A little bit of life, love, and artisan jewelry but mostly the
Home of the Confused Muse..
Where you will find the meadering thoughts of an actively artistic brain - as well as my latest creations, events, soapboxes, dramas, crisis, blessings, and life in general.
This is also the home of "ChrissyMarie Jewelry and Accessories", named for my daughter! Twenty-Five Percent of all sales from this line are donated to B.I.T.S. aka "Better in the Saddle", a local non-profit Equine Assisted Therapy Program ....because we KNOW horses help make miracles!
January 18, 2010
My Favorite Piece of Jewelry
Recently I was asked by a fellow jewelry designer, “What is your favorite piece of jewelry and why?” This is my response….
A few years ago a dear friend asked me to design a piece of jewelry for her husband (who is also very good friend) using an heirloom piece of jewelry he had received from the estate of his late Aunt. The piece I was given to work with was made of small brass plated spikes (concrete nails) soldered together to form a Cross. His Aunt had been a woman of great faith and she wore this simple piece of jewelry often. The brass plating had worn away where her hands had caressed the cross while wearing it as a pendant. "Her cross" held very fond and distinct memories for my friend.
A bit about my friend....
The son of Christian Missionaries, Jay spent his childhood in Israel - spoke fluent Hebrew, and has the voice of an angel. He is an inspiration in my life. He exudes "peace" with his music and in his every expression. I know he would be embarrassed to know I think so highly of him but sometimes we need to let others know what a positive influence they have in our daily lives. He now serves as the Worship Pastor for our tiny little church in Kansas City, MO while holding down a full time job and raising a beautiful family with his wife Susan.
I was almost afraid to begin the project. I wanted it to be as close to perfect as I could make it but I did not want to do anything to desecrate the original piece. I mean, really...for a Christian, the "Empty Cross" is one of the greatest symbols of our faith. How do you improve on a perfect symbol?
For me "the Cross" is a symbol of God's most important gift to us. However, is it also a reminder of the gifts He gives us to use in our daily lives. Music, song, a voice... these are all words I think of when I see or hear Jay. These are the gifts he was given.
I decided to integrate what I knew of his life into this piece. Jay’s faith, family, talent, his childhood memories...these are the things most precious to him. These are the events responsible for his very identity.
I located a woman who's talent lies in making custom rubber stamps. I asked her if she could make a stamp, a tiny stamp, with only one word - "Sing"...but...I wanted it in Hebrew! How could I possibly know she had studied Hebrew and her response would be "of course I can do that!”?
I asked another friend who specializes in working with precious metal clay to help me make a miniature plaque for the cross. It would need to be “stamped” with one word. This friend is a pro at PMC art and I was not at all surprised that she could accomplish this...the trick was in teaching ME to make the tiny plaque. She graciously offered up her time, supplies, kiln, and her home to give me a crash course in PMC. I know she would have made a perfect piece but I wanted to make it myself. As it turned out, the one I made revealed a surprise for both of us! But....I'll get to that later....
Using the original cross, and wanting to keep that rough-hewn feel, I decided to use mixed metals. I wire wrapped the little plaque to the cross...99% pure silver wrapped in simple copper wire. I hung it from a beautiful but masculine black braided cord and attached a simple handmade sterling silver clasp. The piece was nearly finished and I hoped Jay would be not only happy with the finished product but also engulfed in memories as he took in the detail. Its design was after all, a product of his life.
It wasn't until the final step I discovered one detail I had not noticed before...The surprise I spoke of earlier. I have never been one to "sign" my pieces. It is always a difficult process for me. My hands may construct the jewelry but the ideas, the designs and talent I possess is a gift I have received. In essence, it is my gift from “the Cross”.
I was applying the final polish to the piece as I considered how to leave my signature in the most discreet way possible. It was only then I noticed a series of fine lines in the plaque. They looked almost like wood and I wondered what could possibly have caused the imprint. It was then I realized I had inadvertently "signed" this piece of jewelry with my own fingerprints. My own very personal “brand” was already there!
This "Gift of the Cross" is my favorite piece of jewelry. "God works in mysterious ways." We have all heard it but this time it was very real for me. Every person I met in the design process, every person I asked for help, every step no matter how tedious became an integral part of the design.
I hope every jewelry creator, every artist; every person with a special gift has the opportunity to experience this kind of "revelation" in at least one creative endeavor.