Our ORIGINS blog series is back y'all and we're kicking it off with the lovely Claire Sommers Buck. We've carried Claire's work in the shop for awhile now- her earthy, southwest-inspired pieces are some of Crown Nine shoppers faves.
Enjoy our chat with Claire below. xo
C9: Why do you make art?
CSB: I make art, specifically jewelry, because it feeds my passion to work with my hands. I love being able to manipulate a material into something wearable and have people truly connect and interact with my work on a daily basis.
9: What themes are in your current work?
CSB: My newest Pharaoh collection emerged from my curiosity of ancient Egyptian mythology and adornment. Drawing inspiration from the lives of the pharaohs and goddesses in these ancient cultures, I created pieces that would capture and honor this spirit. From serpent rings to scarab earrings, I had a lot of fun with this series! In particular, when designing the scarab earrings I found this excerpt from the Metropolitan Museum of Art which I thought was fascinating. 'In ancient egypt, the scarab beetle was a popular amulet associated with the sun god Re. This association evolved from the Egyptians' observations of the beetle moving food across the ground toward its' burrow. The Egyptians equated this process with the sun's daily cycle across the sky, believing that a giant scarab moved the sun from the eastern horizon to the west each day, making the amulet a potent symbol of rebirth.'
C9: How has your work changed over time?
CSB: My technical and conceptual skills have become much more refined since I first started making jewelry. I currently spend more time in the design process, analyzing themes and methods of production. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that jewelry design and fabrication is now my full time gig. It’s really fun, however, to look back on my older creations and feel the raw innocence and wild spirit that personify them.
C9: Current Obsessions?
CSB: The Mediterranean coast and Eastern Europe. Oh and also fresh margaritas.
C9: Umm, yes. we can get behind the fresh margarita obsession.
C9: Best Piece of advice you have gotten?
CSB: After college, I floated around a bit, unsure of where to put my energy in regards to pursuing a career. I showed interest in lots of different crafts and artistic explorations. My dad told me during this time that I needed to simply pick ONE of these creative paths and put all my energy into it. I think about that bit of advice all the time because it made me seriously hone in on metalsmithing and not look back. I wouldn't have the skills nor the experience today if I hadn't taken my father's advice and committed to this craft.
C9: What artwork or artist influence your work?
CSB: I am heavily influenced by ethnic and folk jewelry from Africa and the Middle East. The designs, textures and history fascinate me.
C9: How do you want someone to feel while wearing your work?
CSB: Empowered, confident and gorgeous.
C9: How do you know when a piece is finished?
CSB: This can be a tricky decision and one that most artists can agree is the most difficult when designing a piece. I generally know when a piece is finished when the comfort and elegance of the design cross paths.
C9: What do you admire in other people?
CSB: Passion, dedication and generosity.
C9: What special talent would you choose if you could magically gain one?
CSB: I daydream constantly about being my own Wonder Woman. Her greatest magic would be to tackle everything on her daily lists with enough time remaining in the day to drink margaritas and go swimming with her best friends. If not Wonder Woman, I would love to be able to fly.
C9: best daydream ever!
C9: What role does destruction play in your work?
CSB: A lot of times when I am designing new pieces, I mess up terribly, whether in the design process or the making of the piece. This has actually spun me into some fabulous creative places. It's incredible that one little mistake, a scorched piece of metal or a bent edge, can propel me into a whole new way of thinking about the shapes, materials and techniques I am using. In this way, I am reminded that my craft is still a very raw and honest endeavor.
C9: What design are you most proud of/ sentimental/ moved by?
CSB: After a dear friend’s beloved pup Donkey passed away, she asked if I could create a custom memento mori locket to honor him. With his handmade dog tag, a precious photo and a lock of his hair, I created the most sentimental piece of jewelry I have ever made. Not only was it deeply meaningful, but it was also my very first locket, which for all you fellow metalsmithing geeks out there, is not a walk in the park! It truly made my heart swell knowing that my friend now has a special piece of jewelry to honor her furry companion and remind her of all the love they share.
Follow Claire Sommers Buck