Clay, PMC, Enameling, Metalsmithing...Oh My!

Years ago I had a conversation with friend, Cindi, who recounted a conversation SHE had had with her mother about choosing a career path. In that conversation, as I recall it, she'd told her mom that there were so many different things she enjoyed. She was having a hard time choosing just one to pursue. Her mom gave the very simple advice: "Just pick one and go with it." So she did. And she's been with it ever since.

That's not to say she hasn't followed side interests along the way, but her career path was soon thereafter chosen and she's been quite successful at it.

As my interests become more and more focused in the direction of jewelry design, I'm excited, thinking, "Finally, I'm choosing something." Oh ho ho, not so fast, Miss Melody. This morning I'm forced to sit quite still, having apparently strained my back in the more-than-usual lifting and moving heavy objects around this weekend. So I'm researching and studying online, looking for new projects I'd like to try. Inspiration pieces. And suddenly I find I'm more overwhelmed than ever. Because I want to...do...it...all. I mean, I've been so thrilled by what can be done with clay and I'm about to start ernestly making another series of what I hope will be my best clay pendants ever. When I take this much time away from the initial designs with clay, I usually return to the "drawing board" with energy that's heightened and the resulting pieces are usually better than those I make in a long stretch. The coming projects will be all porcelain based and hopefully more refined than the last batch. Which of course lends itself quite nicely to the Precious Metal Clay projects I want to pursue.

Then I found this directory of artists working in enamels at Allan Heywood Enamels. They're so pretty! Look at this piece, by Sharon Scalise, for example. Or this one. How amazing! Let me tell you, I have an enameling kiln. I've tried it. Not necessarily in a very dedicated manner, of course, but I was diligent in small doses of time, and my pieces did NOT turn out like anything in the same family as these. Clearly Ms. Scalise has been doing this for far longer than I've even known what enameling was. I'm just saying... It's hard to see this and recall my feeble attempts and even imagine attaining such heights.

Anyway, back to my point, which is this: I might think I'm focusing my sights by narrowing my career goals to the field of jewelry design, but saying someone is an artisan jeweler is, in my mind, like saying they're a painter...WHAT does that mean? They paint using oils, watercolors, acrylics? On what surface? And on and on it goes.

So much for narrowing my focus. Don't fear. I still stop myself when I get this overwhelmed, and come back to one project at a time, making one piece that will hopefully sell, and then another. And in my spare time, I read another tutorial on how to make something new and the layers build and my knowledge increases and fortunately, I don't have to hit a finish line in some imaginary career marathon. That's the difference between "process people" and the others. Enjoying the journey is, to me, as important as reaching an elusive pinnacle of career success. Which is, of course, a different rant altogether, and I'm not up for it today. I have to make a living, sure, and I have to pay for the supplies to make more and the workshops to learn more, and so on and so forth, but my current path seems to be, again, that of the student. Without the dorm and research papers. Not a bad way at all!