THE UGLY NECKLACE CONTEST
– A JEWELRY DESIGN COMPETITION WITH A TWIST
Submission Deadline Approaching: August 31, 2014
QUESTION: Have you ever designed something truly ugly? Look at some of the previous submitted entries to the Ugly Necklace Contest? In your view, and from a design sense, are there any particularly outstanding examples of “Ugly”?
Past Contests — View the Galleries of Entries
About The UGLY NECKLACE CONTEST — A Jewelry Design Competition With A Twist
Submission Deadline: August 31, 2014
Enter To Win! http://www.landofodds.com/store/uglynecklace.htm
The UGLY NECKLACE CONTEST is a jewelry design contest with a twist. The contest presents a challenge not often tackled — at least intentionally. The contest draws the jewelry designer into an alternative universe where beautiful artists create ugly necklaces. It’s not easy to do.
“Ugly” is more involved than simple surface treatment. It is not just laying out a bunch of ugly parts into a circle. It turns out that “Ugly” is something more than that. “Ugly” is the result of the interplay among Designer, Wearer, and Viewer. “Ugly” is very much a result of how a necklace is designed and constructed. “Ugly” is something the viewer actively tries to avoid and move away from. “Ugly” has deep-rooted psychological, cognitive, perceptual, sociological and anthropological functions and purposes.
As research into color and design has shown, your eye and brain compensate for imbalances in color or in the positioning of pieces and objects – they try to correct and harmonize them. They try to neutralize anything out of place or not quite right. You are pre-wired to subconsciously avoid anything that is disorienting, disturbing or distracting. Your mind and eye won’t let you go here. This is considered part of the fear response, where your brain actively attempts to avoid things like snakes and spiders…. and ugly necklaces.
This means that jewelry designers, if they are to create beautiful, wearable art, have to be more deeply involved with their pieces beyond “surface”. Or their pieces will be less successful, thus less beautiful, thus more disturbing or distracting or disorienting, thus more Ugly.
Luckily, for the jewelry designer, we are pre-wired to avoid these negative things. This makes it easier to end up with pieces that look good. Beauty, in some sense, then, is very intuitive. On the other hand, it makes it more difficult to end up with pieces that look bad. You see, Ugly goes against our nature. It’s hard to do.
To achieve a truly hideous result means making the hard design choices, putting ourselves in situations and forcing us to make the kinds of choices we’re unfamiliar with, and taking us inside ourselves to places that we are somewhat scared about, and where we do not want to go.
– Can I push myself to use more yellow than the purple warrants, and mix in some orange?
– Can I make the piece off-sided or disorienting, or not have a clear beginning, middle or end?
– Can I disrupt my pattern in a way that, rather than “jazz,” results in “discord?”
– Can I work with colors and materials and patterns and textures and placements and proportions I don’t like?
– Can I design something I do not personally like, and perhaps am unwilling, to wear around my neck?
– Can I create a piece of jewelry that represents some awful feeling, emotion or experience I’m uncomfortable with?
– Can I make something I know that others won’t like, and may ridicule me for it?
Because answering questions like these is not something people like to do, jewelry designers who attempt to achieve “Ugly,” have to have a lot of control and discipline to override, perhaps overcome, intuitive, internally integrated principles of artistic beauty. The best jewelry designers, therefore, will be those artists who can prove that they can design a truly Ugly Necklace. In our contest, we invite all those jewelry designers out there to give it a try.
The Ugly Necklace Contest is one of the many programs at Be Dazzled Beads and The Center for Beadwork & Jewelry Arts in Nashville, Tennessee, that encourage beadwork and jewelry makers to challenge themselves and to test their design skills, and learn some fundamentals about jewelry design in the process.
What Is Ugly?
Different participants in The Ugly Necklace Contest have interpreted “Ugly” in different ways.
Some focused on the ugliness of each individual component. Some used materials that they felt conveyed a sense of ugly, such as llama droppings, or felted matted dog hair, or rusty nails, or cigarette butts, or a banana peel. Some focused on mood and consciousness, and how certain configurations of pieces and colors evoked these moods or states of consciousness.
Others focused on combining colors which don’t combine well. Still others focused on how the wearer’s own body would contribute to a sense of ugliness, when wearing the piece, such as the addition of a “Breast Pocket” which would lay just below the woman’s breast, or peacock feathers that covered the wearer’s mouth, or the irritating sounds of rusty cow bells, or the icky feeling of a rotting banana peel on the skin. Still others saw Ugly as a sense of psychological consciousness, such as being homeless, or an uncomfortable transition from adolescence to adulthood. For some Ugly meant politically ugly, like Saddam Hussein of Iraq, or the trans-fats associated with fast foods.
It is not enough just to string a bunch of ugly beads on a wire. Ugly pieces do not necessarily result in an ugly necklace. As one entrant learned, when she strung her ugly beads together, the final project was beautiful, and sold for $225.00, before she could enter it into the contest! Actually, if you look at many of the entries, you see that ugly pieces, once arranged and organized, don’t seem as ugly. Organization and arrangement contribute their own qualities and sense of beauty that transcends the ugly parts.
Adding to the fun, the contestant also has to create a piece of jewelry which is functional and wearable. This is what sets beadwork and jewelry design apart from other design arts. A piece of jewelry as art, (even Ugly art), has to maintain its essence and purpose, even as the wearer moves, bends down, or rubs against things. Jewelry is Art as it is worn. Jewelry is not a subset of painting or a type of sculpture.
Jewelry is something more. Jewelry is art and architecture in motion, often frenetic motion. The pieces that make it up, and the techniques and designs which coherently interrelate these pieces, must also anticipate this dynamic totality. Otherwise, the piece of jewelry becomes a failure not only as a piece of jewelry, but of art, as well.
The Ugly Necklace Contest is an arena for budding and established beadwork and jewelry designers to strut their stuff – to show how adept they are at creating ugly-necklace-pieces-of-art. It’s a jewelry design competition with a twist.
The finalists of The Ugly Necklace Contest are those beadwork and jewelry designers who can best elaborate upon rules of design, whether intuitively or strategically. These rules of design are, in effect, an underlying grammar and vocabulary – the theoretical and professional basis of beadwork and jewelry making as art, not just craft.
Be sure to check out this new book by Margie Deeb, in which she includes a discussion about The Ugly Necklace Contest:
The Beader’s Guide to Jewelry Design: A Beautiful Exploration of Unity, Balance, Color & More Paperback
by Margie Deeb (Author)
Once beaders have mastered the basics and enjoyed bringing others’ patterns to life, they’re ready and eager to take the next step: creating their own original pieces. Here, finally, is their must-have guidebook to the fundamental principles of visual design. Focusing on jewelry, it helps beaders explore concepts such as unity, scale, proportion, balance, rhythm, volume, shape, pattern, texture, movement, drape, and color in their work. Exercises, reader challenges, and lavish photos enhance understanding and assure design success.
This book is available for Pre-Order at Amazon.com.