I hate this expression, but “there are many ways to skin a cat”, and so I suppose it is true of coming of age, and, well… “adulthood”.
It’s not that I was ever a rebel as such, it’s just that the status quo never looked like it would fit and nor was I interested in trying it on. I wasn’t a school flunk, it was all well and fine and if I applied myself to anything I could swing an A, or maybe a B, but I was also acutely aware that most of it was going to be absolutely irrelevant to me, and that my future lay a long way from the schools wrought iron gates.
It wasn’t a fight or a resistance, it was just an unwavering knowing.
Art and Theatre were the only things that made any sense. Oh. And tectonic plates, weather patterns and land formations. Those were all logical to me.
The same when it came to college. I did the rounds, I met with the schools, from the best to the most humble, I was amidst the frenzy of accumulating credits and making yourself “a stronger applicant”, and whilst it baffles me in retrospect, it was as if I was stood in the middle of a parking lot in the middle of a hurricane, and I managed to remain completely un-phased, and more to the point…. dry. I just knew it didn’t apply to me, I can’t explain why, but I didn’t do a damned thing to boost my credits or credentials, I just knew I wouldn't be going to any universities. It wasn’t about the money (back then in the UK it was free) or ability, it just didn’t look like my story. And then just like that, another door opened, and this plain Jane with a Saturday job in a hair salon, tripped into a career as a model. Yep, someone somewhere had the foresight to believe I could grow in to my awkward form, and saw past the train tracks, thick bangs and hamster cheeks.
(This was my first ever photo shoot. It was for Cosmo Bride and it was an absolutely adorable 1960s inspired bridal story)
Modeling was many things. It was confusing, it was comic, it was callous and it was a certified golden ticket the hell outta the small town that I came from. And oddly enough that ridiculous world sort of made sense. At 20 years old I went to New York City to meet with potential clients, and by day three I knew I wasn’t going back. There is an instinct about things sometimes, a “just knowing”, that you HAVE to believe in, because that is what will get you to where you are born to be.
So what on earth does that have to do with my jewelry? Well everything and nothing, as usual. When I started making jewelry, I quite adamantly wasn't in to stones. I took several courses on setting. I learned the lingo and techniques. But I didn’t like that side of the industry. I quite honestly didn’t like how women coveted and swooned over stones. I didn’t understand the mark ups I was seeing, and setting…. it just wasn't my jam.
And then I discovered “Cast in place”.
Cast in place is a bit of a backwards process. To really summarize it, its the setting of precious stones in to my wax carvings, pre casting, and then they get fired right in to the process. Using heat and sculpting tools I create unique and unconventional settings around my stones, allowing the wax to melt and flow as it wants to, and the stones to do pretty much as they please. When these dainty creations go to cast, it’s a gamble every time as to what will happen. The waxes with their embedded stones get put through immense heat, set in to plaster, put in a furnace, the wax melted out and molten metal poured into its cavity, encapsulating the stones in liquid gold. It’s magic! It’s unpredictable. It’s ultimately out of my control, and it makes perfect sense to me.
This is why I call it rebel setting. It doesn’t follow anyones rules, I wasn’t taught it, there is no precision, no production, no duplicates. It’s a curious trusting of elements to make something beautiful, and a gamble every time it goes to cast. It’s a one of a kind sort of thinking, and that sits just right with me.
- JM xx