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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 »

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 »

JEWELRY DESIGN COMPOSITION: Playing With Building Blocks Called Design Elements

Posted by learntobead on March 17, 2018

JEWELRY DESIGN COMPOSITION:
PLAYING WITH BUILDING BLOCKS
CALLED DESIGN ELEMENTS

by Warren Feld, Designer

image002.jpg


Abstract:
Jewelry making is a constructive process of expression.   The language of expression begins with the idea of Design Elements.   Design Elements are the smallest, meaningful units of design.  Design Elements
function in a similar way as vowels and consonants in a language.   They have form.  They have meaning.   They have expression.   Some can stand alone, and others are dependent and must be clustered together.  Better jewelry designers are aware of and can decode these expressive aspects of design elements and how they are included within any piece.  This is one part of learning a disciplinary
literacy in design. This literacy begins with a process of decoding and builds to an intuitive fluency in design.   This article focuses on this process of decoding.

Jewelry making is a constructive process of expression.
   

The language of expression begins with the idea of Design Elements.    Design Elements are like building blocks and function a bit like the vowel and consonant letters of the alphabet.   They have form.  They have meaning.   They can be assembled into different arrangements which extend their meaning and usefulness in expression.

There is an underlying logic to this process – a vocabulary and grammar, so to speak.    Recognizing how this vocabulary and grammar is structured and applied enables the jewelry designer to learn how to be fluent in design.    Such recognition is critical in developing a coherent, consistent disciplinary literacy in jewelry design.   Such disciplinary literacy is at the heart
of a professional identity for jewelry design artisans.  
This literacy structure in design has four  main components to it:

1) Vocabulary: Design Elements As The Basis Of Composition

2) Grammar:  Principles of Construction

3) Strategy:  Project Management[1]

4) Context/Culture:  Shared Understandings[2]

 

 

This article focuses on the first component – Design Elements.

It makes sense for the designer to begin with something like building blocks, which I call Design Elements.   Design Elements, like building blocks, are tangible things.   They can be visualized.   They can be touched and moved around.   They can be combined in different arrangements.   They can be used to create many types of expressions.  Design Elements include things like color, shape, movement, dimensionality, materials, use of space, and the like.   Design Elements are the smallest, meaningful units of design.

Not every Design Element is alike.    Color is different than Shape
is different than Texture.     Movement is different than Balance is
different than Dimensionality.    Learning about and understanding the
differentiation among Design Elements becomes very important if the jewelry designer is to have sufficient power and insight over consistency, variation, coherence and unity in their designs.    This power and insight is called decoding. Every jewelry designer needs to learn how to decode, if they are to be successful in design.

Some Design Elements are syllabic meaning they are independent
and can stand alone.   Others are non-syllabic, meaning they are dependent and cannot stand alone.

INDEPENDENT DESIGN ELEMENTS

DEPENDENT DESIGN ELEMENTS

Function like vowels in alphabet

Many expressive variations

Syllabic

Can stand alone and be expressive

Expressions sensitive to placement or context

Function like consonants in alphabet

Limited expressive variations if used alone and not in combination

Non-syllabic

Do not often stand alone and more usually require an assist from
an independent design element to extend their expression

Expressions consistent, somewhat insensitive to placement or
context


Design Elements have graphic representations.   Graphic representations allow these elements to be recognized symbolically as a sort of short-hand.

Each Design Element also encompasses a range of acceptable meanings, which I call expressive variations.    These expressive variations, while different among themselves, are still reflective of that Design Element.      They have universal qualities in that people tend to share understandings about what these expressive variations mean and how they are to be used.
Color Schemes, for example, are objective, agreed-upon combinations of colors seen as coherent and unifying.   Thus, any color scheme is an expressive variation on the element of Color.

The universal, expressive variations associated with each Design Element are, in effect, attributes of that Design Element.     These attributes have an
objective quality to them in that there is general agreement among designer,
viewer, wearer, buyer and seller as to what they express and how they might be used.     There is an expectation that whatever role a person plays relative to the piece of jewelry, the Design Elements and their attributes will be decoded in a similar way. 

At this stage in the jewelry design process, the focus is on a simple vocabulary.   The vocabulary is made up of Design Elements
and their expressive attributes.   The vocabulary encapsulates a generally shared understanding of its meaning and how it is to be used.    It is
at the point of grammar, thus manipulation and construction, that individual artists get to show their artistic hand in selecting and placing these elements into a finished piece of jewelry.

These Design Elements and their attributes can be arranged in different configurations I call clusters.     Clusters may consist of independent Design
Elements alone, dependent Design Elements alone, or a mix of both.    For example, we may use an arrangement of glossy and matte Color beads to
project Dimensionality.    We may use different Colors of beads, rhythmically arranged, to project Movement.

Combinations of Design Elements into clusters can have different effects, from synergyantagonism, blending, bounding, freeing and inflection.

Selecting Design Elements and clustering them does not occur in a vacuum.
The designer selects and arranges Design Elements in anticipation of how
these choices will be understood by others in a universal or objective sense.    

This is a process which I call “Backwards Designing”.[3]   The building blocks and their attributes are first selected in anticipation of these shared understandings.   For instance, the designer might choose colors by anticipating how others will recognize the legitimacy and appeal of
certain clusters of colors – color schemes.

If the viewer, wearer, buyer or seller of a piece of jewelry cannot understand and relate to its Design Elements and how they are clustered within the piece, they will not understand it.   They will not appreciate it.   They will not see it as a legitimate piece of artistic expression.    It will not
feel authentic.   To others, if the piece lacks evidence of shared understandings, this will result in that jewelry (and by implication, the jewelry artisan) getting labeled, for example, as unsatisfying or boring or ugly or monotonous.

 

DESIGN ELEMENTS COMPRISE A VOCABULARY
OF BASIC ARTISTIC EXPRESSION

Working with Design Elements is not much different than working with an alphabet.

An alphabet is made up of different letters.   Each letter has different
attributes – how it is written, how it sounds, how it is used.    Configurations of letters result in more sounds and more meanings and more ways to be used.    

A person working with an alphabet has to be able to decode the letters, sounds and meanings, as letters are used individually as well as in combination.   As the speaker becomes better at decoding, she or he begins to build in understanding of implications for how any letter is used, again, individually or in combination.

This is exactly what the jewelry designer does with Design Elements.  The
designer has to decode, that is, make sense of a series of elements and their attributes in light of our shared understandings about which Design Elements are appropriate, and how they should be legitimately expressed.   

Let’s examine a set of jewelry Design Elements in more detail and elaboration.

DESIGN ELEMENT

Independent

GRAPHIC

REPRESENTATION

EXPRESSIVE VARIATIONS

EXPRESSIVE VARIATIONS

EXPRESSIVE VARIATIONS

Color


image004.jpg

 

Schemes

Hue and Saturation

Simultaneity Effects

Values and Intensity

Temperature

Receding or Projecting

Shape


image006.jpg

 

Recognizable

Focused

Distinct

Blended

Abstract

Filled or Empty

Delimited, fixed, geometric

Infinite, extending

Distorted or overlapped

Masculine or feminine

Organic or mechanical

Background, foreground, middle ground

Texture and
Pattern


image008.jpg

Regular, Predictable, Statistical

Repeated or singular

Random, Non-Statistical

Feel or look

Layered or Non-layered

Smooth or Rough

Point, Line,
Plane


image010.jpg

 

2-Dimensional

3-Dimensional

Conform or violate

Connected or Unconnected

Span and distance

Actual or implied

Thickness

Silhouette

Focused or unfocused

Bounded or unbounded

geometric or curved

 

Material


image012.jpg

 

Natural or Man-Made

Soft or solid

Heavy or light

Single or mixed media

Light refraction, reflection, absorption

Technique and
Technology


image014.jpg

Bead Weaving, Bead Stringing, Wire Working,
Fiber, Clay, etc.

With or without application of heat and/or
pressure

Fabricated or Machine Made

Pattern or freeform



DESIGN ELEMENT

Dependent

GRAPHIC
REPRESENTATION

EXPRESSIVE VARIATIONS

EXPRESSIVE VARIATIONS

EXPRESSIVE VARIATIONS

Dimensionality


image016.jpg

 

2-dimensional
(volume and mass; weight; density)

3-dimensional (relief, low relief, high relief)

 

Interior and Exterior Contours

Frontal or in-the-round

 

Open or closed forms

 

Static or dynamic forms

 

Movement


image018.jpg

 

Passive
(ex: use of color guides the eye)

 

Direction

 

Linear or wave

Physical
(ex: pieces, like fringe or spinners, actually move)

 

Stable or erratic

Mechanical
(ex: structure of piece allows piece to
drape and flow)

Color Blending


image020.jpg

Simultaneity effects

Value and intensity

 

Saturation and vibrance

Distinct or blurred

 

Dominant or recessive

Theme, Symbols


image022.jpg

Surface or interpreted meaning(s) or
inflected

 

Power, position, protection, identification

Clear or abstract referents

 

Object as whole, or parts of object

Repetition or not

 

Individual, group, cultural, societal,
universal

Beauty and
Appeal


image024.jpg

 

Sensually pleasing: visual, touch, auditory,
taste, smell

 

 

Objective or emotional

 

 

Coherence, harmony and unity

 

Fashion, style, timeliness, timelessness

Structure and
Support


image026.jpg

 

Stiff or flexible

 

Flow and drape

 

Linkage, connectivity

Wearability

 

Display

 

Organization

Articulation

 

Autonomy vs. Temporariness

 

Interactive with wearer, or not

Craftsmanship


image028.jpg

 

Inspiration

 

Skill and dexterity

 

With tools, or not

 

 

Design acumen

Personality and preferences

Form, Segmentation,
Components


image030.png

 

Shape with Volume

 

Whole or divided

 

Organized or chaotic

Perspective

 

2-dimensional or 3-dimensional

 

Alignment

Shading

 

Positioning or spacing

 

Simple or Complex

Balance and
Distribution


image032.jpg

Symmetrical (By size, color, or shape)

 

Visual weight

 

Visual size

Asymmetrical (By size, color, or shape)

 


Radial
(By size, color or shape)

 

Visual placement

Random
(By size, color, or shape)

 

Stable or unstable

 

Directed or undirected

Referents to specific
idea or style


image034.jpg

 

Vintage Revival

 

Direct or implied

Contemporary

 

Literal or figurative

Symbolic

Context,
Situation, Culture


image036.jpg

Economic, social, psychological, cultural,
situational values

Complicit artist, or not

Derived meaning, or objective meaning

Negative and
Positive Space


image038.png

Figure or ground

 

Form or no form

 

Shading

 

Perspective

Depth

 

Use of space around an object

Interpenetration of space

 

Illusion or reality

 

Placement

Light and
Shadow


image040.jpg

 

Suggestive

 

Gradient

 

Perspective

Shading

 

Illumination

 

Solid or Cast

 

Dimensionality

 

Moon

The Japanese Fragrance Garden Bracelet

image042.jpg

image044.jpg  image046.jpg

“Japanese Fragrance Garden Bracelet”, by Warren Feld, March 2018, photography by Warren Feld

For example, this is the kind of building blocks thinking I did when designing my Japanese Fragrance Garden Bracelet.   

This bracelet has a foundation base.  The finishes of these beads in the
base are either a luster finish or a dichroic finish.   Off the base, I created flower stalks that were 4-6 seed beads tall, and topped with a slightly
larger and more brightly colored seed bead. The colors of the beads in the stalks vary from dark (near the base) to light (near the flower tip).   Between
each bed of flowers is a “moon bridge” – the kind you might expect when
meandering through a Japanese garden.

See how I clustered independent and dependent Design Elements to achieve a particular expression.

What I Wanted To Achieve   

Design Elements I Thought About              


Movement
with flower stalks where they would retain their verticality
(thus not flop over) after the piece was worn.

Technique:   Fringing technique
Technology:  Use of One-G beading thread which, unlike
all other beading threads, has a springy quality to it.   When the fringe is pulled out during
wearing, the thread helps spring it back into place

Color:  To mimic how moving
colors will be perceived, I varied color in flower stalks from dark at the
bottom to medium to light at the top, just under the flower, and then used
bright colors for the flowers topping off each stalk
Point, Line:  Easy for viewer to perceive and follow
movement of points and lines, which are key elements in the piece


Dimensionality

where the piece would not be seen as flat

Point, Line: Visually, the flower stalks lead the eye from the foundation
base, up the stalks, and to the bright flower colors on top of the
stalks.   

Color: I use a reflective foundation base of two types of bead
finishes, (a) luster, and (b) dichroic.
Both have a mirroring effect, making it difficult for the eye to see
the “bottom”, and at the same time reflecting the colors sitting above them.


Color Blending
where as the eye moves up and down any flower stalk, or moves
across the piece from end to end, everything feels coherent and unified

Color: I make a wide use of simultaneity effects, where the placement
of one color affects the perception of the color next to it.    This fools the brain into blending colors, which in reality, you cannot do easily with
beads (as opposed to paints).

Shape/Points/Line/Pattern:   There is a consistent repetition of shapes, points and lines, and pattern, leading the viewer to be able to predict what should happen next along the bracelet, and again, fooling the brain into doing some color blending perceptual tricks of its own.

 

How Do You Teach Designers A Vocabulary of Design?

Most designers most likely start theirjewelry making careers taking craft-oriented classes and following instructions in how-to books or online in how-to videos.  They learn to repeat a set of steps and end up with something like what is pictured.    The whole jewelry making approach assumes that jewelry making is a natural process.    Surround the budding artist with patterns, books and videos, and they will somehow become great jewelry designers.

Yet, although the artisans follow a set of steps over and over again, they never learn how to make choices or evaluate implications or get any experience making judgement calls and tradeoffs when designing something that must look good and wear well at the same time.   Jewelry making is not a natural skill that is learned automatically.    Jewelry designers need to be taught to design.

Towards this end, I think it is much more useful to build an educational curriculum and program around the idea of disciplinary literacy.   We need to teach designers to explicitly and systematically think design.   Designers need to be able to recognize the elements that make up a piece, how they were used, and how this leads to more or less success in evoking an expression or an emotional response.

Disciplinary Literacy, means, in part, that the designer is aware of the “codes” which were selected for a piece of jewelry.  The designer is able to segment the piece and identify its Design Elements.    The designer is also able to put Design Elements together and blend them to achieve a desired expression.    The better designer is very aware of all the codes, or Design Elements.     The better designer is very aware of how the codes, or Design Elements, were selected, combined, blended and expressed.    And the designer is very aware of how and why clusters of Design Elements may sometimes get bounded; that is, may be unfortunately stuck within some
indeterminant meaning or expression.

Towards this end, this means first teaching designers how to decode.   It means figuring out what universally accepted Design Elements should be used in a piece.   It also means recognizing how these elements can vary, and how such variation can change the artistic or design expression
of the piece.     Designers need to learn how Design Elements get clustered and constructed to convey certain expressions, and which cannot.

At this stage, we are training the designer to have some comfort recognizing and applying objective, shared understandings about what certain Design Elements mean, and the variations in how they might get expressed within a piece.

As the designer’s education progresses, we would gradually reduce the student’s involvement with decoding, and increase the involvement with tasks involving fluency.   This involves more in-depth learning about
manipulation and construction.   Here the designer is taught how to define a personal style and approach, and implement it.    The designer is guided from creating the merely appealing, to the more resounding resonant.    The designer is also taught to look for, anticipate and incorporate context clues.     All this gets into the areas of grammar and process management, which I discuss in other articles.[1,2]

_________________________________________________________

warrenFeld1.jpg

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 and silver smithing, 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, 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. 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.



Footnotes

[1] Read my article Jewelry Design: A Managed Process, Klimt02.net Forum, https://klimt02.net/forum/articles/jewelry-design-managed-process-warren-feld

[2] I discuss a little about shared understandings in a yet unpublished article I wrote about Contemporary Design.    From that article…

“Shared understandings should be enduring, transferable, big ideas at the heart of what we think of as contemporary jewelry.   These shared understandings are things which spark meaningful connections between designer and materials, designer and techniques, and designer and client. We need, however, to recognize that the idea of understanding is very multidimensional and complicated.

Understanding is not one achievement, but more the result of several loosely organized choices.    Understanding is revealed through performance and evidence.    Jewelry designers must perform effectively with knowledge, insight, wisdom and skill to convince us – the world at large and the client in particular — that they really understand what design, and with our case here, contemporary design, is all about.     This involves a big interpersonal component where the artist introduces their jewelry to a wider audience and subjects it to psychological, social, cultural, and economic assessment.

Understanding is more than knowledge.  The designer may be able to
articulate what needs to be done to achieve something labeled contemporary, but
may not know how to apply it.

Understanding is more than interpretation.   The designer may be able to explain how a piece was constructed and conformed to ideas about contemporary, but this does not necessarily account for the significance of the results.

Understanding is more than applying principles of construction.    It is more
than simply organizing a set of Design Elements into an arrangement.     The designer must match knowledge and interpretation about contemporary to
the context.   Application is a context-dependent skill.

Understanding is more than perspective.   The designer works within
a myriad of expectations and points of view about contemporary jewelry.   The designer must dispassionately anticipate these various perspectives about contemporary design, and, bring some constructed point of view and knowledge of implications to bear within the design and design process.

We do not design in a vacuum.    The designer must have the ability to
empathize with individuals and grasp their individual and group cultures.    If selling their jewelry, the designer must have the ability to empathize with small and larger markets, as well.   Empathy is not sympathy.  Empathy is where we can feel what others feel, and see what others see.

Last, understanding is self-knowledge, as well.   The designer should have the
self-knowledge, wisdom and insights to know how their own patterns of thought
may inform, as well as prejudice, their understandings of contemporary
design.

How the jewelry designer begins the process of creating a contemporary piece of jewelry is very revealing about the potential for success.    The designer
should always begin the process by articulating the essential shared understandings against which their work will be evaluated and judged.    For now, let’s refer to this as Backwards Design[4].    The designer starts with questions about assessment, and then allows this understanding to influence all other choices going forward.”

[3] 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.

Posted in Art or Craft?, bead weaving, beads, beadwork, design management, jewelry collecting, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

NEW FASHION JEWELRY – Understand “Quality” Issues Of These New Collectibles

Posted by learntobead on March 25, 2014

NEW FASHION JEWELRY

Now at Be Dazzled Beads
781 Thompson Lane, Ste 123 Nashville, TN 37204

At a recent Jewelry Show in Atlanta, Jayden and Warren discovered a rapidly evolving fashion trend towards reproduction vintage looks using new more recently available materials.   These particular new fashion trends were the looks and styles of the pieces everyone there was selling there.     A great selection and variety of these looks is now on display and for sale at Be Dazzled Beads.

necklace2-blog

It is important to understand, however, that, when purchasing fashion jewelry, there is more to consider than how a piece looks.   You need to understand something about the materials used and the overall construction.   Only in this way can you be sure that you are purchasing what we would call “collectible costume jewelry.”

The reproduction vintage looks are obvious — a reference to the stylish pieces of the 1930s, 40s, 50s and 60s, using modern materials and construction technologies.    Great colors.   Strong and soft colors.   Lots of faceting and sparkle.

The use of new materials includes higher end acrylics, new metallic composites, specialized glass and Chinese crystal.

These green components, in the piece shown above, are made out of Chinese crystal, not plastic.     To the naked eye, you might see a similar piece where the components are plastic, looking like but definitely not crystal.   The eye can deceive itself.   Simple test: click bead against a stiff surface or front teeth.   If crystal or glass, you will hear a sharp click; if plastic, you will hear a dull click.

These green components, in the piece shown above, are made out of Chinese crystal, not plastic. To the naked eye, you might see a similar piece where the components are plastic, looking like but definitely not crystal. The eye can deceive itself. Simple test: click bead against a stiff surface or front teeth. If crystal or glass, you will hear a sharp click; if plastic, you will hear a dull click.

 

 
These new fashion pieces should be considered “collectable” costume jewelry. But, again, it is important to understand what you are buying.   There are many lower quality copies – what we’d call “disposable jewelry” — you’ll find at discount stores and online. You want to be sure you are buying the quality we would call “collectible”.   The price will reflect whether the jewelry is “collectible” or “disposable.”

 

So, You Want Your Fashion Jewelry To Be Made With…

 

* Glass, Crystal and/or Advanced Plastics

Typically, you will find a mix of materials within you piece.   Materials you do not want would include enameled or colored ceramics or regular plastic or metalized plastic or plastic pearls.

 

* Advanced Plastics, if any components are plastic

Just like with things like wood or metal, there are many grades of quality among plastics.   The differences between advanced plastics and regular plastics can be as widely divergent as between metals like gold and aluminum.

The higher end plastics, even when up close, look very similar to the gemstones or crystals they are meant to resemble.   Jade plastic looks like real jade.   Plastic opals look like real opal. And so forth.

For high end costume jewelry, the “point-hardness” of these advanced plastics, that is, how easily the material can be scratched, will be much higher, thus less easily scratched, than cheaper plastics.

 

 

* Better metal composites and finishes, with more substance and realistic finishes

In these lines of jewelry, whether higher end or lower end, very little is real 100% metal these days.   The chains are composites.   The settings for the stones are composites.

In the metal-composite chains and settings used in the lower quality jewelry, at close inspection, you will find them to be cheap, flimsy and light-weight.   Moreover, the metallic finish-colors are off the mark and look somewhat fake. For example, the actual color that may be representing gold, when compared to other quality pieces, may not look like gold at all.

There may be rough spots that can get caught on clothing or scratch the skin.   In higher end pieces, manufacturers check their quality, to make sure there are no rough spots.

But always inspect your jewelry before you leave the store.   When purchasing any piece of costume jewelry, you should feel all over the piece to be sure there are no rough spots

 

* Better set stones

Stones are typically glued in.   If the setting does not have much surface area, the glue will not hold for very long.

In some pieces, the designs give the illusion of “prong-set” stones.   In the lower end, the prongs have very sharp points.   In the higher end, the prongs have smooth or balled-up tips.

necklace5

Things To Do To Increase Longevity Of Your New Fashion Jewelry

After purchasing your new pieces of Fashion Jewelry, you will have the option to do two things to make them more durable and lasting:

  1. If the piece has stones which have been glued in, and have open settings on the backs, apply some more glue to the backs of the settings, all along the edges.   Use a glue like E6000 or Beacon 527.   This will keep the stones from ever popping out.     Reason: The glue manufacturers typically use dries hard, with no flexibility.   If the pieces are accidently dropped or hit against something, the shock can make the stone pop away from the hard glue.

 

By reinforcing them with the E6000 or Beacon 527, these bonds dry like rubber and act like a shock absorber. Thus the stones are less likely to pop off.

Necklace with stones set in settings with open backs

Necklace with stones set in settings with open backs

 

Open back on set stones in necklace

Open back on set stones in necklace

 

2.  On all areas which have metal plated finishes and which will be touching the skin, apply two coats of clear nail polish to these surfaces.   This will preserve the plated finishes for a very long time, yet doesn’t affect the shine or sheen of the metal underneath it.

 

 

NOTE: This is very generalized advice.     Every person’s body oils and chemistry have different effects on the metal finishes.   A person may be able to wear a piece of costume jewelry for months and years and it may not disintegrate on them; another person might wear it for a few months, and the metal finishes deteriorate.

 

 

 
necklace3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cleaning

All jewelry has to be maintained and kept clean.   Follow this simple advice for keeping your new jewelry pieces clean and sparkling.

Periodically, give your jewelry a quick bath.   In a bowl, mix a very-little-amount of baby shampoo and cold water.   Immerse the whole piece of jewelry in this bath, just long enough to loosen any dirt.   Take it out.

Under cold water, rinse it off.   Take a paper towel or cloth, and dry the piece off.   NOTE: “Pat Dry” with the towel. Don’t “Rub”.

Then, you might take a hair dryer, setting it on the lowest setting, and keeping it 6-8” away from your piece, and blow dry.   DON’T LET YOUR PIECES GET TOO HOT.   An alternative strategy is to put your piece of jewelry in front of a small fan.

Dry both sides.   Leave your piece out in the open air over night, to be sure there is no moisture trapped in closed crevices.

Always remember that the side laying against the towel or cloth may still be more damp than the side facing up.     So, before storing your piece, check and be sure it is dry.

Store your piece flat in a zip lock plastic bag. Be sure to push the air out of bag before sealing bag. One simple way to do this is to insert a straw into the bag, and seal the top as close to the straw as you can get.   Suck out the air, remove the straw, and finish sealing the zip-lock bag closed.

Then lay your bagged up piece on flat surface. You do not want your piece to be jumbled into a pile.   You do not want to hang your jewelry on a stand.   The weight of the beads will stretch out the stringing material.

Put your pieces in a cool, dry place out of sunlight. Never store two pieces on top of each other without something to separate them.   Don’t pile up jewelry on top of other jewelry.

At a restaurant, if you drip gravy on your necklace, how do you clean it off? If it is something that has caked or dried on it, you may have to soak it in a solution of a very-little-amount of baby shampoo and cold water.   Use a q-tip to clean away the spotted areas.

 

Your Reproduction Vintage Pieces Should Be Around For 30, 40, even 50 years

Your goal is to have your reproduction vintage to be around 30, 40, 50 years from now.   It will keep its value.   These pieces should not be disposable.

Go to your antique stores, ask to see their vintage jewelry from the 1930s, 40s to 60s, and look and see at the availability, quantity and cost of high-end costume jewelry. This will give you an idea of what you’re getting with your investment.

In these older pieces, some were made from Lucite or other high-end plastics of the time.   And other pieces were copies crafted in regular plastic.   Lucite is a glass-like acrylic resin.   It has a resilience, a hardness, and a malleability which made it perfect for costume jewelry.   Regular plastic lacks the clarity and sparkle, yellows with age, and scratches much more easily.

 

 

Your new higher-end fashion jewelry – better made, more attractive, more appealing — will increase in value over the decades instead of ending up in the trash.

 

 

 

 

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THE STORY OF JEWELRY: See Kickstarter Campaign

Posted by learntobead on October 22, 2012

A STORY TO WEAR
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1326391752/a-story-to-wear-a-documentary-about-jewelry-histor

I wanted to share this email from the ASJRA about a film project seeking funds on Kickstarter.com.

— Warren

 

FROM ASJRA:

Through a small grant from the Association for the Study of Jewelry & Related Arts (ASJRA) LLC, director Nicolas Cuellar has created a 3-minute “trailer” for what he hopes will become a full documentary on why it is important and fascinating to study the history of jewelry. Some of you got to see it at our conference on October 7.

Whether you are a jewelry lover, collector, artist,  appraiser, dealer, gemologist, auction house, curator, or in the retail jewelry business, this film will help bring education about the world of jewelry to a wider audience and benefit all of us.

The Association for the Study of Jewelry & Related Arts will make the completed film available to any jewelry organization that would like to screen it as well as to all college metals/jewelry and art history departments…free of charge. It will also be on the internet for the general public to see.

Please go to www.storytowear.com  and click on the photograph on the home page. This will take you to kickstarter.com where you can view the trailer and help support the film…even the smallest donation can help the filmmakers to reach their goal (even $1 will help) You will also find the rewards that are being offered for donations.

Although you make your pledge which is processed through Amazon.com, the filmmakers do not get a penny (and you are not charged) unless they reach their stated financial goal and they only have 30 days to do it!

The budget for the film will be $50-$70,000 but they are only looking to raise the first $10,000 on kickstarter.com. If they raise more than their goal they will get the full amount (minus the fee kickstarter and Amazon takes for processing the pledges). So please have a look today…the clock is ticking!

 

 

FROM THE PERSPECTUS ON KICKSTARTER:

Studying jewelry is a window into the history of cultures. Jewelry is the most personal of adornments and has signifcance in our lives.
Launched: Oct 21, 2012
Funding ends: Nov 20, 2012
Remind Me

We are creating a documentary film on the study of the history of jewelry. It’s probably something you never thought about but…

Did you know that:

–the earliest known jewelry is 100,000 years old?

–during many wars precious metals were in short demand and jewelry was made of alternative materials?

–the Victorians mounted hummingbird heads as jewelry? And Brazilian beetles?

–many cultures wear jewelry to ward off evil spirits?

–the famed jewelry firm of Cartier bought the townhouse where their headquarters is located in New York City by trading the owner for an incredible necklace of natural pearls? (Natural pearls are rare today since cultured pearls arrived on the scene circa 1900.)

–that diamonds can naturally be found in many colors?

–that in earlier times men wore more jewelry than women?

–that Harry Winston mailed the famed Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institute by U.S. Mail? And that it was walked to the White House in a gentleman’s pants pocket for the Shah of Iran to see?

These fascinating facts are just a very small part of what you might learn if you study the history of jewelry. We view jewelry studies as a “window” into the history of the world and a fun way to learn about our own and other cultures.

Jewelry is not only a form of adornment and self-expression, it is a part of one’s family history, and a form of portable wealth. Its ownership is intricately involved in our lives.

And anyone can join in learning…it doesn’t take a lot of specialized knowledge to understand this fascinating subject. If you are interested in fashion, world events, anthropology, art, archaeology—any number of subjects—you can relate to learning about jewelry.

Our personal jewelry does many things—represents the happiest and sometimes the saddest moments in our lives, can signal our achievements, tell others where we went to college, indicates our religious beliefs, and can even relay our sense of fun. It can tell others, without a word, how we view ourselves.

It is so universal that if two women who don’t know each other stand in an elevator one may comment on the other’s jewelry.

The Association for the Study of Jewelry and Related Arts, LLC (ASJRA) is an organization dedicated to the advancement of jewelry studies. ASJRA takes a broad approach to the subject, seeking to understand and place jewelry within a variety of contexts, including costume, the decorative arts, and fine art among others.

We publish Adornment, the Magazine of Jewelry and Related Arts (a quarterly), an extensive monthly newsletter on everything that is happening in the jewelry world, and organize an annual conference as a forum for curators, historians, researchers, and artists to present new and interesting
information about jewelry.

My co-director Yvonne Markowitz and I also consider it our mission to encourage the inclusion of courses in jewelry history at the college and graduate level for both applied jewelry students and decorative arts majors and provide aid to institutions in that pursuit. It promotes the development of study programs for jewelry design and jewelry history students at museums.

ASJRA is also working to make available previously inaccessible publications and information for educators, researchers, and collectors.

But right now we are, “preaching to the choir.” Our members know how exciting it is to delve into centuries of jewelry lore as well keep an eye on the inventive and unique contemporary jewelry being made today by studio artists and important fine jewelry firms.

This film will help a much wider audience gain an appreciation of how much can be learned and how interesting learning more about jewelry can be.

Documentary film maker Nicolas Cuellar, producer Harris Karlin, and Elyse Zorn Karlin, the co-director of ASJRA, have teamed up to educate the public on the story of jewelry and its place in our lives in the film “A Story to Wear.” We invite you to support this documentary film and get some great rewards to show our appreciation for your donation.

Once the film is completed it will be available to any organization with an interest in jewelry to show to its members, as well as to colleges and universities that have metals’ programs (jewelry making) and art history courses. We will also put it online so the general public can enjoy and learn from it as well. Help us tell the world about a subject that touches all of our lives without us realizing it…think about what your favorite piece of jewelry is and what it means to you!

Nicolas and Harris have extensive credits in the film world and Elyse is a well-known jewelry historian, author, lecturer and freelance curator. Together we will create a film to bring the fascinating world of jewelry to everyone.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Our biggest challenge will to keep the film on schedule…we hope to finish by spring or summer 2013. We are going to be working with diverse people to present a balanced story and scheduling them for interviewing with their busy schedules and still manage to shoot in several venues in one city in a short time (we can’t afford to pay the crew for extra days) will be a challenge.

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Cristobal Balenciaga

Posted by learntobead on October 25, 2011

Cristobal Balenciaga

http://cristobalbalenciagamuseoa.com/Ingles.html

Cristobal Balenciaga was a Spanish fashion designer who began selling fashion and accessories aroun 1919, but came into prominence in the 1950’s.   He’s known for building in very broad shoulders into jackets, blouses and gowns.    He also brought into fashion the Tunic Dress, and the high Empire Waist dress and gown.

He was a hands-on designer, making many of his own clothing, as well as jewelry.

He was considered one of the all-time great couturiers.    His pieces are very collectible.

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SINGING BIRD PISTOLS

Posted by learntobead on July 30, 2011

SINGING BIRD PISTOLS

Watch this video of these 200 year old Singing Bird Pistols.   They recently sold for over $5 million at auction.

http://www.christies.com/features/singing-bird-pistols-en-1422-3.aspx

 

Made of gold and enamel and set with pearls and diamonds. They are the only known surviving pair and
attributed to the Geneva firm of Freres Rochat.

 

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American Gypsy Jewelry

Posted by learntobead on July 28, 2011

American Gypsy Jewelry

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/tips/gypsy.html

The Antiques Road Show has a fascinating article about American Gypsy Jewelry on their blog.

Gypsy Jewelry dates from the 1900-1930’s period.   During this time, many gypsies migrated to America and brought their jewelry-making skills with them.

Gypsy Jewelry is a rare form of jewelry with strong associations to the romance of the gypsy.   Much of the jewelry is 14KT gold.   Many pieces have embedded stones, but more likely the stones are synthetic.  Gypsies didn’t have a way to verify the worth of stones.   They used synthetic stones so they wouldn’t be a position of having to value them.

Gypsies were excellent at jewelry craft because they always carried their wealth with them.   It was easier and safer to carry their wealth in the form of jewelry.

Gypsies used a lot of coins in their jewelry.   They liked to represent the profiles of women, like cameos, which they called gypsy queens.

Gypsy jewelry is worth thousands of dollars.

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Papal Jewelry

Posted by learntobead on June 30, 2011

Papal Jewelry

Papal jewelry has been in the news recently, because a jeweler in North Carolina, of all places, has offered up a cross and and a ring belonging to Pope   Paul VI      for sale.

 

Here are some images I found online of other Papal Jewelry:

This is the papal ring of Pope Paul II, who served as pope from 1464-1471:

Pope Paulus II bronze, rock crystal ring:

 

 

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The Japonisme

Posted by learntobead on June 30, 2011

The Japonisme
Influence of Japan on Western Jewelers, 1867-1917

There is a current exhibit at the Wartski Gallery in London entitled “The Japonisme: From Falize to Faberge: The Goldsmith and Japan”.     This exhibit showcases the influence of Japan on western jewelers, such as Tiffany, Falize, Cartier, Boucheron, Faberge.

Here are some of the kinds of things you would see at this exhibit:

Tiffany: Pearl Flower Brooch

 

Vever: Cherry Blossom Brooch

 

 

Wartski Promo for Exhibit

 

 

Boucheron: Brooches

 

Western jewelry artists took much inspiration from the artistic works of Japan.    Specifically, they:

1) Incorporated cloisonne (enameling) techniques
2) Used fragments to capture the essence,
such as using a flower blossom and branch to capture the essence of a whole tree, and nature itself
3) created more of a sense of delicacy in their pieces
4) Built in a sense of poetry into their designs.

 

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Erotic Watches Auctioned Off

Posted by learntobead on April 13, 2011

Erotic Watches Auctioned Off
By Antiquorum, The Leading Watch Auctioneer
http://amazingcentral.com/swiss-collector-puts-up-a-rare-collection-of-erotic-pocket-watches-on-sale/
http://www.antiquorum.com/home/

A unique collection of more than 30 erotic watches and system objects are among the timepieces Antiquorum offered on March 27 here as part of its “Important Modern and Vintage Timepieces” auction.  The highlight of this collection was a repeating musical watch with four actions and a concealed erotic automaton. Dubbed “Musique d’Amour” and made in 1810, the watch is believed to be the work of Genevan watchmaker Henry Capt, and which was expected to fetch around $90,000.

A Google search of images under the keywords “erotic watches” turned up 4,500,000 images.   So I guess, given this large number of images, erotic watches are very popular and here to stay.    And probably good investments.

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Tiffany Video

Posted by learntobead on March 12, 2011

Tiffany Video
Opening of their Flagship Beijing Store

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JbDRbqemEDc

 

On October 29, Tiffany lit up the night sky in a groundbreaking extravaganza. In anticipation of the December 2010 opening of the new Tiffany Beijing flagship, a breathtaking display was projected onto the store’s façade, with jewels coming to life in astounding 4-D.

This is a great video.  Runs 3 min 21 seconds.

These videos are also related to their Beijing opening:
http://www.youtube.com/tiffanyandco#p/c/92DD5FB78BCC2BC8/1/jYEuofkrhXM

http://www.youtube.com/tiffanyandco#p/c/92DD5FB78BCC2BC8/3/4L3uE6sJ50s

 

 

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Tiffany also makes some great marketing use of YouTube.    Here’s where you’ll find some of their other videos:

http://www.youtube.com/tiffanyandco

 

 

 

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Natural Combinations of Amber and Jet

Posted by learntobead on December 2, 2010

Natural Combinations of Amber and Jet

In many traditional cultures, the religious, the mystical, the magical, the royalty wore jewelry that consisted of combinations of amber and jet.     These natural fossils were believed have special qualities and powers, and when used together, even moreso.

Amber is fossilized tree sap.   Amber flowed from pine trees that flourished 50 to 60 million years ago.    Most amber comes from either the Dominican Republic, the Baltic area of Poland and Russia, and China.

Amber is one of the oldest substances used for jewelry.    In ancient times, it was prized as “solid sunlight”, and believed to have many of the sun’s properties.

Image above from Thyme2dreamwww.thyme2dream.com ),  blog: www.thyme2dream.blogspot.com from her Mabon Collection (http://www.artfire.com/modules.php?sterm=mabon&sub1=SEARCH&name=Shop&op=new&seller_id=10747&sort_cats=0&sc_id=0)
Amber comes in a wide range of colors.    The colors often are called food names.   We have cherry amber, custard, butterscotch, butter, caramel, egg-yolk, tomato, honey, cognac, orange, fatty, and cream.   There is also green amber and blue amber, tiger amber, black-and-white amber, blonde and white.

There are some simple tests to determine if your amber is genuine.   One is that you take a hot needle and touch it to the maber.    There should be a faint piney smell.   Another, rubbing amber with a soft cloth will often cause it to give off an electrical spark, and attract a very light object like a feather.   Yet another is a salt flotation test.  Place several tablespoons of salt in a glass of water, and float a piece of amber in it.   Amber floats; glass and plastic sinks.

Jet is the fossilized remains of trees.    It was often called “black amber”.    Jet comes in different softnesses, so some is less durable than others.   Jet from lignite coal is the softest, while that from anthracite coal is the hardest.   Jet became very popular during Victorian times in England for use in mourning jewelry.

Jet is easily confused with glass.  There is only one test.  First,wear safety goggles.    Take a single jet bead and suspend it from a wire, and hold it over a flame with a a pair of pliers.     Genuine jet will smoke and often turn white at the edges, while plastic will melt and glass will simply explode.

Image above from Thyme2dream ( www.thyme2dream.com ),  blog:www.thyme2dream.blogspot.com from her Mabon Collection(http://www.artfire.com/modules.php?sterm=mabon&sub1=SEARCH&name=Shop&op=new&seller_id=10747&sort_cats=0&sc_id=0)

Jet is more likely than glass to display tiny cracks and scratches, or to be irregularly faceted, and to feel lighter and warmer to the touch.    Jet is a generic term in jewelry, so buying “jet” is always something of a risk.   French Jet is glass.  Austrian jet is glass crystal.   Bakelite jet is a plastic.

The “magical union” between amber and jet dates from ancient times.   It probably represented the union between light and dark, yin and yang, female and male — dualities.

The combination of amber and jet is believed, by many magicians and witches, to be the only combination of stones that gives a full spectrum of electrical energies, from positive to negative.

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The Silver Jewelry of Oman

Posted by learntobead on December 2, 2010

The Silver Jewelry of Oman


Oman has a very rich and distinctive jewelry tradition. Due to the nation’s long history of seafaring and trade, many influences of other cultures can be seen in Omani jewelry. Oman in particular traded with India and the Golden Triangle: trading partners whose influence is still visible in Omani jewelry today. Many Omani anklets and bracelets are reminiscent of Indian jewelry. A specific type of Omani necklace clearly derives from the jewelry of the Hmong tribes in the Golden Triangle.

 

The jewelry is characteristic of traditional, nomadic societies, but with special touches, techniques and motifs, with all the influences from the outside world.

The use of coins or ‘umla’ is widespread throughout the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. Issued by an official mint long before the introduction of silver hallmarks, coins were an indication of an established and guaranteed silver content.   Two coins that both possess a high silver content and are of consistently good quality, proved to be of major importance in the nomadic societies of the Middle East, and indeed in the economical landscape of the entire world. They are the Spanish columnario or pillar dollar, and the Austrian Maria Theresia Thaler.

Originally, Bedouin and traditional jewelry did not carry hallmarks; the region’s jewelry tradition predates their use, as well as modern state boundaries. As each piece of jewelry was individually ordered from a silversmith, the amount of silver to be used was carefully discussed, weighed and paid for. To establish the correct amount of silver, the material was balanced against a known amount of silver, for example a set of coins such as the Maria Theresia Thaler.

At around the beginning of the twentieth century, most countries adopted an official hallmarking system. For a very long time, existing pieces of jewelry were marked only when they were sold; their exact value only needed to be established at the moment of sale. To illustrate its value, an item of jewelry usually displayed its silver stamp on the outside, where it would be most visible.

One of jewelry’s most important functions is to reveal the status of the wearer. If a husband gives jewelry to his wife it shows respect. Jewelry can also indicate social status, or the religious group to which the wearer belongs.

 

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