Using Space as a Design Element in Jewelry

Space...(cue in the theme music from Star Trek here). 

For me, in my current evolution as a jewelry designer, space may be my own final frontier. How to use it in such a way that it becomes, as Art Smith says, 'tangible'. 

In this post, I wanted to share with you how the above quote that I read from Art Smith's Oral History affected me deeply regarding this journey into the Modernist's mindset. 

It never occurred to me to consider space as a tangible element in design. Never. I've always known on a deep level that I love the look and feel of the modernist movement's explorations into architecture and art...but I don't think I knew what that one thing, space, had to do with it. 

I am really showing my ignorance here, I know. But for some reason, it just never occurred to me to think about space as a tangible thing. 

I am sure I have been exposed to this essential modernist concept about space many times...but it clicked hard within me when I read this oral history regarding how Art Smith thought of it as tangible. 

And by the way...consider reading the linked and supremely fascinating interview with Art Smith. Wow! All kinds of things to resonate with as a designer!

As you can plainly see in the above photograph of the first three designs...I added space as a design element in the #2 and #3, and I now I can't imagine not using this free material going forward.

That one insight about space and using it in the design of jewelry just altered my consciousness in a profound and exciting way. I can't wait to see what happens next with tomorrow's explorations!

Turning this inward, how can I use 'space' in a tangible way in other areas of my life? In my thoughts? In my actions? In my home environment design? Outside under my trees?

Space is the silence between the notes that makes the tune, right? 

I will be adding #3 to my Etsy shop tonight! I am calling them Wind Dancers...

The Modernist Influence of Jeweler Art Smith

“A piece of jewelry is in a sense an object that is not complete in itself. Jewelry is a ‘what is it?’ until you relate it to the body. The body is a component in design just as air and space are. Like line, form, and color, the body is a material to work with. It is one of the basic inspirations in creating form."
I am reigniting my passion for making jewelry again after a year off. I wanted to share with you my thoughts about this small series I made this summer and why I was inspired to make these earrings. 

I made the horseshoe and then bent one of the 'legs' and it offered a little different twist on this widely used element in wire jewelry fabrication. Starting last year, I became much more interested in fabricating earrings that have dimension from all directions. This little turn of the leg allows for something interesting to look at from the side view when wearing them. 

I toned down my love of stamping and texture on these..went for straight lines instead of a random sampling of my available tools. A simple horizontal line seemed to balance the long vertical length of this design nicely...and offers up a subtle distinction. Equilibrium is important for me right now, as I am learning to balance my own life and how I live it. 

I have been using sandpaper a lot in my work since I left Asheville last year. The disc was punched out of my disc cutter, but I don't like the sharpness that just cutting it out offers. I wanted something geometric, but soft. 

TIP: Take a disc of sheet metal and sandwich it between two pieces of fine grit sandpaper and strike it many times with a chasing hammer. It lightly textures both sides and distorts the hard edges of the disc. I like the sandpaper that has the rubbery backing on works great!

The coin pearls that I pinned to the disc further accentuate the round form, but a natural round form. Organic yet structured...I'm not especially fond of geometric forms that are hard and cold. I still want soft and feminine...and I am consciously contemplating what femininity means to me, now, as a woman past childbearing age. 

There is a new softness to my features I've noticed, and a squishy-ness or a feeling of soft focus when I look at my changing facial structure.  My eyes water more...blurring my makeup when I desire to wear it. That squishy-ness is exemplified with those round coin pearls and the slightly miss-happen discs. 

The color of the pearls reflect this love of diffused light that I search out in my photography and what I am discovering about my desire for lamplight and candlelight in my home environment. Soft...gentle light that caresses and creates more intimacy. That is important to me now...and is reflected in these earrings. 

When I was a little girl, there was a softness that my grandmother had that I loved. She had soft skin, and fuzzy features that were blurred by life's experiences. Her face, her lines and her warmth were a haven for me. No hard edges.

I had a substitute teacher in the second grade that I adored, and I would search out ways to be closer to her because she had the same qualities of my grandmother. As I approach the age my grandmother was when I was born, I am starting to notice my own softness in a way that is novel.

I am more emotional now...about the little things. Water has become so important to me in many ways. Baths instead of showers most nights...a lingering in water that has become a daily craving. To be held tenderly by my warm bath water helps to soothe and comfort areas of my body that are used much more than before I became a homeowner with a big yard. 

Watering of my newly planted herbs...and filing my vases with water for fresh flowers. Drinking water in my big blue glass hydrate myself and keep me soft, to cushion me when I fall. Tears that flow freely...releasing what needs to be released as my situation changes daily with myself and those that I love. 

The pearls are about that too--the softness that forms from what comes from mild irritations of aging.  Pearls are from filtering creatures that live in the water.  My many times have we used our bodies to filter out the sorrows that move through our lives as we continue to grow in experiences?

So yes, Art Smith, the body is a component of the design. Just like space...which is what I will discuss in my next post. 

Here are the first two earrings in my series...can you see what happened in the next pair that is derived from the first? Space is a component in design, too. As Art Smith describes, it is plentiful and free to use as a material in your design work.

“A piece of jewelry is in a sense an object that is not complete in itself. Jewelry is a ‘what is it?’ until you relate it to the body. The body is a component in design just as air and space are. Like line, form, and color, the body is a material to work with. It is one of the basic inspirations in creating form.