Saturday, August 8, 2009

For love of beadwork

I know that fine jewellery aficionados generally eschew beadwork for its more dignified cousin of metal-smithing, classifying the former as a technique used primarily for costume jewellery. But here, I must confess: as much as I prefer metal-smithing and what it can do, I have a soft spot for beadwork.

I'm not sure why, but I think it has something to do with having the complete indulgence of mixing a myriad of carefully drilled gemstones in an almost haphazard manner, while seeing the texture of the piece subtly change with each added hue.

For me, the colours always come first: my home studio becomes a war zone during this period, as 25 different strands of gemstones are strewn all over, and I pick at them, guided by subconscious instinct and emotion. I place them in little clusters, and evaluate how the different gems blend and glimmer together.

Only after I'm satisfied with the colours does the structure of the jewellery piece form in my mind. I'm usually not one for classic, linear lines, although I acknowledge that there is beauty in that. I gravitate towards voluminous shapes and dramatic lengths, although I sometimes have to sacrifice one or the other in the name of practicality. I think most modern earlobes would protest with over 150 carats worth of gemstones in their ears. ;)

And so while the mainstay of my work continues to be metal work, I continue to dabble in beadwork. Using the traditional precious metals of gold and fine silver wire to weave the top quality gemstones together, I hope that this collection puts to rest the unfounded bias that we might associate with beadwork. And that quite clearly, the technique speaks for itself: beadwork can certainly do the gemstones justice.

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