That’s my goal these days – fearless creating.  Funny thing, taking a  bottle of cheap shoe polish to and slicing the handle off a really expensive handbag, followed by a successful shoulder strap assembly, bolstered my courage quite a bit.  Refurbished courage in hand, I jumped right into my next project – making my own silk ribbon and designing a new series of jewelry.

First note to self … any new project, especially developing a new direction in one’s work, carries with it a steep learning curve.  There will be goofs and not so greats and well that’s pretty close.  My initial goof, cutting up half of my silk in the wrong direction – not on the bias.  I figured out I can still use these pieces, just not as single strands.  Even though these sections fray like crazy, they’re working really well for braiding and weaving.  Second half of yardage was A-okay.

After the strips were cut, it was time to haul out my dye pots and transform my kitchen into my little color alchemy studio.  There’s something so satisfying about mixing colors on top of the stove.  I never go into it with much of a plan, just a starting point of at least 5 or 6 dye colors I like and then the mixing begins.  Here’s how the dying process took shape …


getting ready

dye pot

just washed


ready to go

I am absolutely in love with my results … I mean really in love!  The colors are flat out gorgeous and perfect and impossible to reproduce, which is why I like them so much.

So now that I’ve got my raw materials, what to do?  I started with translating my existing silk knotting technique to the ribbon.

first draft

This first draft in knotting was too messy for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I like messy.  There’s just got to be some order within the chaos.  This one will need to be re-done.

needs work #2

Next I was trying out some braiding with the straight cut ribbon.  Really like the look, but the ends were WAY too bulky.  Gotta re-do this one as well.

final draft

So then I just went for the simple pendants on the bias cut ribbon.  Here’s where I nailed the finishing details.  Now on to fixing the first, gobbed up attempts.  As I’m learning how to work with my new materials, I’m pooling so many techniques.  That’s one of the best parts about designing – each new series builds on everything that’s come before.

Second note to self … as the new work starts to come together there’s the inevitable wasted materials.  I hate to waste materials, but it’s a necessary part of the process.   The thing about fearless creating and something I remember from a high school art teacher – use plenty of whatever is at hand.  Don’t be afraid to grab and just go with it.

Third note to self … don’t edit, at least not at first.  I find myself trying to edit designs much too soon.  To create successful new work I’ve got to max out the design … take it as far as I can … go over the top … then decide what can be left out or scaled back.

So I let the works in progress rest a bit.  Yesterday, I came back to the work with a rested eye and a fresh perspective.  Here are the final products …

The retro-fit needed thinner ribbons, this made the ends significantly less bulky – much more better.

finished retro-fit

A much cleaner version of the pearl choker.  Still raw, still somewhat messy – just more refined.

classic pearl choker re-dux

I got brave with this longer pendant.  It’s chock full of really yummy elements.  In anticipation of getting more Basha Beads, I included one I’ve been hoarding for about 8 or 9 years.  There’s also tiny rings with tiny raw diamonds interspersed throughout.  There’s also a bunch of my new chunky and very raw cube beads.  Really really love this necklace!

the last finished product

So that’s where I am today.  I want to get these listed on Etsy and then work on several other designs including some new bracelets and earrings.  A great thing about this new series, all the components are what I have on hand – no new elements.  That’s an important part of my design process  – re-purposing components.  I take components from existing designs and turn them this way and that, layer and stack and stitch or weave, bend or link or whatever I can come up with … a process that I started years ago with inspiration from the Ken Bova workbook (here’s the list from an earlier post).

Fourth note to self … I’m very pleased with the new work, but it will continue to evolve.  Nothing about my work or my process is static.  Everything is subject to change and evolution in the relentless pursuit of fearless creating.

One last thing – some links to share …

Darcy Miro – jewelry designer and sculptor found in the current issue of Vogue or W, can’t remember right now.  No surprise why I like her work; website is fun as well.

Robin Richman –  cool shop in Chicago with a good blog

Henry Darger –  okay, so all you people who follow outsider artist types probably know about him, but lord have mercy, this will take some serious perusal … so much work in a lifetime.

Stories From the Ground shadow puppetry collective – just amazing.  Here’s a video as well.

Okay, second last thing … a very big thank you to the Thornton’s, Cynthia and Andrew, for nudging me out of my reclusive ways and helping me work on my social skills.

max, cynthia, andrew and azalea

Such a lovely afternoon of show and tell and stories and laughs and sweet babies.

so very sweet

Okay, this is really the last thing … 9 days and counting.

with enormous gratitude and many blessings – kvk