What is ‘art-to wear jewellery and how is it different to any other type of jewellery and adornment?
I have demonstrated many times the process involved with off-loom bead weaving that makes up my pieces; the picking up of those tiny beads, usually one at a time, onto a long thin needle and thread and weaving into another bead, gently shaping the beads with increases and decreases of stitches into forms that, when put together make recognisable shapes such as petals and leaves. This is a time consuming art form and whilst it is true that some stitches can grow a piece of beadwork more quickly than other stitches, it is still a slow methodical process. Usually when people see how I have created the jewellery a better understanding and acceptance of the value of the jewellery emerges. I never like to claim that jewellery made in this way is ‘costume’; for me I reserve that term to those mass produced items that have been cheaply imported into the country from afar and sold in department stores and market stalls. There is nothing wrong with this type of jewellery, it serves its purpose as a cheerful adornment and can be thrown away after a few occasions of wear without any guilt, much like clothes bought in supermarkets and some well-known chain stores.
I prefer to refer to my creations as ‘art-to-wear’. It is unique; even if I reproduce a piece to the same design because it is handmade chances are something will differ with the end product. My jewellery may use semi-precious stones or 24 karat gold plated beads but no, it is not solid gold or platinum nor does it have diamonds in it, but those pieces bought in fancy jewellery shops are, on the whole, also mass produced with one gold chain and pendant looking exactly like the next gold chain and pendant because they are produced by machines.
Beaded jewellery made by bead artists is different; it is worn by women who are not afraid of being different. Confident women who are happy to stand out and who like the idea of knowing that no one else has a piece just like this one. Art-to-wear jewellery is considered, (just as any art work is considered), from the initial concept through to the execution. It has been designed with an eye to both form and function; it is a visual representation of an idea or emotion.
In this respect beaded jewellery should be regarded as art, useful art that you can wear and take with you wherever you go and not just stick on a wall to admire!