

Nicole said...

Great article! OAAK pieces have personality all their own, art with heart is a great way to describe your work.

Carole said...

Ditto for everything Heather said. I like to make my own components when I can firstly, because then I can have exactly what I wanted, and secondly, then I don't have to wait.

Jennifer Cameron said...

What a wonderful article. I prefer to make as many of my own components as well.

Cat said...

That was so interesting and so well written, thanks!

Laurel said...

Nicely done! It makes me feel like I know you so much better now :D

studiodtq said...

I hope the article was informative!
Thanks to all for your lovely comments!

Bonnie said...

Great article Heather! I make many of my own components too. Mostly because I am impatient and don't want to wait to pick one out!

bebdesigns said...

Great article!