Coco is not normally a designer that plans ahead. Like many Native American artists, he is moved by the energy of the stones and lets the natural materials in each piece guide his creativity. Sometimes, however, the business side of jewelry design forces Coco out of his artistic comfort zone. Getting into high-end, juried art shows requires four impeccable photos of his work that depict a collection with a clear vision and design esthetic. In the highly competitive and over-saturated jewelry category, you have mere seconds to captivate the jurors, and thus, earn an invitation to exhibit. Throwing at the jury four incohesive, whimsical designs is just asking for a rejection letter, no matter how awesome the individual designs may be.
Same goes for Coco’s talent across three jewelry mediums: fiber, metal, and silverware; throw them all at the jury and they are sure to be confused about his focus and point of view. Although Coco’s hand-woven metal designs are impressive, there are a sea of amazing jewelry designers out there on the art show circuit that work with metal. Working with fiber gives Coco an advantage with the jury because his macrame work may leap from the screen as something new and invigorating. Imagine how weary jurors must be after viewing the work of thousands of talented jewelry applicants. Yes, thousands. One can only hope to capture their attention with fiber jewelry, something different.
And so, in preparation for jurying into next year’s shows, Coco has taken to pencil and paper to design a cohesive fiber macrame collection. He was already designing a piece to enter the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen’s Spring “In Bloom” exhibition, so he decided to turn his inspiration for the Guild show into a vibrant and blooming Spring collection.
With a clear plan in place, this week Coco set to turning his drawings into reality. It was slow going, however, as macrame is not an exact art form which is easily manipulated. There is a lot of figuring that must go into each and every one of Coco’s designs. How many fiber threads to start with and at what length, how to create and weave the pattern, how to get the fiber colors in the right place, and how to make sure the components of the design lay properly on the neck for a feminine silhouette. Sometimes he can anticipate the difficulties and figure out a solution ahead of time. Most often, however, the problems present themselves once he is well into creating a design. This collection is no different. Even with the best schematic of a collection in front of him, difficulties quickly arose. Last night Coco lamented that positioning the leaves is not easy, especially when working with meters of fiber, that must be crisscrossed in order to place leaves of varying colors.
He is also struggling with how to figure out how to make the back of the design as beautiful as the front. For an artist so struck by whimsy, Coco is surprisingly a perfectionist at heart. He wants each and every view of his work to be absolutely flawless. Like a magician, he wants people to ask, “how in the world did he do that?” Coco believes the piece will lose its intrigue if the back shows each and every move he and the fibers made. I have told him time and again that the front face of the design is what the jury will judge him on, but he continues his quest to make each piece as perfect as he possibly can. With nature’s awe-inspiring beauty as his inspiration, he knows he has big shoes to fill. I mean, is there anything more glorious than Spring in bloom?