(Joyce) #1
of Pennsylvania and author of Wired
to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries
of the Creative Mind. People who are
more inspired in their daily lives tend
to set goals and are more likely to
attain them, Kaufman says. Research
shows “inspiration can be activated,
captured, and manipulated.”

I can’t tell you how many times
makers have told me they take walks
for inspiration. You can often guess
what kind of environment they live in
by the jewelry they create. Barbara
Bayne and Carolyn Morris Bach
walk in the woods near their homes.
Wendy McAllister goes to the aquar-
ium or gardens. Chihiro Makio told
me an orange tree in her yard gave
her the inspiration for a necklace that
won a Niche Award.
Some artists draw on memories of
familiar places. “People look at my
jewelry and ask where I grew up,” So
Young Park says. “When I tell them I
lived by the sea, they say ‘I knew it.’
I spent a lot of time playing on the
beach and I think those memories
find their way into my jewelry.”
I don’t think anyone would be
surprised to learn Biba Schutz lives in
New York City, where she finds ideas
all around her. “I walk and I look and
I see. I live in a city that’s filled with
buildings and with shadows and neg-
ative and positive space, construc-
tion. The botanicals are urban rather
than rural,” she says. “Besides the
fact that I live with all that amazing
culture, there is plenty of inspiration
just being on the street.”
There is a kind of jewelry that
comes from the process itself. Biba
makes that kind as well. Her glass

jewelry, for example, comes from
blowing a glass bubble, slicing it
open, and then designing the metal
around the form. The overall design
is still urban industrial, it still comes
from Biba’s surroundings on some
level, but the creativity behind these
pieces is more organic.

You can find a ton of nerdy academic
debate over whether “deliberate
practice” aids in creativity. One side
argues that an artist needs to put in
serious time at the bench — whether
it’s a workbench or a piano bench
— before they can achieve fluidity in
their art form.
In his 2008 book Outliers, Malcolm
Gladwell suggested that mastering
anything requires 10,000 hours of
practice. His examples included
the Beatles, who spent many hours
playing in German clubs before they
found their sound.
In his book So Good They Can’t
Ignore You, Cal Newport expands on
this theory, claiming super-successful
people are experts at practicing. They
expand their abilities by pushing
themselves to the limit of their skill
set day after day. Academics call this
“deliberate practice.”
Putting in the hours is not a guar-
antee of success, as Paul McCartney
pointed out after reading Outliers, but
it’s a requisite. “There were an awful
lot of bands that were out in Hamburg
who put in 10,000 hours and didn’t
make it,” McCartney said. “I think,
however, when you look at a group

who has been successful... I think
you always will find that amount of
work in the background.”
From observing the evolution
of many jewelry careers over the
past couple decades, I would say
jewelry artists who stick to the path
throughout their careers — and who
continue to spend regular time at the
bench — tend to have the creativity
part built in. “I don’t even think about
it anymore. My hands just do it,”
Carolyn Morris Bach once told me a
few decades into her prolific career.
Sydney Lynch said something
similar not long before she retired
last year, that her tools felt like an
extension of her arm after decades of
making jewelry every day. At a certain
point, repetition reaches a tipping
point and muscle memory takes over.
You have at this point reached the
height of your technical expertise,
your design vocabulary is established,
and you’re free to improvise. The
challenge at that point in your career
is to avoid apathy and keep exploring,
keep the inspiration alive.
At this point in her career, Biba has
learned various ways to tap into her
creative side — and one is to give
herself a break if the muse doesn’t
show up. “If I’m frustrated, I go for a
walk,” she says. “And I doodle all the
time, wherever I am. I don’t analyze it
too much.”

jewelry and business for Town & Country,
JCK, The Washington Post, and her own
site, TheJewelryLoupe.com. 

Defining your brand is important, but it has

to evolve. As jewelry artist Thomas Mann

once told me about his customers: “They
like you to change, just not too much.”

“People look at my jewelry and ask where I

grew up,” So Young Park says. “When I tell them
I lived by the sea, they say ‘I knew it.’ I spent a

lot of time playing on the beach and I think those
memories find their way into my jewelry.”

MAY/JUNE 2020 11

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“How Successful Studio
Jewelers Get Creative”

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