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"Which misuse of a jewelry term most annoys you?"

"Which misuse of a jewelry term most annoys you? (i.e. cold enamel for resin)"

This is our monthly topic for several jewelry artists who participate in what we call our blog "carnival." 

I can't think of anything directly related to "misuse" of a term, so much as I get annoyed by misinterpretation of a term. Examples:

When I say "fabrication" to non-metalsmiths, they first think of "fabricate" as in "lie" or "fake," rather than something hewn from metal using hammers, saws, bending/forming and such. Whereas "forge" would conjure a more accurate image of the process.

The second annoyance is the still-common misperception of what metal clay is — it starts out as something more than clay: it's clay with metal in it. But it ends up solid metal. To the metalsmithing snobs out there who think that casting is "real metal work" but think working in metal clay isn't, consider this: there are (basically) three whole processes involved in casting, in order to get the end result of a metal object, and two of those processes involve no interaction with actual metal. Metal clay, however, is (basically) only two processes: forming and firing. The metal is there the whole time — you can even feel its heft in the piece as you work. There is no substitution of materials involved (as in casting, with the exchanging of wax for a void, and then filling that void with metal). So the misperception that metal objects created using metal clay are somehow less than metal or inferior, yeah — that irks me. 

If you really want to be a metalworking purist, then you need to do all of your work with manual hand tools and hammers, an anvil, and flame only — no rolling mills, no draw plates, no casting, no flex shaft motor tools, etc. But I'm not interested in puritanical views of metalwork. What I'd like to see is beautiful metal objects and jewelry created without anyone judging anyone else on how they got from concept to finished metal piece. What should matter is the creation.

Oh and here's another annoyance: people who string together only pre-made beads and parts, and call themselves "jewelry designers." That's not design. That's assembly.

See how my fellow jewelry artists responded to this topic (links will be added as I receive them from participants):

Andes Cruz

Angela Baduel-Crispin

Tamra Gentry

Lora Hart

Lorrene Baum-Davis

Elaine Luther

Tonya Davidson

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Reader Comments (8)

Thanks, Marco. I got a good chuckle out of this one. Good points.
December 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTamra
Great point Marco! And a very thoughtful post.
December 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLora
excellent post :)
December 18, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterandes
You had me until this last sentence... "Oh and here's another annoyance: people who string together only pre-made beads and parts, and call themselves "jewelry designers." That's not design. That's assembly."
Using a kit that has no imagination or to string something patterned substantially after someone else's design... that is what I would call "assembly".

I don't have the particular skill set that you obviously enjoy with metal fabrication. You make absolutely incredibly, drop dead gorgeous works of art. But to say that I am not a jewelry designer specifically becasue I created a piece of wearable art but didn't create the clasp, or set a stone, or form the clay, and fire it... that seems a bit arrogant to me. I think that there is room in this world for all of us to express our talents...and I celebrate that artistry in you. Someday I would love to have the time, money, training and talent to create my own unique components. I personally relish the challenge of finding artisan made components and using my imagination to inspire me to make those components sing and tell the story of the wearer... I like to incorporate those hand made pieces to my work to make it special but also to collaborate and support those jewelry designers as well. I make no two pieces alike and believe as you also do that each piece I make was intended to stand out, to be inspiring, to be one-of-a-kind.

I may not fully agree with you, but I thank you for making me think about this....

Enjoy the day!
December 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterErin
great post, but i have to agree with the above comment. you can make a piece of wearable art by stringing beads and other components. it still takes talent with combining colors, textures, beads, other components, etc. to create beautiful jewelry. I would call that designing. just because you didn't actually create any of the components, doesn't mean you can't design.

December 18, 2009 | Unregistered Commentersandra
@ Erin and Sandra — good points. Not trying to sound arrogant or elitist, but there seems to be a glut of people who aren't putting much imagination into it, and when I tell people what I do, I don't want to say "jewelry designer" because it too often conjures up that image of just stringing beads. If I say "jeweler," they think I do classical work and engagement rings, and if I say "metalsmith" they think I make horseshoes. LOL.
December 18, 2009 | Registered CommenterMarco Fleseri
Hi Marco - great post! I knew that you would get comments on your "assembly" thoughts. IMHO you are taking the maker's point of view instead of the buyer's viewpoint. If it looks good it is good - regardless of what techniques the maker used. The eye of the beholder is always the final judge. Good design and composition executed with flawless technique makes great art and jewelry. "A rose by any other name smells as sweet." is really false - it DOES MATTER what something is named. Take Faux Bone versus PVC for one example, or Fine Silver versus silver clay as another. "Nano technology" is my current hang up because it is implied that this is a new technique - man has been using nano since the first man heated clay to make a pot. Yes, clay has nano-sized particles (even some metal "clays" - none of which have any earth "clay" in them).
Assembly is a normal part of jewelry construction except for monolithic pieces that have no jewels. Does it really matter if the parts assembled are made by the same person as the finished piece? At the Bead and Button show I've seen outragiously beautiful art and jewelry constructed by the assembly technique. These makers are highly qualified to call themselves "jewelry designers" in my opinion.
December 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBill Struve
I run a small jewelry assembly studio. I assemble jewelry for designers. I have to say designers because it's their designs, their creations I am assembling. I have had the most intricate, complicated, intense designs cross my way that I can only shake my head and say "How did they come up with this?!" We also hand craft all their designs. We carry out their vision with our expert handiwork, just as a haute couture designer do with their team of experts in their related fields: seamstresses, millinery, embroidery, ect. Do they make the fabric, thread and needle to put these dresses together? No, but they design the frock and the team carries it out to completion with their name on it. A designer can be someone who can point and direct how they want their vision fulfilled, doesn't necessarily have to be forged by their hand. Interior designers, architectural designers, website designers, graphic designers, landscape designers, clothes designers and jewelry designers, ect are artists who carry out their vision and share their beautiful work with us all. There is a tough crowd out there that does judge what should be deemed "handmade" by an artist or designer. I just want to see everyone flourish with their incredible one of a kind ideas and creations so I can stand back and go "My o my!"
April 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMelindesign

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