Putting a name to my aesthetic

I am an avid watcher of Project Runway. As a maker, I love to see how the contestants interpret the challenges and incorporate their point of view to their work. Early on in the last season, Tessa Clark was criticized for the unfinished hems in the pants she made. Later on, she revealed that wabi-sabi was an influence in her work.

Copper and sterling pendant. Photo by Tracy Sorensen

Copper and sterling pendant. Photo by Tracy Sorensen

That same week, a professional acquaintance shared a photo of his night-stand reading material, which included the book, Wabi-Sabi For Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosphers, by Leonard Koren.

The universe was trying to tell me something, so I listened. I turned my attention to learning more about wabi-sabi.

Wabi-Sabi is, according to Wikipedia, a traditional Japanese aesthetic centered on acceptance of transience and imperfection. Wikipedia says, "Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, roughness, simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy, and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes."

There's a lot more to it than this entry, and not all aspects of wabi-sabi relate to my work. You can read more on Wikipedia or purchasing the Koren book (which I did). But it was those words that put a name to my own aesthetic.

My jewelry is simple. It's also imperfect, which shows the work of my hands. My jewelry is also impermanent, made to be worn often (and perhaps worn out). My hope always is that you wear my jewelry happily for many years, changing as you change. Perfectly imperfect.

Jewelry is personal

Jewelry is very personal. You wear it on your skin. Jewelry is often imbued with meaning. Rings symbolize love and commitment. Heirlooms have family history. Jewelry may bring on sentimental feelings and overwhelming emotion. A piece of jewelry can make the wearer feel happy, powerful, beautiful or just normal. As a jewelry artist, I consider all of this.

A few years ago, two women came into On The Hill Gallery during an event. One of the women -- I'll call her Joan -- admired a pair of earrings I made, but did not buy them. They were a simple construction of lapis nevada stones and sterling silver, priced at $30. Her friend secretly purchased them as a gift, and she was happy to receive them.

A few weeks later, I received an e-mail from Joan. She had lost one of the earrings. She felt terrible that she had lost something her friend had given her. Could I make another?

Now, to make the one earring is not, let's say, a lucrative endeavor. Finding a matching stone and recreating the wire work, packaging it up and going to the post office....the time I would spend would not cover what I could reasonably charge.

I did it anyway. I wanted the PAIR of earrings to remind Joan of the generosity of her friend, rather than a single earring remind her of the loss.

Lapis nevada and sterling silver earrings

Lapis nevada and sterling silver earrings