Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Art of Restraint

A very kind woman gifted me with a very generous compliment the other week:

" do something very mature, as an artist. You know when to stop with a piece. Most people load on all but the kitchen sink, but your pieces are restrained and elegant. That is a rare quality." 

When I stopped grinning, squealing, and blushing like mad, I had to pause and think, because she hit on something that I strive very hard to emphasize with my pieces: less is more; more is just more. 

As designers, it can be hard to self-edit, especially when you're surrounded by mounds of attractive, colorful, shapely unique beads:

"Ooooooo, I've always loved these beads, let's add in a couple here."
"Ack, the colors of these match those perfectly, let's add in a couple here."
"Crap, I forgot I wanted to include these stones, let's add in a couple here." 

And before we know it, our designs can get unwieldy, impractical, and sometimes gaudy. 

Knowing when to stop or when to remove components from a design can be a tricky thing. We may feel like we are dumbing things down, like we haven't invested enough time and creative energy into a piece, like it's too simple. I'm here to tell you that's BS! Unless you're planning on hitting the red carpet, a runway, or an art gallery opening somewhere, most people don't typically wear ginormous overwrought pieces of jewelry. Not that there's anything wrong with statement pieces - I do plenty of those - that's a discussion for another day!

Case in point: these demure ceramic raku squares from local artist Jennifer Pottner of Urban Raku. Her work is INCREDIBLE. I visited with her the other week at a local bead show and snagged this pair from her table. Their muted, velvety dark gold and plum hues really spoke to me - the colors of autumn without clubbing you over the head with pumpkins and scarecrows and bright orange and all that. The size on the squares was enough to make a statement itself, plus I didn't want to cover up too much of that beautiful finish. So I chose to give them simple ridged soldered "belts". Sleek, geometric, artful, and restrained as all get out.

So the next time you're feeling the need to do more, ask yourself if you could actually do with a little less :) 

Happy Wednesday!
LoveRoot on Etsy


  1. I struggle with this more/less thing a whole heap, especially with earrings. These are perfect - your additions are relatively understated but they make the earrings totally Nikki.

  2. Well stated - and you certainly did right by those beautiful ceramic pieces. xo -- Julie

  3. I completely agree! I also struggle with these questions and I think you're an expert :-)

  4. I agree with the "less is more" statement---and these beautiful earrings attest to it! Just love what you chose to do with the solder---absolutely perfect with the rake squares.

  5. I too struggle very much with the more/less thing. So if you are planning to give a course here in lovely Greece....;-) Such a wonderful compliment and you totally deserve it. You know how to do beads justice with the less is more thing. These earrings rock.