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Journeying Through Jewelry
By Luna Lark
Sometimes a class reminds you of what you already know. Other times, a class reminds you that you know nothing. The latter can change your life, or at least a couple of your opinions. As far as I'm concerned, epiphanies are always welcome.
Until this past spring, my experience with jewelry-making had been limited to little girls' play: stringing beads onto pink or purple elastic and tying a knot once I'd completed my arrangement. Lisa Frank beads and tubs of pony beads bought at the dollar store were standard fare—their colors cute in their gaudiness. My creations often became friendship bracelets or party favors. That was no longer the case after taking a class at the local arts center during my last month of college.
When I first walked into Lynn's class, I was feeling down. Only two weeks stood between graduation and me. It had been an arduous day at college, full of the dreaded three Ps: Presentations. Papers. Projects. I had barely survived the day and would've rather been at home taking a nap or a bubble bath.
Instead, I mustered up every ounce of friendliness in my body and began chit-chatting, lest I be accused of grumpiness. I immediately betrayed my ignorance in the art of jewelry-making. Lynn had asked each one of us to explain our previous jewelry-making experience, and I told the class exactly what I told you. The class, which was full of older women, laughed. They appreciated my honesty and were amused by my naivete. I shrugged. I wasn't going to pretend I knew more than I did. I just wanted my rubber ducky.
We started learning and making on the first day. I was thrilled to be using my hands in a new way, to discover a new skill I might have. Lately I had been doubting my hands. I did not believe in their strength or their ability to render anything beautiful. I had been going through a phase of listlessness spurred on by disappointment. These days, no amount of effort seemed to will my hands into making what I envisioned. A lot that disappointment had to do with college graduation, with everything feeling so final and so telling of the rest of my future. My hands were useless—until Lynn showed me otherwise.
At first I was frustrated because I could not work the wire as quickly or as easily as Lynn. But I was being too hard on myself; Lynn had a professional record that stretched over thirty years. Other than that, there was the main fact that I just needed to relax. My muscles were too tense. I was terrified because I was convinced that I couldn't do it. Lynn kindly coached me into calming down. Suddenly the wire started to obey my hands. My bad mood gradually cleared.
My hands could make things, lovely things, things I had never imagined they could make because they had never tried before. Through observation and practice, I was getting the hang of basic metal jewelry over the course of those few weeks. My hands had a new purpose. But I only realized this because of Lynn's class. Had it not been for her, I might've continued thinking that my hands had no artistic life left in them, that they never would've picked up a new trade again.
Fortunately, I was wrong. Fortunately, my hands had found a place in the world of metal jewelry. And fortunately one class changed my outlook on creation: Before you can make anything, you must have faith, faith that you can make it and make it well. One class gave me faith.