Friday, 23 September 2011

Catalyst to a Muse

Wow, when I saw this month's topic for blogging from the Aspiring Metalsmiths I thought, yep, that one is easy. I can answer it in a moment! But having thought about it for a few hours, now I am not so sure. I find my muse in so many different places, and sometimes she hides from me until I begin to think I will never find her again.
My first inspiration has to come from the materials I use. Sometimes I work in copper or in silver or very occasionally gold. The colour and temper of the metal makes a difference to what I make and how. Copper is very soft, even when I use a thick piece of the metal I need to make sure that there is enough hardening in the fabrication to be sure it will hold its shape in the end. Mostly when I work with copper I melt silver onto the surface which gives it a little more strength, but it also imparts a rustic and dare I say, organic texture, something like twigs or branches that pushes the final creation in a certain direction. Sometimes creating a new design in copper will lead me to trying it then in silver, like my birdsnest ring, which was a result of simply playing with copper wire and some left over sterling bezel wire, but making the ring in sterling was so satisfying and the end result so appealing it has become a favourite in a short while, I have even made a set of wedding rings like it for a special customer. One day I would like to make it in gold too!

I am also very inspired by the stones I use, the designs are created to echo the patterns in the rare agates and jaspers I choose, so that everything becomes complimentary. Recently I have been using small faceted stones not only as accents to bigger pieces but also as the main stone in their own right. Their sparkle fascinates me as i work and I am sure they are very hard to resist, who can resist a pretty sparkly on their finger or twinkling in their ears?

Of course I have been inspired by past designs, I have made jewellery with a medieval flavour or with a nod to the vikings, or aztecs. These ideas come from tv programmes, films, books or simply making random searches on Google until something grabs me. Sometimes I will draw the designs out in my little sketch book or sometimes I will just sit down with my materials in front of me and simply set to work. The end result might be the the finish of the idea or lead on to a string of related pieces, but often I am off on another tangent before I get to do all I could in the one style. If that happens then I may sit down weeks later and spend an evening sketching and looking back on my pieces and my book and using up some of the ideas that were left behind a while ago. In this way I think my work becomes cyclical, and I suppose it is what gives me my own style.

My current ideas are inspired by a ring I dearly wanted to buy for myself before I started metalsmithing. It had a green amethyst cushion cut stone. It is such a pretty shape that I think it has so many possibilities, to team it with rare cabochons and to use it on its own. I am going to look at a few examples from my gem supplier and then decide what exactly I am going to do with them. I hope my muse is being kind that day!

Don't forget to check out my new website Brightstar109 and enter my free give-away by leaving your details and a comment on my Contact Me page, there is still time before it ends on September 30th. You could win a sterling silver Mountains pendant worth £45!

This post is part of the Aspiring Metalsmiths Team September Project Blogroll - Finding Your Muse
Each month the Aspiring Metalsmiths team chooses a topic and each write about that topic on their blog. This month we want to know what inspires you, and where do you look for inspiration?

See what we have to say by visiting the blogs below: