I started Cathartic Studio over 2 decades ago as a kick start to a comic book publishing venture. It never got off the ground, but I kept the name. Many years later, I revived the brand for my web portfolio during the “.com”- but that venture didn’t have legs post the crash of 2001. There the studio name languished, just a dead flash website with a lot of interesting art, photography and web design stuff that whirled and swirled around - that no one knew about. That changed about a year ago…
But first, dear reader, some background. I stumbled into jewelry design, and when I mean stumbled, I mean more like bitch slapped, but in the nicest way, mind you. I’ve always worked with my hands for any creative venture I’ve pursued. I’ve worked in wood, clay quite a bit, paint, etc. My first jewelry class was years ago too, where I made a ring with a cabochon like many Jewelry 1 students. At the time, I knew even then working with metal in the manner of a jeweler seems natural at that point…my hands had an easy familiarity with the tools and the manner of their use…but for some reason, it didn’t stick.
See, I had a long standing love affair at that point with Balinese silver bracelets. I’d owned and lost two at that point but the problem with anything that you love too tightly, the universe will take from you to remind you things aren’t what matter. That is at least, the lesson I’ve been taught more than once.
I’d discovered a book on Loop and Loop chain making and realized I was way over my head. The complexity of the techniques (fusing, soldering, all those tools!) and the investment was too much for me to consider. I put the book into the bookshelf. In those shelves were plenty other incomplete efforts or halfhearted attempts at mastery, the odd half-finished book... and there it remained till last year.
It was Christmas time, my wife Cheryl and I were at her company’s holiday party. I was to meet her new boss Madlene and her husband Jag. I first met Madlene and shortly realized why my wife was so fond of her after only a few weeks of having worked together. I then met Jag: Well dressed man, sturdy looking guy. He wore a suit, tie and hoop earrings. It was that last detail that struck me. He and I were cut from the same cloth, accept I’d taken out my earrings years ago when I was hired by a very corporate company for what will remain my "day job". This guy was all together, with the unexpected rebellious flare that complemented him. Over the rest of the evening the four of us chatted and got to know each other. It was a fun night. Only problem was, that night, in bed, I couldn’t sleep.
I tossed, turned, stared at the ceiling. I couldn’t get out of my head the fact that Jag was an executive level professional with earrings. I couldn’t let that go. Somehow he found a way to balance his personality with his work. I missed my earrings!
I got up and started to rummage (as quietly as I could mind you) through my dresser caddy, looking for my old hoops. No. They were too thick, I needed the smallest wire earrings I could find, but I had none. This wouldn’t do.
Undeterred, I got up, raided my wife’s bead supplies and found some wire, pliers and set to work. In twenty minutes I’d made a pair of small hoop earrings with polished ends, having used a pen to wrap the wire around and some sand paper from the basement to polish the ends. When I went to put them through my ears, I was surprised how little effort it took to put them through, but it took me another ten minutes to close them as my hands were fumbling around trying to remember what it was like to do anything with something this small in the mirror. In the end, they were in my ears. I remember surprisingly not gloating at my ingenuity, but at how good it felt to work with the most basic of tools with metal wire, and end up with something usable.
So that night was only a year and a few weeks ago. Since that night, Mad and Jag have become good friends. I’d pulled that book off the shelf and started to read it, cover to cover. I bought the most basic of tools required, and began teaching myself the art of Loop and Loop chain making. In a few days I had my first basic chains, having learned the fundamentals of fusing and very basic soldering with a crème brulee style torch and fire brick. After four months I’d a completed a chain but no skills yet to learn how to finish the ends. Time to take another class. I found MetalWerx in Waltham and began the next steps along the journey.
Since then, I’ve completed many chains, rings, and earrings, learned basic stone setting, taken a number of classes, turned my side of our shared study into a jewelry studio. I’ve just now completed the space with finishing two tables designed for dedicated wet space and dry space for a hammering station, a polishing and smelting area for scrap recovery. Hey, I’ve even re-started the brand Cathartic Studio with a new logo and branding theme (Thanks Cheryl my love).
So, that’s the story of Cathartic Studio thus far, and the first year of what I hope will be a long journey. Thank you dear reader, for indulging me and allowing me to share the story thus far. Over the next few weeks, I hope to expand the shop, offering chains for neck and wrist, rings with and without stones, earrings with various stone settings, and even a simple pair of hoops, like the kind my buddy Jag and I wear.