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watercolorsI can recall one of the first craft projects I made completely on my own. My favorite class in elementary school was Art. In that class, I didn’t need to worry about getting things “right” or “wrong”. It was also fine by my teacher when after she gave the class the assignment – that it was then up to each of us as to how to go about getting the end result. Don’t get me wrong – we weren’t a bunch of third graders running amok. She had a purpose to her lack of direction, it allowed each child to develop their own set of “rules” to get the results they desired – and I thank her for it tremendously. It was at that point in my life that I believe my “creative gene” was – well, unleashed. I started small, with my very own paper mache hand puppet. I recall learning how to sew a modified “mitten” which would serve as the body for my character. Since I decided on a clown, I had little to worry about and I would only have to concern myself with painting the face white and add the classic features from there – or so I thought. As a child, I always “over thought” things and would ask the teacher for approval – what I got, was more along the lines of my first taste at artistic freedom to just create. When I asked her should I make red or purple hair, her answer was – yes. Perplexed by the lack of direction, I recall asking about red lips and being told why not yellow lips. OK, now I was really confused because up to this point in my life I had been taught the basics – sky = blue, grass = green …but now I was being given permission encouraged outright to go against the norm – and I loved it!

ppp_dressThat first dip in the creative pool …was followed up by a number of years of Christmas list requests for art supplies to encourage my painting and drawing addiction – and mom and dad never said no. Then, at the age of 16, I received my first sewing machine. While others my age were getting cars – I loved my sewing machine because it meant “freedom” in a different way. Now I could wear my  “creations”. It took a while for me to realize that patterns were made for a reason, but once that notion took hold – there was no holding me back. During my college years and for a number of years after – I would make most of my clothes – think Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink. If I saw something in a store and knew I couldn’t afford it, I would try to make it instead. I then moved away from clothes and into making hand sewn scarves and handbags. That included a few years of “off-shoot crafting” in the world of knitting – but I learned that it took patience to knit. I still dabble in it occasionally, but only when I have time. Working at making most, if not all, of my accessories set the stage for my real passion … jewelry making. With sewing and knitting, it can take hours (days, weeks – get my drift) to complete a project. With my jewelry – it’s almost instant gratification.

enamelsMy passion for jewelry making went from working with beads (size 11 seed beads can make you go blind – I think I see a post or book title in that), learning to work with Chinese Knotting Cord and a Kumihimo disk, to now – playing with fire. A torch, some copper blanks and enamel powder can be a girls best friend! I love that most of the techniques I’ve learned over the years can cross-over and be combined with newer techniques. For instance, I incorporate some basic beading and jewelry making techniques with my current enamel work to create one-of-a-kind (OOAK) pieces. And currently – I’ve even found a way to use my love for “Junkin” and the color turquoise to personalize my creations further.

All this leads to my reason for this post – I feel that one of the legacies I would like to leave behind, is the process of how I create some of my jewelry creations. I will pass along (in future posts) tips, tricks, general techniques, tutorials and the like.  I also encourage anyone reading this to share things you’ve learned with the next generation – and remember there is no right or wrong way to be creative!

– J.B.