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I read something recently that really spoke to me. It was an article by a young novelist who was talking about imposter syndrome, which is where you feel as though you’re not as clever or talented as people think you are. You feel as though somehow you’ve managed to pull the wool over people’s eyes and you’re convinced that any minute you’re going to get found out for the fraud you are.

This article put a name to something I have felt for as long as I can remember. A good friend of mine is a hard working, talented and successful headteacher. She told me once that she keeps expecting someone in authority to come along and say ‘Alright love, you’ve had a good run, now hand the keys to the school over. We’re onto you, we know you’re a fraud. We’ve got a proper grown-up who really knows how to run a school to come and do it, The game is up.’ And I know exactly what she means, especially when it comes to art and creativity.

This weekend I put some of my jewellery work into an exhibition in a gallery. This was a weird feeling. I had to put prices on my work and display them for all to see. Several people told me that the jewellery was too reasonably priced, but I simply couldn’t justify  charging any more for it as I have this irrational, nagging fear that my workmanship is going to be called into question. I’m not a professional artist you see, I don’t have an art degree or anything like that, and I work from a bench in my spare room. I’m terrified that someone is going to look at my work and say ‘Ahhh, who are you trying to kid? You’re not a real jewellery maker, this stuff isn’t any good.’

I’m really not fishing for compliments here. I’m giving you an insight into the strange hinterland you enter when your put your creativity out there for the world to see…and buy. The minute you attach a monetary value to something you’ve created you feel as though you have to justify it. I’m hoping to start seeing my jewellery making as an income stream, which means I will have to overcome these fears. To balance the scales I will continue to pursue creative ends for their own sake, to prevent losing the feeling of pure pleasure of creativity. So, whatever you do, always save some of your creations purely for yourself.

I feel I should introduce myself properly, my creative self that is…..

When I was a small person I was seriously into books. I used to nag my poor parents to read to me, until I could read myself (which I’m told I achieved before I even started school) and letters to Father Christmas always included a long list of books I wanted.

The natural progression from reading stories was creating stories. I remember one based around my Sylvanian Families toys which was an account of a birthday party with all sorts of weird and wonderful arboreal themed food and drink. I’m quite sure I bored my family senseless with my relentless quest to share my stories. Well, I have always liked to be heard….

I also remember art classes with a friend of my parents who was an art teacher at the same school they taught at. I’m not sure what prompted these, maybe my Mum’s particular drive to see others become creative, which is responsible for where I am today 🙂 The one thing that stands out from those sessions is learning that trees don’t really look like lollipops, but that they have many, many lines and it’s beautiful to show them all.

The quilt of creativity

So, we now reach my late childhood/early teens and by now I’m being persuaded by Mum to do patchwork. Mum is a simply unbelievable quilter. She crafted a patchwork quilt whilst I was poorly (I will come back to that, I promise) and gave it to me on my 30th birthday. That’s it there, on the left. Nice huh?! Of course what I created was nothing like this. Although I adore my quilt, and the art form itself, my appreciation only really extends as far as being an observer. Actually creating patchwork pieces never really struck a chord with me. Needlecrafts weren’t out altogether though. The somewhat ubiquitous cross stitch became a staple of family Sunday evenings. Mum, Becky (my sister) and I would sit around watching House of Elliott, or some such costume loveliness, all industriously stitching away.

Lots of people are quite disparaging of cross stitch. I think it has a bit of a painting-by-numbers reputation. However, it’s fairly easy to master and can produce some pleasing results. In fact, I can still be found nibbling away at long standing cross stitch projects to this day. However, as I tend to follow patterns created by other people, I can’t really claim this involves any creativity on my part. (Although this does raise the debate of Design Vs. Execution….another day for sure…)

So, to the present day. During my ‘poorly’ phase (I know, I’m teasing you with it now) I went a bit nuts for the lack of any productive way to fill my days. I really don’t remember what initiated it, but I went shopping for some basic bead supplies and created a couple of necklaces, using other people’s patterns. I quite enjoyed this and that Christmas Santa brought me lots of other jewellery making goodies. So, I tinkered about with this for a bit but something was missing…..

Then my wonderful husband, who loves surprising me with nice treats, booked me onto a silver jewellery making class at Farnham Maltings and I haven’t looked back.

So, currently I make various kinds of jewellery and have produced enough to open my own little shop. After all, there’s only so much jewellery you can actually wear yourself!

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