Thursday, November 17, 2011

guest post - luthien thye

ARTform or CRAFTform

I have often pondered about whether I consider jewelry making a form of art or a
form of craft. Or more personally, the jewelry I make, is it a craft? Am I a crafter? Or
can I call myself an artist?

Most of the time I just end up calling it “work”… or “my work”. When in doubt … find
a replacement! LOL!!

Having said that, I am guilty of calling myself both … depending on process. There
are times when I feel profoundly satisfied with a piece of jewelry that I have made …
these are the times when I feel that “yes!” factor. And for those few moments, I feel
like an artist.

I am by no means putting down the craftsmen. For at times when a piece I make
turns out beautifully crafted … I am also guilty of smugly thinking … “ahhh excellent
craftsmanship dorlin’ !” ;P

How do you make a finely crafted piece of jewelry turn into a work of art? Well,
impeccable craftsmanship definitely, and perhaps, ingenuity and creativity? Your
ability to create something out of the norm that is uniquely you. Work that people
can tell from miles away that it belongs to you. Experimentation is so important
here. It is not unlike an alchemist looking for a way to make gold out of base metals.
Trying and re-trying to create the best concoction out of your (limited) stash. Not
just the act of plonking everything together, but a thoughtful and lyrical assemblage
of elements and objects. (oh btw … did you know that the Japanese have found a
way to make gold out of base metal already? But the process is so expensive that it’s
cheaper to mine the gold instead!!)

And maybe, making the work “official”? What I mean is, many of us make
jewelry “on a part time basis”. Our full time job is being a mom. Well … at least that’s
me. So if I get to do this full time (say … when my kids are all grown and I have a
REAL studio!! Not my 29x29 inch space!!) … should I feel like I’m more of an artist?
Real work as opposed to just a hobby? Does it make me a REAL artist, or is this just a
state of mind?

All factors considered, I do genuinely think that to label a piece of creation “art”,
there is no other more important factor than the element of SOUL. Now coming
back to my “yes!” factor. I find that I get more “yeses” when the piece of jewelry I
create feels more than just a piece of finely crafted adornment. It feels like it has a
soul, it has a story to tell … my story. Perhaps art is such. It has to come from within
the psyche of its creator. It is the manifestation of bits and pieces of the artist, her
experiences in life, her inspirations, her aspirations, her stories … her world(s).

I came across this quote by St Francis of Assisi which made me smile … guess I’m not
that far away J

He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.

I would love to know what other jewelry artists think … what are your thoughts?
Is jewelry making an Artform or is it a Craftform? Or is it such a subjective subject-
matter that not in a zenmillion years anyone would have the true answer to it.

thank you so much luthien -

you can learn more about luthien here...
& on

if you didn't already know, we are having a double giveaway this month with work from erin prais-hintz and jean wells...
looking forward to seeing the art spark creations inspired by 'gratitude'...


SummersStudio said...

Interesting and good discussion. I started out as a potter and as such I've more or less always thought of myself as more of a craftsman or artisan because pottery was always considered a craft rather than fine art like painting. Although the debate could get quite heated. I do like the St Francis of Assisi quote and looking at where your heart is for definition of art. That leaves open much room for expansion of traditional definitions of art.

Beads2Die4 said...

Love the St. Francis quote. I call myself a jewelry artist whether I feel I am there or not because I think actions begin with words and thoughts. When I look back on my early work and I am amazed with how far I have evolved my "craft" over time and I know I still have a long way to go but the artist in me is there and I nuture and honor her.

Artisan Beads Plus said...

I think it is both. If you put a part of yourself into it and alter jewelry using what comes from your heart rather than trying to imitate another, it is an art in my opinion. I use the word "imitate" rather than "copy" for a reason. There are many mixed opinions on that topic. I consider what I do an art since it is always related to my thoughts, mood at the time and experiences.
It's an evolving process.

Lela Bouse-McCracken said...

Oh I do love that St Francis quote! Gotta borrow that one. :)

I'm just getting back into jewelry design, but I consider myself an artist. I think the reason I do is because I also create with paint, collage materials, etc. I'm not sure where I arrived at this, but I've always considered that a craftsman creates items for household pottery items, metalsmithing, wooden furniture items, etc. HOWEVER, having said that all of the above can obviously be artists when designing and creating sculptures, wall art, jewelry, jewelry components, etc.

Wow, I wonder how many toes I stepped on with that? ;)

Good food for thought.

stregata said...

Thanks for sharing the St. Francis quote - I am going to put that in my journal...
I think jewelry can be art or craft - just as not every painting is art. Probably not ever going to be conclusively answered - 'what is art' is a topic for philosophers.

Leona said...

This is a great post and certainly something to consider. Not all jewellery is art, in my opinion. I call myself an artisan jeweller and just looked in wikipedia at "artisan" -
I like the way the St. Francis quote defines it and agree that crucial ingredients are heart and soul. :0


Marie Cramp said...

No time right now to read the post, but all these pictures are too amazing not to leave a comment right this second and come back later to read the details! Love it!!

Marie Cramp said...

I have come back and taken the time to read your words and I would have to say that you can consider them to be both! Your craft is Art! That makes you both an artist and a craftsman. Of course after looking at your work, I would tend to categorize you more into Art! I can really feel a small piece of your soul in each design. I like to call my own jewelry "Art Jewelry". I say this because of the amount of art beads I use in my designs and my use or assembly of them.
So those are my thoughts!

Patty said...

Your jewelry is breathtaking, and certainly qualifies as art. The quote leaves room for any piece, by any creator to be either craft or art. My favorite pieces are the ones reflecting the passion and soul of their creators.

mairedodd said...

luthien, this is a debate i love - just for the interest... i tend to do what you do and just call it 'work'... it's funny, but the longer i work and the more i learn, the more i wonder what the classification is? or is the important thing just to be true to yourself and let your work tell the story?
your work is always so beautiful and meaningful...

Kelli said...

Artisan or Craftsman? I've struggled with that myself. My sister tells me I now "create art", so am I an artist? I have had to stop selling at "craft shows". My jewelry and my prices no longer fit "craft" shows, or what people expect to find there. I have to pay the higher prices, be juried in, and sell at "art" shows. So...... ???
I just know I create what I love, from the heart. I am influenced by others I consider to be true artists, whose heart and passion you can see shining out through their pieces.

Luthien said...

hello ladies :)
it was wonderful reading all your responses on this topic. i have learned so much just by reading what each and everyone of you had to say, and i think that i can safely say that we all agree on one thing ... that art has to come from the heart (or soul)

thank you to those of you who came to visit me at my blog and left comments there as well :)

this is actually my first guest post and it was great fun especially having been able to connect with all the like minded, experience and wonderful people here at LMAJ. thank you Maire ... for giving me this opportunity :)

have a creative weekend all ... it's time i went back to my full time job ;) my big girl has a concert this Saturday at her kindie ... and we are all excited! esp mommy ;)

Luthien :)

Barbara Bechtel said...

I've always called what I do "the work" too.

So many times, the world around us needs a label for what we do and we end up finding the closest denominator for what the work is. As I continue to work, I have become less concerned with what that label is and try to let the work speak for itself.

Always such a great conversation!

Izzy said...

I try to avoid the labels all together, but if I had to I'd call myself a craftsmanartisanartist with a BIG heart... =)

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