New Directions in Jewelry Making

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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

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Happy Medium

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My first attempt at making a braided cord necklace (waxed nylon jewelry cord with Czech glass and metal beads) . The leather monogram pendant was made by my good friend, Laura Hansen.

Every artist has a preferred medium—the go-to material that provides the foundation of their work. My favorite material is metal, and I’m not very particular about the type or alloy. I’ve worked with lead, copper, silver, bronze, gold, aluminum, titanium, stainless steel, iron and brass. Each one has unique characteristics and even a personality of its own, but something all metals have in common is that they are predictable.

Being a bit (okay, maybe a lot) of a control freak, I like the precision I can achieve with metal. I’ve dabbled with other media—wood, for instance—but I inevitably migrate back to metal when I can’t achieve the level of precision and the clean lines that sooth my inner perfectionist.

Early in 2013 when I started dating my husband, I was happily making chain mail and wire-wrapped jewelry, and I was starting to explore increasingly more intricate styles of wire wrapping. I discovered amazing artists like Nicole Hanna, Ivona Posavi Pšak, Sarah Thompson, Kornelia Kubinowska, and Iza Malczyk. I dove into learning new techniques through Nicole’s and Kornelia’s tutorials, and I was immediately hooked.

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This is my first attempt at the macrame bracelet technique taught by Sandra Younger, creator of the Knotty Do-It-All. See theknottydoitall.com for more info.

I spent every spare minute working with wire, and then life got in the way. I started spending more of my spare time with my husband and less learning new wire-wrapping techniques. Pretty soon, I stopped making jewelry altogether because it wasn’t long after we started dating that we decided to get married. The next several months were a whirlwind of packing, moving, getting married, unpacking, merging two households, purging excess belongings, and adjusting to being a full-time stepmom.

Now that life is finally settling down into what has become my new normal, I’ve tried to pick up where I left off on wire-wrapping, and I’ve been horrified to discover that I apparently lost my edge. The precision that once came so easily seems unattainable now. I’ve started countless projects only to toss them into my scrap bin in disgust when it became painfully clear that the finished piece wouldn’t meet my expectations.

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This is a simple copper wire monogram I created out of scrap wire so I could experiment more with this macrame technique. I kinda like the way it turned out!

At some point amid all that frustration it finally occurred to me to try redirecting my creative energy down a new path. I wrote about that insight here, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see forward progress with something as simple as a change in medium.

Unlike metal, cord is not a material with which I can achieve perfection. In fact it’s infuriatingly prone to imperfection in certain ways, but that imperfection has proved to be surprisingly liberating for this (formerly?) Type-A personality.

The past two years have softened me in ways I never would have imagined possible. I’m more flexible and less attached to perfection. I’m more open to allowing a piece to evolve organically and less determined to adhere to my original vision of the finished piece. I’m less attached to outcomes and more curious about the creative process.

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Another quick and dirty wire focal piece that I made so I could master this cord technique. I’m a Leo, and I’ve always wanted to create an astrology collection. This concept has potential, I think.

This is uncharted territory for me. Historically, I’ve been a pretty driven and results-oriented individual, and those qualities are clearly reflected in my work. As I’ve explored various cord and macramé techniques, however, I’ve been surprised to discover that imperfection can be beautiful, too. I’ve included a few photos of my most recent experiments with cord techniques. Cord is still new to me, so these pieces aren’t quite as refined as I’d like them to be. I’m very pleased with my early attempts, though. Perhaps I’ve finally found a happy medium.

Life is short. Don’t waste time and energy pursuing perfection if it keeps you from loving what you do.