Thought-provoking question

I found the following question to be very thoughtful and interesting, and the perfect way to begin my blog that will be devoted primarily to jewelry making. I received the question from someone who viewed one of my videos on YouTube:

“This is beautiful. I’m curious. You make jewelry and you paint. Does painting help you with your jewelry making skills? and could you tell me how? I wonder if doing something like drawing and or painting could help me with other creative ventures.
Thanks for reading my comment.”

Although I’ve painted ever since I can remember, I discovered jewelry making when I was in college, and minored in it on graduate level at Pratt Institute. Making jewelry provides me with a wonderfully satisfying alternative from my 2 dimensional work, and I’ve gone through many levels of involvement with it over the years. I would have to say that jewelry making helps me with my painting, and also many of my ideas for jewelry come from my paintings. They both seem to help each other.

From my personal experience, I definitely believe that drawing and painting can help with other creative ventures. Whatever those ventures are, these disciplines will enable you to think and respond in an alternative creative way. Drawing is also one of the most fundamental creative skills that can be developed, and I believe it will positively influence all other creative ventures. I highly recommend that you get involved with drawing and painting. If you haven’t already done this, take a look at my website to see my paintings .

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14 Responses to Thought-provoking question

  1. Eileen says:

    That is wonderful to hear.!

    I have already found your videos helpful and it has helped open up my mind. The spirals are a very lovely shape and I intend to have a go at designing my own. Thanks again.
    Regards Eileen
    in Scotland

  2. Eileen says:

    I feel it is important for all of us to have creativity in our lives. I don’t think of myself as an artist though I do work with silver wire and crystals. Since taking up this interest I have felt happier – that’s what creativity does.

    Young people would have their lives enriched if they could find their medium to be creative in. I’m sure we would have fewer troublesome teenagers and young adults. But above all their lives would be enriched and they would feel good. I just realised I am talking to you who already know this.

    Yes, to the question. Any form of artistic creation will stimulate other areas of inspiration, it is sure to happen because we are using our awareness more and the artisitic part of the mind and brain are working together, seeing the world anew.

    Thank you for your videos – they are very relaxed and gentle and thorough. I don’t get stressed watching AND I feel inspired!

    Regards Eileen
    in Scotland

    • Ross Barbera says:

      Hi Eileen,

      I absolutely agree with you! Creative work does engage the brain differently and provides a temporary vacation from our usual mode of thinking. It doesn’t matter what type of creative work you do, as long as you enjoy it. I often receive feedback from my college students that supports this. Years ago I designed a jewelry design workshop course for non-art majors. The course is running stronger than ever, and the most frequently expressed sentiment from the students who take this course is how “absorbing and relaxing” it is when they are working on their projects! Often students return to visit years after having taken my course to tell me that they are still making jewelry – and love it! Students have also told me that the jewelry course even helps with their academics because they actually feel refreshed and more focused after working on their jewelry projects.

      Glad you like the videos, and I hope you find them useful.

  3. Ruth Daynes says:

    I watched your Jewelry making video last year and fell in love with the pieces and the technique. As a watercolorist, you have inspired me to take my art one step forward in a different direction. I think that I will probably have trouble getting the jewelry wax wire–probably not available in Alberta, Canada!!! Will begin this exciting process in a few days. Thanks for getting me on to a different technique Ross.

    • rosswb says:

      Hi Ruth,
      Thanks for watching my video, and I’m glad you enjoyed it!

      Regarding the wax that I use to construct the channels in my watercolor paper pendants, you should be able to purchase it at a professional jewelry supply shop. I buy the wax by the spool from Its catalogue number is #171-410, 10ga Wax Wire. It comes in ½ pound spools.

      As a simple alternative, someone recently mentioned that she used very thin candles for the wax, and it worked great. I haven’t tried that yet, but if you can get candles (birthday candles) that are thin enough, it should work fine. I also don’t see a problem with the candle wick; it should pull right out.

      Good luck with your art!

  4. Debra says:

    One more question. How many layers do you use on your bracelets? I found that even 6 layers, unvarnished still didn’t feel as sturdy as I thought it would be. I’m hoping the varnish will make them much stronger.

    • rosswb says:

      Hi Debra,

      Thanks for your excellent question regarding bracelets!

      In order to achieve the necessary structural rigidity in the watercolor paper pendants and bracelets, I use Arches 140lb, cold pressed watercolor paper. This is a beautiful paper with the perfect weight for making paper jewelry. For the pendants, I have also used 90lb watercolor paper, but the bracelets absolutely require six or seven layers of 140lb cold pressed paper.

      Although Arches is my paper of choice, you may also use any good watercolor paper as long as it is the proper weight. In my workshops I often use 140lb cold pressed, Utrecht paper. This is an excellent paper and responds well when forming into pendants and bracelets.

      I’m currently working on a detailed series of videos that will show how to construct the bracelets. As soon as they are available, I’ll post them on YouTube.

  5. Debra says:

    Well, actually it turned out to be your videos that I watched. : ) Thanks!

  6. Debra says:

    I can’t believe I found your jewelry! Was so funny, I watched a video by a man who was walking us through how to do the pendants. I made three and loved the technique. My mind works in such a way that when I discover something new I find ways to turn it into something even more useful or what I thought was unique… : ) So I started making cuffs. When I do something new that I think I thought of I check the internet to see if anybody else is doing it. That’s how I found you! I love your pieces and the inspiration to do even more unique items. Your paintings are beautiful as well. I’ll have to check out your video now….

  7. susie unruh says:

    I watched your video about how to make the watercolor pendants, but lit didn’t explain how to make the channel for the cord. Also what varnish do you use to finish it? Thank you for your help. I have the paper ready and am excited. I make watercolor earrings now, so maybe a pendant to match?

    • rosswb says:

      Thanks for watching my video. I apologize for the channel video not being there – the original was lost! I am currently creating another short video that will explain the steps. I hope it helps!

      The varnish that I use is Minwax Polycrylic clear gloss. It is water-based and easy to clean. It is very important to use clear and not semi-gloss, as semi-gloss can cause a dulling effect.

  8. Janice says:

    I’ve been an artist since I can remember as well… my earliest recollection is when I was 3 years old and drew some shapes on a piece of paper and colored them brown. Then I colored everything outside of the shape yellow. My Dad (who was also an artist and provided me with an unending supply of colored pencils and crayons) asked me… “Janice what is that you made?” And I answered, “footmarkers!”. These images in my mind were the impression your foot makes in the beach as you walk. Dad thought I was awfully clever to have drawn this, and even more clever to have made that observation at such a young age.

    My point… if you are visually aware of your surroundings this pumps your subconsciousness and provides you a well of sustenance you can call on at a whim’s notice to contribute to your creativity… no matter what the craft or art. You can not have creativity without a field of focus in the world around you.

    Great thought provoking topic, Ross!

    • rosswb says:

      Yes, if by ‘field of focus” you mean being strongly attracted by the surrounding visual world, and motivated to capture it somehow, I completely agree. As a young kid I had a compulsive tendency to draw everything. If I liked the way something looked, I would zoom in on it, and start drawing. Of course drawing was the easiest thing to do because the tools were readily available. There was always paper and pencils lying around, just waiting to be used.
      As I think back, I’m not sure what was more important to me, the process or the product. As time moved on, the simple facts of survival pushed the product into the forefront, but I’ve always have tried to hold on to that fresh approach that I had as a kid.

  9. sandy says:

    Thank you for answering my question. The answer intuitively rings true to me. I will check out your website, pictures and jewelry.

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