Friday, August 30, 2013

Why Handmade: School and Learning

by Lynn Mohney of Prunella’s Workshop

It is that time of year again when the kids all go back to school. Even before I had children of my own, I would get that nagging itch every September that there was something I was supposed to be doing. It is natural, considering I spent about seventeen years of my life in school. Despite it being another seventeen years since I have been a full time student, I still feel I should have gotten on the school bus this morning with all of the kids!

Photo by Lynn Mohney of Prunella's Workshop

Perhaps we are not getting on school buses, or attending college, but that does not mean we cannot further our education and learn something new! We can teach an old dog new tricks, and it is never too late to learn something new. Maybe sign up for a class either through community education or a college course. Get together with a friend and share knowledge. Or try something new on your own!

To celebrate returning to school, I have personally decided that it is time to learn some new stone setting techniques in metal. I have surrounded myself with books on stone setting as well as instructional videos. Most importantly, I am taking the skills I already know and using them in new and different ways, stretching myself to accomplish something new. I already have the simple bezel setting firmly under my belt, and I am working towards what is known as the prong setting. The best part? It is going horribly so far. I have made several mistakes, and I have had to start over twice so far. I could consider this a success, because with every mistake I have made, I have learned what I do not want to do in the future, and I have narrowed down to ideas that will hopefully work. I am not there yet, but I am far from giving up at this point. I know when I finally succeed I will have conquered this technique which will open the door to new designs.

Photo by Lynn Mohney of Prunella's Workshop

That is not all I am doing, though. I am also continuing my education regarding the art of silverpoint, the method of drawing using silver that was used by masters such as da Vinci and Michelangelo. I will further explore the art of enameling as well. I started this learning about a year ago, and it is an ongoing endeavor. I am also hoping to address engraving later in the year, or even next year. I continue to expand my knowledge any way I can so that I can better myself and become a well-rounded person.

When we do not expand our abilities, we become stale. Learning a new technique in our medium or learning a new medium can improve the work that we always do. There is nothing worse than a bored artist, as it produces lackluster work. Playing with something new entices the creative juices and opens the doors to the unlimited possibilities out there.

Photo by Lynn Mohney of Prunella's Workshop

What are you doing this fall? Are you just doing the same old thing with no new inspiration? Or are you going to strike out and try to learn something new?

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