What’s in a Name?

What’s in a name?

I get a lot of questions about why I name jewelry what I do, so I thought I should explain a bit more as to how I came to the defining theme in the names of my collection.

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Vivant – Vivacious

I feel like so many designers out there have chosen names that are ladies given names, and I really wanted to express concepts that would mean something to me, that represented something that I felt, or something that inspired me while I was working on a piece, whether that be something descriptive of the actual piece itself (there could not be another name for Feuilles Dorées) or a name that had some quality that I felt the piece represented. I also try to keep each item upbeat, often thinking of qualities I would like my daughter to possess, or traits that inspirational women in my life embody. Every once in a while I even let a client name a piece themselves.

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Résistance – Strength

I actually put a lot of time into picking a name for each piece, taking into account every element of the item and every thought, word and feeling that ended up becoming that item. Unless inspiration hits and I fully flesh out an item within a few minutes, many hours of brainstorming, writing down words, drawing, thinking and sometimes staring at a blank piece of paper goes into each item. Often the name for a piece shows up somewhere from the beginning, as one of the defining concepts or an errant thought I have while trying to put a vision into words.

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Aurore – Dawn

Now, I chose French because of my background in pastry and culinary arts. French is basically the unofficial language of fine dining restaurants (though it could be debated that it should be Spanish) and as a result, I have a decent repertoire of French vocabulary terms floating around in my brain, though they are mostly related to cooking and food! No, I am not French (as far as I know), but I have two close friends that speak it fluently, and when I have questions about correct and accurate language usage, I have people to ask. Besides, French is the language of love, and while it may sound somewhat cliche, I love what I do.

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Papillon – Butterfly

French is not a super popular language within the United States, I realize that people may struggle with pronunciation, which is why I added what the English translation alongside the French on each piece’s page.  Please don’t feel bad about not being able to pronounce the names – I have struggled with languages my entire life (lets not talk about how I have had years and years of formal Spanish education and can barely speak any of it) and still mangle words at times!

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Voeu – Wish

So if you have ever wondered, that’s why I have a bunch of French words as the names of my jewelry!

As is par for the course, renovations are not done yet, though there is light at the end of the tunnel! Painting is getting closer and closer to being done, and I should have a new studio by March 1!

In the meantime, I’m working on some custom projects, including some more pear shapes, one of the most challenging but interesting shapes, in my humble opinion. Also included in that is a large project, or parcel of projects that has so many stones, I have been having a hard time figuring out where to start!

I’ve received requests for a new page to be added to my website, one page that has all of my custom work and designs together. Hopefully soon I can put some time into adding that. I will also put another jewelry item to the site in the next couple weeks – the Espoir ring.

New items were added to the etsy shop this past week – a yellow diamond ring and a red spinel and diamond ring among them!

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Musings, Mise En Place, Pastry

Back when I used to be a pastry chef, I struggled with cake decorating quite a bit. I felt like there was often too much empty space to fill up. I think that it’s one of the reasons I loved creating composed dessert plates so much, I could create the dessert items and they turned into the decoration for the plate, rather than covering the dessert in decorations. I have always struggled with creating something completely from scratch – having a huge blank canvas to fill, rather than having at least a starting point to grow from. You can’t grow a plant without a seed.

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I remember with finding inspiration for a composed dessert, considering flavor profiles, and utilizing the colors that naturally came with those flavors as my starting points, and building from there. The dish that comes to mind is one made with cherry mousse and white peach mousse with a pistachio cake – using a barely there peach, a bright pink-red and the muted pistachio green to bring interest and brightness to the dessert, while also standing out among all of the chocolate/vanilla colors. The dessert in it’s entirety was beautiful, with wonderful colors that are organic to the item itself. Those flavors came from items that had interesting colors to begin with. Perhaps this is why I have such a hard time with filling space just to fill space – if the design element doesn’t make sense, if it doesn’t come from an organic place, why add it? And that is likely why I had (and have) such a hard time with decorating cakes. My own wedding cake had no decorations but chocolate covered strawberries and fresh berries on it.

Much like the beaten to death line from every traditionally trained chef I’ve ever met, “If it’s not edible, it doesn’t belong on the plate.” Period.

And in bringing up my pastry background, I think I’ve finally come to the realization that this is the place where I get my overthinking from. Mise en place is the French phrase that means “everything in it’s place” and it’s the very first thing that every cook is taught – before service, every item you will need for service must be ready. Preparation is absolutely everything in cooking, without preparation, you’d immediately be thrown in the weeds when service starts and you need something you don’t have at the ready.

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So I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m much happier starting out with a smaller canvas to fill, the item of jewelry, typically with a built in starting point, rather than with the huge blank canvas of something such as a wedding cake, or even a birthday cake. It’s much easier to fill the space, to add just a little, and have that small element mean a lot more.

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So along those lines, I have two more ring designs coming up that will be added to The Elle Collection, a true solitaire (no accent stones) named for one of my mentors, as well as a ring that will have some small diamond accented elements, but will be mostly a solitaire as well. I think that these will be added before the end of the year and I’m so excited about them!

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I’ve been a bit all over the place this week, with some family stuff going on, and preparing for Halloween with a little kid and her activities to contend with, so I’ve been a bit overwhelmed with things outside, but also I will be debuting two new bands in November (rather than the end of October, as I had originally planned) because I’d been getting so much interest in one, and I’m just in love with the lines of the other.

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There are less than 8 weeks left until Christmas, and while I will still be selling ready-made items until the week before, custom items are already going to be difficult to complete and have delivered by Christmas, if they aren’t already in the planning stages. I would recommend requesting any stock items from the Elle Collection to be ordered before Thanksgiving to arrive by Christmas, to allow for production time with the holiday rush.

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I also wanted to mention that I do have a coupon on etsy running right now for 20% off orders over $100 running through November 7th (this coming Saturday!) so take advantage of it before it’s gone! The coupon code for that is “BURMESERUBY” (no quotes) and you can visit my Facebook page for the story behind the coupon.

Art of Any Medium

Sometimes you lose your drive and your inspiration. I’ve been so stressed out with everything, moving and selling our house that I’ve just been blah in every aspect of my life, except for sleeping. Yesterday my husband and daughter went to work and gave me some peace and quiet. I told myself that I wouldn’t do any chores and forced myself to try to relax and get with the program. Let me deviate for a bit.

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About a week ago, I won a print of a beautiful asscher cut diamond painting done by Angie Crabtree. Part of winning that particular contest was that she would name it after me. You can check out “Elle” here: Angie Crabtree

 

Now, I’d been following Angie around instagram for a bit, admiring her diamond painting work. She has recently gotten several inquiries asking if she would do a gemstone photograph, and she replied that she would. But she wanted a straight on high resolution photo to paint from. So I decided today was the day to challenge myself to try to get a straight on photo of a gem that was high resolution and good enough to paint from. Short story, I did not achieve my goal, but did get some nice photos anyway.

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Still feeling rather blah, I sat down on my couch and turned on Netflix. I’ve mentioned before that I was a pastry chef, and I was incredibly serious about it. I went to culinary school with the mindset that I would be a savory chef, and leave that sissy pastry stuff to people who couldn’t hack it in a real kitchen. Then I started baking and pastry classes, and it was all over. I was entranced by the artistry of pastry and the fact that I felt as though I was completely unencumbered by the mediums, after all, I could take flour, sugar and butter and transform it into anything, rather than trying to mold a chicken breast into something else that didn’t make sense. Later, I would learn that that wasn’t exactly the case, but I was already too in love with the art and specific science of pastry. So I flicked through several suggested shows, and I see something called “Chef’s Table”, and figure “Why the hell not?”

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I want to thank Massimo Bottura for lifting me out of my funk and reminding me of my passion for the beautiful, for pushing boundaries, and questioning traditions. And making me remember that some of the best creations come from accidents.

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I feel better now.

 

Aesthetic & Philosophy

I’ve had some questions recently about my particular design philosophy, so I figured I’d talk about that a little bit.

I tend to do really rough sketches before I get to a general shape or aspect that I like enough to start working with. Sometimes I will see something, whether it’s a shape in a pattern, or a flower, a color combination, or anything really. I never know what will inspire me, and I always have a sketch book close at hand.

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Often I really like to watch and wait for a stone to tell me how it wants to be set. I realize that that can sound corny, but I want the stone to have a setting completely designed around it and for it. I think that some stock settings can work for a variety of stones, and while I appreciate that, I don’t find it to truly work for things I like to produce. I like to make custom designs that are specifically made for a specific stone or stones.

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I love the unexpected. I am just about impossible to surprise, but I love to surprise others, or just catch them off guard with something awesome. I expect that from my jewelry too. I don’t want to make something that has predictable elements. This is much harder than you might think! I embrace an amount of whimsy, considering it to be key in making a jewelry item intriguing. I think jewelry should be striking and delightful.

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I have been heavily influenced by my past, working in the food service industry. In fact, I credit my art and design professor in pastry school as really pushing me and making me feel potential within myself to take ingredients and make them into art, with height, color, temperature, texture and finally flavor. He pushed me to see the plate as a canvas, not as a something so mundane as a plate. When I originally decided to go to culinary school, I wanted to work in the savory side, but it was after starting with baking and pastry that I came to realize that the sky really is the limit aesthetically when it comes to 5 simple ingredients: eggs, flour, sugar, butter and dairy. I learned that it was only my imagination that was holding me back. My first art project in his class was a collage – black, blue, and white, incorporating gems/jewelry cut from magazines into the night sky. Taking pieces of something, and combining them into something entirely different.

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It was after my culinary stint that I was, uh, pushed into furthering my education into a Bachelor’s degree, and turned an art history major into Psychology, concentrating in romantic relationships and gender. That influence has been more abstract, giving me a better understanding and view of humanity through romantic relationships.

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Ultimately, I take a look at the solid gemstone I have in front of me. I see the lifestyle, the tastes and desires of the person who will be wearing it, and let intuition guide me into combining the structural needs with my unique aesthetic and melding it with unexpected elements to create something that is distinctive, extraordinary and flavored specifically for it’s owner.

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