New Directions in Jewelry Making

Door 44 Studios - Free Tutorials - Chalice Necklace and Earrings

Has it really been nearly a year and a half since I last wrote a post on this blog? It has indeed, and what an eventful seventeen months those have been! We moved into a new apartment last summer, and our new place is so much nicer. I think I might have mentioned before on this blog that my cat, Rose, and I are 100% solar powered. I don’t drink coffee, and I rarely drink tea, so I run on sunlight alone. Fortunately for Rosie and me, our new apartment is flooded with the most glorious light you can imagine from dawn to dusk.

As luck would have it, we found a rare corner unit on an even rarer south face. We have eight large windows that face southeast and southwest. And if that wasn’t enough good fortune, we also have fabulous views of Pike’s Peak from our balcony and our dining room, which is where I do the bulk of my writing these days.

Suffice it to say that Rose and I are supremely happy with our new surroundings. Rose’s days now consist of a well-established routine of following the light around the apartment and napping in the sun. Meanwhile, my days have been filled with the thrills and challenges of building a brand new blog.

The Lilium Bracelet - Design by Sarah Thompson - Crafted by Wendi Reamy of Door 44 StudiosAs I mentioned in my last post, Door 44 Jewelry is dead, but sort of like a Phoenix, Door 44 Studios was born of those ashes. Single-handedly running the small manufacturing company that Door 44 Jewelry was rapidly growing into proved to be wildly incompatible with the demands of my personal life. But I still love making jewelry, and I’m still compelled to be creative. So I’ve taken an entirely different approach to the jewelry business: I’ve switched from full-time jewelry maker to full-time jewelry blogger.

What does that mean, exactly? Well, I still love to design and create jewelry, and I still want to do something productive with my time. So, I’ve made the transition from maker to teacher. Door 44 Studios is, as I like to think of it, the first step in the path toward wire weaving mastery. There I will be sharing free wire weaving patterns and tutorials for all of my original Door 44 Jewelry designs along with all the lessons I learned while running my own jewelry business.

Jewelry makers are notoriously secretive about their processes, which makes it unnecessarily difficult for those who are interested in the craft to break into the field. Well, I’ve decided to change that. So far I’ve shared some useful tips and tricks for product photography and tumbler maintenance. I’ve shared three free wire jewelry tutorials, I’ve pulled back the curtain to reveal my favorite jewelry supply resources, and I’ve reviewed the most recently published wire weaving book. And there is so much more to come!

Door 44 Studios LogoSeriously. My editorial calendar is booked into August so far, and I come up new ideas for blog posts and tutorials every day. Maybe it’s the light in our new apartment, or maybe it’s that spectacular view of Pike’s Peak, but I haven’t felt this inspired in years!

I’m not sure yet what will happen to this blog. It might become the place where I share more personal musings, or I might decide to shutter it completely. I’ll leave it up for the time being while I figure that puzzle out, but this is the last post that I’ll be publishing here for the foreseeable future.

If you’re interested in learning to weave wire, or if you’re a jewelry maker running a small business, I invite you to follow me at Door 44 Studios. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter so you’ll be among the first to know when I release my latest jewelry tutorials or jewelry business-related blog posts! I’ve also reopened my Etsy shop where you’ll find printable PDF versions of my tutorials and even a few new jewelry pieces now and then. Although making finished jewelry is no longer my primary focus, I will occasionally list pieces for sale — particularly for some of the new designs I have coming up on my editorial calendar.

Finally, thank you so much for joining me on the journey that was Door 44 Jewelry and Beyond Door 44 over the past few years! I sincerely hope that you’ll hop on over to Door 44 Studios so we can continue our journey together. I can think of no better travel companion than you, dear reader.

Cheers!

Wendi

Door 44 Studios - Free Tutorial - Easy Infinity Clasp

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Does Happiness Kill Creativity?

I used to crank out jewelry like a machine. I’d come home from a stressful day at work, and I’d sit down and lose myself in the process of cutting, shaping, hammering, and wrapping wire into pleasing forms. It wasn’t uncommon for me to make a half dozen pairs of earrings in a single sitting, and designs seemed to flow effortlessly from an image in my mind to the wire in my hand. That process seemed so automatic at times that I wouldn’t fully realize all I’d accomplished until I lined everything up on my workbench to determine how many batches I’d need to tumble polish overnight.

And then I got married. My life is so very different now. I no longer have a stressful job. I no longer work in an office full of snarky coworkers continually looking for ways to get under each other’s skin. I’m no longer responsible for keeping hundreds of thousands of dollars steadily flowing into the company’s coffers each month. I’m no longer fighting an up-hill battle against a CEO who can look me in the eye and (with a straight face, mind you) say, “I’m not a manager. I’m a nurse.”

Work was just part of the pre-marriage stress in my life, though. Some of the other stressors I left behind when I got married are my alcoholic father; a small, backwards town that is essentially owned and operated by some of the most corrupt people I’ve ever had the misfortune to know; and struggling to make ends meet on a diminished salary because I was underemployed when my husband and I started dating. Making jewelry back then was a welcome escape from an unpleasant and seemingly hopeless reality.

Today I am living a very different reality—one from which I have neither the need nor the desire to escape. I can’t recall another time in my life when I felt so content and carefree. I have an amazing husband who is my partner in every aspect of the word. I have a bright and beautiful daughter who fills our home with music and laughter. For the first time in my adult life, I have the luxury of not needing to work for a living. That’s big. Prior to marrying my husband in 2013, I’d worked full-time and lived solely on my personal income for nearly twenty-five years.

Sometimes I worry that I’m going to turn into a bored housewife, but I’m never bored. I’m never lacking for something to do, so boredom is perhaps the least of my concerns. What does concern me, though, is that I seem to have lost both my ability and my desire to create jewelry. I still have plenty of ideas in mind, but translating those ideas to wire no longer flows effortlessly. Rather than making finished jewelry ready to be antiqued and polished, I find myself making large piles of scrap wire and walking away feeling annoyed and frustrated. I’ve even tried new media recently with the hope that learning new techniques and working with new materials might reignite my creative spark. It hasn’t worked. Yet.

When I agreed to quit my job and move to Denver so my husband could advance his career, I imagined myself turning my jewelry hobby into a home business. I was excited about the prospect of working from home and finally having the time and energy to focus completely on something I love. And now that I have an abundance of time and energy to focus on making jewelry, I no longer have the urge to create.

There’s a reason the image of the tortured artist is so pervasive. Art, I suspect, is something akin to gemstones in that a certain degree of pressure is necessary for its creation. So I find myself wondering, is it possible to create art without stress?

Does happiness kill creativity?