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Personal Growth

Jane D’Arensbourg: On Lessons & Glass

Glass jewelrymaker Jane D'Arensbourg discusses the struggle to find the proper work-life balance and what you learn from doing things the "wrong" way.


Jane D’Arensbourg has been working with glass since 1993. She creates glass sculptures, installations, lighting and glass jewelry. Her jewelry emphasis began in 2002, and her work can now be found in shops throughout the US, including the MOMA design store in New York and Kaviar and Kind, Los Angeles (among others globally). Behance caught up with Jane to discuss the fragility of glass, the need for mistakes, and balancing work with life.

Jane’s story is one of passion and determination (and completely unexpected). She recalls, “If you were to tell me I would be a jewelry designer 7 years ago, I would have laughed. I really fell into making jewelry. It was while having a studio visit from an art collector, she spotted a few glass jewelry pieces on my workbench, which I had made as a gift for a friend. She asked what it was, and I said, nothing. She thought it was something, and suggested I show my design work to a friend’s store in New York. It snowballed from there.”

“At the time I was juggling my artwork, as well as doing video projections for an electronic musician and working as a glass fabricator for artist and designers. I was getting tired of making other peoples work… I am the type of person that always puts my blood sweat and tears into every project. In the end, when you are a fabricator, you are labor, no matter how much artistic decisions you make along the way.  I finally realized that if I were to put the same energy into only my own work, I would for sure do well.”

I never water my ideas down for the public. I just keep moving forward and making new things, and try to be patient.

Jane has strong views on the integrity of her work and the process behind it. “…I work fluidly and organically with sculptural and functional pieces, and am not concerned with whether it is called art or design. I am most concerned with having my work out in the world, and to keep challenging myself.” As for pleasing others, Jane explains, “Some projects take years for people to digest. I never water my ideas down for the public. I just keep moving forward and making new things, and try to be patient. I have no problem picking something up again that I made a few years ago. If it was a strong idea it should be timeless.”

“I try to always push myself, moving forward and learning new skills always. Once I have mastered something, I get bored. I think that’s one of the main reasons why I have stuck with working in glass for so long. It is a material that I feel can never be mastered completely. It has a mind of its own. You have to listen to what it tells you it wants to do, and never force it into something that its not. I think that’s why a lot of glassblowers are also surfers. There’s a rhythm to it, like surfing. Its very Zen.”

When it comes to organization and productivity, Jane maintains a rather controlled, professional environment. She explains, “Having your own business, and living in a city like NYC, easily lends to being a workaholic. I have found that I am much more productive when I try to fit into a Monday – Friday workweek. I set personal goals for myself, and try to not work past 10 hours. I love my work. I have more of a problem making myself take time off. But really when you have your own business, you are always working.  I am learning more the value of not working. You need this time to explore other things, and give your mind and body a rest.”

I think a lot of teachers make the mistake of telling students the
‘right or wrong’ way to do things. You do not learn from always doing
things the ‘right’ way.

“Time and independence are extremely important in being creative and an artist. It can be very difficult to find time, and especially isolated time to be able to focus on your work. I used to have live workspaces. Sometimes things get muddled as far as when to work, and when to have down time. I have a separate workspace, which makes it a lot easier for me to make the separation… Even if I do not have a specific project in mind, just being in a space designated for work, I switch into a different frame of mind…”

Jane questions the conventional wisdom of right vs. wrong. As she explains, “This is the only way that you can find your own voice. I think a lot of teachers make the mistake of telling students the ‘right or wrong’ way to do things. Sometime you need to let the students find out on their own. …You do not learn from always doing things the ‘right’ way.”

“In the end, with art and design, you are offering an experience. Glass breaks sometimes, which is one experience.  I find that in wearing glass, it either grounds you, or reminds you that you are not aware of your actions. Glass is a fragile material, yet it is also surprisingly strong. Glass is a liquid, always moving, and very temperamental. In wearing glass jewelry, you cannot get hung up on how long it will last. Like everything in life, nothing lasts forever. All you can do, when you come in contact with something you love, is enjoy it and take care of it while it lasts.”

SEE MORE:

Jane D’Arensbourg Site

Spring Gallery (Pieces Showing Through November)

Comments (1)
  • rosarose

    I have worn Jane D’Arensbourg’s jewelry for years and am amazed at how durable it is. I love the feel of it, like it becomes part of you. And I get stopped all the time by people asking me what that ring is made of or where did I get those earrings? Which is fun. I love wearing this jewelry because it is unique and refined.

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