Designing and Creating Jewelry - Ann K Organic Designs
I doubt that there is a woman on the planet who hasn’t at some time in her life, coveted owning a piece of finely crafted sterling silver or gold jewelry. I’m not talking about the mass market jewelry that floods our stores and abounds online. I’m talking about the kind of genius inspired, one-of-a-kind jewelry designs that are produced laboriously by the skilled hands of expert gold and silversmiths.
Recently Eye On Life Magazine became acquainted with Ann K Organic Designs by Ann K Brea. Her pieces are of the caliber that is best described as wearable organic gold and silver art, jewelry made of or inspired by nature. Her pieces bring jewelry back to the art form that inspires awe. It’s a sad fact that in recent years, jewelry has recently lost some of its artistic elements thanks to jewelry being made by machines in mass production. That’s not to say that costume jewelry doesn’t have its place. But it is a reality, that the jewelry industry went like a lot industries, to foreign outsourcing and the real jewelry designers, silver and goldsmiths, fell by the way side in terms of marketing favor when low cost jewelry became the norm vs. quality custom jewelry.
Making jewelry is a more than seven thousand year old art that mostly has not changed over time. The art of fine jewelry design still uses many of the same tools that have been in use for several hundred years and it once was a skilled trade that someone learned through apprenticeship. Ann K is one of those artists of fine jewelry design who has taken this art form to new levels -- as her vision of merging jewelry art cast in silver and gold, along with precious and semi precious gemstones with Mother Nature’s own exquisite beauty, is simply breathtaking. She uses such unusual mediums as pumpkin seeds, lentils, lilac buds,, small pinecones, flower buds, birch catkin, grape seeds, cherry pits, and chick peas.
Interview with Ann K
Carol Alt once said: “I hope that women everywhere will wear this jewelry and feel the passion and love that is, to me, the real sprit of true harmony.”
I began the interview with Ann K, with that sentiment, because it seems to me the marriage between nature and what is natural with silver and gold is one of the ultimate statements of true harmony. It also seems to me that the wearing of true harmony, expresses a statement of “I am a lover of what is truly beautiful” – just the way things should be. Ann K and her jewelry state this loud and clear for the entire world to see.
JW: Can you tell EOL readers a little bit about your background?
Ann K: I started collecting things I found outside in the woods at a very young age, much to my mother’s dismay as they started piling up in my room. At about the age ten, I started incorporating the found objects into macramé jewelry. When I was old enough I started working with silver and I never looked back. I still have more natural objects in my studio waiting to incorporate into my work as time permits. This means I’ll never get bored.
JW: What kind of formal training have you pursued?
Ann K: I have a BFA from the School for American Crafts at Rochester Institute of Technologies. I also have taken workshops from a few jewelry artists and worked for a few jewelry artists for a few years.
JW: Can you describe what your training was like?
Ann K: I am a curious person and my training has always been an exploration following my curiosity. College taught me how to seek out knowledge and learn for myself. After that it is all about practice and a little more practice.
JW: I’ve heard that the moment a goldsmith adds other elements, such as precious and semi precious stones, they technically become jewelers. I don’t mean in the sense someone who is buying and selling jewelry, but in the true art form sense of someone who designs jewelry. Do you define yourself as an artist, a goldsmith, a jewelry designer, or a jeweler?
Ann K: YES! All of the above and often it depends on the piece of jewelry that is being discussed. Some pieces I make because I have a need to roll up my sleeves and connect to the materials and how they combine together. Others are just for the design alone. Finally, some are just so I can spend a day with a hammer in my hand manipulating metal into fluid organic shapes.
JW: Tell us what it is like to have to work with such precision as your jewelry requires?
Ann K: I am not sure how to express that in words. My art is just what I do without thinking about it.
JW: What advice would you give to a novice jewelry designer who wants to become a professional?
Ann K: Just do it and have fun! We all do our best work when we are having fun and enjoying ourselves. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t, and also never give up! Get creative!
Ann K is a member of the Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG)