Learn To Bead

At Land of Odds / Be Dazzled Beads – Beads, Jewelry Findings, and More

Is Your Jewelry Fashion, Style, Taste, Art or Design?

Posted by learntobead on October 16, 2021

Warren Feld


Warren Feld6 days ago·16 min read

Earrings by Warren Feld, 2000

Abstract

How does the wearer or buyer of jewelry know they have made the right aesthetic choice? What are the cues and clues people use when making these consumer choices? How does attention to fashion, taste, style, art and/or design help the wearer or buyer lower the risk for making the wrong choice? This article discusses answers to these questions for the jewelry designer. That designer must be comfortable managing these things as they play out in a process of innovation, adoption, and diffusion. That designer must be sensitive to the fact that the rules underlying good aesthetics may or may not coordinate those rules underlying a person’s desire for pleasure.

How Can We Know We Have Made The Right Aesthetic Choices?

Wearers and buyers of jewelry often look for a socially acceptable way to confirm they’ve made the right aesthetic choices. They may have picked a blue necklace, but was it the right blue? They may have decided upon a 24” necklace, but was this the right length? They may have gone with gemstones, but were they the right gemstones?

What are these cues and clues people use when deciding to wear or purchase a piece of jewelry? They could listen to the jewelry designer, if that person is present at the point of a transaction. But more likely than not, the designer is not. They could look at how this designer’s jewelry was displayed. Or the packaging. Or read the designer’s description. Or look at images on a website. Or check out other people wearing this designer’s jewelry. Yet, even if the designer were present, and all this other information were available, however, why should the wearer or buyer trust the designer? Isn’t there still a high level of risk for making the less than or more than right or wrong choice?

Our wearer or buyer is a consumer of aesthetics, when selecting a piece of jewelry. They are probably not experts in jewelry design or jewelry making materials and techniques. They are looking for something appealing, but concurrently socially and psychologically acceptable. They may want to feel part of a larger group. Or, they may want confirmation about a sense of individual identity and a way to distinguish themselves from the larger group. They may want reassurance that they are living life the way life should be lived, at least according to social and cultural norms. And there is a perceived risk here, should they make the wrong choice. We want to experience aesthetic pleasures, but our insecurities often mean we look for validation from other people around us, when consuming those aesthetic pleasures.

The actual ways and the actual clues and cues we look for to legitimize our aesthetic choices will vary from person to person. But we can look at five different ways to define the consumption of aesthetic expression and pleasure to begin to get a kind of understanding for the dynamics of what is going on here. Each is associated with a set of socio-cultural rules and consequences when acquiring products like jewelry. These five expressive-consumption modes are,

1. Fashion

2. Taste

3. Style

4. Art

5. Design

Let’s settle on some initial ideas about each of these, and then elaborate further through the remainder of this chapter.

Fashion: Often considered the substitution of someone else’s taste for your own, and is assumed to represent Good Taste. Fashion satisfies the needs of the person to feel connected to a group, to imitate a sense of good taste, and to adapt to changes around them. It considerably lowers the risk for any aesthetic choices.

Taste: A person’s ability to recognize beauty in whatever form she or he finds it, in our case here, jewelry. Good Taste is associated with how well principles of beauty and art have been applied.

Style: Will vary with particular cultures or events or historical periods or individual identities. Style communicates an expectation about meaning and its expression and what form it should take within a composition as seen by the outlook of the jewelry wearer or buyer. It might be referenced by terms like classic, modern, religious, Gen-X, casual, and the like. The principal forces in the creation of style are tradition and the experience of other jewelry the person is familiar with. Style on one level is the way a person applies their taste when choosing an aesthetic. Styles change and evolve in response to the influence of contemporary life.

Art: Represents beauty regardless of context. Regardless of whether it is worn or sitting on an easel. There are no pragmatic considerations involved.

Design: Represents the recognition of the most parsimonious relationship between beauty and function within any one piece of jewelry as it is worn. Jewelry requires that the piece not only satisfies the aesthetic needs of the person, but also fulfills a practical need.

AESTHETICS

What is the essence of beauty — what we call aesthetics?

When someone wears or buys a piece of jewelry, the choice of any aesthetic, as represented by that piece of jewelry, can become very problematic. The idea of aesthetics must be thought through by the person as she or he decides to touch or wear or share or part with some money or to walk away from the jewelry item.

But one person’s aesthetic sensibility is not necessarily the same as anyone else’s. There are few universal aesthetic ideas. Most things are so subjective and so context- or situationally-specific. Rules defining personal pleasure and rules defining beauty and appeal may co-exist, but they are not necessarily the same or in harmony. We know this because, from person to person, tastes, styles and fashions differ.

One response, where such differences exist, is to rely on fashion and art to define for us how pleasure and appeal should co-exist at any one moment in time. If we cannot find universally-accepted, common rules of aesthetics, then perhaps, we should let the social group or the social majority define it for us. Beauty, then, becomes not a property of the object per se, but an aesthetic judgment based on a subjective feeling. Our sense of good taste or fashion or style or art or design is a constructed one; it is not inherent in any particular jewelry design.

This brings us back to the idea that people want to minimize their sense of risk when making the right choices about wearing or buying a piece of jewelry. There is this inner need for validation. Part of that need is met by constructing and communicating a feeling or thought about what a consensus about taste might look like. Such a consensus, in reality, does not exist. But an idea of it emerges from preferences, assumptions, expectations, values, and desires. An idea of it emerges from how well the jewelry designer has managed the design process. That is, how well the designer has anticipated shared understandings of the various client audiences the jewelry is meant for, and incorporated these into the content of the design.

CONSUMPTION

Fashion, Taste, Style, Art and Design are each closely linked to the idea of consumption. These represent different ways of identifying preferences for certain types of jewelry and which directly affect the wearer’ or buyer’s choices in the marketplace. These preferences do not, however, necessarily trigger the wearing or purchase of a piece of jewelry. The interaction of these preferences with consumption is more complex and more depending on social interaction or personal motivation and strategy. People tend to emulate others (or distinguish themselves from others) or seek to reconfirm certain ideas which create certain habits and preferences, which in turn influence consumption of one piece of jewelry over another.

Yes, people want agency. They want to be free to choose jewelry that gives them pleasure. But they want validation and acceptance, as well. Most of that results from the understandings about the content of the jewelry. That is, how the content relays meanings through the aesthetic and design choices of the jewelry designer. We want the people around us to know who we are and what we have become. Jewelry makes a big statement here.

FASHION

Fashion is the socially acceptable, culturally-endorsed and safe way to distinguish oneself from others, while at the same time, re-affirming membership in a group. The person is allowed to be both an individual as well as a member of a group. With fashion, the individual can have both a sense of taste of their own as well as expect others to share it. Jewelry, from a fashion perspective, is embedded with the same values as our own. It is assumed that the community of fashion is the real community of universal good taste. That assumption means that the rules of beauty and appeal are understood as directly linked to and in harmony with the rules of finding pleasure.

Fashion may be thought of encompassing two things: (1) the jewelry object itself, and (2) the process of gaining acceptance for that object. That process moves from the designer to a client to that client’s audiences and public acceptance. That process extends from inspiration to aspiration to implementation to early adoption by fashion influencers and the diffusion of the jewelry throughout a particular social network. Eventually, though, there is a decline of acceptance over time.

The fashion object — in this case jewelry — must have discernable characteristics. These must be perceivable. They must anticipate how others will understand them. They must be communicative. These characteristics must show value; that is, something about them must be measurable in either relative (example, it’s better than what I have now) or objective terms (example, it is worth twice as much as my other piece).

Fashion denotes a broad social consensus about good taste. If a piece of jewelry is “not fashionable,” it means that, at least in a particular moment, it would be judged as boring, monotonous, unsatisfying or even ugly.

TASTE

Taste is an individuals’ personal aesthetic choices. Taste is how any individual judges what is beautiful, good and correct. These choices are influenced by social relations and dynamics.

Taste denotes preference. If a piece of jewelry is “not your taste,” this means you don’t like it.

STYLE

Style is about agency and choice. It is strongly influenced by broadly accepted social constructs, such as time period, geography, religion, class, cultural identify. Style suggests that anything can be acceptable as long as it makes you feel good and that you are showing your authentic self.

Style denotes the manner in which something is expressed. If a piece of jewelry is “not your style,” this means it does not present your beliefs in the way you want them expressed.

ART

Everyone wants a little art in their lives. They want beauty around them. It inspires them. It makes them feel good. They do not want to be encumbered with practical considerations in every moment of the day. Great color combinations and component arrangements are reassuring, pleasuring, uplifting. Jewelry communicates a sense of the designer’s hands that have touched it, the imagination that created it, and the work that has gone into it.

Art denotes the way the design elements and composition reflect principles of harmony and variety embedded in art theories. If a piece of jewelry is “not art,” this means it is not sufficiently harmonious.

DESIGN

Jewelry, however, is not a framed painting hanging in a museum. It is something that is worn. It is something that must continue to look good, even as the person wearing it moves from room to room, one lighting situation to another, one context to another.

Design denotes the way tradeoffs are made between beauty and function in the most parsimonious way. If a piece of jewelry is “not design,” this means that if you added (or subtracted) one more element to (or from) the piece, the piece would be judged more finished and more successful.

INFLUENCERS: Fashion Change Agents

Influencers are people positioned at the intersection of fashion, style and taste. They are fashion change agents. They are key to the dynamics of adoption and diffusion, coherence and contagion. They may play out these roles in an ephemeral, non-professional way, or, they may be prominent professionals in a community, a network or online. The jewelry designer is not necessarily positioned or skilled enough to adequately influence who wears or buys their jewelry. Today’s jewelry designer needs to get a good sense of how influence and influencers operate within the creative marketplace for the pragmatic purposes of managing adoption and diffusion of the jewelry she or he has created.

Influencers are one of the backbones of internet culture. Their business model centers on ways to shape everything we do in our lives from how we shop to how we learn to how we dress. Influencers are part micro-celebrity and part entrepreneur. They are opinion leaders and have been able to garner a large audience. They have proven themselves to be able to exploit how people distribute their time and attention.

It is important to get a handle on the change-agent role of the influencer. Specifically,

a) The influencer is probably not one of the earliest adopters of a newly introduced piece or line of jewelry

b) The influencer communicates using both visual and verbal representations of the jewelry, and usually needs some assistance from the designer with content

c) Influencers as people are usually more interested about fashion-style-taste than the general public they are trying to influence; they may not be up-to-date on all the current fashions, but they have the inherent skills to communicate and legitimate and instigate any fashion choice

d) Influencers have the creative skill to aesthetically and artistically assemble stylish jewelry presentations; they can articulate what good taste means in the context the jewelry as presented; they are often creators of accepted standards of good jewelry design and dress behavior

The influencer plays multiple roles from innovator, information transmitter, opinion shaper, knowledge base, social legitimizer.

It is estimated that 50% of the female population and 25% of the male population monitor fashion information on a regular basis, from surfing websites, perusing magazines, shopping, and talking about fashion. But it the influencer who best locks in their attention to any particular fashion item.

APPLIED FASHION: Inhabiting Your Jewelry

The jewelry designer needs to be sensitive to how this all plays out from the wearer’ or buyer’s point of view.

My clients and my students repeatedly ask about what the current fashion colors are? Did I see what so-and-so was wearing on TV or at an awards show? But usually, at least in Nashville, TN, a sense of fashion plays a small part in the day-to-day decisions most people make about the jewelry they want to wear.

Buying a piece of jewelry for yourself — a necklace, a bracelet, earrings, a brooch, something else — isn’t a task easily given to someone else. It’s often not a spur of the moment thing either. You just don’t rush off to the local boutique or the local Wal-Mart, grab whatever you see, and go home. I’m not talking about that impulse buy during your leisurely visit to the mall. I’m referring to purchasing those pieces of jewelry you know will have to do a lot of the hard work to accessorize your wardrobe and help you get the compliments and notice of your family, friends and co-workers you comport with and compete with each and every day.

No, buying a piece of jewelry for yourself is a multi-purposed moment, one which must be thought through carefully and one which must be savored. Lest you buy the wrong piece. That doesn’t really go with what you intend to wear. Or is over-priced. Or poorly made. Or conveys the wrong impression about status. Or is out of fashion. Or something one of your friends already has.

The jewelry you buy has to conform to quite a long list of essential criteria before you could ever think of buying it. It is something you will wear more than once. As such, it is your companion. Your necklace is not merely lying around your neck. Or your bracelet around your wrist. Or your earrings dangling from your ears. Jewelry can cause you to lose face with others. It can irritate or scratch your skin, or get caught up in your hair. It might weigh you down or stretch or tear your ear lobes. Jewelry can break without warning in the most unexpected and embarrassing of places. It can get caught on things, sometimes hurting you in the process.

Jewelry conveys to the world something about who you really are, or think you are. As such, jewelry is very personal. Your private, innermost, most soul searching choices made very public for all to see. As you caress it, as you touch the smooth or faceted or crevice’d beads and metal parts or the clasp or the material the beads are strung on, when you twist and move the piece within your hand, you are confirming to yourself the extent to which your jewelry is doing its job.

When you buy new jewelry, the dilemmas multiply. How will the new compare to the old? Will it be able to handle all these responsibilities — looking good, representing you, fitting in with your wardrobe, meeting the expectations of others? Like divorcing, then remarrying, changing your jewelry can take some time for readjustment. And you do not want to be seen as noncommittal to your jewelry. This would sort of be like going to a hotel, but not unpacking your suitcase while staying in the room.

Conveying some sort of social or psychological distance from your jewelry can be very unsettling for others. So you need to inhabit it. You need to inhabit your jewelry, wear it with conviction, pride and satisfaction. Be one with it. Inhabiting jewelry often comes with a price. There becomes so much pressure to buy the right pieces, given all the roles we demand our jewelry to play, that we too often stick with the same brands, the same colors, the same styles, the same silhouettes.

We get stuck in this rut and are afraid to step out of it. Or we wear too many pieces of jewelry. The long earrings, plus the cuff bracelets on both arms, plus the head band, plus the hair ornament, plus the 7-strand necklace, plus the 5 rings. We are ever uncertain which piece or pieces will succeed at what, so hopefully, at least some combination or subset of what we wear will work out.

In a similar way, we wear over-embellished pieces — lots of charms, lots of dangles, lots of fringe, lots of strands. Something will surely be the right color, the right fit and proportion, the right fashion, the right power statement, the right reflection of me.

And our need to inhabit our jewelry comes with one more price. We are too willing to overpay for poorly made pieces in our desperation to have that right look. The $100.00 of beads strung on elastic string. The poorly dyed stones which fade in the light. The poorly crimped and overly stiff pieces with little ease for accommodating movement and frequent wear. It is OK to inhabit our jewelry. In fact, it is necessary, given all we want jewelry to do for us. But we need to be smart about it. We need to learn to recognize better designs and better designers.

This need not be expensive at all.

Just smarter.

FASHIONS CHANGE

Every jewelry designer should expect that many fashion preferences and desires will change over time, sometimes very quickly. Consumers can be fickle. They can get bored with the old. They search out new novelties all the time. They try to keep up with trends and fads. As the economy moves up and down, so too do consumer abilities to purchase at a particular price.

New materials come out on the market. So do new techniques and technologies. Clothing and hair styles change silhouettes. Seasons change. The climate is changing. Popular culture changes. Social media goes in a different direction. Global trading opportunities change. Corporations come up with a catchy marketing campaign.

In contemporary culture, it also has become more okay for individual to develop their own sense of style and fashion.

THE DANGER OF HOMOGENATION

If fashion, style and taste lead to everyone wearing and buying similar things, we begin to lose the need for the jewelry designer. The designer becomes more a technician. The task of design becomes more mechanical, step-by-step, ritualized. More a the design process can be taken over by machines.

It is incumbent upon the designer to not lose sight of the essence underlying jewelry design. At its core, this is to create pieces which translate the designer’s inspirations in ways which resonate with others to be similarly inspired. Jewelry design is a communicative collaboration of sorts between designer and client. This will always lead to a wealth of variety and variation never diminished by fashion, style or taste.

__________________________________

FOOTNOTES

Firat. Fuat A. 1991. The Consumer in Post-modernity. Advances in Consumer Research 18. 70–76.

Gronow, Jukka. “Taste and Fashion: The Social Function Of Fashion And Style,” Something Curated, Helsinki, 8/16/2017.

Hebdige. D. 1983. Subculture. The Meaning of Style. London & New York: Methuen.

King, Charles W. “The Dynamics of Style and Taste Adoption and Diffusion: Contributions From Fashion Theory,” Advances in Consumer Research Volume 07, eds. Jerry C. Olson, Ann Arbor, MI: 1980.

Noro, A. 1991. Muoto, moderniteetti ja ‘kolmas’. Tutkielma Georg Simmelin sosiologiasta (Form, Modernity and the ‘Third’. A Study of Georg Simmel’s Sociology). Jyvaskyla: Tutkijaliitto.

Simmel. G. 1950. The Metropolis and Mental Life. In K. H. Wolf (ed.), The Sociology of Georg Simmel. Illinois: Free Press.

Simmel. G. 1991. The Problem of Style, Theory, Culture and Society 8. 63–71.

Wikipedia. “Aesthetics”. As referenced in:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aesthetics

Wikipedia. “Taste”. As referenced in:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taste

_________________________________________________________

Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.

Follow me on Medium.com (https://warren-29626.medium.com/membership)

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online. Begin with my ORIENTATION TO BEADS & JEWELRY FINDINGS COURSE.

Check out my Jewelry Making and Beadwork KITS.

Add your name to my email list.

_____________________

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

The Jewelry Design Philosophy: Not Craft, Not Art, But Design

What Is Jewelry, Really?

The Jewelry Design Philosophy

Creativity: How Do You Get It? How Do You Enhance It?

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Becoming The Bead Artist and Jewelry Designer

5 Essential Questions Every Jewelry Designer Should Have An Answer For

Getting Started / Channeling Your Excitement

Getting Started / Developing Your Passion

Getting Started / Cultivating Your Practice

Becoming One With What Inspires You

Architectural Basics of Jewelry Design

Doubt / Self Doubt: Major Pitfalls For The Jewelry Designer

Techniques and Technologies: Knowing What To Do

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

Teaching Discplinary Literacy: Strategic Thinking In Jewelry Design

The Jewelry Designer’s Approach To Color

Point, Line, Plane, Shape, Form, Theme: Creating Something Out Of Nothing

The Jewelry Designer’s Path To Resonance

Jewelry Design Principles: Composing, Constructing, Manipulating

Jewelry Design Composition: Playing With Building Blocks Called Design Elements

Contemporary Jewelry Is Not A “Look” — It’s A Way Of Thinking

Posted in Art or Craft?, art theory, bead weaving, beads, beadwork, creativity, design theory, design thinking, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Designing With The Brain In Mind:Perception, Cognition, Sexuality

Posted by learntobead on October 16, 2021

Warren Feld

Warren FeldJust now·21 min read

Abstract

Jewelry plays a lot of psychological functions for both the wearer and the viewer, so it is important to understand some things about perception and cognition and how the brain processes information. The jewelry designer plays with various design elements, let’s call these parts. The designer arranges these parts into a composition, let’s refer to this as the whole. The brain takes in information about, that is, attends to each part, and information about the whole, and assigns a meaning to these. The designer must anticipate all this, especially understanding Gestalt behavior. So the designer is not only dealing with aesthetic and functional considerations in their designs, but also the psycho-social-emotional triggers and filters these may represent. Some of these emotions may evoke a sense of sex, sexuality and sensuality. Last, jewelry designers must be very aware — metacognitive — of how they think through design, and be able to turn their experiences into thinking routines.

DESIGNING WITH THE BRAIN IN MIND

Jewelry plays a lot of psychological functions for the wearer, the viewer, and the buyer, so it is important to understand some things about perception and cognition and how the brain processes information. Jewelry is used to meet the individual’s needs for self-esteem and self-actualization. A sense of oneness and uniqueness. Or conversely, a sense of being a part of a larger group or community. A sense of survival and protection. A re-affirmation of values and perspectives. A connection to a higher power or spirituality. A sense of fantasy. An orientation to what is up and what is down and what is left and what is right.

The jewelry designer plays with various design elements, let’s call these parts. The designer arranges these parts into a composition, let’s refer to this as the whole. The brain takes in information about, that is, attends to each part, one by one, and then gathers information about the whole, and assigns a meaning to all these. Because of how the brain works, there may be several meanings that rise up to the surface, so the brain has to filter and prioritize these somehow. The resulting assigned meaning(s) results in some type of behavior. At its simplest level, the behavior is either one of placing attention or one of suggesting movement. The behavior, whatever it is, reaffirms for the observer that their goals are getting met or that there is some consistency and coherency with personal values and desires.

The designer must anticipate all this. So the designer is not only dealing with aesthetic and functional considerations in their designs, but also the psycho-social-emotional triggers and filters these may incur. Some of these emotions may evoke a sense of sex, sexuality and sensuality. Jewelry has sensual qualities. It has gender associations. It may symbolically represent what is safe and what is not to view or to touch.

PERCEPTION

Perceptions are ways of regarding, understanding or interpreting something. We perceive using our senses. We touch, we see, we feel, we hear, we smell, we sense positioning. Perceptions are subjective, and each person has their own subtle differences, even when responding to the same design or event. In fact, different people may have very different perceptions about the same design or event. Their assumptions, expectations and values may further color their perceptions.

Each person filters their perceptions with each move, each conversation, and each situation. Such filters may contingently alter perceptions. Perceptions are not fixed. They are very sensitive to the context and the situation. Any type of filter may result in selectively perceiving some things, but not others. In design work, our clients might selectively focus on brighter lights, louder sounds, stronger odors, sharper textures, silhouettes, proportions, placements and distributions, balance, harmony and variety. Selective perception can add some more muddiness to the interaction especially as designer and client try to find and develop the shared understandings necessary for success.

Adequately sharing understandings within a situation and among the people in it depends on the amount of information available to each person and how correctly they interpret it. Perception is one of the critical psychological abilities we have in order to survive in any environment.

The designer needs to be open to understanding how the client perceives the design tasks and proposed outcomes, and to adjust their own perceptions when the management of the relationship calls for this. There is no formula here. Each situation requires its own management strategy. Each designer is left with their own inventiveness, sensitivity, and introspective skills to deal with perceptions. But it comes down to asking the right questions and actively listening.

How does the client begin to understand your product or service?
Can the client describe what they think you will be doing and what the piece or product might look like when finished?
Can the client tell you how the finished piece or product will meet their needs and feelings?
Can the client tell you about different options?
How will they interpret what you want them to know?
What impressions do you want to leave with them?
Do they perceive a connection between you as a designer and your design work as proposed?
What levels of agreement and disagreement exist between your perceptions and theirs?
Can you get at any reasons which might explain their perceptions, and any agreement or difference?
Can you clear up any misperceptions?

The jewelry designer needs to distinguish between how the jewelry is perceived when it is not worn from when it is worn. When not worn, jewelry is an object admired and perceived more in art or sculptural terms. When worn, jewelry is an intent where perceptions about the jewelry as object are intertwined, complicated, distorted, amplified, subjugated — you get the idea — with the needs and desires of the individual as that person presents the self and the jewelry as worn in context. Either set of perceptions may support one another, or they may be contradictory.

COGNITION

Cognition involves how the brain processes our perceptions, particularly when these perceptions are incomplete or contradictory or otherwise messy or unresolvable. Cognition focuses on how the brain takes in existing knowledge and creates new knowledge. Cognition is both conscious or unconscious, concrete or abstract, intuitive or conceptual. Cognition may influence or determine someone’s emotions. Metacognition is your own awareness of your strategies and methods of thinking and problem-solving.

The brain takes in a lot of information all at once. The brain looks for clues. It compares clues to information stored in memory. Typically different parts of the brain will simultaneously process (e.g., parallel processing) either different clues or the same clues in different ways. Some information will have greater relevance or resonance than others. Some information will be rejected. Some information will be recategorized or reinterpreted.

You can think of all these mental processes going on in the brain as a huge, self-organizing undertaking, but happening within minute fractions of a second. What happens is very context- or situation-specific. The goal is the creation of some kind of understanding. This understanding will have some logic to it. It will be compatible with and reaffirm the individual’s memories, assumptions, expectations, values and desires. This understanding will typically result in some kind of behavioral response. The response will most often be related to attention or movement. The understanding and the behavioral response will likely get stored in memory.

Attention

The cognitive process starts with attention. Attention has to do with how we focus on some perceptual information, and not on others. A key function of attention is how to identify irrelevant data and filter it out, enabling other more significant data to be distributed to other parts of the brain for further processing.

Picture a piece of jewelry. This jewelry will present many stimuli — color, placement, proportion, balance, volume, positioning, its relation to the human body, the context within which it is worn, perhaps how comfortable it feels, symmetry, and the list can go on and on. Which perceptual clues are most important to the person who needs to decide whether to wear or buy it? Attention is the first cognitive step in determining how to answer this, though the observer does not always consciously grasp the specifics of what is going on.

There are two types of attention: (1) Orienting, and (2) Directing.

Orienting Attention works more reflexively. For example, we are prewired in our brainstem with a fear or anxiety response. This helps us reflexively avoid snakes and spiders. This anxiety response has major implications for how people initially respond to jewelry as it is worn.

Say a stranger is in a room and wearing a necklace. You approach the entrance to this room. You see the stranger who is wearing the jewelry. Your brain has to instantaneously evaluate the situation and determine if it is safe for you to approach and continue to enter the room, or whether you need to be fearful and turn around and flee. Jewelry can play a key role here.

The jewelry signals the primary information the brain needs to make this judgment. Perceptions are filtered to the very basic and very elemental. First the viewer wants to be able to make a complete circle around the jewelry. Anything which impedes this — an ugly clasp assembly, poor rhythm, colors that don’t work together, uncomfortable negative spaces — makes the brain edgy. If the brain gest edgy, the jewelry will start to get interpreted as boring, monotonous, unsatisfying, ugly, and we can go all the way to will cause death.

After the viewer makes that complete circle, a second perception kicks in and becomes key to whether the brain will signal it’s either OK to approach or, instead, you better flee. This second perception is a search for a natural place for the eye/brain to come to rest. In jewelry we achieve this by such things as placing a pendant in the center or graduating the sizes of the beads or doing something with colors.

In slightly more technical terms, the jewelry draws the observer to a focal point at which they can sense an equilibrium in all directions. The viewer feels physically oriented. The jewelry composition presents a coordinated form which connects spaces and masses within something that feels / looks / seems like a unique harmony. The observer is made to feel, as she or he is attenuating to how mass relates to space within the composition, that not only is each element of the jewelry related to the ones preceding or following it, but that each element is contributing to the concept of the whole — the jewelry form is greater than the sum of its parts. There is continuity. There is coherence. Space and mass are interdependent. The distinction among parts is removed. The brain likes this. It searches for it. It makes it restful.

The full experience of the jewelry only gains its full meaning within its total expression. The significance of the total jewelry composition unfolds as the observer moves about its separate parts. This expression, in turn, as it relates to the attention processes of cognition, gets reduced to the confluence of the two clues of (a) making a complete circle, and (b) finding a place to come to rest. If the two clues are satisfying, the jewelry is viewed as finished and successful, and the immediate environment is seen as safe.

The jewelry designer controls the limits and the possibilities for attention. If jewelry design were merely a matter of organizing a certain number of parts, the process would be very mechanical and not at all creative. All jewelry design would be equally good (or more likely, bad). The purpose of good jewelry design is to express particular meanings and experiences for the wearer, viewer or buyer to attend to. Jewelry design is only successful to the extent these are fully communicated to the observer, and are fully sensitive to how perception and cognition play out in our brains. That is, how the jewelry, through its design, enhances or impedes perception and cognition.

Directing Attention, the other type of attention, signals to the observer the possibilities for or constraints on movement. It is more deliberate rather than reflexive. It can divide one’s attention so that the person can pay attention to more than one thing at the same time. Using our example, there could be several strangers in the room, each wearing a different style and design of necklaces. As our observer walks into the room, attention can be shifted from one person / jewelry to another, or focused on one person / jewelry alone.

Directing Attention determines the potential for movement, so that the observer can anticipate the possibilities, or conceive the limits. With whatever piece of jewelry is worn, how freely or easily can the person shift positions, stand, run, dance, lay down? Will any type of movement change the appeal of the jewelry as worn? Is there anything about the design of the jewelry which anticipates different kinds of movements and positioning? Will the appeal of the jewelry remain should the wearer move to a different type of lighted situation or into a shadow? How much ease should be built into the construction of the piece?

The aesthetics of mass and space, such as the interplay of points, lines, planes and shapes, are rooted in a person’s psychology in order to arouse predictable patterns of experience. There seems to be a constant human need to perceive and attend to spatial relationships which distinguish harmony from cacophony. This psychological response to form most likely is connected to a person’s mechanisms for balance, movement and stature.

On the simplest level, observers use jewelry to assist them in knowing what is up and what is down, and what is left and what is right. Jewelry is used similarly in this directing sense as the floors, walls and ceilings are used towards this end in a room, or the horizon, landscape and trees are used outside. Without any clues about positioning, a human being would fall down and not be able to get up.

Picture, for example, how you might feel when the person standing next to you has one earring stuck in a 90 degree angle, or is only wearing one earring, or has a necklace mispositioned and slightly turned around the neck. You most likely feel a bit uncomfortable, perhaps uncomfortable enough to let the person know the jewelry needs to be adjusted in position, or that they seem to be missing an earring. Or perhaps not so comfortable to raise the issue publicly.

GESTALT: The Whole Vs. The Parts

One mechanism of cognition is called a Gestalt. At its root, Gestalt means that the whole composition is more meaningful than the meanings of its individual parts. There is a chicken and egg type of debate within the field about whether the person attends to the parts first with a stronger emergent whole, or whether the person needs to understand the whole first and use this understanding to interpret the parts. But for jewelry designers, we do not have to get into the debate here. Jewelry designers need to recognize that the resulting whole composition should always be more resonant, more finished-feeling and more successful than any of the individual design elements incorporated into the piece.

At its core, people are motivated to recognize entire patterns or configurations. If there are any gaps or flaws or mis-directions, the brain, cognitively, has a tendency to fill in the gaps or ignore the flaws or mis-directions. Where perceptual information does not exist or is somehow incomplete, the brain will fill in the blanks, so to speak, using perceptions about proximity, similarity, figure-ground, continuity, closure, and connection. This all involves work on the part of the brain. The brain may generate resistance towards this end, unless somehow coerced or tricked by aspects of the design choices themselves.

Jewelry will have a lot of gaps of light throughout. The individual beads and components do not blend into each other. They are distinct points of information. Instead, from the brain’s point of view, there are the equivalent of cliffs between each one. The brain, in effect, is asked to jump each cliff. It may be resistant to do so. The brain wants harmony. The brain wants to connect the dots into a smooth line. Or, if the composition were separate lines, the brain wants to connect the lines into a smooth, coherent plane. Or, if there were several distinct lines and planes, the brain wants to integrate these into a recognizable shape or form. But again, all this is not automatic. The brain will resist to do any more work than necessary. The designer will need to make smart, influencing, persuading choices in the design. The Gestalt mechanism is a set of these kinds of choices.

The brain needs to be sufficiently motivated to make the effort to harmonize the pattern or configuration. Gestalt is one of the cognitive, motivating, innate forces the brain uses. In music, when the brain hears part of a melody, it not only hears the notes, but also something else, let’s, for simplicity, call this a tune. This something else allows the brain to anticipate how the melody will continue. If the melody at this point changes key, the brain anticipates how the melody will play out in the new key as a similar tune but with different notes before it is played. How the brain interacts with a piece of jewelry has parallels.

One obvious example is the use of color simultaneity effects. Here the color of the next bead is affected by the color of the previous bead. Place a grey bead next to an orange bead, and the grey bead will take on some orange tones. Both beads get perceived as blended or bridged, even though, in reality, they are not. The observer generalizes the relationship between the two stimuli rather than the absolute properties of each. Take three beads, one emerald, one olivine and one grey. You would not normally find these two greens within the same composition. Place the grey bead between the two greens and, because of simultaneity effects, the two greens will harmonize as the grey forces a blending or bridging.

Jewelry designers need to learn the basic principles or laws of Gestalt. This allows them to predict the interpretation of sensation and explain the way someone will see their compositions. It allows them to anticipate how their jewelry will arouse predictable patterns of emotions and responses in others.

These laws can be used as guides for improving the design outcomes. They can be used to influence what design elements should be included. In what forms / volumes / placements / other attributes these design elements should take. How design elements should be arranged. How construction and function should best relate to aesthetics. How the jewelry should be worn. How the jewelry might coordinate with other clothes and accessories or contexts.

These principles are based on the following:

Principle of Proximity: In an assortment of elements, some which are closer together are perceived as forming groups. Emphasizes which aspects of elements are associated.

Principle of Similarity: Elements within an assortment are grouped together if similar. This similarity could be by color or shape or other quality. If the assortment is comprised of many elements, some similar and some dissimilar, the brain will sort this out so that the similar ones, no matter where placed within the assortment, will be perceived and grouped together.

Principle of Closure: People tend to perceive objects as complete, even when incomplete, rather than focusing on any gaps or negative spaces. When parts of the whole are missing, people tend to fill in the missing parts. The brain is preset to attempt to increase the regularity of sensation or the equilibrium within an experience or event.

Principle of Symmetry: The mind perceives objects as being symmetrical and forming around a center or focal point. Similar symmetrical elements will be grouped as one. The brain will attempt to make something which is asymmetric be perceived as symmetric as best as it can. The brain equates symmetry to coherency.

Principle of Common Fate: Elements are perceived as lines which move along the smoothest path. We perceive objects as having trends of motion. In jewelry design, think about something like rhythm. The beads are not moving in reality, but we perceive a direction and a quality of movement.

Principle of Continuity: Elements of objects tend to be grouped together, and therefore integrated into perceptual wholes, if they are aligned with an object. If two objects are next to each other or overlap, the brain tends to see each object distinctly as two separate wholes, if the elements within each object are aligned and continuous. Picture a 2-strand necklace. The brain will be primed to see these as 2 separate strands or wholes, rather than one whole necklace. Objects with abrupt and sharp directional changes will less likely be perceived as a whole.

Principle of Past Experience: Under some circumstances, visual stimuli are categorized according to past experience. Especially when faced with unknown or unfamiliar objects, the brain will resort to using past experience as a means for interpretation and whether to group elements within the objects as a whole.

DESIGNS CREATE EMOTIONS

There is a growing body of knowledge of the mechanics of sensory processes in cognition. A good design creates positive emotions for the viewer, wearer and/or buyer. Jewelry designers need a deeper understanding of types of emotions and their psychological underpinnings. People develop emotions with jewelry on three levels: (1) visceral (intrinsic), (2) behavioral (behavior), and reflective (reflection).

(1) Visceral (wants to feel): attractiveness, first impressions, feelings

(2) Behavioral (wants to do): usability, function, performance, effectiveness

(3) Reflective (wants to be): meaning, impact, shared experience, psycho-socio-cultural fit

METACOGNITION

Metacognition is an awareness of your own thought and problem-solving processes. It involves a search for patterns and the meanings behind them. It involves a lot of reflection. It involves a sensitivity to the choices made when confronting any unfamiliar or unknown situation. It concerns an awareness of why some choices worked better than others, or not at all.

For jewelry designers, it is important to take metacognition one step further. It is important to turn your experiences into thinking routines. These routines are fix-it strategies you bring with you when overcoming difficult or unfamiliar situations.

SEX, SEXUALITY, AND SENSUALITY

As a jewelry designer, you have to be very aware of the roles jewelry plays in sex, sexuality and sensuality. The act of sex. Everything leading up to it. Eroticism. Sex, however, differs from sensuality. Sensuality is how the jewelry brings out the sensual — the gratification of the appetite for visuals, sounds, tastes, smells and touch. Sensuality always makes jewelry desirable. But perhaps no two people experience the sensuality of a piece of jewelry in the same way.

These sex-sexuality-sensuality roles include,

(1) The Peacock Role

(2) The Gender Role

(3) The Safe Sex Role

One sexual role of jewelry is the Peacock Role. People wear personal adornment to attract the viewer’s attention. This means that the jewelry not only needs to be flashy enough, but also must contain culturally meaningful elements that the viewer will recognize and be sufficiently meaningful as to motivate the viewer to focus his or her attention on the jewelry and who is wearing it.

These culturally meaningful elements might include the use of color(s), talismans, shapes, forms. They clue the viewer to what is good, appealing, appropriate, and to what is not. But the jewelry must also provide clues to the individuality of the wearer — her (or his) personal style, social or cultural preferences, personal senses of the situation in which they find themselves.

Another of these sexuality roles — The Gender Role — is to define gender and gender-rooted culture. Certain jewelry, jewelry styles, and ways of wearing jewelry are associated with females, and others with males. Some are used to signal androgyny, others polyamory or gender fluidity. You can easily label which jewelry looks more masculine, and which more feminine. Some jewelry is associated with heterosexuality, and others with homosexuality. I remember when men, in a big way, started wearing one earring stud, it was critical to remember whether to wear the stud in the left ear lobe (hetero) or the right one (gay). For engaged and married women, it is important to recognize which style of ring is more appropriate, and which hand and finger to wear these on.

One of the most important sexuality roles, however — The Safe Sex Role — concerns the placement of jewelry on the body. Such placement is suggestive of where it is safe, and where it is unsafe, to look at or to touch the person wearing it. The length of the necklace, relative to the neck, the breast, or below the breast. How long the earring extends below the lobe of the ear. Whether the person wears bracelets. The size of the belt buckle. If a person has body piercings, where these are — the navel, the eyebrow, the nose, the lip.

Jewelry calls attention to areas of the body the wearer feels are safe to view or touch. It’s like taking a sharpie marker and drawing a boundary line across the body. Jewelry gives the viewer permission to look at these areas, say above the line, and not others below the line. Jewelry may give the viewer permission to touch these areas, as well. The wearer may want to call attention to the face, the neck, the hands, the ankle, but also to the breasts, the naval, the genital area.

We know that certain areas of the body are more sexually arousing than others. We know that different people are more or less comfortable with these areas on the body. But how does the wearer communicate that? How does the wearer communicate her (or his) personal views of what is sexually acceptable without having to physically and verbally interact with someone in order for that person to find out?

Jewelry. How jewelry is worn is one of the most critical and strategic ways for achieving this Safe-Sex goal. The linear form of the jewelry imposes a boundary line on the body. Do not cross it. And make no mistake, this boundary line separates the permissible from the impermissible, the non-erotic from the erotic, the safe from the unsafe. In a similar way the centerpiece focuses attention as if it were an arrow pointing the way. Jewelry is not just a style preference thing. It’s a safe-sex preference thing, as well.

When news of the AIDS epidemic first burst on-stage in the 1980s, you witnessed a very dramatic change in jewelry and how it was worn. Right before the AIDS epidemic, large long earrings were style. Remember shoulder dusters. But as awareness of AIDS spread, most women stopped wearing earrings for awhile. Then gradually, they began wearing studs. Then very small hoops. It wasn’t until around 2004 that some women wore the new chandelier earrings, and you saw longer earrings on actresses as they paraded down the red carpets of one award show after another.

Prior to AIDS, the necklace style was for longer necklaces — 24” to 36” long. The necklaces were full — multi-strand, lots of charms and dangles. Again, as awareness of AIDS spread, the necklace profile changed rapidly to no necklace at all, or to thin, short chains and chokers. You would typically find ONE charm, not many, on a necklace. Attention was pulled away from the genital area, the navel and the breasts, all the way back up to the face.

Prior to AIDS, necklaces and earrings were the best-sellers in my store. After AIDS, it became bracelets. Holding hands. Not necking. Not fondling. Not sexual intercourse. Holding hands was now the acceptable norm. This was safe.

Body piercings came into major vogue during the 1980s. And look what typically got pierced. Noses, belly buttons, eyebrows, lips. This of this as a big Body Chart for safe sex.

As society became more understanding of AIDS and how it spread, the jewelry became larger. It extended to more areas of the body. People wore more of it. But in 2009, it was still restrained, when compared to what people wore before the 1980s.

In the sexual hunt between the sexes, jewelry plays an important boundary-defining role. Let’s not forget about this. Jewelry, in some sense, is an embodiment of desire. Jewelry communicates to others how the wearer comes to define what desire might mean for the self. It communicates through placement, content, embellishment and elaboration.

Jewelry does not have to be visibly erotic, or include visual representations of sexual symbols, in order to play a role in sexuality and desire — a role that helps the hunter and the hunted define some acceptable rules for interacting without verbal communication.

___________________________________

FOOTNOTES

Canel, Melissa. The Role of Perceptions in Conflict. April 9, 2016. As referenced:

https://prezi.com/auvtd6yylkkf/the-role-of-perceptions-in-conflict/

Dunlop, Cole. You Are Not Worried Enough About Perceptions and Assumptions. May 7, 2014. As referenced:
https://www.authoritylabs.com/worried-enough-perceptions-assumptions/

Gangwani, Prachi. “Sexual or Sensual? Here’s The Difference Between The Two,” 9/30/2016. As referenced in:
https://www.idiva.com/relationships-love/sex/sexual-or-sensual-heres-the-difference-between-the-two/16093050

Mausolf, Judy Kay. How To Avoid 4 Communication Pitfalls:
Assumptions, Perceptions, Comparison Expectations and Commitments. Spring, 2014. As referenced:
https://www.practicesolutionsinc.net/assets/docs/communication_pitfalls.pdf
Progressive Dentist Magazine

Nguyen, Hoang. “10 Psychological Rules I Used To Make Users Love At First Sight,” As referenced in:
https://blog.prototypr.io/10-psychological-rules-i-used-to-make-users-love-at-first-sight-55c71f99bfa1

Wellington, Kiki. “Sensual Vs. Sexual: Do you know the difference?”, 11/7/20. As referenced in:
https://medium.com/sex-with-a-side-of-quirk/the-difference-between-sensuality-and-sexuality-3b1c4f4315f2

Wikipedia: Cognition. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognition

Wikipedia: Gestalt Psychology. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gestalt_psychology

Wikipedia: Perception. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perception

_________________________________

Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft Video Tutorials online. Begin with my ORIENTATION TO BEADS & JEWELRY FINDINGS COURSE.

Follow my articles on Medium.com.

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Check out my Jewelry Making and Beadwork Kits.

Add your name to my email list.

My ARTIST STATEMENT.

My TEACHING STATEMENT.

My DESIGN PHILOSOPHY.

My PROFESSIONAL PROFILE.

My PORTFOLIO.

___________________

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Resiliency: Do You Have The Most Important Skill Designers Must Have?

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Backward Design is Forward Thinking

How Creatives Can Successfully Survive In Business

Part I: The First Essential Question Every Designer Should Be Able To Answer: Is What I do Craft, Art or Design?

Part 2: The Second Essential Question Every Designer Should Be Able To Answer: What Should I Create?

Part 3: The Third Essential Question Every Designer Should Be Able To Answer: What Materials (and Techniques) Work Best?

Part 4: The Fourth Essential Question Every Designer Should Be Able To Answer: How Do I Evoke A Resonant Response To My Work?

Part 5: The Firth Essential Question Every Designer Should Be Able To Answer: How Do I Know My Design Is Finished?

Doubt / Self-Doubt: 8 Pitfalls Designers Fall Into…And What To Do About Them

Part 1: Your Passion For Design: Is It Necessary To Have A Passion?

Part 2: Your Passion For Design: Do You Have To Be Passionate To Be Creative?

Part 3: Your Passion For Design: How Does Being Passionate Make You A Better Designer?

Posted in Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Finding A Job Which Utilizes Your Jewelry Making Experience: Some Expected and Some Unexpected Possibilities

Posted by learntobead on July 18, 2021

Warren Feld

Warren FeldJust now·9 min read

Finding A Job Which Utilizes Your Jewelry Making Experience

There are actually many career pathways for people who have backgrounds in jewelry making and bead working. Besides the obvious pathways of making jewelry to sell, or teaching jewelry making, there are still many job and career opportunities for you.

You may have to do a little more leg work, and a little more tree-shaking. Don’t assume, however, when the linear pathway is blocked, that all pathways are blocked. They are not.

Some types of jobs/careers which might use your talents….

There are a lot of private companies, nonprofit agencies, government agencies, and foundations and philanthropic agencies that work with disadvantaged groups, and need people to provide technical assistance to these groups. These groups might be inner city. They might be rural. They might be overseas.

Very often, projects these businesses and organizations work on have a craft-angle to them. They may need people to teach crafts, to teach people to transfer their craft skills into marketable skills, or to assist people in applying for loans to start up businesses, usually small loans and usually things associated with selling crafts.

Banks

Banks have found it profitable to make “micro-loans”. These loans are very small amounts, and usually given to women in developing countries, to help them leverage their skills — often craft skills — to make a business out of them. Banks need personnel to

o Develop loan forms, documentation and procedures

o Find opportunities for making these loans

o Working with people to teach them how to apply for these loans

o Working with people to teach them how to be more accountable with loan moneys

o Working with people to teach them how to translate their craft skills into marketable skills (called transfer of technology). Often this means helping them find resources to get materials, make choices about materials and what would be most cost-effective, and how to market their products

o Working with people to find markets for, and otherwise promote, their products

o Helping people form cooperatives so that they can buy materials more cheaply, and sell and market their products cooperatively

Government and International Agencies

Government and International Agencies need people to….

o Determine where — what communities, what demographics — they can most likely leverage local talents to better people’s lives. Crafts, particularly beading and jewelry making, provide very useful talents around which to leverage

o Evaluate local technologies — and these include all craft technologies — in terms of readiness and/or capability for cost-effective technology transfer

o Do some community organizing to make local people aware of governmental assistance (or other assistance), and to help them complete applications for this assistance

o Evaluate these kinds of programs to determine success, and make recommendations about how to increase these successes

o Document craft technologies, particularly among native, tribal, or isolated groups that are in danger of becoming extinct

o Similarly, to create ways to preserve craft technologies which are in danger of becoming extinct, or which became extinct a long time ago, and which be restored. A good example is how South Korea restored the art of celadon pottery making, or China’s work at preserving Yixing Tea Pot making.

Military

Military Agencies do similar things as governmental ones, except from a slightly different perspective. They want to know, in an anthropological sense, how people value different local technologies — including craft technologies –, and which ones can military and related civilian advisors assist the locals with, to improve their economy and security.

Philanthropy

Philanthropic Foundations have many missions. One mission is to improve and secure the health, welfare, and social economy of particular areas or population groups. Crafts are one way of accomplishing this, particularly if working with disadvantaged populations or areas.

Crafts are things people do all the time, that are attractive as products (and services if you are teaching), improve the quality of life, and form the roots of good businesses — especially start-ups.

Another mission of Philanthropic organizations is to pre-test different strategies for social and economic development. Again crafts, and beads especially, can form the basis of many strategies for business development, empowerment of minorities and women, assistance for the elderly, technology transfer, and the like.

Philanthropic organizations need people who can…

o Develop grants, rules and applications

o Find community organizations to apply for these grants

o Evaluate the success of grants

o Work with academics and consultant experts to generate experimental ideas to be tested through grants

o Work with local, state and national government agencies to find cost-sharing ways of testing out these “ideas”

o In similar way, find and negotiate public-private partnerships towards this end

Information Technology and Website Development

Information technology and website development companies, with Google a prime example, are in the business of translating reality into tables of data that can easily be accessed and assessed. These types of companies need people who can

o Translate craft terms and activities into categories for which data can be consistently collected, organized, stored and analyzed

o Work with museums and galleries which buy, own, exhibit, store or display crafts, to develop ways to collect and categorize routine data on these collections and their importance to different types of people and groups

o Sell the use of these craft-specific databases to companies or individuals that will use them

o Work with craft magazines, museums, schools, galleries and the like to help standardize some of the terminologies and valuations associated with various crafts, to make it easier to collect and sort data about them

o Assist craft artists in development of websites

o Assist craft artists in marketing their websites, especially through social media sites

o Develop blogs

o Develop advertising and marketing materials

o Develop packaging and branding materials

o Digitize images of craft items

Museums, Galleries and Libraries

Museums, Galleries and Libraries employ craft artists to…

o Catalog and digitize collections

o Document quality of items

o Restore aged or otherwise damaged pieces

o Write brochures and promotional materials

o Organize exhibits

o Raise funds for exhibits

o Advocate for funds among government agencies and philanthropic groups

o Organize a “crafts” section where none has existed before

o Promote fine crafts

o Organize a craft show to raise money and/or awareness

Many museums, galleries and libraries have tons of things in storage that have only loosely been documented, and need much more documentation and organization.

Non-Profit Groups, Agencies and Institutions

Non-Profit Groups employ all kinds of people with all kinds of backgrounds. They always need help with many fund-raising or program-targeting things. Your craft knowledge can play a very useful role here.

For example, take your local breast cancer society. Think of all the kinds of craft-type things you can make, and for which they can sell, to raise money. You could organize a craft brain trust among your friends, and turn out item after item with breast cancer awareness themes and colors. Or you could scour the internet for breast cancer awareness craft items, and make them work for you. And you could repeat this success for many other local nonprofit groups.

One of my friends went to the Atlanta Gift Show, and identified vendors that had products that could easily be adapted for breast cancer awareness. She worked out with each one what the minimum orders would be, how much lead time would be needed between placing an order and receiving the merchandise, and price. Then she went to local breast cancer groups and presented them with the options. She added 15% to the prices as her commission. These organizations fund raise all the time, and are in major need of new things to sell and promote. My friend had to lay out very little money — basically the cost of a trip to Atlanta, some phone calls and paperwork — and generated a very lucrative business for herself.

I remember spending some time in Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital in New York City. This hospital specializes in cancer treatment. I was observing patient activities. One of these activities involved volunteers pushing a cart around with various craft activities for patients to do.

Most of the patients in the rooms in the Ward I was on could barely move their bodies, arms and hands. They were very medicated, and had many needles and IV’s stuck into them during their stay. All the craft projects on these carts required considerable manual dexterity — knitting, beading with seed beads, crocheting. The volunteers would cheerily come into the room, announce themselves, and ask if the patient wanted any of these fun crafts to do. The patients would shake their heads No, and grunt. The patients could barely move. And the volunteers left the room, unconcerned.

I took a trip to FAO Schwartz — the toy store — and came back with sets of interlocking building blocks. The blocks were made from different colors of plastic. They were different shapes. A patient could easily hold one or two pieces in their hands without requiring much manual dexterity. The pieces fit together easily by interlocking two pieces, where a slot had been cut out in each. These were a big hit on the Ward. They allowed creativity, without much manual dexterity. The pieces were large enough, that the patient could manipulate them with their hands, and not worry about losing any, if they dropped to the floor.

In hospitals and health care settings, I’ve helped create programs to assist occupational therapists with improving manual dexterity with the elderly, therapists with improving attention spans with children, conducting memory agility tests with patients, and many more programs, utilizing crafts materials and technics.

There are plenty of social and community problems to solve, many different kinds of businesses and organizations responsible for solving these problems, and many solutions which require crafts — materials or technologies which are workable, do-able, saleable, and implementable. There most likely won’t be advertised positions for these kinds of things. But you would be surprised how easy it can be to create your own job opportunities and ones which utilize your craft experiences and knowledge.

When Approaching These Potential Employers and Consultants, Be Sure To…

1. Be able to clearly define how your craft knowledge/experience can help your prospective employer solve some of her/his (NOT YOUR) problematic situations.

2. Research prospective employers, their websites and marketing materials. Identify the key words and buzz words in their materials. Be sure to include these in your written and oral presentations to them.

3. Approach the prospective employer by phone or in person first. Then follow-up with a resume and cover letter. Don’t assume that, because you can make the intellectual link between job and solution, that the employer will see this link when reading a resume. You’ll probably have to educate the employer a bit. This really doesn’t take much effort.

4. Cite examples of what kinds of things you can do. If you can identify other programs or individuals with success stories, do so.

5. If you make your “job search” also a “mission to educate people about crafts”, you’ll be surprised how much energy and excitement you bring to the job interview situation.

_______________________________

Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online. Begin with my ORIENTATION TO BEADS & JEWELRY FINDINGS COURSE.

Check out my Jewelry Making and Beadwork KITS.

Add your name to my email list.

_____________________

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

The Jewelry Design Philosophy: Not Craft, Not Art, But Design

What Is Jewelry, Really?

The Jewelry Design Philosophy

Creativity: How Do You Get It? How Do You Enhance It?

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Becoming The Bead Artist and Jewelry Designer

5 Essential Questions Every Jewelry Designer Should Have An Answer For

Getting Started / Channeling Your Excitement

Getting Started / Developing Your Passion

Getting Started / Cultivating Your Practice

Becoming One With What Inspires You

Architectural Basics of Jewelry Design

Doubt / Self Doubt: Major Pitfalls For The Jewelry Designer

Techniques and Technologies: Knowing What To Do

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

Teaching Discplinary Literacy: Strategic Thinking In Jewelry Design

The Jewelry Designer’s Approach To Color

Point, Line, Plane, Shape, Form, Theme: Creating Something Out Of Nothing

The Jewelry Designer’s Path To Resonance

Jewelry Design Principles: Composing, Constructing, Manipulating

Jewelry Design Composition: Playing With Building Blocks Called Design Elements

Contemporary Jewelry Is Not A “Look” — It’s A Way Of Thinking

Posted in Art or Craft?, bead weaving, beads, beadwork, business of craft, craft shows, creativity, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, professional development, wire and metal | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Saying Good-bye! To Your Jewelry: A Rite Of Passage

Posted by learntobead on July 14, 2021

Canyon Sunrise, Necklace by Warren Feld, 2008

One of the most difficult things I have to do as a designer is say Good-Bye! to my pieces. I make something. I put it out there for sale. Someone buys it. I will probably never see it again. Yes, I can make another one, but that’s not the same thing. That’s not the point.

I submitted the necklace piece pictured above to a Swarovski Create Your Style Contest in 2008. The theme was be naturally inspired. My inspiration was this sunrise image of the Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon at sunrise

I was selected as a Finalist. I was invited to their offices in New York City to attend the awards ceremony. I was so excited.

I had poured my all into this piece. Hours upon hours upon hours perfecting the stitching. Experimenting with using the stitching in a 3-dimensional way. Creating a curvature along the upper sides where normally it would be a sharp edge. Selecting a 5-color scheme and figuring out how to create sharper boundaries between colors when using Swarovski crystal beads. Varying the shape, size and type of beads used within the stitch. Designing a clasp assembly which I hoped looked like a mirror of the rising sun. None of these were easy tasks. Because the fully completed piece took about 100 hours to do and contained over $1500 worth of parts, I did all this experimentation and trial and error using 3″ long samples.

I had to send off my piece to New York prior to the ceremony. And from there, my piece would be flown to Innsbruck, Austria to reside in their Swarovski Museum.

I was proud. Got the big head and paraded it around. Shared my news widely, of course.

But when the day came to pack my piece up, … not a good day.

This day actually dragged on for a week.

First, I started with one jewelry box to place the piece in. Not satisfied. So another box. Not satisfied. And another box. Still not satisfied. I combed my jewelry packaging catalogs, and found 3 more choices I thought would work. I ordered these and had them shipped overnight.

Success. One of the three was perfect.

Next, I had to put this jewelry box into a larger shipping box. Easy to find a box. But my stupid brain could not come to grips with how I wanted to place the jewelry box into the shipping box. How much filler would I need? What type — paper, styrofoam, bubble wrap. Normally, I do not have difficulty making these kinds of choices. But not this time.

I would line the shipping box, sit the jewelry box in one direction, then stop. I would remove the jewelry box, change how I lined the shipping box, replace the jewelry box in another direction, then stop. I would remove the jewelry box, again decide differently how it was to lay in the shipping box, then try to line the box, cover the jewelry box, add some paper work, and seal the shipping box. Plastic tape or paper tape? Another delay while I decided.

I did not want to let go of my beautifully designed piece of jewelry. I let my next choice create a particularly high barrier. Which shipper?

The postal service was less expensive, but less reliable.

UPS was very expensive, more reliable, but what if they weren’t? It was going to New York City. How does any shipper reliability ship to New York City?

FedEx? Maybe, but I was not familiar enough with them.

Insure the package? For how much?

Certified? Signature required?

I struggled considerably over each choice. And I never struggle over these kinds of choices.

Well, at this point, my piece was in its jewelry box. My jewelry box was in its shipping box. My shipping box was sealed. I took my jewelry cum jewelry box cum sealed shipping box to UPS. The clerk had to pull it out of my hand.

And there it went.

Good-bye!

Don’t worry, it arrived safely.

I traveled to New York City for the ceremony. There was champagne and hor d’oeuvres. There were the other finalists mostly from America, but from other parts of the world, as well. There was even the Brazilian consulate general there to represent an artist from Brazil. We were all packed in the very, very bright and sparkly offices of Swarovski.

There was my piece. My Canyon Sunrise. Sitting pretty among the other pieces. Reassuring it was still there. It was in good company. I enjoyed listening to the comments of people as they admired it. I learned a lot from speaking and sharing with the other jewelry designers.

Canyon Sunrise won 4th place.

And, I had a chance to say Good-bye! one more time.

When I returned home, I immediately went to work on recreating my piece, but this time with another challenge. I took the same 5 colors I used in the original piece, and shifted the proportions around. I did not add a pendant drop in the center, nor did I recreate the elaborate clasp assembly in the back. But I had a physical piece — a cousin — to put on display with my other jewelry pieces. I could show people more than a photograph of the original piece. This was very satisfying. I was ready to move on to other projects.

Canyon Twilight, necklace by Warren Feld, 2008

Relinquishing Your Jewelry Design To Others: A Rite of Passage

One of the most emotionally difficult things designers do is saying Good-bye! to their designs as they hand them over to their client or otherwise expose their work publicly. The designer has contributed so much thinking and has spent so much time (and sometimes so much money) to the project that it is like ripping away an integral part of your being.

This is the moment where you want to maintain the conversation and engage with your audience, but look at this from a different perspective. Your relationship with your design is evolving and you need to evolve with it. Its innate intimacy is shifting away from you and getting taken over by someone else.

But you still have needs here. You want that client to ask you to design something else for them. You want the client to share your design with others, expanding your audience, your potential clients, your validation and legitimacy as a designer. And you want to prepare yourself emotionally to take on the next project.

Relinquishing control over your design is a rite of passage. At the heart of this rite of passage are shared understandings and how they must shift in content and perspective. Rites of passage are ceremonies of sorts. Marking the passage from one status to another. There are three stages:

(1) Separation

You pass your design to others. You become an orphan. You have made a sacrifice and want something emotionally powerful and equal to happen to you in return. Things feel incomplete or missing. There is a void wanting to be fulfilled. You realize you are no longer sure about and confident in the shared understandings under which you had been operating .

(2) Transition (a betwixt and between)

There is a separation, a journey, a sacrifice. The designer is somewhat removed from the object or project, but not fully. The shared understandings constructed around the original project become fuzzy. Something to be questioned. Wondering whether to hold on to them or let go. Pondering what to do next. Playing out in your head different variations in or changes to these shared understandings. Attempting to assess the implications and consequences for any change.

These original shared understandings must undergo some type of symbolic ritual death if the designer is to move on. Leverage the experience. Start again. As simple as putting all the project papers in a box to be filed away. Or having a launch party. Or deleting files and images on a computer. Or accepting payment. Or getting a compliment. Or having a closure-meeting with the client to review the process after it has been completed.

(3) Reincorporation

The designer redefines him- or her-self vis-à-vis the designed object or project. The designer acquires new knowledge and new shared understandings. There is some reaffirmation. Triumph. This usually involves a new resolve, confidence and strategy for starting new projects, attracting new clients, and seeking wider acceptance of that designer’s skills and fluency in design.

The designer has passed through the rite of passage. The jewelry or other designed object or project has been relinquished. The designer is ready to start again.

But as a designer, you will always be managing shared understandings. These most likely will have shifted or changed after the design is gone. And new ones will have to be constructed as you take on new assignments.

_______________________________

Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online. Begin with my ORIENTATION TO BEADS & JEWELRY FINDINGS COURSE.

Check out my Jewelry Making and Beadwork KITS.

Add your name to my email list.

_____________________

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

The Jewelry Design Philosophy: Not Craft, Not Art, But Design

What Is Jewelry, Really?

The Jewelry Design Philosophy

Creativity: How Do You Get It? How Do You Enhance It?

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Becoming The Bead Artist and Jewelry Designer

5 Essential Questions Every Jewelry Designer Should Have An Answer For

Getting Started / Channeling Your Excitement

Getting Started / Developing Your Passion

Getting Started / Cultivating Your Practice

Becoming One With What Inspires You

Architectural Basics of Jewelry Design

Doubt / Self Doubt: Major Pitfalls For The Jewelry Designer

Techniques and Technologies: Knowing What To Do

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

Teaching Discplinary Literacy: Strategic Thinking In Jewelry Design

The Jewelry Designer’s Approach To Color

Point, Line, Plane, Shape, Form, Theme: Creating Something Out Of Nothing

The Jewelry Designer’s Path To Resonance

Jewelry Design Principles: Composing, Constructing, Manipulating

Jewelry Design Composition: Playing With Building Blocks Called Design Elements

Contemporary Jewelry Is Not A “Look” — It’s A Way Of Thinking

Posted in Art or Craft?, art theory, bead weaving, beads, beadwork, business of craft, color, craft shows, creativity, design management, design theory, design thinking, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, professional development, Stitch 'n Bitch, wire and metal | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT:How Am I Going To Control The Flow Of Money In My Jewelry Design Business?

Posted by learntobead on June 10, 2021

Abstract:

Financial management includes all the things you need to do in order to determine your Return On Investment (ROI).   It mostly involves a system of data collection, monitoring and analysis methods employed by any successful business.   This system relates risks to rewards.    Activities in this kind of system include things such as general accounting and bookkeeping, inventory management, and record keeping.    These include things you do to establish and maintain formal relationships with employees, independent contractors and suppliers.    These include things you do to secure your money, such as with banks, financial institutions, and even such things as crowd-funding online.     This is a lot of numbers and activities, and often, when we look at why people fail in business, it is often because of a generalized fear of getting in control of all this.   Successful business people and successful businesses need to foster a culture which promotes a growth mindset.    Simply this is a culture where you have permission and encouragement and confidence to take risks.    

A Focus On Your Return On Investment (ROI)

You put a lot of time, effort and resources into designing pieces of jewelry and building up your business.    This all has a cost to you in time, money, and even relationships.    You want a Return On Investment (ROI).    You want to see some benefits that exceed your costs.   Joy, happiness, contentment, money, security, less stress, more opportunities and more challenging opportunities to be creative, more fulfilling relationships.  

When you take your creative endeavors and turn them into a business, the core focus primarily rests on increasing your returns on investments (ROI’s) through smartly and strategically managing your finances.   You want to set into place various management structures and routine data collection procedures to assist you in managing risk and maximizing rewards.   You want to minimize the effects of uncertainty on your business.

Sometimes, creative people think that some people are born to take risks, manage them and live with them, and others are not.   This is not true.    Having a business sense is not something innate or genetic.   It’s something that is learned over time, often with a lot of trial and error, many failures, but key successes, as well.   There is no reason, if this is something you want to do, to shy away from thinking about or attempting to monetize your jewelry as a business.  

Towards this end, you want to get a good handle on such things as:

  1. Understanding risk and reward
  2. Tracking your costs and revenues
  3. Tracking your inventory
  4. Other record keeping
  5. Employees and Independent Contractors
  6. Banking, Insurance and Credit Card Processing
  7. Getting Terms
  8. Getting Paid
  9. Crowd-funding
  10. Fostering a Growth Mind-set


a) ROI: Understanding Risk and Reward

It is important to understand risk and reward, and how to manage these.    Part of managing these is putting into place systems which collect necessary data – primarily about costs and revenues – and evaluating the data and its desired impact on everything you are trying to achieve in your business.  Anyone can do this.   But jewelry designers who foster a growth mind-set are often better at managing risk and reward.

What Is Risk and What Is Reward

Risks and rewards are gambles.   They are probabilities.   Chances.    They help define the likelihood for determining whether what happens next will hurt you or help you.

Risk is the likelihood that you will lose either or both tangible rewards (money) and intangible rewards (success, happiness).    

Rewards are the profits, again tangible (money) or intangible (success, happiness), you receive from taking risks.   

Usually, the greater the risks you take, the greater the rewards earned.  But this is not a guarantee.    Losses can occur, usually resulting from the failures to properly manage the relationship between risks and rewards.

Risk management is important in every business because without it, that business cannot clarify what goals it needs to set, and what steps it needs to take towards meeting those goals.   There are more things to do on a day-to-day basis than you could possibly do and get done.    Risk management helps you narrow down the tasks to those most likely to have the greatest rewards. 

Risks and Rewards must be managed in a deliberate, rational, and day-by-day way.   Routinely.   With fore-thought and organization.    This means collecting data.   This means analyzing data.    This means closely looking at risk and evaluating whether it makes sense, or not, to continue doing what you are doing, or what you want to be doing.    Is it sufficiently rewarding or profitable?    What is the opportunity cost?   That is, you could be expending the same amount of resources (time, motivation, money) doing something else that might have a greater return.

Any business is fraught with risk.   If it were easy to start a business, everyone would do it.    But it is not.    Again, it requires routinely collecting and evaluating data.     It takes you out of that creative mode and way of thinking, and plops you down into a very different administrative one.    In order to sell a piece of jewelry, you have to begin to deal with things like marketing and promotion, production, distribution, inventory management, investments in tools, parts, displays and equipment.   You need to closely track all your costs and all your revenues.    It means taking chances you might lose money or fail.   This is scary.   

When managing risks, it is important to remember:

  1. Don’t confuse Risk with Fear.    Fear keeps you from doing things.   Risk aids you in asserting some control over uncertainty.
  2. Simply be aware that both Risks and Rewards exist.     Where there are greater rewards, there are usually also greater risks.
  3. Yes, risks are risky, but should not be reckless.
  4. Make decisions based on the relationship of risks to rewards.   It is not the number of pieces of jewelry you make.   Rather it is the average return you get from each piece of jewelry you make, given the costs and investments you made in order to finish that piece of jewelry and sell it.   This type of information will clue you into such things as what might happen if you too aggressively seek rewards, or too timidly accept risks.
  5. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.  Diversify the types of jewelry you make, designs you do, parts you use, markets you seek to exploit.
  6. Keep things simple.   There is a lot of data, systems and subsystems of information to manage.   Things which help keep things simple:  
  7. standardization of forms, collection procedures, the ways data are organized
  8. use of summary indicators like totals, averages, means, mediums, rates, trends
  9. routines developed for procedures and administration

How Do You Measure Risk and Reward

As a jewelry designer, you will be measuring risks and rewards in a few different ways.

  1. Measuring Risk and Reward: General accounting
  2. Measuring Risk and Reward: Financial Management
  3. Measuring Risk and Reward: Inventory Management
  4. Measuring Risk and Reward: Pricing
  5. Measuring Risk and Reward: Impression Management

1) Measuring Risk and Reward: General Accounting

You will set up a General Ledger (G/L) to track your revenues and expenses, and liabilities and assets.    This is like setting up a giant table or spreadsheet.    You enter every piece of information into this table or spreadsheet that represents some kind of expenditure to you or some kind of revenue received.     Below I go into more detail about setting up a General Ledger.

2) Measuring Risk and Reward: Financial Management

Here you try to reduce things you do to a series of rates and trend-lines.     It is NOT the number or dollar amounts of your sales.   Instead, it is your rate of sales.   Your rates of inventory reduction and replenishment.     Your accumulated debt to earnings.    Breakeven analysis.   Trends in gross profit and net profit.

For some rates, management means maintaining a constant velocity or turn in the rate.     For example, if you need to sell a minimum of 6 pieces of jewelry each week to breakeven, are you able to maintain at least this rate every week in the year?   If not, for those times in the year where the velocity of this rate might slow down, what else can you do instead to maintain your business at least at the breakeven point?   

For other rates, management means maintaining an upward trend or trajectory, even though some weeks the data may decline.    Especially when you first get started in business, your gross profit and net profit might be low or even negative numbers.    The trend line is more important than the specific monthly numbers.

Leverage.  A related concept in financial management is leverage.  This is the degree you leverage someone else’s money to make money for yourself.    You might be paying for some of your inventory, equipment, furnishings or other business expenses using a credit card or relying on a bank loan or leasing where you do not have to front all the costs all at once.    You might be listing your jewelry on someone else’s website or marketplace where they are paying internet and website maintenance costs.     You might be co-marketing your jewelry with someone else who sells a product which can be integrated with yours where you thus are sharing the costs.   You might be buying inventory on terms, say NET 30, where you do not have to pay for the inventory for 30 days.   You might maintain bare minimums of inventory items, where you depend on your suppliers to provide just-in-time shipments, thus having your suppliers foot the bill for a lot of storage costs.

In each case, someone else has made investments in things that either you do not have to, or you do not have to all at once.     Sometimes, you pay for some of these over time.   Othertimes, the synergistic effects create payments for all parties above and beyond what each could do on their own.     All of this is called leverage.    

We have to monitor leverage, as well, to be sure the rewards we get do not exceed the risk we undertake to get those rewards.   

3) Measuring Risk and Reward: Inventory Management

There are three important things to understand about inventory up front:

  1. Inventory is a placeholder for money.     You paid for your inventory, and you get that money back when you sell it.
  2. As a jewelry maker and designer, you will have a bi-furcated inventory, a) an inventory of finished pieces ready for sale, and b) an inventory of parts and pieces of jewelry not ready for sale.
  3. An inventory of digitized files and applications.

Holding inventory ties up a lot of money.    This money is in the form of parts, perhaps restricting and constricting you in what colors, styles, materials, components and the like you will be able to use when designing a piece of jewelry.    Too much or too little of inventory – or the right inventory for the moment – can break your business.

This all means that inventory is something that needs to be monitored and managed.   Your goal is to minimize the cost of holding inventory.     This involves figuring out ways to know when it is time to replenish inventory, change out and update inventory, or buy more materials to manufacture inventory.   After all, you want to prevent these kinds of things from happening…

  • Lose sales
  • Hurt cash flow
  • Buy too many things which don’t and won’t sell
  • Create storage problems, including prevention of deterioration, such as plated finishes which fade over time
  • Needing cash, but it’s all tied up in inventory – you can’t eat beads
  • Reduce your profitability
  • Reduce your resiliency – that is, an ability to adapt to fashion, style, demand and culture changes
  • Losing that balance between efforts directed at inventory management with efforts required for general administration, marketing and promotion

4) Measuring Risk and Reward: Pricing

The price you set for each piece of jewelry has to be based on all the costs you incur.   Not just the costs of the parts.   Not just the time you put in.    All the costs.    These include, parts, labor and what is called overhead.   Overhead is everything else:  electricity, heat, rent, business travel, wear and tear on tools and equipment, and the like.     It is not cost-effective to have to track each and every one of these overhead costs separately, so we typically estimate them using a formula.    From a management standpoint, this formula needs to make sense and come close to its approximation.    It has to be defensible.

5) Measuring Risk and Reward: Impression Management

Much of what we do these days is digital.   We promote and sell our pieces on line.   This might be directly through a website.   It might be through social media.   It might be through an auction site.

In the digital world we track and manage impressions (often referred to as eyeballs).    Measures of risk in the digital world include concepts like Costs Per Click (CPC), Costs Per Impression (typically 1,000 impressions)(CPI), Adds To Cart (ATC), Cost Per Add To Cart (CATC), conversion rate (relates number of visitors to visitors who actually buy something), costs to maintain current conversion rate, and so forth.

Given the velocity or trends in these rates, and the returns on investments for you (such as costs of maintaining a website, marketing and promotion, supporting an inventory, handling money and credit cards, costs of shipping), you ask yourself questions about your various business and marketing strategies, your user experiences, and user impressions.    What is it costing you to persuade people to take a look and to buy?

Some of these analytics will be provided to you in stats packages you can integrate with your site.   Others will involve collecting data yourself, and analyzing them, usually in spreadsheets you create.

Next, you need to translate your understanding of risks and rewards into systems of data collection and analysis, beginning with the basics of tracking the flow of money in terms of costs and revenues.

b) ROI: Tracking Your Costs and Revenues

You set up an accounting General Ledger to track revenues and expenses, and assets and liabilities.   Your goal here is to adequately account for your expenses and revenues, and your liabilities and assets.

What are business revenues?
Business revenues include all the money coming into your business, including payments for products and services, interest on bank accounts and investments, rent you charge others to use your space or equipment, royalties you get from intellectual property.

What are business expenses?  
Business expenses are ANYTHING THAT HAVE TO DO WITH OR RELATE TO OR CONTRIBUTE TO MAKING A PROFIT.  

You might want to secure copies of IRS publications that define each business expense and how it should be accounted for.

What are business assets?
Business assets are the current values of your physical property, from desks to chairs to computers to printers to major software packages.    These are things which depreciate, that is, lose value over time.

A key asset is your inventory.    If you are selling finished jewelry, your inventory will include all your works-in-progress as well as your finished pieces.    For some jewelry businesses, it might become a little confusing to differentiate between your supply of parts and your jewelry, especially if you only assemble pieces after orders are made.    On a yearly basis, the IRS only lets you deduct the costs associated with finished jewelry pieces sold.    The rest of the inventory is treated like it is cash.   You will need to decide what exactly you call inventory and what other supplies you call supplies.   (See COST OF SALES section below).

What are business liabilities?
These are things the business owes money on, from short term net-30-day payments to suppliers to long term credit card bills and bank loans and leases.

BUSINESS USE OF A HOME:  Many jewelry designers work out of their homes.    While these expenses are red-flagged by the IRS, tax courts have consistently ruled that Congress intended to be very liberal and kind to these expenses.  

You would compute the proportion of “business use” space in your home relative to your home’s total space.   This space could be a whole room or part of a room.    This space must only be devoted to business, not personal use.   Based on this proportion, you allocate your mortgage or rent, your heating, A/C, water, sewer, and other maintenance costs to your business expenses.  

Example:   Your home is 1000 sq ft.   The room you use for your business is 100 sq ft.   So your business “use” expenses would be 10% of your rent/mortgage, 10% of your utilities, 10% of you lawn maintenance, 10% of repairs, etc.

For some expenses, you cannot use the straightforward proportion percentage.  If you use a computer, it is a better idea to have a separate one that you use for business, than for personal.  If you use one for both, you have to maintain a use log, and, based on “time the machine is used for business vs. personal”, you allocate the costs and depreciation of the machine to your business.   Telephone costs are allocated based on the proportion of business calls to all calls each month.

Don’t be shy about what to call a legitimate business expense at your home.   Picture a real store.   If they have to mow the lawn, you would have to mow the lawn at your home.   If 10% of your home were devoted to business, then 10% of your lawn mowing expenses would also qualify.   Home repairs, fixing the roof, mortgage, insurance and the like would be legitimate.   At the same time, if you have little income, do not declare these expenses with the sole purpose of gaming your tax liability.  

SETTING UP A GENERAL LEDGER (G/L):  

When you are just starting, you can set up a spreadsheet to track your expenses and revenues or even use a ledger book bought at a local office supplies store.    Or you can purchase some inexpensive software apps.    Many accounting apps have been moving to a “rent” rather than “purchase” model, where you pay a monthly fee to use their apps.   

With a General Ledger, you are basically creating a giant table for the year.   The rows are the days of the month.   The columns are your revenue and expense categories.     You also build in some summary formulas, such as the total Revenue for each month.

There are single-entry accounting systems and double-entry accounting systems.   If you are just getting started and using a ledger book or spreadsheet, using a single-entry system where you record revenues and expenses only is fine.    If you are using an accounting application, these typically are set up as a double-entry accounting system.    Here, part of the ledger accounts for revenues and expenses and the other part of the accounting system will duplicate this information in the form of assets and liabilities.    When you are making $6,000 – 10,000 per year in sales, you will want to graduate to the double-entry system.    It is a straightforward step to evolve a single-entry to a double-entry system.

IN A SINGLE-ENTRY ACCOUNTING SYSTEM, you set up a spreadsheet, and track each of all your revenues and all your business expenses.   The rows are days of the month and the columns are your various revenue and expense accounts.  Each different revenue and cost is referred to as an account (or line item).     All together, these accounts get assigned unique ID codes, and get organized into a Chart of Accounts.   Each revenue or expense entry gets tagged with a specific ID code, and entered into a General Ledger (of Accounts).

Picture your G/L as a very large table.    Again, the columns of the spreadsheet are these revenue and expense accounts.   The rows are the days of the month.   You should compute subtotals for each column at least once a month.   If your business is a busy one, you should compute subtotals for each column weekly.   You should also keep a running subtotal of year-to-date information.

 Revenue-SalesRevenue- ClassesConsumable SuppliesTelephoneRent
1/1/180.00 12.00  
1/2/1863.0035.006.00  
1/3/1842.00    
1/4/18190.00 29.00  
1/31/1843.00  150.00750.00
Jan Totals338.0035.0047.00150.00750.00
Jan Avg67.60 (/5)7.00 (/5)9.40 (/5)4.84 (/31)24.19 (/31)

What Accounts and How Many Accounts Do I Need?

You set up a sufficient number of accounts in order to satisfy two sometimes competing needs.    You should be able to glance over your general ledger each month and come away with some good understandings of how your revenues and costs relate to your business strategies and programs.   This is called good financial management.    If you have too many accounts, financially managing them becomes more and more difficult.

You also want to anticipate issues of IRS auditing.    You want clear categories, and maybe more categories than is easily managed from a financial standpoint.   The IRS will suggest specific categories.  You are not required to use them.    You can use some of them, all of them or none of them.    For example, I use one category I call OCCUPANCY, where the IRS has separate categories for INSURANCE, UTILITIES, MAINTENANCE.

  Examples of Accounts
a) Revenue (sales, rents, royalties, teaching)
b) Cost of Sales (special packaging, shipping inventory to you, commissions)
c) Employee (wages, benefits, federal taxes, state taxes)
d) Other Expenses (supplies, travel, marketing, fees, shipping things to others)
f) Assets (Cash, Inventory, Bank Accounts, fixed like computer or table)
g) Liabilities (Credit card debt, bank loan; money you owe your suppliers)
   

REVENUE ACCOUNTS
The IRS has one revenue account.    From a financial management standpoint, I like to have several revenue accounts.      I like to be able to look at the numbers (and the rates of change) and be able to figure out if any of my revenue-generating strategies is working well or not.

COST OF SALES

This is the most confusing part of the general ledger, because you have to make some rules and be clear about what you are calling “Supplies-Jewelry Making” and what you are calling “Inventory”.   

As a Jewelry Making business, you wear many hats – you are the manufacturer, the distributor and the retailer.   The tax laws are written in a way that assume you are one or the other – not all three at the same time.

At this point in the ledger, you can calculate the first of two Magic Numbers – Gross Profit.   If using a spreadsheet, you can put the formula into one of the cells of the table.

 MAGIC NUMBER (Gross Profit):
Your REVENUE minus COST OF SALES equals GROSS PROFIT.
 

If your GROSS PROFIT divided by your REVENUE is greater than .50,
then you’re doing well.

With the Magic Numbers, you have some easy to access and interpret information to help you financially manage your business.    You look at month-to-month and year-over-year trends.    When you first get started, some of these Magic Numbers might be on the not-so-good-looking-side, but again, pay attention to trends.

EMPLOYEE EXPENSES
(These are the minimum number of employee line items you will need to be able to fill out all the Federal, State and Local payroll tax related forms.   You can always add more categories than those stated here.)   

If you have employees, it may make sense to pay for a payroll service, that both cuts the checks and does your quarterly and annual payroll taxes.

EXPENSE ACCOUNTS

Your expense accounts are how you track what happens when you spend money.

Sometimes it gets a little confusing how to enter credit card expenses into your general ledger.

Now you are positioned to calculate the next Magic NumberNet Profit.

MAGIC NUMBER (Net Profit):  
Your REVENUE minus COST OF SALES minus EMPLOYEE EXPENSES minus all other EXPENSES equals your NET PROFIT.
 

You want this to be a positive number.   However, for your first year or two, it might be negative.   Again, it’s most useful to look at trends.

NOTE: There is NO IRS rule that says you have to show a profit in 3 of the last 5 years, or any rule about the frequency of profit.    As long as you a trying to run a business as best you can, even if you are failing miserably, there are no consequences for showing continued losses.

In a double-entry system, the other part of the general ledger will account for

a) ASSETS
b) LIABILITIES

Example:   You buy $10.00 of beads.    

Debit Inventory by +10.00Credit Cash by -10.00
(increases inventory total by 10.00)(decreases your cash by 10.00)
  
  

Assets are things you own and have value for your business.

ASSETS 501    INVENTORY   (See discussions of inventory above)
502     PREPAID EXPENSES
503     PEOPLE WHO OWE YOU MONEY
504     NON-COMPUTER EQUIPMENT
505     COMPUTER EQUIPMENT
506     FURNITURE
507     ACCUMULATED DEPRECIATION  

Liabilities are things you owe to others, which until these are paid off, decrease the value of your business.

LIABILITIES
601     PAYROLLTAXES      
602     OTHER TAXES
603     SALES TAXES COLLECTED
604     GIFT CERTIFICATES OUTSTANDING
605     NOTES PAYABLE – BANK
606     CREDIT CARD #1
607     CREDIT CARD #2  

You now have in place a system for gathering information about money costs and money revenues. You need to expand this system to gather even more detail, specifically about your inventory.

c) ROI: Inventory Management

The Kinds Of Things You Want To Be Doing
In Inventory Management

Monitoring and managing inventory involve several interrelated activities.     These activities will place time and cost burdens on you.    Luckily, much of this can be computerized.     There is inventory management software available, some of it specialized for jewelry.      If you are selling things online, your shopping cart system will accommodate a lot of this.

These activities include:

  1. Par Levels
  2. Storing and Tracking FIRST IN, FIRST OUT
  3. Supplier Relationships
  4. Resiliency
  5. Auditing
  6. Prioritizing
  7. Forecasting
  8. Timing

To the extent that you can systemize all this, relying on a central, computerized database, the more efficient and effective you will be.    Ask yourself, as well, whether your inventory management system will grow with you as you continue to develop and expand your business.  You always want to have the right stuff, in the right place, at the right time, at the right cost.

  1. Inventory Management: Establish Par Levels

What is the minimum inventory needed on hand at all times?  For example, when doing craft and art shows, you will need to have 4x the amount of inventory from what you want to sell (thus, $1000.00 of inventory to sell $250.00 of merchandise).

Do you have a tickle system signaling times to reorder?

What have you based your par levels on?   Sales rate?    Time it takes to acquire items?

If demand changes, do you have strategies for adjusting your par levels?

Do you need to maintain any samples of your work which never get sold, but are used for displays, promotions, or photography?

Do you need to have finished pieces on hand, or will you make pieces to order on demand?

  • Inventory Management: Storing and Tracking your FIRST IN, FIRST OUT (FIFO)

You want your oldest stock to get sold first.   

Are your things stored and displayed to meet this principle?
Do you have adequate storage space?    Containers?

What is it costing to you maintain your desired storage levels?

When stock doesn’t sell within a reasonable time, what are your plans?   Deconstruct finished pieces and re-use the parts?   Discount or write-off dead parts inventory?

  • Inventory Management: Maintain strong relationships and communication with your suppliers

What is it about some suppliers that you like, or that you dislike?

Will they accept returns?

Can they handle special orders?

If something is not currently available, can they tell you when it will be in stock again?

Will they work with you to waive minimums?

Do you have back-up suppliers in case your primary supplier can’t come through?

  • Inventory Management: Maintaining Resiliency and Doing Contingency Planning

You need to actively and continually do What If Analysis.    

What if…

  • An item becomes especially popular?
  • You run out of cash?
  • Storage becomes an issue?
  • Your tracking and data system somehow goes awry?
  • Parts become unavailable or are discontinued?
  • Parts or merchandise are damaged or spoiled?
  • Customer wants, needs, demands, desires or shopping behaviors change?
  • Other unforeseen circumstances?

Do you have any part of your inventory set aside for use in case of an emergency?

  • Inventory Management: Auditing your inventory on a regular basis.

Auditing will include a mix of big, scheduled activities and some spot checking.  Auditing means establishing a baseline.    It means identifying current inventory challenges.    It means evaluating your current procedures and data systems, and identifying their strengths and weaknesses.

  • Inventory Management: Prioritizing Inventory by Value.

Some value might have to do with how much something contributes to revenue and profitability.     Items with higher mark-ups would get more attention.

Some value might have to do with the rate of turnover.   Items more popular and sell faster would get more attention.

For management purposes, it might be useful to establish 3 groups of value.  Group A might represent things contributing 50% of value.   Group B might represent things contributing 35% of value.  Group C might represent things contributing 15% of value.

  • Inventory Management: Forecasting.

You want to be in a position where you can predict future demand, perhaps over the next year or two.   You want to be able to define seasonality fluctuations.     You want to anticipate the impacts of any upcoming promotions or advertising.      Much of forecasting involves tracking your orders/sales and relating this back to inventory.

  • Inventory Management: Timing.

What time issues/management would be associated with maintaining the lowest inventory possible to meet your demand.    Here you tried to understand if you can shift the costs of storage and securing supplies over to your suppliers.     Customers these days often demand immediate satisfaction, so shifting some costs to supplies may be problematic for you.

The systems you have built to track, maintain and analyze your money flows and your inventory are sustained by a whole set of receipts and administrivia related to banking, insurance, credit card processing, travel, and working with employees and independent contractors.

d) ROI: Other Record Keeping

You want to keep all your receipts together for each calendar year.     You do NOT want to keep all your receipts stored in a shoe box.    File your receipts, say in an accordion file, organized alphabetically by company.

If part of the transactions listed on any receipt are personal and some are business, then circle the business related ones and write something like “business” next to these.

If you did not get a receipt for something business related, write out your own receipt, with the date, purpose, description, and amount.

You must store these receipts (and your other business documentation) for 10 years.   Some places list 7 years, but you will need to store these for 10 years.

Don’t rely on paying an accountant to sort through all your receipts in order to calculate your tax liabilities each year.   The cost of this would be prohibitive.    You yourself need to do that kind of leg-work, and being very organized will help you do this efficiently and effectively.

You probably will also be generating these kinds of forms and documents in the course of doing business, and you need to maintain files of back up copies:

  • Purchase orders
  • Invoices
  • Packing slips
  • Order sheets / line forms
  • Catalogs
  • Checkbooks, and copies of checks written or check requisition forms with check numbers of checks written documented
  • State, local and federal tax documents
  • Leases / rental agreements for property and equipment
  • Account numbers and agreements with each of your suppliers and creditors
  • Travel logs
  • General Ledger entry forms

TRAVEL LOG

All your business travel is deductible, but the IRS has different rules for how you handle various business expenses.   So, you keep separate accounts of


– Auto expenses (gas, depreciation, mileage, car maintenance and repairs);

NOTE: On your income taxes, you can use either a standard mileage rate or actual expenses allocated.   You pick which method of expense tracking you want to use.   You have to use the same method all year.    You can, if you want, change the method from one year to the next.


– Meals while traveling;
– Lodging while traveling;


NOTE:  Within any calendar year, you can only use one way to calculate these expenses.   You can change from year to year.   Either use Per diem (IRS maintains allowable food and lodging rates for every city in the US) or Actual expenses (whatever you spend).


– Ticketed travel (plane, boat, railroad, taxi, limo, ferry);
– Other travel expenses (newspaper, shoe-shine, gym).

NOTE:  IRS RULE:  You should be able to live your life on the road the same way you live your life at home.   If you have a personal trainer come to your home 3 times a week, then you can have a personal trainer come to your hotel 3 times a week, and this would be a legitimate Travel-Other expense.    If you don’t, it’s not.    If you purchase the New York Times each day at home, you can purchase it while away, and declare this as a legitimate Travel-Other expense.   If you don’t, it’s not.

Keep a travel log in all your cars, and record:
DATE, BEGIN MILEAGE, END MILEAGE, subtract to get TOTAL MILEAGE. 
Write down the business purpose of each trip.  

For example, if you’re in business selling beaded jewelry, you can deduct all your mileage for all your trips to any bead or craft store, any bead society meeting, any bead-related or jewelry-making classes, any trip to a museum to see jewelry on display, any trip to a store to do research on jewelry, check out the competition, mail bills at the post office, go to the bank to make a deposit, and the like.

BUSINESS CARDS 
A must!

LOGO
This can simply be how you print the name of your business – font choice, layout, positioning of words.  Or it can be a fancy image.

There are Logo-Maker apps online that you can try.

Once you get your logo, you will want to place it on all your forms, documents, marketing materials, and online webpages.    


You will want to trademark your logo.

e) ROI: Employees and Independent Contractors

Sometimes you need to work with help.    You might hire part-time or full-time employees outright.   You might pay someone on commission or per piece where that person works as an independent contractor rather than an employee.    You might barter and trade teaching someone some skills in exchange for some work, like hiring an unpaid intern or apprentice.

In these situations, you will need to anticipate if, after paying someone, and with employees also paying additional taxes, you can still make a profit.

Some forms to pay attention to:

With hired employees:
forms W-4 (when hired)
forms W-2 and W-3 (annually)

With independent contractors:
forms W-9 (before contract gets implemented)
forms 1099-MISC and 1096 (annually)

f) ROI: Banking, Insurance and Credit Card Processing

BANKING

BANK ACCOUNT:  It is better to have a separate bank account for your business than for personal.   If you use a personal bank account for your business, it is a good idea to have your bank-checks printed up in the business-check size.    If you are a solo proprietorship, you would print your name on the checks, and under your name, you would print your doing business name as (DBA), as in: 

Janet Jackson

DBA Retro Jewelry Designs.

If you have employees, it is useful, from a financial management standpoint, to have a separate business bank account that is dedicated to all payroll expenses (salaries and taxes).

Whether you are using a personal or business banking account, be sure to print your checks using the Business Check format.    On your business checks, it is a good idea to have checks with your business name on it.  You can either open a Business Checking Account, or have your business name printed on your Personal Checking Account checks.   If printed on your personal checks, then again, you list your own name (which is your official business name) on the check, and under your name, you list “DBA, Your Business Name”, where DBA stands for Doing Business As.

INSURANCE

At some point, you will need to purchase business insurance to cover liability and theft or loss of property (inventory and equipment) issues and medical issues (you or an employee getting hurt in the context of the job).    In most places, running a business out of your home violates local zoning codes.  You may not qualify for a company’s business insurance package if you are violating these laws.

REMEMBER: When working with any insurance agent, that agent is professionally obligated to report any violation of the law, including these zoning laws, to the authorities.    This is true, even if your insurance agent is your sister!

So, when you discuss insurance with your insurance agent, you will need to pose your questions as “What If?” questions – “What If I were to start a business in my home” — rather than indicate you already have or absolutely intend to locate a business in your home.  

USE OF A CREDIT CARD:  It is a better idea to use a separate credit card for your business than for your personal uses.  If you do use one card for both personal and business, be sure to mark all original charged invoices as to which use they refer to.

CREDIT CARD PROCESSING

Whatever location your business is in – home, storefront, craftshow – you will need to be able to take credit cards.    Very few customers use cash nowadays.
You will need to be able to accept a lot of different credit cards:   Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express.    Ideally, you want to use a processing company that lets you accept all these cards.

You will need to be able to swipe a card, insert a card to have its chip read, as well as manually enter a card number without the card present.    You might need to be able to let someone touch their phone to your credit card machine to do the transaction.

You may want to open a credit card processing merchant account.   Or you might use a company that doesn’t require you having your own merchant account.   In this case, you would be using that company’s shared account.     Some prominent companies which do shared accounts include PayPal and Square and GoPayment and Stripe.    With the internet, competition for credit card services has gotten so fierce, that many of the rates and combined costs have been converging.    Using a company with shared accounts will reduce the various certification and reporting requirements associated with having you own account. 

Check your options online and do some serious comparisons here.    Comparisons will not be straightforward because different companies which offer credit card processing services make their money in different ways.    They will be inexpensive on some things, and more expensive on others.   Some companies make money by leasing equipment.  Others by charging you a fee for each sale (per transaction fee).  Others by charging you a rate per dollar volume of each sale (discount rate).   

Sometimes you can get used/rebuilt equipment very cheaply on line.    But how cards are processed can change frequently, sometimes necessitating the purchasing of new equipment.

If you are locked into a multi-year lease on equipment or on credit card processing through a particular company, you will be liable for the expense through the end of the contract, even if you close your business before then.    No-contract options are very appealing.    One-year contracts are OK.   Three-year contracts start to get risky, but may be an appealing option, given their whole package.

It is a good idea to check whether the credit card processing company has credit card scanning attachments that connect to your phone or tablet or operate with Wi-Fi.   This is especially important if you are doing sales off site, like at a craft show.

Data systems are in place. Procedures are in place. Basic business relationships are in place. Now you need to create mechanisms to secure all this, that is, to secure the in-flows and out-flows of money so that you are taking the risks you want to take and achieving the rewards you believe you should get in return. These mechanisms include formal and informal arrangements and contracts, such as getting terms, getting paid, and crowd funding your business.

g) ROI: Getting Terms

Whenever possible, I suggest trying to get net terms with your suppliers.    Net terms is a form of trade credit.    Instead of paying upfront for your supplies, your suppliers will give you some predetermined period of time to pay for these goods.    You get your supplies right away without having to pay until an agreed-upon future date.

Usually, you would get Net 30 terms, meaning you would pay within 30 days.   Sometimes, if you have not paid within the terms set, you might get assessed a penalty fee.

To apply for net terms with any supplier, you would submit a Credit Sheet.

CREDIT SHEET

You will want to prepare a Credit Sheet which lists the following information.   You give this sheet to businesses where you want to apply for terms.   When you buy things from businesses, you can pay cash (sometimes check or credit card) – this is considered Pre-Payment.   You can pay COD (cash on delivery), but there is usually an extra COD charge tacked on.   Or you can pay on terms or “on account”, usually signified as Net 30 or Net 10, where you would have 30 or 10 days to pay your bill.   If you don’t pay within that time, the business may take away your privilege to buy on terms, or charge you a late fee.


h) ROI: Getting Paid

Getting paid for your work can range from the straight-forward to the nightmare.    If you are doing a lot of custom work, your clients will probably pay you in increments, say 50% up front, and 50% upon completion.   If you are doing a lot of consignment, the shops may pay for anything of yours that sells perhaps quarterly.   If you are selling wholesale to other retailers, you might have extended them terms, say Net 30, where you expect to get paid at the end of the term period.

For each piece sold, or for several pieces sold at the same time, you will be generating some kind of invoice.    Each month, you might also be following up with your customers with a statement form, showing what has been paid, and what still needs to be paid.

INVOICE or STATEMENT FORMS (2-part forms – one for you and one for your customer).   You can get a blank pad at a local stationery store, or have these pre-printed with your business name, address and phone.

i) ROI: Crowd-Funding

Crowd-funding is when you seek funding from angel investors, government grants, loans or crowdfunding campaigns online, like with Kickstarter, to fund your creative pursuits.    Crowd-funding creates financing opportunities.     You might be looking to start a line of jewelry and mass produce and distribute it.   You might be looking to franchise your business.    You might have a product idea that you believe has great market potential.   Jewelry products can be costume, semi-precious stones and metals (bridge jewelry), or fine jewelry.   

Other crowd-funding platforms include Indiegogo and Ivylish.   These provide a great opportunity for upcoming and small jewelry businesses who have an especially marketable idea.   Each site has rules, requirements and fees.   It is important to research what types of jewelry projects are most successful and least successful on each site.

The most popular crowd-funding campaigns offer a reward to the backers.    This could be in the form of product, money, or an opportunity to participate in an event.   

Crowd-funding gives the designer an opportunity to pre-test his or her ideas and how the market will respond to these ideas.    

Some pointers:

  • Pitches with video presentations work best
  • Have clear and concise goals; any potential backer should be very clear about the parameters of your project and what their money should be going towards
  • You want your audience to be able to visualize your project; show them in images what you have done before, and what you hope to do with this project; make them want it
  • Reach out to your inner circle first, and evidence of their backing will legitimize and validate you and your project as you reach out to the larger market; enlist them as deputized marketers, asking them to spread the word, increasing your visibility and exposure, through their own social media connections
  • Name your donation levels in a clever and tied-in way; you might point out that they could donate the price of a coffee or price of a cab fare to make it easier to understand how to donate to your campaign
  • It helps to offer samples of your work or promotional items like stickers, posters, autographs, even T-shirts with your products branding on these
  • The campaign will be a commitment of time and energy; you will always be hustling; no time to sit back and watch
  • Keep your backers up-to-date with posts, newsletters, whatever
  • If your donations slow down to a trickle, try a new approach to your marketing
  • Remember, many campaigns reach their final goal in the eleventh hour

Accounting, bookkeeping, inventory management, record keeping, business relationships with financial institutions and suppliers are in place. You still won’t be able to achieve that sweet spot between risk and reward without the appropriate business growth mind-set. In the creative marketplace, where your success relies on both your artistic/design, as well as your business, acumen, this can be difficult for you. But it can be done. With that right mind-set.

j) ROI: What Does It Mean To Foster A Growth Mind-Set

Failure is uncomfortable.  Disconcerting.    Too often, we do everything we can to keep ourselves out of situations where we might fail.   We focus on what could go wrong, instead of what could go right.   We think we don’t have the abilities to do the task.    We get paralyzed.   We do nothing.    Or we keep repeating ourselves, producing the same-ole, same-ole, whether there is a continued market for these items, or not.   Or we begin to visualize any risk as insurmountable, way bigger than it really is.

But allowing any fear of failure to become some kind of insurmountable wall works against us.   If we are trying to make a go of it by selling our jewelry, we can’t build these kinds of walls.   Successful business people and successful businesses need to foster a culture which promotes a growth mindset.    Simply, a growth mindset is a culture where you have permission and encouragement and confidence to take risks.    

Risks are OK because they bring rewards.   Rewards allow the business to maintain itself, sustain itself, grow and expand.    Failures are OK, as well, as long as they become learning experiences.    Doubt and self-doubt are OK only if they are used to trigger reflection and new ideas to overcome them.   Not having the skills requisite for the moment is OK because we are all capable of continual learning.   Temporary setbacks are OK because you have had them before and overcame them.

Carol Dweck wrote the seminal book on growth mindsets called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (2006), with a series of related books to follow.    People have either a growth-mindset or a fixed-mindset.   

Those with a growth-mindset believe their abilities are developed through continual learning and hard work.   They are more willing to experiment and try new things, and see failures as opportunities rather than set backs.   

Those with a fixed-mindset believe that abilities are innate – you’re born with talents or not.    They seek out opportunities where specific talents, rather than effort, leads to success.   They prefer to repeat tasks and apply skills they are already familiar with.

Developing a growth mindset means such things as…

  1. Understanding the power of “Not Yet”.
  2. Setting learning and continual learning goals
  3. Being deliberate and constantly challenging yourself
  4. Asking for honest feedback and criticism
  5. Always reflecting on and being very metacognitive about your thoughts and actions, successes and failures
  6. Recognizing if you are stuck in a fixed-mindset, and acknowledging your weaknesses
  7. Focusing on the process, and less-so on the result
  8. Getting comfortable with self-affirmation, rather than needing the affirmation and approval of others

___________________________________

FOOTNOTES

Campbell, Casandra.   What Is Inventory Management? How To Track Stock For Your Ecommerce Business, Inventory Management, 6/19/20.
As referenced in:
Inventory Management

Caramela, Sammi, 10 Essential Tips For Effective Inventory Management, Business News Daily, 4/15/2020.
As referenced in:
https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/10613-effective-inventory-management.html

Dweck, Carol.  Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, 2006

Fundbox.com.  Trade Credit: Everything you need to know about net terms for your business.  n.d.
As referenced in:
https://fundbox.com/resources/guides/trade-credit/

Shah, Vyom.   Crowdfunding the Jewelry business, 11/27/14.
As reference in:
https://betterdiamondinitiative.org/crowdfunding-the-jewelry-business/

Posted in bead weaving, beads, beadwork, business of craft, craft shows, creativity, design management, design thinking, jewelry design, jewelry making, professional development | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

NAMING YOUR BUSINESS A Video Tutorial By Warren Feld

Posted by learntobead on April 26, 2021

SCHOOL HOME PAGE:  https://so-you-want-to-be-a-jewelry-designer.teachable.com

CLASS HOME PAGE:  https://so-you-want-to-be-a-jewelry-designer.teachable.com/p/naming-your-business

FREE PREVIEW PAGE:  https://so-you-want-to-be-a-jewelry-designer.teachable.com/courses/naming-your-business/lectures/22712033

It really is difficult to pick a business name.

Your choice of name can make your business the talk of the town, or doom it to obscurity.

Coming up with that great name for your business takes a little work, some organization, some thinking, some getting opinions from several other people, and some reality-testing.

Some of you may be selling pieces of jewelry to your friends and acquaintances.   Others may be selling at craft shows or home shows, or selling wholesale or consignment in stores.  Some of you may be planning to go into business but haven’t gone very far yet.  And some of you may have store fronts or online businesses through which you sell your jewelry.

Whatever your jewelry making business, the basic goals, strategies and steps for naming your business are the same. You want a business name that

  • Works for you
  • That your customers can relate to
  • And that makes your business a success

What is important are:

…how your business name looks and sounds

…how your customers recognize and respond to your business name, and

…how appealing it is today, but also how adaptable it is over time, as you grow or change your business

In this video tutorial, I go step by step, in great detail.  We cover a lot of ground together to get you thinking and critically evaluating your options for naming your business

In this video tutorial, these lessons work for all jewelry making businesses, whether you have already gotten started in your business, or are still in the “I’m thinking about starting a business” stage.

We will be examining the pros and cons of different types of business names. We will be doing some self-marketing analysis. We will rehearse a best strategy for brainstorming and for filtering.

We also are going to review other critical business and marketing tasks which you can do, given the research work you have done generating a business name. These include,

  • registering your business, trademarks, copyrights
  • creating a tag line
  • working on an elevator pitch
  • naming your jewelry and jewelry lines
  • writing short descriptions of your business, as well as a short story to use with your marketing plans.

This class includes 14 video modules (over 2 hours of materials), plus 11 practice exercises, and a downloadable handout summarize all the materials in this course. 

FREE PREVIEW PAGE:  https://so-you-want-to-be-a-jewelry-designer.teachable.com/courses/naming-your-business/lectures/22712033

Warren Feld
warren@warrenfeldjewelry.com

Posted in Art or Craft?, bead weaving, beadwork, business of craft, creativity, design thinking, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, professional development, wire and metal, Workshops, Classes, Exhibits | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

COMPONENT DESIGN SYSTEM: Building Both Efficiency As Well As Effectiveness Into Your Jewelry Designs

Posted by learntobead on April 16, 2021

articleCover

Abstract

 Jewelry designers do not necessarily think of efficiencies when organizing and arranging their designs. They primarily focus their thinking and energies on how to effectively and successfully go from one end to the other. But the next question becomes: Is this efficient, as well as effective? Could the same piece be done just as well in less time? With less effort? Component Based Design is a process of building a piece of jewelry in pieces, sections or segments. A component is a something well-defined that feels like a whole unto itself. It can be a form. It can be a shape. It can be an object. It can be a set of steps or procedures. It has these kinds of characteristics: modularity, replaceability, portability and re-usability. Component Based Design unifies the design process and reduces variability in the numbers and types of choices we have to make as designers. It helps us tackle Design Debt. Design Debt refers to all the inefficiencies in the design process which add more time and effort to what you are trying to accomplish. This article finishes with discussion about how to create a Component Based Design System for jewelry designers.

 

article1
Can Jewelry Designs Be Both Effective And Efficient?

Jewelry designers do not necessarily think of efficiency when organizing and arranging their designs. They ponder how to go from one end to the other, focusing their efforts on achieving an effective level of satisfaction and appeal. They think a lot about the use and placement of colors, textures and patterns. They figure out ways to attach a clasp. They jump from selecting design components to arranging them. And in this sense, visually, they tend to see their designs as a Gestalt - that is, they appreciate and evaluate their satisfaction with the piece as a whole. That piece as a whole should evoke a greater satisfaction, sense of finish and success moreso than the individual parts. And in general, that’s the way it should be. Designers want to be effective as designers. This is what effectiveness is about.

But the next question becomes is this efficient, as well as effective? Could the same piece have been done just as well in less time? With less effort? With less thought about design elements and their arrangement? With less investment in all the beads and other pieces which eventually become finished pieces of jewelry? Is this a piece which could be created over and over again for multiple clients and larger productions? Could we be just as creative and just as effective by building in more efficiency into the process of design? Would adding an intervening step - that is, using design components to build components and then using components to build compositions - be smarter?

Re-thinking the design process in terms of components and component design systems provides one intriguing set of answers. Approaching design as a Component Based Design System is an especially good option for designers to incorporate, and for those designers who want to build their designing into a profitable business. Even if you are not headed in a business direction, thinking of design in terms of components and component systems offers a whole new way of creative thinking and design possibilities.


What Is A Component?

A component is a something well-defined that feels like a whole unto itself. It can be a form. It can be a shape. It can be an object. It can be a set of steps or procedures. It has these kinds of characteristics:

· Modularity
· Replaceability
· Portability
· Re-usability
· Functionality encapsulated within the component’s design
· Is minimally dependent on the use or presence of other components
· Anticipates its implementation
· Intended to interface and interact with other components
· Not context specific
· Can be combined with other components to create new possibilities


If we think of a piece of jewelry as an architectural object, then it would be made up of a set of components which in some way conform to one another and interact with one another in a common, predictable way. The designer would create sets of components. Then any finished composition and design would be assembled from these components.
Components will range in complexity. In general, the more complex the component, the more limited its applications. The more re-usable your components are, the easier they are to design with. The more re-usable your components are, the easier it will be to scale your projects larger or smaller, longer or shorter, more volume or less volume. Components allow you to take something apart which isn’t selling or no longer useful, and re-use all the parts.


What Is Component Based Design?

Component Based Design is a process of building a piece of jewelry in pieces, sections or segments.
These pieces are combinations of design elements.

These combinations of design elements become a set of smaller, manageable parts, which themselves are assembled into a piece of jewelry.

Systems of re-usable design components will allow any number of design possibilities. A component based design system provides a commonality within a visual language.

Instead of focusing on designing a particular product, the designer concentrates on creating a design system. The designer’s principal responsibility in the formation of style is to create meaningful forms. These forms are more than shapes. These forms contain the essential elements which contribute to the jewelry’s aesthetic and functional structure and composition. Some forms will be able to stand on their own; others, may be dependent on the presence and organization of others.

Component Based Design Systems enable the designer to build better products faster by making design re-usable. Re-usability allows designs to more easily be adapted to different body types, context-requirements, and/or scales.
Component Based Design Systems require clear documentation for each component, and a set of rules or standards for their use and assembly. Standards govern the purpose, style, and usage of these components. Documentation and standards help the designer avoid situations where you find yourself reinventing the wheel, so to speak. It helps the designer deal with such things as backlog, adapting different versions of a particular design, and concurrently managing both short-term and long-term goals and aspirations. It allows the designer to spend more time and focus on the trickier and more difficult part of coming up with designs specific or unique to each client.


How Is Component Design Helpful For Jewelry Designers?

Component Design allows for the designer to…
– Design consistently
– Prototype faster
– Iterate more quickly
– Improve usability

Design consistently. Standardized components used consistently and repetitively create a more predictable outcome. Standardized components also allow designers to spend less time focused on style, and more time developing a better user-experience and client outcome.

Prototype faster. Working within a coherent design system allows you to more quickly and easily organize your work flows. It allows you to experiment over and over again with the amount of prototypes and variants. Working with and within a design system should also provider greater and faster insights into design dilemmas and solutions.
Iterate more quickly. Design systems reduce the effort in design, from having to try out myriad colors, patterns, textures, scales and other design elements, to only having to try out a few components in the design system.

Improve usability. Should reduce inconsistent, unworkable or illogical combinations of things within any composition. In return, this should increase client satisfaction when wearing any piece of jewelry so created.


Design Systems Do Not Limit Creativity Or Design

Creating a design system does not limit or restrain the designer. In fact, it opens up more possibilities, more easily attainable. Design systems will also allow pieces to be easily customized and adapted to different situations. Design systems take away a lot of the worry about what to do next.

Design systems do not limit creativity. They offer a different way of allowing the designer to assert their creativity. The designer is still free to experiment, evolve, play, adapt. Design systems improve efficiency; they save time. Design systems do not constrain, restrain or otherwise limit the designer to work and think and speak and play as a designer.
Design systems can evolve and adapt to changes in styles and fashions. In fact, these systems trigger insights more easily apparent, as to how things need to change. After all, a change in one component will automatically define what changes need to be made in all other components it will interface and interact with.

Component based design systems are not one-shot, one-time deals. They are never complete. The work to create and maintain and improve them is ongoing. These systems are living. But because a change in one component will trigger changes in others, the effort it takes to maintain and grow these system can be many times less than what happens when the designer does not rely on such a system.




Design Debt: Something Serious Which Needs To Be Managed

In more jargoned, but eye-opening, language, Component Based Design Systems reduce what is called Design Debt.
Design Debt refers to all the inefficiencies in your design process which adds more time and effort to what you are trying to accomplish, as you are designing any piece of jewelry. Design Debt continues to accumulate and increase as a project matures over time. Even after the designer has relinquished the project to the client, Design Debt will continue to accumulate if the designer fails to deal with it head on.

Design Debt includes things like…
– Taking too much time to meet your goals
– Having to do too much research or experimentation when figuring out how to proceed
– Spending too much time thinking how to make a particular piece of jewelry unique or special for a certain client

Design Debt also includes all the good design concepts or solutions you skipped in order to complete your project on time. Design Debt includes all the additional time and effort you will have to make, should you have a backlog of projects which keep accumulating and accumulating as you are trying to finish the particular project you are now working on.

Some designers might approach the ever-accumulating Design Debt by cutting corners or relinquishing the project to the client prematurely. The designer might settle for a lower fee or less profitability. The designer might find that negative word-of-mouth is building too quickly with unsatisfied clients or demanding business stakeholders.

There are many sources of Design Debt, some very tangible, others less so. Examples of these sources of Design Debt include…

· The designer relies on an overabundance of non-reusable materials, or too much variation in inventory, or, inconsistent styles and conventions, all difficult to maintain

· The designer might start a project with assumptions, rather than research

· The designer might not have sufficient time or budget to implement each choice and step with care

· The designer might not have a full understanding of how each design element, form and component should best be arranged and interact within a particular composition

· The designer might be working with a partner or assistant, with incomplete information passing hands, as each works on the project

· The designer might not have a chance to test a design before its implementation or sale

· The designer might not get the opportunity to find out what happens with a particular piece after it has left the studio and the client wears it

· The designer might not have in place any formal or informal time and procedure for reflection and evaluation, in order to understand how various choices led to good or bad designs, or whether there is an improvement or degradation in the designer’s brand due to good or bad performance

· The designer might rely on published patterns without the wherewithal to adapt or customize them, or otherwise approach unfamiliar situations


Ultimately, Design Debt is measured in how satisfied our clients are with the products we design, and how that satisfaction affects what is referred to as contagion - the spread of word of mouth and its positive or negative impacts on our brand and reputation. Over time, Design Debt accumulates and becomes a great burden on any designer and design business.



Component Based Design Systems Help Us Tackle Design Debt

Anything which unifies the design process and reduces variability in the numbers and types of choices we make as designers will help us tackle Design Debt. That is what Component Based Design Systems are all about.
Component Based Design allows the designer to deal with a smaller number of pieces and variables at any one time.
Component Based Design leverages previous thinking and exploring, reducing the number of tasks which have to be done for each subsequent piece of jewelry.

And Component Based Design allows the designer to more easily and directly relate any kind of feedback to specific project design choices.



Creating A Component Based Design System

A Component Based Design System has…
· Visual elements
· Modular elements
· Standards
· A voice and tone
· A relationship to client needs

 

Your Component Based Design System can either be
(a) decoupled from any specific project, which is effective for establishing a brand identity, or
(b) coupled to a specific project, which is more effective for developing a line of jewelry made up of individual pieces.

 

Creating a Component Based Design System involves Six Key Task-Activities, which are…
(1) Conducting Visual Audit of Current Designs / Inventory
(2) Determining Your Voice and Tone / Brand Identity
(3) Designing A Component / Modular Elements
(4) Creating Component Based Design System(s) / Library of Documentation and Standards
(5) Defining Rules of Scale / Size, Volume, Distribution and Placement
(6) Relating To Customer Needs / Shared Understandings

 


(1) Visual Audit of Current Designs / Inventory


You will need to carefully review the visual elements you use in your current jewelry design practice.
You want to create a visual design language of discernable design elements, shapes, forms and components you are using now.

You will in effect be creating two inventories:
· First, a Visual Inventory of design elements which are visual features, and
· Second, a Functional Inventory of those beads, findings, shapes, forms and/or other component parts which are functional and interface with the wearer, such as clasp assemblies or things which allow a piece to move, drape and flow, or things which make a piece of jewelry adjustable, or things which allow a piece of jewelry to maintain a shape or position.


For each discernable set of design elements, (such as, color, pattern, shape, form, movement, dimensionality) or completely formed component, you would generate a description based on auditing the following design elements:
a. color, finish, pattern, texture
 b. point, line, plane, shape, form, theme (typology)
 c. sizing and spacing and scale (2–4 sets of standards of utilization; or by body type)
 d. movement and dimensionality
 e. canvas (stringing materials; foundation)
 f. principles of composition, construction, manipulation; layouts
 g. support systems (allows movement, drape and flow), structural systems (allows maintaining shapes or positions) and other functional elements
 h. plans, guidelines, icons


Your inventories can be a simple check-list, or more narrative descriptions.

By creating a 2-layer Inventory of Design, you will be able to visualize the possible design components and patterns you might have at your disposal, as well as quantify what you are working with. Cataloging these details puts you in a better management/control position. This makes visible many of the consequences of your choices and selections in terms of managing Design Debt.

After you have finished creating your initial Inventory, review it. Identify where inconsistencies are. What things are must-haves? What things are superfluous?

Then look for things which go together or will be used together. Develop a simple system of categories to group things into. Keep the number of categories short. Examples of categories might include Patterns, Templates, Themes, User Interface, Foundations, Center Pieces, Color Palettes, Linkability.



(2) Determine Your Voice and Tone / Brand Identity


You want your parts, components and groupings of components, when used in the design of a piece of jewelry, to give the impression of you as a designer and/or your business’s personality.

Look at your inventory and ask yourself: What are the more emotional, intangible qualities these seem to evoke? Do they evoke things, not only about my design sense today, but about what I aspire to be as a designer? How do I want my clients to respond to my pieces?

There should be a high level of coherence within your groupings of components. They should express a voice and tone, either of your entire brand, or of a particular line of jewelry you have created.

If there is not a high level of coherence, determine why not. What adjustments do you need to make in your inventory to achieve this?

 


(3) Design A Component / Modular Elements


Begin to take your visual inventory and re-imagine it as one or more collections of components.

Types of components to think about:
– Re-usable
– Repeatable
– Build-upon / Connectible / Linkable
– Scale-able
– Evolvable over time
– Has necessary function
– Has necessary shape, form or theme
– Can easily interface with customer as the jewelry is worn

Some components will be modular and self-contained, thus not dependent on the presence of other components. Some components will be compositional in that they fit or coordinate well with others. Some components will be generic, thus usable in many different kinds of situations. And some components will be flexible because they can be tweaked and made to work in a variety of situations.

Now, actually begin to develop components. Towards this end, start with developing one component.

1st: List the key design elements, such as color, pattern, texture, shape, movement, dimensionality, and the like. These are the particular design elements you want associated with your core brand identity.
2nd: Define the smallest re-usable parts, such as beads, bead clusters, connectable links, stringing material and the like.
3rd: Scale up and define a complete component
4th: Scale up and define a composition consisting of several arranged components
5th: Fully layout the piece of jewelry, which will consist of one or more components and one or more compositions.


As you develop components, you will always need to keep in mind two things:
a) How you want the component to behave within your piece, and
b) How you want the component to interface with the client wearing the jewelry



CHAIN LINK COMPONENTS
 A Simplified Example of Component Design
G-CLEF COMPONENT

article2
I have a basic component I call a G-Clef Component. It is a simple chain link which is very connectable to other things. I use this as a simple example of a Component Based Design System.

I use this in several ways. I can use these as links in a standard chain. I can easily adapt two of these links to function as a hook and eye clasp. I can add beads between each link. I can use this as the basis for creating a pendant center piece. I can use this for earring dangles.

article3
article4

article5
The general infinity shape and reference to music (I’m based in Nashville, Tennessee - ”Music City USA”) are easily incorporated into several lines of my jewelry, though there is one particular line of jewelry totally focused on this link component.

My documentation for this component is as follows:

article6a

article6b

 


Two Other Examples Of Jewelry Designed Based On Components

article7

article8


(4) Component Based Design Systems / Library of Documentation and Standards

Your design system is much more than a pattern library. It is a collection of re-usable components which can be assembled together in any number of ways, and used to clearly signal and cement the identify of your brand as a whole, or of a particular line of jewelry you have developed.

As such, the system has meaning. It has structure. It embodies a system of concepts relevant to and representative of you as a designer and your design business or avocation. It is resilient.

Towards this end, to build in these meanings and intentions and expectations, you will develop a set of standards. Adhering to standards is how we manage and maintain consistency with how these meanings / intensions / expectations are expressed within any piece of jewelry we create. Following the standards is how we influence our clients to consistently come to share these understandings. Standards remove a lot of the arbitrariness in our design decisions. These standards should be put in writing, and be part of your documentation library.
Regardless of what materials, tools and techniques specific to your jewelry design practice, a successful design system will follow a core set of standards developed by you. These standards will inform you how components should be designed and how they should be organized within any composition.

These standards will focus on the following:

Brand touch points. What design elements or their arrangements evoke immediate associations with your jewelry designs?

Consistent client experience. What design elements, components or their arrangements result in a consistent client experience? When your client buys your jewelry and wears it, how does the client feel? How does the client want others to react, and does the client in fact get these reactions? When you client wears your jewelry, what needs, wants and desires does s/he want to be fulfilled, and how successful has your jewelry been towards this end? How do you maintain consistency in construction, functionality and durability of your pieces?

Coherent collection. To what extent do all the pieces in your collection similarly represent your brand and result in a similar, consistent client experience?

Naming conventions. What names should we give to our components, our pieces of jewelry, our lines of jewelry, our business and brand identity as a whole? How will these names resonate with our clients? Which names do you want to be universal, and which iconic?

Emphasis. What aspects of your jewelry do you want the client to focus on? Which aspects of your jewelry are most likely to trigger a conversation between you and the client, and between the client and that person’s various audiences? Is that the conversation about your jewelry you want people to have?

Utility. What is each component, and how should you use it? What rules should you follow for building modular, composable, generic and flexible components? For linking and connecting them? How do you manage modifying any one component?

Potential. What determines if a component is to have a high potential value? Does the component have great commonality in use and/or re-use? Does the component have great business potential, whether or not it can be commonly used? Does the component have great potential in creating patterns or textures or shapes or forms or themes? Is the component technically feasible to create? Can this component be created within a certain timeframe, if there are time constraints? Does this component have the potential to excite others?

 


Codify, thus standardize, how components are described and detailed. Include information about basic design elements, such as color, pattern, texture, finishes. Give your component a name. Describe how you can adjust for scale - making something larger, smaller, with more volume, with less volume. Elaborate on any assembly considerations. Also anticipate in writing any situational or contingency requirements. Provide insights into how this component fits in with other components, or becomes the core component from which additional components might be fashioned. Write some notes about how the component is consistent with the standards for your brand / jewelry lines which you have developed. Last, take a picture of your component and include this image in your database.

 

 


(5) Scale / Size, Volume, Distribution and Placement


Scalability has to do with size and volume, and your strategies for adapting your component to different scales. You might think about a larger version for a necklace and a smaller version for a bracelet. You might think of modifying the component to increase its volume for use as a center piece pendant.

Scalability in jewelry will also refer to the ease of placing or distributing variations in size and/or volume.

Scalability begins with taking a modular approach to your jewelry design work. Additionally, your component must express some characteristics which are both generic as well as flexible. You want your components to be able to grow and shrink with the content of your pieces. I like to develop both a larger and a smaller version of each component, which I get very specific on and document. This usually gives me enough information should I still want to change size or volume.

 


(6) Relate To Customer Needs / Shared Understandings


For any design, it is a long journey from idea to implementation. This journey involves different people at different times along the way. The designer’s ability to solve what is, in effect, a complex problem or puzzle becomes a performance of sorts, where the designer ferrets out in various ways - deliberate or otherwise - what the end users will perceive as making sense, having value and eliciting a desire powerful enough to motivate them to wear a piece of jewelry, buy it, utilize it, exhibit it or collect it. The designer, however, wants one more critical thing to result from this performance - recognition and validation of all the creative and managerial choices he or she made during the design process.

People will not use a design if their agendas and understandings do not converge in some way. They will interact with the designer to answer the question: Do You Know What I Know? If they get a sense, even figure out, that the answer is Yes, they share understandings! - they then become willing to collaborate (or at least become complicit) with the designer and the developing design.

A Component Based Design System forces the designer to incorporate these shared understandings into the development and organization of components. Component choices must be justified according to a set of standards. This set of standards relates design choices to how the client will perceive and respond to your brand identity or the identity you want any line of jewelry to reflect. A Component Design System creates tight guidance and boundaries, increasing not only the efficiency of your operation, but your effectiveness at developing jewelry which is consistent, coherent, user-friendly, user-desirable, and contagious.

Re-orienting your design practice towards a Component Based Design System may seem daunting, at first. But it gets easier and faster as the system grows and evolves. It is well worth the effort.


_________________________________________
FOOTNOTES

Elliott, Gavin. “Design Debt: How to Identify Design Debt, Measure It and Overcome It.” 5/7/20. As referenced in:
 https://medium.com/@gavinelliott/design-debt-f8026795cc1c


Fanguy, Will. “A Comprehensive Guide To Design Systems.” 6/24/19. As referenced in:
 https://www.invisionapp.com/inside-design/guide-to-design-systems/


Feld, Warren. “Jewelry Design Composition: Playing With Building Blocks Called Design Elements,” Medium.com, (2020).
As referenced in:
https://warren-29626.medium.com/jewelry-design-composition-playing-with-building-blocks-called-design-elements-d2df696551d8


Koschei, Jordan. “How To Tackle Design Debt.” 4/19/17. As referenced in:
 https://www.invisionapp.com/inside-design/tackle-design-debt/


Mazur, Michal. “What Is Design Debt and Why You Should Treat It Seriously.” 8/12/18. As referenced in:
https://uxdesign.cc/what-is-design-debt-and-why-you-should-treat-it-seriously-4366d33d3c89#:~:text=In%20simple%20terms%2C%20design%20debt,the%20users%20will%20make%20do
Suarez, Marco, with Jina Anne, Katie Sylor-Miller, Diana Mounter, and Roy Stanfield. Design Systems Handbook. DesignBetter.Co by InVision.


__________________________
Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design
Backward Design is Forward Thinking
How Creatives Can Successfully Survive In Business
Part I: The First Essential Question Every Designer Should Be Able To Answer: Is What I do Craft, Art or Design?
Doubt / Self-Doubt: 8 Pitfalls Designers Fall Into…And What To Do About Them
Part 1: Your Passion For Design: Is It Necessary To Have A Passion?
RESILIENCY: Do You Have The Most Important Skill Every Designer Must Have?
PART 1: SHARED UNDERSTANDINGS: THE CONVERSATION CENTERED WITHIN DESIGN

______________________
I hope you found this article useful.


Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).
Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.
Add your name to my email list.
Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Posted in architecture, Art or Craft?, art theory, bead weaving, beads, beadwork, business of craft, color, craft shows, creativity, design management, design theory, design thinking, jewelry collecting, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, professional development, Stitch 'n Bitch, wire and metal | Leave a Comment »

PART 1: THE JEWELRY DESIGNER’S ORIENTATION TO OTHER JEWELRY FINDINGS: PART 1: PREPARERS

Posted by learntobead on March 14, 2021

Continue Part 2: Controllers and Adapters

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online. Begin with my ORIENTATION TO BEADS & JEWELRY FINDINGS COURSE. There are 18 video modules including handouts, which this is one of.

Choosing and Using Other Jewelry Findings: 
Preparers

You have to approach the Jewelry Findings with a large measure of respect. “Jewelry Findings” are all the pieces that you use, including clasps, other than stringing materials and beads. They are called “jewelry findings”, because up until about 15 years ago, many of these pieces didn’t exist. People went to sewing notion stores, antique stores, flea markets, hardware stores, cannibalized old jewelry, wherever, and found things and made them work. Because many of these pieces are new, there is not a consensus on what some of these things should be called, so you have a lot of similarly looking pieces that go by different names. I’m sure over time, the name-game will shake out, and there will be more consistency.

Respect these jewelry findings. They are the pieces that get pulled and strained, torn at and squeezed, maligned and misused. These are the pieces that will make or break your piece of jewelry. Understand and respect them.

Many designers fail to make the full range of these pieces available to them. They either don’t know about them, or are afraid of them or think they might use them incorrectly. They too often limit their own design possibilities by relying on the same limited set of findings for everything they make. But the world of possibilities that these jewelry findings open up for us is endless.

Below is a list of other major jewelry findings used in bead stringing. I’ve tried to group them into three categories to make it a little easier to relate to.

PREPARERS:
 Things Which Prepare the Ends of Cords and Stringing Materials:

These kinds of jewelry findings are mostly used with thicker cords, like leather and waxed cotton, but also with cable wires. These enable you to create a “loop end” on each side of the cord or cable.

From the two loop ends you have created on each end of your cord, you then continue to create the rest of your clasp assembly. If the loop is big enough (to give you jointedness), or looks substantial enough (like it won’t break from movement), you can attach the clasp directly to the loop. If not, you will want to attach your clasp/ring to jump or split rings, and these, in turn, to your loop ends.

You usually try to match the size of the interior opening on the jewelry finding to the thickness of your cord or cable. For some of these pieces, this match is more important than others.

You always put some glue on your cord or cable before you stick them into the piece. You use glue because all these cords are oily, and some will sweat, as well. They will slip out of the findings — even with tight crimping or clamping — because they are slippery. That’s why you use glue.

I recommend using a glue like E6000 or Beacon 527. Don’t use super glue. Super glue (or the jeweler’s version called G-S Hypo Cement) dries like glass, so the bond will shatter like glass, because all jewelry moves. Also, after it shatters, the bond looks like a broken coke bottle. E6000 and Beacon 527 dry like rubber, so they act as a shock absorber, when the jewelry moves.

CRIMP ENDS

These come very fancy or plain. They come with a small opening to use with cable wires, and wider and wider openings to use with leather or waxed cotton, or even braided leather.

These pieces have a loop at the end of a tube. The tube has 3 bands. The first and third are decorative. The center band is meant to be crushed and crimped. You put some glue on the cord or cable — any glue except super glue — stick it into the tube, and take a pliers and crush the center band as flat as you can get it.

When you crush the middle band, visually, it looks like it is part of a pattern of beads. It doesn’t look like an ugly crushed piece of metal.

Some crimp ends come with a hook, so that you attach a loop on one end and the hook on the other, to create a hook and eye clasp.

These and clamps (see below) work best for preparing the ends of cable wires and thicker cords. Crimp ends tend to be on the pricier side; clamps are very inexpensive. Both hold well, relying on both the glue and the crimp.

CHAIN/CORD ENDS

These pieces have a loop at the end of a split tube. For chain, these are soldered on. For cords or cable, you put some glue on (again never super glue), stick it into the split tube, and take a pliers and crush snug, NOT flat. What’s holding these on is the glue. If you crush flat, you lose the bond. Should tightly match cord thickness to interior diameter.

We need to crush snug because we want the glue to adhere to all the interior surfaces. If there are any gaps where the glue has not adhered, the bond will break.

These are terrible pieces, because it is difficult to achieve that perfect bonding with the glue.

END CAPS

These pieces come in just a few sizes, but many designs. Those pictured are very industrial looking, but they come very decorative, as well. Some pieces have a hole at the end instead of a loop and are labeled “end caps,” but technically, these should be called either a cone or a bead cap. Usually, the interior opening size of the end cap will be listed, such as ID=6mm or ID=8mm or ID=12mm. You coordinate this with the width of whatever you are trying to slip into the end cap. But because of the shape of the end cap, there still may be fit issues.

These pieces have a loop at the end of a hard metal tube. The loop is either an eyelet or a fixed loop. You put some glue (not super glue) on cord or cable and stick in. The glue is all that holds. Should tightly match cord thickness to interior diameter.

Because it is important, for the bond to hold, to get the glue to adhere to all the interior surfaces, and you cannot crush the ends snug, you need to put a lot of excess glue on the cord when you stick it in. And you need to be prepared to wipe away the excess glue that bleeds back out.

You never attach your clasp directly to these pieces. You need an additional intervening ring — jump ring or split ring or soldered ring — between the end cap and your clasp component.

CLAMPS
 Ribbon or Bar Clamps:

These clamps are folded metal with a loop in the center edge, come in different lengths, and have teeth. These are for ribbons or fabric. You don’t use glue, because the glue will bleed into the ribbon or fabric.

You fold over the end of the ribbon or fabric, making the end pretty, and stick into the clamp, and use a pliers to crush firm. If your material is wider than the clamp you have, you would make several folds in the end, like you would when gift-wrapping a package.

Foldover or Wing Clamps:

These come in a few different sizes, some with square loops, some with round loops. Some have plain backs; some have patterned backs.

These typically are a loop on top of flat metal with two wings that fold over. You put some glue (not super glue) on the cord or cable, sit in the saddle between the two wings, and use a large pliers, and crush the two wings over each other and over the cord. Crush as flat as you can get it. This is not done in one movement because the wings are stiff and strong. You usually take your pliers and move then to one side, then the other, then back, until you get the two wing position over each other, and you can crush them flat.

One mistake people make with this piece is that they crush snug, not flat. Where the wings overlap each other, this leaves an air passage. Again, we want our glue to adhere to all the interior surfaces. If you crush snug, this air passage will weaken the bond, and your cord will pull out. You have to crush as flat as you can get it, to force the glue up into that air passage.

You can use one clamp for multiple strands, if you wish. You can seat multiple strands of cable wire or leather or whatever into the saddle of one clamp.

These and the crimp ends work the best for preparing the ends of cable wires and thicker cords. Crimp ends are pricier; clamps are cheap. Crimp ends have a design impact; clamps are very utilitarian.

COIL ENDS

Coil ends have an open ended loop at the top of a tightly wound coil. I don’t like the way these look after they are crushed onto the cord, and they don’t hold up well. One advantage is that the coil functions as a spring, and absorbs a lot of the excess force place on the piece, that comes from movement.

With coil ends, you put some glue, (but not super glue), on the cord, shove it into the coil. You take a chain-nose pliers and crush the first two rings of the coil onto the cord. If you crush too hard, you’ll slice the cord. If you don’t crush hard enough, the cord will pull out.

The way the loop was designed to work, was that you take a pliers, move the open ring to the side, slip on your clasp or ring, and, using the pliers, move the open ring to a closed position again. DON’T DO IT THIS WAY. When you move the loop back and forth, it breaks off easily. These loops are rather brittle. SO, the way you would use this, is that you would take a jump ring or split ring, and attach this to the loop and your clasp piece. As long as you don’t move this loop wire, it stays strong.

Coil ends come in two sizes in terms of the width of the interior diameter. If your cord is thicker than the smaller size, see if you can make it work with this smaller size, anyway. The larger size is more awkward to use. Say you had leather cord. You can take a single-edge razor blade and cut the end at an angle, put some glue on the cord, and shove it into the smaller piece.

BEAD CAPS

This is a decorative cup-like or bowl-like piece, with a hole in the center. This piece is originally used as a decorative element, to cover one or both sides of a bead, as you string your beads on. However, you can adapt this piece to be an end. You might have multi-strands, where you tie them all off together, and use the bead cap to hide the mess. You might have a bead crocheted rope, and again, use the bead cap to give your piece a decorative end. You glue the bead cap on. Then you take an independent wire or thread, attaching it to your piece about 2–3” from the end, and running it through your piece, through the cap, then finishing off the rest of your clasp assembly.

What’s nice here are that there are hundreds of styles, whereas the more typical jewelry findings look very utilitarian.

BELL CAPS

A bell cap is a bead cap with a loop on it. This is a decorative cup-like or bowl-like piece, with a loop sticking above the center. This piece is originally used to adapt something, like gluing it to the top of a crystal pendant or bead, to be a drop. But it can be adapted to use as a fancy end-cap. Use glue here. Attach the clasp assembly to an additional jump ring or split ring. Again, there are many, many decorative styles in bell caps, so you won’t have to rely on the typical and very plain specialized jewelry findings.

The arms on the bell cap are somewhat independent, and can be pushed into the shape of whatever piece they are attached to. So, for example, you can take a rough stone, position the bell cap at the top, push on the arms to shape them to the stone, then put glue on each arm and attach the bell cap to the piece.

BEAD TIPS (aka, KNOT-COVERS)

These pieces are used to hide knots. One style has a cup with a tongue attached. Another style ends with a loop, not a tongue. The most widely used style — Clam Shell Bead Tip (or double-cup) — has two half cups that close over the knot, and a tongue extending from one end. While some people use these pieces with cable wire, they are primarily designed for use with needle and thread.

These take some practice in learning how to use them. On the first side of your piece, you string on the bead tip, say the clam shell. You tie a bunch of knots in the tail, so your knot is bigger than the hole in the bead tip, and won’t slip out. Cut off the tail. Put a drop of glue on the knot. Here you would use something like superglue. Superglue will make the knot stiff, so it won’t pull through the hole. E6000 will make the knot rubbery, and it will be able to contort and work its way through the hole. Trim the tail. Press the two halves of the clamp together over the knot, so it looks like a bead. Take the tongue, fold it over and through the ring on your clasp, and back to itself, so it forms a loop.

On the other side of your piece, here’s the tricky part. You need to keep your tension on the thread, so the thread doesn’t show when you’re finished. You need to tie a bunch of knots, and complete the rest of the process. This is a 3-hand operation, but you only have 2 hands.

Here you slide the bead tip onto your thread. Use one hand to hold everything tight. Take an awl or a round nose pliers — something where the width graduates into a point, and put the tip where you want your finished knot to end up. Tie an overhand knot over the awl or pliers up high on the wider part of the jaws. Tighten the loop of this knot. Tighten the tension on your thread. Move the loop down the awl or pliers a bit, moving towards the narrow pointed end. Tighten this loop. Check your overall thread tension. Move the loop down a little bit more. Tighten this loop. Check your overall thread tension. When you loop gets to the tip of your awl or pliers, you need to pull your knot tightly, and push the awl or pliers out of the way, AND, you want to maintain the thread tension in your piece. Tie a bunch more knots. Put glue on the knot. Trim the tail. Close the clamp. Loop the tongue into the other part of your clasp. This takes about 5 tries before your body gets that muscle memory to do the task easily and correctly.

When I started in jewelry making, almost every piece used bead tips. I’m not a big fan of this type of piece today. The tongue when bent over to hook and secure the clasp is not jointed enough. It doesn’t leave a big enough loop, so there is tension and these tongues break off. Today, you can tie your piece to the clasp using knots, then slip a crimp cover over the knot, so it looks finished as if there were a bead there. This is both more secure and easier to do.

Some alternatives to tying a globular knot: (1) with needle and thread work, you can tie off an end to an 11/0 seed bead, and have your clam-shell enclose the seed bead, and (2) with cable wire, you can crimp on a crimp bead on the end of your wire, and have your clam-shell enclose the crushed crimp bead.

CONES

Cones come in many shapes and designs, but basically look like a megaphone. These are used to finish off the ends of jewelry, often to hide a lot of messy knots or unfinished ends inside the cone.

One style of cone is called a 3-to-1 cone (also, 2-to-1 up to 11-to-1). This is a flattened cone, with one hole on one side, and 3 holes on the other. This is supposed to help you finish off a 3-strand piece in a decorative way. You pull each of 3 strands through the 3 holes on one side, and out together through the one hole on the other side. For two of the strands, you tie a large knot or double-knot, cut off the excess tail, and let the knot fall back into the box of the cone. I’ve only known one person in my life who could accomplish this, and maintain sufficient string tension so that none of the cable wire showed on the other side of the cone and as part of the bracelet. For the 3rd string, you would continue creating your clasp assembly. This is a good piece in theory, but not practice. Most people end up tying the three strands into this big, globular knot, and then trying to finish off the clasp assembly, only to have the clasp assembly take up 25–30% of their finished bracelet.

Regular cones are used like lampshades to hide some ugliness. With the typical cone style — that megaphone looking piece, the way you are supposed to use this piece is as follows: You take a soldered ring, something small enough so that it will fit far enough back into the cone, that the cone will hide any of the finishing knots or ends. If we start with a 3-strand necklace, you would tie off each strand to one side of the soldered ring. Then you would take a separate, independent cable wire, hard wire or thread, whatever you are stringing with, and tie it off in a knot to the other side of the soldered ring, pull the whole works into the cone, with the stringing material coming out the narrow end. Then you would finish off your clasp assembly.

The soldered ring, in this case, acts as a “support system”, creating jointedness. Otherwise, without this ring or support system, the cone could not support the resulting stress and strain. Since all the pieces are metal — cable wire, cone, clasp, crimp — , and these would be too stiff and would not move easily, and, as you now know very well, when you bend metal back and forth, it breaks.

EYEGLASS HOLDER ENDS

A major category of jewelry are eyeglass leashes. You make an eyeglass leash by attaching an eyeglass holder end to the eyeglasses, making a string of beads, attaching the string of beads to a split ring, and attaching the split ring to the eyeglass holder end. You never attach the beadwork directly to the holder ends. Eyeglass leashes take a huge beating, as they are worn, and you need to create as much jointedness as possible, so you don’t ruin someone’s eyeglasses, have the lenses shift position within the frames, or have the leash break. In fact, we want to use a split ring — about 10mm or 12mm in diameter — that is a little larger visually than you might feel comfortable with.

Eyeglass leash holder ends are made from round rubber thong (usually black or clear), flat vinyl (usually black or clear), or elastic cord (comes in many colors). The round rubber thong is the most durable. Elastic cord is not durable at all. There are various style options. Most come with what is called a “coil center”. When the eyeglass leashes are worn, the rubber, vinyl or elastic cord sweats, both from the humidity found in the air, as well as the wearer’s own body sweat. Coil centers tend to slip, so these don’t work well with narrow arms on eyeglasses. Other eyeglass leashes come with a bead center, usually a 6mm glass roller bead. The beads don’t slip.

The ones with bead centers are a little more expensive than the ones with coil centers. One company bought the ones with the coil centers, slipped these off what is basically a rubber band, and slipped on a 6mm glass roller bead. They took a $0.45 cent piece and sold them for $4.00 a piece. People thought they were magic because the beads didn’t slip, so were willing to pay the premium. You can do the same thing. There are about 300 colors of roller beads, so you can personalize your line.

WATCH BAND COMPONENTS

These pieces are used to adapt watch faces so you can make beaded watch bands off them. They consist of a tube designed to slip over the spring bar on each end of a watch face, and some kind of loop or series of holes that come off the tube. Beaded watch bands have become so popular, that now you can purchase watch faces designed specifically to attach these to them.

CRIMP BEADS, CRIMP COVERS, and HORSESHOE WIRE PROTECTORS

Crimp beads come in many styles, sizes and finishes. These are used to secure cable wires to clasps. The crimping process involves crushing the crimp onto the cable wire, first separating the tail wire from the main wire, then creating a lock, and finally re-shaping it so it looks like a bead again.

Crimp Covers

These are U-shaped beads that slip over the crushed crimp. They are used like a lampshade to hide something that is ugly.

You attach the crimp cover in two steps. First, using the tips of your crimping pliers, you push the two sides of the U together, so you have a pretty bead. These are made of a soft metal, so you don’t want to push too hard, or you will crush them. After you get the two sides to meet, you’ll find that the lip on either side doesn’t meet up perfectly.

So, Second, at this point, you return the crimp cover to your crimping pliers, this time resting it between the top notches (thus, furthest from your hand) in each jaw. This will help preserve the roundness of the crimp cover as you manipulate it. Gently push the jaws to force the lips to meet more perfectly. You can slide crimp covers over your crushed crimps. You can also use these to slide over any knots, to hide the knots.

Horseshoe wire protectors

These serve several purposes. (1) It forces you to leave the correct size loop in the cable wire, so that you have the appropriate support system or jointedness. Without the loop, you would be pushing the crimp all the way to the clasp. This is a No-No. You never push the crimp all the way to the clasp — this creates stiffness with metal parts, and general movement would cause these to break.

(2) The horseshoe also makes the loop more finished looking — better than a bare-wire loop. Most people hate a bare, exposed loop. The horseshoe fools the eye/brain here, making it think that the loop is finished and more organically a part of the whole composition.

(3) The horseshoe prevents the cable wire from folding into a V over a period of time and wear. If the wire were to change from an arched loop to a V-loop, the wire then would more easily bend back and forth and break.

There are many choices to make when selecting crimp beads:

Crimp Beads

tube vs. round 
 no difference in “holdability”, but most people prefer the tubes

THE SILVER COLOR ISSUE: sterling silver vs. silver plated vs. silver plated crimp with sterling silver crimp cover vs. argentium silver crimps
 Silver-plated crimps are usually plated over brass. Brass has a very high degree of integrity as a jewelry making metal. The plating wears off relatively quickly, and your crimps will look black — basically tarnished brass. More recently, these plated crimps have been plated over aluminum, which can break from the force of the crimping pliers.

Sterling softens at body temperature. If your crimp is resting on the wrist or the neck, there is some risk of it softening and weakening. This risk is minimal, however. If you’ve crimped correctly, you shouldn’t lose sleep over this. I prefer to use the sterling silver crimps; they are often made better than the other crimps.

You can also use a silver-plated crimp to crimp, and slide a sterling silver crimp cover over it.

Argentium has the same silver content as sterling but does not soften as easily at body temperature. These are a lot more expensive than sterling.

crushing the crimp and re-rounding it vs. crushing, then using crimp cover

Some people don’ t like the look of the re-rounded crimp, or feel uncomfortable trying to re-round them. The crimp covers add about $0.50 — $1.00 more to each piece.

plain tube vs. twisted tube
 The twisted tubes (sometimes called Tornado or Cyclone crimps) are a little more expensive than the plain ones. When you crush the twisted tubes, they look decorative enough that you don’t have to re-round them. You definitely need to re-round the plain ones.

Regular or long tube vs. short or half tube
 Short tubes or half tubes are primarily used in pieces like illusion necklaces, where you have a cluster of beads, and the cord shows, another cluster of beads, the cord shows, etc. Half tubes are used on either side of the clusters to keep the beads in place. When you crush the half tube, the volume of space it takes up is not noticeable. When you crush the regular sized tube, its volume of space is too noticeable and detracts from the general look of the piece. One mistake people make with the short or half tubes, is that, when they use them to finish off the ends of jewelry, their mind tells them to use 2 or 3 of them so that they will “hold better.” A crimp is a crimp, and if you crimped correctly, there is no difference in holdability between the short and longer tubes. Each crushed crimp you add becomes like a little razor blade. All jewelry moves, so you’re increasing the chances, by using more than one crimp on each end, that one of these crimps will cut through the cable wire. One crimp on either end is enough.

variations on quality/grade of crimp beads
 Basically, you get what you pay for!

Here’s how crimp beads are made: You start with a sheet of metal. You roll the metal into a tube. You buff along the seam where the two sides meet, so that it looks like it’s been soldered together. However, there’s really a seam there.

So often, people come into our shop and tell sad tales of failed crimps and broken bracelets and necklaces. They blame themselves. They blame the pliers. But they never blame the crimp beads. In most cases, the crimp is at fault.

Cheap crimps, usually bought in small packages, usually at craft stores, are not made well. When you crush these, they tend to split along the seam. Sometimes you can see the split. Othertimes, you can’t quite see that the two sides of the tube have started to separate. Your cable wires pull out. Or your crimp edges have cut into the cable wire.

An A-grade crimp, usually costing about 3 times what the cheap crimps cost, can hold up to your initial crushing, as well as another 8 or so clamping down on it during the re-rounding process.

There are heavy-duty or A+ grade crimps. These run about 6–8 times what the cheap crimps do. You don’t have to worry about any splitting, no matter how much you work the crimp bead with your pliers.

using 1 crimp on each end vs. using more than 1 crimp on each end
 Using 1 crimp on each end of your piece is sufficient. Using more than 1 crimp on each end is too risky. Sometimes you mind, or your best friend, thinks that is 1 is good, 2 or more would be better. No! When you crush your crimp onto the wire, it becomes like a little razor blade. All jewelry moves, so your crimp is constantly trying to saw through the cable. Using more than one crimp on each end increases the chances that one will saw through. All you are doing is adding razor blades.

size of crimp

Manufacturers are inconsistent in how they label the sizes of crimp beads. In general:

2mm is the average size For .014, .015, .018, .019 cable wires

1.5mm is small For .010 and .012 cable wires

2.5mm is slightly more than averg For .019 and .024 cable wires

3.0mm is large For .024 cable wires, or thicker cords, or bringing

more than 1 strand thru at a time

4.0mm and larger For thicker cords, or bringing 2+ strands thru

Continue Part 2: Controllers and Adapters

______________________________________________

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry: What Works!

What Glue Should I Use When Making Jewelry?

Why Am I So Addicted To Beads?

A Very Abbreviated, But Not Totally Fractured, History of Beads

The Martha Stewart Beaded Wreath Project

When Choosing Colors Has You Down, Check Out The Magic Of Simultaneity Effects

The Use of Armature In Jewelry: Legitimate or Not?

Pearl Knotting Warren’s Way

Organizing Your Craft Workspace…Some Smart Pointers

You Don’t Choose Clasps, You Choose Clasp Assemblies

Know Your Anatomy Of A Necklace

Mini Lesson: Making Stretchy Bracelets

Mini Lesson: Making Adjustable Slip Knots With Thicker Cords

Mini Lesson: How To Crimp

Mini Lesson: Attaching End Caps, Cones, Crimp Ends

Mini Lesson: Brick Stitch

Mini Lesson: Flat Even Count Peyote

Mini Lesson: Ndebele Stitch

Mini Lesson: Petersburg Chain

Mini Lesson: Right Angle Weave

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Everyone Has A Getting Started StoryThe Nature-Inspired Creations of Kathleen

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Glass Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Lampwork Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Crystal Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Seed and Cylinder Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Choosing and Using Clasps

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

______________________________________________

Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online. Begin with my ORIENTATION TO BEADS & JEWELRY FINDINGS COURSE.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Add your name to my email list.

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Posted in Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

WHEN RELYING ON OTHER PEOPLE TO SELL YOUR JEWELRY:  6 Things To Be Sure To Do Which Will Improve…

Posted by learntobead on March 11, 2021

The Trunk Show

The women were so excited about the jewelry. Trying it on. Adjusting it to see if they could wear it a different way. Changing up the silhouettes. Pretending they were wearing different outfits to visualize what the pieces would look like. It was a very versatile line of jewelry, and all the women noticed that very quickly. They could wear necklaces as bracelets. Combine bracelets into necklaces. Take one bracelet, add it to a necklace, and create a longer piece. They could purchase different pendant drops, all as add-ons as they wished or none at all. And the drops easily converted into earrings. Imagine that! And the awe and glee and elation and animation — yes, these women were more than happy to have found this jewelry designer and her custom pieces.

I was there that day. In the store. At this one-day trunk show. I saw it all. These women were purchasing almost every last piece. It was the right aesthetic. Contemporary but conservative as well. An individualized look but not outlandish. Easy to wear. Easy to adapt. Easy to visualize what it would look like with different outfits and in different situations.

The jewelry designer was very attentive. She demonstrated the flexibility of each piece in the line. She, at first, asked the women individually a lot about themselves and how they liked to wear jewelry. Then she subtly shifted the conversation a bit so they were talking about themselves and how they would want to wear her jewelry.

At one point, I slowly looked around this upscale clothing, accessories and jewelry store. There were seven store associates standing around. Standing around. A glazed look on their faces. The enthusiasm and energy before them somehow foreign. After the trunk show, when the designer was no longer there, they would be the ones to represent her and her jewelry.

They stood there with blank faces. As if watching a movie they found uninteresting. None of them stepped in. None of them stepped up. Even though the jewelry designer was mobbed with seven or eight women at any one time. They obviously were unable to empathize with the crowd. They had no clue how to sell the pieces because these were pieces of jewelry they didn’t wear themselves. They were somewhat clueless about how to suggest how these store guests could put things together in a stylish, wearable way.

At the end of the day, the jewelry designer was very happy with her sales. But it hit her. Her jewelry would remain at this store for the next several months. But she would not. She would be leaving that day. And she was worried. She thought that over the 10 hours, her purpose was not only to sell to customers, but her purpose was also to model for the sales staff the smart ways for working with these customers and selling her product.

Had the store associates been reliable deputized partners with the jewelry designer that day, all would have made many more customers happy, and made a lot of money and commissions for store, sales staff and designer. Going forward, the designer now had doubts.

Jewelry Designers Often Have To Rely On Others,
 The Designers’ Success Relies On Their Whims

Most jewelry designers do not own their own shops. They rely on other people to sell their stuff. They might put their jewelry in a clothing, accessories or jewelry store on consignment. They might be represented by a gallery or sales representative, with their jewelry spread out in many stores. They might package their jewelry into trunk shows or pick boxes where they send out their jewelry to various stores. These other venues can pick and choose and sell what they want, then return the rest.

The success of sales becomes the whim of who sells it. Their understanding of the designs. Whether they like the pieces or not. Their motivations to keep things clean, neat and displayed well. If they can see themselves or their friends or spouses wearing these. Their sense of style, knowing what things might work well together with what fashions. How well they communicate with their customers. Perhaps even IF they communicate with their customers. If they follow-up with their customers.

Designers Must Take The Lead In Preparing Others To Sell Their Jewelry

The designer must play a leadership role here. The designer as leader must effectively influence, persuade, train and convince whoever will be selling their jewelry how to sell it. As best as possible, the designer must build shared understandings about the product with those who will sell it.

Passive assumptions won’t work here. The designer cannot assume that store owners and their sales staff, because they supposedly want to show a profit, will be good at their jobs. More likely, they are not — particularly when it comes to selling someone else’s stuff. The consequences of poor salesmanship are virtually invisible until many months, even years, later. That’s too late to wait.

To add to the difficulties, the opportunities in terms of time, resources, and follow-up are very limited. The designer may get just one shot to build shared understandings and accomplish several goals. Ideally this should happen in person. Often, it is not. Often it is reduced to shared emails, some printed materials, and some phone calls.

Six Key Shared Understandings

There are six key understandings which the designer must influence others to share. These include,

1. The Key Product Details

2. The Primary Product Benefits

3. The Smart Ways To Use The Products To Build Customer Relationships

4. What Rewards The Sales Staff Should Expect For Themselves, Based On Their Performance

5. At All Times, How To Maintain The Optimum Inventory and Product Mix

6. How To Routinize Timely Feedback

1. The Key Product Details

Think of every line of jewelry as its own culture with a group or tribal identity. Which three to six words or simple phrases encapsulate what that identify is all about? What were the key, primary design choices made which give this line of jewelry its character and resonance? How would anyone know that any piece of jewelry was a part of that group or tribe?

These key words or details might relate to materials and techniques. They might reference fashion, style and taste. They might be things about the designer or about jewelry design in general. There will be lots and lots of details which can be conveyed, but the list of details will need to be severely culled.

People have what is called finite rationality. They can only handle and remember between 4 and 10 pieces of information at a time, with 7 pieces of information usually the upper limit for most people.

Don’t confuse the sales staff. Don’t let them confuse the customers. Limit that descriptive words you use when explaining your jewelry, your design choices, and your design goals. Keep these descriptors simple, un-jargoned, devoid of business babble and clichés.

Keep repeating these 3 to 6 things. Repeat them in ways you want the sales staff to learn them, understand them, and be able to repeat these 3 to 6 things to their customers when you are not around.

2. The Primary Product Benefits

It is not the features of your jewelry that result in sales; it is the benefits people perceive the jewelry will provide for them. People do not focus on what the product is. They focus on what the product means to them.

People buy things to solve problems. These problems might relate to needs and wants. They might relate to achieving status and position. They might resolve emotional desires.

What problems for the potential customer does your jewelry solve? Think carefully about this. Make lists.

Then reflect awhile on how you think your jewelry solves these problems for your customers better than any of your competitors. What are your competitive advantages?

Convey to store owners and sales staff the results of your thinking and synthesis. You do not only want to list for them what customer problems your jewelry solves for them. You do not want your explanation divorced from the actual selling situation. You are not presenting an academic assessment; you want to present a marketing assessment. You want to convey how your jewelry resolves customer problems better than anyone else. This is a little more difficult to do and get the words out, and requires some practice.

And, again, remember that people have finite rationality. Don’t talk about everything. Focus on the couple of primary competitive advantages your line of jewelry has.

As best as possible, make your benefits concrete and specific. Think of which benefits would most readily stick in people’s minds.

3. The Smart Ways To Use The Products To Build Customer Relationships

Any sale is an interaction based on communication. The sale is not the only result. The building of a relationship also results. Too often sales staff performance is rated based on number of sales, and too rarely rated on building relationships. But it is in the building of relationships where we get those repeat sales and bigger sales and broader sales and better word of mouth and more new customers and, you get the idea.

Ideally, if you get the chance, like in the trunk show described above, you can model these relationship building behaviors in front of the sales staff. You can demonstrate how you elicit customer needs, wants and problems to be solved, and how you gain their awareness and trust in how your jewelry will meet these in an advantageous way. If there are other types of products in the store, you can demonstrate how to co-market, such as your jewelry with the store’s clothing.

Absent the in-person approach, you can provide ideas in periodic emails. You might do some simple one-sided-page images and short descriptive content. You might create a fun video that you can share.

You can also work with store staff in developing customer lists detailing the who, how to contact them, the what they bought, the dates, the follow-up sales, customer preferences, any descriptive information about the customer to help future sales.

To help guarantee that sales staff keep these lists and fill them out completely, you can ask to see them periodically to review. You can encourage sales staff to communicate with customers pre-, during, and –post sales. Based on your review, you can suggest specific items in the line that each customer might like to see, and possibly buy. Even though you are not physically present, you can still show how building relationships can generate sales and profits.

4. What Rewards The Sales Staff Should Expect For Themselves, 
 Based On Their Performance

It is helpful if you not only generate commissions and sales for the store, but also some kind of reward for the sales staff each time they sell one of your pieces. Show you recognize their efforts and appreciate them. If sales staff get paid no matter what they do, they may not give your line of jewelry the attention and promotion it deserves.

Besides some reward, perhaps a thank you note, or giving either a monetary extra commission or a piece of your jewelry, you most likely also want to reward the sales staff’ customer follow-ups, without actual sales, such as sending thank you notes or calling them when you send new pieces to the store.

5. At All Times, How To Maintain The Optimum Inventory and Product Mix

Do not assume that the store will maintain the optimum inventory and product mix of your jewelry at all times. There will always be other companies, other designers and other product opportunities competing for any store’s attention. So you will need to step in and capture that attention on a regular basis.

Create an easily update-able plan for the store that details the ideal mix of product — types of jewelry, price points, color, finishes and textures.

Reduce this to a simple product inventory sheet to give the store.

Contact the store periodically to update the inventory, compare to your plan, and make inventory suggestions accordingly.

6. How To Routinize Timely Feedback

You need to get feedback routinely, say at least every 3 to 6 months. You need regular feedback on your jewelry, on the sales process, on other things you can do to help sales staff become better at selling your jewelry.

If your jewelry is not turning at least twice a year, the particular store is probably not right for you. It might be the inattentiveness of the sales staff. It might be a lack of fit with the store’s customer base. But, if you are not getting a minimum of 2 turns a year, this location is not working either for you or the store.

You might formalize requests for quarterly results. You might call the store or any of its sales staff periodically to get information feedback. You might send a questionnaire to customers who have previously purchased your jewelry.

It helps the feedback process along when you provide rewards. This might be in the form of refreshments, such us sending an evaluation form with a box of cookies. This might take the form of adding some free pieces of jewelry to be sold, or one-time discount on purchases.

______________________________

FOOTNOTES

James, Geoffrey. 6 Ways to Persuade Customers to Buy. Inc.com, 2020.

As referenced in:

https://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/6-ways-to-convince-customers-to-buy.html

McLeod, Saul. “Short Term Memory,” Simply Psychology, 2009.

As referenced in:
 https://www.simplypsychology.org/short-term-memory.html#:~:text=The%20Magic%20number%207%20(plus,it%20the%20magic%20number%207

Sales Motivation: 18 Tips To Keep Your Salespeople Happy.
 As referenced in:

https://www.pipedrive.com/en/blog/sales-motivation-tips

_____________________________________

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Should I Set Up My Craft Business On A Marketplace Online?

The Importance of Self-Promotion: Don’t Be Shy

Are You Prepared For When The Reporter Comes A-Calling?

A Fool-Proof Formula For Pricing And Selling Your Jewelry

Designer Connect Profile: Tony Perrin, Jewelry Designer

My Aunt Gert: Illustrating Some Lessons In Business Smarts

Copyrighting Your Pieces: Let’s Not Confuse The Moral With The Legal Issues

Naming Your Business / Naming Your Jewelry

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

To What Extent Should Business Concerns Influence Artistic and Jewelry Design Choices

How Creatives Can Successfully Survive In Business

Getting Started In Business: What You Do First To Make It Official

So You Want To Do Craft Shows: Lesson 4: Set Realistic Goals

The Competition: Underestimate Them At Your Peril!

___________________________________

I hope you found this article useful.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

Add your name to my email list.

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Posted in Art or Craft?, bead weaving, beadwork, business of craft, craft shows, jewelry design, jewelry making, professional development, Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

THE JEWELRY DESIGNER’S APPROACH TO COLOR:

Posted by learntobead on February 14, 2021

Learn To Adapt Basic Concepts In Art When Making Jewelry

PREVIEW MY ONLINE VIDEO TUTORIAL:

https://so-you-want-to-be-a-jewelry-designer.teachable.com/courses/the-jewelry-designer-s-approach-to-color/lectures/21825453

Jewelry creates a series of dilemmas for the jewelry maker — not always anticipated by what most jewelry makers are taught in a typical art class.

That’s the rub!

Painters can create any color and color effect they want with paints.

Jewelry makers do not have access, nor can they easily create, a full color palette and all the desired coloration effects with the beads and other components used to make jewelry.

Jewelry is not like a painting or sculpture that sits in one place, with controlled lighting, and a more passive interaction with anyone looking at it.

Jewelry moves with the person through different settings, lighting, times of day. Jewelry sits on different body shapes. Jewelry must function in many different contexts. Jewelry serves many different purposes.

People use and understand colors using their senses. These perceptions among wearer, viewer and designer include:

(1) The Sensation Of Color Balance

(2) The Sensation Of Color Proportions

(3) The Sensation Of Simultaneous Color Contrasts

Better designers are able to manage these sensations. They do so, in major part, by relying on a series of color sensation management tools.

We review these in great detail in this course.

In this course, you will learn some critical skills for jewelry designers that you will want to know…

  • How to pick colors for jewelry, and how this differs from picking colors as a painter
  • How to adapt basic color concepts in art when making jewelry
  • How to recognize the differences between universal responses to color from the more typical subjective ones, and what better designers do about this
  • How to manage the sensation of color within your pieces to achieve your designer goals

You will learn to make smart choices about color when designing and making jewelry.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.
Of special interest: My video tutorial THE JEWELRY DESIGNER’S APPROACH TO COLOR

8 Lesson Units
1 1/2 hours of video plus practice exercises and downloadable information .pdf files
$45.00

___________________________

I hope you found this article useful. Be sure to click the CLAP HANDS icon at the bottom of this article.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.
Of special interest: My video tutorial THE JEWELRY DESIGNER’S APPROACH TO COLOR

Add your name to my email list.

_________________________

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

The Jewelry Designer’s Approach To Color: Video Tutorial Preview

Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry: What Works!

What Glue Should I Use When Making Jewelry?

Why Am I So Addicted To Beads?

A Very Abbreviated, But Not Totally Fractured, History of Beads

The Martha Stewart Beaded Wreath Project

When Choosing Colors Has You Down, Check Out The Magic Of Simultaneity Effects

The Use of Armature In Jewelry: Legitimate or Not?

Pearl Knotting Warren’s Way

Organizing Your Craft Workspace…Some Smart Pointers

You Don’t Choose Clasps, You Choose Clasp Assemblies

Know Your Anatomy Of A Necklace

Mini Lesson: Making Stretchy Bracelets

Mini Lesson: Making Adjustable Slip Knots With Thicker Cords

Mini Lesson: How To Crimp

Mini Lesson: Attaching End Caps, Cones, Crimp Ends

Mini Lesson: Flat Even Count Peyote

Mini Lesson: Ndebele Stitch

Mini Lesson: Petersburg Chain

Mini Lesson: Right Angle Weave

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Everyone Has A Getting Started StoryThe Nature-Inspired Creations of Kathleen

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Lampwork Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Crystal Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Seed and Cylinder Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Choosing and Using Clasps

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Stringing Materials

Posted in Art or Craft?, art theory, color, creativity, design theory, design thinking, jewelry design, jewelry making, Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

THE COMPETITION: Underestimate Them At Your Peril!

Posted by learntobead on February 3, 2021

The Workshop

The weekend had arrived.

I slowly glanced around the room, at each and every participant, all seventeen of them, sitting quietly around this very large classroom table, eagerly awaiting what was to come before them. Our guest Jewelry Design Instructor standing at the head of the table. Me sitting at the other end.

Two very special days with this super-hero Instructor. She guiding them step-by-step through the processes of design and construction. Demonstrating how to use the tools. Then the technique. Then the discussion about strategy and materials. And finally, beginning this fabulous necklace project design.

The excitement was palpable. No one could contain themselves. They were lapping at the starting gate. Eyes on the prize. Working together with a celebrity designer. Hearing her thoughts. Seeing her in action. Becoming at least a Facebook friend. Hoping to be able to finish by the end of the next day. And show it off the next.

It took two years to get to this point.

I had arranged everything.

My plans methodical.

My organization without question.

My calendar and schedule to the point.

But until that moment we all entered the classroom, finding our seats, laying out our tools and materials, making sure our water or coffee or tea was at hand, snacks carefully positioned along the center of the table, our guest Instructor passing out the instruction kits … until that very moment, I wasn’t sure this was all going to happen.

The Advanced Study Was To Culminate In 
 A Masters Class In Beadweaving and Design

I am a jewelry designer.

I own a bead store.

I have all kinds of clients and customers interested in various aspects of jewelry making and design. There are bead stringers. Also wire workers. Some fiber artists, silversmiths, and lampwork artists. Toss in some hand-knotters and braiders. The occasional biologist and physicist who use beads in their experiments, and we meet the beading needs of quite a large range of people

One group gets my special attention — the bead weavers. These are people who like to use those tiny little seed beads and needle and thread, and make jewelry, tapestries, embellished clothing, and sculptures, and whatever they can think of. Our bead weavers have a special Advanced Jewelry Design Study Group which has existed for many years. One of the earlier projects this group pursued was to study the life of a well-known and well-respected bead artist and designer. At the time we studied her life, she had already become a celebrity designer and teacher in the bead weaving field.

The question before the group: What makes an accomplished bead weaver and jewelry designer?

Was it family upbringing? Special innate talents? Schooling? Happenstance? What influenced her in her development as a bead artist and designer? Were there ups and downs? Was the career path linear? How important was it to have a mentor or special teacher? How about comradery — what kind of social network did she have, and how important a role did that play?

The group picked their target. I phoned her, and explained what the group wanted to accomplish. I asked if she would be willing to be interviewed, probably about once a week, and she agreed. And that began our adventure and exploration which lasted a little more than a year.

The Advanced Jewelry Design Study Group, to say the least, was very excited. To have this kind of access to a master bead weaving artist and designer was extraordinary. And they had many, many questions for her.

So, my routine began with asking the group what questions they had. Then I would phone the instructor and we would talk about 30 minutes. I reported her answers back to the group. There was some group discussion. Then we generated some more questions.

There were questions about how she got started. She was a seamstress. How she got into beading. She was hired to work in a bead store. How beading became a passion for her. She began to teach classes. She saw how she could integrate the techniques she used as a seamstress into techniques for weaving beads. Did she have a mentor. The woman who owned the bead shop had been a basket weaver, and adapted those techniques for bead weaving. This person was very inspirational, and took her under her wing. Was there any happenstance. Someone was wanting to start a major bead weaving magazine. They came to town — San Diego — to interview several bead weaving artists to see whom they might highlight in the first issue of the magazine. Our Instructor was one of the chosen few.

Over the year, we talked about variations in several bead weaving techniques, and how she came to choose the variations she preferred. We asked what it meant to her to have a design sense. We discussed other bead weaving artists, what of their history she was familiar with, and how they came to specialize in certain techniques over others. We were inquisitive about her selection of materials. We asked questions about what it was like to teach, and how her approaches were similar or different, given the varying skill levels of her students.

During the summer, I asked her if I could arrange a 3-day workshop with her in Nashville, Tennessee. We decided on the weekend of June 21st, about 1 year later at that point. We planned to do two projects — a simpler bracelet, and a more advanced 2-day necklace.

I added the dates to my calendar. I created my marketing plan and schedule. And did not give it much more thought, since the workshop was not to happen for about another year.

Competitive Conflict #1:
 The Local Bead Society

I had been an active member and supporter of our local bead society until the year previous to when my Advanced Jewelry Design Study Group began its study of the artist and designer.

As a store owner, I actively promoted the bead society. I garnered them a large membership. I offered steep discounts to their members. I steered many opportunities their way. I let them use our classroom spaces. I provided materials for their activities at no cost to them. I assisted their planning, program and development committees. I worked with them to write their bylaws.

Everything worked smoothly for many years. But then it didn’t.

Bead society officers were elected every two years. In that last election before I discontinued my relationship with the group, three of the four officers elected — the president, the vice president and the secretary — no longer managed the society and functioned in the members’ interests, nor followed the bylaws.

The society had a bylaw that stated that every program had to have a prespecified date, on which, if that program looked like it would lose money, the membership had to vote whether to continue with the program, or cancel it. The officers ignored the rule. They scheduled several workshops of interest primarily to themselves, many which had nothing to do with beading, over their first two years in office. They drove down the $8,000 the society had in the bank to a little under $1,000.

The officers made themselves the chairs of all the organization’s committees. Refused to do the monthly reports to the membership, including information about the society’s bank accounts.

The officers refused to let the treasurer have access to the bank, or any signatory powers as specified in the bylaws.

The three officers spent society money on lavish gifts for themselves.

And on and on.

Which is why I withdrew.

The Society Wanted A Workshop Too

About six months after I had booked our workshop with the Instructor, the bead society officers approached this same Instructor, and cleverly booked a workshop the weekend before ours. They did not pick any particular workshop projects at that time. I had already done a lot of pre-marketing, so the message about our workshop and our dates was very visible and out there way before the time they approached our Instructor.

We’re in the same town — Nashville, TN. Our potential market of possible participants is virtually the same. The market was not large enough to support two workshops. I did not find out about their plans until 3 months before our workshop was to begin. That’s the timeframe when they began their marketing.

The Instructor should have had more control over the situation. But she did not. She thought the bead society was located in another part of Tennessee, where there would not be a major conflict.

So, here we were.

I proposed to the Instructor and the bead society the following, hoping for a compromise:

a. We would keep our June 21 weekend date

b. We would do the two projects that the Instructor and I had agreed upon.

c. We would hold the workshop at my bead store

d. My advanced students would get first priority for available seats, which would still leave room for a large number of additional participants

e. The workshop would be marketed as a joint project between the bead store and the bead society

f. The bead society could have all the proceeds, which would have been several thousand dollars

The bead society said No!

I held our workshop as planned and scheduled.

The Instructor canceled their workshop, and told them she would never do a workshop with them again.

Competitive Conflict #2:
 Another Local Bead Store

My bead store is located less than half a mile from another bead store. I view them as friendly competition. They see me as the enemy. The two stores have different mixes of merchandise. Some customers overlap, but I view my market area as a 5-hour driving radius around Nashville. They view their market as Nashville only. They offer classes, but come from a craft perspective. They teach steps. I offer classes, but come from a design perspective. I teach theories and applications. We do not attract the same customers. We do not attract the same students.

For me, the presence of both stores, plus a Michaels craft store across the street creates a lot of synergy — more things to buy, more things to do, more customers to entice into learning beading and jewelry making. For the other store, they assumed loss of sales, loss of students and loss of customers. The reality was that our businesses presented more of a continuum than any overlap.

But having this Instructor teach here was a coup. It was status. Power, Legitimacy. Credibility. It was an endorsement of who I was, what I was, and my way of thinking. And the other bead store owners — a husband and wife — wanted all of this for themselves. They were not happy.

We may have been seen as some kind of enemy in this instance. Or, perhaps conversely, as a friend providing more opportunities to bead artists and designers for fun and professional development in Nashville. I guess it depends how you think about competition and where you are standing.

The first thing the other store’s owners tried to do was steal the workshop for themselves. Not long after I had booked the Instructor that summer, they called her. They asked her to reschedule the workshop the same weekend, but at their bead store instead. Even before she told them No!, they began a premarketing campaign. Emails, signage, phone calls — all indicating that they were to host the Instructor the weekend of June 21st. And after she told them No!, they continued their premarketing campaign anyway.

This confused lots of people. Many people thought I might be lying about our program. Luckily, I was interviewing the Instructor weekly, and reporting back to our study group. I included summaries in our marketing materials we sent out to all our customers each month. Eventually, the other bead store stopped their marketing.

The wife who owned the bead store found out the Instructor was doing a workshop in Kansas City. This was about 5 months before our scheduled date. She drove all the way to Kansas City from Nashville. She arranged to meet the Instructor at the hotel lobby one morning, on a pretense and supposedly to show her and sell her some specialty Czech glass beads. They had never met in person before.

The Instructor told me that she had come down into the lobby, and the wife began pulling out displays of Czech glass. But the conversation quickly turned to the Nashville workshop. The wife asked the Instructor to change the venue to their bead store. The Instructor again said No!, and sent the wife on her way. “Creepy,” was the word the Instructor used.

There was more to come.

Three weeks before the workshop, the husband this time phoned the Instructor. He asked her when she would arrive, and which airline she was flying on. He told her that he would pick her up at the airport.

She was already suspicious of the couple. She told him she had other arrangements.

And one more thing.

For three days during my workshop — Friday and Saturday and Sunday, the husband parked his car in the parking lot. Directly in front of my store. Headlights on. He was there all day, every day. As if he were taking names of the customers coming into my store.

Creepy.

Underestimate Your Competition At Your Peril

Looking back, it all seems so much fun — great stories to tell. An adventure in competitive competition. But it was very important to take competition seriously then, and seriously now. It is important to know…

1. What competition is

2. Who you competitors are

3. The specific characteristics of your marketplace

4. What your competitive advantage over your competitors is

5. How to get the message across to your clients and customers — current and possible — about your competitive advantage

Many businesses do not take the time to truly understand their marketplace, and all the competitive forces within it. They may spend some time listing some differences between themselves and those they compete with. Lower prices. More accessibility. Better quality. Faster service.

But the differences in and of themselves do not make the difference between capturing your market or not. It’s the visibility of these differences. And the credibility of how these differences are conveyed. And the risk and reward calculus of your customers. Your competitive advantage is not the quality or price of your product or service you are selling, but your ability to make this information known in the market, and believable in that market, and valued in that market.

1. What Competition Is

Competition is a process utilized to influence outcomes.

Competition begins with perceptions of differences in status or position, and the subsequent recognition of contradictions between market reality and personal or organizational expectation. Status or position can relate to things like wealth, power, attention, income, market share, access to scarce resources, prestige and fame.

A person or business makes the decision to compete when those contradictions become personally or organizationally untenable. Survive or die.

The motivation to pursue competition, then, is to enhance or impede positive or negative changes in status or position.

A strategic competitive response, intuitive or formal, is developed. It is an opportunity for action based on an assessment of the relative risks and rewards for acting versus not acting.

This competitive response and pursuit can take two forms: 
 Either,
 
a) cooperation, when a common goal can be shared, and both can gain,
 or,
 b) conflict, when a common goal cannot be shared, and the gain for one is a loss for the other.

Whatever the response, competition can incentivize. It can set in motion positive things which make the person or business more efficient, more effective, more responsive, more actively learning, more adaptive, and more innovative. Or just the opposite can happen.

Competition is never a fixed state of affairs. It is a journey. So the rivalry has a lot of give and take, and ebb and flow, to it. Things can improve for one party, and diminish for the other. Things can improve for both. Just as easily, things can deteriorate for both. These can lead to compromising ethical standards. These can lead to financial ruin.

2. Who Your Competitors Are

Your competitor is anyone operating in your market — whether individual or business or network or organization or even an event or other more abstract thing — which can influence outcomes related to your status or position.

This might relate to the products you sell. This might relate to the services you offer. This might relate to your design sense, ideas and philosophy. So, you want to get a handle on how your competitors CAN INFLUENCE THINGS, and WHAT RESOURCES AND CONNECTIONS they have on hand to exert such influence, and what their MOTIVATIONS are for wanting to influence things.

Understanding Your Competitors

You cannot compete if you do not have a thorough understanding of who your competitors are. Their understandings and assumptions. Their business strategies. Their operations. Their client / customer base and how they market to them. Their perceptions. Their expectations. Their skill sets. Their level of resiliency and ability to adapt to changing market conditions. How they position themselves within their market.

You cannot compete if you do not have a good estimate of how many competitors you have, and whether they are direct or indirect competitors.

Your competitors include any individual or business which might deter a potential client or customer from choosing you. Some of these individuals or businesses will be obvious because they compete directly with you. Another designer. Another design business. Another business, but not specifically a design business, which sells the same types of design products or services you offer.

These direct competitors may be in the same locale or service area you are in. They may be online. They may have a print catalog. They may be registered as ancillary employees with another service.

With direct competition, you want to be as visible or moreso than they are in order to attract and retain clients and customers. Visibility means that people know who you are, where you are, and the relative risks and rewards for patronizing you rather than one of your other direct competitors.

Indirect competitors are those who do not offer the same products or services that you do; however, the products and services they do offer satisfy your clients’ or customers’ needs in a similar way. They are viable alternatives to what you offer, as understood by a shared or overlapping client / customer base. You must always ask yourself, to understand these indirect competitors, what all the alternatives to your products and services might be.

For example, people buy jewelry for many reasons, one of which is to be adorned in an appealing way. That same person, rather than buy jewelry, might meet their same need by getting a tattoo or buying another accessory like a handbag. Jewelry purchases might be seasonal, timed to special holidays and occasions or the schedule of the partying circuit. At other times, these same people might be attracted to other artistic products and services. In the winter, they might think more about getting a knitted sweater. In the spring, they might think more about planting a garden.

To reach your client / customer base when they are involved with your indirect competitors will still require strategies to increase your visibility. But the specific things you do might be very different, than when competing for the attention of clients and customers who visit your direct competitors. You will need to change your field of vision. You may redefine your client or customer based into different sub-groups. Your marketing messages will probably be very different. Where you place these messages, and when you schedule these messages to go out, may be very different.

3. The Specific Characteristics Of Competition In Your Marketplace

You cannot compete if you do not have a good understanding, not only of who your competitors are, but also, how good they are at competing. What is their position, both in terms of status and location, in your market place –marginal or core? What is their strategy for pricing and how does that relate to clients’ or customers’ perceptions, wants and needs? Do they offer discounts? Payment terms? Do they have anything related to special status, such as awards? What kinds of marketing do they do, and what is the content of their messaging? Are there cultural or social things which impede or enhance their competitiveness? What is their history, how did they get started, how did they keep going? How adaptive and resilient do they appear to be as market conditions change, and what kinds of things make you draw your conclusions?

How Do You Define Your Market Boundaries?

It is very important that you have a clear understanding of how people find you, or find where your products and services are available. This will influence what marketing messages you want to send, where you want to post them, and how often you want to post them.

Some of this information may involve mapping out local shopping behaviors. An example, 25% of your clients or customers visit both the local mall and your business or where your products or services are on the same shopping trip. Another example, 15% of your clients or customers interact with you or your products or services three times each month.

Other information may be specified in terms of how extensive the driving radius is, such as, 50% of your clients or customers are willing to drive 1 hour to get to you, your products or your services.

Within your market boundaries, you may have some sub-markets or market niches. This might break down by age or by income or by gender or by some other variable. You might have clients who want fully customized services, or those who want boiler-plate.

Your physical, geographic market boundaries may have little to no relationship to your online market boundaries. In fact, you may have several different online market boundaries, given where and how you create your online presence.

Concurrently with all your analyses, with a simple review of your various competitors advertising and websites, you can determine how they define their market boundaries. This might trigger new ideas and understandings for you in your own marketing efforts. Or it might create new competitive puzzles to solve. It might give you a better way of calculating whether any one marketing approach is worth the costs.

Also, ask yourself, are there any gaps in the market which you might exploit? Conversely, are any parts of the market oversaturated, and should be avoided?

How Do Your Competitors Position Themselves?

Your same products or services can be presented within your market or market niches in a number of different ways, and through various combinations of circumstances and contingencies.

Based on the packaging and presentation, different existing and potential clients or customers may vary in what resonates with them. That is, even though the products or services may be the same or similar, people won’t always recognize how all of these may equally meet their needs, wants and demands.

The circumstances surrounding the packaging and presentation of products or services is known as positioning. It is important to know how your competitors position themselves. Ask yourself: Am I positioning myself similarly or differently from my competition?

This information about positioning helps you differentiate what you offer from what they offer. It helps your clients or customers compare you to your competitors in a way which influences them to believe that they would trust purchasing from you rather than them.

What Is Their Pricing Strategy?

One of the most visible aspects of your business is how you price your products or services. Your prices provide a concrete measure your clients or customers can use to compare you to your competition. They are perhaps the most singularly important way you recruit and retain your clients or customers.

Obviously, it is critical to get an understanding of how your competitors price things. Do you use a similar or different strategy for pricing your products or services? How appealing are your prices? Are prices in line with what people in your market area are willing to pay? Do your clients or customers trust you in how you value things in order to price them — especially if your prices are higher than your competitors?

Do any of your competitors offer discounts? Are there volume requirements before giving someone a discount? Do they offer different payment options? Terms?

And many designers find they often have to compete with other designers who under-price their products or services, sometimes even below their costs, because they are unaware of the business fundamentals of pricing. There is no good competitive strategy here except to ignore them. Under-pricing is a yellow flag that these designers will not be able to provide a quality service or product, and won’t be able to survive very long as a business.

What Are Your Competitors’ Strengths?

You want to fully understand what clients and customers like about your competition, and like more about your competition than your own business. Then you ask yourself, are these qualities or products or services you need to adopt and include in your own business. Or maybe differences in appeal come down to how you market yourself. Or maybe these are things you need to ignore and not try to offer.

Examine the backgrounds and skill-sets of the owner, and if a larger organization, that of the staff. How much does this lead to their success?

Have they had any particular wins? Can you learn from those?

What Are Your Competitors’ Weaknesses?

It is not only the strengths of your competitors which you need to be aware of, but also their weaknesses. This may further help you identify both your own strengths and weaknesses. This may help you understand how your clients view the strengths and weaknesses of both you and your competitors. It may help you better sharpen your marketing messaging or reveal how to add to your list of products and services.

Often competitor weaknesses in design businesses relate to those businesses trying to impose one design solution on every situation. They have no adaptive skills. They aren’t very resilient. Their knowledge and skill-set in design is shallow and limited. They have difficulty overcoming unknown or unfamiliar situations. They do not know how to engage with their clients in a fully empathetic way.

Has your competitor had any particular failures? What can you learn from those?

Your competitor’s weakness may have less to do with the competitor but rather some deficiency or disorganization in your market. You might learn how that competitor has tried to respond to market imperfections, and take that into account when formulating your own responses.

What Are Your Clients’ or Customers’ Views and Understandings
 of Your Competitors?

Clients and customers make or break your business. It is what they perceive and what they expect and what they value which are critical. Every business, whether a 1-person office or a multiplex, must be able to anticipate the understandings people have who use their services, or who may use their products. And then ditto for that of your competitors.

Additionally, every business needs to have an arsenal of competitive strategies for aligning the understandings of others with those of the business. Do you know what your competitors’ strategies are towards this end?

You may think you offer quality products, but they may not know or may not recognize this. You may think your hours of operation are sufficient, but they may not. You may think your design sense is current and fashionable, but they may not or may be unaware. You may think you have better messaging, connections, and relations with your clients and customers, but they may feel that moreso with your competitors.

One place where all these dynamics converge is online through facebook likes, customer reviews, customer comments and the like. It is important to devote resources towards managing and participating at these types of nexus points.

Always do some reality-checking: How do the understandings and views your customers have of the competition or your own business coordinate with your own understandings and views?

What Are The Primary Ways Information Is Exchanged 
 About The Sale Of The Types Of Products Or Services You Sell?

How do people find out about you? About your competitors? How do they know what your sell? Where you sell it? The value? The opportunity to buy? What happens if they are dissatisfied after the sale?

There are all kinds of options.

– Print advertising in newspapers and magazines

– Ads or classifieds in directories and neighborhood papers

– Marketing materials like brochures, business cards, hand-outs

– Online promotions — banners, search engine ads, search engine listings, classified listings, online calendars

– Indexing of websites

– Links from other websites

– Online reviews

– Articles written about you, in print or online

– Co-marketing with a compatible business

– Relationships with your suppliers or distributors

– Classes you teach

– Trade fairs, exhibits, art and craft shows you attend or participate in

– Attendance at social or business events

– Sponsorships

– Word of mouth

It’s that last one — word of mouth — where you usually get your biggest bang for the buck. So you need to think of ways to drive it.

4. What Your Competitive Advantage Over Your Competitors Is

Part of driving that word of mouth is establishing in clear, visible, legitimate and valuable terms what your competitive advantage or advantages are over those of your competitors.

Your competitive advantage(s) are all the reason someone should contract for your services or buy your products rather than those of any of your competitors. What are those 5–10 things about you and your work that sets you apart from, and perhaps makes you better than, your competition?

There’s always something to differentiate yourself from your competition. Even if your products and services are the same, your pricing is similar, your turn-around time the same, your choices of design elements very similar, there are always other things which come into play and with which you can use to differentiate yourself. You can be a better manager of relationships. You can be clearer and more directional about how to develop your business, and assist others in developing theirs. You can deliver an outstanding customer experience better than anyone else.

5. How To Get Your Message Across To Your Customers 
— Current And Possible — About Your Competitive Advantage

What gives any individual or company a competitive edge are four values:

1. Authenticity

2. Rarity

3. Individuality

4. Legitimacy

You want to position yourself so that you stick out among the competition. This is true geographically. This is true in cyberspace. This is true in the marketplace of ideas, feelings, and values.

Start your strategic planning by focusing on the client or customer, their needs, wants, demands and decisions to buy. Get a solid handle on their thinking, their understandings of the marketplace, their understandings of your business and those of your competitors. Get very detailed about their shopping behaviors.

Last, you want to build relationships and emotional connections with these clients and customers. You want to be known as someone who hears, listens and understands them. You want to be a part, not only of the present, but their history and future, as well.

Design your communications and your interactions to maximize your advantages. You have core convictions — Authenticity. You are a unique source for things — Rarity. You can tailor what you do to the needs of each client of customer — Individuality. You can justify why patronizing you makes more sense than patronizing someone else — Legitimacy.

Ask yourself: What devices do my competitors employ to get their messages across and build customer loyalty in terms of authenticity, rarity, individuality and legitimacy?

Messaging About Your Competitive Advantages Is Not A One Shot Deal

Managing your design business and growing it means you have to be constantly learning about it and making necessary adjustments. Learning about your business in relation to the competition provides a myriad of clues and ideas. Anticipating the shared understandings of your clients and customers allows you to refine your business in a very positive way. And don’t forget to assume that your competitors are assessing you at the same time you are assessing them.

Keep a running list of your ideas, and as they evolve or change.

a. What you do better than your competitors

b. What your competitors do better than you

c. Things your discovered, learned about, and might exploit, and which might be incorporated into your own thinking

d. Things you have learned and insights you have gained which you might leverage into new innovative ideas

Keep on improving. You want to at least match your competition, but better yet surpass them. They are not the standard. Don’t copy them. Innovate, don’t imitate.

Workshop Post Mortem

So how did competition play out after my workshop?

The bead society lost a lot of members, and soon closed down. But many of their members stopped coming into the store. As one former bead society member and former store customer put it: It was more important for her to have a group to come to every Tuesday night, get out of her house at least once a week, and be with others who shared her interest, in spite of any wrong-doing on the part of the bead society officers.

Having a bead society in the area, and maintaining a visible presence in it, was very cost-effective for the store. They were 300 ambassadors spreading good word of mouth about my business. The bead society was also influencing people in the community to take up beading and jewelry making as a hobby and avocation. These were things I didn’t have to utilize store resources for.

My bead store competitor is still in business. To this day I do not think that the owners there recognize that we are different businesses. We have different values and goals. Our customer bases overlap some, but we provide different experiences and attract different market niches.

I try to minimize a sense of Us vs Them. I always refer customers to them and to Michaels. To me, the local customer does this calculus. Is it less risk to find what they want locally, see the real colors and real quality, and get it immediately, or is it less risk to try to find what they want online? With three stores merely blocks apart, it lowers the risk to shop locally. This is incredibly advantageous. I don’t think the other bead store recognizes this.

I was lucky to have approached the design of my classes differently from the traditional craft, step-by-step, learn mechanics approach. The internet, where now you can get all these types of step-by-step classes for free, has driven the value of this type of class to $0.00. My classes focus on the art and design aspects of beading and jewelry making — things not easily conveyed in video tutorials online. So my competitors — the bead store a few blocks away, as well as Michaels — have significantly reduced the number of classes they offer. At the same time, I have tripled mine.

_________________________________

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Should I Set Up My Craft Business On A Marketplace Online?

The Importance of Self-Promotion: Don’t Be Shy

Are You Prepared For When The Reporter Comes A-Calling?

A Fool-Proof Formula For Pricing And Selling Your Jewelry

Designer Connect Profile: Tony Perrin, Jewelry Designer

My Aunt Gert: Illustrating Some Lessons In Business Smarts

Copyrighting Your Pieces: Let’s Not Confuse The Moral With The Legal Issues

Naming Your Business / Naming Your Jewelry

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

To What Extent Should Business Concerns Influence Artistic and Jewelry Design Choices

How Creatives Can Successfully Survive In Business

Getting Started In Business: What You Do First To Make It Official

So You Want To Do Craft Shows: Lesson 4: Set Realistic Goals

______________________

I hope you found this article useful.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

Add your name to my email list.

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

___________________________

FOOTNOTES

360 Live Media, Who Is Your Competitor? 8/28/2017.
 As referenced in:
 https://www.360livemedia.com/post/who-is-your-competitor

 Info Entrepreneurs. Understand Your Competitors. Canada Business Network, 2009.
 As referenced in:
 https://www.infoentrepreneurs.org/en/guides/understand-your-competitors/

Grey, Ingar. 6 Advantages To Knowing Your Competition. Bizjournals, 5/3/2016.
 As referenced in:
 https://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/how-to/growth-strategies/2016/05/6-advantages-to-knowing-your-competition.html

McCormick, Kristen. 5 Things You Should Know About Your Competitors. 12/22/2016.
 As referenced in:
 https://thrivehive.com/5-things-you-should-know-about-your-competitors/

Misner, Ivan. My Philosophy About Competition, 6/21/2010.
 As referenced in:
 https://ivanmisner.com/my-philosophy-about-competition/

Posted in Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

THE JEWELRY DESIGNER’S APPROACH TO COLOR: New Video Tutorial Added

Posted by learntobead on November 18, 2020

Warren Feld Jewelry

Update, 11-17-20


NEW VIDEO TUTORIAL POSTED:
THE JEWELRY DESIGNER’S APPROACH TO COLOR


Jewelry creates a series of dilemmas for the jewelry maker — not always anticipated by what most jewelry makers are taught in a typical art class.

That’s the rub!

Painters can create any color and color effect they want with paints.

Jewelry makers do not have access, nor can they easily create, a full color palette and all the desired coloration effects with the beads and other components used to make jewelry.

Jewelry is not like a painting or sculpture that sits in one place, with controlled lighting, and a more passive interaction with anyone looking at it.

Jewelry moves with the person through different settings, lighting, times of day.

Jewelry sits on different body shapes.

Jewelry must function in many different contexts.

Jewelry serves many different purposes.

People use and understand colors using their senses.

These perceptions among wearer, viewer and designer include:

(1) The Sensation Of Color Balance
(2) The Sensation Of Color Proportions
(3) The Sensation Of Simultaneous Color Contrasts

Better designers are able to manage these sensations. They do so, in major part, by relying on a series of color sensation management tools.

We review these in great detail in this course.

In this course, you will learn some critical skills for jewelry designers that you will want to know…
• How to pick colors for jewelry, and how this differs from picking colors as a painter
• How to adapt basic color concepts in art when making jewelry
• How to recognize the differences between universal responses to color from the more typical subjective ones, and what better designers do about this

• How to manage the sensation of color within your pieces to achieve your designer goals

You will learn to make smart choices about color when designing and making jewelry.

9 Video Lessons (approximately 80 minutes)
8 Exercises
1 Article (40-pages)
$45.00 enrollment

Check this out and view the free Preview!




<!–


–>


VISIT MY ONLINE SCHOOL

26638c3f-adf4-4d3c-aff0-8d4529779d08.jpg

Learn to Think and Speak and Work
Like a Jewelry Designer!



As always, we look forward to seeing you.


Stay safe and healthy.

Warren

www.warrenfeldjewelry.com

Posted in architecture, Art or Craft?, art theory, bead weaving, beads, beadwork, color, creativity, design management, design theory, design thinking, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, professional development, Stitch 'n Bitch, Workshops, Classes, Exhibits | Leave a Comment »

MY ONLINE VIDEO TUTORIALS: So You Want To Be A Jewelry Designer

Posted by learntobead on September 25, 2020

 


VISIT MY ONLINE SCHOOL

Learn to Think and Speak and Work
Like a Jewelry Designer!

Making and designing jewelry is fun, awesome, challenging and rewarding.  You enter a world full of inspiration, creativity, color, texture, construction, beauty and appeal.  With your jewelry, you impact the lives of many people as they go about their day, attend special events, or interact with friends, acquaintances and strangers.

As a jewelry designer, you have a purpose. Your purpose is to figure out, untangle and solve, with each new piece of jewelry you make, how both you, as well as the wearer, will understand your inspirations and the design elements and forms you chose to express them, and why this piece of jewelry is right for them.

Your success as a designer is the result of all these choices you make.   Our courses are here to help you learn and apply key insights about materials, techniques and the jewelry design process when making these kinds of choices.  We also introduce you to things you need to know when trying to conquer the creative marketplace.

Empower yourself to become fluent, flexible and original in jewelry design.

Enroll now.

Begin with our ORIENTATION TO BEADS & JEWELRY FINDINGS COURSE. For newbies just getting started, or experienced designers as a great refresher.

 


Everything People Wished They Had Known
Before They Started Beading and Making Jewelry!

We require all our students to take our ORIENTATION TO BEADS & JEWELRY FINDINGS class first, before taking any of our other classes.

I have created an updated, extended version of this class online, which you can register for.    The class is divided into 18 short video tutorials on such topics of seed and delica beads, metal beads, clasps, stringing materials, adhesives, miscellaneous findings, and the like.   There is a downloadable handout that accompanies each video segment.

19 lesson modules.   This class is $30.00.
You can find it online and register here.


 

16 Important Lessons I Learned Doing Craft Shows!

In this SO YOU WANT TO DO CRAFT SHOWS… video tutorial class, I discuss critical choices jewelry designers need to make when doing craft shows.  That means, understanding everything involved, and asking the right questions.

Learn How To…

…Find, Evaluate and Select Craft Shows Right For You

…Determine a Set Realistic Goals Right For You

…Compute a Simple Break-Even Analysis

…Best Ways to Develop Your Applications and Apply

…Understand How Much Inventory To Bring

…Best Promote and Operate Your Craft Show Business

 

Doing craft shows is a wonderful experience.  You can make a lot of money. You meet new people. You have new adventures.  And you learn a lot about business and arts and crafts designing.

 

19 lesson modules.  This class is $45.00.
You can find it online and register here.


 

Learn An Easy-To-Use Pricing Formula
and Some Marketing Tips
Especially Relevant for Jewelry Designers!

 

This PRICING AND SELLING YOUR JEWELRY course is about one key to success: SMART PRICING!

 

I share with you my knowledge, experiences and insights about…

(1) Why Jewelry Sells

(2) Three alternative pricing formulas used by jewelry makers and the jewelry industry

(3) A simple, mathematical formula for pricing your jewelry which I developed and prefer to use

(4) How to break down this mathematical pricing formula intoa series of easy to implement steps

 

Then, we practice applying the formula to some different pieces of jewelry.

At the end of the course, I discuss the differences among retail, wholesale and consignment.

I briefly discuss several key business strategies which are very related to pricing.

And I offer some final words of advice.

11 lesson modules.  This class is $35.00.
You can find it online and register here.

 


Posted in Art or Craft?, art theory, bead weaving, beads, beadwork, business of craft, color, craft shows, creativity, design management, design theory, design thinking, jewelry collecting, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, professional development, Resources, wire and metal, Workshops, Classes, Exhibits | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

PART 3: YOUR PASSION FOR DESIGN: How Does Being Passionate Make You A Better Designer?

Posted by learntobead on September 12, 2020

Practice-By-Design Series

Image by Feld, 2020

How Is Your Passion For Design Developed?

I continued working in the health care field, teaching graduate school, doing consulting, government health policy planning, and, my last professional job, directing a nonprofit membership organization of primary health care centers. Working in health care had become such a hollow experience for me, that I jumped off the corporate ladder when I was 36 years old. With a partner, we opened up a retail operation, in Nashville, Tennessee, where we sold finished jewelry, most of it custom made, as well as selling all the parts for other people interested in making jewelry themselves.

My partner was the creative one, and the design aspects of the business were organized around her work. I was the business person. I made some jewelry to sell, but my motivation was purely monetary. No passion yet.

During the first few years, it was painfully obvious that my jewelry construction techniques were poor, at best. The jewelry I made broke too easily. This bothered me. I was determined to figure out how to do it better.

This was pre-internet. There were no established jewelry making magazines at that time. In Nashville, there was a very small jewelry / beading craft community. No experience, no support. So I did a lot of trial-and-error. Lots of experimentation.

In these early years in our retail jewelry business, two critical things happened which started steering me in the direction of pursuing my jewelry design passion.

First, our store was located in a tourist area near the downtown convention center. Many people attending conventions lived in areas, especially California, where there were major jewelry making and beading communities. They shopped in our store, and from watching their shopping behaviors, seeing what they liked and did not like, and talking with them, I learned many insights about where to direct my energies.

Second, I began taking in jewelry repairs. It became almost like an apprenticeship. I got to see what design choices other jewelry makers made, and I looked for patterns. I got to see where things broke, and I looked for patterns. I spoke with the customers to get a sense of what happened when the jewelry broke, and I looked for patterns. I put into effect my developing insights about jewelry construction and materials selection when doing repairs, and I looked for patterns.

No passion yet, but I took one more big step. And passion was beginning to show itself on the horizon.

I was developing all this knowledge and experience about design theory and applications. Suddenly, I wanted to share this. I wanted to teach. But I wanted to have some high level of coherency underlying my curriculum. My budding passion for design saw design as a profession, not a hobby. I did not want to teach a step-by-step, paint-by-number class. I wanted to teach a way of thinking through design. I wanted my students to develop a literacy and fluency in design.

I inadvertently cultivated my passion for design over time. I did not really follow one. It was a journey. My passion for the idea of design did not necessarily match a particular job. I coordinated it with the job I had been doing. And over time, my job and my passion became more and more intertwined and coherent. For me, it was a long process. I honed my abilities. I leveraged them to create value — personal satisfaction and some monetary remuneration. My passion became my lifestyle. My lifestyle resonated with me.

Passion involves deep introspection. It requires you to be metacognitive — always aware of the things underlying your choices. It requires talking with people and testing out how different ideas or activities resonate with you. What do you care about? What changes in the world do you want to make? What is driving you? What if this or that? Are you willing to give up something else for this? Would people respect me if…?

During this journey, you will systematically test your assumptions about what you think your personal sense of purpose should be. For the most part, there may not be a single answer or one that will last forever. But you reach progressive levels of clarity which give you a sense of direction and fulfillment.

As a designer, it is more important to focus on personal connections represented in your passion, rather than on creating some material thing. You can steer your job to spend more time exploring the tasks you are passionate about and the people you like to share your passion with. Look for inspirations. Reflect on what you care about. It is a good idea to know yourself as a designer and why you are enthusiastic about it. Self-discipline and management go hand-in-hand with passion so that you maintain perspective and continue to create designs. You won’t necessarily love everything you do, but your passion will keep you motivated to do it.

It’s a cycle of self-discovery. But don’t sit around waiting for the cycle to show up and start rotating. Keep trying new things. Exploring. Taking charge of your life. Revisiting things which interested you when you were younger. Thinking about things you never tire of doing. Thinking about things you do well. Recognizing things you like learning about.

What If You Have A Passion For Something, 
But You Don’t Do Anything About It?

What if you have a passion for something, but you don’t do anything about it? There could be several reasons for this.

  • You have a good job, make good money, but are not passionate about it
  • You have time constraints
  • You are afraid of change or the unknown and unfamiliar
  • Your family and social network are not supportive
  • You tried something similar before, and were not successful
  • You dislike the people you work with or play with
  • The skills integral to your passion are not in demand or favor; they don’t make you marketable, or sufficiently marketable to earn a living wage
  • You cannot support yourself during the extended timeframe it would take to develop your skills

But, I think, one of the major reasons people do not cultivate their passion is that they do not understand it. It is not a pot of gold on the other side of the rainbow. It won’t necessarily satisfy all your needs. It is a sensation without clear boundaries. It is best expressed among an audience that already is sensitive to and aware of your passion and how it fits with their own needs and desires. It is best expressed in a context in which it is respected.

Developing your passion takes work and commitment. Mastery of design does not spring from discovered passions. Instead, passion provides the motivation for you to learn and grow within the design profession. Initially, you might be pretty bad at professional tasks. They need to be learned and applied, then applied again. Eventually your mastery earns you some satisfaction, autonomy and respect.

What Are The Characteristics of a Passionate Designer?

A prominent country music star and her six-person entourage entered my store. They had heard about our jewelry design work, and were eager to see what we could make for the singer.

She had some specifics in mind. A necklace. It had to be all black. She wanted crosses all around it. Each cross had to be different. Each cross had to be black.

We accepted the challenge.

We began laying out some different ideas and options on the work table. The singer said No! to each idea. The entourage chimed in like a Greek chorus. (Admittedly a little weird and unnerving.) We weren’t really getting anywhere, so we set another meeting date. We would put together more options, and get their opinions. Agreed.

The color of black was easily accomplished. We could string black beads or use black chain or black cord. It would be a challenge to find or design a lot of black crosses, but not impossible.

We put in a lot of hours gathering materials and developing some more prototype options.

The second meeting was no more fruitful than the first. The artist and her entourage could offer no additional insights about what they wanted. Our mock-ups were unacceptable.

We ended the meeting.

We were not, however, going to throw in the towel.

In fact, we were intrigued by the puzzling puzzle put before us.

We decided we needed more information about why this country music artist wanted this necklace, what outfit and styling she would wear it with, and why an assortment of differing black crosses was important to her.

We put on our anthropology, psychology and sociology hats and played Sherlock Holmes. We approached members of her entourage individually. Her entourage was made up of her stylists. We were able to fill in a lot of the blanks by talking with them. She was going to wear this piece on the road, performing in several concert venues. We got into some discussions about her religion, more specifically, how she practiced it. The best way to describe this was a pagan-influenced Christianity. We had enough information to go by. This was particularly important in picking out crosses, and arranging them around the necklace.

They loved our prototype, and we only had to do a little tweaking.

You know you are passionate when you…

1. Start your days early

2. Passions consume your thoughts all the time

3. Get more excited about things

4. Get more emotional, frustrated and even angry about things

5. Take more risks

6. Devote more of your time and other resources to your work — working harder, practicing more, spending more time developing your skills

7. Are eager to share what you are working on

8. Fight within yourself as well as with others (friends, family, clients) about managing the balance between work and everything else

9. Are optimistic about the future

10. Surround yourself with their work

11. More easily accept (and get past) failures and consequences

12. Do not easily give in to criticism or skepticism.

13. Have focus and plan things out more

14. Inspire others

15. Radiate your passions

Three Types Of Passions For Design

There are three types of passions designers might cultivate:

(1) The Passion To Do Or Make Something
 (2) The Passion For Beauty and Appeal
 (3) The Passion For Coherency

(1) The Passion To Do Or Make Something

The designer’s passion is focused on an activity. They believe it is possible to make something out of nothing. Designers do, see, touch, compose, arrange, construct, manipulate. This passion is very hands-on and mechanical. Its drive is orderly, methodical, systematic, and directional.

(2) The Passion For Beauty and Appeal

The designer’s passion is focused on beauty and appeal. They believe it is possible to do whatever it takes to create or develop something of beauty. Designers select, feel, sense, compose, arrange, construct, manipulate. This passion is very emotional and feeling. Its drive follows the senses, the intuitive, the inspiration with an eye always on the ultimate outcome — beauty and appeal.

(3) The Passion For Coherence

The designer’s passion is focused on resolving tensions, typically between the need for beauty concurrently with the need for functionality. They believe it is possible to resolve these tensions. Designers think, analyze, reflect, organize, present, resolve, solve. This passion is very intellectual. Its drive is meaning, content, sense-making, conflict resolution and balance.

Whatever type of passion you see yourself as pursuing, it is passion nonetheless which motivates your creativity and sustains your attention long enough to get something done for someone else and fulfill their desires.

How Does Being Passionate Make You A Better Designer?

Not every professional designer is passionate about what they do. Nor do they have to be in order to do a good job and make money.

Passions do not solve your problems at work — the stresses, the difficult interpersonal relationships, the need to find people to pay you for what you do. They guide you to better resolve them.

Passions make the work extra special. The work becomes less a job, and more a process of continual growth and self-actualization. Passions help you more easily clarify the ambiguous and unfamiliar. They help you more readily overcome obstacles. They assist you in finding that sweet spot between fulfilling your needs and intents, and meeting those of others who work with you, pay you for what you do, critique, evaluate and recommend you.

Having a passion for something does not equate to having a professional career. Careers don’t necessarily happen because you have a passion for them. But it is great to have your career and passion co-align. You have to build upon your passion, implement it, fine-tune it, and manage it over time.

The secret for successfully bringing all this together — your desires, the tasks you want to do and those you are required to do, the various audiences whose acceptance in some way is necessary for what you must accomplish — is how you manage your passions.

Good passion management results in…

· More work getting done and more engagement with that work

· More work satisfaction and intrinsic rewards

· More self-actualization and development professionally

· Higher levels of creativity

· More trust in colleagues and clients

· More likely to feel purposeful and connected

· More capability in putting your imprint (your artist’s hand) on your work to the point your work is meaningful and acceptable to others

· More fix-it strategies to store in your designer tool box, allowing you to be more adaptable to new or difficult situations

Just like with all good things, too much can be damaging.

Bad passion management could result in…

· Becoming a workaholic

· Having others exploit your willingness to work, do the hard stuff, take on unnecessary challenges and strive for success

· Losing a good balance between work life and personal life

· Suffering burn-out

· Becoming too over-confident, less likely to seek feedback, less likely to collaborate, less likely to seek clarification

· Becoming irritable, stressed, rigid, unwilling to compromise

Again, your passion must be managed. You want balance. You want to set aside times for self-reflection and self care.

Don’t wait to follow your passion. Define and develop it within the context of your professional design career.

While it is not necessary to have found your passion in order to be a good and successful designer, developing your passion for design can be very beneficial and worth the effort. With passion comes greater satisfaction, self-affirmation, creativity and motivation. With passion comes a greater ability to gain acceptance from clients about what your designs mean and can do for them. People are not born with passions. They find them, often in a round-about, circuitous way over a period of time. Once found, they need to be developed, cultivated and managed. And you don’t want to get overwhelmed by your passions to the detriment of balance in your personal and work lives.

Continue with…
PART 1: Is It Necessary To Have A Passion?
PART 2: Do You Have To Be Passionate To Be Creative?
PART 3: How Does Being Passionate Make You A Better Designer?

_________________________________

FOOTNOTES

Chen, Robert. “The Real Meaning of Passion,” Embrace Possibility, March, 2015.
 As referenced: https://www.embracepossibility.com/blog/real-meaning-passion/

Financial Mechanic. “Why ‘Follow Your Passion’ Is Bad Advice,” Published: 05 July 
 2019 — Updated: 23 February 2020
 As referenced:
https://www.getrichslowly.org/follow-your-passion-is-bad-advice/#:~:text=They%20found%20that%20people%20who,interest%20if%20it%20becomes%20difficult.

Fisher, Christian. “How To Define Your Passion In Life,” Chron (Houston 
 Chronicle), n.d.
 As referenced: https://work.chron.com/define-passion-life-10132.html

Hill, Maria. “Are Passion and Creativity The Same Thing?” Sensitive Evolution, 
 11/11/2019.
 As referenced: https://sensitiveevolution.com/passion-and-creativity/

Hudson, Paul. “10 Things That Truly Passionate People Do Differently,” Elite Daily, 
 April 9, 2014.
 As referenced: https://www.elitedaily.com/money/entrepreneurship/10-things-that-truly-passionate-people-do-differently

Jachimowicz, Jon M. “3 Reasons It’s So Hard To ‘Follow Your Pasion’”, Harvard 
 Business Review, October 15, 2019
 As referenced: https://hbr.org/2019/10/3-reasons-its-so-hard-to-follow-your-passion

Koloc, Nathanial. “Why ‘Follow Your Passion’ Is Pretty Bad Advice,” Hot Jobs On 
 The Muse
 As referenced: https://www.themuse.com/advice/why-follow-your-passion-is-pretty-bad-advice

 Millburn, Joshua Fields. “’Follow Your Passion’ Is Crappy Advice,” The 
 Minimalists.
 As referenced: https://www.theminimalists.com/cal/

Pringle, Zorana Ivcevic. “Creativity Runs On Passion,” Psychology Today, 10/2019.
 As referenced: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/creativity-the-art-and-science/201910/creativity-runs-passion

Robbins, Kyle. “15 Things Truly Passionate People Do Differently,” Lifehack, 2018.
 As referenced: https://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/15-things-truly-passionate-people-differently.html

Thompson, Braden. “What Is Passion and What It Means To Have Passion,” 
 Lifehack, 10/15/2019.
 As referenced: https://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/what-means-have-passion.html

Unger, Roberto Mangabeira. Passion: An Essay On Personality. NY: The Free 
 Press, 1984.
 Book downloadable: http://www.robertounger.com/en/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/passion-an-essay-on-personality.pdf

— — — — — — — — — —

Other related articles of interest by Warren Feld:

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Backward Design is Forward Thinking

How Creatives Can Successfully Survive In Business

Part I: The First Essential Question Every Designer Should Be Able To Answer: Is What I do Craft, Art or Design?

Part 2: The Second Essential Question Every Designer Should Be Able To Answer: What Should I Create?

Part 3: The Third Essential Question Every Designer Should Be Able To Answer: What Materials (and Techniques) Work Best?

Part 4: The Fourth Essential Question Every Designer Should Be Able To Answer: How Do I Evoke A Resonant Response To My Work?

Part 5: The Firth Essential Question Every Designer Should Be Able To Answer: How Do I Know My Design Is Finished?

Doubt / Self-Doubt: 8 Pitfalls Designers Fall Into…And What To Do About Them

Part 1: Your Passion For Design: Is It Necessary To Have A Passion?

Part 2: Your Passion For Design: Do You Have To Be Passionate To Be Creative?

Part 3: Your Passion For Design: How Does Being Passionate Make You A Better Designer?

Part 1: SHARED UNDERSTANDINGS: THE CONVERSATION CENTERED WITHIN A DESIGN What Are Shared Understandings?

Part 2: SHARED UNDERSTANDINGS: THE CONVERSATION CENTERED WITHIN A DESIGN What Does The Designer Need To Know?

Part 3: SHARED UNDERSTANDINGS: THE CONVERSATION CENTERED WITHIN A DESIGN How Assumptions, Perceptions, Expectations and Values Come Into Play?

Part 4: SHARED UNDERSTANDINGS: THE CONVERSATION CENTERED WITHIN A DESIGN How Does The Designer Establish Shared Understandings?

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

I hope you found this article useful.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

Add your name to my email list.

Posted in Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

TECHNIQUE AND TECHNOLOGY IN JEWELRY DESIGN: Knowing What To Do

Posted by learntobead on May 22, 2020

TECHNIQUES AND TECHNOLOGIES:
Knowing What To Do

Warren Feld, Jewelry Designer
warren@warrenfeldjewelry.com


(Begin Top Left) Bead Stringing, Bead Weaving, Wire Working, Metalsmithing


Abstract:  Jewelry Making Techniques bring materials together within a composition.  Techniques construct the interrelationship among parts so that they preserve a shape, yet still allow the piece of jewelry to move with the person as the jewelry is worn.     And Techniques manipulate the essence of the whole of the piece so as to convey the artist’s intent and match it to the desires of wearer, viewer, buyer, seller, exhibitor, collector, student and teacher.   Technique is more than mechanics.   It is a philosophy.   Thoughts transformed into choices.   Part of this philosophy is understanding the role of technique to interrelate Space and Mass.  Space and Mass are the raw materials of jewelry forms.   Technique reduces the contrast between them in a controlled way and with significance for designer and client.   Techniques have special relationships to light, texture and ornamentation.    Technology enables us to expand our technical prowess with new materials, processes, styles and forms

TECHNIQUES AND TECHNOLOGIES:
Knowing What To Do

Technique is Knowledge, Value, Creation

Jewelry Making Techniques are more than mechanics.

Techniques are ways to implement ideas.   To transform thoughts and feelings into choices.

Techniques are knowledge, value and creation.

Jewelry Making Techniques bring materials together within a composition.  Techniques construct the interrelationship among parts so that they preserve a shape, yet still allow the piece of jewelry to move with the person as the jewelry is worn.     And Techniques manipulate the essence of the whole of the piece so as to convey the artist’s intent and match it to the desires of wearer, viewer, buyer, seller, exhibitor, collector, student and teacher.

There are many different kinds of jewelry making techniques, as well as strategies and variations for implementing them.  In fact, the jewelry designer has no proscriptions, no prescriptions, no expectations, no limits on how she or he decides to compose, construct and manipulate materials and structures and supports.    It can be a technique that is learned.   It can be one approximated.   It can be totally new, emergent and spontaneous.   It can be socially acceptable or not.   The designer can pull, tug, press, cut, carve, sculpt, emboss, embellish, embroider, sew, knit, weave, coil, bend, fold, twist, heat, cool, assemble, combine, dissolve, destruct, cast, wrap, solder, glue, wind, blow, or hammer.

In reality, it is impossible to discuss meaningfully the technique apart from the ideas, abilities and experiences of each jewelry designer, particularly in reference to knowing when a piece should be considered finished and successful.   There will be some variations in how any designer applies a technique.    This is called skill.  One might pull harder or hammer harder than another.    One might allow some more ease or looseness than another.    One might use easy solder where another might choose hard solder.   One might prefer a thinner thickness or gauge of stringing material, and another a thicker one.    One might leverage the structural properties of one material, while another might choose other materials with different properties towards the same end.   One might apply the technique, following Step XYZ before Step ABC, and another, apply the technique in reverse, altering the steps to be XYA and ABZ.

But our primary focus here is on technique apart from skill.  This lets us see why some designers are masterful at technique, while others are not.

While there are a lot of different methods and applications designers can choose from, all too often, however, when selecting techniques, jewelry designers fail themselves (and their clients).   They disappoint.  They do not understand how to select techniques.  They do not fully understand the basic mechanics.   They do not fully understand the expressive powers of techniques.

Because of this, they are unaware of the responsibilities, as artist and designer, which come with them.  In turn, they make inadequate choices.   They might choose the simple, the handy, the already learned.    They might choose what they see other designers using.    They might choose what they see in magazines and books and videos which get spelled out in Step1-Step2-Step3 fashion.

But often they are naïve in their choices.  They lack an understanding of technique and its philosophy.    They do not understand that there are lot of things more to any technique beyond its simple mechanics.   Techniques are not step-by-step.    They are a collection of knowledge, skill, understanding, choices, decisions, tradeoffs, intents with implication and consequence.    Techniques anticipate shared understandings between artist and audience about finish and success.

Moreover, jewelry designers often do not recognize that each and every technique can and should be varied, experimented and played with.    They do not understand that techniques do not work or accommodate every situation.    That is, jewelry designing is not a “Have-Technique-Will-Travel” type of professional endeavor.    Techniques need to be selected and adapted to the problems or contexts at hand.

They do not understand that there is more to techniques than securing an arrangement of elements.   They do not understand that techniques must find some balance or tradeoffs between maintaining shape(s) and managing support(s), that is movement, drape and flow.

They do not understand how their choice of technique, and the decisions they make about how to apply it, influence the response of others to jewelry materials and forms they create.    Technique, compounded by skill, can be very determinative of outcome.

SPACE AND MASS AND A PHILOSOPHY OF TECHNIQUE

Space and Mass are the raw materials of jewelry form.   Space is void.   Mass is something.    Some jewelry depends more on the expression of Space; others more on the expression of Mass.     Whatever the designer’s goals and intents, Technique permits a reduction of the contrast between space and mass.  Towards this end, Technique communicates the significance of a mass within a space by controlling it.   Publicly demonstrating this control communicates intent, meaning and expressiveness.

The jewelry artist begins by confronting a void.    There is space, but there is nothing in it.    Space.

Into this space or void, the artist introduces mass.    This may begin with a point or a line or a plane or a specific shape or color or texture or pattern.    More mass is added.     Mass.

The designer sets boundaries, places and distributes things, brings things together, determines the scale, signifies directions and dimensions.    The designer begins to co-relate the mass to the space around, within, or through it.    Mass on Space.

The designer regulates the relationship and relative importance of the surface of the mass to the entirety of the mass itself.  Sometimes the mass (or its surface) is expected to be static.   Sometimes it is expected to move.   Occasionally ornamentation is added.     In the context of jewelry, some of this mass should be able to hold a shape; other of this mass should be able to move, drape and flow when worn.     Mass on Mass.

Technique makes something out of nothingness.    It is designed.    It is constructed.   The act of implementing a technique – that is, revealing a pattern of choice behaviors — is communicative.    It has intent.    Mass, Space, Intent.

Eventually, the designer applies Technique to this mass, and in so doing, creates composition.   Things are assembled.   They are pulled together.  The mass suddenly has order.   It has organization.   It is communicative.     It interacts with the desires others place on it.   It evokes an emotional response.     It references a context or situation in which it is to be worn.   Mass, Space, Intent, Content.

Thus, things placed within the space are pulled together, juxtaposed, connected, inter-related in some way.   We call this composition.     Composition might mean how the jewelry designer

–         Treats the surface

–         Emphasizes dimension

–         Joins units

–         Impresses into things, onto things or through things

–         Pulls or Stretches or Twists things

–         Covers, embellishes, frames or exposes things

–         Asserts or changes the scale

–         Determines sizes, shapes and volumes

–         Arranges, Places, Distributes things

–         Relates positive to negative space

–         Creates a rhythm, form or theme

–         Expects things to move or be static

–         Anticipates who might wear it, how it might be worn, and where it might be worn

A piece of jewelry becomes a wholly finite environment within what otherwise would have been nothingness.     But filling this space with form is not enough.   It is not the end of the designer’s role and responsibility.

With order, organization and communication come significance, meaning, implication, connectedness and consequence for everyone around it.    Expression occurs.   An explanation or story emerges.

The designer must give this mass-in-space a quality other than emptiness.    It must have content, meaning, purpose.  The designer must allow this mass-in-space to be enjoyed.   Again, expressed.   Much of this comes down to materials and techniques.

That means the designer must impose upon this space some personal Philosophy of Technique—hopefully employing artistic and design knowledge, skill and understanding.     This philosophy is how this designer thinks-like-a-designer.   It becomes a key part of the designer’s fluency, adaptability, and originality as a professional.    It is how the designer touches things and brings things together.    This is a philosophy of selection, implementation and management of mass-in-space which

–         Balances, equalizes, meditates

–         Restricts

–         Releases

–         Senses and newly senses

–         Becomes a standpoint, a flashpoint, or a jumping off point

–         Sees new possibilities, forecasts, anticipates or expects

–         Creates and re-creates feelings

–         Plays with tolerances, stresses and strains

–         Makes things parsimonious where enough is enough

–         Results in things which are finished, successful and resonant

The mass has form and arrangement within space.    It begins to convey sensation and feelings and content and meaning.    But the designer still has not completed the job.     Jewelry cannot be fully experienced in anticipation.    It must be worn.   It must be inhabited.    It must communicate, interact, connect.     Any philosophy of technique must account for all of this.    Mass, Space, Intent, Content, Dialectic.

The elemental parts and their pleasing arrangement into a whole must allow it to be enjoyed by others.    Be influenced by it.   Persuaded.   A desire to touch it.   See it.   Wear it.   Buy it.   Display it.   Show it to others.   Others, on some level, must accept the designer’s Philosophy of Technique, that is, the designer’s definition with intent for manipulating mass within space, in order to

–         Recognize how to look at it and react to it

–         Understand how to wear it

–         Be inspired as the artist was inspired

–         Feel the balance, harmony, variety, cacophony, continuity, interdependence among spaces and masses

–         Anticipate the effects of movement, drape and flow

–         Get a sense of psycho-socio-cultural release

–         Get a sense of psycho-socio-cultural restriction

–         Know when the piece is finished and successful

–         Judge the piece in terms of value and worth

–         Assess the risk within some context of wearing or purchasing it

–         Assess the risk within some context of sharing it with others

Designers over time gain fluency in their philosophies of several techniques.    Such fluency is recognized and comes to the fore when Techniques serve the desires, understandings and values of both designer and client.    Techniques and the philosophies (ways of thinking) which underly them must fully communicate the particular intent, concepts and experiences expressed by the jewelry designer.   They must anticipate, as well, the particular shared understandings others have about whether the piece will be judged finished and successful.

Designer and client have a special relationship which comes to light within the composed, constructed and manipulated piece of jewelry as it is introduced and expressed publicly.

Through Technique.   Through Skill.    And a Philosophy.

 

 

TECHNIQUES INVOLVE RELATIONSHIPS

Techniques, and the relative skill in applying them, are used to resolve the relational tensions underlying the craftmanship, artistry and design of any piece of jewelry.     How these relationships are implemented and managed affect how the finished jewelry will be perceived sensorially, sensually, and symbolically.     These will affect how the wearer/viewer recognizes the artist’s intent.    These will affect how the wearer/viewer sees their desires reflected within the piece, thus the value and worth of the piece to them.

In design terms, this is called Expression.    Expression in design is the communication of quality and meaning.     The designer expresses quality and meaning through the selection, implementation and application of technique.    We sometimes refer to this as skill.    A technique will have a function.      It will have a set of mechanics and processes.    It will have purpose.    There will be variations in how the mechanics and processes will be put into effect.    Sometimes it will require a stiffening up; othertimes a loosening up.    A pressing or pulling harder or softer.   A curving or straightening.   A transformation from 2 dimensions to 3 dimensions.  Repositioning.   Altering texture.

The technique, its function and application will further get interpreted and transformed, that is, expressed, into wearable art.    Similar to how sounds are made into music.    And how words are made into literature.     There is an underlying vocabulary and grammar to jewelry design, from decoding to comprehension to fluency.

Some aspects of expression are universal, but perhaps most are very subjective, reflective of the interpretations and intents (philosophies) of the artist, the wearer/viewer, and the general culture.    Because of this, each and every expression of design through technique will have to resolve some underlying tensions.     Of special concern are these tensions and relationships:

  1. Aesthetic (beauty) vs. Architectural (function)
  2. Should Parts Be Considered Center Stage or Supplemental
  3. Special Relationship to Light and Shadow
  4. Special Relationship to Texture
  5. Special Relationship to Color and Ornamentation
  1. Aesthetic vs.Architectural

Jewelry Design all too often is viewed apart from the human body, as if we were creating sculptures, rather than wearable art.     Yet its successful creation and implementation is not independent of the body, but moreso dependent upon it.    It must feel good, move with the body, minimize the stresses and strains on the components and materials.    And look good at the same time.

This sets up a tension in the relationship between the Aesthetic and the Architectural.    The problems of jewelry design extend beyond the organizing of space and mass(es) within it.   The designer must plan for and create a harmonious and expressive relationship between object and body and between object and person as the object is worn.    This often means compromising.    Trading off some of the aesthetics for more functionality.

Before you choose and implement any technique…

STOP
ASK YOURSELF:
What about this technique and the steps involved in implementing this technique will help my piece maintain its shape (structure)?

Before you choose and implement any technique…

STOP
ASK YOURSELF:

What about this technique and the steps involved in implementing this technique will help my piece move, drape and low (support)?

 

  1. Should Parts Be Considered Center Stage or Supplemental

The question becomes how the various parts or segments of the jewelry should relate to one another.    We might have strap, a yoke, a centerpiece or focal point, a bail, and a clasp assembly.    The tension here becomes whether the jewelry as a whole should be judged critically as an expression of art and design, or only the centerpiece or focal point should be so judged.

With the latter, the non-center/focus parts of the jewelry are seen merely as supplemental.     This is similar to how a frame functions for painting or a pedestal for a sculpture.

With the former, each segment or component part cannot exist or be expressive apart from any other.     The piece must be judged as a whole.   The whole must be more resonant or evocative than the sum of its parts.

Here we begin to question what exactly technique is.    Is it only that set of mechanics and processes applied to only a section of the whole piece of jewelry?    Or is it how the designer makes choices about construction and manipulation from getting from one end of the piece of jewelry to the other?

 

  1. Special RelationshipTo Light And Shadow 

Light and shadow are both critical design elements to be manipulated as a part of the jewelry designer’s active decision making process.   Yet, light and shadow affect the experience of any piece of jewelry in ways which are outside that designer’s scope and control, as well.

Light and shadow are necessary for the expression of the artist’s intent and inspiration in jewelry.    Because light and shadow move, change character, and come and go with their source, light and shadow have the power to give that mass of component parts a living quality.     This effect is compounded (or foiled) as the wearer moves, changes position, travels from room to room or inside to outside.

The designer cannot control all this, but should be able to predict a lot of this behavior, and make appropriate design choices accordingly.

The designer can channel light through the selection of materials and their reflective, absorptive and refractive properties.   The designer can play with color, pattern and texture.    The designer can be strategic about the placement of positive and negative spaces.   The designer can arrange or embellish surfaces in anticipation of all this.   The designer can diffuse light or transform or distort colors.    The designer can add movement or dimensionality to enliven their forms.   The designer can even use light or shadow to hide things which might negatively affect the overall aesthetic.

The points, lines, planes and shapes incorporated into any piece of jewelry become receptacles of light and shadow which can change in character or form as time progresses, people move and contexts change.    An important part in the success of jewelry designs is played by the quality and intensity of light (and shadow) within context.

 

  1. Special RelationshipTo Texture

Jewelry is experienced both tactilely and visually.

Sometimes these complement each other; othertimes, they compete or conflict.   Texture plays a major role here.    On the one hand, it expresses something about the quality of the materials used.   On the other, it gives a particular quality to light and shadow, and their interplay with the piece as worn.

Designers often select materials partly based on their tactile textures.    They might also alter these textures to expand on the variety of expressive qualities that might be offered.    The stone might be used as is.   It might be smoothed and polished.   It might be roughed up, carved or chiseled.   The material might end up expressing something about the natural state or about refinement and sophistication.

Visually, the designer makes many choices about how to employ the materials.      They may emphasize verticality over horizontality.    Projecting over recession.    Slow or fast rhythm.    Opacity may be altered.   The designer produces differing visual expressions based on patterns and how lighting of the surface conveys the sensory experience of these patterns.

A single texture, whether the goal is tactile or visual, is rarely employed alone in jewelry design.      The actual variety of materials and treatments produces a complex of textures that must be composed and harmonized and resonant into the jewelry’s expressive and consistent whole.

 

  1. Special Relationship To Color and Ornament

Color is a characteristic of all jewelry making materials.     It is a constant feature of any piece of jewelry.    Materials might be selected for their color and visual appeal.   Techniques might be selected for their ability to enhance or play with color and its visual appeal.

Yet, on the other hand, other jewelry making materials and techniques might be selected primarily for their structural properties – that is, their ability to be used to  create, maintain, and retain shape or silhouette.   They might be used as mere armature or to create that armature.   The colors of these materials or the effects resulting from how techniques manipulated them may not be suited to the expressive goals of the designer.    Because of the nature of jewelry making techniques and components, there also may be an unintended or unwanted absence of color, such as gaps of light between beads.

Thus, because of these kinds of things, materials with more suitable expressive colors, either as is or as manipulated, are added to the surface as embellishment and ornamentation.   Sometimes these materials are dyes or coatings or fired-on chemicals.    Sometimes these materials are more substantive materials like glass, gemstone, wood or shell.

These ornamental materials may cover parts of the surface or hide the entire surface of the piece.    They may disguise it.   They may be used to alter how color is perceived and experienced.    They may completely change the experience.      But without technique, and a philosophy of technique, these ornamental options may make it impossible to achieve the sensory, visual or structural powers the ornamentation is meant to provide.

The tension arises when the designer makes choices whether the ornamentation is to be used to enhance the expressiveness of the piece as originally designed (applied ornamentation), or, whether the ornamentation is to be used to create a completely different meaning, decorative motif, or symbolic expression, regardless of appropriateness to that original design (mimetic ornamentation).

Applied ornamentation enhances the designer’s power and control to assert intent and inspiration within the jewelry.   Often applied ornamentation makes some reference to the underlying structures behind it.  But the designer needs to be careful that this doesn’t turn into merely applied decoration.    As ornament, whatever is done is integral to the piece.   As decoration, it is not.

Mimetic ornamentation is often used to make a piece more familiar, more accepting, more reassuring to various audiences.   It might be used to disguise something.  It might have symbolic value.   Here, too, the designer needs to be careful that this doesn’t turn into merely applied decoration.

A third consideration is whether the ornamentation is critical to the jewelry’s functioning or materials (inherent ornamentation).     It is important that it be organic to the piece.    That is, it should derive directly from and be a function of the nature of the jewelry and the materials used.     It may allow size adjustment.    Its placement may reinforce to overcome vulnerabilities.    It may redistribute stresses and strains.    It may aid in movement.   It may assist in maintaining a shape.    It may rationalize color, texture and/or pattern within and throughout the piece.

 

SURVEY OF JEWELRY MAKING TECHNIQUES

There are many, many different types of techniques used in jewelry making.    Each encompasses basic mechanics.    Each is implemented within a procedure or process.    Each is a form of expression.

These techniques or forms of expression differ from each other in terms of the choices the designer makes about how mass should get related to space for creating composition.  They differ in how structure (shape) is created and preserved, and in how support (movement, drape and flow) is built in, achieved and maintained.   They differ in how pattern and texture is created or added.    These techniques differ, apart from the materials used, in how people interact with them, aesthetically, functionally, sensorially and sensually.

These techniques are not mutually exclusive, and are often combined.   It is up to the designer to select the technique or techniques to be used, maximizing the strengths and minimizing the weaknesses of each.    Usually, the designer, when combining techniques, will want one technique to predominate.    The designer does not want the underlying philosophies of two or more techniques to conflict, compete, or not coordinate.

 

Stringing, Bead Weaving

Beads and other components are assembled together into a composition and silhouette.    The stringing materials range from the very narrow, like beading thread, cable thread and cable wire, to thicker, like bead cord, leather, waxed cotton, ribbon, satin cord, and braided leather.     The stringing materials are often hidden, and typically play a supplemental role to the beads and other components within any composition.

Philosophy of Technique:    Objects are placed and assembled together within a space in relationship to the direction and linearity of some type of stringing material or canvas.    There is great attention to the use of points and lines, usually within a singular plane.    Shapes are basic, often only in reference to a silhouette.    Minimal attention is paid to dimensionality.

A piece is made stable by the rigidity of the stringing material or canvas.  The stringing material or canvas is able to withstand tension and compression.

Often, designers place too much reliance on the clasp assembly to provide support (movement, drape and flow), instead of embedding support elements (rings, loops, unglued-knots, hinges, springs, coils, rivets, rotators) throughout the piece.    In a similar way, often designers place too much reliance on the placement of objects on the canvas (that is, stringing material) for maintaining structure (shape), instead of other elements that could be used to maintain shape, while mitigating against stress and strain.

Each stringing and bead weaving technique and its procedures and processes for implementation rely on part of the implementation to maintain a shape, and on part of the implementation to allow for movement, drape and flow.      The particular technique used to assemble the beads (and related components) sets the tone in pattern, shape, form and texture.   Some stringing and bead weaving techniques are great at maintaining shapes.   Other techniques are good at allowing for movement.    The better techniques are good at accommodating both structure and support.

 

Knotting, Braiding, Knitting, Crocheting

The stringing materials take center stage, either in combination with other elements, or alone.    The composition may or may not include beads and other components.     Occasionally glue is used, but its use should be minimized.

Philosophy of Technique:  Within a space, the artist places and intertwines various types of stringing materials.    The artist varies tightness and looseness, placement and distribution of sizes, volumes and mass to achieve the dual goals of structure and support.

A piece is made stable by the rigidity of the intertwining (knotting, chaining, braiding) of the stringing material or canvas.  The intertwined stringing material or canvas is able to withstand tension and compression.

Each strategy for knotting or braiding attempts to simultaneously achieve structure and support.  The technique might vary the placement of fixed points with the use of chaining to create lines, forms and planes within the composition.   Considerable attention is paid to the positioning of positive and negative spaces.

There is a lot of attention to the use of line.     These techniques allow for incorporation of various strategies for achieving a sense of dimensionality.    The shapes may be allowed to stretch or contract, allowing easy response to issues resulting from stress or strain.    Texture is a major emphasis.

 

Embroidery, Embellishment, Fringing

Elements are attached to the surface of the canvas.   This surface is often referred to as the foundation or base.    These elements may be glued or sewn or woven on.    The canvas typically plays a diminished or supplemental role, though this is not a requirement.

Philosophy of Technique:   The space available has been defined by a particular canvas.    This might be a string.    This might be a flat surface.    Elements are placed on and secured to this surface; the mechanics here relate to structural goals.    The pliability, manipulability, and/or maneuverability  of the canvas relate to support goals.

A piece is made stable by the rigidity of the stringing material or canvas.  The stringing material or canvas is able to withstand tension and compression.

The embellishment may be used to create a particular image, or pattern, or texture.    Often it is used to add a sense of dimensionality and/or movement to a piece.    It invites people to want to touch the composition because it adds a very sensual quality to a piece beyond the characteristics of the materials or colors used.

 

Stamping, Engraving, Etching


 

Elements are embedded on or worked into the surface of the canvas.    The canvas may be comprised of any material.

Philosophy of Technique:   The space available has been defined by a particular canvas.    This is typically a flat surface of some kind, but not limited to any one material.    Structural, as well as support, goals depend on the physical, functional and chemical properties of the canvas.    Sometimes these properties are altered through the application of the techniques.    Texture and pattern are major focuses.

A piece is made stable by the rigidity and material strength of the canvas coupled with that canvas’s ability to maintain its integrity after it has been physically or chemically altered.  The resulting canvas is able to with stand tension and compression.

 

Wire Working, Wire Wrapping, Wire Weaving

Hard Wire is manipulated into forms which hold their shape, serve as structural supports, or create pleasing patterns and textures.

Philosophy of Technique:    The designer places wires into a space.    The wires may be bent to form lines, planes, shapes and forms.    The wires may be interwoven, bundled together, coiled, or otherwise anchored or tied together to create a canvas and form the basic foundation of a piece of jewelry.

During the process of applying a wire technique and creating a piece of jewelry, the physical properties of the wire must be changed.   The designer takes wire, applies a technique to it, and continues to apply the technique until the wire is stiff enough to hold a shape.    Each time you manipulate wire, it gets harder and harder and harder.    If you manipulate it too much, it will become brittle and break.    The wire can be pulled, coiled, bent, twisted, or hammered.

A piece is made stable by the stiffness or hardness of the canvas and its material strength, where it is stiff enough to hold a shape, but not so stiff as to become brittle and break.   The resulting canvas is able towithstand tension and compression.

Considerable attention must be paid to strategies of support, that is, how things get joined and jointed.    That is, whatever the piece of jewelry, it must be able to move freely, and withstand all sources of stress or strain.

For example, hard wire would not be used as a stringing material.   If you put beads on the hard wire to create a bracelet or necklace, the wire would distort in shape when the piece is worn, but not return to its original shape.    In this case, you would have to create several segments or components using the wire, and then make some kind of chain to create that jointedness and support.     Picture a rosary which is a bead chain made of wire.

 

Metalsmithing, Fabrication, Cold Connections

Here metal is shaped and formed into a broad, layered canvas or a series of canvases we call components.    Layers of sheet, wire and granules, or a series of components may be combined in some way, either to create a more complex composition, increase a sense of dimensionality or movement, or allow for jointedness, connectivity and support.    The designer might use heat and solder – fabrication.    Or the designer might use rivets, hinges, loops, rings, rotators – cold connections.      The layers  or the series of components may be textured or not.

Philosophy of Technique:   Into a space, the designer places pieces of metal.     These pieces of metal may sit side-by-side, on top of each other, overlap, sit perpendicular or at an angle.   The components are attached together, using heat and solder, glue, or cold connections.    Each layered canvas or component is a composition unto itself.

Canvases and components are rigid shapes and are constructed to withstand stress and strain.   When constructing a piece of jewelry, typically the designer interconnects various components in a way which allows movement, drape and flow.

Interconnected components may be thematic or tell a story.

A piece is made stable by the rigidity and material strength of the canvas after it has been successfully altered through shaping, heat, soldered connection, glue or cold connection.    The resulting canvas is able to withstand tension and compression, up until the point it bends or dents.    Usually, if that happens, the piece can be unbent or undented.     Considerable attention must be paid to strategies of support, that is, how things get joined and jointed.

 

Casting, Modeling, Molding, Carving, Shaping

Here a material is reconfigured and altered into some kind of shape or form.    The material may be rigid, like wood or stone.    It may be malleable like clay or casting material.    The material, once altered, may or may not be subject to additional actions to change its physical, functional or chemical properties, such as the application of heat or cold or a chemical bath.

Philosophy of Technique:  The material is positioned within a space.    As it is manipulated, it most likely will alter its relationship to that space.    It will be able to play many roles from point to line to plane, and from shape to form to theme.      The designer must be critically aware of how the technique will alter this relationship between space and mass, and light and shadow, and how these in turn, will affect form and composition.

A piece is made stable by the rigidity of the canvas after it has been shaped.    Cast pieces have difficulty responding to strong forces.   The resulting canvas is able to withstand tension and compression only to that point before it crumbles and breaks.

Structure and support considerations can either be built into the resulting component, or components may be treated in similar ways as in metalsmithing.

 

Lampworking, Wound Glass, Encasing

Rods and stringers of glass are heated by a torch and wound around a steel rod called a mandrel.   Sometimes shards of glass, sometimes with abstract patterns, sometimes representative of realistic images, are laid on the hot glass, and covered (encased) by a transparent glass wound over them.    The result is a bead or pendant or a small sculpture.

Philosophy of Technique:  The material slowly enters and occupies a defined space.    The artist plays with different types of glass, glass colors and transparencies, rods of glass, pieces of glass, ground up glass, and metallic foils.    Things are placed and layered and spiraled.   Surfaces can be altered by tools.   Once begun, the artist must take the technique to completion.    Thus, the artist’s ideas, focus, and intent are very concentrated and intense.      Glass as a material requires the manipulation of the interpenetration of mass with space.

A piece is made stable by the properties of the glass.  The resulting canvas is able to withstand tension and compression to the extent the properties of the glass will allow.

 

Glass Blowing

Air is forced through a steel straw.     At the end of this straw is a blob of molten glass.    The air forces it to hollow out.     As this happens, the artist rolls it, hammers it, textures it, domes it, otherwise shapes it until it is a finished piece.    The artist may roll the glass over other pieces of glass, to melt them into the piece.    As the glass cools, the result might be a bead or a pendant or a small sculpture.

Philosophy of Technique:  The material expands within a space.   This space may be very narrow and defined, or very expansive, perhaps ill-defined.    The resulting object has surface and interior and exterior spaces.    The qualities of the surface create a play between mass and space, and their interpenetration.

A piece is made stable by the properties of the glass.  The resulting canvas is able to withstand tension and compression to the extent the properties of the glass walls will allow.

 

Computer Aided Design (CAD), 3-D Printing

Here the artist uses computers to aid in the creation, modification, analysis, or optimization of a design.   The output is typically in the form of electronic files or technical drawings for 3-D printing, machining or other manufacturing operation.    3-D printing takes a CAD model and builds it, material layer by layer in an additive manufacturing fashion.     Frequently, the 3-D printed object is a casting mold, rather than the finished piece.

Philosophy of Technique:   CAD can place points, lines and curves within a 2-dimensional space, or curves, surfaces and solids within a 3-dimensional space.    CAD can simulate motion and its impact on any object.   It can take into account other parameters and constraints.   The final technical output must convey more than information about shape.   It must convey information about the extents to which various materials may be used in the design, their dimensions and tolerances.   It must convey information about the pros and cons of processes the artist might use in the design.

One pay-off for the artist is that the computer can detail many more ways, and many more unexpected ways, to relate mass to space than typically thought of without it.

 

 

HOW TO LEARN TECHNIQUE

A good design, poorly executed, is not worth all that much.

So, how do we learn techniques is ways which help us develop ourselves as designers and be fluent in how we select, implement and apply them?

We need to be very aware of what influences us in our

o Selection of Technique

o Implementation of Technique

o Application of Technique

Selection: Anticipating What Will Happen If And When

We begin to develop our fluency in technique at the point of selection.      To select a technique is to anticipate what will happen to the piece of jewelry after it is designed, constructed and worn.    This involves all our senses from thought to touch to sight.

When we touch a piece constructed using a particular technique, how will it feel?   Will it curve or bend?   Will it curve or bend in the direction we need it to?    Will it drape nicely on the body?   Move easily with the body?  Feel comfortable when worn?    Will it hold its shape?

When we see a piece constructed using a particular technique, what will be the resulting pattern and texture?   What will be the interplay of light and shadow?    Will it look good from all sides when sitting on an easel?   Will it look good from all sides when someone is wearing it?    When that person is moving?   Will all color issues be resolved?

We play a What-If game.    What-If we used a variation on the technique?   What-If we used another technique?   What-If we combined techniques or sequenced them or staggered them?  What-if we settled for a little less beauty to achieve better movement, drape and flow?

We might do some research.    Has the technique been used by another artist or in another project you were attracted to?    Was it used successfully?   Did it work well in terms of structure and support?    Did it contribute to (or at least not detract from) the visual appearance of the piece?

We might do some pre-testing.    Will the technique hold up to our expectations?   Will it still work with some variation?    Will it work under differing circumstances?

We are honest with ourselves about our biases.     Will we pick something only because we have done it before?   Or we are very familiar with it?   Or it is the easiest or path of least resistance?

 

Implementation: Basic Mechanics and Processes     

We want to learn the basic mechanics of each technique in a way which highlights their philosophies – that is, how we think them through.    We think about managing:

–         Structure and Support

–         How To Hold The Piece To Work It

–         How To Distribute Stresses and Points of Vulnerability

–         How To Create A Clasp Assembly

–         How To Finish Off The Piece

 

 

Structure and Support.   To begin, we know that each and every technique has as part of its mechanics and processes some aspects which help us create and maintain structures (shape).     And each and everytechnique has some aspects which help us create and maintain support (movement, drape and flow).     We want to be able to break down any technique so that we can recognize what results in what.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holding The Piece To Work It   Next, the basic mechanics also includes strategies for how to hold the piece while you work it.

Picture yourself as an artist.    An artist has an easel and something to use as a clamp to hold things in place.

A bead weaver would use their forefinger on one hand as an easel, pressing the developing bead work project against it, and then take their thumb on that same hand, and clamp down over the work to keep it in place.

A silversmith might use a steel bench block as an easel, and a vice as a clamp.

Someone doing braiding or knotting might use a clipboard as an easel and a bulldog clip as a clamp.

Your challenge is to hold the piece in such a way that you maximize your ability to implement a technique all the while maximizing the strengths of that technique and minimizing its weaknesses.    This is called leveraging.    You use whatever it is that is equivalent to the artist’s easel and clamp in such a way that you can successfully leverage the technique for your purposes.

Holding your piece correctly also sends signals to your hands telling you when each individual step is completed, and when you are finished.

 

 

Distribute Stresses and Points of Vulnerability.   

In any piece of jewelry, it can be expected that the stress-bearing and strain-bearing strengths and weaknesses of each component will be unevenly distributed throughout the pieces.   That is, there will be some areas or points in the piece of jewelry which will be vulnerable to stresses and strains.   This may cause the piece to break or lose its shape or otherwise disrupt its integrity.

The jewelry designer needs to be able to easily look at a piece or its sketch or design plan and identify all the points of vulnerability.     After identifying these, the designer will need to figure out ways to compensate for these weaknesses in design.

Usually points of vulnerability occur in these places or situations:

  • Where the clasp assembly is attached to the piece
  • At the beginning and the end of the piece
  • Along the edges
  • Corners and inside corners
  • Where components have very sharp holes or edges
  • When using materials which degrade, deteriorate, bleed, rub off, distort, are too soft
  • Where there is not an exact fit between two pieces or elements
  • Where there is insufficient support or jointedness

These points of vulnerability may need reinforcement.    More support or structural elements may need to be added.    Things may need to be re-located or positioned within the design.    They may need to be eliminated from the design.

Most often, places of vulnerability occur where the structures or supports in place take on the shapes of either HLT, or U.    Think of these shapes as hazards.  These shapes tend to split when confronted with external or internal forces.   They tend to split because each leg is often confronted with different levels or directions of force.   The legs are not braced.     These hazardous shapes cry out for additional reinforcements or support or structural systems.

 

 

The Clasp Assembly.    The “CLASP ASSEMBLY” usually consists of several parts.  It includes everything it takes to attach the clasp to your beadwork.    Besides the Clasp itself, there are probably jump rings and connectors, crimp beads, clamps, cones, end caps or other jewelry findings.

Visually, the Clasp Assembly is part of the vernacular of the piece.     Ideally, it should seem organically related to the piece or at least a logical inclusion.

Structurally, the Clasp Assembly should hold the piece together as the piece is worn.     It may have some impact on maintaining the shape of the silhouette.

Most importantly, the Clasp Assembly should be put together as a support system. It is the most important support system in any piece of jewelry.  Support systems used in a necklace or bracelet are similar tothe joints in your body.   They aid in movement.   They prevent any one piece from being adversely affected by the forces this movement brings to the piece.   They keep the piece from being stiff.   They make the piece look and feel better, when worn.

The Clasp Assembly of any piece of jewelry should be designed first before the rest of the piece is designed, or designed currently with the rest of the piece.   Too often, jewelry designers select the clasp after they have finished the rest of the piece.    They do not seem to understand how the clasp assembly is an integral part of the implementation of any technique.    In this case, not only does the clasp assembly look like it was the last choice, but it usually falls short of meeting its visual, structural and support roles.

 

 

Finishing Off The Piece.    We always need to step back and reflect whether the piece as designed and implemented will be judged as finished and successful by each of the myriad audiences we hope to please.      Will their judgments confirm or reject our philosophy of the particular technique(s) we used?

It is the challenge for the designer not to make the piece under-done or over-done.   Each and every material and component part should be integral to the piece as a whole.

 

 

Application:   Achieving Expressiveness 

Expressiveness refers to the power of the piece of jewelry to fit with both the designer’s as well as all other’s expectations about desire, connectedness, power, value and worth.    This is one and the same thing as measuring the extent to which both materials and techniques can be seen to have been leveraged, to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses.

A technique has been applied in the most expressive way at that point where the design elements and the materials  selected have been composed, manipulated and constructed in the most optimum way.   We can judge the degree of expressiveness by honing in on two concepts:   Parsimony and Resonance.

 

Parsimony (maximum applied impact):    Parsimony is when you know enough is enough.  When the finished and successful piece is parsimonious, the relationship of all the Design Elements and their expressed attributes will be so strong, that to add or remove any one thing would diminish, not just the design, but rather the significance of the design.

Parsimony is sometimes referred to in art and design as Economy, but the idea of economy is reserved for the visual effects.  For jewelry designers, we want that economy or parsimony to apply to functional and situational effects, as well.   The designer needs to be able to decide when enough is enough.

Parsimony…
– forces explanation; its forced-choice nature is most revealing about the artist’s understandings and intentions

– relies on evidence moreso than assumptions to get at criticality

– focuses examination of the few elements that make a difference

 

Resonance  (coherency of applied impact):  Resonance is some level of felt energy that is a little more than an emotional response.    The difference between saying that piece of jewelry is “beautiful” vs. saying that piece of jewelry “makes me want to wear it”.   Or that “I want to touch it”.   Or “My friends need to see this.”

Resonance is something more than emotion.   It is some kind of additional energy we see, feel and otherwise experience.   Emotion is very reactive.   Resonance is intuitive, involving, identifying.    Resonance is an empathetic response where artist and audience realize a shared (or contradictory) understanding without losing sight of whose views and feelings belong to whom.

Resonance results from how the artist applies technique to control light, shadow, and their characteristics of warmth and cold, receding and approaching, bright and dull, light and dark.   Resonance results from how the artist leverages the strengths of materials and techniques and minimizes their weaknesses.   Resonance results from social, cultural and situational cues.   Resonance results from how the artist takes us to the edge of universal, objective understandings, and pushes us every so slightly, but not too, too far, beyond that edge.

 

Jewelry which resonates…
– is communicative and authentic

– shows the artist’s hand as intention, not instinct

– evokes both an emotional as well as energetic response from wearer and viewer

– shows both degrees of control, as well as moments of the unexpected

– makes something noteworthy from something ordinary

– finds the whole greater than the sum of the parts

 

– lets the materials and techniques speak

– anticipates shared understandings of many different audiences about design elements and principles, and some obvious inclusion, exclusion or intentional violation of them

– results from a design process that appears to have been more systemic (e.g., ingrained within an integrated process) than systematic (e.g., a step-by-step approach)

– both appeals and functions at the boundary where jewelry meets person

 

 

TECHNOLOGY AND JEWELRY DESIGN

The potential of technology merged with craft is infinite.

Technology includes things like,

–         New methods, processes and materials

–         New ways to implement ideas

–         Ability to generate new styles

–         Opportunity to create meaningful forms

–         Unseen contributions to aesthetic structure and composition

–         Less costly and/or more production-friendly methods for creating pieces, especially for projects which might not otherwise get implemented

New materials and composites are created and enter the marketplace every year.

New ways of extracting, shaping, finishing, stabilizing materials come on line each year.

Computer Aided Design (CAD) and 3-D printing provide the tools to jewelry designers to create things beyond their imaginations.

Electroforming  enables the creation of lightweight pieces from various metals.

Lasers are used to weld, cut and decorate.

Laser-Sintering melts powdered metal, layer by layer, into a finished piece.

Jewelry makers and beaders frequently come up with new techniques, mechanics and processes for creating jewelry.     Technology provides creatives with original ways of expression.

“Smart” elements are getting introduced into some designs, transforming your jewelry into a smart device.    These might measure health and fitness; might change color and appearance to suit different environments or clothing; might warm or cool the body.

 

 

TO WHAT EXTENT SHOULD JEWELRY DESIGNERS
RESPOND TO TECHNOLOGY?

Technology is a very powerful tool.    Combined with craftmanship, it can create a new language of shape, object, and sensation.    We have to be careful, however, that we use technology to support jewelry which is hand-made, and not supplant it.

The use of technology allows the designer to create new forms and materials that otherwise would not exist.   Technology often translates into convenience and more rapid production.   In today’s globalized world, this might offer a competitive edge.     Technology also enables more customization, and faster customization.    Again, in a globalized world, this would offer a competitive advantage.     Technology encourages us to look forward, rather than back, for our inspirations and insights.

Again, it is important to emphasize that we do not want all this technological efficiency to diminish the act of “creativity”.    We don’t want to standardize everything and reduce everything into a set of how-to instructions.     We want to expand our creative abilities.   We want to increase the power of the designer to produce pieces reflective of the artist’s hand.     We want our jewelry to be as expressive as possible of the needs, wants and desires of our various clientele.

 

The impact of jewelry on our professional practice.   Whether we use new technologies in our professional practice, or not, we cannot escape them.   We must be up-to-date and aware of technological impacts on what we do and how we do it.

The impact of technology on work and jobs was the focus of an opinion piece in the New York Times by David H. Autor and David Dorn.

As jewelry designers, we are living through and with all the positives and negatives that arise through this technological change.

  • How has technology affected what we do as designers?
  • How has it affected what we do to survive and thrive as designers?
  • Have we mechanized and computerized the jewelry design business into obsolescence?
  • How have you had to organize your jewelry designer lives differently?
    given the rise of

-The internet,
-Ebay, Etsy and Amazon.com
-Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram
-New technologies and materials like precious metal clay, polymer clay, crystal clay, 3-D printing

  • What has happened to your local bead stores? Jewelry stores? Boutiques?
  • What has happened to bead and jewelry making magazines?
  • If you teach classes for pay, or sell kits and instructions, how do you compete against the literally millions of online tutorials, classes, instructions and kits offered for free?    How does this affect what you teach or design to sell as kits?
  • If you sell jewelry, how do you compete against the 60,000,000 other people who sell jewelry online?   How does this affect your marketing, your pricing, your designs?
  • If you make part of your living doing the arts and crafts show circuit, will there still be a need for this in the future?

 

_________________________________________

FOOTNOTES

Autor, David H. and Dorn, David.   “How Technology Wrecks the Middle Class”, New York Times, August 24, 2013.

          As reference in:
https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/24/how-technology-wrecks-the-middle-class/

 

Posted in architecture, Art or Craft?, art theory, bead weaving, beadwork, design management, design theory, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Oy Ve! The Challenges of Custom Work

Posted by learntobead on April 14, 2020

CANYON SUNRISE for music artist attending awards ceremony. Piece had to reflect nature.

I am a jewelry designer, and have been doing custom jewelry design for over 30 years. It’s challenging. It’s fun. But it can be a headache. Here are some lessons I have learned which I want to share with you.

When I began my jewelry making career, one of the smartest things I did was take on repairs. I learned so much. With each repair, I was able to re-construct in my mind the steps the jewelry designer made when creating this piece of jewelry — choices about stringing materials, clasps, beads, and how to connect everything up. And at the same time, I could see where these choices were inadequate. I could see where the piece broke or wore down. I could question the customer about how the piece was worn, and what happened when it broke.

And with each repair, I gained more knowledge from yet another jewelry designer’s attempt to fashion a piece of jewelry.

All these repairs resulted in more self-confidence about designing jewelry and designing jewelry for others. And, just as important, it led to more custom work.

28 COINS NECKLACE for poker player, includes coin pearls and jade good fortune carving

When you do custom work, I think you need an especially steeled personality to deal with everything that can go awry.

First comes the fitting. You take some initial measurements, but after the piece is made, the perspective changes, and so do the desired measurements.

Then comes a lot of customer indecision — colors, lengths, beads, silhouettes, overall design. They have a sense of what they want, but often have difficulty articulating the specifics.

Or they want to use several gemstones, but want them all to have the exact same markings and coloration.

Or they want to use several colors which really don’t harmonize well with each other.

Or they want to use components which are not easily available.

And not to forget to mention the sometimes questionable taste.

Or the possibilities of infringement of other jeweler’s designs, when the customer wants you to re-produce something they saw in a magazine or on-line. Identically.

And then time-frame. Can I finish the piece by the time the customer wants it done?

SOUNDTRACK::Color for folk musician who wanted something similar to a piece worn by Alanis Morissette. Client wanted all these colors (with raspberry as the dominant color) incorporated into this micro-macrame piece.

We discuss pricing, where all-to-often many customers seem resistant to paying anything for my time, which for custom designed pieces, is considerable. I walk them through the detailed process ad nauseum so they get the gist of all the work involved.

And last, payment. It’s not so easy to get some people to pay.

I still do a lot of custom work. But I delay a bit, sitting down and actually constructing the piece. I have a lot of discussions with the client. If there are color or materials questions, I usually present the client only 3 colors or materials at a time, and ask them to choose which they prefer. Then another 3-at-a-time forced-choice exercise, until things get narrowed down.

I photo-shop a lot of images — different colors, designs, beads — with the client, and get a lot of feedback. As I assemble all the information, I sketch/photo-shop what a final piece might look like. I superimpose this image on a mannequin to show the customer what it might look like. I have the customer formally sign-off on a final design. And only then, do I begin to construct the piece.

I try to develop in my mind a type of behavioral profile on each client. I pay attention to the styles of clothing they wear, the colors, how much jewelry they wear, and what that looks like. I spend time asking where, when and how they will be wearing the jewelry. I ask if they any expectations about the reactions they want or expect from others, when wearing the jewelry. I try to elicit the reasons why they are purchasing this custom piece, and whether it is filling any gaps they perceive in their wardrobe. I try to get a sense of how elaborate or simple they want the finished piece to be.

I give the client a realistic deadline. If the client needs the piece sooner, we discuss right up front where I will need to make process changes, in order to meet the reduced deadline.

It’s important to make everything about the design process and my management steps which I need to take predictable and clear right up-front. I don’t want to present the client with any surprises.

I require a 50% deposit up front.

I agree to make some adjustments for 6 months after the customer has the piece in hand.

I have a .pdf Certificate of Authenticity which I sign and give to the client. I name each piece (and if it is part of a series, that series will have a name as well), and this information is included in the Certificate. The Certificate also states my 6-months of adjustments policy.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Oy Ve! The Challenges of Custom Work

The Importance of Self-Promotion: Don’t Be Shy

Are You Prepared For When The Reporter Comes A-Calling?

Don’t Just Wear Your Jewelry…Inhabit It!

Two Insightful Psych Phenomena Every Jewelry Designer Needs To Know

A Dog’s Life by Lily

Copyrighting Your Pieces: Let’s Not Confuse The Moral With The Legal Issues

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Jewelry Design: An Occupation In Search Of A Profession

Teaching Discplinary Literacy: Strategic Thinking In Jewelry Design

Contemporary Jewelry Is Not A “Look” — It’s A Way Of Thinking

Beads and Race

Were The Ways of Women or of Men Better At Fostering How To Make Jewelry

The Bridesmaid Bracelets

I hope you found this article useful. Be sure to click the CLAP HANDS icon at the bottom of this article.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

Add your name to my email list.

Posted in Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

JEWELRY MAKING MATERIALS: Knowing What To Know

Posted by learntobead on December 31, 2019

 

JEWELRY MAKING MATERIALS

Knowing What To Know

by Warren Feld

Abstract:

There are no perfect jewelry making materials for every project.   Selecting materials is about making smart, strategic choices.    This means relating your materials choices to your design and marketing goals.   It also frequently means having to make tradeoffs and judgment calls between aesthetics and functionality.   Materials differ in quality and value.   They differ in their sensorial effects on people.   They differ in how people perceive them.  They differ in the associational and emotional connections which they evoke.   They differ in their functional efficiency and effectiveness to lend pieces an ability to retain a shape, while at the same time, an ability to move, drape and flow.    They differ in cost and durability.  Last, materials may have different relationships with the designer, wearer or viewer depending on how they are intended to be used, and the situational or cultural contexts.

JEWELRY MAKING MATERIALS:
Knowing What To Know

The materials I use are alive

The world of jewelry design and the materials used can be complex, especially for jewelry designers just starting out in their careers. The novice, but also the more experienced designer, as well, often run up against some terms and properties of materials they have not dealt with before. Materials affect the appeal of the piece.    They affect its structural
integrity.   They affect the cost.   They affect how people view, sense, desire and understand the piece.

You Would Be Very Aware Of…

If you want to gain an understanding of materials, you would be very aware of where they come from, how they are described, sold and marketed.   You would be very aware of the beads and jewelry findings and stringing materials and tools, their qualities, when they are useful and when they are not, and what happens to them when they age.   You would be very aware of what country the material is made or found in, how the material is manufactured, synthesized or gotten at, if it is modified or changed in any way, and how it comes to market.   You would be very aware if the product is sold at different levels of quality, even if this is not differentiated on the product’s label.   It is also important to be very aware how any of these aspects of the material have changed over time, or might change over time in the future.

You would be very aware that there is no such thing as the perfect material.   There are only better materials, given your situation and goals.   There is no perfect bead for every situation.   No perfect clasp.  No perfect stringing material. Every choice you make as a jewelry designer will require some tradeoffs and judgment calls.   The more you understand the quality of the materials in the pieces you are working with are made of, and the clearer you are about your design goals, and if you are selling things, your marketing goals, as well, the more prepared you will be to make these kinds of choices.

You would be very aware that materials have different values and life spans, and this must relate to your project goals.   You would not want to use metalized plastic beads, for example, in a piece you call an heirloom bracelet.   Metalized plastic beads are a metal shell around a milky white plastic bead.   The shell will chip easily.   On the other hand, when doing fashion jewelry, these very inexpensive beads, and which have a short life-span, would be perfect.    Not only are they cheap, but because they are cheap, there are lots and lots of designs and shapes and textures.   

If your goal is to create more investment quality pieces, then you would not want to buy lampwork beads which have not been appropriately annealed (that is, if not cooled down correctly, they will fracture and break easily).    You would buy appropriately annealed ones, but which are considerably more expensive.    This may affect the look of your pieces.     For an inexpensive, fashion oriented piece, your necklace made up entirely of lampwork beads which have not been appropriately annealed might be very affordable.    It would have that great handmade, artisan look.  It might sell for only $60.00.    With more investment quality lampwork beads, however, you might just use one, or perhaps three lampwork beads, and
have a lot of cord showing, or a lot of filler beads, to keep the piece
affordable.    This would be a very different design look and style.    If the
necklace was made up of all quality lampwork beads, — to have the same look and style as its inexpensive cousin — it might have to retail for $600-800.00.

Again, for an investment quality piece, you would want to use crystal beads manufactured in Austria or the Czech Republic, and not ones manufactured elsewhere.    And you would not let yourself be fooled when the front of the package says “Austrian Crystal” when the back says “Made In China”.    Crystal beads made in China are not as bright, there are more production issues and flaws in the beads, and the holes are often drilled off-center when compared to their “Made In Austria” counterparts.   But crystal beads more appropriate for that investment quality piece might be overkill for a fashion piece where you want to add a pop of brightness without a lot of additional cost.

You would want to be very aware of the treatments of beads and metals.     Some things are radiated, heated, reconstituted, partly synthesized, lacquered or dyed.    Sometimes this is a good thing and these treatments enhance the quality of materials in appearance and durability.   Othertimes this is a bad thing, negatively affecting the quality of materials.  

You would be very aware that many of the materials you use are described in ways that do not provide you with sufficient information to make a choice.    Take the material gold-filled. The definition of gold-filled is that the material is a measurable layer of real gold fused to brass, sometimes copper.   But the legal definition does not tell you how thick the gold has to be over the brass for the material to be called gold-filled.    So in the market, some gold-filled has very little gold and will lose its gold very quickly, and other gold-filled has a thicker layer and will keep its gold, its shine and its shape for decades.    

Or sterling silver.  Sterling silver is supposed to be 92.5% silver (marked .925).    The alloy, that is the remaining 7.5%, is supposed to contain, by law, a lot of copper. However, many manufacturers substitute some nickel for the copper to keep the cost down.   This makes the sterling silver less expensive, yes, but it also makes it more brittle.   It is the difference between being able to open and close the loop on an ear wire, off of which to hang the dangle, many, many times or only two or three times before the wire loop breaks. 

Lots of sterling silver items get marked .925.   And in jewelry making, many of the pieces we use are so small, there is no .925 stamp on them.     Besides a change of what is in the alloy affecting the usefulness and value, many other things happen in the marketplace, as well.    Many sterling silver items have been cast.   What frequently happens is that some of the silver is lost in the casting process, so it is no longer at 92.5%.   Manufacturers are supposed to make note of this, but many just stamp .925 on these items.   Some shops label items as sterling silver, but in reality, are selling you pieces that are nickel.    And some places will sell you something silver plated, and put sterling silver .925 tag which is marked .925 on it off the clasp.    The tag is sterling; the jewelry is not.   I’ve seen some major craft stores and some major jewelry stores sell metalized plastic jewelry and jewelry components and label it .925.

Flexible, nylon coated cable wires are one of the primary types of stringing materials.    The measure of cable wire strength is called tensile strength.   This has to do with what the wires are made of, what the nylon sheathing is made of, and how thick that nylon sheathing is.   What makes the wire strong is the nylon sheathing’s ability to maintain the twist in the wire.   As soon as the integrity of the nylon sheathing is violated, the wire untwists and immediately breaks.  You will not see tensile strength referenced on the labels of these products. The information that is referenced (number of strands, wire thickness) gives you some information needed to make a choice, but insufficient to make an actual choice.   Even when they list the number of strands, this doesn’t give you enough factual information to depend on.   One brand’s high-end, 7-strand is stronger and more supple than that same brand’s 49-strand middle range product.    This same brand’s middle range 49-strand product is stronger and more supple than another brand’s high end 49-strand product.

You would also be very aware that you cannot assume that there is consistency and uniformity for any given product.   There are many production issues that arise in the manufacture of glass beads, for example.   Some beads are perfect.   Some have flaws.  These flaws might include some flat surfaces when everything should be rounded.   The color not going all the way through.   Holes drilled off-centered.    Bead sizes and hole sizes inconsistent from bead to bead. Some bead holes that are especially sharp.    Some beads which have coated coloration which is poorly applied and chips off quickly.    In clothing, these beads with flaws would be labeled irregulars, but they are not so labeled in beads.    Some companies specialize in selling you perfect manufactured glass beads; other companies specialize in selling you the irregulars.    They don’t advertise that fact.    Either quality looks the same when you buy it; they just don’t hold up the same in close examination or from wear.

You would be aware that fabricated and stamped metal pieces are more durable than cast metal pieces, but a lot more expensive, and with a smaller palette of designs for the artist.    You would be aware that the measure of pound strength on any label is the weakest piece of information to grab onto.   The law only defines how pound strength should be measured.    Since most products are manufactured abroad, little care is taken to guarantee the validity of this information.   

You would be aware that there are a lot of things to know about the materials used in jewelry design.

It Is All About Choices

Materials play a significant role in jewelry design.   You need to relate and justify the choices you make about selecting and using materials to your design goals (and your marketing goals, as well).    Sometimes your choices are preformulated and planned; othertimes, these choices are spontaneous and emerge within your process of design.   But these are all choices to be made, with inevitable impacts and consequences.

It is through the characteristics and qualities of the materials that the designer comes to keenly and fully appreciate values, intents, desires, and understandings associated with any design.

It is also through the most effective presentation specific to the materials that the designer experiences the piece to its best advantage and potential.     The effectiveness results from the designer’s ability to maximize the strengths of each material, while minimizing its weaknesses.    This is called leveraging.

It is a useful exercise, as well, to attempt to simplify the materials and reflect upon whether the piece feels more satisfying and successful, or less so.    One key goal of any designer is to reach a point of parsimony where enough is enough.

Appreciation of materials, their selection, use and arrangement lead the designer to see, feel, think and listen to the visual poetry laid out before them.    Jewelry is more than functional adornment.    It resonates.   Materials contribute to this.   This appreciation allows the artist to share inspiration and intent with other audiences, the wearer and viewer included.   The materials influence the artist in discovery, expression, invention, re-invention, and originality.   They become part of the human experience in jewelry design.


For example, you might be in a situation having decide whether to purchase an $80.00 strand of 6mm round garnet beads, or a $28.00 strand of these same beads. 

In that $80.00 strand, all the beads actually measure 6mm.    They are all perfectly round.   The holes are drilled well, and drilled through the center.    There are no chips at the hole.   There is good coloration, and the coloration from bead to bead is very consistent.

In that $28.00 strand, none of the beads measure 6mm.    They are a bit smaller, perhaps 5.5mm.    The beads from bead to bead on the strand are not consistent.   Sizes are approximate, not exact.   Several beads on the strand are not perfectly round.   Some have flat surfaces on them.   There are many chips at the hole, suggesting that they are not drilled well.    Some are drilled off-center. The coloration is good from afar, but a close exam reveals that some beads are less desirable than others.

This situation doesn’t present an easy choice, however.    If you are making fashion jewelry, the less expensive strand might be the best choice.    Fashion jewelry is not worn for a long time.   It is not an investment.   It is a look.    These beads are less expensive.   In this context, the flaws, in this case, may not be so much as a flaw, as more a variation.    The variations might enhance the fashion piece, adding a sense of fun, surprise and funkiness.    The poorly drilled holes might mean that these beads will crack and break from wear, but given that fashion jewelry is not worn for a long time, this is a non-issue.

If you are making a more investment quality piece, the more expensive garnet beads might be the better choice.   They have more value, resulting from the higher quality.    The consistency in quality results in a more classic, timeless look.    These beads will last a long time.    Here, the inconsistencies in the less expensive strand of beads definitely would be viewed as flaws, not variations.

Types of Materials

One of the most fundamental and practical aspects of jewelry design is the importance of the materials.    The choices jewelry designers make when selecting materials influence the form, content and movement of their pieces.     Every material brings something special to the creative process and the finished jewelry pieces.    The material influences, not only the designer, but the wearer and viewer themselves, how they perceive it, the values they place on it, and the extent they desire it.

The types of materials jewelry designers might choose are only limited by the imagination of the designer, and that designer’s budget.     I have compiled a short listing of the more prevalent materials used in jewelry design.    I distinguish those materials called

Stringing Materials

which are used to form the canvas of our jewelry,

from those materials called

Aesthetic Materials

which form the primary visual vocabulary and expressiveness of the piece, but also may contribute some functionality,

from those materials called

Functional Materials

which solely or primarily have practical value, but only sometimes, most likely inadvertently, add to the aesthetic expression of the piece.

STRINGING MATERIALS
(The Canvas)

The canvas is the part of the piece of jewelry onto which things are placed.     The canvas is usually some kind of stringing material, and the things placed on it typically are beads and charms.    The canvas supports the piece, its shaping and its silhouette.  It may or may not be visible in the piece.    But the canvas can be anything, including fabric and ribbon, wire mesh, chains, and the like.   It can be like a string, or it can be like a flat sheet.

The designer selects the canvas or stringing material based on a vision of the structure of the piece, including both its supportive requirements as well as its appearance-related qualities.     The particular selection will also impact the durability of the structure.    Sometimes the selection of canvas takes on a symbolic meaning, such as using hemp in friendship bracelets or antiwar jewelry, or using leather in biker jewelry.

(  (1)Beading thread:    Typically shaped like a typewriter ribbon, made from bonded nylon.   It is something we wax before using it. Materials are strung onto thread using a beading needle.    The thread is attached to the clasp assembly by tying knots.   Glue should never be applied to these knots.   If the beading thread is twisted, rather than bonded, it will break very easily.

Structure:   Piece is very supple and moves, drapes and flows very easily.   Provides little resistance to the weight of materials placed on it

Durability:   Very durable when waxed, unless the holes of beads are very sharp

 


(2) Cable thread:    This is a material where threads are braided together and encased in a nylon sheathing.    Used similarly as beading thread.   You use a needle.   Waxing is optional, but strongly suggested. You tie knots to the clasp assembly.  Glue should never be applied to these knots.   Cable thread sold in bead stores is non-biodegradable.    That sold in fishing stores or fishing departments is biodegradable.

Structure:  Piece is very supple and moves, drapes and flows easily, but
not as easily as with beading thread.

Durability: Very durable, but the nylon sheathing can be compromised easily from body oils, perfume oils, and cosmetics.    Waxing will protect the nylon sheathing.

 


(3) Bead cord, hemp, knotting cord:   This is a material where threads or
fibers are braided or twisted together so that they look pretty.     This cord
is used when you want the stringing material to show, such as putting knots
between beads, or where you have a cluster of beads, then the cord showing, another cluster of beads, the cord showing, and so forth.   You use this material to macramé, knot, braid, knit, and crochet.    You do not wax this material.   That would make it look ugly.    The primary purpose is to make your piece look attractive when the stringing material is to show.    Bead cord may be nylon or silk.    You use silk with real pearls, but, I suggest using the nylon with other materials.    You will need a needle, usually a collapsible eye or big eye needle.   You tie knots to secure the cord to a clasp assembly. You minimize the use of glue applied to knots, but you usually need to apply glue to the final knot.

Structure:  Piece is a little stiffer than with bead thread or cable
thread, but still feels supple.    Will drape well, but respond imperfectly to
the movement of the body.

Durability:  Silk naturally deteriorates in 3-5 years; nylon does not.   Bead cord made from other natural materials will also deteriorate over a relatively short period of time.

 


(4) Cable Wires:  This flexible stringing material consists of wires braided together and encased in nylon.    The strength comes from the ability of the nylon sheathing to keep the twist in the wires.   If the nylon sheathing is compromised in any way, the wires will immediately untwist and the cable will break at that point.     The wire is stiff enough to be its own needle.   You use crimp beads to secure the cable wire to a clasp assembly because it is more difficult to tie a secure knot with the cable wire. A crushed crimp adds a more pleasing appearance than tying a knot, but it adds risk.   A crushed crimp is like razor blade, always trying to saw right through the cable when the jewelry is worn.

Structure: Piece will be stiff, and never take the shape of the body.  Piece will typically rotate in the opposite direction from the movement of the body or arm it rests on.

Durability:  Very durable.   The nylon sheathing can be compromised easily from body oils, perfume oils, and cosmetics.  Usually crimp beads are used to secure the clasp, and these increase the risk the cable will break at the crimp, when compared to the durability of tying a knot.

 

(5) Stretchy Cords, like elastic string,
gossamer floss, elastic cord:
  These materials are not particularly durable and lose their elasticity over time.    People like these because they hate clasps, and you don’t use clasps with these.    You secure these by tying knots, and putting glue (any glue except superglue) on the knots.  Be sure
to coat the bottom of the knot, as well as the top of the knot.  Elastic
cord is fabric covered around an elastic thong or floss.

Structure:  Piece will stretch and return back to its original shape and size.

Durability:   Material deteriorates and loses both its integrity as well as its memory over time, especially if left exposed to the air, or worn frequently.   The round elastic string is the most durable among the stretchy cords.   The floss is the least durable.

 


(6) Thicker cords like leather, waxed
cotton, ultra suede lace, rubber thong, and rat tail (satin cord):
  These cords are stiff enough to be their own needle.   You usually need special jewelry findings, such as crimp ends, end caps, or cones with larger interior openings, to prepare the ends of the thicker cord, so that you can attach a clasp assembly.   Some are glued on; some crimped.

Structure: Similar to bead cord, but little stiffer.

Durability:  Some cords, like leather, dry out over time and crack.    Other cords, like waxed cotton and ultra suede, last a very long time.    The rat tail tends to shred.

 


(7) Hard Wire:  Hard wire is not a stringing wire, per se.   You can use it to make a chain or bead-chain.   You can use it to make shapes, like clasps and ear wires.   You can bundle it so that it might be stiff enough to retain the shape of a bracelet or cuff.    You can weave it or knit it to create patterns and textures.   You create loops and rings to attach hard wire to a clasp assembly.

Structure: Wire stiffness comes as dead soft, half hard and hard.   You determine, given how much manipulation of the wire you plan on doing, how stiff you want the wire to be when you begin your project, so that it will hold and retain its shape.    Each time you manipulate the wire, it becomes stiffer and stiffer and stiffer, until it becomes brittle and breaks.

Durability: Very durable.   Wire 18 gauge or thicker has little risk of losing its shape, distorting, breaking, opening up or pulling apart.    As you get thinner, the risk increases dramatically.    Dead soft wire requires a lot more  manipulation until it can hold its shape, than half hard or hard hard wire.

     (8) Chain:Wire is bent into links of various shapes and sizes, and
these are interlinked together into a chain.   Sometimes the links are soldered closed.   Usually they are not.   You can string things onto the chain.   You can use the chain as part of the clasp assembly, often to make the size adjustable.    You can use the chain as a design element throughout your piece.

Structure: Thinner chains will be less able to keep their shape.

Durability: Chains can be very durable, particularly ones that have soldered links, wider links, and/or links created from thicker gauge wires.

(9) Ribbon, fabric:These wider cords are sometimes used as a stringing
material.    They are secured at each end with ribbon or bar clamps, which then form either side of your clasp assembly.

Structure:   Usually, these don’t by themselves support a shape.

Durability:  More aesthetic than functional

 

(10) Lacy’s Stiff Stuff, Stiff Felt, Ultra suede sheet, Paper, Card Board, Poster Board, Rolled Out Polymer or Metal Clay, Brass Cuff Blank:The canvas or stringing material does not have to be a narrow cord.   It can be a wide, flat surface, off of which to bead, glue, stitch, embroider, carve, or sculpt.   This  type of canvas needs to have some amount of stiffness to hold a shape, but not too much that the jewelry made with it feels uncomfortable, or does not move naturally with the person.

Structure:   If you were creating a pendant, you might want your
canvas o be a little stiffer than if you were creating a bracelet.

Durability:   Average durability

(11) Fused Glass:Sometimes the flat canvas is a piece of
glass.    Other pieces of glass are fused onto this, using a kiln, in order to create a pattern or image.  

 Structure:   Rigid shape.

Durability:  Same as any other piece of glass.

 

(12) Metal Sheet and Wire:Sometimes we fabricate a piece of
jewelry, either using soldering, stamping, molding, casting, 3-D printing, or cold connections.    Part of the sheet and/or wire becomes our canvas or stringing material.

Structure:  These are very reliable materials for creating and maintaining
shapes.

Durability:   Soldered and stamped pieces are much more durable than molded or cast ones.    3-D printed materials would be used with casting.    Cold connections could be used with any technique.

 

 

 

AESTHETIC MATERIALS

The canvas either passes through various aesthetic materials, or these are applied to the canvas or attached off the canvas in some way.    These aesthetic materials are used for the yoke, the clasp assembly, the frame, the focal point, the center piece, the strap, and the bail.    

Aesthetic Materials are expressive.   They are part of the visual vocabulary and grammar of the jewelry.    While some play functional roles, as well, they are usually selected for their expressive powers.     Some materials evoke sensory  or symbolic responses, as well.    A touch, a feel, a color sense, sometimes a smell, which extends beyond its factual elements.

Any type of material can be selected to use as an aesthetic material.    It can be something very specific, or a found object, or some kind of combobulation of things.  

Aesthetic Materials we see often include,

·
    Glass, Fused glass, lampwork glass, blown glass

        Metals and Plated Metals

·      Fibers

       Natural (gemstones, wood, bone, horn)

       Synthetic (plastic)

      Polymer and Precious Metal Clay

     Ceramic, Porcelain, Clay, Raku

      Paper, lacquered paper

      Oxidizers, Patinas, Paints, Fabric Dyes and Paints, Stains, Metal Paints and  Rouges

      Platings, Coatings

     Enameling

 

These aesthetic materials can be selected for their qualities of

(a) Appeal

(b) Functionality

(c) Sensations or symbolism extending beyond the physical and decorative bases underlying these materials

Aesthetic Materials: Appeal

The idea of appeal is a broad concept.    It is sometimes universal.   But often subjective. 

There are many variables underlying the ideas of appeal and beauty.    These include things like,


Clarity, translucence, opacity

      –Hardness, brittleness, softness, suppleness

      –Malleability

      –Luminescence, brightness, reflectiveness, refraction

      –Color, color combinations, intensity, value

      –Weight, lightness, heaviness, volume, density

      –Perceived value, worth, rarity

      –Cut, faceting, smoothness, carving, sculpting

      –Shapes

      –Direction, pointer, focal points, markings, striations, inclusions

 

Aesthetic Materials: Functionality

Some materials function better than others in certain situations.    For example, sterling silver is very malleable, nickel is more brittle.    Bending, shaping, coiling, weaving sterling silver requires much less effort, and with this, can lead to more artistic and design success, than using nickel or other wire material that is stiffer and harder than sterling.

Another example:   Using needle and thread as your stringing material is very time consuming.   It is awkward using needle and thread.   You have to wax it.   You want to pass through each bead a minimum of three times.    Using a cable wire, instead, lets you go much faster.    The cable wire is a self needle.   You don’t wax it.   You only have to go through each bead once.    If you are selling your pieces, it is virtually impossible to get your labor out of a needle and thread project.    You almost have to use a cable wire, if you don’t want to commit yourself to a life of slave labor.

 

Aesthetic Materials:  Sensations and Symbolism

Materials have sensory and symbolic powers which extend beyond the materials themselves.   Obviously, this can be very subjective.    It might have psychological roots, sociological roots and/or cultural roots.   

Things may feel warm, cold, soft, rough, oily, weighty.    Things may represent romance, power, membership, religiosity, status.

Vanderbilt University’s colors are gold and black, so using those colors in the Nashville, TN area might evoke a different emotional response than when used elsewhere.    And here’s that very-difficult-to-design-with University of Tennessee orange, again, in the Nashville area will evoke a very different response than elsewhere.

Materials like amber and bone and crystal are things people like to touch, not just look at.    The sensation extends beyond the visual grammar.

 

 

 

FUNCTIONAL MATERIALS

These materials are used in practical terms.   They help things hold together.   They help pieces stay in place.   They help make pieces adjustable in size.   They help polish, finish things off, assist materials through stages in their processing and development. They may be used to prevent or retard a change in color, such as a lacquer finish or rhodium plating over sterling to prevent tarnishing.  They help capture a form or shape.     They are not a part of the visual and expressive vocabulary and grammar of the piece.   Nor are they any kind of canvas.   

Functional Materials which are more prominent include,

·
Adhesives

      ·Solders

      ·Pickling, Flux

      ·Molding compounds

      ·Bead release

      ·Fixatives (like Krylon, lacquering, special platings, waxes, other things which create a protective barrier over something else).

 

It is especially important to know a lot about adhesives.   Many people reach for a tube of Superglue for everything.   Superglue has few uses in jewelry design.     This glue dries like glass, so the bond is like a piece of glass.    When the jewelry moves, the bond shatters like glass, and the bond looks like a broken piece of glass.   All jewelry moves when worn, so not a good choice.

Another glue many people reach for is hot glue.    This glue melts at body temperature, so not a wise choice for necklaces, bracelets and pendants.  

The best glue to use is jeweler’s glue.    Two brands are E6000 and Beacon 527.   Basically the same glue, but the former is thick and the latter is runny.    These glues take 10 minutes to set, so you can move things around for 10 minutes.   At about 20 minutes, the consistency is like rubber cement and you can use your finger or a tweezers to take off any excess glue.   Both glues take 24 hours to dry hard.    They dry clear and remain clear over time.    The bond does not expand.

If using fabric, particularly silk  (ribbon, bead cord, thread), you want to use a cement, rather than a glue.     Glues work by forming a collar around an object, then tighten up as the water or other solvent evaporates.    Cements work by adhering to each individual fiber.    Glue on fabric, as opposed to cement, will lose its grip, so to speak.   With silk, I suggest either G-S Hypo Fabric Cement, or any fabric glue.

Before using a glue, you want to know the characteristics of the bond, once dried.    These include things like,

– hardness

– whether dries clear, or yellows

– whether yellows with age

– whether it expands or not when it dries

– what materials it is most useful for

– whether you have to prepare the material’s surface before using

– how long it takes to fully set

– how easy it is to wipe away and remove any excess glue

– whether where-ever you purchase the particular brand of glue, such as at a craft store or discount store or bead store, that this brand of glue is the same quality product

– how long the glue will last in its container before hardening or drying out

Besides the importance of knowing the types of materials, it is also important to know the properties of materials.     These include (a) mechanical properties, (b) physical properties, and (c) chemical properties.

 

Mechanical Properties

Mechanical properties describe how a material reacts to an applied force.   These include,

·
Strength:   It’s ability not to break under stress or strain

·
Hardness:  How easily it can be scratched, faceted, carved, sculpted, cut, sand blasted

·
Elasticity:   The ability to regain its shape after a stress has been applied to it

·
Plasticity and Malleability:   How much force it takes to make a material permanently deform without breaking

·
Stiffness and Brittleness:  At some point, these materials will be so brittle, they will not bend, and will just break in response to force.    Wire materials, for example, get stiffer and more brittle, the more they are worked, such as from twisting, pulling, hammering, coiling and the like.    Crystal is much more brittle than glass, so it more likely to break from movement or other force.

·
Fatigue:   When the material fails, after repeated wear and use

·
Impact Strength:   how much a material can withstand an impact

·
Abrasion Resistance:   When two materials rub against each other, what is the resistance before one or both break

·
Creep: the slow movement of a material over time

 

Physical Properties

Physical properties
describe the inherent nature of the material.    Some more important ones
related to materials used in jewelry include:

·
Density:   mass and volume

·
Porosity: the quality of being full of tiny holes;
these might hold in something, like a perfume oil, or that something might
easily leach out through washing or sweating, like a dye or lead

·
Water
absorption, permeability and solubility

·
Softening and
Compression:
   how
material holds up under different conditions

·
Resistance to
Heat and Fire

·
Resistance to
Cold

·
Resistance to
a number of cycles of sharp temperature variations without failing

·
Changing form
from solid to liquid to gas

 

Chemical Properties

Chemical properties refer to how well the material holds up when exposed to chemicals.   These chemicals may be in the air.    They may be present in cosmetics, perfumes or hair sprays.   They may be present in a person’s sweat.    These include,


Corrosion

·    Melting, Dissolving, Removing

·
Etching

·
Colorizing, Oxidizing, Patinas

·
Platings

·
Bonding, Adherring

·
Biodegrading

 

We have looked at types of materials and their properties.   Now we need to understand how materials help establish the viability, finish and success of jewelry.   Here, our materials selection process begins to incorporate some value judgments.

 

 

Materials Help Establish
the Viability, Finish and Success of The Jewelry

Jewelry has character and personality.    People intuitively or consciously recognize when it is finished, that is, when the addition or subtraction of any one design element would make the piece seem less satisfying or desirable. Jewelry is judged as successful, to the extent it can maintain its shape while concurrently feeling comfortable, and moving, draping and flowing with the person, as the person wears the jewelry and moves with it on.

Every piece of jewelry has its artistic and individual character due to the many facets from which it is constructed.    Stringing, Aesthetic and Functional Materials are three of these facets.   Mechanical, Physical and Chemical Properties add some additional facets.    These among other additional material choices determine both what can be made, as well as the character of what is made.

Material selection in jewelry design is not only about choosing the most attractive, or most obvious, or most affordable, or most durable materials available.    Designers also choose materials for their sensual sensations, like warmth, their formal appearance, like classical, their functional practicality, like a clamp, or their geo-locality, like using materials found locally.   

The material selection process is complex.    It is influenced by many preconditions, choices made, and considerations to accommodate.    Too often, however, designers focus mainly on the visual aspects of the materials, and not enough on other factors.    In order to make well-considered and smart choices about materials, jewelry designers need a lot more information.    They need information about the entirety of the material, as created or constructed, as visually impactful, as functionally helpful, as perceptually and cognitively understood and as symbolically relevant for designer, wearer and viewer.

 

Selecting
Materials Is A Complicated Process

MATERIAL

(type and
property)


stringing

– aesthetic

– functional


mechanical

– physical

– chemical

JEWELRY
MAKING

 


production process

– assembly, fabrication, construction

– finishing

– accommodating temporal issues

– cost

EXPERIENCE

 


sensorial

– perception

– association and symbolism

– emotion and resonance

CONTEXT

 


of use

– physical

– historical and geographic

– socio-cultural and psychological

PERSPECTIVE

– artist

– wearer

– viewer

– seller, buyer, exhibiter, collector, student, teacher

Stringing,  Aesthetic, and sometimes, Functional Materials, coupled with their various Mechanical, Physical and Chemical properties, help to:

      (1)Establish a relationship between visual quality and structural stability (physical properties, shape, silhouette)

      (2)Establish a relationship between visual quality and support or jointedness (movement, drape and flow)

      (3)Influence the selection of the appropriate technique

      (4)Provide character and visual appeal

      (5)Reflect the time, era, and socio-cultural context and historical value of the piece

      (6)Mix aesthetic elements with functional ones

      (7)Highlight a theme or concept expressed in the design

      (8)Link the piece to a particular geography or location

      (9)Link the piece to its appropriate placement on the body

      (10) Determine the budget for the piece

      (11) Establish the relationship between quantity and quality, that is, how many similar pieces can be made

      (12) Best combine the materialistic qualities with the non-materialistic qualities of the project

 

 

 

(1) Establish a relationship between visual quality and structural stability (physical properties, shape, silhouette)

Jewelry making materials signify structural significance.    This may relate to the physical properties of the materials, such as hardness, brittleness, softness, pliability, porousness, and this list can go on and on.   This may relate to the shapes of the materials, and the placement and interaction of the shapes within the piece, or the final silhouette.    The same may be said for size, weight and volume.    This may relate to the stability of the material or its color or finish over time.

The choices and arrangement of materials within a piece of jewelry determines its structure.     Structure means shape and material integrity.     Shape in jewelry may refer to the silhouette of the piece as a whole, or to individual shapes which occupy one or more sections of our finished piece of jewelry.    It may refer to the positioning of positive and negatives areas within the piece.   When we refer to structure and shape and material, we imply structural integrity, and the degree we are able to maintain any shape, color or finish while the jewelry is worn over some period of time.

Example 1:   We may create a bracelet using Austrian crystal beads strung on a beading thread.   We achieve a high visual quality, at least initially.    But these beads will cut through the threads when the bracelet is worn, thus ending with a very low structural stability.

Example 2:  Sometimes a clam-shell bead tip is used to finish off each end of bead cord, when that is the stringing material.   The bead cord, at its end, is tied into a knot, which sits inside the clam-shell, the cord coming out a hole in the bottom of the clam shell.    We do not want the knot to work itself loose and slip through the hole.   So we glue it.   If we use a jeweler’s glue, like E6000 or Beacon 527, these glues dry like rubber.    With these glues, the knot can actually contort and work itself through the hole.    If we use a glue like Superglue or G-S Hypo Cement,
the knot will remain stiff and not be able to slip through the hole.   However, the stiff knot reduces what is called
support.   It reduces the piece’s jointedness, or ability to respond to stress and strain, thus an ability to best move, drape and flow.     An alternative to glue is to thread an 11/0 seed bead, passing through the bead twice, before bringing the cord through the hole.   This is secure.  No glue is used as all.    Full support is preserved.

Example 3:  How long a metal plated finish lasts depends partly on the metal underneath it, and if it bonds to that metal.    Metal plating bonds well to brass, so it lasts a long time before it fades away.   Metal plating does not bond at all to aluminum, so it quickly chips off.

 

(2)Establish a relationship between visual quality and support or jointedness (movement, drape and flow)

Jewelry making materials enhance or impede support or jointedness.    The selection and placement of materials, their density, weight, shape, and the like may enable the jewelry to take the shape of the body and move with the body, or not.  

Things strung on beading thread will always take the shape of the body and move with the body; things strung on cable wire will not.     But the designer has at their disposal several jewelry design tricks in construction which will make the cable wire function closer to needle and thread.

Example 1: A bracelet made up of very large beads, that when encircling the wrist, create a very stiff circle, with much strain and stress on each bead, on the stringing material and on the clasp assembly.    If the designer reworks the piece, to include small round spacer beads between each very large bead, the designer, in effect, has added what is called a rotator support system. Each very large bead can freely respond to stresses and strain which result from adjusting to the body and its movement by rotating and pivoting around the spacer bead.

Example 2:  People usually pick a clasp after they have designed their piece.   They look for something that will make do, perhaps easier to get on and off, and hopefully have some match to the piece.   A clasp, however, should be understood as more than a clasp.   It should be understood as a clasp assembly, which is a type of support system.
S-clasps are very attractive and a S-clasp design can always be found that feels an organic extension of the jewelry.   An S-clasp needs a soldered ring off of each arm, and, if stringing on cable wire, a loop in the wire where it connects to the soldered ring.      The crimp is never pushed all the way up to the clasp or ring.    Each ring or loop is a support system, so our S-clasp needs 4 support systems in this case, to function correctly.   With 4 supports on the S-clasp in a necklace, the clasp will always remain on the back of the neck, no matter how the person moves.   Without 4 supports, it will not, and the necklace will keep turning around. 

 

(3)Influence the selection of the appropriate technique

The designer must coordinate the selection of Stringing, Aesthetic and Functional Materials, and their inherent Mechanical, Physical and Chemical properties, so that they work in harmony with a particular technique used to assemble, weave, or otherwise secure them together in a finished piece of jewelry.

Conversely, the technique might dictate which materials will work best, and which will not.    Bead weaving works with thread or cable thread, but not as easily with elastic string or cable wire.

There was a time when the materials used in any one piece were restricted to a few.   Today any material can be used, as well as any combination of materials, without losing any appeal or value or desire.

Examples:  A Czech glass bead with a hole size of .8mm would not slip a leather cord with a diameter of 1.5mm.    It would be very difficult to create a loomed piece with beads of widely varying sizes.     If mixing metals (say, silver, gold and brass) in a fabricated and soldered bracelet, care must be taken in the soldering strategy because each metal melts at a different temperature.   You could not begin a wire weaving project using hard hard-wire.    We may select cable wire for our canvas. This would not be a suitable stringing material if the technique we wanted to apply was bead weaving.

 

(4)Provide character and visual appeal

The surface of a material has many characteristics which the jewelry designer leverages within the finished piece.    Light might reflect off this surface, such as with opaque glass or shiny metal.   Light might be brought into and below the surface before reflected back, such as with many gemstones and opalescent glass.  Light might refract through the piece at different angles, even creating a prism effect.

The surface might be a solid color.   It might be a mix of colors.    It might be matte.   It may have inclusions or markings.    It may have fired on coloration effects.   There may be tonal differences.    There may be pattern or textural differences.    It may have movement.   It may have depth.

Example:   It is often difficult to mix gemstone beads with glass beads.   However, if you use glass beads which have a translucent quality to them, this glass mimics the relationship of light reflecting
back to the eye with that of the gemstones.    The finished piece will feel
harmonious.

 

(5)Reflect the time, era, and socio-cultural context and historical value of the piece

Jewelry and its design and materials used can be iconic.   

Jewelry can relate the symbolic value of the piece to certain historical themes and ideas, or to specific functions.

Jewelry can be used to preserve, conserve or restore certain cultural or historical values.    The material(s) selected may glorify these.    Their availability may be closely tied to the time and place.   Their use within a piece may be socially subscribed.

Our understanding of how jewelry relates to these contexts can be used to document how jewelry and its design has evolved and spread.

Name an historical period, and you can visualize many of the materials used and design sense.    Roman. Victorian.    Prehistoric.   Modern.    

Name a socio-cultural context.     Religious.   Wedding.   Military.    American Southwest.   Any rite of passage.

Example 1:   Pearl knotted jewelry is very strongly associated with silk bead cord, pearl clasps, and bead tips.   It is also very associated with Victorian jewelry.   It would be difficult to substitute other materials and pieces, such as a different kind of clasp, or not knotting between beads, without the piece losing its appeal.

Example 2:  A rosary is made as a bead chain, with a certain number of beads, often a certain size and material of bead, with a Y-shaped connector at its center.   The rosary assists the wearer
in prayer and religiosity.   It’s specific design and use of materials
differentiates Catholicism from other religions.

 

(6)Mix aesthetic elements with functional ones

Jewelry is art only as it is worn.    Its aesthetic elements must tightly coordinate with its functional ones, if the piece is to maintain its shape and silhouette, and move with the person, without distorting, feeling uncomfortable or breaking.    Thus, its quality and durability are dependent upon how the designer successfully maneuvers the tradeoffs required between function and appeal.    A good part of this success stems from how materials are selected, combined and arranged.

Jewelry and its design preserve the aesthetic qualities, without disrupting and losing focus of the practical ones.

Example:   The clasp assembly on a piece of jewelry can be very organic, feeling an integral part of the piece.    Or it can be very disruptive and annoying, as if it were a last choice and consideration, and the designer found a clasp that would make do.   For an S-clasp to function appropriately, it needs at least one soldered ring off of the arm on each side
of the clasp.    This will force the clasp assembly to take up more space and
volume in the piece.   This too might end up detracting from the overall appeal of the piece.

 

(7)Highlight a theme or concept expressed in the design

Materials may be selected, combined and arranged into forms and themes so that they represent larger meanings and concepts.    Often this comes down to color, shape, placement, and arrangement.   The materials bring out the theme or concept in the design.

Example:    You create a piece of jewelry with a blue color scheme, using 4 shades of blue.    If the piece is to be worn, say, going clubbing in the evening, you might select 4 shades of blue (metallic blue iris, montana blue, blue quartz, cornflower) which vary in intensity. That means, varying how bright or dull they are by selecting tones with more or less underlying black, gray or white.    If the piece is to be worn, say, at work during the day, you might select 4 shades of blue (cobalt, sapphire, light sapphire, ultralight sapphire) which vary in value.    That means, varying how light or dark they are by selecting tones that are basically the same, but some
are lighter or darker than others.

 

(8)Link the piece to a particular geography or location

Materials may be strongly associated with a particular geography or location.    Lapis is strongly associated with Afghanistan.     Paint Rock with Tennessee.   

Example:  A necklace by a Tennessee designer made entirely with lampwork beads made by Tennessee artisans.

 

(9)Link the piece to its appropriate placement on the body

Jewelry can only be judged successful at the boundary between jewelry and the body.   It must be able to conform to the body’s shape.   It must be able to comfortably move, drape and flow as the person moves and shifts positions.

Materials selection might begin with what materials would be most appropriate for a given type of jewelry.    Or it might begin with what materials would be most appropriate for a certain body shape or size or placement.

Example:   Very heavy beads used in earrings can make them uncomfortable.    Creating a 4” earring dangle on a 4” head pin is not quite as a good a strategy as making a 4” earring dangle chain using eye pins.    Think about what happens to the former vs. the latter when the wearer bends her head, then returns to the upright position.

 

(10) Determine the budget for the piece

The total expenditure incurred while designing a piece of jewelry might be, to a large extent, determined by the materials used.     A designer often selects the material type based on a budget for the project.     [Techniques can also have a big impact on the cost, particularly when accounting for the time it takes to design and construct a piece of jewelry.]

Example:  A necklace made entirely of lapis lazuli beads might retail for $150.00.    A similar necklace made entirely of lapis color glass beads might retail for $25.00.    Both would look similar and take the same time to make.    

 

(11) Establish the relationship between quantity and quality, that is, how many similar pieces can be made

The choice of materials affects the quality of the elements.     Within a given project budget, and within a particular design goal, the quality of the materials may limit the number of similar pieces to be made, or the complexity or elaborateness of the design of any one piece.

Example:   A stretchy bracelet made with lava beads might retail for $15.00.    The materials – elastic string, lava beads, glue – are readily available and inexpensive.    The designer could easily make 50 of these to sell, and stay within a reasonable budget.    Change the materials to cable wire, crimp bead, horseshoe wire protector, crimp cover, black onyx beads, toggle clasp, and the investment in parts is considerably more.   We have more materials and more expensive materials.   This bracelet might have to retail for  $45.00.    Staying within the same budget framework, the designer would only be able to make 16 of these.

 

(12)Best combine the materialistic qualities with the non-materialistic qualities of the project

Every material has two over-arching qualities.   The obvious is its physical properties and physicality.    Let’s call this materialistic.   It is something that is measurable.   In the realm of the mystic, it is ordinary or profane.

But the material also has qualities that extend beyond this.   They can be sensory.   They can be symbolic.    They can be psychological.   They can be contextual.     Let’s call this non-materialistic.   It is something that is non-measurable.  In the realm of the mystic, it is extraordinary and sacred.

Both properties must be considered when designing a piece of jewelry.    They have equal importance, when selecting, placing and arranging materials and design elements within a piece.

Example:    Take a Chakra bracelet strung on cable wire with a clasp.      The beads used are gemstones.   Each gemstone has spiritual and healing properties.   Each gemstone has a coloration, and each different coloration, too, is associated with certain spiritual and healing properties.    Moreover, every individual has their own unique needs
for which set of gemstones and which assortment of colorations are best and most  appropriate.   This can get even more complicated in that each situation and context may have its own requirements.     The person may end up needing several Chakra bracelets for different occasions.     The designer could have used glass or acrylic beads, instead, which have less non-materialistic value, and might be less durable over time.    The designer could have strung the beads on elastic string without using a clasp, again, less non-materialistic value and durability.

 

 

 

LESSONS LEARNED

Selecting materials involves a complicated set of choices, some tangible, some intangible, some personal, some in anticipation of the perceptions of others.

Some lessons learned…

      1.You can use any material you want when designing jewelry

      2.Material selection is a complicated decision making process

      3.No material is perfect for every project

      4.Don’t assume you know what you know

      5.Be skeptical

      6.Always ask questions

      7.Select materials on both their aesthetic as well as functional properties

      8.Don’t sacrifice functionality for aesthetics

      9.Anticipate what might happen to your materials over time as the jewelry is worn

      10.Anticipate how your various audiences will respond to your selections of materials

      11.Work within a budget

      12.Match the quality of material to your design (and marketing) goals

 

 

 

 

Warren Feld,
Jewelry Designer

 

For Warren Feld, Jewelry Designer, (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com), beading and jewelry making have been wonderful adventures. These adventures have taken Warren from the basics of bead stringing and bead weaving, to pearl knotting, micro-macrame, wire
working, wire weaving and silversmithing, and onward to more complex jewelry designs which build on the strengths of a full range of technical skills and experiences.

In 2000, Warren founded The Center for Beadwork & Jewelry Arts (CBJA) as the educational program
for Be Dazzled Beads-Land of Odds.     The program approaches education from a Design Perspective.

There is a strong focus on skills development.   There is a major emphasis on
teaching how to make better choices when selecting beads, other parts and
stringing materials, and how to bring these altogether into a beautiful, yet
functional, piece of jewelry.   There are requirements for sequencing classes –
that is, taking classes in a developmental order.  

Theory is tightly wedded to applications throughout the program, from beginner to
advanced classes.    Since jewelry, unlike painting and sculpture, must
interrelate aesthetics, function and context, much attention is paid to how
such relationships should influence the designer.    Jewelry Design is seen as
an authentic performance task.    As such, the student explores ideas about
artistic intent, shared understandings among all audiences, and developing
evidence in design sufficient for determining whether a piece is finished and
successful.     The design educational program is envisioned as preparing the
student towards gaining a disciplinary literacy in design — one that begins
with how to decode the expressive attributes associated with Design Elements to
a fluency in the management of Principles of Composition, Construction and
Manipulation, as well as the systems management of the design process itself. 

Warrenleads a group of instructors at Be Dazzled Beads (www.bedazzledbeads.com).  He teaches many of the bead-weaving, bead-stringing, wire weaving, jewelry design and business-oriented courses. He
works with people just getting started with beading and jewelry making, as well
as those with more experience. 

His pieces have appeared in beading and jewelry magazines and books, including
Perlen Posie (“Gwynian Ropes Bracelet”,
No. 21, 2014), Showcase 500 Beaded
Jewelry (“Little Tapestries: Ghindia”, Lark Publications, 2012). One piece
(“Canyon Sunrise”), which won 4th place in Swarovski’s Naturally
Inspired Competition
(2008), is in the Swarovski museum in Innsbruck,
Austria.   His work has been written up in The Beader’s Guide to Jewelry
Design
(Margie Deeb, Lark Publications, 2014). He has been a faculty member
at CraftArtEdu.com, developing video tutorials.   

He has been selected as an instructor for the Bead & Button Show, June, 2019,
teaching 3 pieces – Japanese Garden Bracelet, Etruscan Square Stitch Bracelet,
and ColorBlock Bracelet.    In March 2020, Warren will be leading a
travel-enrichment program on Celebrity Cruise Lines, centered on jewelry
making, beginning with a cruise from Miami to Cozumel and Key West.

Personal style: multi-method, intricate color play, adaptive of traditions to
contemporary design, experimental.

Warren is currently working on a book tentatively titled:  SO YOU WANT TO BE A JEWELRY
DESIGNER… Merging Your Voice With Form.

Owner, Be Dazzled Beads in Nashville, and Land of Odds (www.landofodds.com). 

He is probably best known for creating the international The Ugly Necklace Contest,
where good jewelry designers attempt to overcome our pre-wired brains’ fear
response for resisting anything Ugly.    He has also sponsored All Dolled Up: Beaded
Art Doll Competition and The Illustrative Beader: Beaded Tapestry Competition.

Instructor, Bead & Button Show, Milwaukee, WI, 2019

Workshop Leader, Your World Of Jewelry Making Cruises, Celebrity Cruise Line,
2019-2020

 

 

_______________________________

FOOTNOTES

     (1) WASTIELS, Lisa and WOUTERS, Ine.  Material Considerations in Architectural Design: A Study of the Aspects Identified by Architects for Selecting Materials.   July, 2008.

As referenced in:

http://shura.shu.ac.uk/511/1/fulltext.pdf

Posted in architecture, Art or Craft?, art theory, bead weaving, beads, beadwork, business of craft, color, design management, design theory, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, wire and metal | Leave a Comment »

What Is Your Learning Style?

Posted by learntobead on November 17, 2019

There Are Many Ways To Learn

There are many ways to learn beading and jewelry making.

  • Rote Memory
  • Analogously
  • Contradictions
  • Assimilation
  • Constructing Meanings

Most people learn by Rote Memory.    They follow a set of steps, and they end up with something.  They memorize all the steps.   In this approach, all the choices have been made for them.    So they never get a chance to learn the implications of their choices.    Why one bead over another?  Why one stringing material over another?   How would you use the same technique in a different situation?   You pick up a lot of techniques, but not necessarily many skills.

Other people learn Analogously.    They have experiences with other crafts, such as sewing or knitting or other craft, and they draw analogies.   Such and Such is similar to Whatnot, so I do Whatnot the same way I do Such and Such.    This can work to a point.  However, beading and jewelry making can often be much more involved, requiring making many more types of choices, than in other crafts.    And there are still the issues of understanding the quality of the pieces you use, and what happens to them, both when jewelry is worn, as well as when jewelry is worn over time.

 

Yet another way people learn is through Contradictions.    They see cheap jewelry and expensive jewelry, and analyze the differences.   They see jewelry people are happy with, and jewelry people are not happy with, and analyze the differences.    They see fashion jewelry looked down upon by artists, and art jewelry looked down upon by fashionistas, and they analyze the differences.

Assimilation is a learning approach that combines Analogous Learning and Learning Through Contradictions.      People pursue more than one craft, keeping one foot in one arena, and another foot in the other.    They teach themselves by analogy and contradiction.      This assumes that multiple media mix, and mix easily.   Often, however, this is not true.    Usually one medium has to predominate for any one project to be successful.   So assimilative learning can lead to confusion and poor products, trying to meet the special concerns and structures of each craft simultaneously.   It is challenging to mix media.  Often the fundamentals of each particular craft need to be learned and understood in and of themselves.

The last approach to learning a craft is called Constructing Meanings.   In this approach, you learn groups of things, and how to apply an active or thematic label to that grouping.   For example, you might learn about beading threads, such as Nymo, C-Lon and FireLine, and, at the same time, learn to evaluate each one’s strengths and weaknesses in terms of Managing Thread Tension or allowing movement, drape and flow.   You might learn about crystal beads, Czech glass beads, and lampwork beads, and then, again concurrently and in comparison,  learn the pros and cons of each, in terms of achieving good color blending strategies.     You might learn peyote stitch and ndebele stitch, and how to combine them within the same project.

 

 

In reality, you learn a little in each of these different learning styles.    The Constructing Meanings approach, what is often referred to as the Art & Design Tradition, usually is associated with more successful and satisfying learning.    This approach provides you with the tools for making sense of a whole lot of information – all the information you need to bring to bear to make a successful piece of jewelry, one that is both aesthetically pleasing and optimally functioning.

Posted in Art or Craft?, art theory, bead weaving, beadwork, design management, design theory, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, Stitch 'n Bitch | Leave a Comment »

What Is Your Ambition/Motivation Type For Why You Became A Jewelry Designer?

Posted by learntobead on November 16, 2019

Not Just One Type Of Person

There is not just one type of person who becomes a jewelry designer.    There are many, many types of people who find jewelry design a common passion.    They may have different ambitions.   They may prefer to use different techniques and materials.    They may have different levels of financial success.    They may have different compulsions for creating jewelry.

We can differentiate people who become jewelry designers by their aspirations (1 Neuendorf, 2016) – why they became jewelry designers.    Some jewelry designers fit one type of aspiration; others, more than one.

Social Interactants

Creatives often seek out other creatives and form a social network.    They may be makers.   They may be sellers or exhibiters or collectors.     But they look for ways to interact and meet and share close-knot social ties.     Part of the reason is to learn new ideas.   Another part is to get feedback and critique.   The social group and network will offer support, advice, career and business opportunities and direction.   These are people you can lean on when times get tough.   There might even be some shared glamour and celebrity, depending on the artists and their group.

Social Interactants typically seek recognition for their efforts and their works.   The success of any piece of jewelry depends on the judgements of the various audiences which interact with it.     Social interactants allocate a good deal of their time anticipating how others will understand and react to any piece of jewelry.   They spend time seeking out opportunities to display their works publicly.

 

Compulsive Creators

There is this innate, compulsive, don’t-fight-it desire that some jewelry designers have for creating jewelry.    Composing, constructing and manipulating design elements is intrinsically rewarding.    There is a strong, profound commitment to jewelry design, and this directed energy is often associated with productivity and success.

Compulsive Creators love what they do.    It allows them to think creatively.    They allocate a lot of their time towards achieving a high level of quality and sophistication.

 

Lifestyle of Freedom Seekers

These designers like to set their own pace, establish their own routines, work when the spirit moves them.   A regular 9 to 5 job is not for them.   They like to make their own rules and be self-directive.       Any financial insecurity and uncertainty that comes with this is worth the price to pay for a lifestyle of freedom.

These designers believe that this freedom allows them to experience the world around them in a greater depth and to a greater degree.    In turn, they have more understandings for how to find and then turn inspirations into finished jewelry designs.

 

Financial Success Achievers

Successful jewelry designers can do quite well for themselves, but it takes a lot of drive, organization and business and marketing sense.    Jewelry design can be a lucrative career with such determination, gaining visibility, and a little bit of being in the right place at the right time.

But many designers primarily look for money to supplement their income or retirement.    Some look to make enough money to pay for their supplies.

Sometimes, designers make jewelry to seek wealth, rather than income.    They accumulate many pieces of jewelry and many unusual supplies and components to achieve wealth as success.

Financial Success Achievers typically try to create a business around their jewelry.

 

Happenstance and Chance

Not everyone who becomes a jewelry designer aspired to be one.   Sometimes people fall into it.   They need a piece of jewelry to match an outfit and decide to make something themselves, then get hooked.    They watch someone make jewelry, then get intrigued.    They try to repair a broken piece of jewelry by themselves.   They accompany a friend to a jewelry making class, then want to try it out.

 

 

Aspirations and ambitions vary.   There is no best way or right way.   It becomes a matter of the designer finding that balance of design, self, and other-life which works for them, and drives their passion.

Jewelry designers were motivated to become designers for many different reasons.    But motivations are only a start.   These make up only a small part of what it truly takes to be a successful designer.     Designers need to develop skills and techniques, creative thinking, design process management, and disciplinary literacy, to continue on their pathway to success.

Posted in Art or Craft?, art theory, bead weaving, beadwork, design management, design theory, jewelry design, jewelry making, Stitch 'n Bitch, wire and metal | Leave a Comment »

JEWELRY DESIGN: An Occupation In Search Of A Profession

Posted by learntobead on November 12, 2019

JEWELRY DESIGN:  An Occupation In Search Of A Profession

Jewelry design is an activity which occupies your time.   

How the world understands what you do when you occupy that time, however, is in a state of flux and confusion, and which often can be puzzling or disorienting for the jewelry artist, as well.

Is what you are doing merely a hobby or an avocation?    Is it something anyone can do, anytime they want, without much preparation and learning?

Is what you do an occupation?   Does it require learning specialized technical skills?   Is it something that involves your interaction with others?     Is it something you are paid to do?

Or is what you do a profession?    Is there a specialized body of knowledge, perspectives and values, not just mechanical skills, to learn and apply?    Do you provide a service to the public?    Do you need to learn and acquire certain insights which enable you to serve the needs of others?

Are you part of another occupation or profession, or have your own?     Is jewelry design merely a craft, where you make things by following sets of steps?

Is jewelry design an art, where your personal inspirations and artistic sense is employed to create things of aesthetic beauty for others to admire, as if they were sculptures?    Is the jewelry you create to be judged as something separate and apart from the person wearing it?

Or is jewelry design its own thing.    Is it a design activity where you learn specialized knowledge, skills and understandings in how to integrate aesthetics and functionality, and where your success can only be judged at the boundary between jewelry and person – that is, only as the jewelry is worn?

The line of demarcation between occupation and profession is thin, often blurred, but for the jewelry designer, this distinction is very important.     It feeds into our sense of self and self-esteem.    It guides us in the choices we make to become better and better at our craft, art and trade.    It influences how we introduce our jewelry to the public, and how we influence the public to view, wear, exhibit, purchase or collect the things we make.

 

What does it mean to become a professional?

At the heart of this question is whether we are paid and rewarded solely for the number of jewelry pieces that we make, or for the skill, knowledge and intent underlying our jewelry designs.

If the former, we do not need much training.   Entry into the activity of jewelry design would be very open, with a low bar.     Our responsibility would be to turn out pieces of jewelry.     We would not encumber ourselves too much with art theory or design theory.

If the latter, we would need a lot of specialized training and experience.    Entry into the activity of jewelry design would be more controlled, most likely staged from novice to master.     Our responsibility would be to translate our inspirations into aspirations into designs.    It would also be to influence others viewing our work to be inspired to think about and reflect and emote those things which have excited the artist, as represented by the jewelry itself.    And it would also be to enable others to find personal success and satisfaction when wearing or purchasing this piece of jewelry.

To become a professional jewelry designer is to learn, apply and experience a way of thinking like a designer.     Fluent in terms about materials, techniques and technologies.   Flexible in the applications of techniques and the organizing of design elements into compositions which excite people.    Able to develop workable design strategies in unfamiliar or difficult situations.    Communicative about intent, desire, purpose,  no matter the context or situation within which the designer and his various audiences find themselves.   Original in how concepts are introduced, organized and manipulated.

The designs of artisans who make jewelry reflect and refract cultural norms, societal expectations, historical explanations and justifications, psychological precepts individuals apply to make sense of themselves within a larger setting.    As such, the jewelry designer has a major responsibility, both to the individual client, as well as to the larger social setting or society, to foster that the ability for the client to fulfill that hierarchy of needs, and to foster the coherency and rationality of the community-at-large.

All this can happen in a very small, narrow way, or a very large and profound way.    In either case, the professional roles of the jewelry designer remain the same.    Successfully learning how to play these roles – fluency, flexibility, communication, originality – becomes the basis for how the jewelry designer is judged and the extent of his or her recognition and success.

Posted in Art or Craft?, art theory, bead weaving, beadwork, design management, design theory, jewelry design, jewelry making, Stitch 'n Bitch | Leave a Comment »

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Posted by learntobead on November 10, 2019

DISCIPLINARY LITERACY AND FLUENCY IN DESIGN

Jeremy thought that the only thing he could do in life was design jewelry.    He loved it.   So it was not a question of “if” or “when” or “how”.    But he told me it was always important not to get tricked by fashion.    It was mandatory not to seek the trendy object.    Not to turn away from that odd thing.    And to pay very close attention to the details of how jewelry designers think, act, speak and reflect.

I thought about his advice a lot over the years of my own career as a jewelry designer.    The disciplined designer needs to be attuned to the discipline way of seeing the world, understanding it, responding to it, and asserting that creative spark within it.

Yet jewelry design does not yet exist as an established discipline.    It is claimed by art.   It is claimed by craft.  It is claimed by design.    And each of these more established disciplines offer conflicting advice about what is expected of the designer.    How should she think?  How should she organize her tasks?   How should she tap into her creative self?   How should she select materials, techniques and technologies?   How should she assert her creativity and introduce her ideas and objects to others?   How much does she need to know about how and why people wear and inhabit jewelry?   What impact should she strive to have on others or the more general culture and society as a whole?

In this book, I try to formulate a disciplinary literacy unique and special and legitimate for jewelry designers.    Such literacy encompasses a basic vocabulary about materials, techniques, color and other design elements and rules of composition.    It also includes the kinds of thinking routines and strategies jewelry designers need to know in order to be fluent, flexible and original.   These routines and strategies are at the heart of the designer’s knowledges, skills and understandings related to creativity, elaboration, embellishment, reflection, critique and metacognition.

At the heart of this disciplinary literacy are the strategies designers use to think through and make choices which optimize aesthetics and functionality within a specific context.     These enable the designer to create something out of nothing, to translate inspiration into aspiration, and to influence content and meaning in context.

There are four sets of routines and strategies which designers employ to determine how to create, what to create, how to know a piece is finished and how to know a piece is successful.    These are,

  • Decoding
  • Composing, Constructing and Manipulating
  • Expressing Intent and Content
  • Contextual Analysis of Shared Understandings as these relate to Desire, and in line with that, Determining Value and Worth

 

 

You don’t become a jewelry designer to be something.

You become a jewelry designer to do something.

The question becomes: How do you learn to do something?

How do you learn to be fluent, flexible and original in design?     And develop an automaticity?   And self-direction?

We call this ‘literacy’.     For the jewelry designer, literacy means developing the abilities to think like a designer.    These include,

  • Reading a piece of jewelry. Here you the designer are able to break down and decode a piece of jewelry into its essential graphical and design elements.   This aspect of fluency and literacy is very descriptive.
  • Writing a piece of jewelry. Here you the designer are able to identify, create or change the arrangement of these design elements within a composition.     Fluency and literacy are very analytical.
  • Expressing a piece of jewelry. Here you the designer use the design elements and principles underlying any arrangement to convey content and meaning.     Fluency and literacy are very interpretive.
  • Expressing a piece of jewelry in context. Here you the designer are able to anticipate, reflect upon and incorporate into your own thinking the reactions of various client groups to the piece, the degree they desire and value the piece, and whether they see the piece as finished and successful.    The designer comfortably moves back and forth between the objective and subjective, and the universal and the specific.   Fluency and literacy are very judgmental.

 

 

 

Everyone knows that anyone can put beads and other pieces together on a string and make a necklace.      But can anyone make a necklace that draws attention?   That evokes some kind of emotional response?    That resonates with someone where they say, not merely “I like that”, but, more importantly, say “I want to wear that!”?    That wears well, drapes well, moves well as the person wearing it moves?     That is durable, supportive and keeps its silhouette and shape?    That doesn’t feel underdone or over done?    That is appropriate for a given context, situation, culture or society?

True, anyone can put beads on a string.    But that does not make them artists or designers.    From artists and designers, we expect jewelry which is something more.    More than parts.  More than an assemblage of colors, shapes, lines, points and other design elements.   More than simple arrangements of lights and darks, rounds and squares, longs and shorts.    We expect to see the artist’s hand.   We expect the jewelry to be impactful for the wearer.    We expect both wearer and viewer, and seller and buyer, to share expectations for what makes the jewelry finished and successful.

Jewelry design is an occupation in the process of professionalization.    That means, when the designer seeks answers to things like what goes together well, or what would happen if, or what would things be like if I had made different choices, the designer still has to rely on contradictory advice and answers.    Should s/he follow the Craft Approach?  Or rely on Art Tradition?    Or take cues from the Design Perspective?    Each larger paradigm, so to speak, would take the designer in different directions.    This can be confusing.  Frustrating.   Unsettling.

As a whole, the profession has become strong in identifying things which go together well.   There are color schemes, and proven ideas about shapes, and balance, and distribution, and proportions.     But when we try to factor in the individualistic characteristics associated with the designer and his or her intent, things get muddied.   And when we try to anticipate the subjective reactions of all our audiences, as we introduce our creative products into the creative marketplace, things get more muddied still.     What should govern our judgments about success and failure, right and wrong?   What should guide us?   What can we look to for helping us answer the what would happen if or what would things be like if questions?

Posted in architecture, Art or Craft?, art theory, beadwork, design management, design theory, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, Stitch 'n Bitch | Leave a Comment »

JEWELRY DESIGN: An Occupation In Search Of A Profession

Posted by learntobead on November 7, 2019

JEWELRY DESIGN:  An Occupation In Search Of A Profession

Jewelry design is an activity which occupies your time.

How the world understands what you do when you occupy that time, however, is in a state of flux and confusion.

Is what you are doing merely a hobby or avocation?    Is it something anyone can do, anytime they want, without much preparation and learning?

Is what you do an occupation?   Does it required learning specialized skills?   Is it something that involves your interaction with others?     Is it something you are payed to do?

Or is what you do a profession?    Is there a specialized body of knowledge, perspectives and values to learn and apply?    Do you provide a service to the public?    Do you need to learn and acquire certain insights which enable you to serve the needs of others?

Are you part of another occupation or profession, or have your own?     Is jewelry design merely a craft, where you make things by following sets of steps?

Is jewelry design an art, where your personal inspirations and artistic sense is employed to create things of aesthetic beauty for others to admire, as if they were sculptures?    Is the jewelry you create to be judged as something separate and apart from the person wearing it?

Or is jewelry design its own thing.    Is it a design activity where you learn specialized knowledge in how to integrate aesthetics and functionality, and where your success can only be judged at the boundary between jewelry and person – that is, only as the jewelry is worn?

The line of demarcation between occupation and profession is thin, often blurred, but for the jewelry designer, this distinction is very important.     It feeds into our sense of self and self-esteem.    It guides us in the choices we make to become better and better at our craft, art and trade.    It influences how we introduce our jewelry to the public, and how we influence the public to view, wear, exhibit, purchase or collect the things we make.

 

What does it mean to become a professional?

At the heart of this question is whether we are paid and rewarded solely for the number of jewelry pieces that we make, or for the skill, knowledge and intent underlying our jewelry designs.

If the former, we do not need much training.   Entry into the activity of jewelry design is very open, with a low bar.     Our responsibility is to turn out pieces of jewelry.     We do not encumber ourselves too much with art theory or design theory.

If the latter, we need a lot of specialized training and experience.    Entry into the activity of jewelry design is more controlled, most likely staged from novice to master.     Our responsibility it to translate our inspirations into aspirations into designs.    It is also to influence others viewing our work to be inspired to think about and reflect and emote those things which have excited the artist, as represented by the jewelry itself.    And it is also to enable others to find personal success and satisfaction when wearing or purchasing this piece of jewelry.

To become a professional jewelry designer is learn, apply and experience a way of thinking like a designer.     Fluent in terms about materials, techniques and technologies.   Flexible in the applications of techniques and the organizing of design elements into compositions which excite people.    Able to develop workable design strategies in unfamiliar or difficult situations.    Communicative about intent, desire, purpose,  no matter the context or situation within which the designer and his various audiences find themselves.   Original in how concepts are introduced, organized and manipulated.

The designs of artisans who make jewelry reflect and refract cultural norms, societal expectations, historical explanations and justifications, psychological precepts individuals apply to make sense of themselves within a larger setting.    As such, the jewelry designer has a major responsibility, both to the individual client, as well as to the larger social setting or society, to foster that the ability for the client to fulfill that hierarchy of needs, and to foster the coherency and rationality of the community-at-large.

All this can happen in a very small, narrow way, or a very large and profound way.    In either case, the professional roles of the jewelry designer remain the same.    Successfully learning how to play these roles – fluency, flexibility, communication, originality – becomes the basis for how the jewelry designer is judged and the extent of his recognition and success.

Posted in Art or Craft?, art theory, design management, design theory, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

BECOMING THE BEAD ARTIST AND JEWELRY DESIGNER: The Ongoing Tension Between Inspiration and Form

Posted by learntobead on November 7, 2019

BECOMING THE BEAD ARTIST AND JEWELRY DESIGNER:
The Ongoing Tension Between Inspiration and Form

As a jewelry designer, you have a purpose.  Your purpose is to figure out, untangle and solve, with each new piece of jewelry you make, how both you, as well as the wearer, will understand your inspirations and the design elements and forms you chose to express them.   Not as easy as it might first appear.

You will want the piece to be beautiful and appealing.    So you will be applying a lot of art theories about color, perspective, composition and the like.     You will quickly discover that much about color use and the use of lines and planes and shapes and so forth in art is very subjective.    People see things differently.    They may bring with them some biases to the situation.   Many of the physical materials you will use may not reflect or refract the color and other artistic effects more easily achieved with paints.

You want the piece to be durable.    So you will be applying a lot of theories and practices of architects and engineers.   You will need to intuitively and intrinsically understand what about your choices leads to the jewelry keeping its shape, and what about your choices allows the jewelry to move, drape and flow.    You also will be attentive to issues of physical mechanics, particularly how jewelry responds to forces of stress, strain and movement.

You want the piece to be satisfying and accepted by various wearing and viewing audiences.    So you will have some understanding of the role jewelry plays in different people’s lives.   Jewelry is more than some object to them; jewelry is something they inhabit —  reflective of soul, culture, status, aspiration.    You will recognize that people ascribe the qualities of the jewelry to the qualities of the person wearing it.    You will bring to the forefront ideas underlying psychology and anthropology and sociology, and even party planning, while designing your jewelry or introducing it publicly.

 

 

 

BECOMING THE BEAD ARTIST AND JEWELRY DESIGNER

Sometimes becoming a designer begins by touching some beads.   Or running a strand of pearls through your hand.   Or the sight of something perfectly worn around the wrist, upon the breast, or up near the neck.

Jewelry designers are extraordinarily blessed to do what they love for a living.   For many, they have turned a hobby into an avocation into a lifestyle.

But it’s not like a regular job.    There are many intangibles.    Such as, what exactly is creativity?    What are all the things that have to come together to recognize that creative spark when it hits you in your heart, groin or head, and how to translate that into something real, with beauty, with function, and with purpose?    How do you mesh your view of aesthetics and functionality with those of your many audiences – wearer, viewer, buyer, seller, collector, exhibiter, teacher and student?

What exactly does it mean to design jewelry, and how do you know it is the right path for you?    This is a tough question.    You may love jewelry, but not know how to make it.   You may get off on creative problem solving or be a color addict but not know what specific techniques and skills you need to learn, in what organized way, with what direction, leading you towards becoming that better jewelry designer.    You may feel the motivation, but not know what the jewelry designer really has to do each day.

You may be taking classes and getting some training, but how do you know when you have arrived?  How do you know when you have emerged as a successful professional jewelry designer?    And what are your responsibilities and obligations, once you get there?

 

 

THERE IS SO MUCH TO KNOW

There is so much to know, and so many types of choices to make.    Which clasp?  Which stringing material?  Which technique?   Which beads?   Which strategy of construction?    What aesthetic you want to achieve?   How you want to achieve it?    Drape, movement, context, durability?    How to organize and manage the design process?

And this is the essence of this book – a way to learn all the kinds of things you need to bring to bear, in order to create a wonderful and functional piece of jewelry.   When you are just beginning your beading or jewelry making avocation, or have been beading and making jewelry awhile – time spent with the material in these segments will be very useful.    You’ll learn the critical skills and ideas.  You’ll learn how these inter-relate.   And you’ll learn how to make better choices.

Everyone knows that anyone can put beads and other pieces together on a string and make a necklace. But can anyone make a necklace that draws attention? That evokes some kind of emotional response? That resonates with someone where they say, I want to wear that!? That wears well, drapes well, moves well as the person wearing it moves? That is durable, supportive and keeps its silhouette and shape? That doesn’t feel underdone or over done? That is appropriate for a given context, situation, culture or society?

True, anyone can put beads on a string. But that does not make them artists or designers. From artists and designers, we expect jewelry which is something more. More than parts. More than an assemblage of colors, shapes, lines, points and other design elements. More than simple arrangements of lights and darks, rounds and squares, longs and shorts. We expect to see the artist’s hand. We expect the jewelry to be impactful for the wearer.

We want to gauge how the designer grows within the craft, and takes on the challenges during their professional lives.    This involves an ongoing effort to merge voice with form.     Often this effort is challenging.   Sometimes paralyzing.    Always fulfilling and rewarding.

Jewelry design is a conversation.   The conversation in ongoing, perhaps never-ending.   The conversation is partly a reflection about process, refinement, questioning, translating feelings into form, impressions into arrangements; life influences into choice.    It touches on desire.   It reflects value and values.   Aesthetics matter.   Architecture and function matters.   Context and situation matter.

Jewelry focuses attention.    Inward for the artist.  Outward for the wearer and viewer.    In many directions socially and culturally.     Jewelry is a voice which must be expressed and heard, and hopefully, responded to.

At first that voice might not find that fit with its audience.   There is some back and forth in expression, as the jewelry is designed, refined, redesigned, and re-introduced publicly.   But jewelry, and its design, has great power.   It has the power to synthesize a great many voices and expectations into something exciting and resonant.

Posted in Art or Craft?, art theory, design management, design theory, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, Stitch 'n Bitch | 1 Comment »

ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS ABOUT JEWELRY DESIGN WORTH ANSWERING

Posted by learntobead on November 3, 2019

ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS ABOUT JEWELRY DESIGN WORTH ANSWERING

As you develop yourself as a jewelry designer, it is important to recognize and understand the larger social and professional contexts within which jewelry design is but a part, and your place in it. Towards this end, I have formulated some essential questions every designer needs to have answers for and have deeper understandings about.

(1) Why are there disciplinary conflicts between art and craft, and between art and design?

(2) How do you resolve tensions between aesthetics and functionality within an object like jewelry?

(3) What is jewelry, and what is it for?

(4) Is jewelry necessary?

(5) What does it mean to be successful as a jewelry artist working today?

(6) What does it mean to “think like a jewelry designer”? How does this differ from thinking like an artist or thinking like a craftsperson?

(7) How does the jewelry designer know when a piece is finished and successful?

(8) Why does some jewelry draw your attention, and others do not?

Posted in Art or Craft?, art theory, beads, beadwork, design management, design theory, jewelry design, jewelry making | Leave a Comment »

TEACHING DISCIPLINARY LITERACY: Strategic Learning In Jewelry Design

Posted by learntobead on May 31, 2019

 


TEACHING DISCIPLINARY LITERACY:

Strategic Learning in Jewelry Design

by Warren Feld, Jewelry Designer

Abstract:

Teaching literacy in jewelry design is a lot like teaching literacy in reading and writing.    We want our students to comprehend.   We want them to be able to be self-directed in organizing and implementing their basic tasks.   We want them to be able to function in unfamiliar situations and respond when problems arise.  We want them to make reasonable judgements on marrying aesthetics to functionality.  We want them to develop an originality in their work.   We want them to think like designers.   And, we want a high level of automaticity in all this.    The basic jewelry design curriculum does not accomplish this.   There is an absence of strategy and strategic thinking.    There is a weak commitment to jewelry design as a discipline, with its own vocabulary and ways of thinking through and doing and responding to different, often unfamiliar, situations as they arise.     Without a commitment to embed the teaching of a disciplinary literacy within the standard curriculum, we will fail to impart that necessary learned awareness about fluency, flexibility, originality, and comprehension the designer needs to bring to the design process.

 

TEACHING DISCIPLINARY LITERACY

She said it wasn’t her job!

This prominent jewelry instructor told me that it wasn’t her job to teach anything beyond the basic steps for getting a project done.   It was not her responsibility to share any insights, choices, compromises, fix-it solutions or design considerations she herself made when creating the original project – now taught as a class with a kit and a set of step-by-step instructions.   If a student asked a specific question, she would gladly answer it.  But otherwise, it was not her job.

This attitude is so prevalent in the standard jewelry making curriculum and education.     Teachers stick very closely to the standard, basic curriculum.    Facts, not ideas.   Absolutes, not what-ifs.  Step-by-steps, not creative thinking.  Teachers rarely explain the implications for using one bead vs. another, or one stringing material vs. another, or one clasp vs. another, or one material vs. another, or one technique vs. another.   They rarely discuss the deeper meanings and potentialities underlying various problematic situations.     They ignore the role and power of jewelry to influence human relations.

They have the student gloss over things as if, once seen and memorized, the student will automatically be able to make the right choices over and over, again and again.    The teachers see themselves as easily transferring knowledge, skills and understandings to the student as if inoculating them as you would with a vaccine and a syringe.   And the student becomes a star jewelry designer.   Or not.

Teachers too often see jewelry making and design as a basic set of skills, easily adaptable and applicable to all kinds of jewelry making situations.    They assume that the challenge of improving jewelry making skills would primarily be a function of making more and more jewelry.

This might be true for the novice student, but as the student moves from basic decoding to fluency, flexibility and originality in design, what was learned initially becomes less generally useful.   For example, the student may learn about basic color schemes, but not how to adapt these in different situations, or leverage them to achieve an even more resonant result, or be more deliberate and intentional when choosing colors and determining how to use them.

There is an absence of strategy and strategic thinking.    There is a weak commitment to jewelry design as its own discipline, with its own vocabulary and ways of thinking through and doing and responding to different, often unfamiliar, situations as they arise.

Jewelry, in the standard, traditional design education model, is understood as an object.   We can speak about and learn about it as an object.    This object is distanced from the creative spark that created it.    It is divorced from desire.   Apart from the wearer or the viewer.   Ignorant of context or situation.   There are no deeper explanations, no pointing out implications, no experimenting with situational contingencies, no debating synergistic or other external effects.    The student is run through color theories, materials composition, step-by-step jewelry construction as if learning a basic lexicon is sufficient and enough.

This whole traditional process of standard jewelry designer education ignores the required disciplinary literacy.    It assumes the student is creative, or not.    It approaches jewelry design as if it were a subset of some other discipline, usually art, or more specifically, painting or sculpture.    It ignores architectural requirements allowing jewelry to move, drape and flow as it is worn.   It forgets that jewelry has personal, situational and social consequences.   It pretends that jewelry design does not have any disciplinary requirements of its own.    There are no specialized knowledges or ways of thinking unique to jewelry design alone.

It is weak at teaching the student, from a design perspective, how to decode design elements and how to combine them into compositions apart from basic art theory.   It pretends there are no architectural issues underlying how jewelry functions.   It ignores the fact that jewelry gains much of its appeal and power only as it is worn, and not as it sits on a mannequin or easel.   It totally avoids confronting the fact that much of the power of jewelry results from how it instigates and sustains relationships – artist to self, artist to wearer, wearer to viewer, artist to seller, exhibitor to client, artist to collector, and so forth.    And, it fails to impart that necessary learned awareness about fluency, flexibility, originality and comprehension the designer needs to bring to the design process.

It’s not their job.    It’s not their job to assist the student’s developing creative thinking or applying that creative spark towards better jewelry design.

It’s not their job.

But, in fact, it is!

What Is Disciplinary Literacy?

Disciplinary Literacy1 assumes there are real differences in the way professionals across fields participate and communicate.   Without this, students and professionals in a particular field would flounder and fail.   Disciplinary literacy encompasses those techniques and strategies used to teach designers to think like designers (or historians like historians or scientists like scientists, and so forth)2.

Disciplinary literacy refers to how the particular discipline creates, disseminates, and evaluates knowledge.   Each discipline has its own way of looking at the world, defining things using a specific vocabulary, gathering information, specifying understandings, posing questions and problems, delineating solutions and using evidence to justify their ideas and conclusions.

An artist looking at jewelry, or a craftsperson looking at jewelry, for instance, would have different thought and interpretive processes than a jewelry designer looking at jewelry.     Jewelry, after all, is different than a painting or sculpture or simple functional object.    Jewelry is only art as it is worn.    It must satisfy the requirements of both aesthetics and functionality.    It exists in a 3-dimensional space.   It is worn on the body.    It establishes special relationships between designer and wearer, wearer and viewer, designer and seller, designer and collector.    It encapsulates situational and socio-cultural meanings.   To evaluate whether a piece of jewelry is finished and successful requires a different thought process than art or craft alone would provide.

There are key disciplinary differences in how a jewelry designer…

  • Chooses and evaluates evidence
  • Relates evidence to a perspective
  • Gains understanding
  • Visualizes things
  • Manipulates things
  • Creates a truth and achieves an error- free solution
  • Introduces things publicly

Training in jewelry design should teach students the unique challenges they face within their discipline as they think through design and create jewelry. At each increment within the jewelry design process, they need to think like a designer.Not as an artist, nor like a craftsperson.As a designer.Finding evidence whether a piece is finished and successful.Linking causes to effects. Understanding how inspiration resulted in a finished design.Developing knowledge, understandings and skills to the level where they can transfer these to others.Generating a large number of ideas.Making inferences about the implications of any one choice.Producing things which are original.Responding to problematic or unanticipated situations.Finding new ways to adapt existing ideas to new conditions.Anticipating shared understandings about how their work will be evaluated, assessed and judged.Knowing when something is parsimonious and finished, and knowing when something resonates and is successful.

Types of Literacy

There are three different types of literacy – Basic, Intermediate, and Disciplinary.     The standard jewelry design curriculum typically focuses on Basic literacy, with some nod toward Intermediate.    Disciplinary literacy is usually ignored, but it should be incorporated and integrated within Basic and Intermediate literacy instruction.

Basic Literacy

Basic literacy refers to the degree the student learns knowledge of high frequency concepts that underlie virtually all jewelry design and jewelry making tasks.   These concepts are typically universally recognized and understood by artist and client alike.      Here jewelry is understood as an object.    An object has literal characteristics which the student can identify and list.

The student demonstrates this basic literacy by an ability to decode.   The student can decode things like color use, rules of composition, materials selection, technique implementation and the like.    The student picks up the basic words and definitions, links the vocabulary to relevant objects, and can identify their presence and use within any piece of jewelry.   Each element and principle of design can be graphically represented, and the student begins to make connections between word and graphic.   The student begins to recognize which design elements can stand alone, and which are dependent on the presence of other elements.  The student can identify harmonious and balanced clusters of these design elements within compositions.    The goal is an automaticity in decoding.

Intermediate Literacy

Here the student develops the knowledge to make more complex jewelry forms and designs.    There is more comprehension.   The student recognizes that the various design elements and principles have a range of variations in meaning and expression.   In a similar way, the student begins to recognize that clusters of design elements and principles can also show variations in meaning and expression.

The student learns about different materials and what they can and cannot be used to achieve.    Materials have names, places of origins, stories about how they get from one place to another, processes.

The student is introduced to variations in techniques and technologies.   There is more than one way to accomplish things.    There are more things that can be created using familiar techniques.

The student learns to problem-solve with various “fix-it” procedures, like re-doing, changing tools, requesting help, looking things up, drawing analogies.

The student learns to process-plan.     S/he begins to relate inspirations, aspirations and intentions to more critically evaluate their choices or the choices of others.   Students are more able to stick with things and maintain attention to a more extended design process.

The student begins to learn how to design for an audience.   This might be a client, or a purchaser, or an exhibitor, or a collector.    This begins the developing understanding of how to meld personal held preferences with those of others.

Students monitor and reflect on their own comprehension.     The goal is an automaticity in fluency.[4]   Here jewelry is understood as content.  As content, the jewelry as designed conveys meanings and expressions which the student can derive.   The jewelry and its compositional design is still, however, mostly viewed objectively, as if sitting on an easel, not as it is worn.

Disciplinary Literacy

This involves a way of thinking and doing specific to the discipline.   The student learns specialized literacy skills relevant to jewelry design as the jewelry is introduced and worn publicly.   The student learns how parsimony and resonance as outcomes expressed in design differ from harmony and variety as expressed in art.

The student learns to anticipate shared understandings[5] and the role of desire among the many audiences the student works with, works in, and relates to.    These include clients, sellers, exhibitors, collectors, wearers, viewers, and the artist him- or herself.

Much of the design process takes on the qualities of backwards design.[7]  The designer begins the process by articulating the essential shared understandings  and desires against which their work will be evaluated and judged. The designer starts with questions about assessment, and then allows this understanding to influence all other choices going forward.”

The student has an ability to conceptualize and explain what jewelry means, how it is more an action than an object, and how this meaning emerges dialectically, as the jewelry is introduced publicly, worn, shared and displayed.

The student learns to recognize the dynamics of coherency, decoherency, and contagion.   The artist’s coherent choices about design become contagious, attracting someone to want to touch the piece, wear it, or buy it.    To the extent others share the artist’s ideas about coherence, the more likely the work will be judged finished and successful.   Jewelry becomes more than an expression of meanings, but rather, it becomes an expression of meanings within context.

The process of coherence continues with the wearer, who introduces the piece into a larger context.    There is more contagion.     When efforts at design are less than successful, we begin to have decoherence.    Decoherence may come in the forms of bad feedback, inappropriate feedback, less than satisfying feedback, or no feedback at all.  The wearer may not get that sense of self s/he seeks.   S/he may feel less motivated to wear the piece, or may store it, or give it away.

The student can comfortably and flexibly respond in unfamiliar situations or to new materials, techniques, technologies and requests, and take on larger challenges arising from higher levels of ambiguity, abstraction, subtlety, and contradiction.   The student can find new ways to adapt existing ideas to new situations and requirements.

The student learns how to inspire to.    That is, the student learns how to translate an inspiration into a design in such a way that the wearer and viewer are inspired to, not merely inspired by.  They don’t simply react emotionally by saying the piece is “beautiful.”  The piece resonates for them.   They react by saying they “want to wear” it or “want to buy it” or “want to make something like it”.   They come to feel and see and sense the artist’s hand.

The student learns how to manage a very involved, and often very long and time-consuming process of jewelry design, beginning with inspiration, then aspiration, then execution, and presenting the piece publicly for exhibit or sale.   The student also picks up the skills and attitudes necessary to stick with what can be a very long process.

The goal is an automaticity in design flexibility and originality.    Jewelry is understood as both intent and dialectic communication.  Here the student can visualize, anticipate, and respond to all the things which might happen when the jewelry is introduced publicly and its value and worth is judged and determined.

Literacy in Jewelry Design

Teaching literacy in jewelry design is a lot like teaching literacy in reading and writing.    We want our students to comprehend.  We want them to be able to be self-directed in organizing and implementing their basic tasks.   We want them to be able to function in unfamiliar situations and respond when problems arise.  We want them to make reasonable judgements on marrying aesthetics to functionality.  We want them to develop an originality in their work.   We want them to think like designers.  And, we want a high level of automaticity in all this.

Using literacy techniques, goals and concepts, we teach students to read, write, express and express in context when understanding jewelry and its design.

We teach the student to “read” jewelry.    That means learning a basic vocabulary, as well as the various design elements, and how these design elements can either function on their own, or be arranged and clustered together within a design.    They learn to describe the piece, including the name of the artist and the name of the piece, the style of the piece, when the piece was created, the materials used, the construction technique, and the use of design elements such as point, line, shape, form, space, texture, color, value and pattern.

We teach the student to “write” jewelry.    The student constructs (or anticipates how a particular designer has constructed), then reflects, upon the choices made.   That means learning various principles of composition, construction and manipulation.   These affect arrangements as well as the juxtaposition and clustering of design elements, materials and techniques.     They learn to how the placement and organization of elements, materials and techniques results in things like harmony, balance, contrast, variety, unity, emphasis, movement, depth, rhythm, focus, and proportions.

We further teach the student to be more “expressive” with jewelry.   That means learning how jewelry signifies various meanings and evokes emotions.    They learn to question and ponder through answers to questions like What did they think the designer was trying to say?  Or What kind of reaction(s) would you expect to this piece of jewelry?   What feelings does the jewelry convey?   In what context would wearing the piece be especially relevant and appropriate?   Are there things in the piece which might be symbolic or otherwise signify things which transcend the piece of jewelry itself?

Last, we teach the student to be “expressive within a context”.    That means understanding how jewelry functions communicatively, socially and psychologically within any context or situation.   That means learning how various artists and various audiences use jewelry as a means of self-identity and self-esteem, and how the interaction of the artist with various audiences affects the success (or failure) of their continued relationship oriented around (and perhaps anchored to) the jewelry.   It means delving into the how and why the jewelry would be valued or worth determined or evaluative judgements made, and, furthermore, how such judgements and determinations might be contingent in their expression.   It also means understanding what jewelry is as it is worn, and the required artistic, functional and design choices and compromises which must be made, if the piece of jewelry is to be judged finished and successful.

Literacy in jewelry design includes such things as:

  • Learning art and design vocabulary, including design elements, principles of composition, manipulation and construction, and basic vocabulary words
  • Developing an understanding of a range of materials, how these are selected, and the possibilities for their use, or mis-use, in any one project
  • Developing a range of technical and technological knowledges and skills, how to vary them, and when to apply them and when not to apply them
  • Translating inspirations into aspirations into specific designs and execution
  • Choosing media, technique and strategy to convey concepts, forms and themes
  • Organizing, managing and controlling a jewelry design process, from start to finish, especially over an extended period of time
  • Deciphering the graphic representation of ideas
  • Communicating these ideas through critique and analysis of jewelry genres, styles, media use, and artist/designer intent
  • Reconciling tensions and conflicts between appeal and functionality, especially as the jewelry is worn
  • Introducing their work to others, coordinating artist goals with marketing goals, and exhibiting or selling publicly
  • Working with various client audiences, and translating, influencing or mitigating their understandings and desires about jewelry with those of the designer, whether a piece should be judged as finished and successful
  • Figuring out “fix-it” strategies where things do not turn out as desired, are uncertain, or things go wrong
  • Reflecting on one’s own thought processes and choices, increasing that metacognitive awareness of what things lead to better design
  • Developing a personal style and originality and strategies for how these get reflected in the artist’s finished compositions

Why Do We Need More Fluent Designers?

The standard curriculum and approach for teaching the making and designing  of jewelry is commonly viewed as teaching basic literacy.  This includes teaching a basic set of skills, widely adaptable and applicable to all kinds of jewelry making situations.  These basic skills are highly generalizable and adaptable.

In the standard curriculum, it is assumed that the challenge of improving jewelry making skills is a function of making more and more jewelry.    The designer, thus over time, would automatically evolve into a better designer with better, more satisfying, more appealing designs.      We refer to this as the vaccination conception of teaching.

In some sense here, these ideas about teaching basic literacy are partly right.   All students need a basic vocabulary.    All jewelry designers need these basic perceptual and decoding skills which are very connected to early learning.     These are entailed in all jewelry designs and crafting tasks.

However, as the designer moves from basic decoding to fluency, flexibility and originality, the basics which were learned become less generally useful.   For example, the designer may learn basic color schemes, but not learn how to adapt these in different situations, with components which do not easily match colors on the color wheel, and which present differently when used in combination, or under different lighting or contextual situations.

Our standard teaching curriculum, if that is all we teach, becomes less than useful.    We rely on a bad assumption:  If we only provide adequate basic skills, so we assume, from that point forward, the student with adequate background knowledge will be able to design and make anything successfully.    When the emphasis is on giving out more information and instructions rather than on discussion and challenge, students have little chance to learn to think as a fluent jewelry designer.

But this also begs the question:  Why do we need more fluent designers?

Isn’t turning out basic technicians sufficient?    Aren’t there enough designers meeting everyone’s jewelry needs?    Even if there are not, are there enough clients and customers who would want to see and purchase better, more insightful, jewelry designs?

My answer, obviously, is Yes!    We need more fluent designers who have been taught and are fluent in a disciplinary literacy.   That is because there are many things going on around us which increase the need for all this.

These include,

  • The need to adapt to more global competition, better ride the ever-faster waves and changes of fashion and style trends, and more strategically confront and challenge global “sameness” in design
  • The need to adapt, and adapt more quickly, to changes in technologies and materials
  • Automaticity in how designers more easily and successfully meet their various client needs – self, wearer, viewer, seller, exhibiter, and collector
  • Creating a clearer, publicly sanctioned professionalization of the jewelry design discipline
  • Expanding the connectedness and networking of jewelry designers in today’s world
  • Increasing opportunities for more attention, visibility, communication, support, demand and income
  • Encouraging individual student pursuits, diversity and experimentation

How Should Disciplinary Literacy

Be Incorporated Into Jewelry Design Education?

Jewelry Design is rarely taught at this disciplinary level.

There is a need to identify what an advanced literacy curriculum in jewelry design might be, how it differs from that in art or craft, and how best to implement it.

We need to move away from the ideas of “teacher of art” or “teacher of craft”, and begin to understand the role of teacher as “teacher of disciplinary literacy in jewelry design”.    How can we best prepare all jewelry design students for the thinking, the making, and the critically reflecting upon required by more intermediate and advanced work?    How can we prepare students to be independent thinkers?   Self-starters?   What program of authentic learning more closely reflects what a jewelry designer does in the field?

A disciplinary literacy program should not, however, be understood as a separate curriculum.    It is not something supplemental.    Rather, disciplinary literacy should be a part of and embedded within all existing instruction, from basic to advanced.   Disciplinary literacy should support the standard curriculum with literacy tools uniquely tailored to jewelry design.

Some ideas for integration…

  1. Build more depth into what is already taught and increase student engagement
  2. Leverage a wide range of resources – popular articles and images, academic articles, interviews, gallery exhibits and their presentation and marketing materials, online videos, bead and jewelry making magazines
  3. Task students with communicating what they read, viewed, experienced and attempted to do, and elaborate more on their understandings
  4. Ask questions which encourage students to think like jewelry designers
  5. Model design strategies and fix-it strategies
  6. Allow students to do more problem-solving and experimentation

 

Students should be encouraged to…

Experiment

Perform

Demonstrate

Discuss findings

Anticipate the

understandings of others

Monitor their thinking

Deal with ambiguity

Problem solve

Read

Write

Debate options

Compare their work to

others

Challenge assumptions

Go beyond the ordinary

and obvious

Comment

Communicate

Ask questions

Seek evidence to inform their

work

Gather information

Detect bias

Expose their ideas and works to

others

BLOOM’S TAXONOMY

If you are not already familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy (1956)[6], and its model’s evolution and various adaptations in different disciplines, I urge you to do so.    This is a particularly useful tool when teaching higher level thinking and creative problem solving.    Are your lesson plans, assignments, projects, questioning strategies touching on each progressive level in Bloom’s Taxonomy?   The Taxonomy helps you evaluate the level of rigor in your instruction and the degree you are presenting your students and involving them in  learning higher level thinking skills in a subject or discipline.

In jewelry design, we might adapt Bloom’s Taxonomy like this…

Creating:  designing, constructing, developing, producing, manipulating, translating inspiration into aspiration and aspiration into a design

Evaluating:  judging, evaluating, appraising, defending, challenging, showing connections, linking design choices to emotional and resonant outcomes or sense that piece feels finished

Analyzing:  comparing, contrasting, experimenting, testing, questioning, examining, what happens when analyses with different materials, techniques, technologies, and construction and composition strategies

Applying:  dramatizing, sketching, using, solving, illustrating, writing, demonstrating, instructing, diagramming, arranging, using different techniques and technologies in making jewelry

Understanding:  classifying, describing, discussing, explaining, paraphrasing, locating, translating, decoding

Remembering:  memorizing, listing, recalling, repeating, reproducing, copying, building up a specialized vocabulary

As teachers of jewelry design, we want to build up our students’ design knowledge and skills through literacy.   This means such things as,

  1. Building prior knowledge – showing connections between what they are expected to do now with what they have done or experienced before
  2. Building a specialized vocabulary and how to use this in context
  3. Learning, applying, varying and experimenting with different materials, techniques and technologies
  4. Practicing translating inspirations into aspirations
  5. Learning to deconstruct complex visual representations of ideas which each piece of jewelry encapsulates
  6. Using knowledge of artistic design elements and genres to identify main and subordinate ideas expressed within any piece
  7. Articulating what the graphic representations mean and how they are used within a piece of jewelry, and how this supports the artist’s intent
  8. Posing disciplinary relevant questions
  9. Critically comparing one piece of jewelry to others
  10. Using reasoning with jewelry design, such as searching for alternatives, or selecting evidence to evaluate claims of finish and success
  11. Enabling students to be metacognitive – that is, become aware of the ways in which they think, learn, create and problem-solve, and aware of how they overcome those times of creativity block
  12. Anticipating shared understandings about what it means for a piece to be finished and successful
  13. Bridging creative learning to the creative marketplace

What Are Some Specific Useful Techniques?

We should teach students to design jewelry, not draw it, not sculpt it, not craft it.    And that should be our primary goal as teachers: developing our students’ Fluency, Flexibility and Originality with design.

This involves:

  1. a developmental approach and organization of knowledges, skills and understandings to be taught, usually taught as sets of interrelated, integrated skill sets, rather than one skill at a time
  2. a multi-method teaching plan and program with a shared goal of teaching disciplinary literacy,
  3. a rubric specifying degrees of accomplishment and the criteria of evaluation – all shared with the student
  4. a willingness to adjust teaching styles because different students rely on different senses and strategies for learning

I am going to touch on each of these below, but you will find numerous articles in print and online which go into much more detail.

Developmental Approach

Think of jewelry design as a large matrix.    The rows are the various knowledges, skills and understandings students need to master.    The columns represent ordered stages of learning, indicating what needs to be learned first, second and third, etc.

In the example below, learning objectives were specified for an introductory bead stringing class.   The learning objectives were characterized by skill level needed.    These objectives were clustered together and taught as a set.   The student could identify what things were learned at what level, and what things needed to be learned in another class.   Emphasis was placed during the instruction to visibly point out to the student how each learning objective was interrelated to the others.

At the conclusion of the class, students were asked to self-evaluate what they learned about each learning objective, and what else they would like to know or learn about it.    What were their take-aways, and what would they like to do next.

EXAMPLE MATRIX

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

BEAD STRINGING

Crimping

  BEGINNER  INTERMEDIATE  ADVANCED 
TECHNICAL MECHANICS
1. Holding Your Piece To Work It BEGINNER     
2. Reading Simple Pattern, Figure and/or Graph; Diagramming BEGINNER     
3. Selecting Stringing Materials BEGINNER     
4. Selecting Clasps and other Jewelry Findings BEGINNER     
5. Selecting Beads and other Components BEGINNER     
6. Laying Out Your Piece BEGINNER     
7. Identifying Areas of Potential Weakness, and

Strategies for Dealing With These

BEGINNER     
8. Selecting and Using Adhesives      
9. Use of Tools and Equipment BEGINNER     
10. Determining Measurements and Ease, including Width and Length of a Piece, Especially In Relationship To Bead Sizes BEGINNER     
11. Finishing Off Threads, Cable Wires or Other Stringing Materials in Piece or Adding Threads/Cable Wires/Stringing Materials BEGINNER     
UNDERSTANDING CRAFT BASIS OF STRINGING METHODS
1. Starting the Piece BEGINNER     
2. Implementing the Basic Method BEGINNER     
3. Finishing Off Your Piece With A Clasp Assembly BEGINNER     
4. Managing String/Cord/Thread/Wire Tension BEGINNER     
5. Crimping BEGINNER     
6. Making Simple and Coiled Loops Using Hard Wire      
7. Making and Using Connectors; Segmenting; Directional Control      
8. Adding Dangles and Embellishments      
9. Making Multi-Strands Piece      
10. Making Twist-Strands Piece      
UNDERSTANDING ART & DESIGN BASIS OF BEAD STRINGING
1. Learning Implications When Choosing Different Sizes/Shapes of Beads, or Using Different Stringing Materials  BEGINNER     
2. Learning Implications When Choosing Different Kinds of Clasps, or Using Different Jewelry Findings and Components BEGINNER     
3. Understanding Relationship of this Bead Stringing Method in Comparison to Other Types of Bead Stringing Methods  BEGINNER     
4. Creating Support Systems Within Your Piece In Anticipation of Effects of Movement, and other Architectural considerations BEGINNER     
5. Understanding How Bead Asserts Its Need For Color When Stringing Beads      
6. Creating Your Own Design with This Bead Stringing Method, in Reference to Jewelry Design Principles of Composition      
7. Creating Shapes, Components and Forms To Use With This Bead Stringing Method, and Establishing Themes      
BECOMING BEAD STRINGING ARTIST & DESIGNER
1. Developing A Personal Style      
2. Valuing or Pricing Your Work      
3. Teaching Others Bead Stringing Methods      
4. Promoting Yourself and Your Work      

 

When taking a developmental approach, you teach groups of integrated knowledges, skills and understandings.   You teach technical mechanics concurrently with art and craft history, and concurrently with discipline-specific literacy.     We want our students to be able to think strategically and critically, deal with unfamiliar or problematic situations, and be self directed.

In the Developmental Approach, you start with a cluster of a core set of skills.    You show, demonstrate, and have the student apply, communicate about, and experiment with how these skills inter-relate in jewelry design.

You then introduce another cluster of knowledges, skills, and understandings.    As with the core, you show, demonstrate, and have the student apply, communicate about, and experiment with how all these inter-relate.   Then you repeat all this by teaching how this second cluster of things inter-relates to the core.

And again, you introduce a third cluster, and link to the second, then link to the core.     And so forth.

Jewelry design covers a wide range of factors beyond the physical and structural aspects of jewelry.    It incorporates aesthetics, structure, value systems, philosophies, sustainability, technologies, and their integrations.   Thus the jewelry designer has to know some things about art, and some things about architecture, and about physical mechanics, and anthropology and psychology and sociology, and engineering, and be a bit of a party planner.   Here, this developmental approach serves them well.     It helps the student learn the inter-connectedness and inter-dependencies of them all, in a gradual, developmental, building-up-to-something sort of way.

Multi-Method Teaching Plan

Students need to come at jewelry design problems from different angles.    Within each lesson, teachers need to gradually relinquish control over the learning process to the student.     Using a single teaching method, such as having students keep rehearsing a series of steps, or relying on a single textbook won’t cut it.   We also need to infuse opportunities for reflection within virtually every activity.

Some of things I find especially useful include,

(a) Guided Thinking

(b) Thinking Routines

(c) Developing an effective questioning strategy

(d) Application, practice and experimentation

One approach is called “Guided Thinking”.    Here, within each lesson, the teacher begins with controlling the information and how it is presented.  This involves some lecture, some demonstration, some modelling.    The teacher never insists that there is only one way to accomplish any task.    Over the course of the lesson, the teacher gradually relinquishes more and more control to the student for directing the learning activity.

For example, we might encourage students to construct and feel and touch similar pieces made with different materials, beads or techniques, and have them tell us what differences they perceive. We should guide them in thinking through the implications for these differences. When teaching a stitch, I typically have students make samples using two different beads – say a cylinder bead and a seed bead, and try two different stringing materials, say Fireline and Nymo threads.

We also should guide them in thinking through all the management and control issues they were experiencing. Very often beginning students have difficulty finding a comfortable way to hold their pieces while working them. I let them work a little on a project, stop them, and then ask them to explain what was difficult and what was not. I suggest some alternative solutions – but do not impose a one-best-way – and have them try these solutions. Then we discuss them, fine-tuning our thinking.

After some trial-and-error and experimentation, I begin to introduce some goals.  They had identified some management and control issues, and had some observations about what they were trying to do.    I link these developing discussions to these goals. These are issues because….  And I let them fill in the blanks.    What do they think needs to be happening here?

I begin to put words to feelings.   I guide them in articulating some concrete goals.   We want good thread tension management for a bead woven piece. We want the beads to lay correctly within the piece. We want the piece to feel fluid. We want an easier way to work the piece and hold it, so it doesn’t feel so awkward.

We return to Guided Thinking. I summarize all the choices we have made in order to begin the project: type of bead, size of bead, shape of bead, type of thread, strategy for holding the piece while working it, strategy for bringing the new bead to the work in progress. I ask the students what ideas are emerging in their minds about how to bring all they have done so far together.

At this point, I usually would interject a Mini-Lesson, where I demonstrate, given the discussions, the smarter way to begin and execute the Project. In the Mini-Lesson, I “Think Aloud” so that my students can see and hear how I am approaching our Project.

And then I continue with Guided Thinking as we work through various sections of the Project towards completion. Whatever we do – select materials, select and apply techniques, set goals, anticipate how we want the Project to end up – is shown as resulting from a managed process of thinking through our design.

In “Guided Thinking”, I would prompt my students to try to explain what is/is not going on, what is/is not working as desired, where the student hopes to end up, what seems to be enhancing/impeding getting there.

As the lesson proceeds, I reduce the amount of direction and information I provide.    I relinquish this responsibility gradually to the student.   The student is asked to try out a technique or strategy, then try an alternative.   The student is asked to communicate the differences, their preferences, their explanations why, and what they might try to do next.

Experimentation with evaluation is encouraged.   The student is asked to develop a more concrete jewelry project, and explain the various choices involved.    What-if and what-next questions are posed.    The student is allowed to follow a pathway that might be not as efficient, or even a dead-end.    More discussion about what occurs begins.   If the student asks me what would happen if, I tell them to try it and see, and then discuss their experience and observations.

Towards the end of the lesson, I prompt the student to communicate what they have done and what they have discovered.   I ask them, in various ways, what take-aways they have from the class, or how they think they might apply what they learned in the future.   I suggest the “what next.”   I identify different options and pathways they might pursue next.    Metacognition and reflection are important skills for any jewelry designer to have.

And we’re ready for the next lesson.

Another approach is called “Thinking Routines”.    With guidance, demonstration and repetition, it is my hope that these experiences become a series of Thinking Routines my students resort to when starting a new project. As students develop and internalize more Thinking Routines, they develop greater Fluency with design.

Thinking Routines are different strategies for structuring a set of steps which lead a person’s thinking.    “They are the patterns by which we operate and go about the job of learning and working together in a classroom environment. A routine can be thought of as any procedure, process, or pattern of action that is used repeatedly to manage and facilitate the accomplishment of specific goals or tasks. Classrooms have routines that serve to manage student behavior and interactions, to organizing the work of learning, and to establish rules for communication and discourse. Classrooms also have routines that structure the way students go about the process of learning. These learning routines can be simple structures, such as reading from a text and answering the questions at the end of the chapter, or they may be designed to promote students’ thinking, such as asking students what they know, what they want to know, and what they have learned as part of a unit of study.[3]

Some examples:

  1. What Do You See…..What Do You Think…..What Do You Know
  2. Think – Pair – Share
  3. What Makes You Think That?
  4. I used to think…  Now I think…
  5. Connect – Extend – Challenge
  6. True for Who?
  7. Look – Score — Explain

We use Thinking Routines mirror the kinds of thinking and analytic practices common to the discipline of jewelry design.     We encourage students to reflect on what they were thinking.   We ask how they were anticipating getting to the point where they would call their piece finished.    We ask them whether there was some kind of order or routine to their process.    We ask them what criteria they would use to know that they were successful.    We ask them to anticipate what others would think, and whether others would agree that the piece was finished and successful.

These are some of the kinds of situations we want our students to develop thinking routines for:

a. Exploration of experience for a purpose; translating inspiration into designs

b. Search for meaning as conveyed by various design elements alone, clustered together, or arranged within a composition

c. Formulating how to deal with unfamiliar tasks or roadblocks preventing the finishing of a task

d. Completing well practiced technical tasks

e. Varying well practiced technical tasks

f. Contingent thinking and fix-it strategies

g. Incorporating the shared understandings of others into the thinking about what constitutes a finished and successful design

h. Introducing jewelry publicly, such as for exhibit or for sale

Another approach I want to point out is having an Effective Questioning Strategy.  Students need to be engaged in thinking and talking about jewelry and its design and its powers when worn.     The questions we ask them, and the way we phrase them, can have a big impact on this.

Questions should lead the student towards greater understanding.    Ask questions which encourage students to think like jewelry designers and understand jewelry design as a series of problems to be solved.

  • Decode piece of jewelry; measure jewelry’s impact; relate to artist intent
  • Correlation or causation when explaining and identifying design issues
  • What q’s weren’t answered; ability to assess the information at hand relevant to the design problem
  • Do the results solve the design problem and support the conclusions
  • Other explanations for the results
  • Given an artist intent, sketch a jewelry design
  • Given a piece of jewelry to be sold, develop a sales pitch

Some pointers:

  1. Avoid questions with Yes/No answers
  2. Avoid questions which contain the answers, such as “don’t you think the designer did a good job?”
  3. Avoid questions which seem to have a particular answer in mind, such as “how did the designer use materials to represent the upper class?”
  4. Do elicit questions with multiple answers.
  5. Do elicit questions which incorporate each of our senses, not just the visual, such as “what sounds do you think this piece of jewelry would make?”
  6. Do elicit questions of varying levels of difficulty and rigor.
  7. Do elicit personal interpretations of ideas and feelings, coupled with questions about what evidence the student used to come to these conclusions.
  8. Do elicit questions about how to value or judge worth, and how such values might differ among different audiences, and why.
  9. Do elicit questions about contingent situations — if such and such a variable or piece of information changed, how would our thoughts, feelings and understandings change?
  10. Do elicit follow-up questions.
  11. If no one responds immediately to a question, pause and wait about 5 seconds.
  12. Encourage conversation among all participants in the room.
  13. Encourage students to generate their own questions.

When looking at a piece of jewelry, students might be asked (in reference to Bloom’s Taxonomy)[6] to:

DESCRIBE IT:   What do you see?   What else do you see?   If you were describing this to another person who has not seen it, what would you say?

RELATE IT:   What things do you recognize?   Do you feel connected to the piece in any way?  Would you buy it?  Would you wear it?  How does this piece of jewelry relate (to any other piece of jewelry)?   What interests you the most in this piece?   If you passed this piece of jewelry onto your children or grandchildren, do you think they would relate to it in the same way you did; explain?    Would this jewelry be successful or appropriate in any culture or situation; explain with examples?

ANALYZE IT:   What can you tell me about the design elements used in this piece of jewelry?    About the arrangement and composition?    About its construction?   What type of person would wear this piece and why?    What is the most critical part of this piece of jewelry which leads to its success (or failure)?   What questions would you want to ask the designer?   What internal or external forces will positively or negatively impact the piece?   What about the piece creates good support, enabling it to move, drape and flow?  What about the piece creates good structure, enable it to keep its shape and integrity when worn?

INTERPRET IT:  What name would you give this piece of jewelry, and why did you pick this name?    What sounds do you think this piece of jewelry would make?   What role(s) would this piece of jewelry serve for the wearer, and why?    Why do you think the designer made this piece of jewelry, and made it this way?

EVALUATE IT:  Does this piece seem finished; explain?    Would you see this piece as successful; explain?    Would this piece evoke an emotion, and how?    Does this piece resonate, and how?    Does this piece feel parsimonious – that is, if you added (or subtracted) one more thing, would it make the piece seem less finished or successful?   How has the artist selected and applied materials, techniques and technologies, and could better choices have been made and why?   What do you think is worth remembering about this piece?    What do you think other people would say about this piece?   If you were selling this piece, what would be the selling points; explain?  In what ways might this piece have value and worth for various audiences?   Anticipating the artist’s purpose and intent, to what degree was the artist successful?   What would make the piece better, and what would make it worse?

RE-CREATE IT:  If you were making a similar piece, what would you do similarly and what would you do differently; explain why?    If you wanted to re-create something similar, but for a different audience or context than you thought it was originally made, what kinds of things might you do; explain?   What would you change about the piece to make it more appealing to you?   What would you change about the piece to change the “sound” it seems to make?   How could we make the piece more Traditional?  Or Avant Garde?   How could you build in more or better support or structure?  How might your own work be influenced (or not) by this piece?   Have you learned something from this piece that would influence you to do something differently in your own work in the future?   If a particular color / material / finding had not been available, what could you substitute instead?

One last approach is encouraging lots of opportunities for Application, Practice, and Experimentation.

Jewelry design students need time to create various understandings, correct or not, and to put these understandings to the test.   They should be encouraged to imagine, experiment, play, practice and apply their emerging knowledges and skills.    We need to ween them off the standard design-by-number curriculum.     We should provide opportunities for students to develop the skills to work intuitively and practically in context.

Towards this end, we should

  1. Provide space/time for artistic creativity and discovery
  2. Provide opportunities to discuss, reflect and critique about the design, management and control issues which arose
  3. Have students actively anticipate, through discussion and/or writing, what kinds of reactions various audiences might have to various design and composition choices
  4. Ask students to compare and contrast various designs or design approaches, including what is appealing (or not) and wearable (or not) and representative of an artist’s ideas and intent (or not)
  5. Students should be given various pieces to decode; that is, breaking them down into their essential design elements and compositional arrangements
  6. Students should be asked to reflect upon how the jewelry would hold up or be evaluated in different situations or cultures
  7. Students can be given different open-ended design tasks, such as creating a piece of jewelry that celebrates the student; or having students write “recipes” for the ingredients in a piece of jewelry and give these to other students to see what they come up with; or creating jewelry with social or political content; of develop a marketing and promotion strategy with a sales pitch for a particular piece of jewelry; or write a poem or short story about a piece of jewelry

A Rubric
RUBRIC[8] AS THINKING ROUTINE

Students who plan on becoming jewelry designers need a simple map to all these ideas about literacy and fluency – something they can easily review and determine where their strengths and weaknesses are, what kinds of courses they need to take, what kinds of learning goals they need to set in order to grow within the profession and gain proficiency and fluency in design over time.     One type of map is a rubric.

A rubric is a table of criteria used to rate and rank understanding and/or performance.   A rubric answers the question by what criteria understanding and/or performance should be judged.    The rubric provides insightful clues for the kinds of evidence we need to make such assessments.    The rubric helps us distinguish degrees of understanding and/or performance, from the sophisticated to the naïve.   The rubric encapsulates what an authentic jewelry design education and performance would look like.

Here is one rubric we provide students to give them insight to the educational curriculum we offer in our program.   We divide the program into Skill Levels, from preparation to beginner, intermediate, advanced, and integrated.   We identify how jewelry is defined and conceptualized at each level.   We specify the kinds of learning goals at each level – that is, what the students needs to have mastered before continuing on to the next level.   We list the classes a student could take at each Skill Level.

BE DAZZLED BEADS:    EDUCATIONAL RUBRIC:   Learning How To Think Like A Jewelry Designer
Learning Stage Jewelry Defined As… I know I’ve mastered this level when… BEAD WEAVING CLASSES

Using needle and thread with seed beads to make things which approximate cloth

BEAD STRINGING and HAND KNOTTING CLASSES

Putting beads on stringing material to make necklaces and bracelets

WIRE WORKING and WIRE WEAVING  CLASSES

Incorporating wires and sheet metal in jewelry by making shapes, structural supports, or patterns and textures

BUSINESS OF CRAFT CLASSES

Bridging creative learning to the creative marketplace

JEWELRY DESIGN CLASSES

Using creative skills to conceptualize, construct and present jewelry pieces

PREPARA-TION   I have assembled basic supplies and tools, and set up a workspace ORIENTATION TO BEADS & JEWELRY FINDINGS CLASS   (**Required First Class)

Here we teach you about the choices you will need to make when buying or using different kinds of beads, metals, findings, stringing materials, tools, and various jewelry making techniques.   Focus on quality issues, contingencies and implications of making one choice over another

BEGINNER

(Decoding)

Object – defined apart from the maker, wearer and viewer, and apart from any inspiration or aspiration I am familiar with the range of materials, beads, jewelry findings, components, stringing materials, tools and types of techniques used in jewelry making, and all associated quality issues and issues of choice.

I can identify and list the basic design elements present in any piece of jewelry.

I can explain which design elements are independent – that is, can function on their own, and which are dependent – that is, require the presence of other design elements

I have mastered the mechanics of the major techniques in the interest area(s) I have chosen

* Bead Weaving Basics

* Basic Wrap Bracelet (laddering)

Clinics/Mini-Lessons:

– Flat Peyote

– Tubular Peyote

– Right Angle Weave

– Ndebele

– Petersburg Chain

– Brick Stitch

– Square Stitch

– Kumihimo

– Attaching End Caps

* Basics of Bead Stringing and Attaching Clasps

* Introduction to Pearl Knotting

* Mahjong Tile Bracelet

* Cozumel Necklace (micro-macrame)

Clinics/Mini-Lessons

– Crimping

– Elastic String

– Using Fireline

– Simple and Coiled Wire Loops

– Adjustable Slip Knots

* Wire Mix N Match Bracelet

* Viking Knit

*Wire Weave I: 2 base wires

*Wire Weave II: 3+ base wires

* Basic Soldering

* Intro to Silver Smithing

Clinics/Mini-Lessons:

– Simple and Coiled Wire Loops

– Let’s Make Earrings on Head Pins

– Let’s Make Earrings Off of Chain

* Getting Started In Business

* Pricing and Selling

* So You Want To Do Craft Shows

* Naming Your Business / Naming Your Jewelry

Clinics/Mini-Lessons:

– Pricing Formula

* Beads and Color
INTERMEDI-ATE

(Comprehending)

Content / Expression – conveys and expresses meaning; reflects ideas about how inspiration is to be translated into a design; inspires someone to respond emotionally I can select and arrange design elements into a pleasing composition.

I can anticipate both aesthetic and architectural requirements of my piece as it is to be worn.

I am comfortable self-directing my design process.   I know 1 – 2 variations in techniques I use.

I am beginning to develop “Fix-It” strategies when approaching new or difficult situations.

* Various Workshops during year

* Aztec Wrap Bracelet

Clinics/Mini-Lessons:

– Peyote Cabochon Bezel

* Mala Necklace w/Tassel * Cold Connections Bracelet

* Wire Wrap Bracelet w/Beads

* Wire Wrap Cabochon Pendant

* Wire Sparkle and Shine Necklace

* Wire Swirled Pendant w/Earrings

* Wire Contemporary Pendant

* Wire Woven Mayan Pendant

* Wire Woven Curvy Bracelet w/Beads

* Branding * Jewelry Design I: Principles of Composition
ADVANCED

(Fluent, Flexible, Original)

Action / Intent / Communica-tive Interaction – conveying content in context;  design choices understood as emerging from interaction between artist and various client audiences; jewelry reflects artist’s intent I have well-developed tool box of “Fix-It” strategies for dealing with unknown situations, with a high degree of automaticity in their use.

I understand how parts of the mechanics of every technique I use  allow the piece to maintain its shape (structure), and how other parts allow the piece to maintain good movement, drape and flow (support).

My jewelry reflects both parsimony in the choices of elements, and resonance in its expressive qualities for the wider audiences; I understand how this differs from traditional art concepts of “harmony” and ‘variety”

I can anticipate shared understandings as these are used to judge my piece as finished and successful; I understand how wider audiences affect the coherence – decoherence- contagion impacts of my designs

I am very metacognitive of all the composition, construction, and manipulation choices I have made, and constantly reflective of the effects and implications of these choices

* Various Workshops during year   * Wire Woven Cabochon Pendant

* Wire Woven Pagoda End Cap

  *Jewelry Design II: Principles of Form, Function, Structure, Body, Mind, Movement

*Architectural Bases

INTER-RELATING AND INTEGRAT-ING ALL LEVELS

(Disciplinary Literacy)

How we begin to build and expand our definitions of jewelry and design I am learning how all these things inter-relate, leading to better design and construction:

– art

– craft

– design

– architecture and engineering

– physical mechanics

– anthropology, sociology, psychology

– perception and cognition

– management and control

– systems theory

– party planning

– creative marketplace

JEWERLY DESIGN DISCUSSION SEMINARS
1. Good Design

2. Contemporary Design

3. Composition

4. Manipulation

5. Resonance

6. Beads and Color

7. Points, Lines, Planes, Shapes, Forms, Themes

8. Architectural Basics

9. Contemporizing Traditional Jewelry

10. Mixed Media / Mixed Techniques

11. Designing An Ugly Necklace

12. Backwards Design

13. What Is Jewelry, Really?

14. Is Jewelry Making Teachable, or Merely Intuitive?

15. Can I Survive As A Jewelry Artist?

16. Creativity Isn’t Found, It Is Developed

17. Jewelry Design Management

18. 5 Questions Every Jewelry Designer Should Have An Answer For

19. The Multiple Responsibilities of Being a Professional Jewelry Artist

20. Your Work Space

21. Design Theater

22. Overcoming Designer’s Block

23. Fashion, Style, Taste or Art?

24. Threading the Business Needle

Willingness To Adjust Styles To The Different Ways Students Think

Students learn in different ways.   Some are more visual, some more oral, some more tactile, some more experiential.   It is important that teachers vary their styles within each lesson.

For example, better instructions are presented not only with written steps, but also images illustrating each step, and diagrams or patterns explaining each step.

It is important to provide opportunities for students to reflect on what they did, and evaluate the thinking, management and control issues they confronted, and what they attempted to do to overcome these.

Last, it is just as important for the teacher to model (and think aloud) their own thought processes when attempting to design or construct a piece of jewelry.

Why Should The Teacher Be Motivated

To Take A Disciplinary Approach?

The unwillingness of instructors to break out of that mold of standard craft or art content curriculum is rooted in many things.

For one, it is not very lucrative.   Teaching disciplinary literacy on top of the standard content curriculum is more work.  It requires more thought and integration.   Initially, it requires more effort and planning.   Yet the earned instructional fees would remain the same had the instructor not made the additional effort.

Teaching disciplinary literacy involves making very public and visible the teacher’s design thinking and choices.    The teacher is expected to model design behaviors.    The teacher will introduce think-alouds, experimentation, thinking routines.   The teacher, within each lesson, gradually relinquishes control of the teaching task to the student.    The student takes over the design process, making more and more choices, whether good or bad, right or wrong.    The student then evaluates, citing evidence, what appears to be working, what not working, some reasons why, and some possible consequences.    These disciplinary literacy techniques might make the teacher feel very exposed, vulnerable and uneasy where such thinking and choices of the teacher might be questioned or challenged, or where the student begins to take over and assert control over learning about design.

Teachers must also expand their training and learning to go beyond art and craft.   They must more clearly incorporate ideas about architecture and functionality into their teaching.   They must train their students to be aware of how jewelry design is a process of communicative interaction.

Teacher reluctance to incorporate disciplinary learning into the standard curriculum might also be due to the fact that there is little professional recognition.   The recognition that tends to exist gets very tied to criteria based on a standard content which understands jewelry as an object, not a dialectic between artist and relevant other.   Jewelry design is an occupation becoming a profession, and it may feel safer for the teacher to remain in craft or art, rather than design, because the criteria for teacher evaluation is more well defined and agreed-upon.

And there is no student demand.   Jewelry design is often viewed more as an avocation or occupation, rather than a professional pursuit.   It’s a way to exercise creative thoughts.  A way to earn some extra money.  A way to have fun.   Jewelry design is not seen in professional terms with specialized knowledge and specific responsibilities.

Partly demand reflects low student expectations.   There are assumptions that you cannot teach creativity – you have it or you don’t.    There are assumptions that anyone can make jewelry, and that once you learn some basic vocabulary and techniques, better design skills will naturally evolve over time.   And these assumptions get affirmed because all students ever see and experience is good ole basic craft or art education.

Partly demand reflects some realities of the marketplace.  Most people who buy jewelry have little understanding about quality issues, art and design considerations, who the artists are and what their reputations are.   They don’t know better so they don’t demand better.   Jewelry purchases skew heavily toward the upper classes.     However, this does not mean that we should assume that better designed jewelry has to equate to more expensive jewelry.

It is my firm belief, however, that if instructors integrate disciplinary literacy – thinking routines for how designers think design – into the standard curriculum, both student and client demand will follow, as well as teacher pay and recognition.

As teachers of jewelry design, we should be motivated to create that demand for deeper, disciplinary learning.     We need to support the professionalization of the field.    We should want to make jewelry design even more fulfilling for our students.

Towards this end, we should teach jewelry design knowledge and skills development which lead to greater fluency, comprehension, self-direction, flexibility, originality and automaticity in design.   This means developing our students as architects, as well as artists.   It means helping our students develop those critical thinking skills so they can adapt to different design situations, and more easily problem-solve when things go awry.   It means enabling our students to evaluate situations and contexts in ways which make clear how the shared understandings of others impact the jewelry design process.  It means giving our students a clear understanding of how creative thinking relates to the creative marketplace.   It means teaching our students to be able to assert their worth – the worth of the pieces they create, their skills, their ideas, and their labor.    Only in these ways will we play an active part in enhancing the ability of our students to make a living from their artistry and design work.   Only in this way, moreover, will we elevate contemporary jewelry design so that it has a life outside the studio, and so that it doesn’t get whipped by the whims of fashion or seen only as a design accessory.

How Should We Measure Successful Teaching?

In the standard design curriculum, it is relatively easy to measure our success as teachers.   We can gauge how many students take our classes.   We can refer to the number of concepts learned.   We can count the number of successfully completed steps students have completed.    We can get a sense of how many students are able to sell or exhibit their pieces.

What is more difficult to measure, from a disciplinary literacy standpoint, is how well our students are able to think, analyze, reflect, create and engage in jewelry design, given variation and variability in audience, client, context, situation, society and culture.

It is difficult, as well, to gauge the degree we have been able to elevate the importance of jewelry design as a profession.    Something beyond craft.   Something beyond occupation.   Something even beyond art.


WARREN FELD, Jewelry Designer

warren@warrenfeldjewelry.com

615-292-0610

For Warren Feld, Jewelry Designer, (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com), beading and jewelry making have been wonderful adventures. These adventures have taken Warren from the basics of bead stringing and bead weaving, to wire working, wire weaving and silversmithing, and onward to more complex jewelry designs which build on the strengths of a full range of technical skills and experiences.

Warren leads a group of instructors at Be Dazzled Beads (www.bedazzledbeads.com).  He teaches many of the bead-weaving, bead-stringing, wire weaving, jewelry design and business-oriented courses. He works with people just getting started with beading and jewelry making, as well as those with more experience.    Many of his classes and projects have been turned into kits, available for purchase from www.warrenfeldjewelry.com  or www.landofodds.com.     He conducts workshops at many sites around the US, and the world.

Join Warren for an enrichment-travel adventure on Your World Of Jewelry Making Cruises.

His pieces have appeared in beading and jewelry magazines and books. One piece is in the Swarovski museum in Innsbruck, Austria.

He is probably best known for creating the international The Ugly Necklace Contest, where good jewelry designers attempt to overcome our pre-wired brains’ fear response for resisting anything Ugly.

He is currently writing a book – Fluency In Design:   Do You Speak Jewelry?

_________________________________________________________

_________________________________________

FOOTNOTES

[1] T. Shanahan, C. Shanahan.  “Teaching disciplinary literacy to adolescents: Rethinking content-area literacy,” Harvard Educational Review, 2008.

[2] Historians gathering evidence like letters, journals, newspaper articles, photographs, analyze them and compare then.   They look for patterns and corroboration.   From that they infer understanding and conclusions.    The historian may take many paths and turns to discover information that may or may not be factual, but may be helpful.

Scientists set up controlled experiments, typically using information they consider facts, and interrelated these facts mathematically in order to establish understandings and conclusions.    They go about things following the scientific method and approach, beginning with observations, formulating hypotheses, setting experiment and collecting data, and so forth.

Jewelry designers manage tensions between appeal and functionality.     The successful managing of these tensions involves adequately anticipating the shared understandings of various client groups about whether a piece should be considered finished and successful.   The designer is able to establish something in and about the piece which signals such anticipation and understanding.

[3]Thinking Routines.  I teach jewelry design.   I find it useful to engage students with various ways of thinking out loud.    They need to hear me think out loud about what choices I am making and what things I am considering when making those choices.   They need to hear themselves think out loud so that they can develop strategies for getting more organized and strategic in dealing with information and making decisions.    My inspiration here was based on the work done by Visible Thinking by Project Zero at Harvard Graduate School of Education .   http://www.visiblethinkingpz.org/VisibleThinking_html_files/VisibleThinking1.html

[4] Fluency.  I took two graduate education courses in Literacy.   The primary text we used was Literacy: Helping Students Construct Meaning by J. David Cooper, M. Robinson, J.A. Slansky and N. Kiger, 9th Edition, Cengage Learning, 2015.   Even though the text was not about jewelry designing per se, it provides an excellent framework for understanding what fluency is all about, and how fluency with language develops over a period of years.    I have relied on many of the ideas in the text to develop my own ideas about a disciplinary literacy for jewelry design.

[5] Shared Understandings.  In another graduate education class, the major text reviewed the differences between understanding and knowledge.   The question was how to teach understanding.    Worth the read to gain many insights about how to structure teaching to get sufficient understanding to enrich learning.    Understanding by Design by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, 2nd Edition, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2005.

[6] Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Bloom, Benjamin S. 1956. Taxonomy of educational objectives; the classification of educational goals. New York: Longmans, Green.

Anderson, L. W., Krathwohl, D. R., & Bloom, B. S. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of educational objectives (Complete ed.). New York: Longman.

Bloom’s Taxonomy and the Arts.   Incredible Art Department.    As referenced at

https://www.incredibleart.org/files/blooms2.htm

Bloom’s Taxonomy.   Vanderbilt University.  Center for Teaching.   As reference at

https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/blooms-taxonomy/

[7] Backwards Design. I had taken two graduate education courses in Literacy and one in Planning that were very influential in my approach to disciplinary literacy. One of the big take-aways from Understanding by Design by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, 2nd Edition, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2005, was the idea they introduced of “backwards design”. Their point is that you can better teach understanding if you anticipate the evidence others will use in their assessments of what you are trying to do. When coupled with ideas about teaching literacy and fluency (see Literacy: Helping Students Construct Meaning by J. David Cooper, M. Robinson, J.A. Slansky and N. Kiger, 9th Edition, Cengage Learning, 2015), you can begin to introduce ideas about managing the design process in a coherent and alignable way.

<!–


–>

Copyright, FELD, 2019, All rights reserved.

Posted in architecture, Art or Craft?, art theory, bead weaving, beadwork, design management, design theory, jewelry design, jewelry making | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

THE JEWELRY DESIGNER’S APPROACH TO COLOR

Posted by learntobead on February 16, 2019

THE JEWELRY DESIGNER’S APPROACH TO COLOR

by Warren Feld, Jewelry Designer


Abstract
Color is the single most important Design Element, whether used alone, or in combination with other Design Elements.    Yet jewelry creates a series of dilemmas for the colorist not always anticipated by what jewelry designers are taught in a typical art class.    This article reviews the basic concepts in color theory and suggests how to adapt each of these to the special requirements of beads and jewelry.   Special attention is paid to differentiating those aspects of color use we can consider as objective and universal from those which are more subjective.    The fluent designer is one who can maneuver between universal understandings and subjective beliefs when selecting and implementing colors, color combinations and color blends.  This involves managing the sensation of color light value (balance), the sensation of color contrasts (proportion), and the sensation of simultaneous color contrasts (context) among designer, wearer and viewer.

RETHINKING THE TEACHING OF “COLOR” IN JEWELRY DESIGN
You cannot paint with beads and other jewelry components.
I am going to repeat this:   You cannot paint with beads and other jewelry components.
When you take color class after color class rooted in art, they are teaching you how to paint.    You can’t do this with jewelry and beads.

As frustrating as this can be, you cannot ignore the fact that Color is the single most important Design Element.   Colors, their selection, use and arrangement, are believed to have universal powers to get people to see things as harmonious and appealing.   Color attracts attention.   A great use of color within and object, not only makes that object more coherent, it can be contagious, as well.    Using colors that do not work well together, or using too many colors or not enough colors, or using colors which look good on paper but distort in reality can put people off.

Designers can learn the artistic basics of Color concepts and theories.   They can reference this visual language of color to influence how they go about making choices, including those about picking and using colors.    However, jewelry artists who are fluent in design will be very aware of the limitations this artistic, painterly language imposes on them.    They will have to learn how to decode, adjust and leverage their thinking to anticipate how the bead and other related and integrated materials assert their needs for color, and how to strategically compose, construct and manipulate them.

Jewelry, unlike painting or sculpture, has certain characteristics and requirements which rely on the management and control of color, its sensation and its variability with a slightly different emphasis than learned in a traditional art class.  Jewelry is a 3-dimensional object, composed of a range of materials.  Jewelry situates, moves and adjusts in relation to the human body and what that body is doing at the moment.   To get the attention their jewelry deserves, jewelry artists must become fluent with color selection and application from their own disciplinary perspective.    We must understand color in jewelry as the jewelry is worn, and worn in a particular context or situation.

Beads  [here I use ‘beads’ as a stand-in for all the component parts and stringing materials used in a piece of jewelry]  are curved or faceted or otherwise shaped, and the shape and texture and material and dimensionality affect the color, its variation and its placement and movement on the beads surface.  They affect how light reflects and refracts, so depending on the angle at which you are standing, and how you are looking at the bead, you get some unexpected, unanticipated, sometimes unwanted colors in your piece of jewelry.

Additionally, you need to anticipate how the bead, when worn, can alter its color, depending on the source of light, the type and pace of movement of the wearer, and how the eye interacts with the bead at any point of time or positioning.   There are many gaps of light between each pair of beads, and you can’t paint these in.  The colors don’t blend, don’t merge, don’t spill over, don’t integrate.    You can’t create the millions of subtle color variations that you can with paint.

I’m not suggesting that beaders and jewelry makers be afraid of colors.    Rather, they should embrace them.  They should learn insights into understanding colors.  They should be inspired by colors.   They should express their artistic and creative selves through color.    They should use color palettes to their fullest.    They should recognize how their various audiences see and claim and interact with color.

It is most important that jewelry designers understand color, its use and application from their own disciplinary standpoint.   In some sense, however, the approaches of most bead artists and jewelry designers too often remain somewhat painterly – too routed in the Art Model.    The Art Model ignores things about functionality and context.    It diminishes how the individuality of the designer, and the subjective responses of the wearer and viewer affect each other.  In many respects, these are synergetic, mutually dependent and reciprocal.  The Art model understands the success of jewelry as if sitting on an easel, not as it is worn.

As a result, color theories get oversimplified for the jewelry artist.   “Value” is barely differentiated from “Intensity”.   Color selection focuses too much on harmony, and too little on resonance and edginess.  Color training too often steers jewelry designers towards a step-by-step, paint-by-number sort of approach to color selection and application.   The co-dependent relationship between Color and other Design Elements is downplayed and glossed over.    This is a major disservice.

So, I’ve tried to re-think how we could and should think about and teach “color” to jewelry artists.     Not easy.   Art and Design Theory suggests that, in order to teach designers to make good choices, we need to break down color concepts and theories into teachable and digestible groups of skills.    And then show how the next set of skills builds upon the first.

We need to show jewelry artists what kinds of color choices they will be making as they create pieces of jewelry, and then put them in situations where they are forced to make these kinds of choices.     We need to think of colors as “building blocks”, and the process of using colors, as one of creative construction.   Creative construction requires focusing on how color (and multiple colors) is (are) sensed, and sensed by various audiences which include the artist him- or herself, and the wearer and the viewer, and the exhibitor, collector, and the seller, if need be.

So, that’s where I’ll begin with color:   Delineating the types of choices that the jewelry artist needs to make, starting with choices about picking colors.

Picking Colors
As a design element, color is used to attract attention.   It aids in grouping some objects and setting boundaries between others.   It can emphasize and focus.   It conveys meaning and value.   Usually color enhances the aesthetics and appeal.    Color can be used as an organizing tool and create segments, components, rhythms, movement, dimension and hierarchical arrangements within your jewelry composition.   Color can affect the figure/ground relationship of the composition.

There are many different kinds of choices involved, when using Color:

Choices about colors based on our understanding of…
– Personal strategies for picking colors or finding inspirations for colors
– Color theories and concepts
– How the bead (and related jewelry materials) asserts its (their) needs for color
– How color affects the viewers of color
– The process for designing jewelry with color
– The situation or context within which the jewelry is to be worn

Part of picking colors is very personal and subjective.   And part of this is very strategic and must be managed.    That is, part of picking colors is about anticipating more universal understandings about how various audiences will sense and pick colors.     How do you actually go about picking your colors, and then deciding on your final colors for your piece?   What kinds of things influence you in choosing colors?   What inspires you?   Where do you look for inspiration?    Do you have favorite colors and color combinations?    Or colors and color combinations that you detest?    How do you anticipate how others will view and evaluate the colors you pick?

Choosing Colors is an involved exercise.     Most people avoid this kind of exercise, and settle for a set of colors that match.    But, in design terms, Colors are used by the designer to clarify and intensify the effects she or he wants to achieve.

What does it mean to “clarify and intensify” the effects you might want to achieve?   For example, the artist may use color to clarify and/or intensify any of these kinds of things…
– delineation of segments, forms, themes, areas
– expressions of naturalism or abstraction
– enhancing the sense of structure or physicality (forward/recede; emphasize mass or lines or surfaces or points)
– playing with light (surprise, distort, challenge, contradict, provoke)
– altering the natural relationship between the jewelry and the situation it is worn in (context, clothing, setting)

Color is the primary Design Element designers choose to express their intent, establish unity, create rhythm, set movement and dimensionality in place, enhance shape, make points, lines and planes come alive, and the like.    Alas, too few people apply this kind of thinking and make this kind of effort when choosing colors.

For myself, I know that as I start to play with my design arrangements, I also begin to identify potential color issues.    Designs are imperfect.   Beads are imperfect.  Colors are imperfect.   With each issue, I try to figure out solutions – other things I can do with colors to make everything work.   My choices begin with scientifically proven color theories – shared universals that virtually everyone has about picking colors.

In literacy terminology, this is called decoding. Then I begin to personalize my choices so that my results show more of my individuality as an artist.   Some of these latter choices do not necessarily reflect shared universal understandings about color, its sensation and its use.   In literacy terminology, my ability to move back and forth between the objective and subjective is called fluency.

Bead Choices
The bead – its very being – creates as series of dilemmas for the colorist.    And each dilemma is only overcome through strategically making and managing choices about color and design.
Such dilemmas include things like… 

  • Beads are not the same as using paints
  • Can’t blend beads
  • Boundary issues
  • Issues associated with shapes, faceting, edges, crevices
  • Jewelry reflects and refracts light, and this may change as the wearer moves, or lighting changes, or perspective and angle of vision changes, or materials or material mixes change
  • Limits in the range of colors (and color tones) you can pick from
  • Issues associated with the fact that jewelry as worn, takes many shapes/positions, as the person moves, and the color appearance may change or vary
  • Beads are parts in whole compositions, and juxtaposition of 2 or more beads may change or vary the colors’ appearance
  • Jumping from bead to bead within the composition, means the viewer’s mind has to fill in where there are gaps of color to give the illusion there is a continuance of color throughout the composition

Yet most people do not recognize or anticipate these kinds of dilemmas.

Emotions, Moods and Choices
The emotional and psychological effects of color are undeniable.  These effects are usually felt through processes of color comparisons and contrasts.   The better designer anticipates the goals of the wearer, and what emotions and moods the wearer wants to evoke in all that see the jewelry as worn.    This might be appeal, beauty, trust, power, wealth, intelligence, and the list goes on.


Designing With Color – Many Choices
The jewelry designer must be strategic with color, which comes down to..

  1. Selection
  2. Placement
  3. Distribution
  4. Transition
  5. Proportion

Designers must be intentional, not only with the selection of colors, but in the placement of color within the piece, as well.     The designer achieves balance and harmony, partly through the placement of colors.    The designer determines how colors are distributed within the piece, and how colors transition from one color to the next.   And the designer determines what proportions of each color are used, where in the piece, and how.   These kinds of choices affect movement and rhythm, dimensionality, and resonance.

Subjective or Objective Choices?
SOME TOOLS FROM ART THEORY

Many people are often skeptical that you can choose colors with any basis of rationality.     Choosing colors is intuitive, subjective, personal.    You can’t teach people to be better users of colors, because you’re either born with a sense of color, or you are not.

People seem to have cultural or social expectations about the meanings of some colors.   When Vanderbilt students see black and gold, they associate it with school colors.   When others see black and gold, they associate it with something else.    The same goes for University of Tennessee Orange, and so forth school to school.

If we are to be able to teach jewelry makers and beaders to be more scientific in their choices of colors, and be able to anticipate how their various audiences respond to colors, then we would need to have some objective rules, rules that refer universally to just about everyone.  Rules that inform people what colors are best.   What colors go together, which ones do not.   Rules that show how to manipulate color and its expression in perfect and predictable ways.

But everything seems so subjective.

When people see colors on the vertical, they may respond very differently than when they see these same colors on the horizontal.

Look at flags of countries around the world.   Many flag colors are red, white and blue.

If you look at France’s flag, you have red/white/blue on the vertical.

Russia’s flag has red/white/blue on the horizontal.

You frequently find that people might like a color arrangement in a vertical organization, but feel very uncomfortable, or have much disdain for those same colors, when found in the horizontal.

COLOR TOOLS AND THEIR THEORETICAL BASIS
Sensation Management

Color research over the past 100 years or so suggests that there are many universals in how people perceive, understand and respond to colors.   These universals provide the basis for several “sensation-management-tools” jewelry designers might use to help them manipulate various design elements and their arrangements within a jewelry composition.    Some of the most useful color tools are those which designers use to control how to make one color relate to another.     These have to do with creating and managing…

A. Sensations of Color Balance (Light Values)
B. Sensations of Color Proportions (Color Contrast)
C. Sensations of Simultaneous Color (Simultaneous Color Contrasts)

As jewelry designers, we need to know…

  • What these color TOOLS are, and with which we can play
  • What the special demands beads (and all other materials) place on our use of these TOOLS
  • How we can push the limits of these TOOLS to achieve harmony, variety and emotional responses
  • How Far We Can Push the limits of these TOOLS to achieve parsimony and resonance

Toward this end, we need to know a little bit about the research and theories these tools are based upon.We need to understand some things about perception and cognition.That is, we need to understand, as people interact with our jewelry, how the brain comes to see color, recognize color, and interpret color in context.

Theory / Research Underlying These Color-Sensation Management Tools
My favorite book on the research into the theoretical bases of these kinds of color management tools is by Johannes Itten [2] called The Elements of Color.    The most important theories about color universals for jewelry designers, as detailed in his book, include,

  1. After Images
  2. Use of the Color Wheel
  3. Color Schemes
  4. Color Proportions
  5. Simultaneity Effects

As a design element in and of itself, Color (and its attributes) are universally understood as if they were objective facts which comprise a visual grammar.  It is important to understand how to employ universal understandings about color.

Universality, in and of itself, however, is necessary but not sufficient for understanding why some color use draws your attention, and others do not.  Here aspects of subjective interpretations and reactions, given the context, have great influence.The fluent, successful jewelry designer should understand both those universal and subjective aspects of color.

The initial discussion below, however, primarily concerns itself about color as a design element – that is, as something universal and objective.

(1) After Images
The first research had to do with After Images.    If you stare at a particular color long enough, and close your eyes, you’ll begin to see the color on the opposite side of the color wheel.   So, if you stare at red, close your eyes, and you’ll see green.

I know you want to do this, so stare away:


So our first color-sensation tools are based on LIGHT VALUE.    Each color has its own energy signature.  This seems to be universally perceived, and perceived in the same way.

Some colors have a positive energy signature; other colors have a negative energy signature.   The brain wants to balance these out and harmonize them into some kind of zero-sum outcome.    Everyone seems to see after images and see the same after images.    It seems that the eye/brain wants somehow to neutralize the energy in color to achieve some balance or 0.0 point.      The brain always seeks a balanced energy in light and color.   The human eye is only “satisfied” when the complementary color is established.

[This is the basis underlying the various color schemes below. ]

If red had an energy of +10  (I’m making up this scale), and the eye/brain then convinced your psyche to see green, then I would suppose that green would have an energy of -10.   Hence, we reach a 0.0 point (+10 – 10 = 0).

Again, the brain wants balance, harmony, beauty, non-threatening situations.   The brain does not want edginess, tension, anxiety, fear, or ugliness.   So, when you perceive red, your brain, in knee-jerk fashion, and in the absence of other information which might lead to a different interpretation of the situation, tries to compensate for the imbalance by also seeing green.

And we can continue to speculate that your eye/brain does Not want you the designer to overly clarify and intensify, should this result in a more resonant, perhaps edgy, composition.   This takes you too far away from 0.0 energy, and starts to become threatening.   It might excite you.   It might revolt you.   In either case you would react, feel, sense the power of color, but maybe not in a more balanced way the eye/brain would prefer.

But all jewelry designers need to know, and this is important, that their guiding star is “Resonance”, and this can take you a little beyond the harmony the brain seeks.     Creating a little “edginess” in your jewelry can’t hurt, and might better help in achieving finish and success.   But creating too much “edginess” might strike too forcefully at the heart of our pre-wired anxiety response, and our brain will not let us go there.   Your eye/brain does Not want you to push yourself and your jewelry too far to the edge with color.  This countervailing force might create tensions with your artistic and design intentions.

The eye/brain wants balance, harmony, monotony.     Red and green can seem so much fun at Christmas time.    But if you put your red and green necklace on a copy machine, and took a photocopy of it, it would all look like one color of black.    Red and green will always copy as the same color and shade of black.

And that is how we perceive them.    And cognate them.   We see red and green as the same.   As the same color black.    And if we assign red a +10 score, and green a -10 score, the eye/brain is happy to end up with a 0.0 score.  This combination can be boring and monotonous.   Combinations of red and green can feel unified and appear varied, yet somehow fail as choices in our jewelry designs.

And it is important to recognized that if, your composition only uses red, that in reality, when something doesn’t balance off the color red, in this case, the brain will create its own after image – some sensation of green —  to force that balance.   The brain wants to feel safe and in harmony and balance.    Everyone’s brain seems to operate similarly so that this aspect of perceiving color is universally employed.

How far the jewelry designer should fight this universal tendency is up for debate.    However, when initially picking colors to combine in a piece, we might try to achieve this 0.0 balance score (thus, a point of harmony and balance), and then, by clarifying and intensifying, deviate from it a little bit, but always with an eye on that 0.0 – what anyone’s eye/brain is driving it to do.    We want the eye/brain to feel satisfied and “safe”, but as a designer, we also want to give the jewelry a punch, a wow, an edge.    There are many color tricks and techniques that the designer can apply here.


(2) The Color Wheel: A Spectrum of Light Values
Science and Art Theory have provided us with tools to help us pick and combine colors.    One tool is the Color Wheel.    With almost every book about color, there is a Color Wheel.   Some are more detailed than others.   Some are easier to turn and manipulate.    They all have different colors at the North, South, East and West points, but it is the same series of colors, ordered in the same way, color to color.

It is important to understand how to use the Color Wheel.  This curtain of color provides the insights for selecting and arranging colors that might go together well.   The color wheel helps us delineate what color choices we can make, and which combinations of colors might work the best together, to achieve a perceived harmony and balance.

The Color Wheel is a tool and a guide.   It’s not an absolute.   Beads don’t always conform to the colors on the wheel; nor do they reflect light and color in ways consistent with how these colors appear on the wheel.

Look at this color wheel:

Get some color pencils, and color in all the colors around the wheel.

On the Color Wheel, there are 12 colors arranged into three families of color.

The Primary Color [3] family includes three colors:   yellow, blue and red.     These colors present the world as Absolutes.  They are definitive, certain, and steady.   They convey intelligence, security, and clarity.

The Secondary Color family includes those colors you can make by mixing any two primary colors.   These three colors are:  green, orange and violet.    These colors present the world as Contingencies.  They are situational, dependent on something, and questioning.   They convey questioning, inquiry, risks assessed against benefits.

The Tertiary Color family includes six colors.    Each of these colors is a mix of one of the primary colors and one of the secondary colors.  These include:  red-violet, yellow-orange, blue-green, blue-violet, yellow-green, red-orange.   These colors show Transitions.   These colors are useful for transitioning from one primary or secondary color to the next.    They bridge, integrate, tie things together, stretch things out.   They give a sense of before and after, lower then higher, inside and outside, betwixt and between.    They convey ambiguity or a teetering on the fulcrum of a scale.

As you begin to pick colors, you will also want to manipulate them – make them lighter or darker, brighter or duller, more forward projecting or more receding, and the like.   Expressions of color are referred to as attributes.  Expressive attributes are the ways you use color as building blocks in design.   So, here are some important building block/color terms/attributes and vocabulary.


(3) Color Schemes – Rules for Balancing Light Values
Color schemes are different, universally recognized and proven ways to use and combine colors, in order to achieve a pleasing or satisfying result.

Good color combinations based on color schemes have balanced, harmonious tonal values – their light energy levels balance out at the zero-zero (0.0) point.    Better designers like to tweak these combinations a bit, in order to evoke an emotional and resonant response to their work.

Color Schemes, then, as represented in a Color Wheel, are based on harmonizing (e.g., zero-sum) combinations of colors.   Color schemes – like the split complementary scheme of violet, yellow-green and yellow-orange – are different combinations of colors the Light Values of which add up to zero, and achieve harmony.

You can place geometric shapes inside the Color Wheel, and rotate them, and where the points hit the wheel, you have a good color combination.    For example, if you place an equilateral triangle (all sides are equal length) within the circle, as in the diagram below, the points touch Yellow, Red and Blue.   If you rotate it two colors to the right, it touches Orange, Violet and Green.

Different color schemes are associated with different geometric shapes that you can overlay within the wheel, and rotate, thus helping you select colors that work well together.


With color schemes, you always need to think about things like:

  1. Whether one color should predominate, or all colors should be more or less equal
  2. Whether there should always be a “splash of color”, as interior designers like to say — a “drama” color to achieve exciting, focal, look at me first effects
  3. If symmetry works with or against your color choices
  4. If you need to adjust intensity (brightness) or value (lightness) in each color, to get a better sense of satisfaction
  5. If you need to adjust the proportions or distributional patterns or arrangements of each color used; that is, experiment with same colors, different placement or different sizes or different quantities or different shapes or mixes of shapes

Let’s look at the three most popular, often-used Color Schemes – Analogous, Complementary, and Split Complementary.

Analogous
The analogous color scheme is where you pick any 3 hues which are adjacent to one another on the color wheel.   For example, you might pick yellow-green, yellow, and yellow-orange.   This scheme is a little trickier than it seems.    It works best when no color predominates.    Where the intensity of each color is similar.   And the design is symmetrical.   I also think this scheme works best when you have blocks of each color, rather than alternating each color.   That is, BETTER:  color 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3 rather than WORSE: color 1, 2, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3, 2, 1.

Complementary  (also known as “true complementary” or “dyadic”)
The complementary color scheme is where you pick any 2 colors which are the direct opposite on the color wheel.   For example, you might pick yellow and violet.   To use this color scheme effectively, you would balance the contrast of the colors by value (lightness/darkness) and/or intensity (brightness/dullness).   In this color scheme, one color has to predominate.

Split Complementary
This is the most popular color scheme.  Here you choose three colors:  a hue and the hues on either side of its complement.   For example, you might choose yellow and blue-violet and red-violet  (thus, the two colors on either side of Violet – the complement).   In this scheme, one color needs to predominate.   This scheme works well with both symmetrical and asymmetrical designs.  You can use an isosceles triangle (has two sides with equal length) within the Color Wheel to pick colors.

One thing I like to do with this scheme is arrange all my beads, then replace one color with one of the others, and vice versa.    Let’s say you had 20 blue-green (aqua), 10 orange, and 5 red beads, which you had laid out in a satisfactory arrangement.    You could change it to 20 orange, 10 blue-green, and 5 red beads, and it would look just as good.

A lot of people have difficulty using the color orange in jewelry designs, but find it easy to use blue-green.   Here’s a nifty way to trick them into using orange, and liking it.   Do the composition with blue-green dominant, then switch out all the blue-green for orange, and any orange you used for blue-green.

There are many other color schemes.   Some examples:

Analogous Complementary
.(3 analogous colors, and one complement of one of these 3).             Example:  blue-violet, violet, red-violet with yellow-green.

Triadic
:  (3 tertiary hues equidistant on the color wheel.)             Example:  red-violet, yellow-orange, and blue-green.  You can use an equilateral triangle within the color wheel to help you pick choices.

Tetradic:
   (Using 4 colors, a double complementary scheme).   Example:   Yellow-green, orange, red-violet, and blue.   You can use a square or rectangle within the color wheel to help you pick choices.

Hexadic:   (Using 5 colors).   Can use a pentagon within the color wheel to select your colors.

Monochromatic:   (A single hue, though with different intensities, tints and shades)

Achromatic:  (black and white and gray  (without color))

Neutrals:   (mixes of hues to get browns (or grays))

Clash:  (combines a color hue with a color on either side of its complement).

Example:   blue w/red-orange or orange-yellow

There are many books, as well as free on-line color scheme designer apps to check out and play with.

(4) Color Proportions and the Sensation of Color Contrasts
Just because the colors picked conformed to a Color Wheel, doesn’t mean that they will be successful within your jewelry composition.   It turns out that making color choices based on Light Values alone are less than perfect.   Colors do not occur in a vacuum.    They appear next to other colors.   They appear within a situation or context.   They reflect and refract light and shadow differently, depending on setting, lighting, and context.

That means, perceiving and recognizing one or more colors is important information to have, but not enough information for the brain to determine if the object is satisfying or not, or safe or not.    People do not yet have enough information to make an absolute choice whether to wear or buy a piece of jewelry, at this point.

This bring us to the sensation of Color Contrasts.   Colors appear together in different proportions.   This also affects the brain’s processes of trying to harmonize them – that is, achieve a light value of zero.

Another series of color research focused on the effects of color proportions.   These scientifically derived proportions show the joint effect of 2 or more colors, if the brain is to score their sum as a value of 0.0.   (Again, I’ve made up this scoring, but you get the point about reaching equilibrium).     The brain would like to know, not only what color it is, but what proportion relative to other colors, we have before us.

As designers, to achieve a sense of harmony and balance, we are going to mimic what the brain does when seeing more than one color – we are going to vary the proportions so that, in combination, the sense of that perceptual and cognitive zero-sum game is still maintained.

And again, I’ll make the point that not all compositions have to be perfectly harmonious.

Itten has a picture of the ideal and relative proportions of colors in harmony and balance.

Yellow to purple, 1:4   (This is read as “1 in 4”, and means that given 4 parts, 1 should be yellow and the remaining 3 should be purple.  )

Orange to blue, 1:3
Red to green, 1:2
Yellow to orange: 1:1.3

Choreographing Color Blending and Transitioning:
Playing With Proportions

ColorBlock Bracelet, Warren Feld, 2017   (playing with progressive proportions)

Every so often, you might want to create a rainbow, or some sequencing of colors, say from light to dark, where all the colors seem to emerge from the last, and bleed into the next.    This is much more difficult with beads than with paints for all the usual reasons discussed above.

A “Random” selection or placement of colors doesn’t usually work as well as selecting and placing based on some more mathematical formula.  “Alternating” or “graduating” colors doesn’t always work as well, either.    You must create a more complex, involved patterning.   You must choreograph the layout of colors, so that, from a short distance, they look like they are blending, and gradually changing across the length of your piece.

Monet’s Garden Bracelet, Kathleen Lynam, 2013  (using math formula)

One of the easier mathematical formulas to come up with as a way to choreograph things, is to play with color proportions.   Go bead by bead or row by row, and begin with the ideal proportionate relationship between two colors.    Gradually manipulate this down the piece by anticipating the next ideal proportionate relationship between the next two colors that need to follow.

In fact, any kind of statistical or mathematical formula underlying an arrangement will work better than something random or intuitive, when managing color blending and transitions.

(5) Simultaneity Effects and the Sensation of Simultaneous Color Contrasts
It turns out there is even more to how the brain recognizes and tries to harmonize colors.  Knowing (1) the color (light value) and (2) the relative proportions (contrasts) of color within the piece of jewelry is necessary, but still not enough for the brain to decide whether the piece of jewelry will be satisfying, finished and successful, or somewhat ugly, not buy-able or unwearable.

Some colors, when sitting on or near a particular color, are experienced differently, than when sitting on or near a different color.    The line of research we are focusing on here deals with what are called Simultaneity Effects.   Colors can be affected by other colors around them (simultaneous color contrasts).    Colors in the presence of other colors get perceived differently, depending on the color combination.

Simultaneity Effects are a boon to the jewelry designer.   They are great tools for such things as… 

  • Filling in the gaps of light between beads
  • Assisting in the blending of colors or the sense of movement of colors along a line or plane
  • Assisting in establishing dimensionality in a piece that otherwise would appear flat
  • Harmonizing 2 or more colors which, on as a set, don’t quite match up on the color wheel
  • Establishing frames, boundaries or silhouettes
  • Re-directing the eye to another place, or creating sense of movement

For example, a White Square on a Black background looks bigger than a Black Square on a white background.  White reaches out and overflows the boundary; black contracts.


Gray always picks up some of the color characteristics of other colors around it.


Existence of these simultaneity effects is a great piece of information for the designer.  There will be gaps of color and light between beads.   Many bead colors are imperfect, particularly in combination.    Playing with what I call “grays” [thus, simultaneity effects] gives the designer tools to overcome some of the color limitations associated with the bead.

Simultaneity effects trick the brain into filling in those gaps of light between beads.  Simultaneity effects trick the brain into believing colors are more connected and blended and mutually-supportive than they would, if separately evaluated.    Simultaneity effects trick the brain into seeing satisfying arrangements, rhythms, and dimensionality, where, without them, things would be unsatisfying instead.

A final example of simultaneity effects has to do with how people sense whether colors are warm or cool.   In one composition, depending on the color mix, a particular color might be felt as “warm”.   In a second composition, with a different color mix, that same color might be felt as “cool”.

Here the yellow square surrounded by white feels lighter, brighter and a different temperature than its counterpart.    The red square surrounded by the black feels darker, duller, and a different temperature than its counterpart.

Again, simultaneity effects give tools to the jewelry designer for intensifying and clarifying the design, without disturbing the eye/brain pre-wired fear and anxiety responses.    These allow you to “blend” and build “bridges” and create “transitions.”   You have a lot of tricks to use here which enable you to push the envelop with your designs.   And still have your piece be judged as beautiful and appealing.

Simultaneity Effects are some of the easiest things the jewelry artist can control and manipulate, to fool the brain just a little bit.    They let you bring in unexpected colors, and fool the brain into seeing color coordination and color blending.   They let you convince the brain that the color proportions are correct when, in reality, they are not.  They let you convince the brain to jump the cliff, which the gap between beads presents.

For the brain, gaps between beads – that is, areas with undefined colors, creates work for the brain, and is fraught with danger.  The brain has to actually construct a color and meaning to fill in this gap.  Without any clues or rules or assistance, it is more risky for the brain to jump the cliff, so to speak, and fill in the gaps with color, than it is for the brain to follow an easier pathway and simply define the jewelry as ugly or boring and reject it and move on.   Similarly, simultaneity effects convince the brain to look around corners, go into crevices, explore and move around the whole piece from end to end.

It is at this point in the design process where the jewelry artist must be most fluent, creative and strategic in using color.     It is primarily and most often through establishing, and then managing, the sensation of simultaneous color contrasts where the artist begins to build that connection between audience and self, wearer and resonance, the wearing-of and the context, coherency and contagion.

With Simultaneity Effects, colors begin to take on meanings and emotions.    These can be as simple as sensations of warm and color, close and far, approaching and fleeing, soft and harsh.   Or they can be much more complex, even thematic and symbolic.


The Use of “GRAYS” (simultaneity effects) to tie things together – Blending and Bridging

With beads, the eye often needs to merge or coordinate colors, as it scans any piece.  And then there are the gaps of light between beads.  The eye needs help in spanning those gaps.   The Artist needs to build color “bridges” and “transitions”, so that the eye doesn’t fall off a cliff or have to make a leap of death from one bead, across the gap, all the way to the next.

One easy technique to use is to play with simultaneity effects.  One such effect is where gray takes on the characteristics of the color(s) around it.

In beads, there are many colors that function as “grays” – gray, black diamond, alexandrite, Montana blue, prairie green, fuchsia, Colorado topaz – colors that have a lot of black or gray tones to them.    Most color lined beads result in a gray effect (where the class encasing distorts the inside color).  Metallic finishes can result in a gray effect.

Aqua/peach lined Antique rose Teal iris

In one piece I made, for example, I used 11/0 peach lined aqua beads as a “gray” to tie in larger teal and antique rose beads together.    While aqua is different than teal and the peach is different than the antique rose, in combination, the aqua/peach-lined beads acted like a gray.  When close to the teal iris beads, the aqua took on the teal color; when close to the antique rose beads, the peach took on the antique rose color.   Gray colors pull from one bead, and transition to the next in a very subtle way, that tricks the brain, but does not disturb it.


Expressive Attributes of Color and Color Contrasts:
Important Color Terms and Vocabulary

Each color on the wheel is called a HUE.     Hues are pure colors – any color except black or white.    And if you look again, there is no black or white on the Color Wheel.

BLACK
is the absence of color.   We consider black to be opaque.   Usually, when people see black, they tend to see shadows.   With black, designs tend to feel older, more antique’y, richer, more traditional and solid, and seem to have a patina around them.

WHITE is all the colors merged together.    When all colors in “light” merge, you get White.  When all the colors in paints or pigments are merged, you get a neutral gray-black or beige.   With White, designs tend to feel sharper, brighter, more contemporary.

INTENSITY and VALUE.  Better jewelry designers are those who master how to play with INTENSITIES and play with VALUES.   This means they know and are comfortable with manipulating bright and dull (intensity), and light and dark (value).    They know the subtle differences among red, pink and maroon, and how viewers react to these.    They know how to punctuate – BAM! – with Yellow, and EASE – with purple, and CALM – with blue.

The contrasts between Bright and Dull or Light and Dark are not quite the same.    Bright and Dull (intensity) has to do with how much white, gray or black underlay the Hue or pure color.    Low intensity is duller; high intensity is brighter.    Think of a Stop Sign.   It could have just as easily been Red, Pink or Maroon.    Red is the most intense – the brightest of the 3 – and hence the sign is Red.   You can see red from the farthest distance away.    Red is “Bright (intensity)”, but not necessarily “Lighter (values)” than Pink or Maroon.

The contrasts between Light and Dark are called VALUES.  A lower value is darker, though not necessarily duller (intensity).   Pink has a higher value than maroon, because it is lighter.   Yellow is the lightest color; violet is the darkest.    Yellow has a higher value than violet.

Unfortunately, in many texts and guides written by Bead Artists and Jewelry Designers, they combine the concepts of intensity and value into a single concept they refer to as “Values”.   Bead Artists and Colorists often write that the “secret” to using colors is to vary “values”.     When they refer to “values”, they are actually combining these two color theory concepts – “values” and “intensities”.    Both are really different, so this combined meaning is a disservice to the bead artist and jewelry designer trying to learn to control color choices and color expression.

INTENSITY AND VALUES EXERCISE
Intensity Exercise:

Use your Blue Pencil, as well as your White, Gray and Black Pencils, to color in the 2nd column.   Start by coloring in all the squares with a medium shade of blue.

Using your white, gray and black pencils, now vary the darkness of the blue to approximate the darkness of the grays in the 1st column. 

Values Exercise:

Using your Blue Pencil only, color in each cell in the table below, making the top cell the lightest (highest value), subsequent cells darker than the previous ones, and the last bottom cell, the darkest (lowest value).   [Press lightly on the pencil when coloring in the first cell, and then harder and harder as you go down the column.]

So, as you work with people to create jewelry for them, you make choices about, and then manipulate:

– colors
– balance and harmony (distribution, placement, and proportions)
– intensities
– values
– simultaneity effects

Let’s say you wanted to design a necklace with blue tones.   If you were designing this necklace for someone to wear at work, it would probably be made up of several blue colors which vary in values, but Not in intensities.   To give it some interest, it might be a mix of light blue, blue, dark blue and very dark blue.    Thus, the piece is pretty, but does not force any power or sexuality issues on the situation.

If you were making this same necklace for someone to go out on the town one evening, you might use several blue colors which vary in intensity.    You might mix periwinkles and Montana blues and cobalt blues and blue quartzes.     You want to make a power or sensual statement here, and the typical necklace someone would wear to work just won’t do.

Let’s continue with some more important color building blocks or concepts.

TINT, SHADE and TONE are similar to values and intensities.    They are another way of saying similar things about manipulating color Hues.    TINTS are colors with white added to them.  Pink is a tint of Red.    SHADES are colors with black or gray added to them.   Maroon is a shade of Red.    And TONES define the relative darkness of a color.    Violet is a dark tone and yellow is a light tone.    Red and green have the same tonal value.   “Tones” are what copy machines pick up, and the depth of the black on a photocopy relates to the tonal value of the colors on the original paper you are copying.   Red and green photocopy the same black color.   They have the same tonal value.

TEMPERATURE.  Colors also have Temperature.   Some colors are WARM.   The addition of black tends to warm colors up.   Warm colors are usually based in Red.   Red-Orange is considered the warmest color.   Warm colors tend to project forward.

COOL
colors are usually based in Blue.   Green-blue is the coldest color.   Addition of white often cools colors.   Cool colors tend to recede.

Given the other colors which surround them, however, usually warm colors may appear cold, and vice versa.

Juxtaposing colors creates MOVEMENT and RHYTHM.   By creating patterns, you guide the brain/eye in its circuitous route around the piece, as it tries to make sense of it.   Juxtaposing Warm with Cool colors increases the speed or sense of movement.


Some colors tend to PROJECT FORWARD and others tend to RECEDE.   Yellow is an advancing color.  Black recedes.     You can play with this effect to trick the viewer into seeing a more MULTI-DIMENSIONAL piece of jewelry before her.   By mixing different colors and different finishes, you can create a marvelous sense of dimensionality.

 

  • Faceted, Glossy beads will tend to look closer and capture the foreground
  • Smooth, Glossy beads will tend to capture the middle ground
  • Matte, Dull, Frosted, or Muted beads will tend to fall into the background



To Reiterate Some of The Key Ideas and Understandings
The color research begins to open up ideas about how the brain processes color, and which of these processes might be seen as universal, and which more subjective.

The brain first perceives, then tries to understand the color as a color.    It senses Light Values.

The brain perceives, then tries to understand the color relative to other colors around it.    It senses Color Contrasts.

At the same time, the brain perceives and tries to understand the color within some context or situation, to gauge more meaning or emotional content.   It interprets Simultaneous Color Contrasts within the boundaries of a context, situation, personal or group culture.

The END RESULT is simple:
Should we consider the jewelry to be finished and successful?
Should we like the jewelry or not like it?
Should it get and hold our attention, or not?
Should we approach it, or avoid it?
Should we get excited about it, or not?
Should we comment about it to others?
Should we buy it?
Should we wear it?

All this perceptual and cognitive and interpretive activity happens very quickly, but somewhat messy.  Some of it follows universal precepts.   Some of it is very subjective.   Our brain is trying everything it can to make sense of the situation.   It tries to zero-sum the light values.   It has to take in information about a color’s energy signature.  It has to take in information about how much of one color there is in relation to other colors.   It has to take in information about emotional and other meaningful content the juxtaposition of any group of colors within any context or situation represents.

With any piece of jewelry, the artist and designer is at the core of this all.    It is the designer, in anticipation of how others perceive, recognize and interpret colors in their lives, who establishes how color is used, and manages its expression within the piece.    The jewelry designer is the manager.    The designer is the controller.   The designer is the influencer.   The designer establishes and conveys intent and meaning.

DECODING COLOR AS A DESIGN ELEMENT


A composition in orange and blue.

Art and design theory informs us how to objectively use color.    That means, there are universally accepted shared understandings and expectations about what makes a piece of jewelry more satisfying (or dissatisfying) in terms of choices about color.

So, when we refer to our lessons above about color use, and examine the orange and blue necklace above, we can recognize some problematic choices about color.

The first is about color proportions.      The most satisfying proportionate relationship between orange and blue is 1:3.    That means, for every 3 parts, one should be orange and two should be blue.    In our illustrated composition, the relationship is more 1:2 or half orange and half blue.   To make this piece more attractive and satisfying, we would need to reduce the amount of orange and increase the amount of blue.

The second is about color schemes.    Here we have a 2-color, complimentary color scheme.   To make this piece more attractive and satisfying as a complimentary color scheme, we have learned that one of the two colors should predominate.   Either we have to add more orange, or have to add more blue.

So, we have decoded our Color Design Element and we see that the proportions are less than optimal, and the color scheme chosen is less than optimal.    To make the necklace more appealing, and in conformance with universally agreed upon understandings about good color use, we will need to increase the amount of blue and decrease the amount of orange, so that we get a 1:3 (orange to blue) proportionate outcome, and we allow one color to predominate.

Let’s look at another example:


Composition in green, white and red.

First, white is not considered a color.   We can ignore it.

Second, proportionately, there should be equal amounts of green to that of red.   The relationship is 1:2, meaning for every 2 parts, 1 should be green and 1 should be red.    Proportionately, in this piece, we are close to this proportionate relationship.

Third, we have, in effect, since we ignore white, a 2-color complimentary color scheme.    We have learned that in this scheme, one color should predominate.

That means, in this composition, the current use of color will not and cannot work.  It results in an unacceptable and unsatisfying use of color.    Proportionately, both colors need to be equal.   Color Scheme wise, one color needs to clearly predominate.    We can’t conform to both universally-accepted shared understandings about the use of green and red in a 2-color scheme.


DESIGNING JEWELRY WITH COLOR
Always remember that your choice of color(s) should be secondary to the choices you make about concept, theme, arrangement and organization.    Color should be used to enhance your design thinking.    Color should not, however, be the design.

When we study color from a design standpoint, we think of color as part of the jewelry’s structure.  That means, color is not merely a decorative effect or object.    It is more like an integral building component which has been organized or arranged within a larger composition.   As a component, it is a “Design Element”.    Color is the most important Design Element.      It can both stand alone, as well as easily be combined with other Design Elements.  There are some universal aspects when color is objectively understood as an element of design.   As part of an arrangement, we begin to treat color in terms of Principles of Composition, Construction and Manipulation.   Color takes on some subjectivity.    Its effects become much more dependent on the artist’s intent and the situation in which the jewelry is worn.

Color is used to express meaning and enhance meaningful expressions.   We use color to express elements of the materials used, like glass or gemstone.   We use color to express or emphasize elements of the forms we are creating.   We use color to enhance a sense of movement or dimension.   We use color to express moods and emotions.   We use color to influence others in sharing the artist’s inspirations and aspirations.

As designers, we…
– Anticipate how the parts we use to make a piece of jewelry assert their needs for color
– Anticipate shared universal understandings among self, viewer, wearer, exhibitor and seller about color and its use
– Think through how colors relate to our inspirations and how they might impact our aspirations
– Pick colors
– Place and arrange colors
– Distribute the proportions of colors
– Play with and experiment with color values and color intensities
– Leverage the synergistic effects and what happens when two (or more) colors are placed next to one another
– Create focus, rhythm, balance, dimension and movement with color
– Create satisfying blending and transitioning strategies using color
– Anticipate how color and the play of color within our piece might be affected by contextual or situational variables
– Reflect on how our choices about color affect how the piece of jewelry is judged as finished and successful by our various client audiences
– Use color to promote the coherency of our pieces, and the speed and extent to which attention by others continues to spread

Fluent designers can decode color and its use intuitively and quickly, and apply color in more expressive ways to convey inspiration, show the artist’s strategy and intent, and trigger an especially resonant, energetic response by wearers and viewers alike.

Don’t get into a Color Rut
And a last piece of advice.

Don’t get into a color rut.    Experiment with different colors.   Force yourself to use colors you usually do not use or avoid.     If it’s too psychologically painful, make a game of it.

————————————————————————————


WARREN FELD, Jewelry Designer
warren@warrenfeldjewelry.com
615-292-0610

For Warren Feld, Jewelry Designer, (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com), beading and jewelry making have been wonderful adventures. These adventures have taken Warren from the basics of bead stringing and bead weaving, to wire working, wire weaving and silversmithing, and onward to more complex jewelry designs which build on the strengths of a full range of technical skills and experiences.

Warren leads a group of instructors at Be Dazzled Beads (www.bedazzledbeads.com).  He teaches many of the bead-weaving, bead-stringing, wire weaving, jewelry design and business-oriented courses. He works with people just getting started with beading and jewelry making, as well as those with more experience.    Many of his classes and projects have been turned into kits, available for purchase from www.warrenfeldjewelry.com  or www.landofodds.com.     He conducts workshops at many sites around the US, and the world.

Join Warren for an enrichment-travel adventure on Your World Of Jewelry Making Cruises.

His pieces have appeared in beading and jewelry magazines and books. One piece is in the Swarovski museum in Innsbruck, Austria.

He is probably best known for creating the international The Ugly Necklace Contest, where good jewelry designers attempt to overcome our pre-wired brains’ fear response for resisting anything Ugly.

He is currently writing a book – Fluency In Design:   Do You Speak Jewelry?

_________________________________________________________

FOOTNOTES
[1] Pantone website   https://www.pantone.com
[2]  Itten, Johannes.  The Elements of Color: A Treatise on the Color System of Johannes Itten, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 2001

[3] In reality, the selection of primary colors is arbitrary.    The primary colors depend on the light source, the color of the background, and the biology of the color-sensing components of the eye.    We choose red-yellow-blue when referencing painting or coloring on white background, like paper.   We choose red-green-blue when referencing color placed on a black background, such as a TV or computer screen.   We choose cyan-maroon-yellow-black when using overlapping inks to create color on a white background, and better reproduce true colors.    We understand that the eye sees red-greenish yellow-blue-violet most clearly.


Color References Worth Checking Out
Rockport Publishers, Color Harmony Workbook, Gloucester, MA: Rockport Publishers,
1999.
Deeb, Margie.  The Beader’s Guide to Jewelry Design, NY: Lark Jewelry & Beading,
2014.

 

Posted in Art or Craft?, art theory, bead weaving, beads, beadwork, color, design management, design theory, jewelry collecting, jewelry design, jewelry making, Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

BEAD & BUTTON SHOW REGISTRATION BEGINS 1/8/19

Posted by learntobead on January 7, 2019

BEAD AND BUTTON SHOW
June 2-9, 2019
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
 
Registration opens at NOON CST on January 8th, 2019 http://www.beadandbuttonshow.com/store
 
 
Join jewelry designer Warren Feld, who will be teaching these three classes:
ETRUSCAN SQUARE STITCH BRACELET
JAPANESE GARDEN BRACELET
COLORBLOCK BRACELET

 

Posted in bead weaving, beads, beadwork, craft shows, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, Stitch 'n Bitch, Travel Opportunities, Workshops, Classes, Exhibits | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

What Is Jewelry, Really?

Posted by learntobead on December 30, 2018

 


WHAT IS JEWELRY, Really?

by Warren Feld, Jewelry Designer

“Tibetan Dreams”, Feld, 2010

  • ABSTRACT

    We create and wear jewelry because we do not want to feel alone.  But “not wanting to feel alone” can mean different things to different people.   The jewelry artist must have insight here.    The artist needs to understand what jewelry really is in order to make the kinds of successful choices about forms, materials, design elements, inspirations, techniques, arrangements, public presentations and exhibitions and the like.  There are different frameworks from which the artist might draw such understanding, including the sensation of jewelry as OBJECT, CONTENT, INTENT or DIALECTIC.  All these lenses share one thing in common – communication.    Although jewelry can be described in the absence of communicative interaction, the artist can never begin to truly understand what jewelry really is without some knowledge about its creation and without somehow referencing the artist, the wearer, the viewer and the context.    

WHAT IS JEWELRY, Really?

Simply put, we create and wear jewelry because we do not want to feel alone.

But “not wanting to feel alone” can mean different things to different people.   The jewelry designer, in order to make the best choices and the most strategic choices throughout the process of designing a piece of jewelry, requires some detail and clarity here.    What does it mean to say that we create and wear jewelry so we do not want to feel alone?

We might want to reaffirm that we are similar (or different) than someone else or some other group or culture.   We might want to signal some connection (or disconnection or mal-connection) with a higher power or mystical source or sense of well-being or with some idea, concept or meaning.  We might want to express an intent or feeling or emotion.

We might want to differentiate what it means to be yourself relative to something else, whether animate or inanimate, functional or artistic, part of a dialectic conversation with self or other.   We might want to signal or differentiate status, intelligence, awareness, and resolution.   We might want to separate ourselves from that which is sacred and that which is profane.

Whatever the situation, jewelry becomes something more than simple decoration or adornment.   It becomes more than an object which is worn merely because this is something that we do.   It becomes more than a functional object used to hold things together.    It is communicative.   It is connective.   It is intentional.      And concurrently, it must be functional and appealing and be seen as the result of an artist’s application of technique and technology.

The word jewelry derives from the Latin “jocale” meaning plaything.    It is traditionally defined as a personal adornment or decoration.     It is usually assumed to be constructed from durable items, though exceptions are often made for the use of real flowers.    It is usually made up of materials that have some perceived value.    It can be used to adorn nearly every part of the body.

Prehistoric Necklaces 40000 B.C

One of the earliest evidences of jewelry was that of a Neanderthal man some 115,000 years ago.     What was it – and we really need to think about this and think this through – which made him craft the piece of jewelry and want to wear it?    Mere decoration?   Did it represent some kind of status?   Or religious belief?   Or position or role?   Or sexuality and sensuality?    Or was it symbolic of something else?   Was this a simplified form or representation of something else?

Did this Neanderthal have concerns about craft and technique?   Did the making of it require some special or innovative technology?   Did the cost of materials come into play?    Was this an expression of art?  Self?  Power?  A show of intelligence and prowess?   A confirmation of shared beliefs, experiences and values?    Was it something he made himself, or was it something given to him as a gift or token of recognition?

Picture yourself there at this very moment.    What happened at the point this Neanderthal man put this piece of jewelry on?   Did this reduce or increase social and cultural barriers between himself and others?    Did this define a new way of expression or a new way of defining the self?    Did this impact or change any kind of outcome?    Did this represent a divergence between craft and art?    Was this piece of jewelry something that had to be worn all the time?     Were the purposes and experiences of this Neanderthal man similar to why and how we design and adorn ourselves with jewelry today?

We know that jewelry continued in importance.    Jewelry mattered.   It was an object we touched.   And it was an object we allowed to touch our bodies.    The object had form.   The form encapsulated meaning.    We allowed others to view the jewelry as we wore it, and when we did not.

Making and wearing jewelry became very widespread about 5,000 years ago, especially in India and Mesopotamia, but worldwide as well.    While some cultures banned jewelry or limited its forms and uses (see medieval Japan or ancient Rome, for example), they could not maintain these restrictions over time.     People want to support the making of jewelry, the wearing of it, the exhibiting of it in public, and the accumulating of it.   People want to touch it.  Display it.   Comment about it.  Talk about it with others.    Collect it, trade it, buy it, sell it.

As jewelry designers, we need to understand the why’s … Why make jewelry at all?     Why develop different techniques and use different materials and come up with different arrangements?

We observe that jewelry is everywhere, worn by all types of people, on various parts of the body, in many different kinds of situations.   Jewelry must possess a kind of inherent value for the artist, the wearer, the viewer and the society as a whole.

So we have to continue to wonder, Why is jewelry so coveted universally?   Why is it important?   How is understanding what jewelry is really necessary for making the kinds of successful choices about forms, materials, design elements, inspirations, techniques, arrangements, public presentations and exhibitions and the like?

Let us review the range of definitions and justifications for jewelry before fine-tuning any ideas and conclusions.      Each understanding leads us in different directions when filling in the blanks of this constructive phrasing:

Jewelry means to me …..… therefore,

These are the types of choices I need to make as a designer

to know my pieces are finished and successful,

including things like ………

These different definitional frameworks about jewelry are things characterized by the:

SENSATION OF JEWELRY AS OBJECT:

  1. ROUTINE: Something that we do with little or no reflection
  2. MATERIAL: Objects that we use as materials characterized or sorted by design elements, such as color, pattern, texture
  3. ARRANGEMENT AND FORMS: Materials are sorted by various Principles of Composition into arrangements and forms, expressing things like rhythm, focus, and juxtaposition of lines and planes
  4. TECHNIQUE: Techniques we use to assemble and construct
  5. FUNCTIONALITY: Things which have a useful purpose and functionality

SENSATION OF JEWELRY AS CONTENT:

  1. MEANING: Things to which we assign meaning(s) and such meaning(s) transcends materials, functions and techniques
  2. VALUE: Things to which we assign monetary and economic value, particularly materials

SENSATION OF JEWELRY AS INTENT:

  1. ORDER OUT OF CHAOS:  A sense-making attempt to control and order the world
  2. SELF-IDENTITY: An agent of personality

SENSATION OF JEWELRY AS DIALECTIC:

  1. INTERACTION AND SHARED UNDERSTANDINGS: A way to create, confirm and retain connections through interaction and shared understandings

Yet, no matter what the framework we use to try to makes sense about what jewelry really is, all these lenses share one thing in common – jewelry is more than ornament and decoration; it is communication, as well.Although we can describe jewelry in the absence of knowledge about its creation, we cannot begin to understand what jewelry really is without somehow referencing the artist, the wearer, the viewer and the context.

SENSATION OF JEWELRY AS OBJECT

Too often, ideas about communication and meaning and intent get too messy and complicated.     We seek a simpler framework within which to understand what jewelry is all about.    We try to fit the idea of jewelry into the confines of a box we call “object”.    It is decoration.     Jewelry succeeds as “object” to the extent that everyone everywhere universally agrees to what it is, how it is made, what it is made from, why it was made, and in what ways it is used.

Jewelry As Something That We Do.    Wearing jewelry might simply be something that we do.   We put on earrings.   We slip a ring onto a finger.    We clasp a necklace around our neck or a bracelet around our wrist.    It is habit.  Routine.   Not something to stop and ask why.      A necklace is a necklace.  An earring is an earring.    We mechanically interact with decorative objects we call jewelry.

Jewelry As A Material.   Sometimes we want to get a little more specific and describe what this object or ‘box’ is made of.    It is some kind of material.    Jewelry encompasses all types of stones and metals, in various shades and colors, which the artist has taken tools to them to shape and sharpen.     Sometimes we want to further delineate the character of materials within and around this box.    We refer to this as selecting various design elements such as color, pattern, texture.

Jewelry As Arrangements and Forms.    Sometimes we want to even further elaborate on our placement in terms of Principles of Composition which refers to arrangements and organized forms to create movement, rhythm, focal point, balance, distribution.       We apply this framework in a static way.    Jewelry is reduced to an object, somehow apart from its creator and disconnected from any wearer or viewer.

Jewelry As The Application of Technique(s).  We can also understand jewelry as object in a more dynamic sense.     It is something which is created by the application of one or more techniques.    The techniques are applications of ideas often corralled into routines.    The object is seen to evolve from a starting point to a finishing point.    As object, it is reduced to a series of organized steps.    These steps are disconnected from insight, inspiration, aspiration or desire.     There is no human governance or interference.

Jewelry As Function.   In a similar dynamic way, the object may be seen to have function.   It may hold up something, or keep something closed.     It may, in a decorative sense, embellish a piece of clothing.    It may assist in the movement of something else.    It is not understood to have any meaning beyond its function.   As it coordinates the requirements of form to the requirements of function, it plays a supportive, practical role, not a substantive role.  As such, it is unimportant.  It might allow the wearer to change position of the necklace on the neck.    It might better enable the piece to move with the body.    But it should not demand much insight or reflection by creator, wearer, or viewer.

SENSATION OF JEWELRY AS CONTENT

However, as we get closer to defining the object as one that is sensed and experienced and which evokes an emotional response, it becomes more difficult to maintain that the object does not reflect meaning, does not result from some kind of thought process and intent, and does not communicate quite a lot about the designer, the wearer, the viewer and the situation.     Jewelry when worn and which succeeds becomes a sort of identifier or locator, that can inform the wearer and the viewer about particular qualities or content, such as where you belong, or what you are about, or what your needs are.

Jewelry without content, after all, can skew to the superficial, boring,  monotonous and unsatisfying.   Without meaning and value, jewelry has little to offer.

Jewelry As Meaning.   Jewelry when worn signals, signifies or symbolizes something else.    It is a type of recognizable short-hand.   It is a powerful language of definition and expression.    By representing meaning, it takes responsibility for instigating shared understandings, such as membership in a group or delineating the good from the bad.     It might summarize difficult to express concepts or emotions, such as God, love, loyalty, fidelity.   It might be a stand-in marker for status, power, wealth, connection and commitment.    It might visually represent the completion or fulfillment of a rite of passage – puberty, adulthood, marriage, birthing, and death.

Sometimes, the sensation of jewelry as meaning derives from energy and powers we believe can transfer from the meaning of the materials the jewelry is made of to ourselves.  These might be good luck, or good fortune, or good health, or good love, or good faith or protection from harm.   Various gemstones, metals and other materials are seen to have mystical, magical and supernatural qualities that, when touching the body, allows us to incorporate these powers with our own.

Jewelry As Value.   When we refer to meaning as having power, sacredness, respect, significance, we are beginning to assign a value to it.    A sensation of value may emerge from how rare the item is – its material rarity or the rarity of how it was constructed or where it came from or who made it or who was allowed to wear it.    It may emerge from how bright it is or the noteworthy arrangement of its elements.     Its value may emerge from how pliable or workable the material is.   Its value might be set from how tradable it is for other materials, objects, access or activities.

By assigning value, we determine things like importance, uniqueness, appeal, status, need, want, and demand.     We establish control over how and how often a piece of jewelry will change hands.    We establish some regulation over how individuals in a group, culture or society interact and transact with one another.

SENSATION OF JEWELRY AS INTENT

Someone has to infuse the object with all this content, and this proactive act leads us to the idea of intent.    Often this imposition of meaning begins with the jewelry artist.   Jewelry becomes a means of self-expression.    The artist, in effect, tells the world who the artist is, and what the artist wants to happen next.    The artist might be subdued or bold, colorful or monochromatic, simple or complex, extravagant or economical.     The artist might be direct or indirect in how meanings get communicated.     It is important, in order to understand the meaning of an object, to begin by delineating the artist’s inspiration, aspiration and intent.

The jewelry artist begins with nothing and creates something.    The unknown, the unknowable, the nothingness is made more accessible.

The artist fills in a negative space with points, lines, planes, shapes, forms and themes.     Color, pattern and texture are added.     Things get organized and arranged.

Though often unstated, it becomes obvious that of all the possible choices the artist could have made in design, that some choices were ignored and excluded, while others were not.

The question becomes, what influences that artist’s selections?   Successful jewelry reveals the artist’s hand.

Jewelry As Creating Order Out Of Chaos.    Partly, what the artist does is attempt to order the world.   The artist looks for clues within him- or herself (inspiration and intent).    The artist formulates concepts and a plan for translating inspiration and intent into a design.  The artist determines whether to take into account the expectations of others (shared understandings) about what would be judged as finished and successful.

Jewelry is an object created out of chaos and which has an order to it.    The order has content, meaning and value.    It has coherency based on color and texture and arrangement.

Jewelry as an organized, ordered, coherent object reflects the hypotheses the artist comes up with about how to translate inspiration into aspiration, and do this in such a way that the derived jewelry is judged positively.    The artist anticipates how others might experience and sense the object on an emotional level.

It reflects the shared understandings among artist, wearer and viewer about emotions, desires, inherent tensions and yearnings and how these play out in everyday life.

The artist makes the ordered chaos more coherent, and this coherence becomes contagious through the artist’s choices about creative production and design.     The artist lets this contagion spread.    To the extent that others share the artist’s ideas about coherence, the more likely the work will be judged finished and successful.   And no one – not the artist, not the wearer, not the viewer – will feel alone.

The process of bringing order to chaos continues with the wearer.    The wearer introduces the piece of jewelry into a larger context.    We have more contagion.    The jewelry as worn causes more, ever-expanding tension and efforts at balance and resolution.    There is an effort to figure out the original artist intent and ideas about coherence as reflected in design.

Unsuccessful efforts at design, where the artist’s intent becomes obscured,  reverse the process, and the object – our piece of jewelry – then brings about decoherence.    Decoherence may come in the forms of bad feedback, inappropriate feedback, less than satisfying feedback, or no feedback at all.

Decoherence means the wearer may not get that sense of self s/he seeks.    S/he may feel less motivated to wear the piece.    S/he may store the piece or give the piece away.    As this decoherence filters down to the level of the artist, any necessary support in design may be lost.    There will be fewer clients, fewer opportunities to display the works publicly, and fewer sales.    The artist’s motivation may diminish.

Jewelry As An Agent of Personality.  People wear jewelry because they like it.   It becomes an extension of themselves.    It is self-confirming, self-identifying and self-reconfirming.    Liking a piece of jewelry gets equated with liking oneself, or as a strategy for getting others to express their like for you.    Jewelry makes us feel more like ourselves.    We might use jewelry to help us feel emotionally independent, or we might come to rely on jewelry for emotional support and feedback, leading us down the path to emotional dependency.

Jewelry may have personal significance, linking one to their past, or one to their family, or one to their group.     It may be a way to integrate history with the present.   It is a tool to help us satisfy our need to affiliate.

Jewelry may help us differentiate ourselves from others.   It may assist us in standing out from the crowds.    Conversely, we may use it to blend into those multitudes, as well.

Jewelry fulfills our needs.   If we look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, after meeting our basic physiological needs such as for food and water, and our safety needs, such as for shelter, we can turn to jewelry to meet our additional social needs for love and belonging and self-esteem.   Designing and creating jewelry can form an additional basis for our needs for self-actualization.

We may derive our personality and sense of soul and spirit from the qualities we assign the jewelry we wear.    If ruby jewelry symbolizes passion, we may feel passion when wearing it.   We may use jewelry as an expressive display of who we feel we are and want to be seen as in order to attract mates and sexual partners.     We use jewelry in a narcissistic way to influence the alignment of the interests and desires among artist, weaver, viewer, collector, exhibiter, and seller.

In similar ways, we may derive our sense of belief, devotion and faith to a higher power or spiritual being or God from wearing jewelry.   It may help us feel more connected to that religious, spiritual something within ourselves.    It may remind us to stay on our religious path.

As an agent of our psychological selves, jewelry is used to resolve those core conflicts – Who are we?     Why do we exist?    How should we relate to other people around us?      Jewelry orients us in coming to grips with our self-perceived place within critical contradictions around us.     Trust and mistrust.  Living and dying.   Good and evil.  Pleasure and pain.   Permission and denial.   Love and hate.  Experience and expectation.   Traditional and contemporary.   Rational and reasonable.

SENSATION OF JEWELRY AS DIALECTIC

Jewelry As Interaction and Shared Understandings

Jewelry is a two-way street.  It is a way to create, confirm and retain connections.    At its very core, it is communicative.   It is more an action than an object.   Jewelry can start a conversation.  Jewelry encapsulates a very public, ongoing matrix of choices and interactions among artist, wearer and viewer, with the purpose of getting responses.   It is a dialectic.

The optimum position to view jewelry is on a person’s body, where and when its dialectical power is greatest.   Again, it is very public, yet concurrently, very intimate.   We exhibit jewelry.    It forces reaction, response and reciprocity.    Jewelry helps us negotiate, in relatively non-threatening ways, those critical tensions and contradictions in life, not merely define them.

It very publicly forces us to reveal our values, delineate tensions and contradictions which might result, and resolve all those betwixt and between qualities which occur as the artist, wearer, viewer, marketer, seller, exhibitor and collector try to make sense of it all.    Conversely, jewelry, as worn, may signal that any negotiation would be futile, but this is a dialectic, communicative act, as well.

Jewelry expresses or implies things, the relevance of which emerges through interactions.    There is an exchange of meaning.    There is some reciprocity between the artist expressing an inspiration with the desire for a reaction, and the wearer evaluating the success of the piece and impacting the artist, in return.

Jewelry is persuasive.   It allows for the negotiation of influence and power in subtle, often soft-pedalled ways.    It helps smooth the way for support or control.    Compliance or challenge.    Wealth and success or poverty and failure.   High or low status.   Social recognition.   An expression of who you know, and who might know you.     Jewelry is a tool for managing the dynamics between any two people.

Jewelry is emotional and feeling, with attempts by the artist to direct these, and with opportunities for others to experience these.  It is not that we react emotionally to the beauty of an object.  It is not mechanical or fleeting.   It is more of a dialectic.    The jewelry is an expression of an artist’s inspiration and intent.    We react emotionally to what we sense as that expression as it resonates from the object itself.    This resonance ebbs and flows, waxes and wanes, over time as the object is worn in many different situations.

Jewelry draws attention.   It becomes a virtual contract between artist and wearer.     The artist agrees to design something that will call attention to the wearer and that wearer’s preferred sense of self.   The wearer agrees to wear something that reaffirms the artist’s insights for all to witness and experience and draw support.

Jewelry may cue the rules for sexual and sensual interactions.   Nurturing and desire.   Necklaces draw attention to the breasts.   Earrings to the ear and neck.     Rings to the hands.    Jewelry, such as a wedding band, may confirm a relationship, and signal permission for various forms of touching that otherwise would not be appropriate.    The silhouettes and placements of jewelry on the body indicate where it may be appropriate for the viewer to place his gaze, and where it would not.

Knowing What Jewelry Really Is

Translates Into Artistic and Design Choices

Knowing what jewelry really is better connects the artist to the various audiences the artist seeks to reach.    It results in better outcomes.   More exhibits.  More sales.  More collections.   Better self-esteem.   Better representation of self in various contexts and situations.

Jewelry asks the artist, the wearer and the viewer to participate in its existence.     In a somewhat subtle way, by allowing communication, dialog, evaluation, and emotion, jewelry allows each one not to feel alone.   It allows each one to express intent, establish a sense of self, and introduce these intents and self-expressions into a larger social context.

Jewelry judged as finished and successful results from these shared understandings among artist, viewer and wearer, and how these influence their subsequent choices.     These choices extend to materials and arrangements.   They extend to how the artist determines what is to be achieved, and how the work is talked about and presented to others.    These anticipate the reactions of others, beliefs about saleability, assumptions about possible inclusions in exhibitions, knowing what is appealing or collectible.

The artist is always omnipresent in the jewelry s/he creates.    The artist, through the jewelry, and how it is worn on the body, to some extent, arbitrates how other sets of relationships interact, transfer feelings, ideas and emotions, reduce ambiguity, influence one another, and make sense of the world around them.

These sets of relationships, through which jewelry serves as a conduit, include:

artist and wearer

wearer and viewer

artist and seller

seller and client

artist and exhibiter

artist and collector

exhibiter and collector

In the abstract, jewelry is a simple object.   We make it.   We wear it.   We sell it.  We exhibit it.  We collect it.    But in reality, jewelry channels all the artist’s and wearer’s and viewer’s energy – the creative sparks, the tensions, the worries, the aspirations, the representations, the assessments of risks and rewards, the anticipations of influence and affect.  Jewelry becomes the touchstone for all these relationships.   It is transformational.   It is a manifestation of their internal worlds.     An essence resonant in context.

The better jewelry designer is one who anticipates these shared understandings about what makes a piece of jewelry finished and successful, and can incorporate these understandings within the jewelry design process s/he undertakes.

________________________________________________________

WARREN FELD, Jewelry Designer

warren@warrenfeldjewelry.com

615-292-0610

For Warren Feld, Jewelry Designer, (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com), beading and jewelry making have been wonderful adventures. These adventures have taken Warren from the basics of bead stringing and bead weaving, to wire working, wire weaving and silversmithing, and onward to more complex jewelry designs which build on the strengths of a full range of technical skills and experiences.

Warren leads a group of instructors at Be Dazzled Beads (www.bedazzledbeads.com).  He teaches many of the bead-weaving, bead-stringing, wire weaving, jewelry design and business-oriented courses. He works with people just getting started with beading and jewelry making, as well as those with more experience.    Many of his classes and projects have been turned into kits, available for purchase from www.warrenfeldjewelry.com  or www.landofodds.com.     He conducts workshops at many sites around the US, and the world.

Join Warren for an enrichment-travel adventure on Your World Of Jewelry Making Cruises.

His pieces have appeared in beading and jewelry magazines and books. One piece is in the Swarovski museum in Innsbruck, Austria.

He is probably best known for creating the international The Ugly Necklace Contest, where good jewelry designers attempt to overcome our pre-wired brains’ fear response for resisting anything Ugly.

He is currently writing a book – Fluency In Design:   Do You Speak Jewelry?

_________________________________________________________

_________________________________________

FOOTNOTES

Grosz, Stephen, The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves, NY: W.W.Norton & Company, 2014.

COPYRIGHT, 2019, FELD, All Rights Reserved
warren@warrenfeldjewelry.com

 

Posted in Art or Craft?, art theory, bead weaving, beadwork, design management, design theory, jewelry collecting, jewelry design, jewelry making, Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

So You Want To Do Craft Shows… A Free Video Tutorial For You

Posted by learntobead on November 30, 2018


SO YOU WANT TO DO CRAFT SHOWS…

A Free Video Tutorial for You
by Warren Feld, Jewelry Designer
Land of Odds-Be Dazzled Beads
www.landofodds.com

PREVIEW

View the full video tutorial online (1 hour and 45 minutes). Found on top of home page of Land of Odds-Be Dazzled Beads.

In this class, I discuss critical choices jewelry designers need to make when doing craft shows.  
That means, understanding everything involved, and asking the right questions.

Learn How To…
…Find, Evaluate and Select Craft Shows Right For You
…Set Realistic Goals
…Compute a Simple Break-Even Analysis
…Best to Develop Your Applications and Apply
…Understand How Much Inventory To Bring
…Best Promote and Operate Your Craft Show Business

Doing craft shows is a wonderful experience.  
You can make a lot of money. 
You meet new people. 
You have new adventures.  
And you learn a lot about business and arts and crafts designing.

 

 

Jewelry design is a life lived with wearable art.

My name is Warren Feld.
And I am here to share some of my life experiences and insights with you about beading and jewelry making.

In this class, I discuss critical choices jewelry designers need to make when doing craft shows.

It is very important for anyone thinking about selling at craft shows, festivals, markets or similar settings to be smart about it.
That means, understanding everything involved, and asking the right questions.

 

Many years ago, I started my business with my partner Jayden, by doing flea markets and craft shows. Eventually, our business evolved into one store, then a second store, and an online business. But you never forget your roots.

You can learn a lot of good business tricks and find out about a lot of good resources if,… And that’s a big, “IF”! you know what you are doing. All too often, jewelry designers who want to do craft shows, have not done their homework. They have not researched and evaluated which shows to do, and which not to do. They have not figured out how best to set up their booths and displays. They are clueless about what inventory to make, and to bring, and how to price it. They are unprepared to promote, to market and to sell.

I developed this online tutorial to help prepare you for doing this kind of craft show homework.

I discuss:
– What information you need to gather
– How to set personal and business goals
– How to find, evaluate and select craftshows
– How best to promote and operate your business at these craftshows

In fact, I go over 16 lessons I learned for successfully doing craftshows.

There are two groups of lessons.

First, I discuss lessons about finding and selecting craft shows, and determining how well your business will fit in.

In the second group of lessons, I discuss how to promote and operate your business at these craft shows.

Last, I offer some final advice.

At the end of the tutorial, I have a list of resources for you to explore in more detail.

You will find the full 1 hour and 45 minute tutorial
at the top of the Land of Odds-Be Dazzled Beads website.



And yes, One More Thing…

We are so Excited to offer an Awesome, fun Enrichment-Travel opportunity!

Find out more about our YOUR WORLD OF JEWELRY MAKING CRUISE!

Join us, Miami – Cozumel, Mexico – Key West, Florida, an unforgettable, 5-nights, February 29th thru March 5th, 2020

Jewelry Making Classes, Skills Development, Design Seminars, Fun Get-Togethers and Mixers
Unwind, Make New Friends, Learn New Skills

Sponsored by Land of Odds-Be Dazzled Beads, Be Well Travel, and Celebrity Cruise Lines

Posted in Art or Craft?, bead weaving, beads, beadwork, business of craft, craft shows, cruises, enrichment travel, jewelry collecting, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, Resources, Stitch 'n Bitch, Travel Opportunities, Workshops, Classes, Exhibits | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

I Will Be Teaching At Bead & Button This Year

Posted by learntobead on November 26, 2018

 

 

What’s New…What’s Happening

BNBShow_logoHoriz_pink.jpg

 

BEAD AND BUTTON SHOW

June 2-9, 2019

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Since its humble origins during the 20th century’s final year, this annual event has swiftly transformed from small trade show to “the largest consumer bead show event in the world.” Hosted by Bead & Button Magazine, which is the crown jewel of Waukesha-based Kalmbach Publishing Company.

Hope you will be able to join us in Milwaukee to kick off your summer for great jewelry-making classes and shopping. Beads, metal, enamel, wire, polymer, gems, stones, fiber and more!

Classes are offered in a huge variety of techniques, skill levels and price points. The Expo had all the supplies and materials you need to make your own jewelry, plus so much unique finished jewelry directly from the artists.

 

warrenFeld-atdesk.jpg

Join jewelry designer Warren Feld,
who will be teaching these three classes:

 

JAPANESE GARDEN BRACELET

Saturday, 6/8, 9am-Noon
kitjapFragrance-moneyShot5.jpg

 

ETRUSCAN SQUARE STITCH BRACELET

Friday, 6/7,6-9pm
kitEtruscanSquare-brassgreenFull.jpg

 

COLORBLOCK BRACELET

Saturday, 6/8, 1-4pm
kitColorBlock-RSP1.jpg


Show Catalog (download .pdf file)

Online Browsing opens on December 11th, 2018

Registration opens at NOON CST on January 8th, 2019



 

Join our NASHVILLE BEADING AND JEWELRY DESIGN meetupLogo.png GROUP on line
to get announcements about our Wednesday afternoons
and once-a-month Saturday beading/jewelry making get-togethers.
No fees.


 


THE
JEWELRY DESIGN DISCUSSION GROUP

Please
join our group on facebook at:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/jewelrydesign/

LooBdLogoImage1.png

Land of Odds – Be Dazzled Beads

718 Thompson Lane, Ste 123

Nashville, TN 37204

PHONE: 615-292-0610

FAX: 615-460-7001

EMAIL: warren@bedazzledbeads.com

=”” “=””>Unsubscribe me from this list

Posted in Art or Craft?, bead weaving, beads, beadwork, design theory, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, Stitch 'n Bitch, Travel Opportunities, Workshops, Classes, Exhibits | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Architectural Basics of Jewelry Design

Posted by learntobead on August 18, 2018


<!–