Hands with Gemstone Soul
Marguerite Specht’s hands are both gentle and strong. They are hands that have bathed many babies, cooked many meals, and strung many gemstone necklaces. Marguerite describes her hands as soul-imbued, revealing, and wise and says that they both stimulate her by showing her things and save her by calming her down. She touches everything, be it a swatch of linen, a basil leaf or a cut amethyst as though she is feeling it for the first time, exploring it for its truth.
Marguerite is a jeweler and a BAC member for over 30 years. She has always loved rocks, collecting them as a child and collecting them still. She has built Zen gardens with pebbles and experimented for a few years with the soft rock, clay, in the 70s, when she met the artist Maynard Tischler, first her teacher and now her husband. Wanting to work with less complicated equipment and have more control over the material, she started making boxes, spoons and frames out of metal, a metal-smith more than a jeweler, and joined Boulder Arts & Crafts in 1979. Slowly her direction changed as she started working smaller and smaller, and in an effort to make her art more sellable, as well as for the love of it, she introduced color, finally discovering the joy and satisfaction of knotting and stringing rocks into jewelry pieces that celebrate the color, texture, feeling and energy of gemstones.
“I think you have to really love what you’re doing”, she says. “You must have an internal motivation, one that has to do with discipline, how you want to design your life, involving a sense of control and creativity.” External motivation, as in paying the bills, meeting deadlines, keeping the gallery stocked, is important too, but without the internal the external becomes meaningless. Her favorite part of making jewelry is the total immersion in the work, those magical moments when she is wedded to each piece, has entered the time zone of creativity, which is more about meditation than the project at hand. It is a place of solace and peace, where she can find her own voice and it is the reason why she has worked happily at her craft all these years. An added bonus is when she feels appreciated for what she does, always a highly satisfying and surprising moment.
Soldering or beading gemstone jewelry can be tricky and the fragility of the material requires great concentration and care, and, she laughs, the ability to be calm if things break and you have to start over. Another challenge of the craftsperson that works alone at home, she says, is that you never feel done with all that needs doing and often there is no one else there to tell you when to stop!
Marguerite sees her work as still changing. She once completed a big order for Sundance Catalogue that taught her a lot about the discipline of repetition and enjoying each piece. She says, “There was something really nice about knowing what I was going to do, how many pieces I needed to complete, and maybe it could be called total monotony, but there was a lovely Zen quality of not trying to race to get done, to just enjoy every necklace I made and have a standard of how many to do a day.” This seems to be a good statement about what it means to be a craftsperson in history as well as in 2012.
— September 2012