the medium and the message

There's so much going on in my little old brain right now ... settling into my new paradigm
is proving a bit of a challenge, albeit a pretty sweet one.  It's been fun going through my "potential accounts" Instagram feeds and clicking "unfollow" or "unlike" on Facebook ... no need to go there anymore, done deal, moving on, letting go.  But I'm having a hard time settling down or setting any kind of daily routine.  In general, I'm not much for routines.  My only for sure daily routine is making and consuming at least 2 big mugs of tea ... not terribly inspiring, but very yummy and comforting.  So, throughout my days I take deep breaths and allow myself this time of transition.  

A bit befuddled maybe, but I've not been idle ... I've been working on assorted projects to make the switch in my online shop, pondering formats, what to keep and what to archive.  Mainly, I've been taking pics of all the new work that was going to be farmed out to various consignment accounts, but is now staying right here.  I'm very excited about that and hoping to start rolling out the changes to the site by next week.  

One thing I do want to do on a regular basis is write posts to this journal ... blogs are not particularly fashionable these days, but I feel like I've got stories to tell and progress, be it forward or back, to share. 

So that's where I am today ...

You may recall, in the week before my big decision I had a long conversation with a fellow jewelry designer.  What I didn’t mention is that she uses metal clay for big part of her collection.  Jewelry designers who do a large wholesale business and use metal clay as a primary medium are a rare breed.  Ones who use metal clay and actually admit it are an even rarer breed.  

Metal clay is still such a new medium.  It’s been around for over 20 years, but in the realm of jewelry making techniques, that’s the blink of an eye.  Just the name of the material is confusing to the average person on the street.  It’s a hard concept to grasp … it’s clay, but it’s metal and where does the clay go and is it really metal and how does that all happen and do you mix it up and what is it again?  Start talking about fine silver versus sterling silver or base metals vs precious and people can start to glaze over.

Okay, so back to my metal clay jewelry friend.  Our discussion was mainly about doing wholesale shows.  But in discussing our shared medium, she was adamant that, when talking to potential buyers, not mentioning anything to do with “metal clay” and that it’s so misunderstood, it’s easier to just not go there … just say the work is “fabricated."  Sort of … but in the correct usage of the word in the metalsmithing world, incorrect.  I didn’t agree with her, but kept quiet.

I’ve been having variations on this conversation for almost 20 years.  Do I tell people how my work is really made or, bottom line, do they even care?

 my medium, my passion ...

my medium, my passion ...

I always choose, yes … yes, tell people how my work is made.  I share my process with great joy and enthusiasm ... those are my fingerprints in there, as I say, "quite literally the hand of the maker."  And, yes, I believe the people who buy my work really do care how it’s made.  It’s what sets my work apart and an essential piece of who I am as a maker.

If inspired and talented makers continue to stay mum about using metal clay, it will never take its place as a legitimate medium and will spend even longer languishing in the minds of consumers as merely a hobbyist’s toy.  Like any medium, be it ceramic or polymer or metal clay, paint or stone or steel, there will always be hobbyists along with consummate professionals.  It’s up to the makers to master their chosen medium, celebrate its unique properties and educate the public.

That’s been my crusade for almost 20 years, elevate my medium and spread my enthusiastic message.  This is what I do, this is who I am and I’m not backing down now.

with deep gratitude - kvk