Daniel Craig, the most recent James Bond, isn't what you'd call handsome. The Rolling Stone called him a "rugged, jug-eared Brit, whose irregular features improbably radiate a megawatt star charisma". My partner told me about a French phrase, belle-laide, which means "ugly beauty". That's Craig - it's a look I like, and not just in people.
Yesterday I wrote that the more I work with pmc the less I care about making pretty pieces. It's not that I don't care at all, but sometimes the process is more interesting, more compelling than the final product. So there are times when I have a decent looking piece of silver that could be turned into an acceptably pretty piece of jewelry, but I can't help but push it. I hammer it, torch it, twist it to see what happens. Recently I sold a necklace that I think is very much in the belle-laide category. When I listed it, I honestly didn't think anyone would buy it, though I quite liked it. The first thing my partner said when she saw it was "That's creepy." I named it the Xena pendant (as in Xena, Warrior Princess, a guilty pleasure), but at home we called it The Mouth of Doom. An acquaintance bought it the other night and when she tried it on I was really taken aback at how much better it looked on her than it did in the photographs or even on me. Some pieces of jewelry don't really show you what they are until they're worn by the right person.
Working this way is exciting -- you have to be willing to trust your instincts, take risks, and enjoy the outcome - even if it's not pretty. It also means that sometimes things go terribly wrong and instead of something pretty or even belle-laide, I end up with a bunch of truly ugly bits, like these. I've heard that some places will melt scrap into raw material, but some of these pieces are enameled or have non-silver wire fused into them, so I think that option is out. Perhaps I'll collect a few more of these plug uglies and make a charmless bracelet.
There's a piece I'm working on that's similar to the Xena pendant. It's a combination of heavy gauge sterling silver wire and fine silver and it's really been through the wringer. It's not finished and I've been puzzling about where to go with it for a couple of days. The frame and teeth are sterling silver wire, the organic looking center is pmc - it's sitting on a coiled, fused base of thinner gauge sterling silver wire. What I can't decide is whether to fill the area between the center and the frame with weirdly organic petals or pods or tentacles. And if yes, then what should they be made of? More pmc? pmc touched with gold? more sterling wire? polyclay in odd organic colors and shapes? chunks of enamel? paper? And do I cover up the coiled, fused backside or just let that be part of the design? In other words, how do I move this piece from creepy to Daniel Craig? So far I think I've achieved "rugged", "jug-eared", and "irregular". The question is, how do I get it to "radiate a megawatt star charisma"? Stay tuned.