Making with integrity

I saw a list similar to this recently:

What am I making?
Why am I making it?
Who is it for?
How is it made?
Where is it made?
What materials are used?
Can it be recycled or reused? (un-made, or returned to it’s component parts).

Is there a thoughtful, creative process? Well yes. I am not interested in whatever the latest fad is. I am looking for my story. I am making work that expresses something that I feel or see or think about. Hopefully I make something of value artistically – that’s for others to judge. I would like my work to begin a communication. I want the viewer, the purchaser, to see something more in what I make than just “that’s pretty”. I hope they feel that my work has integrity and depth and is conceptual. 

I make because I need to, really. It is a compulsion. It completes me and it makes me happy. And I make jewellery because the scale suits me. Years ago I painted, and I worked on reasonably large-scale canvas, and yet I was dissatisfied with everything I made. I felt I would not ever paint well enough. It took years for me to realise that part of the issue was scale – I need to work smaller. Now I can look at another jeweller’s work and think “wow”, without comparing myself to them and feeling angst. Maybe that’s also maturity. I am still never satisfied with my work – I always see improvements I can make. But I am able to say “today, this is the best I can do, and it has worth”.

All of my work is made by me in Adelaide from raw materials that I source through reputable suppliers or from found materials. I do not out-source any part of the process. It means I have control over the work that I produce, and the ‘material miles’ or distances that my work travels is kept to a minimum.

When I make something I consider how it will be worn. The item needs to be easy to use. For example brooch pins need to penetrate clothing easily without causing damage, and close securely. And the brooch must sit in place without pulling at the fabric. For earrings comfort and weight are important. If the piece is well-made and has artistic merit, it will have value no matter what it is made from. So the owner will enjoy the work and value it. It is important for everything I make to have considered design.

Ethics are important to me as well. Where possible I use recycled silver, and I work with found materials such as automotive steel as well. I purchase nanosital* or lab-grown stones rather than mined. I consider waste disposal, and avoid dangerous chemicals and processes. I want my impact on the environment to be minimal. I design my own work. It is why I make in the first place, so appropriating work is just not appropriate.

What happens at the end of an objects’ life? I’m not sure I can answer that. If something is made from precious metals and stones at worst those materials will be recycled. An old bracelet may be melted down and remade into something else, which is perfectly fine. If I make something from recycled or found materials I hope that it has a perceived value that keeps it relevant. If it doesn’t, maybe it is thrown away, in which case it might add to landfill. Metal from the earth returning to the earth. At least it is not a contaminant.

I know my work as a maker is art. It is not vital to the economy or a needed product. I make objects of adornment – jewellery and associated objects. What is vital is that whatever I do is considered, and as well designed as I can make it so that it continues to have relevance in the future with the least possible impact on the environment now. I hope that my work is seen as being made with integrity.

*Nanosital is a manufactured glass-ceramic material with the same properties as the mined equivalant.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *