I began my wire wrapping journey more than 10 years ago. It seems ages, yet I'm still learning and inventing and designing and creating with a passion as new as the day I discovered it. This is, in part, due to the vast talents of other jewelry artists who inspired me. And sometimes, that inspiration came in the way of wire wrap tutorials. One such tutorial was the Net Bezel by Eni Oken (pictured below), which was the first tutorial (though certainly not the last) I purchased.
There seems to be a rather prevalent opinion in some sub-sets of the jewelry community that work derived from tutorials is somehow "less". Less artistic. Less original. Encompassing less talent. To that I say this: Shush. We are meant to empower the creative endeavors of others. Not belittle them.
I discovered there are two popular uses for tutorials, and one is no more or less important or valid than the other:
And both of these uses are important in furthering the creative process for anyone who utilizes lessons provided by others. Don't let anyone tell you the work you create, whether original or not, is in any way "less".
And eventually my nets became cleaner. My bails moved from a coil to a basket weave. I embellished these bezels with beaded frames. My experience with wire weaving grew.
And I created.
Now, some ten years later, I've found my voice, or am still discovering it, at any rate. And this is due in large part to the willingness of Eni and other like-minded artists who share their creative process with the masses.
"Whether or not for sale or personal enjoyment, lessons allow freedom from creative stagnation."
I provide lessons for a number of reasons. As an homage to those from whom I learned, definitely. But as an artist who experiences the same creative blocks as anyone, lessons allow me to create when my mind is too full of "life". We all worry or stress, and I always appreciated the opportunity to work with my hands without the pressure to "be an artist"... whatever that means, right?
Every tutorial I purchased and used, by Eni or Iza Malczyk, IMNIUM or Lonely Soldier (to name a few), was simply another tool in my drawer, as important and useful in my progression as my pliers, my wire, the beads I use... even my own two hands.
I owe a great deal of thanks to these talented stars in the wire wrapping world.
So thank you.
Thank you for the gift of creation, for the freedom from stress and the pressure I (all too often) placed on my shoulders. Thank you for the wonderful opportunity to find my own voice.
I hope you find your voice too.
The purpose of the "Finish It!" challenge is to encourage the participants to extend themselves, their talents and creativity beyond the limitations of a single set of instructions and create pieces uniquely their own. Tutorials have been an integral part of my personal evolution as a jewelry artist, from such talents as Eni Oken, Iza Malzcyk, IMNIUM and Lonely Soldier. And my progression from the steps and instructions provided to me by others has been a worthwhile journey towards my own creative self-discovery. Tutorials need never represent a "cookie cutter" aesthetic, nor the only design possibility, but rather a gateway to limitless possibilities, and the entries received for these contests have proven, time and again, the truth of that statement. Why is the photo above all wicked swirly like that? So you cannot discern what the finished piece is meant to look like, according to the completed tutorial, but rather to allow your imagination control of the reigns.
Here’s the gist: At the bottom of this post is a link to a tutorial only 11 pages long, and ending abruptly less than halfway through the instruction. Your job is to create a piece beginning with the steps, as explained in the file, but ending with your own imagination! And blowing my mind... that's part of your job too. And you can do it, because it's been done every single time I've held one of these contests. If you are in doubt... just you wait... you'll surprise yourself.
“Group Favorite” will win my completed version of this project and any ten tutorials of their choice.
A “Judged Favorite”, chosen by a panel of four jewelry artists and three “consumers” (who are not participating in the contest), will also receive any ten tutorials of their choice.
Every contestant will receive the finished version of this tutorial simply for participating. This tutorial will arrive as a reply to your submission email, so check your spam folder if you do not receive it by the end of March. Also, be sure your email host will accept incoming attachments. I've had many emails rejected because the mail box was full, or security settings did not allow attachments.
Happy weaving everyone, and I hope you have fun!
Note: Please access this file via a laptop or desktop computer. Some mobile devices are uncooperative with PDF downloads, and I may not be able to address requests for manual email delivery of this file in a timely manner (thus using up your submission time).
Good luck everyone and happy weaving!
There is a distinct difference between technique or style (not protected by copyright) and design (protected by copyright). Ideally, artists are best complimented when our process is supported through the purchase of our work, or our work is appreciated and shared so that others who are able may purchase it. There's this perpetuating idea that art and profit are mutually exclusive, but I think it's a beautiful thing when artists can support their families doing what they love... which becomes exponentially more difficult when work is copied without permission.
While techniques have been used and shared by hundreds and thousands of artists over the years, "there's nothing new under the sun" seems to imply that design is dead, which is an insult to the creative process. New techniques might be far and few between, but new designs are absolutely endless, because the artist's stories are each unique. Taking techniques and weaving them into our own personal stories creates a page in the book of our life. While I love writing tutorials and sharing designs, there are some original works that are very personal to me, that I hold sacred, that have allowed me to explore and express a spiritual journey, even, and the floor falls from beneath my feet when that work is copied without permission. The years I've spent wrapping, beading, drawing, writing poetry, photographing my cats, my sadness and happiness and successes and failures, all of those things come together to complete a creative whole, no matter the medium each project utilizes. So, there's definitely some "preciousness" that we each hold as artists and designers that can sometimes cloud our understanding of the use of technique vs design.
If a design is copied, noticeably, recognizably copied... it's not "inspired by". But this is a world of Pinterest, I know. Where everything goes on a DIY board and the internet seems to give everyone carte blanche ownership of every story.... the it's-online-therefore-it's-free mentality. This is when we each have to be accountable for ourselves, protect our own stories as much as we're able, evaluate how we define that "preciousness" we each hold about our art, and give of ourselves and our stories when we can, holding close to what we cannot give, so there's a beautiful circling relationship between artists that protects our individual stories while allowing the collective story to grow. But we also have to be accountable for how we utilize the techniques of others in our own work, how we allow design to influence or inspire us and move us forward creatively, so we aren't tarnishing or muddying our own story when we create.
This is just a bloated letter to say that I understand the hurt. I think we've all, at some point, held our work so precious to ourselves that we feel immobilized by the hurt of it being copied by others. And we each have to define for ourselves when and how we'll fight to protect our stories, or where our energy might be better suited. It's a difficult journey for anyone in a creative industry. And while I will never suggest we should enable the behaviors that hurt us, we do have to pick our battles, not just according to law, but also according to our own moral code and the preciousness by which we value our art.
So I understand. I get it. I'm with you. I believe in your rights. I understand the preciousness of your art. I strive to support it.... to support you.... to allow you the opportunity to continue to explore your story and express that journey through art. I'm looking forward to your next beautiful chapter. And perhaps some day, I hope, I'll purchase from you a little piece of your story to help move your book along.
I've learned a little something about myself since the new Pantone Color of the Year was announced.
I've learned that I'm easily swayed by subliminal messaging, apparently. I mean, really, while I'm not such a fan of this particular shade of green that I'll redecorate my house and live in a jungle of draperies and pillows, I find myself oddly comforted by greens, in general, these past several weeks. Not just comforted, but inexplicably drawn to them.
So, this is just a quick reminder that perhaps we shouldn't be so quick to dismiss what's "popular" or trending simply because (if you're like me) it's popular or trending. Yes... I know... that's an ugly truth to admit about myself, that I often turn my nose at convention, the expected, for fear that somehow lumps me in a common social core, and goodness forbid I call myself common!
But you know what? It's fine. It's not just fine. The expected and popular has merit and worth and sometimes we don't always have to be the trend-setter ourselves because, let's face it, I imagine that's exhausting! I'm happy to accept that I drank the Pantone kool-aid and I'm owning it! I'll ride these coat-tails for as long as I can this year, I think.
And really now, we can still be fabulous with the same color everyone else is sporting. Because it's all in how you wear it! I plan on going big, going bold, and falling into the graceful, natural grip of GREENERY.
Who's with me?
And also, who hates this color? Ha! I know it can't be that popular!
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