Artistic Block – Annette Piper

17 02 2009

Artistic block – have you ever had it? That awful feeling when you look at your bench or at your drawing board or at a blank canvas or at your sewing basket and go completely and utterly blank? When, if you force yourself, it just turns out wrong?

I was starting to get like that at the end of last year – I was tired out from shows almost every week, from filling orders, from creating when the well was almost dry. Sitting at my bench had become a habit, but one I really wasn’t enjoying. I knew I needed a break.

I have younger children and Christmas is a family time, as well as our summer holidays. So I just stopped. I switched off and tried not to think about work – tried not to think of shows I should/ could do, what I may need in stock, what supplies I had stockpiled, what new supplies I may need… Of course I didn’t always succeed, but by the middle of January (about a month into my ‘holiday’) I was a bit shocked when clients started popping in to look at jewellery or to get something made!

I thought about getting back to work when the children returned to school from their summer vacation at the end of January. After all, I had to prepare the winter collection. But it was so hot, I was still so tired and although I sat at my bench and moved some stones around – well, it just didn’t happen. I got up and left it.

I admit I became somewhat discouraged and the thought that ‘maybe I’ve lost my creativity’ did fleetingly go through my mind. But I decided to put that negative thought away and let it happen when I was ready.

Sure enough a creative burst was just around the corner … well a couple of weeks away, but not long in the course of a year!

I sat down and made a bracelet. Yes, I liked that. But nothing more came for a few days. This was obviously just a creative ‘warm up’.

Next, I did a necklace – it was rather challenging and took me a whole day to get just ‘right’. Then I finished off a necklace that had been sitting there for months – just needing an extra pair of hands to help me finish it off.

A week passed, then I decided to start pulling apart all those pieces that for some reason I had set aside – they either weren’t right or I had grown bored with them before I’d even finished with them. There were quite a lot from the last few years. (Yes, I also procrastinate!)

I deconstructed the first piece, I added some extra bits, I took others away, I fiddled and fussed and before I knew it, I was deeply engrossed in CREATING.

Yay, it’s back! I’m now in full creative mode and loving my work again!

A bright creation in lime, black and silver

A bright creation in lime, black and silver

To read more from Annette, visit her blog at and view her jewellery at


The Creation Process – Annette Piper

17 08 2008


A lot of people ask me how I manage to create the pieces that I do.  Its not that they’re that complex, but even simple pieces can take a lot of organizing!  


Unlike some designers who start with a design in mind, I start with a beautiful stone or strand of stones.  Beautiful to me of course.   When I look at them I see the possibilities of how they could be in a finished piece that would be attractive to wear, even if they don’t look that spectacular all by themselves.  


Some pieces you just know are going to be stunning and going to be snapped up quickly.  Others may quietly achieve and these can’t be discounted as there has to be items for those people who don’t like their jewellery to loudly announce their presence.


Once I have the stones I look at the colour, patterns, texture and automatically, possible combinations are being imagined.  I consider them all and those that may have some merit I haul out and place next to the stones, to see if there is that ‘spark’ that will make them irresistible, or whether there is a gentle acceptance of each other. 


Sometimes the possibilities that I imagine so vividly end up sitting there with their backs to each other in a standoff situation.   It’s okay, I realize I’m not always right.


After the basic combination is there, this is followed by moving things around and often a partial mock up to see if it will work.  Once that shows promise, it is ready to be completed.  

A combination like this can take quite a while to get just right

A combination like this can take quite a while to get 'just right'




With some of my more complex combinations it starts off the same way – to see if the individual stones looks great together.  Once I have that right, then I start tipping quantities into a container and keep adding to the mix until the overall look is ‘just right’.   Then comes the construction.


It can be quite a lengthy process.  The actual creation time may take half an hour or it may take days.  (Some pieces are very reluctant to change their state in those latter cases!)   The actual construction is usually fairly fast, but I have to be in the ‘mood’.   If I’m not, regardless of how good the combination is, it just won’t have the pizzazz of the pieces I make when feeling quite passionate about them.


It could reasonably be said that there is a little bit of me in all my pieces – through the creations process of my inspiration, my skill and my passion.  So when people buy my jewellery, they are buying a little touch of me too.

Do You Choose Your Style or Does it Choose You? – Deanna Chase

12 01 2008

Most artists have a style, whether they realize it or not. In fact I would venture to say all artist have their own style. The question is how do each of us find our own style? Do we find our style, or does it pick us? For me I would have to say my style choose me. I make mostly what is comfortable for me. It is very much the same as to what I wear and how I decorate my house.

Does this mean I don’t like to step out of my comfort zone? Probably. I like instant gratification. I like to make things and know they came out nice and pretty. It really is only when I get bored that I try new things. My new things are definitely influenced by the people around me. However, somehow I think my own personal style still shines through.

The staple of my line is surely my floral beads. These are heavily influenced by Kaye Husko, who taught me how to do them. However, it is clear when you look at each of ours, that they are different. Clearly that is our styles showing through. I can’t define it and I can’t explain it, but it is there. The placement, the colors, the designs, all similar, but when put together, they are distinctly different. It’s kind of fascinating really.



As for my recent explorations in marbles, those are heavily influenced by my husband Greg. Clearly, he is my teacher, and the one I look to for tips, ideas, and instruction. He is a whimsical artist at heart, and I can see some of that showing through in my pieces, but still there is that something different that shows through. Style. That piece that you just can’t put your finger on. At least I have trouble doing that.



Then there are the pieces that just grab you and a new idea is born. Like my dragon beads. A driven desire to make something similar to a picture on a book. I have a friend who calls it giving birth. Giving birth to a new idea, a new style, a new direction. It sure does feel like that too. Of course it isn’t really a new style is it? It is developing and using skills from our own styles that lead us to the new idea or piece.



I’d have to say that style grows, just as skills and interests do. It is ever changing, if we are growing, which is so important as an artist. Important not just for business growth, but for growth as an artist.


The Creation Process – Suzanne Tate

8 01 2008

I find it a bit hard to write about this topic.  I’m afraid, despite my Fine Art background, and my career as an Art Teacher, that I am a bit haphazard to say the least about my creative process.  I don’t really keep a sketchbook or visual diary, and I don’t often respond to external stimulus. Not even my amazing trip to Europe and Egypt last Christmas produced inspiration for my glass. I rarely even have an idea in my head when I head to the torch.  I just don’t seem to work that way.  For me, it’s more about combining colours, and utilising skills. 

Many of my best designs derive from dots, as that is a technique that I have practised and developed a level of skill. But I do love to produce designs that practise various skill, such as stringer control, encasing or sculpture.  I guess I am more often moved by what I can accomplish, rather than expressing emotions or inspiration. 

I do have one area of influence that frequently affects my glass.  I am a member of the SCA – a Medieval recreation society, and like to research and produce period style glass beads. That often means producing replicas, which isn’t very creative, but I do love to incorporate the period techniques and styles into more contemporary designs. 

My favourite dot beads are an example of that, as they are heavily influenced by the Chinese Warring States Beads.

So, more often than not, the creative process for me is sitting at my torch, picking up a colour glass that appeals to me at the moment, and making the first thing that comes into my head.  Or, making a conscious decision to focus on a particular skill.  Trying to make beads on a theme is a new process for me, but one I am working on for my involvement in the Modern Savages group. 

Sometimes I think that my working style tend to lean more to my glass as a craft, rather than art.  And I don’t see that as a bad thing. I think I’d rather be a good craftsman (creaftsperson?) than a mediocre artist….. 

But that’s a discussion for another day.