A few days ago I was privy to a conversation about making and wearing contemporary jewellery. I thought it was fascinating and the crux of it kept playing in my mind.
It was only a brief interchange: a maker of (often conceptual) contemporary jewellery stated she wasn’t feeling quite brave enough to wear one of her pieces. It turned out to be more about her feeling that the piece wasn’t quite right and not yet quite finished, and less about her love of her own work. But in reply another maker commented: just because you’re a maker doesn’t mean you’re a wearer.
That stopped me in my tracks. It’s so true.
And yet it seems so surprising to many, especially non-makers. How many times I’ve been accosted or asked curiously why I’m not wearing much jewellery when I make jewellery.
I never wear jewellery at home; and when I go out of the house I’m often wearing a ring (current favourite is still my Katherine Bowman sapphire ring) and on a work day perhaps a neckpiece (current favourite is David Neale ‘Aster’ pendant; or my Peaches + Keen piece if I’m feeling particularly playful). Rarely much more, sometimes less.
The desire to make is entirely different to the desire to adorn oneself (or even others for that matter).
I think many makers understand this … many of us don’t wear much jewellery.
Furthermore though, almost all of the significant collectors are not makers.
Simple really, but often strangely misunderstood.
Update (1st July): I’ve thought more about this since writing the above last night..
I rarely wear jewellery I’ve made myself – sometimes, but not often. And only specific pieces.
It seems clear to me that I haven’t worn pieces I made during university except for the handful I fell in love with while making. The reason is pretty simple to my way of thinking – except for third year work, all pieces were made in response to a manufactured concept (for assessment) and it’s easy to play with an idea but not necessarily fall in love with it. Well actually, it’s not that easy, but the motivation of being marked for assessment can be enough to fake it!
Since uni, I’ve made for exhibitions, responding to specific concepts or themes. Again I have the same experience – some I explore and enjoy, and only a small number do I fall in love with.
Outside making for uni, exhibitions or commissions, I’ve only just realised how few pieces I’ve made for myself… Interesting indeed, and perhaps something to remediate.