Thursday, May 17, 2012

Creativity inspired by creativity inspired by...

'Creative' people have always inspired and held a particular fascination for me.  I wanted to be one of them and if not one of them, be around them.  Recently I witnessed the incredible talent and creativity of several Nashville musicians up close.  In a loft in downtown Nashville, a friend and I sat front row during an intimate concert with several guitar playing singer-songwriters and it was heaven.  Drawn into their world of music, passion and self-expression, I could feel my own creativity getting the charge it needed.  I may not have the specific talent to paint like Monet, write like Frost or sing like Tina Turner, but I know that I have ignited the spark to create.  Creativity doesn't always have to mean original thought or vision, but it does mean original interpretation.  Inspired by these influences all around me, my creativity will make it my own, make it me.   

Here are a few pictures from the creative inspiration I have found around Nashville:
Singer Hugh Mitchell at the Hayman Loft
RCA Studio B in Nashville - Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison,
Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Everly Brothers among others
recorded here

House in 'old money' Nashville that painted a mural on
the outside of their house just to start a conversation
about art - love it! (they said they will paint over it eventually)

Beautiful magnolia trees - nature inspires!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

You can't make more time

You can always make more things, more money, even more jewelry but you can't make more time.  At least I haven't figured out how to create extra time.  If someone knows the secret, please let me know.  I only have 3 weeks left at the New Approach School for Jewelers!  That is crazy to me because I have been so busy trying to fast forward these 12 weeks away from home and now I want nothing more than more time to learn.  I want to gain more knowledge, more insight and become more proficient and I definitely want more time to delay the inevitable decisions I need to make about my future employment. Oh well, I'll worry about jobs, income and creating my empire tomorrow but in the mean time, I have committed to making the most of my last 3 weeks of classes.  Last week, we had a guest instructor in and learned hand engraving - so cool!  I fell in love with it and know that I will figure out a way to incorporate hand engraving into my work.  We largely focused on natural patterns and scroll work, turns out that letters are actually fairly difficult to hand engrave, must be why machines have taken over most letter engraving.  Below are some examples of my hand engraving work. 
Add caption
Above is the traditional wheat leaf pattern usually found
on wedding/engagement bands

Monday, April 30, 2012

Building confidence one ring at a time

One step at a time, learn to crawl before you can walk, baby steps..nuggets of wisdom that help put into perspective that learning something new can take time.   I realize that I can't know it all on day one and that each class project is a learning experience.  But I am fortunate, I have chosen a school that accelerates learning and has put everything in fast forward for me.  Last week we were learning how to channel set (on a curved band) princess cut stones.  You may not realize that this setting is actually a very difficult task. We had an observer in class that day, a gentleman with 30 years in the jewelry business, owner of several jewelry stores, and a bench jeweler himself.  He admitted that he doesn't do channel set princess cut settings, it's too difficult for him!  Here I was after 8 weeks and I did it!  Mine came out pretty good!(picture below is straight channel princess setting - not the curved but still difficult)

I also finished up my 3 stone ring, completely hand fabricated from raw sheets and wire of silver.  I set it with 2 rainbow moonstones and a London blue topaz.  I love it and wear it every day.  Not bad for a rookie.

Honing my craft will still take years, but I am building confidence one ring at a time...

Channel set princess cut setting

Three stone ring with rainbow moonstone and blue topaz

Hand made three stone ring in sterling silver

Monday, April 23, 2012

Side Effects...

There are side effects to pursuing your dream.  I didn't really think much about them before this journey started as I tried to focus on the excitement, the congratulations and well wishes.  It was all rainbows and unicorns.  The thrill of quitting my draining corporate job, the move to a new city, the possibility of the new path were all keeping my mind busy.  Now, several months into this new life, I am feeling the side effects.  There are the physical side effects of sore back and neck from bending over a jewelry bench all day.  The eye strain from looking at microscopic stone settings under high magnification.  Oh and the rough and sore hands.  Gone are the days when I had long nails, replaced by callused fingertips and achy hands.  Then we have the mental side effects.  I had no idea that switching from a largely analytical job which included lots of writing and talking all day to a job that is solitary and mostly visual would have a negative impact on my vocabulary and ability to form sentences.  Perhaps this is one of the reasons I started this blog, just to see if I could still form cogent thoughts and write complete sentences.  Mentally I am also adjusting to my new identity.  Who am I in this new life?  Before the change, my identity was wrapped up in what I did and who I worked for as is the norm in DC...I was Holly and I worked for Booz Allen.  Most often, there was immediate recognition and positive reaction.  Many wanting to send their resumes in to me for jobs at Booz. (that part I don't really miss) Since I haven't yet finished school, nor have I gotten my company up and running, I am drifting a bit.  My sense of identity still being shaped.  Formed by each passing day as I wade deeper into this new life.  With some additional time, more confidence and much thought, I know that soon enough these side effects will wash away. 

In addition to these side effects, there have been successes and failures.  Fortunately I am only photographing the successes.  Here are a few of the recent successes:
Princess Cut settings, one of my favorites.  The numbers are
the order in which I have done them.

Channel Setting - need to improve my spacing, but not bad
for my first effort.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Skill building lego by lego

My instructor says most pieces of jewelry are like Legos.  Take any ring or pendant, etc and look at it closely, you will find it is is just made up of little pieces.  The trick and what makes the training I am taking so valuable (to me at least) is that it helps me understand how those pieces are put together.  My 12 week course started out with learning lots of basic skills.  These basic skills are the building blocks of jewelry.  Maybe I should get some pointers from Zachary on how to build with Legos. At first I was a bit shaky and definitely questioned my ability to learn these basics, but as the weeks have gone by, I have gained confidence in my skills.  Practice makes perfect as the saying goes.  Must keep practicing....
There's filing and piercing..This piece
is a pattern that I pierced and then
sawed out. 

Setting my first stones in a
4 prong setting(Yay!)

Assembling a head(this has 3 heads
soldered together) and a shank(base of ring)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Journey to Holly Blue

Love, Meaning and Motivation - by Neil DeGrasse Tyson
"The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things in life like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people in life recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation.
For me, I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And lessen the suffering of others. You'd be surprised how far that gets you."

Found this great quote the other day while randomly surfing the web, in other words I was generally wasting time.  As everyone knows, much of what you read while surfing the web filters through the brain quickly and doesn't stick, but this gem resonated.  I thought it would be a great starting point for my first blog post. The wisdom in this quite has taken me a while to learn, but I now truly believe I have the power to create my own 'best life'.  I've decided to chronicle my journey from the corporate world of government contracting to the fanciful world of Holly Blue Jewelry.  For those that don't know, I left my steady, secure, exhausting yet challenging corporate job at the end of February to pursue a dream, a passion, a new life path, and of course, the elusive work-life balance. I am mid-way through a 12 week intensive jewelry program.  Knee deep in stone setting, ring building, basic repair and various other jewelry terms that I'll throw around, I'm loving the chance to exercise my right brain creativity.

Stay tuned, I'll be sharing photos of school projects shortly and writing more about this grand adventure to create Holly Blue Jewelry.