For Deb Guess, the process of making her one of a kind jewelry is more than just creating a beautiful product. Tapping into her creativity is a way of feeding and connecting with her "soul voices." I asked Guess to share some of her thoughts on creativity, inspiration and how she goes about transforming those "voices" into the exquisite jewelry that she sells at Soul Whispers Arts.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about your desire or need to create? Why is making jewelry important to you personally? What do you get out of it?
A: I have always believed that doing something creative every day helps keep my life in perspective. Art provides a wonderful way to express both the exciting and more challenging issues that are a part of my daily life. I am also convinced that art and personal spirituality are tightly interwoven. The act of creativity forces me to pay attention to the "soul voices" deep inside of me. Whether it is working with metal or mixed media or even out in my garden, the act of creativity invites me to engage with life in a deeper way.
I have tried many different art forms over the years, and I enjoy working in a wide variety of mediums. However, metalsmithing is the first art form that has totally engaged me and with which I have become content to focus, hone my skills and wake up each day excited with new ideas and possibilities for what might be created.
Q: How would you describe your work?
A: I create one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry drawing on architecture, whimsy, sentiment and pure imagination as my sources of inspiration.
Q: What materials do you use in your work?
A: I use a mix of old and new in my work. Sterling, copper and bronze are the primary metals I use and then I add in anything interesting I can figure out how to attach or incorporate. I really enjoy using anything vintage, such as text from old books, buttons, parts of old jewelry and old hardware. I also like to mix other media into my work and often find ways to use fiber, wood, glass and pigments.
Q: When and how did you learn metalworking?
A: I started out as a beader and then progressed to doing lampwork beads using a torch. I think it was the "torch" that grabbed me and I quickly progressed to metalsmithing, where the torch is a primary tool that gets used daily. For the next few years, I took every class I could find in silversmithing and metalsmithing from some of the best jewelry artists in the country. I still love learning new techniques and feel that the best artists are those who never feel they have "arrived," but continue to push themselves to keep learning and trying new things. I have been doing metalsmithing for about seven or eight years now.
Q: Where can people see/purchase your work?
A: Soul Whispers Arts has a great website thanks to my business partner, Lisa Diedrick. She posts all available pieces on the site. In addition we are in about 10 galleries and retail shops around the southeast, and those are also listed on the website. Those include several in South Carolina, particularly in the Charleston and Summerville areas.
Q: It looks like you teach classes in jewelry making. What do you like about teaching?
A: I love to teach and offer classes in mixed media/book arts/art journaling as well as in jewelry and metalsmithing. There is something incredibly satisfying about helping other folks find the connection to their own creative spirit. It is also where I get some of my best ideas and inspirations. I never teach where I don't learn something valuable that I end up using. I think that it is in the give and take of the creative process that the best art happens.
Q: What inspires you?
A: Everything, truly! I think my biggest challenge is just paying attention to all the parts of my life as it happens. I try to keep a jewelry journal where I jot down anything that might be potentially relevant to a future design - the shape of an iron gate, the mechanics of a clasp on a piece of jewelry in a museum, the curve of a river in the landscape, the colors in a tiny corner garden. All of us are artists. It is just a matter of finding the right tools for expressing our art and letting go of our need to be so critical of the process of creating it.? ?
Q: On your website you say that you hope visitors will find a piece that "whispers to the soul inside" of them. Where is a place in South Carolina that you feels "whispers to the soul?"
A: A couple of places pop in my mind immediately. I love Azalea Park in Summerville. I spent hours there with my children and wandering on my own enjoying the beautiful flowers, quaint little bridges over creeks and whimsical sculptures. It is not huge, but well worth stopping to wander through. I also love the grounds of Mepkin Abbey just outside of Charleston. There is something about the gardens and grounds and river there that soothe the soul and leave you feeling content and grateful just to have spent time there.
For more information on Deb Guess and to view her work visit the Soul Whispers Arts website at www.soulwhispersarts.com.