When Is Art, Not Art?

Adobe Spark

I’ve been doing this jewellery thing now for about 5 years. I’ve been wire weaving since late last year, so not long in the scheme of things. As part of my journey I’ve become a member of many Facebook groups to learn, network and just meet other artists. They’re also fab for inspiration and help. I’ve found most of them to be very supportive, welcoming and warm places, which is great.

Unfortunately though, someone is inevitably going to screw it up. Way back when, I had someone pretty much tell me that my beading work was inferior to her wire weaving because it wasn’t truly handmade and wasn’t artisan because “it’s the equivalent of a kid’s macaroni necklace.”


I did have some people tell her off and remind her that unless some thought and design prowess went into my pieces (or anyone’s strung designs, actually) that yes it would look like a kids pasta necklace, but since some knowledge of how colours and shapes work together, and how to balance the piece so it was aesthetically pleasing (not to mention a little knowledge of the technicalities of making a piece that won’t just fall apart) all went into these designs, her point was moot.

The next few years went by fairly uneventfully. I think I actually ended up blocking that woman and just got on with what I was doing, always looking up to the artists I met online who were doing the most incredible wire weaving work. When I finally worked up the courage to try wire work and discovered I wasn’t actually awful at it, I continued to look up to those artists. I still do. I find their work absolutely mesmerizing,beautiful and incredible works of art that I would be so proud to be able to create.

Then it happened. I read a post from someone who creates gorgeous wire jewellery, and she was saying that she has a “friend” who makes silver soldered rings etc and sells them for upwards of $800. This “friend” has told her that what she does isn’t “real” jewellery and that she’s wasting her talents working with wire.

Oh. My. God.

What the hell?!? In my naivete I actually thought that wire weaving geniuses like this lady would never, ever be the target of such snobbery and downright meanness. But, being the person I am, I want to find the “why”of his behaviour. What on earth would possess someone to be so….uppity?

I can understand that a customer might perceive a silversmith’s work to be far more valuable than wire (especially copper wire), because the materials are so much more expensive and it requires specialist, expensive tools. With wire weaving, you just need a few basic tools and a whole bunch of patience.

Wire weaving has been around for thousands of years, but I do know that many of my customers hadn’t even seen wire woven jewellery until I started doing it, so could this attitude be borne of a lack of understanding of the medium? Maybe the guy doesn’t realise that we start with a few base wires and then weave metres and metres of super thin wire around them, and then shape it and sculpt it into beautiful pieces. Maybe he doesn’t understand how much thought and planning a piece takes (or how we have to think on our feet if a wire goes and breaks on us mid way through the design).

Maybe he doesn’t understand the time a wire woven piece can take to create.  A bracelet can take me up to 6 hours to weave, sculpt and form. Sometimes longer, if I’m honest…because I’m still learning.

Or you know what? Maybe he’s jealous. Maybe he knows all this stuff but can’t or won’t do it himself.

It was the comments on the post that got my attention though. Here’s a few examples:

Just make the fart noise with your lips

Wrap on, fellow wrappers

Opinions are like asses, everyone has one!

Enjoy what you do, smile and say ‘that’s nice’ and keep creating. (I personally LOVE the Mrs Brown reference, here!)

If we create, we are artists

In any case, we should be building each other up, not tearing others down. I don’t understand metal smithing so I keep my trap shut about the medium. When does my idea of what art is become unworthy of the title “art” because it differs to what you consider art?








2 thoughts on “When Is Art, Not Art?

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