I Have a Thing for Connections

For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt compelled to connect the dots all around me. As a child, I remember observing strange and erratic behavior in many of the adults in my life. My childhood was, well… let’s just say it was chaotic at best. The way that I coped with the chaos is that I learned to order it.

I started paying attention to the nature of cause and effect, and the more I paid attention to those things, the more I began to see how all things are connected. The more I understood those connections, the more I was able to create some semblance of order in a world that could erupt in chaos at any moment.

Creating jewelry is, for me, a personal expression of my understanding of connections. I suppose that’s why I’m so intensely (perhaps even compulsively) drawn to art forms that involve connections. As I look around at my workspace and the materials I choose to work with, what jumps out at me is that they all have one thing in common: they’re all used for various forms of weaving.

The chains I weave are intricately connected together, link by link, in various forms that are as pleasing to the eye and to touch as they are mechanically strong and sound. The wire work that I do is similar to basket weaving in that it allows me to create forms that are both functional and beautiful. More importantly, it allows me to create forms that will last. Pieces that are timeless.

As I begin my foray into working with knotting cords and micro macramé, I find myself once again exploring an art form that centers on connections. What starts out on my workbench as a chaotic jumble of individual cords gradually comes together to form a cohesive, ordered design. The sum of those once chaotic and disconnected individual parts join together as one to create a beautifully ordered and functional whole.

 

I create jewelry in order to make sense of the chaos around me. And through the process of creating, I rediscover daily how I am connected to everything and everyone else around me. When you like a piece of Door 44 Jewelry that you see on Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter, I feel an instant connection to you. When you buy a piece of Door 44 Jewelry, I’m acutely aware of all the connections that might come from that single exchange–from my hands to yours–for better or worse.

Perhaps that piece will go on to form another link in a chain of sisterhood, from your hands to those of someone you love. Maybe even on through multiple generations from you to a daughter, granddaughter, or niece who may pass it on again to the next generation of women of your family–all of whom will be irrevocably connected to me and perhaps my own daughter, should she choose to follow in my footsteps.

Jewelry, as it turns out, is a wonderful means for me to connect with my 12-year-old stepdaughter. We’ve only known one another for about three years now, and we still have a great deal to learn about each other. But I do know for certain that we share a common love of jewelry. Teaching her to make jewelry and to appreciate it is proving to be perhaps the most powerful path toward an unbreakable bond that we share at this fragile phase of our mother/daughter relationship.

A dear friend got me thinking today about why I make jewelry, and what (ultimately) I hope to achieve by sharing my jewelry with you. I realized that the heart of the matter is this: Our mutual love and appreciation for beauty is what binds us together. We may have disparate political ideologies or wildly different world views that seem to divide us. What inevitably binds us together, though–what restores our sense of connectedness–is a return to those essential elements of life for which we all share a mutual appreciation: love, beauty and harmony. Sisterhood. Compassion…

 

Jewelry is all about connections, and I have a thing for connections.

Thanks for allowing me to connect with you today.

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Taking the Plunge

Earrings 037I’ve been talking about this since 2010 when I found myself suddenly, if not unexpectedly, free of the soul sucking Twin Vortices of Evil. Back then, making jewelry was my particular brand of therapy. Hammering wire was a safe and welcome release for the pent up frustration that comes from working within a spiritually draining organization while weaving chain and wrapping wire gave me the sense of achievement that my day job failed to provide.

Since then, my path from hobbyist to professional jeweler has proceeded in a two steps forward; three steps back fashion of fits and starts. I realized recently, after reading a wonderful post from Charrette Metal Crafts, that the one thing that has been keeping me from taking the plunge into entrepreneurship is fear—not the fear of failure, which would actually make sense, but a completely irrational fear of success. As 2015 approaches, however, I’m finding my stride. I’m finally ready to move beyond the fear and take the plunge into self-employment.

Door 44 Designs is beginning to take shape, and my jewelry will soon be available for sale online. In the meantime, I’ve renamed my blog to more accurately reflect what I’ve always intended it to be: a behind-the-scenes glimpse into my creative process along with my thoughts about life, art, and the myriad connections I find between the two.

I’m excited to unveil my re-branded blog, BeyondDoor44.com, and I look forward to connecting with you there. Thank you so much for reading, following, liking, and sharing my posts. I’ve met some wonderful people here—some truly amazing artists—and I learn something new every day from your insightful posts and comments. So, thank you, too, for sharing your own unique perspectives.

Life is short. Don’t let the fear of success stop you from doing what you love.

Thank You

I’ve picked up several followers recently, and I’d like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read and share my posts. I truly appreciate your following, and I look forward to getting to know you better.

As I mentioned in my initial post, this blog was originally intended to be a place where I share my thoughts about life, love and art with my own handcrafted jewelry providing a foundation for those discussions. I haven’t had an opportunity to make much jewelry lately, but here are a few photos of some of my favorite pieces.

Blue Moon Rising – Blue Lapis in copper wire-wrapped frames with handwoven copper chain

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Colorado Sunset – Carnelian, amethyst, and turquoise in copper wire-wrapped frames with handwoven copper chain

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One of my favorite everyday pieces (unnamed) – wire-wrapped arrowhead in copper horseshoe frame with handwoven copper spiral chain

These pieces are indicative of my work. I grew up in the southwest, and I think that influence shows clearly in the style of jewelry that I make and wear. I’m working hard to carve some studio space out of our small 2-bedroom apartment so I can get back to making jewelry full time, and I look forward to having some new ideas to share soon.

Thanks again for stopping by!

Breaking Through Resistance

I grew up with horses and dogs, and the best technique I’ve found for breaking through resistance from either species is redirection. Pulling back on the reins is unlikely to stop a bolting horse; but redirect all of that forward momentum into a tight circle, and you’ll stop your mount safely. Likewise, punishing a bored and frustrated dog by confining him to a kennel after he shreds your favorite shoes will only amplify the boredom and frustration that drove him to gnaw on shoes in the first place. A better, more productive approach is to redirect all that pent up energy into some sort of physical activity. Teach your dog to catch a Frisbee, run an obstacle course, or track a scent; and he’ll be too physically and mentally exhausted to destroy your things while home alone.

I’ve experienced resistance of my own in the form of a massive and seemingly unmovable creative block this past year. My life changed dramatically and irrevocably last October when I got married. Merging two separate households and lives was surprisingly easy for my husband and me, but the one thing I’ve struggled to integrate into my married life is my jewelry craft. I’ve made countless starts on jewelry projects over this past year, and most of them ended up in my scrap bin. I’ve finished a few pairs of earrings, but none to my satisfaction. And then I had an epiphany while thumbing through the summer 2014 edition of Jewelry Affaire. It was there that I first discovered Sandra Younger’s cord jewelry, and the brilliant jig she created, the Knotty Do-It-All. As soon as I saw her work, I realized that I just needed to redirect my creative energy with some new media and techniques.

I’ve dabbled with cord and macrame techniques in the past, but it’s been years since I’ve worked with jewelry cords. It turns out that the range of jewelry cord on the market today has come a long way in those years. It has a much more pleasing aesthetic that is a far cry from the cheesy macrame styles of the 70s and 80s. Sandra Younger’s cord jewelry is just similar enough to my own rustic wire-wrapped jewelry style to be a complimentary addition to my design toolbox, and the thrill of learning some new techniques along with the excitement of using a new tool has reignited my creative urge.

My husband got me a Knotty Do-It-All for my birthday in August (am I the only one who reads that as Naughty Do-It-All in my head?), and I’ve been having a blast learning to use the tool to its full potential. I still have much to learn, but I’m enjoying the heck out of the learning process.

My best friend, Jenn, gave me some stone beads and a sterling silver medallion that has a great deal of sentimental value last year and asked me to make her a multi-strand necklace with them. After experimenting with my Knotty Do-It-All for a bit, this is what I came up with:

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It’s not perfect, and please excuse the poor photo quality–I snapped these quickly with my cell phone before gift wrapping the necklace. A trained eye will notice a couple of mistakes, and there are several things I’ll do differently as I begin to integrate cord with my usual chain mail and wire wrapping techniques. But I think this necklace, which Jenn loves, is a pretty good starting point for some fabulous new jewelry designs that are now simmering in my brain.

Thank you, Sandra Younger, for helping me redirect and refocus my creative energy with your fabulous tool and gorgeous jewelry!