Impossible to quantify, inevitable in even the most mundane of tasks, the creative spirit feeds most human efforts. The creative impulse, likely the only commonality behind all endeavors great and small, is as innate as our sense of breathing.
A recent development in expressing the creative impulse, handmade enamel jewelry, actually has its origins in some of mankind's earliest civilizations. Handmade jewelry dates back dozens of centuries, and examples can be found among the surviving relics of the Ancient Roman and Egyptian empires. It's not a new form, but new innovations in the creation tools and new ways of approaching their design are giving the ancient art form a new lease on life for the 21st Century.
The Creative Impulse and The Workings of Narrative
Narratives - more commonly called stories - build themselves on one event leading into another, often with as much unpredictability as possible. In creating jewelry that highlights both iconic and mythological symbols, the handmade enamel jewelry maker is able to incorporate narrative symbols that help the viewer's mind recognize and interpret narratives on its own. The unpredictability in this case comes from the surprise at the jewelry piece's detail, or in finding how the symbol represented on the jewelry evokes and celebrates its own particular narrative.
Enamel jewelry craftsman John Madsen says the finished product both rewards his own creative impulse but also incorporates his work into a larger story. "In making handmade enamel jewelry, you become part of the spread of the story the jewelry represents," Madsen explains. "Even the most abstract designs, as well as those that are designed with a particular aesthetic in mind, challenge the creative impulse, if only to picture more such works like the ones [you see] here."
Crafting Jewelry With A Creative Impulse In Mind
Like its close cousin, fused glass ornaments, handmade enamel jewelry is often used to fire the creative impulse. Like the tree of life pendant, a popular fused glass work of ornamental jewelry, many jewelry pieces are meant not to just to reflect the imagination of the artist but also to fire the creative and cognitive impulses within the viewer. For example, in viewing the tree of life pendant, many viewers are provoked into thinking about its meaning, and which particular mythology to which it belongs. That may also prompt thoughts regarding to spirituality and to one's own spiritual development.
If that seems like a lot to ask from a single piece of jewelry, many handmade enamel and fused glass jewelry craftsmen see their work as not just ornamental but also representative. The jewelry work itself becomes almost totemic, meant not just to adorn but also to recall their symbols' tremendous spiritual potency.
"You get the sense when you create these pieces that you're really contributing to something larger than yourself," Madsen explains. "When you get that rush of seeing the finished work, it's even sometimes a little humbling. You've created art, not just for the sake of art but also to contribute to a larger understanding. That helps everybody."