shared thoughts

Open your eyes and trust your inner voice

I will have to admit that I am an impulse shopper when it comes to buying materials for my jewelry projects. Certain materials speak to my inner thoughts of beauty and that is what really drives the creative process. Of course I have a list of criteria in my mind of what will make the cut and why... that makes sense to me, but may not make sense to everyone, initially. This list is something that expands and could also change, the more time you spend experimenting, learning, and growing. In the mind of an artist any everyday event is an opportunity to visualize the possibility of what could be. Taking the time to just look at the materials that I find visually pleasing based on individual merit takes on a personality all its own as I add more to the mix of materials. And so it begins... while working on one project, so many more ideas come to the surface just waiting to be realized.   

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Why jewelry?

I like to wear jewelry because jewelry can be very complimentary to an outfit that I love, it sets the tone visually for how I feel, how I want to look, and without it I feel naked and incomplete. Jewelry gives me the ability to artistically express me... Being one who loves to make, and wear jewelry, I wholeheartedly embrace the old saying about "variety is the spice of life". 

Liquid sterling silver and swarovski crystal necklace.

Liquid sterling silver and swarovski crystal necklace.

design choices, shared thoughts

Unexpected delight can be achieved with unusual pairings

I love native american style jewelry. I also love pearls. I can't think of a reason why not to enjoy them all at the same time. What if..... this is a question I ask myself often while in my workshop and most often act on that thought. I'm not saying that every idea Iv'e had has been brilliant, but if at first it is not the desired effect, it's time for an evolution to occur. It seems that there are always certain spoken or unspoken rules that dictate the normal standard of how to do just about anything. This can be boring or troublesome to someone who thinks outside the box so I say "walk your own walk and follow your vision, the path less taken isn't always easy but it sure is satisfying sometimes."

Bronze coil wrapped Freshwater Pearl Necklace.

Bronze coil wrapped Freshwater Pearl Necklace.

design choices

Follow your own intuition and make it your own style

As a jewelry artist I sometimes struggle with trying to identify with one particular style as my own. When I create and design it is based most often on inspiration I received visually from color materials or even just being in the moment. I must say that my workshop is full of things that I find inspirational and at some point will find a purpose in one of my creations. I think that a lot of the designs I make and materials I enjoy working with give my pieces a certain native american or tribal style. Sometimes I make things that have a native style using nontraditional materials. If I have to come up with a term to describe my jewelry style I think it would have to be "eclectic" because I do not feel the need to confine my style or what I make to one particular thing. 

Bronze freshwater pearls and turquoise make a striking combination with a southwestern flair.

Bronze freshwater pearls and turquoise make a striking combination with a southwestern flair.

shared thoughts

Seeking out the unusual

Having been interested in artistic expression for most of my life I have become a pack rat of sorts. I enjoy finding unusual materials to create my jewelry with. I know the instant I see something that captures my attention that I will make something amazing, I don't always know exactly what it will be, so I am big on the impulse shopping if I am that moved and inspired. I have found in the past that some things are there when you see them and then gone tomorrow....missed opportunity...

One of my favorite necklaces I created with one of my "impulse buys" is a carved bone butterfly that is embellished with free-form New Zealand Paua Shell and Swarovski Crystals. This was made approximately 15 years after the purchase of the carved bone butterfly. I do have to admit that once I made the necklace and loved it so much I did try to locate more of the carved bone butterflies and found that the one I love so much is no longer available. The same can be said about an unusual piece of jewelry. If you find something that truly speaks to you then you should take action to acquire it for "later" it might be gone.  

Carved bone butterfly necklace with free-form New Zealand paua shell and swarovski crystals

Carved bone butterfly necklace with free-form New Zealand paua shell and swarovski crystals

design choices

Black makes neutral beautiful.

Black is one of my favorite "neutral colors to work with. The color black does make a big statement on its own but it does work well with just about any color. The pairing of black bone, black horn, and black onyx provides a very polished and sophisticated look....add a little rainbow pyrite and the possibilities of " what clothing options will it go with" are endless...

design choices

Double check is not just for insurance policies

 I appreciate the natural beauty of each individual component involved in a build. Inspecting each component ensures that the materials are not flawed and that the quality meets my personal standards. This is a step in the process that can be very time consuming but is time well spent. I only want to put my name on a product that that reflects my commitment to excellence.

This is a sight that makes me happy because it means I am compiling all materials for the build, the not so good part is that the pearls in the glass jar were not up to my standards so they are not usable as jewelry. I think that they will later become part of a design on a mosaic piece of art.

This is a sight that makes me happy because it means I am compiling all materials for the build, the not so good part is that the pearls in the glass jar were not up to my standards so they are not usable as jewelry. I think that they will later become part of a design on a mosaic piece of art.

I have a deep appreciation for natural beauty

 I make jewelry because I have a wonderful gift of seeing beauty in just about anything. I have a fascination and love of natural materials and the mystery of how it can be just plain beautiful gratis of mother nature. The desire to create, build and work with my hands, mind and heart is a natural gift I received thanks to the great examples I witnessed from my parents and many other elders in the family. I am the first to make jewelry but the principles of craftsmanship, having a vision of my own and acting on that idea are a well ingrained part of who I am as a person and as an artist.  

Sometimes it is a labor of love

Every now and then I will begin working a project with the expectation that it will come together quickly and easily and half-way through the build will think "wow, this has really turned into a much bigger project than planned". At this point for me it becomes a labor of love because I just have to see the finished product. That was the situation I found myself in with this "Hammered Chainmail and Paua Shell Necklace. I absolutely love the look of the hammered metal.... I'm not sure how cost effective it would be to sell due to all the labor involved.

Customer has "special request"

Have you ever found something on the internet that you absolutely loved and wondered to yourself, "Will that work for me, will it fit me right". I had a customer message me with those exact concerns, so we had a conversation about length needed in the choker. I always include the length of the piece of jewelry in my listing description. Measure your neck if it is a choker, or if it is a necklace measure to see if the necklace would be the length you are comfortable with. If it isn't the right length for you, send me an e-mail at roberta@finedesignjewelrybyrobertaswift.com and lets make the necessary adjustments to make it the perfect fit for you, or build the perfect fit for you. I design and build custom jewelry. If you see something on my website that you love, chances are that you will not be able to find it in a store. My style is unique. Designing and building custom jewelry is my passion.

Finding a solution to this problem was simply adding an extension chain to increase the length. Top picture is the listing photo, bottom picture is the solution to the choker being to small. Communication = happy customer!

In search of the perfect shell

 When I first started making woven abalone jewelry, I came across some incredible New Zealand paua shell that was so bright and colorful, I was hooked from that moment on. I taught myself how to weave the small chip pieces together to create beautiful necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. Sometimes the quality I expect to get in the materials I work with changes, so I started to scour the internet to try to find someone with good quality abalone chip shell. I found a supplier that is based out of New Zealand. You can't get any closer to the source than that. I placed my order and eagerly awaited the arrival of my paua shell. When my package arrived I was very excited to inspect the quality of the shell, and I was not disappointed. This is what I was expecting... beautiful color, thinner cuts, most of the calcium deposits gone, it was very usable front and back. Let the designing process begin! When I make a piece of jewelry out of shell, I first carefully sort the shell by size, thickness, shape, color, and sometimes by the natural pattern that occurs on the shell. You cannot create balance and flow in a piece of jewelry by just randomly putting things together as you grab it out of a bag or box, it requires some thought and planning. Next comes drilling and filing as necessary, and then determining what metals, crystals, and beads best showcase the natural beauty of the shell. It is a process that takes time but it is well worth the effort when the project is complete.     

This is how it all begins, with an idea and the patience to pay attention to the small details.

This is how it all begins, with an idea and the patience to pay attention to the small details.

beads

HORN TO MAKE YOU HAPPY

Black horn beads, soon to be another must have piece of jewelry from Fine Design Jewelry by Roberta Swift.

Black horn beads, soon to be another must have piece of jewelry from Fine Design Jewelry by Roberta Swift.

I am always looking for new resources to find the best quality materials I can get. To me, there is nothing more beautiful than a beautifully carved horn bead. I happened across a new supplier the other day while searching for new and exciting materials for my projects....I must say I was not disappointed when my package arrived in the mail. The beads looked as good as the pictures they posted on their web-site. I am looking forward to posting my new listings when I finish working with these new materials.