Livingston Jewelers

Your Traditional Jeweler for the Future.

Jerry's Jewelry Blog

Let's see how this goes eh?

Friday, 10 Mar 2017

Category: Other

Well. I decided that I should try my hand at blogging. It will be a simple blog for the most part. It will be about jewelry, making jewelry, loving jewelry. . . Get the picture?
I will also write about the projects I am working on and things I find interesting.
I look forward to sharing my passion about jewelry with all of you.

What is the weight of potential?

February 22, 2016

Category: Art

A hard question to answer. How does one weigh an idea? A thought? A nebulous concept that has not fully formed?

How do we communicate potential to others?

picture of a sharpened pencil

By speaking? What does speech weigh? I may join you in a light and airy conversation and then change to a discussion of weighty topics. But how to place those words on a scale? Words can be written. That might be a possibility. What is the physical weight of our conversation as written? Not the paper the conversation is written on, but the words themselves. So I searched for things to do with pencils. I found pages about wood pencils, mechanical pencils. how to use a pencil. I found out that a pencil can draw a line 3.5 miles long.You can roughly write 2/3rds of an average length novel. You can sharpen it over ten times.

Many interesting facts.

But you will not find much on the internet about the amount of potential a pencil holds.

Art. Math. Medicine. Love. Hate.

With a check mark, a jury can decide a person is guilty of a crime. With a signature, A president can grant a pardon. With a signature, A world leader can end a war. A doctor can mark where he needs to cut to save a child's life.

All of that potential can be held. In your hand.

Simply by picking up and holding a pencil.

The shapes and forms might change over thousands of years. A stick is used to scratch on a mud covered piece of wood. A sliver of lead is used to write on papyrus. A bird quill is used to write on parchment. A graphite pencil is used on paper. And now, a plastic pencil is used to write on the screens of your phones and computers. As long as there are people, we will make pencils in some form and each one will carry all of the potential of every persons thoughts, dreams and desires.

The answer is that potential, all potential combined, weighs as much as a pencil.

your first and most important tool.

February 21, 2016

Category: Quotes

I have seen may people take up jewelry as a hobby and a career. So I thought I would share what the first jewelry tool I was handed when I started. Lon Putman handed this to me over 30 years ago and told me it was going to be the most important tool I would ever use. And he was 100% correct. I use it every time I go into my shop. Many times when I am not even in my shop. I always start telling people who visit my shop that this is the most important tool they can ever have as well. What is this mystery tool? A saw frame? A file? A jewelers loupe? No need to guess. I am happy to tell you.

It is a.....


Yes. A common pencil.

it records ideas. Makes sketches. makes notes about what went well and what did not go so well. It records your memories and experiences so a month, year, decade from now you will not have to reinvent the wheel. So go grab a pencil and take a good hard look at it and think about what you can and have been able to do because of such a simple tool.

I can't do that. . .

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Category: General Jewelry post

I have seen several posts on Facebook about being an artist and a jeweler lately. I have seen several comments about how people get overwhelmed by trying to do a quality of work out of the gate that equals the work of someone who has literally decades of experience.

People who look at the simple bezel soldered to a ring and feel bad because they see all of the mistakes. Who quit because they can not see a future in their art. People who point at the work of artists and jewelers who grew up in families that encouraged art. Who worked in the jewelry trade. And some who are truly gifted in their art. And then quit because they have no artistic ability.

Am I wrong to want to grab these people by the shoulders and shake them until they see that does not matter?

OK. I am going to use myself as the example here. OK? This is truly what I think about my creative and artistic abilities. But to have a common place to start the conversation, we need to define a few words first so we are talking about the same thing.

Lets start by defining "Artistic":
Having or revealing natural creative skill. Relating to or characteristic of art or artists. Aesthetically pleasing.
And defining "Creative":
Relating to or involving the use of the imagination or original ideas to create something. Having good imagination or original ideas.
Defining "Ability":
Possession of the means or skill to do something. Talent, skill, or proficiency in a particular area.

About my "artistic ability". I think it is safe to say I have never had any what-so-ever. "But Jerry! How can you say such a thing!"

Easy. I have no artistic ability. But I do not care about that. I have plenty of "creative ability". I would prefer to have both. But hey. what it comes down to is that I am a high school drop out who passed every art class with a D- because my teachers took pity on me. No ability at all. When I took up jewelry as a hobby it was to teach myself patience. Not because anything I ever made was nice. To be honest, those first few years if you compared my work to dog crap, you were being unfair to dog crap. But I practiced, and tried, and learned. And I threw out most of what I made. But in the end, I discovered that while I would never be a great jewelry designer, I had more than my share of creative ability. So while my designs might be average at best, and I would never be a designer in a big jewelry house or have my own store with unique lines of baubles. I know I can follow a clients instructions to make what they want. And I can repair the hell out of just about anything if given the correct tools to work with.

So how does this tie in to the top of the post?

Because it does not matter how bad you are when you start. You can and will improve. Be overwhelmed. That is ok. I am overwhelmed by the great work I see everyday. But let that be your inspiration as well. Pick one thing you like about a piece of art or jewelry. And then make a copy of just that one thing. Then throw it out. And do that nine more times. I will bet money that by the time you throw out the ninth piece and do the tenth, you will be much better.

Take that first ring with the off-centered and crooked bezel with the scratched up stone and hang on to it. Twenty year later, I challenge you to make that exact ring but better.

Yeah. Laugh. My first piece, a pendant, is hanging in a shadowbox in my library. When I started, I never saw any future for myself in the jewelry trade. Never. But with lots of practice, I improved. And to those reading this and feeling that they will never improve, and are overwhelmed, just know you will improve.

Use me as your example. Please.

So don't worry about being gifted or how artistic or creative you are now. practice. And practice some more. that practice gives you ability. And later, when you have the ability to make stuff, then you can worry about how your creative and artistic abilities balance.

So work on ability first. Being artistic and or creative will come in it's own time.

Milk and Cookies for Preash.

November 24, 2013

Category: Other

My little Precious who LOVED milk. Too bad it did not love her. But that never slowed her down trying.

Quotes about Jewelry and Art

Fri, 01 Jan 2010

Category: Quotes

I thought I should start out with some of my favorite quotes about Jewelry and Art.

This first one always makes me think about why I started down this long road. It is, in a way, a lesson about instant gratification. When I started making jewelry back in 1985, it was to teach myself patience. I had no skill. But I knew that if I could learn to take the time to slowly make something, then I could hopefully incorporate that lesson into the rest of my life. (30+ years later the jury is still out on whether i succeeded in that endeavor.)

Where on the scale do I fall? Apprentice? Probably not anymore. But I know that I am not nearly as skilled as other jewelers. Journeyman? I would like to think so. At least for most of the work I can do. Master? I can say with absolute certainty, no. That is the goal. To someday say yes to this last part. But even if I never get there, I am good with that.

Philip Gerard

You have to roll up your sleeves and be a stonecutter before you can become a sculptor, command of craft always precedes art: apprentice, journeyman, master.

This next quote is in some ways the antithesis of modern jewelers and art. A lot of words are used today to explore social issues and make statements about/with jewelry and art. Now that is all fine and good if the item you made is of good quality and shows a level of workmanship that suggests you have a grasp of the techniques needed to make a workable piece of jewelry.

But if the quality of what you made is poor, and shows you have no grasp of scale, proportion, or geometry, then the only "message" you are sharing is that you have no talent or skill. So learn. Study. Do that one technique 30 times if you have to to learn it.

I set hundreds of gems over the years and even now, I still have to stop and think about each one I do. Before it was because I had no idea what to do or how to do it. Now, it is because I am seeing so many little variations of what I need to do. I wish I had people to show me what to do. My learning curve would have been much shorter.

Albrecht Dürer

Of the Just Shaping of Letters, 1535

...sane judgment abhors nothing so much as a picture perpetrated with no technical knowledge, although with plenty of care and diligence. Now the sole reason why painters of this sort are not aware of there own error is that they have not learnt Geometry, without which no one can either be or become an absolute artist; but the blame for this should be laid upon their masters, who themselves are ignorant of this art.

Shaker Proverb

And this one. I just like. You may argue that jewelry is not either necessary and useful. But I think it is. And this does not mean you have to "bedazzle" everything. Beauty can be as simple as a straight line on the back of a chair. An arch on a garden trellis. The precision of how wood is inlaid into floor to make a design.

So yeah. That is beauty.

The design philosophy of the Shakers

Do not make something unless it is both necessary and useful, but if it is both necessary and useful; do not hesitate to make it beautiful.