Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Controlled Chaos

So much of what we do as artists boils down to this: controlling the chaos. 

Come on now, you know what I mean, I know you can relate. You have all these ideas and inspiration bubbling around in your hot little skull and they just won't give you a moment's peace:

  • You caught Blade Runner on TV the other weekend and its gritty cyberpunk cityscape has been haunting you. 
  • You were cleaning out the garden last spring and came across a fragile translucent snake skin snagged in some brush. 
  • While you were driving to your parents' house in the country you passed this dilapidated barn half-covered with peeling crackled paint, half-covered with moss.
  • After you finished reading Suttree, you couldn't stop visualizing that ragpicker passage over and over again. 
  • That head of romanesco cauliflower you roasted for dinner yesterday--remember the fractal peaks and whorls that seemed otherworldly?
  • That dream you had the other 
For those with artistic inclinations, it can sometimes be challenging to organize all these ideas into a coherent vision that translates into our medium of choice. I have days where I flit from one project to another like a hummingbird. It's thrilling to have ideas popping into your head rapid-fire, but it can also be exhausting. Learning to take a deep breath, focus, and hone in on one vision...well, it ain't easy. Sometimes we have to be willing to let some go in order to fully realize others.

This week's pair of earrings is a metaphor for that attempt to control--or better yet, to be at peace with--that chaos. Any metalsmith will tell you that reticulating silver is an exercise in...blind luck. I created each charm by carefully taking a piece of silver through the process of reticulation with repeated heating and quenching to obtain the crumpled topographic texture that you see. I quite literally had (almost) no control over what the melting metal was doing under the torch. Half the time when I reticulate silver I'm just hoping and praying that I get a piece that's interesting and usable. These two charms ended up being completely asymmetrical yet beautifully matched--a little miracle! 

I filed off the rough edges, oxidized to bring out the contrast in texture, sealed to protect the finish, and hung them from some of my long sterling silver ear wires. A much needed personal reminder that we must strive to both control and flow with the chaos. Too much of one and not the other, and we get lost down the wormhole.

Happy Wednesday,
LoveRoot on Etsy


  1. So cool...reticulating silver is new to me...would love to learn more about this process!

    1. Thanks so much! Essentially you just heat silver with a torch until it shimmer and starts to melt a bit, then quench in water, pickle/clean, and repeat until you get the ultimate texture and size you like. A lot of trial and error and not much control over the final product. It's fun, though!

  2. Nikki, your posts, as so many of them do, help to open my mind to think about things in a different way. Outside of the fact that your work is always inspiring, so, too, are your words. Being a self-proclaimed "word nerd," you realize the power words have, and you utilize them fully, pushing the envelope as you lay bare some of your thought processes, which then turns my thoughts in another direction I had not considered before or not taken far enough. It's difficult to thank someone for "touching" my brain. :) But you do! Thank you! And the earrings rock. So many things I'd love to learn to do. . .

    1. My dear friend, you're making me teary! Thanks so much for the kindness, as always. You'd think I'd have my own blog by now, with as much as I love words and writing. For the time being, I'm happy to touch your brain any time - hee!

  3. I can completely relate to everything you said......and you really said it so beautifully in this post.
    Your earrings remind me of old leaves or crumpled up paper--both so ephemeral and sublime. I always love your work.

    1. I like to think they look like little topographic maps with ridges where mountains are. Thanks so much for your kind words :)

  4. Very true, inspiration can come from anywhere and translate into an idea completely unthought of before.But sometimes it is the feeling that comes from the inspiration that translates into the mood of the final design and not just the visual identity