“Nothing we design or make ever really works??? Everything we design and make is an improvisation, a lash-up, something inept and provisional.”                     ― David Pye

Oh, how it stings when all the separate components of a thing are fabricated, and then won’t seem to connect quite the way you thought they should. They’ll work, but not perfectly, even though you tried mocking it up beforehand, there’s so often some little variable that sways the outcome from great to good. With practice and repetition, these things will work themselves out in time, but if you’re constantly weaving different found materials in as a part of your primary means of working, this presents a challenge.

Bib necklaces; a good experiment, but ultimately too loud for the MN nice crowd.

This is where expertise comes in, right? When you hit your 10,000 hour mark, does the sky just open up above you and rain down endless inspiration and effortless doing? I’m well past that count and haven’t seen it happen yet. Is it 10,000 hours of the same rote task, or will a family of vaguely related ones do? All of these different threads feed into each other, exploring one material helps cross-pollinate the next. Like a bee going from flower to flower, picking up pollen on it’s legs, my hands carry influence from one medium over to the next. Maybe a new hybrid orchid will come of this unintentional fertilization, happening unannounced and only showing itself much later.

Cuff bracelet; lovely to look at, but catches on everything. Better luck next time around.

Material connections are where some of the most exciting details are hidden, too. The simple solution to a complex problem, the doing without doing, provoking a zen moment while you appreciate it’s natural grace. I’m used to working on a much larger scale, with connections that aren’t required to flex and bend with the body. The level of detail required in sculpting a wearable piece of art doesn’t come naturally to me, I have to work hard to shrink my attention to the points that really matter. I’m no Danny Saathoff, fabricating rings with 32 solder joints(!).

If I had the means, I might study jewelry fabrication methods in a formal program, but it’s not going to happen any time soon. I’ll take the long road around, having studied enough in my decade in higher education to last a lifetime. There’s a lot to be gained by following the path of the outsider artist, too, many stones are left unturned. If I stick to basic design principles, the challenges to be found in miniature are the same as if I were working in the next order of magnitude up. As it turns out, there’s plenty of room outside the box for a misfit maker like myself.

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