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NAMING YOUR BUSINESS A Video Tutorial By Warren Feld

Posted by learntobead on April 26, 2021

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

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

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

It really is difficult to pick a business name.

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

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

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

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

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

What is important are:

…how your business name looks and sounds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Warren Feld
warren@warrenfeldjewelry.com

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

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

Posted by learntobead on April 16, 2021

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Abstract

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

 

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Can Jewelry Designs Be Both Effective And Efficient?

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

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

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


What Is A Component?

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

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


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


What Is Component Based Design?

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

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

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

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

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


How Is Component Design Helpful For Jewelry Designers?

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

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

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

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


Design Systems Do Not Limit Creativity Or Design

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

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

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




Design Debt: Something Serious Which Needs To Be Managed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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



Component Based Design Systems Help Us Tackle Design Debt

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

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



Creating A Component Based Design System

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

 

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

 

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

 


(1) Visual Audit of Current Designs / Inventory


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

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


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


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

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

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

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



(2) Determine Your Voice and Tone / Brand Identity


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

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

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

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

 


(3) Design A Component / Modular Elements


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

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

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

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

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


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



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

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

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

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

My documentation for this component is as follows:

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Two Other Examples Of Jewelry Designed Based On Components

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

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

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

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

These standards will focus on the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

 

 


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


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

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

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

 


(6) Relate To Customer Needs / Shared Understandings


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

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

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

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


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FOOTNOTES

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


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


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


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


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


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Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

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

______________________
I hope you found this article useful.


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

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

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

Posted by learntobead on March 11, 2021

The Trunk Show

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Six Key Shared Understandings

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

1. The Key Product Details

2. The Primary Product Benefits

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

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

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

6. How To Routinize Timely Feedback

1. The Key Product Details

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

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

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

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

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

2. The Primary Product Benefits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. How To Routinize Timely Feedback

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

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

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

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

______________________________

FOOTNOTES

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

As referenced in:

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

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

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

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

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

_____________________________________

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

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

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

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

A Fool-Proof Formula For Pricing And Selling Your Jewelry

Designer Connect Profile: Tony Perrin, Jewelry Designer

My Aunt Gert: Illustrating Some Lessons In Business Smarts

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

Naming Your Business / Naming Your Jewelry

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

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

How Creatives Can Successfully Survive In Business

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

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

The Competition: Underestimate Them At Your Peril!

___________________________________

I hope you found this article useful.

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

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

Add your name to my email list.

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

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

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

THE JEWELRY DESIGNER’S APPROACH TO COLOR:

Posted by learntobead on February 14, 2021

Learn To Adapt Basic Concepts In Art When Making Jewelry

PREVIEW MY ONLINE VIDEO TUTORIAL:

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

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

That’s the rub!

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

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

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

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

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

(1) The Sensation Of Color Balance

(2) The Sensation Of Color Proportions

(3) The Sensation Of Simultaneous Color Contrasts

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

We review these in great detail in this course.

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

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

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

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

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

___________________________

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

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

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

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

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

Add your name to my email list.

_________________________

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

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

Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry: What Works!

What Glue Should I Use When Making Jewelry?

Why Am I So Addicted To Beads?

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

The Martha Stewart Beaded Wreath Project

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

The Use of Armature In Jewelry: Legitimate or Not?

Pearl Knotting Warren’s Way

Organizing Your Craft Workspace…Some Smart Pointers

You Don’t Choose Clasps, You Choose Clasp Assemblies

Know Your Anatomy Of A Necklace

Mini Lesson: Making Stretchy Bracelets

Mini Lesson: Making Adjustable Slip Knots With Thicker Cords

Mini Lesson: How To Crimp

Mini Lesson: Attaching End Caps, Cones, Crimp Ends

Mini Lesson: Flat Even Count Peyote

Mini Lesson: Ndebele Stitch

Mini Lesson: Petersburg Chain

Mini Lesson: Right Angle Weave

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

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

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Lampwork Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Crystal Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Seed and Cylinder Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Choosing and Using Clasps

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Stringing Materials

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

THE JEWELRY DESIGNER’S APPROACH TO COLOR: New Video Tutorial Added

Posted by learntobead on November 18, 2020

Warren Feld Jewelry

Update, 11-17-20


NEW VIDEO TUTORIAL POSTED:
THE JEWELRY DESIGNER’S APPROACH TO COLOR


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

That’s the rub!

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

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

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

Jewelry moves with the person through different settings, lighting, times of day.

Jewelry sits on different body shapes.

Jewelry must function in many different contexts.

Jewelry serves many different purposes.

People use and understand colors using their senses.

These perceptions among wearer, viewer and designer include:

(1) The Sensation Of Color Balance
(2) The Sensation Of Color Proportions
(3) The Sensation Of Simultaneous Color Contrasts

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

We review these in great detail in this course.

In this course, you will learn some critical skills for jewelry designers that you will want to know…
• How to pick colors for jewelry, and how this differs from picking colors as a painter
• How to adapt basic color concepts in art when making jewelry
• How to recognize the differences between universal responses to color from the more typical subjective ones, and what better designers do about this

• How to manage the sensation of color within your pieces to achieve your designer goals

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

9 Video Lessons (approximately 80 minutes)
8 Exercises
1 Article (40-pages)
$45.00 enrollment

Check this out and view the free Preview!




<!–


–>


VISIT MY ONLINE SCHOOL

26638c3f-adf4-4d3c-aff0-8d4529779d08.jpg

Learn to Think and Speak and Work
Like a Jewelry Designer!



As always, we look forward to seeing you.


Stay safe and healthy.

Warren

www.warrenfeldjewelry.com

Posted in architecture, Art or Craft?, art theory, bead weaving, beads, beadwork, color, creativity, design management, design theory, design thinking, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, professional development, Stitch 'n Bitch, Workshops, Classes, Exhibits | Leave a Comment »

MY ONLINE VIDEO TUTORIALS: So You Want To Be A Jewelry Designer

Posted by learntobead on September 25, 2020

 


VISIT MY ONLINE SCHOOL

Learn to Think and Speak and Work
Like a Jewelry Designer!

Making and designing jewelry is fun, awesome, challenging and rewarding.  You enter a world full of inspiration, creativity, color, texture, construction, beauty and appeal.  With your jewelry, you impact the lives of many people as they go about their day, attend special events, or interact with friends, acquaintances and strangers.

As a jewelry designer, you have a purpose. Your purpose is to figure out, untangle and solve, with each new piece of jewelry you make, how both you, as well as the wearer, will understand your inspirations and the design elements and forms you chose to express them, and why this piece of jewelry is right for them.

Your success as a designer is the result of all these choices you make.   Our courses are here to help you learn and apply key insights about materials, techniques and the jewelry design process when making these kinds of choices.  We also introduce you to things you need to know when trying to conquer the creative marketplace.

Empower yourself to become fluent, flexible and original in jewelry design.

Enroll now.

Begin with our ORIENTATION TO BEADS & JEWELRY FINDINGS COURSE. For newbies just getting started, or experienced designers as a great refresher.

 


Everything People Wished They Had Known
Before They Started Beading and Making Jewelry!

We require all our students to take our ORIENTATION TO BEADS & JEWELRY FINDINGS class first, before taking any of our other classes.

I have created an updated, extended version of this class online, which you can register for.    The class is divided into 18 short video tutorials on such topics of seed and delica beads, metal beads, clasps, stringing materials, adhesives, miscellaneous findings, and the like.   There is a downloadable handout that accompanies each video segment.

19 lesson modules.   This class is $30.00.
You can find it online and register here.


 

16 Important Lessons I Learned Doing Craft Shows!

In this SO YOU WANT TO DO CRAFT SHOWS… video tutorial class, I discuss critical choices jewelry designers need to make when doing craft shows.  That means, understanding everything involved, and asking the right questions.

Learn How To…

…Find, Evaluate and Select Craft Shows Right For You

…Determine a Set Realistic Goals Right For You

…Compute a Simple Break-Even Analysis

…Best Ways to Develop Your Applications and Apply

…Understand How Much Inventory To Bring

…Best Promote and Operate Your Craft Show Business

 

Doing craft shows is a wonderful experience.  You can make a lot of money. You meet new people. You have new adventures.  And you learn a lot about business and arts and crafts designing.

 

19 lesson modules.  This class is $45.00.
You can find it online and register here.


 

Learn An Easy-To-Use Pricing Formula
and Some Marketing Tips
Especially Relevant for Jewelry Designers!

 

This PRICING AND SELLING YOUR JEWELRY course is about one key to success: SMART PRICING!

 

I share with you my knowledge, experiences and insights about…

(1) Why Jewelry Sells

(2) Three alternative pricing formulas used by jewelry makers and the jewelry industry

(3) A simple, mathematical formula for pricing your jewelry which I developed and prefer to use

(4) How to break down this mathematical pricing formula intoa series of easy to implement steps

 

Then, we practice applying the formula to some different pieces of jewelry.

At the end of the course, I discuss the differences among retail, wholesale and consignment.

I briefly discuss several key business strategies which are very related to pricing.

And I offer some final words of advice.

11 lesson modules.  This class is $35.00.
You can find it online and register here.

 


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

TECHNIQUE AND TECHNOLOGY IN JEWELRY DESIGN: Knowing What To Do

Posted by learntobead on May 22, 2020

TECHNIQUES AND TECHNOLOGIES:
Knowing What To Do

Warren Feld, Jewelry Designer
warren@warrenfeldjewelry.com


(Begin Top Left) Bead Stringing, Bead Weaving, Wire Working, Metalsmithing


Abstract:  Jewelry Making Techniques bring materials together within a composition.  Techniques construct the interrelationship among parts so that they preserve a shape, yet still allow the piece of jewelry to move with the person as the jewelry is worn.     And Techniques manipulate the essence of the whole of the piece so as to convey the artist’s intent and match it to the desires of wearer, viewer, buyer, seller, exhibitor, collector, student and teacher.   Technique is more than mechanics.   It is a philosophy.   Thoughts transformed into choices.   Part of this philosophy is understanding the role of technique to interrelate Space and Mass.  Space and Mass are the raw materials of jewelry forms.   Technique reduces the contrast between them in a controlled way and with significance for designer and client.   Techniques have special relationships to light, texture and ornamentation.    Technology enables us to expand our technical prowess with new materials, processes, styles and forms

TECHNIQUES AND TECHNOLOGIES:
Knowing What To Do

Technique is Knowledge, Value, Creation

Jewelry Making Techniques are more than mechanics.

Techniques are ways to implement ideas.   To transform thoughts and feelings into choices.

Techniques are knowledge, value and creation.

Jewelry Making Techniques bring materials together within a composition.  Techniques construct the interrelationship among parts so that they preserve a shape, yet still allow the piece of jewelry to move with the person as the jewelry is worn.     And Techniques manipulate the essence of the whole of the piece so as to convey the artist’s intent and match it to the desires of wearer, viewer, buyer, seller, exhibitor, collector, student and teacher.

There are many different kinds of jewelry making techniques, as well as strategies and variations for implementing them.  In fact, the jewelry designer has no proscriptions, no prescriptions, no expectations, no limits on how she or he decides to compose, construct and manipulate materials and structures and supports.    It can be a technique that is learned.   It can be one approximated.   It can be totally new, emergent and spontaneous.   It can be socially acceptable or not.   The designer can pull, tug, press, cut, carve, sculpt, emboss, embellish, embroider, sew, knit, weave, coil, bend, fold, twist, heat, cool, assemble, combine, dissolve, destruct, cast, wrap, solder, glue, wind, blow, or hammer.

In reality, it is impossible to discuss meaningfully the technique apart from the ideas, abilities and experiences of each jewelry designer, particularly in reference to knowing when a piece should be considered finished and successful.   There will be some variations in how any designer applies a technique.    This is called skill.  One might pull harder or hammer harder than another.    One might allow some more ease or looseness than another.    One might use easy solder where another might choose hard solder.   One might prefer a thinner thickness or gauge of stringing material, and another a thicker one.    One might leverage the structural properties of one material, while another might choose other materials with different properties towards the same end.   One might apply the technique, following Step XYZ before Step ABC, and another, apply the technique in reverse, altering the steps to be XYA and ABZ.

But our primary focus here is on technique apart from skill.  This lets us see why some designers are masterful at technique, while others are not.

While there are a lot of different methods and applications designers can choose from, all too often, however, when selecting techniques, jewelry designers fail themselves (and their clients).   They disappoint.  They do not understand how to select techniques.  They do not fully understand the basic mechanics.   They do not fully understand the expressive powers of techniques.

Because of this, they are unaware of the responsibilities, as artist and designer, which come with them.  In turn, they make inadequate choices.   They might choose the simple, the handy, the already learned.    They might choose what they see other designers using.    They might choose what they see in magazines and books and videos which get spelled out in Step1-Step2-Step3 fashion.

But often they are naïve in their choices.  They lack an understanding of technique and its philosophy.    They do not understand that there are lot of things more to any technique beyond its simple mechanics.   Techniques are not step-by-step.    They are a collection of knowledge, skill, understanding, choices, decisions, tradeoffs, intents with implication and consequence.    Techniques anticipate shared understandings between artist and audience about finish and success.

Moreover, jewelry designers often do not recognize that each and every technique can and should be varied, experimented and played with.    They do not understand that techniques do not work or accommodate every situation.    That is, jewelry designing is not a “Have-Technique-Will-Travel” type of professional endeavor.    Techniques need to be selected and adapted to the problems or contexts at hand.

They do not understand that there is more to techniques than securing an arrangement of elements.   They do not understand that techniques must find some balance or tradeoffs between maintaining shape(s) and managing support(s), that is movement, drape and flow.

They do not understand how their choice of technique, and the decisions they make about how to apply it, influence the response of others to jewelry materials and forms they create.    Technique, compounded by skill, can be very determinative of outcome.

SPACE AND MASS AND A PHILOSOPHY OF TECHNIQUE

Space and Mass are the raw materials of jewelry form.   Space is void.   Mass is something.    Some jewelry depends more on the expression of Space; others more on the expression of Mass.     Whatever the designer’s goals and intents, Technique permits a reduction of the contrast between space and mass.  Towards this end, Technique communicates the significance of a mass within a space by controlling it.   Publicly demonstrating this control communicates intent, meaning and expressiveness.

The jewelry artist begins by confronting a void.    There is space, but there is nothing in it.    Space.

Into this space or void, the artist introduces mass.    This may begin with a point or a line or a plane or a specific shape or color or texture or pattern.    More mass is added.     Mass.

The designer sets boundaries, places and distributes things, brings things together, determines the scale, signifies directions and dimensions.    The designer begins to co-relate the mass to the space around, within, or through it.    Mass on Space.

The designer regulates the relationship and relative importance of the surface of the mass to the entirety of the mass itself.  Sometimes the mass (or its surface) is expected to be static.   Sometimes it is expected to move.   Occasionally ornamentation is added.     In the context of jewelry, some of this mass should be able to hold a shape; other of this mass should be able to move, drape and flow when worn.     Mass on Mass.

Technique makes something out of nothingness.    It is designed.    It is constructed.   The act of implementing a technique – that is, revealing a pattern of choice behaviors — is communicative.    It has intent.    Mass, Space, Intent.

Eventually, the designer applies Technique to this mass, and in so doing, creates composition.   Things are assembled.   They are pulled together.  The mass suddenly has order.   It has organization.   It is communicative.     It interacts with the desires others place on it.   It evokes an emotional response.     It references a context or situation in which it is to be worn.   Mass, Space, Intent, Content.

Thus, things placed within the space are pulled together, juxtaposed, connected, inter-related in some way.   We call this composition.     Composition might mean how the jewelry designer

–         Treats the surface

–         Emphasizes dimension

–         Joins units

–         Impresses into things, onto things or through things

–         Pulls or Stretches or Twists things

–         Covers, embellishes, frames or exposes things

–         Asserts or changes the scale

–         Determines sizes, shapes and volumes

–         Arranges, Places, Distributes things

–         Relates positive to negative space

–         Creates a rhythm, form or theme

–         Expects things to move or be static

–         Anticipates who might wear it, how it might be worn, and where it might be worn

A piece of jewelry becomes a wholly finite environment within what otherwise would have been nothingness.     But filling this space with form is not enough.   It is not the end of the designer’s role and responsibility.

With order, organization and communication come significance, meaning, implication, connectedness and consequence for everyone around it.    Expression occurs.   An explanation or story emerges.

The designer must give this mass-in-space a quality other than emptiness.    It must have content, meaning, purpose.  The designer must allow this mass-in-space to be enjoyed.   Again, expressed.   Much of this comes down to materials and techniques.

That means the designer must impose upon this space some personal Philosophy of Technique—hopefully employing artistic and design knowledge, skill and understanding.     This philosophy is how this designer thinks-like-a-designer.   It becomes a key part of the designer’s fluency, adaptability, and originality as a professional.    It is how the designer touches things and brings things together.    This is a philosophy of selection, implementation and management of mass-in-space which

–         Balances, equalizes, meditates

–         Restricts

–         Releases

–         Senses and newly senses

–         Becomes a standpoint, a flashpoint, or a jumping off point

–         Sees new possibilities, forecasts, anticipates or expects

–         Creates and re-creates feelings

–         Plays with tolerances, stresses and strains

–         Makes things parsimonious where enough is enough

–         Results in things which are finished, successful and resonant

The mass has form and arrangement within space.    It begins to convey sensation and feelings and content and meaning.    But the designer still has not completed the job.     Jewelry cannot be fully experienced in anticipation.    It must be worn.   It must be inhabited.    It must communicate, interact, connect.     Any philosophy of technique must account for all of this.    Mass, Space, Intent, Content, Dialectic.

The elemental parts and their pleasing arrangement into a whole must allow it to be enjoyed by others.    Be influenced by it.   Persuaded.   A desire to touch it.   See it.   Wear it.   Buy it.   Display it.   Show it to others.   Others, on some level, must accept the designer’s Philosophy of Technique, that is, the designer’s definition with intent for manipulating mass within space, in order to

–         Recognize how to look at it and react to it

–         Understand how to wear it

–         Be inspired as the artist was inspired

–         Feel the balance, harmony, variety, cacophony, continuity, interdependence among spaces and masses

–         Anticipate the effects of movement, drape and flow

–         Get a sense of psycho-socio-cultural release

–         Get a sense of psycho-socio-cultural restriction

–         Know when the piece is finished and successful

–         Judge the piece in terms of value and worth

–         Assess the risk within some context of wearing or purchasing it

–         Assess the risk within some context of sharing it with others

Designers over time gain fluency in their philosophies of several techniques.    Such fluency is recognized and comes to the fore when Techniques serve the desires, understandings and values of both designer and client.    Techniques and the philosophies (ways of thinking) which underly them must fully communicate the particular intent, concepts and experiences expressed by the jewelry designer.   They must anticipate, as well, the particular shared understandings others have about whether the piece will be judged finished and successful.

Designer and client have a special relationship which comes to light within the composed, constructed and manipulated piece of jewelry as it is introduced and expressed publicly.

Through Technique.   Through Skill.    And a Philosophy.

 

 

TECHNIQUES INVOLVE RELATIONSHIPS

Techniques, and the relative skill in applying them, are used to resolve the relational tensions underlying the craftmanship, artistry and design of any piece of jewelry.     How these relationships are implemented and managed affect how the finished jewelry will be perceived sensorially, sensually, and symbolically.     These will affect how the wearer/viewer recognizes the artist’s intent.    These will affect how the wearer/viewer sees their desires reflected within the piece, thus the value and worth of the piece to them.

In design terms, this is called Expression.    Expression in design is the communication of quality and meaning.     The designer expresses quality and meaning through the selection, implementation and application of technique.    We sometimes refer to this as skill.    A technique will have a function.      It will have a set of mechanics and processes.    It will have purpose.    There will be variations in how the mechanics and processes will be put into effect.    Sometimes it will require a stiffening up; othertimes a loosening up.    A pressing or pulling harder or softer.   A curving or straightening.   A transformation from 2 dimensions to 3 dimensions.  Repositioning.   Altering texture.

The technique, its function and application will further get interpreted and transformed, that is, expressed, into wearable art.    Similar to how sounds are made into music.    And how words are made into literature.     There is an underlying vocabulary and grammar to jewelry design, from decoding to comprehension to fluency.

Some aspects of expression are universal, but perhaps most are very subjective, reflective of the interpretations and intents (philosophies) of the artist, the wearer/viewer, and the general culture.    Because of this, each and every expression of design through technique will have to resolve some underlying tensions.     Of special concern are these tensions and relationships:

  1. Aesthetic (beauty) vs. Architectural (function)
  2. Should Parts Be Considered Center Stage or Supplemental
  3. Special Relationship to Light and Shadow
  4. Special Relationship to Texture
  5. Special Relationship to Color and Ornamentation
  1. Aesthetic vs.Architectural

Jewelry Design all too often is viewed apart from the human body, as if we were creating sculptures, rather than wearable art.     Yet its successful creation and implementation is not independent of the body, but moreso dependent upon it.    It must feel good, move with the body, minimize the stresses and strains on the components and materials.    And look good at the same time.

This sets up a tension in the relationship between the Aesthetic and the Architectural.    The problems of jewelry design extend beyond the organizing of space and mass(es) within it.   The designer must plan for and create a harmonious and expressive relationship between object and body and between object and person as the object is worn.    This often means compromising.    Trading off some of the aesthetics for more functionality.

Before you choose and implement any technique…

STOP
ASK YOURSELF:
What about this technique and the steps involved in implementing this technique will help my piece maintain its shape (structure)?

Before you choose and implement any technique…

STOP
ASK YOURSELF:

What about this technique and the steps involved in implementing this technique will help my piece move, drape and low (support)?

 

  1. Should Parts Be Considered Center Stage or Supplemental

The question becomes how the various parts or segments of the jewelry should relate to one another.    We might have strap, a yoke, a centerpiece or focal point, a bail, and a clasp assembly.    The tension here becomes whether the jewelry as a whole should be judged critically as an expression of art and design, or only the centerpiece or focal point should be so judged.

With the latter, the non-center/focus parts of the jewelry are seen merely as supplemental.     This is similar to how a frame functions for painting or a pedestal for a sculpture.

With the former, each segment or component part cannot exist or be expressive apart from any other.     The piece must be judged as a whole.   The whole must be more resonant or evocative than the sum of its parts.

Here we begin to question what exactly technique is.    Is it only that set of mechanics and processes applied to only a section of the whole piece of jewelry?    Or is it how the designer makes choices about construction and manipulation from getting from one end of the piece of jewelry to the other?

 

  1. Special RelationshipTo Light And Shadow 

Light and shadow are both critical design elements to be manipulated as a part of the jewelry designer’s active decision making process.   Yet, light and shadow affect the experience of any piece of jewelry in ways which are outside that designer’s scope and control, as well.

Light and shadow are necessary for the expression of the artist’s intent and inspiration in jewelry.    Because light and shadow move, change character, and come and go with their source, light and shadow have the power to give that mass of component parts a living quality.     This effect is compounded (or foiled) as the wearer moves, changes position, travels from room to room or inside to outside.

The designer cannot control all this, but should be able to predict a lot of this behavior, and make appropriate design choices accordingly.

The designer can channel light through the selection of materials and their reflective, absorptive and refractive properties.   The designer can play with color, pattern and texture.    The designer can be strategic about the placement of positive and negative spaces.   The designer can arrange or embellish surfaces in anticipation of all this.   The designer can diffuse light or transform or distort colors.    The designer can add movement or dimensionality to enliven their forms.   The designer can even use light or shadow to hide things which might negatively affect the overall aesthetic.

The points, lines, planes and shapes incorporated into any piece of jewelry become receptacles of light and shadow which can change in character or form as time progresses, people move and contexts change.    An important part in the success of jewelry designs is played by the quality and intensity of light (and shadow) within context.

 

  1. Special RelationshipTo Texture

Jewelry is experienced both tactilely and visually.

Sometimes these complement each other; othertimes, they compete or conflict.   Texture plays a major role here.    On the one hand, it expresses something about the quality of the materials used.   On the other, it gives a particular quality to light and shadow, and their interplay with the piece as worn.

Designers often select materials partly based on their tactile textures.    They might also alter these textures to expand on the variety of expressive qualities that might be offered.    The stone might be used as is.   It might be smoothed and polished.   It might be roughed up, carved or chiseled.   The material might end up expressing something about the natural state or about refinement and sophistication.

Visually, the designer makes many choices about how to employ the materials.      They may emphasize verticality over horizontality.    Projecting over recession.    Slow or fast rhythm.    Opacity may be altered.   The designer produces differing visual expressions based on patterns and how lighting of the surface conveys the sensory experience of these patterns.

A single texture, whether the goal is tactile or visual, is rarely employed alone in jewelry design.      The actual variety of materials and treatments produces a complex of textures that must be composed and harmonized and resonant into the jewelry’s expressive and consistent whole.

 

  1. Special Relationship To Color and Ornament

Color is a characteristic of all jewelry making materials.     It is a constant feature of any piece of jewelry.    Materials might be selected for their color and visual appeal.   Techniques might be selected for their ability to enhance or play with color and its visual appeal.

Yet, on the other hand, other jewelry making materials and techniques might be selected primarily for their structural properties – that is, their ability to be used to  create, maintain, and retain shape or silhouette.   They might be used as mere armature or to create that armature.   The colors of these materials or the effects resulting from how techniques manipulated them may not be suited to the expressive goals of the designer.    Because of the nature of jewelry making techniques and components, there also may be an unintended or unwanted absence of color, such as gaps of light between beads.

Thus, because of these kinds of things, materials with more suitable expressive colors, either as is or as manipulated, are added to the surface as embellishment and ornamentation.   Sometimes these materials are dyes or coatings or fired-on chemicals.    Sometimes these materials are more substantive materials like glass, gemstone, wood or shell.

These ornamental materials may cover parts of the surface or hide the entire surface of the piece.    They may disguise it.   They may be used to alter how color is perceived and experienced.    They may completely change the experience.      But without technique, and a philosophy of technique, these ornamental options may make it impossible to achieve the sensory, visual or structural powers the ornamentation is meant to provide.

The tension arises when the designer makes choices whether the ornamentation is to be used to enhance the expressiveness of the piece as originally designed (applied ornamentation), or, whether the ornamentation is to be used to create a completely different meaning, decorative motif, or symbolic expression, regardless of appropriateness to that original design (mimetic ornamentation).

Applied ornamentation enhances the designer’s power and control to assert intent and inspiration within the jewelry.   Often applied ornamentation makes some reference to the underlying structures behind it.  But the designer needs to be careful that this doesn’t turn into merely applied decoration.    As ornament, whatever is done is integral to the piece.   As decoration, it is not.

Mimetic ornamentation is often used to make a piece more familiar, more accepting, more reassuring to various audiences.   It might be used to disguise something.  It might have symbolic value.   Here, too, the designer needs to be careful that this doesn’t turn into merely applied decoration.

A third consideration is whether the ornamentation is critical to the jewelry’s functioning or materials (inherent ornamentation).     It is important that it be organic to the piece.    That is, it should derive directly from and be a function of the nature of the jewelry and the materials used.     It may allow size adjustment.    Its placement may reinforce to overcome vulnerabilities.    It may redistribute stresses and strains.    It may aid in movement.   It may assist in maintaining a shape.    It may rationalize color, texture and/or pattern within and throughout the piece.

 

SURVEY OF JEWELRY MAKING TECHNIQUES

There are many, many different types of techniques used in jewelry making.    Each encompasses basic mechanics.    Each is implemented within a procedure or process.    Each is a form of expression.

These techniques or forms of expression differ from each other in terms of the choices the designer makes about how mass should get related to space for creating composition.  They differ in how structure (shape) is created and preserved, and in how support (movement, drape and flow) is built in, achieved and maintained.   They differ in how pattern and texture is created or added.    These techniques differ, apart from the materials used, in how people interact with them, aesthetically, functionally, sensorially and sensually.

These techniques are not mutually exclusive, and are often combined.   It is up to the designer to select the technique or techniques to be used, maximizing the strengths and minimizing the weaknesses of each.    Usually, the designer, when combining techniques, will want one technique to predominate.    The designer does not want the underlying philosophies of two or more techniques to conflict, compete, or not coordinate.

 

Stringing, Bead Weaving

Beads and other components are assembled together into a composition and silhouette.    The stringing materials range from the very narrow, like beading thread, cable thread and cable wire, to thicker, like bead cord, leather, waxed cotton, ribbon, satin cord, and braided leather.     The stringing materials are often hidden, and typically play a supplemental role to the beads and other components within any composition.

Philosophy of Technique:    Objects are placed and assembled together within a space in relationship to the direction and linearity of some type of stringing material or canvas.    There is great attention to the use of points and lines, usually within a singular plane.    Shapes are basic, often only in reference to a silhouette.    Minimal attention is paid to dimensionality.

A piece is made stable by the rigidity of the stringing material or canvas.  The stringing material or canvas is able to withstand tension and compression.

Often, designers place too much reliance on the clasp assembly to provide support (movement, drape and flow), instead of embedding support elements (rings, loops, unglued-knots, hinges, springs, coils, rivets, rotators) throughout the piece.    In a similar way, often designers place too much reliance on the placement of objects on the canvas (that is, stringing material) for maintaining structure (shape), instead of other elements that could be used to maintain shape, while mitigating against stress and strain.

Each stringing and bead weaving technique and its procedures and processes for implementation rely on part of the implementation to maintain a shape, and on part of the implementation to allow for movement, drape and flow.      The particular technique used to assemble the beads (and related components) sets the tone in pattern, shape, form and texture.   Some stringing and bead weaving techniques are great at maintaining shapes.   Other techniques are good at allowing for movement.    The better techniques are good at accommodating both structure and support.

 

Knotting, Braiding, Knitting, Crocheting

The stringing materials take center stage, either in combination with other elements, or alone.    The composition may or may not include beads and other components.     Occasionally glue is used, but its use should be minimized.

Philosophy of Technique:  Within a space, the artist places and intertwines various types of stringing materials.    The artist varies tightness and looseness, placement and distribution of sizes, volumes and mass to achieve the dual goals of structure and support.

A piece is made stable by the rigidity of the intertwining (knotting, chaining, braiding) of the stringing material or canvas.  The intertwined stringing material or canvas is able to withstand tension and compression.

Each strategy for knotting or braiding attempts to simultaneously achieve structure and support.  The technique might vary the placement of fixed points with the use of chaining to create lines, forms and planes within the composition.   Considerable attention is paid to the positioning of positive and negative spaces.

There is a lot of attention to the use of line.     These techniques allow for incorporation of various strategies for achieving a sense of dimensionality.    The shapes may be allowed to stretch or contract, allowing easy response to issues resulting from stress or strain.    Texture is a major emphasis.

 

Embroidery, Embellishment, Fringing

Elements are attached to the surface of the canvas.   This surface is often referred to as the foundation or base.    These elements may be glued or sewn or woven on.    The canvas typically plays a diminished or supplemental role, though this is not a requirement.

Philosophy of Technique:   The space available has been defined by a particular canvas.    This might be a string.    This might be a flat surface.    Elements are placed on and secured to this surface; the mechanics here relate to structural goals.    The pliability, manipulability, and/or maneuverability  of the canvas relate to support goals.

A piece is made stable by the rigidity of the stringing material or canvas.  The stringing material or canvas is able to withstand tension and compression.

The embellishment may be used to create a particular image, or pattern, or texture.    Often it is used to add a sense of dimensionality and/or movement to a piece.    It invites people to want to touch the composition because it adds a very sensual quality to a piece beyond the characteristics of the materials or colors used.

 

Stamping, Engraving, Etching


 

Elements are embedded on or worked into the surface of the canvas.    The canvas may be comprised of any material.

Philosophy of Technique:   The space available has been defined by a particular canvas.    This is typically a flat surface of some kind, but not limited to any one material.    Structural, as well as support, goals depend on the physical, functional and chemical properties of the canvas.    Sometimes these properties are altered through the application of the techniques.    Texture and pattern are major focuses.

A piece is made stable by the rigidity and material strength of the canvas coupled with that canvas’s ability to maintain its integrity after it has been physically or chemically altered.  The resulting canvas is able to with stand tension and compression.

 

Wire Working, Wire Wrapping, Wire Weaving

Hard Wire is manipulated into forms which hold their shape, serve as structural supports, or create pleasing patterns and textures.

Philosophy of Technique:    The designer places wires into a space.    The wires may be bent to form lines, planes, shapes and forms.    The wires may be interwoven, bundled together, coiled, or otherwise anchored or tied together to create a canvas and form the basic foundation of a piece of jewelry.

During the process of applying a wire technique and creating a piece of jewelry, the physical properties of the wire must be changed.   The designer takes wire, applies a technique to it, and continues to apply the technique until the wire is stiff enough to hold a shape.    Each time you manipulate wire, it gets harder and harder and harder.    If you manipulate it too much, it will become brittle and break.    The wire can be pulled, coiled, bent, twisted, or hammered.

A piece is made stable by the stiffness or hardness of the canvas and its material strength, where it is stiff enough to hold a shape, but not so stiff as to become brittle and break.   The resulting canvas is able towithstand tension and compression.

Considerable attention must be paid to strategies of support, that is, how things get joined and jointed.    That is, whatever the piece of jewelry, it must be able to move freely, and withstand all sources of stress or strain.

For example, hard wire would not be used as a stringing material.   If you put beads on the hard wire to create a bracelet or necklace, the wire would distort in shape when the piece is worn, but not return to its original shape.    In this case, you would have to create several segments or components using the wire, and then make some kind of chain to create that jointedness and support.     Picture a rosary which is a bead chain made of wire.

 

Metalsmithing, Fabrication, Cold Connections

Here metal is shaped and formed into a broad, layered canvas or a series of canvases we call components.    Layers of sheet, wire and granules, or a series of components may be combined in some way, either to create a more complex composition, increase a sense of dimensionality or movement, or allow for jointedness, connectivity and support.    The designer might use heat and solder – fabrication.    Or the designer might use rivets, hinges, loops, rings, rotators – cold connections.      The layers  or the series of components may be textured or not.

Philosophy of Technique:   Into a space, the designer places pieces of metal.     These pieces of metal may sit side-by-side, on top of each other, overlap, sit perpendicular or at an angle.   The components are attached together, using heat and solder, glue, or cold connections.    Each layered canvas or component is a composition unto itself.

Canvases and components are rigid shapes and are constructed to withstand stress and strain.   When constructing a piece of jewelry, typically the designer interconnects various components in a way which allows movement, drape and flow.

Interconnected components may be thematic or tell a story.

A piece is made stable by the rigidity and material strength of the canvas after it has been successfully altered through shaping, heat, soldered connection, glue or cold connection.    The resulting canvas is able to withstand tension and compression, up until the point it bends or dents.    Usually, if that happens, the piece can be unbent or undented.     Considerable attention must be paid to strategies of support, that is, how things get joined and jointed.

 

Casting, Modeling, Molding, Carving, Shaping

Here a material is reconfigured and altered into some kind of shape or form.    The material may be rigid, like wood or stone.    It may be malleable like clay or casting material.    The material, once altered, may or may not be subject to additional actions to change its physical, functional or chemical properties, such as the application of heat or cold or a chemical bath.

Philosophy of Technique:  The material is positioned within a space.    As it is manipulated, it most likely will alter its relationship to that space.    It will be able to play many roles from point to line to plane, and from shape to form to theme.      The designer must be critically aware of how the technique will alter this relationship between space and mass, and light and shadow, and how these in turn, will affect form and composition.

A piece is made stable by the rigidity of the canvas after it has been shaped.    Cast pieces have difficulty responding to strong forces.   The resulting canvas is able to withstand tension and compression only to that point before it crumbles and breaks.

Structure and support considerations can either be built into the resulting component, or components may be treated in similar ways as in metalsmithing.

 

Lampworking, Wound Glass, Encasing

Rods and stringers of glass are heated by a torch and wound around a steel rod called a mandrel.   Sometimes shards of glass, sometimes with abstract patterns, sometimes representative of realistic images, are laid on the hot glass, and covered (encased) by a transparent glass wound over them.    The result is a bead or pendant or a small sculpture.

Philosophy of Technique:  The material slowly enters and occupies a defined space.    The artist plays with different types of glass, glass colors and transparencies, rods of glass, pieces of glass, ground up glass, and metallic foils.    Things are placed and layered and spiraled.   Surfaces can be altered by tools.   Once begun, the artist must take the technique to completion.    Thus, the artist’s ideas, focus, and intent are very concentrated and intense.      Glass as a material requires the manipulation of the interpenetration of mass with space.

A piece is made stable by the properties of the glass.  The resulting canvas is able to withstand tension and compression to the extent the properties of the glass will allow.

 

Glass Blowing

Air is forced through a steel straw.     At the end of this straw is a blob of molten glass.    The air forces it to hollow out.     As this happens, the artist rolls it, hammers it, textures it, domes it, otherwise shapes it until it is a finished piece.    The artist may roll the glass over other pieces of glass, to melt them into the piece.    As the glass cools, the result might be a bead or a pendant or a small sculpture.

Philosophy of Technique:  The material expands within a space.   This space may be very narrow and defined, or very expansive, perhaps ill-defined.    The resulting object has surface and interior and exterior spaces.    The qualities of the surface create a play between mass and space, and their interpenetration.

A piece is made stable by the properties of the glass.  The resulting canvas is able to withstand tension and compression to the extent the properties of the glass walls will allow.

 

Computer Aided Design (CAD), 3-D Printing

Here the artist uses computers to aid in the creation, modification, analysis, or optimization of a design.   The output is typically in the form of electronic files or technical drawings for 3-D printing, machining or other manufacturing operation.    3-D printing takes a CAD model and builds it, material layer by layer in an additive manufacturing fashion.     Frequently, the 3-D printed object is a casting mold, rather than the finished piece.

Philosophy of Technique:   CAD can place points, lines and curves within a 2-dimensional space, or curves, surfaces and solids within a 3-dimensional space.    CAD can simulate motion and its impact on any object.   It can take into account other parameters and constraints.   The final technical output must convey more than information about shape.   It must convey information about the extents to which various materials may be used in the design, their dimensions and tolerances.   It must convey information about the pros and cons of processes the artist might use in the design.

One pay-off for the artist is that the computer can detail many more ways, and many more unexpected ways, to relate mass to space than typically thought of without it.

 

 

HOW TO LEARN TECHNIQUE

A good design, poorly executed, is not worth all that much.

So, how do we learn techniques is ways which help us develop ourselves as designers and be fluent in how we select, implement and apply them?

We need to be very aware of what influences us in our

o Selection of Technique

o Implementation of Technique

o Application of Technique

Selection: Anticipating What Will Happen If And When

We begin to develop our fluency in technique at the point of selection.      To select a technique is to anticipate what will happen to the piece of jewelry after it is designed, constructed and worn.    This involves all our senses from thought to touch to sight.

When we touch a piece constructed using a particular technique, how will it feel?   Will it curve or bend?   Will it curve or bend in the direction we need it to?    Will it drape nicely on the body?   Move easily with the body?  Feel comfortable when worn?    Will it hold its shape?

When we see a piece constructed using a particular technique, what will be the resulting pattern and texture?   What will be the interplay of light and shadow?    Will it look good from all sides when sitting on an easel?   Will it look good from all sides when someone is wearing it?    When that person is moving?   Will all color issues be resolved?

We play a What-If game.    What-If we used a variation on the technique?   What-If we used another technique?   What-If we combined techniques or sequenced them or staggered them?  What-if we settled for a little less beauty to achieve better movement, drape and flow?

We might do some research.    Has the technique been used by another artist or in another project you were attracted to?    Was it used successfully?   Did it work well in terms of structure and support?    Did it contribute to (or at least not detract from) the visual appearance of the piece?

We might do some pre-testing.    Will the technique hold up to our expectations?   Will it still work with some variation?    Will it work under differing circumstances?

We are honest with ourselves about our biases.     Will we pick something only because we have done it before?   Or we are very familiar with it?   Or it is the easiest or path of least resistance?

 

Implementation: Basic Mechanics and Processes     

We want to learn the basic mechanics of each technique in a way which highlights their philosophies – that is, how we think them through.    We think about managing:

–         Structure and Support

–         How To Hold The Piece To Work It

–         How To Distribute Stresses and Points of Vulnerability

–         How To Create A Clasp Assembly

–         How To Finish Off The Piece

 

 

Structure and Support.   To begin, we know that each and every technique has as part of its mechanics and processes some aspects which help us create and maintain structures (shape).     And each and everytechnique has some aspects which help us create and maintain support (movement, drape and flow).     We want to be able to break down any technique so that we can recognize what results in what.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holding The Piece To Work It   Next, the basic mechanics also includes strategies for how to hold the piece while you work it.

Picture yourself as an artist.    An artist has an easel and something to use as a clamp to hold things in place.

A bead weaver would use their forefinger on one hand as an easel, pressing the developing bead work project against it, and then take their thumb on that same hand, and clamp down over the work to keep it in place.

A silversmith might use a steel bench block as an easel, and a vice as a clamp.

Someone doing braiding or knotting might use a clipboard as an easel and a bulldog clip as a clamp.

Your challenge is to hold the piece in such a way that you maximize your ability to implement a technique all the while maximizing the strengths of that technique and minimizing its weaknesses.    This is called leveraging.    You use whatever it is that is equivalent to the artist’s easel and clamp in such a way that you can successfully leverage the technique for your purposes.

Holding your piece correctly also sends signals to your hands telling you when each individual step is completed, and when you are finished.

 

 

Distribute Stresses and Points of Vulnerability.   

In any piece of jewelry, it can be expected that the stress-bearing and strain-bearing strengths and weaknesses of each component will be unevenly distributed throughout the pieces.   That is, there will be some areas or points in the piece of jewelry which will be vulnerable to stresses and strains.   This may cause the piece to break or lose its shape or otherwise disrupt its integrity.

The jewelry designer needs to be able to easily look at a piece or its sketch or design plan and identify all the points of vulnerability.     After identifying these, the designer will need to figure out ways to compensate for these weaknesses in design.

Usually points of vulnerability occur in these places or situations:

  • Where the clasp assembly is attached to the piece
  • At the beginning and the end of the piece
  • Along the edges
  • Corners and inside corners
  • Where components have very sharp holes or edges
  • When using materials which degrade, deteriorate, bleed, rub off, distort, are too soft
  • Where there is not an exact fit between two pieces or elements
  • Where there is insufficient support or jointedness

These points of vulnerability may need reinforcement.    More support or structural elements may need to be added.    Things may need to be re-located or positioned within the design.    They may need to be eliminated from the design.

Most often, places of vulnerability occur where the structures or supports in place take on the shapes of either HLT, or U.    Think of these shapes as hazards.  These shapes tend to split when confronted with external or internal forces.   They tend to split because each leg is often confronted with different levels or directions of force.   The legs are not braced.     These hazardous shapes cry out for additional reinforcements or support or structural systems.

 

 

The Clasp Assembly.    The “CLASP ASSEMBLY” usually consists of several parts.  It includes everything it takes to attach the clasp to your beadwork.    Besides the Clasp itself, there are probably jump rings and connectors, crimp beads, clamps, cones, end caps or other jewelry findings.

Visually, the Clasp Assembly is part of the vernacular of the piece.     Ideally, it should seem organically related to the piece or at least a logical inclusion.

Structurally, the Clasp Assembly should hold the piece together as the piece is worn.     It may have some impact on maintaining the shape of the silhouette.

Most importantly, the Clasp Assembly should be put together as a support system. It is the most important support system in any piece of jewelry.  Support systems used in a necklace or bracelet are similar tothe joints in your body.   They aid in movement.   They prevent any one piece from being adversely affected by the forces this movement brings to the piece.   They keep the piece from being stiff.   They make the piece look and feel better, when worn.

The Clasp Assembly of any piece of jewelry should be designed first before the rest of the piece is designed, or designed currently with the rest of the piece.   Too often, jewelry designers select the clasp after they have finished the rest of the piece.    They do not seem to understand how the clasp assembly is an integral part of the implementation of any technique.    In this case, not only does the clasp assembly look like it was the last choice, but it usually falls short of meeting its visual, structural and support roles.

 

 

Finishing Off The Piece.    We always need to step back and reflect whether the piece as designed and implemented will be judged as finished and successful by each of the myriad audiences we hope to please.      Will their judgments confirm or reject our philosophy of the particular technique(s) we used?

It is the challenge for the designer not to make the piece under-done or over-done.   Each and every material and component part should be integral to the piece as a whole.

 

 

Application:   Achieving Expressiveness 

Expressiveness refers to the power of the piece of jewelry to fit with both the designer’s as well as all other’s expectations about desire, connectedness, power, value and worth.    This is one and the same thing as measuring the extent to which both materials and techniques can be seen to have been leveraged, to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses.

A technique has been applied in the most expressive way at that point where the design elements and the materials  selected have been composed, manipulated and constructed in the most optimum way.   We can judge the degree of expressiveness by honing in on two concepts:   Parsimony and Resonance.

 

Parsimony (maximum applied impact):    Parsimony is when you know enough is enough.  When the finished and successful piece is parsimonious, the relationship of all the Design Elements and their expressed attributes will be so strong, that to add or remove any one thing would diminish, not just the design, but rather the significance of the design.

Parsimony is sometimes referred to in art and design as Economy, but the idea of economy is reserved for the visual effects.  For jewelry designers, we want that economy or parsimony to apply to functional and situational effects, as well.   The designer needs to be able to decide when enough is enough.

Parsimony…
– forces explanation; its forced-choice nature is most revealing about the artist’s understandings and intentions

– relies on evidence moreso than assumptions to get at criticality

– focuses examination of the few elements that make a difference

 

Resonance  (coherency of applied impact):  Resonance is some level of felt energy that is a little more than an emotional response.    The difference between saying that piece of jewelry is “beautiful” vs. saying that piece of jewelry “makes me want to wear it”.   Or that “I want to touch it”.   Or “My friends need to see this.”

Resonance is something more than emotion.   It is some kind of additional energy we see, feel and otherwise experience.   Emotion is very reactive.   Resonance is intuitive, involving, identifying.    Resonance is an empathetic response where artist and audience realize a shared (or contradictory) understanding without losing sight of whose views and feelings belong to whom.

Resonance results from how the artist applies technique to control light, shadow, and their characteristics of warmth and cold, receding and approaching, bright and dull, light and dark.   Resonance results from how the artist leverages the strengths of materials and techniques and minimizes their weaknesses.   Resonance results from social, cultural and situational cues.   Resonance results from how the artist takes us to the edge of universal, objective understandings, and pushes us every so slightly, but not too, too far, beyond that edge.

 

Jewelry which resonates…
– is communicative and authentic

– shows the artist’s hand as intention, not instinct

– evokes both an emotional as well as energetic response from wearer and viewer

– shows both degrees of control, as well as moments of the unexpected

– makes something noteworthy from something ordinary

– finds the whole greater than the sum of the parts

 

– lets the materials and techniques speak

– anticipates shared understandings of many different audiences about design elements and principles, and some obvious inclusion, exclusion or intentional violation of them

– results from a design process that appears to have been more systemic (e.g., ingrained within an integrated process) than systematic (e.g., a step-by-step approach)

– both appeals and functions at the boundary where jewelry meets person

 

 

TECHNOLOGY AND JEWELRY DESIGN

The potential of technology merged with craft is infinite.

Technology includes things like,

–         New methods, processes and materials

–         New ways to implement ideas

–         Ability to generate new styles

–         Opportunity to create meaningful forms

–         Unseen contributions to aesthetic structure and composition

–         Less costly and/or more production-friendly methods for creating pieces, especially for projects which might not otherwise get implemented

New materials and composites are created and enter the marketplace every year.

New ways of extracting, shaping, finishing, stabilizing materials come on line each year.

Computer Aided Design (CAD) and 3-D printing provide the tools to jewelry designers to create things beyond their imaginations.

Electroforming  enables the creation of lightweight pieces from various metals.

Lasers are used to weld, cut and decorate.

Laser-Sintering melts powdered metal, layer by layer, into a finished piece.

Jewelry makers and beaders frequently come up with new techniques, mechanics and processes for creating jewelry.     Technology provides creatives with original ways of expression.

“Smart” elements are getting introduced into some designs, transforming your jewelry into a smart device.    These might measure health and fitness; might change color and appearance to suit different environments or clothing; might warm or cool the body.

 

 

TO WHAT EXTENT SHOULD JEWELRY DESIGNERS
RESPOND TO TECHNOLOGY?

Technology is a very powerful tool.    Combined with craftmanship, it can create a new language of shape, object, and sensation.    We have to be careful, however, that we use technology to support jewelry which is hand-made, and not supplant it.

The use of technology allows the designer to create new forms and materials that otherwise would not exist.   Technology often translates into convenience and more rapid production.   In today’s globalized world, this might offer a competitive edge.     Technology also enables more customization, and faster customization.    Again, in a globalized world, this would offer a competitive advantage.     Technology encourages us to look forward, rather than back, for our inspirations and insights.

Again, it is important to emphasize that we do not want all this technological efficiency to diminish the act of “creativity”.    We don’t want to standardize everything and reduce everything into a set of how-to instructions.     We want to expand our creative abilities.   We want to increase the power of the designer to produce pieces reflective of the artist’s hand.     We want our jewelry to be as expressive as possible of the needs, wants and desires of our various clientele.

 

The impact of jewelry on our professional practice.   Whether we use new technologies in our professional practice, or not, we cannot escape them.   We must be up-to-date and aware of technological impacts on what we do and how we do it.

The impact of technology on work and jobs was the focus of an opinion piece in the New York Times by David H. Autor and David Dorn.

As jewelry designers, we are living through and with all the positives and negatives that arise through this technological change.

  • How has technology affected what we do as designers?
  • How has it affected what we do to survive and thrive as designers?
  • Have we mechanized and computerized the jewelry design business into obsolescence?
  • How have you had to organize your jewelry designer lives differently?
    given the rise of

-The internet,
-Ebay, Etsy and Amazon.com
-Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram
-New technologies and materials like precious metal clay, polymer clay, crystal clay, 3-D printing

  • What has happened to your local bead stores? Jewelry stores? Boutiques?
  • What has happened to bead and jewelry making magazines?
  • If you teach classes for pay, or sell kits and instructions, how do you compete against the literally millions of online tutorials, classes, instructions and kits offered for free?    How does this affect what you teach or design to sell as kits?
  • If you sell jewelry, how do you compete against the 60,000,000 other people who sell jewelry online?   How does this affect your marketing, your pricing, your designs?
  • If you make part of your living doing the arts and crafts show circuit, will there still be a need for this in the future?

 

_________________________________________

FOOTNOTES

Autor, David H. and Dorn, David.   “How Technology Wrecks the Middle Class”, New York Times, August 24, 2013.

          As reference in:
https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/24/how-technology-wrecks-the-middle-class/

 

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JEWELRY MAKING MATERIALS: Knowing What To Know

Posted by learntobead on December 31, 2019

 

JEWELRY MAKING MATERIALS

Knowing What To Know

by Warren Feld

Abstract:

There are no perfect jewelry making materials for every project.   Selecting materials is about making smart, strategic choices.    This means relating your materials choices to your design and marketing goals.   It also frequently means having to make tradeoffs and judgment calls between aesthetics and functionality.   Materials differ in quality and value.   They differ in their sensorial effects on people.   They differ in how people perceive them.  They differ in the associational and emotional connections which they evoke.   They differ in their functional efficiency and effectiveness to lend pieces an ability to retain a shape, while at the same time, an ability to move, drape and flow.    They differ in cost and durability.  Last, materials may have different relationships with the designer, wearer or viewer depending on how they are intended to be used, and the situational or cultural contexts.

JEWELRY MAKING MATERIALS:
Knowing What To Know

The materials I use are alive

The world of jewelry design and the materials used can be complex, especially for jewelry designers just starting out in their careers. The novice, but also the more experienced designer, as well, often run up against some terms and properties of materials they have not dealt with before. Materials affect the appeal of the piece.    They affect its structural
integrity.   They affect the cost.   They affect how people view, sense, desire and understand the piece.

You Would Be Very Aware Of…

If you want to gain an understanding of materials, you would be very aware of where they come from, how they are described, sold and marketed.   You would be very aware of the beads and jewelry findings and stringing materials and tools, their qualities, when they are useful and when they are not, and what happens to them when they age.   You would be very aware of what country the material is made or found in, how the material is manufactured, synthesized or gotten at, if it is modified or changed in any way, and how it comes to market.   You would be very aware if the product is sold at different levels of quality, even if this is not differentiated on the product’s label.   It is also important to be very aware how any of these aspects of the material have changed over time, or might change over time in the future.

You would be very aware that there is no such thing as the perfect material.   There are only better materials, given your situation and goals.   There is no perfect bead for every situation.   No perfect clasp.  No perfect stringing material. Every choice you make as a jewelry designer will require some tradeoffs and judgment calls.   The more you understand the quality of the materials in the pieces you are working with are made of, and the clearer you are about your design goals, and if you are selling things, your marketing goals, as well, the more prepared you will be to make these kinds of choices.

You would be very aware that materials have different values and life spans, and this must relate to your project goals.   You would not want to use metalized plastic beads, for example, in a piece you call an heirloom bracelet.   Metalized plastic beads are a metal shell around a milky white plastic bead.   The shell will chip easily.   On the other hand, when doing fashion jewelry, these very inexpensive beads, and which have a short life-span, would be perfect.    Not only are they cheap, but because they are cheap, there are lots and lots of designs and shapes and textures.   

If your goal is to create more investment quality pieces, then you would not want to buy lampwork beads which have not been appropriately annealed (that is, if not cooled down correctly, they will fracture and break easily).    You would buy appropriately annealed ones, but which are considerably more expensive.    This may affect the look of your pieces.     For an inexpensive, fashion oriented piece, your necklace made up entirely of lampwork beads which have not been appropriately annealed might be very affordable.    It would have that great handmade, artisan look.  It might sell for only $60.00.    With more investment quality lampwork beads, however, you might just use one, or perhaps three lampwork beads, and
have a lot of cord showing, or a lot of filler beads, to keep the piece
affordable.    This would be a very different design look and style.    If the
necklace was made up of all quality lampwork beads, — to have the same look and style as its inexpensive cousin — it might have to retail for $600-800.00.

Again, for an investment quality piece, you would want to use crystal beads manufactured in Austria or the Czech Republic, and not ones manufactured elsewhere.    And you would not let yourself be fooled when the front of the package says “Austrian Crystal” when the back says “Made In China”.    Crystal beads made in China are not as bright, there are more production issues and flaws in the beads, and the holes are often drilled off-center when compared to their “Made In Austria” counterparts.   But crystal beads more appropriate for that investment quality piece might be overkill for a fashion piece where you want to add a pop of brightness without a lot of additional cost.

You would want to be very aware of the treatments of beads and metals.     Some things are radiated, heated, reconstituted, partly synthesized, lacquered or dyed.    Sometimes this is a good thing and these treatments enhance the quality of materials in appearance and durability.   Othertimes this is a bad thing, negatively affecting the quality of materials.  

You would be very aware that many of the materials you use are described in ways that do not provide you with sufficient information to make a choice.    Take the material gold-filled. The definition of gold-filled is that the material is a measurable layer of real gold fused to brass, sometimes copper.   But the legal definition does not tell you how thick the gold has to be over the brass for the material to be called gold-filled.    So in the market, some gold-filled has very little gold and will lose its gold very quickly, and other gold-filled has a thicker layer and will keep its gold, its shine and its shape for decades.    

Or sterling silver.  Sterling silver is supposed to be 92.5% silver (marked .925).    The alloy, that is the remaining 7.5%, is supposed to contain, by law, a lot of copper. However, many manufacturers substitute some nickel for the copper to keep the cost down.   This makes the sterling silver less expensive, yes, but it also makes it more brittle.   It is the difference between being able to open and close the loop on an ear wire, off of which to hang the dangle, many, many times or only two or three times before the wire loop breaks. 

Lots of sterling silver items get marked .925.   And in jewelry making, many of the pieces we use are so small, there is no .925 stamp on them.     Besides a change of what is in the alloy affecting the usefulness and value, many other things happen in the marketplace, as well.    Many sterling silver items have been cast.   What frequently happens is that some of the silver is lost in the casting process, so it is no longer at 92.5%.   Manufacturers are supposed to make note of this, but many just stamp .925 on these items.   Some shops label items as sterling silver, but in reality, are selling you pieces that are nickel.    And some places will sell you something silver plated, and put sterling silver .925 tag which is marked .925 on it off the clasp.    The tag is sterling; the jewelry is not.   I’ve seen some major craft stores and some major jewelry stores sell metalized plastic jewelry and jewelry components and label it .925.

Flexible, nylon coated cable wires are one of the primary types of stringing materials.    The measure of cable wire strength is called tensile strength.   This has to do with what the wires are made of, what the nylon sheathing is made of, and how thick that nylon sheathing is.   What makes the wire strong is the nylon sheathing’s ability to maintain the twist in the wire.   As soon as the integrity of the nylon sheathing is violated, the wire untwists and immediately breaks.  You will not see tensile strength referenced on the labels of these products. The information that is referenced (number of strands, wire thickness) gives you some information needed to make a choice, but insufficient to make an actual choice.   Even when they list the number of strands, this doesn’t give you enough factual information to depend on.   One brand’s high-end, 7-strand is stronger and more supple than that same brand’s 49-strand middle range product.    This same brand’s middle range 49-strand product is stronger and more supple than another brand’s high end 49-strand product.

You would also be very aware that you cannot assume that there is consistency and uniformity for any given product.   There are many production issues that arise in the manufacture of glass beads, for example.   Some beads are perfect.   Some have flaws.  These flaws might include some flat surfaces when everything should be rounded.   The color not going all the way through.   Holes drilled off-centered.    Bead sizes and hole sizes inconsistent from bead to bead. Some bead holes that are especially sharp.    Some beads which have coated coloration which is poorly applied and chips off quickly.    In clothing, these beads with flaws would be labeled irregulars, but they are not so labeled in beads.    Some companies specialize in selling you perfect manufactured glass beads; other companies specialize in selling you the irregulars.    They don’t advertise that fact.    Either quality looks the same when you buy it; they just don’t hold up the same in close examination or from wear.

You would be aware that fabricated and stamped metal pieces are more durable than cast metal pieces, but a lot more expensive, and with a smaller palette of designs for the artist.    You would be aware that the measure of pound strength on any label is the weakest piece of information to grab onto.   The law only defines how pound strength should be measured.    Since most products are manufactured abroad, little care is taken to guarantee the validity of this information.   

You would be aware that there are a lot of things to know about the materials used in jewelry design.

It Is All About Choices

Materials play a significant role in jewelry design.   You need to relate and justify the choices you make about selecting and using materials to your design goals (and your marketing goals, as well).    Sometimes your choices are preformulated and planned; othertimes, these choices are spontaneous and emerge within your process of design.   But these are all choices to be made, with inevitable impacts and consequences.

It is through the characteristics and qualities of the materials that the designer comes to keenly and fully appreciate values, intents, desires, and understandings associated with any design.

It is also through the most effective presentation specific to the materials that the designer experiences the piece to its best advantage and potential.     The effectiveness results from the designer’s ability to maximize the strengths of each material, while minimizing its weaknesses.    This is called leveraging.

It is a useful exercise, as well, to attempt to simplify the materials and reflect upon whether the piece feels more satisfying and successful, or less so.    One key goal of any designer is to reach a point of parsimony where enough is enough.

Appreciation of materials, their selection, use and arrangement lead the designer to see, feel, think and listen to the visual poetry laid out before them.    Jewelry is more than functional adornment.    It resonates.   Materials contribute to this.   This appreciation allows the artist to share inspiration and intent with other audiences, the wearer and viewer included.   The materials influence the artist in discovery, expression, invention, re-invention, and originality.   They become part of the human experience in jewelry design.


For example, you might be in a situation having decide whether to purchase an $80.00 strand of 6mm round garnet beads, or a $28.00 strand of these same beads. 

In that $80.00 strand, all the beads actually measure 6mm.    They are all perfectly round.   The holes are drilled well, and drilled through the center.    There are no chips at the hole.   There is good coloration, and the coloration from bead to bead is very consistent.

In that $28.00 strand, none of the beads measure 6mm.    They are a bit smaller, perhaps 5.5mm.    The beads from bead to bead on the strand are not consistent.   Sizes are approximate, not exact.   Several beads on the strand are not perfectly round.   Some have flat surfaces on them.   There are many chips at the hole, suggesting that they are not drilled well.    Some are drilled off-center. The coloration is good from afar, but a close exam reveals that some beads are less desirable than others.

This situation doesn’t present an easy choice, however.    If you are making fashion jewelry, the less expensive strand might be the best choice.    Fashion jewelry is not worn for a long time.   It is not an investment.   It is a look.    These beads are less expensive.   In this context, the flaws, in this case, may not be so much as a flaw, as more a variation.    The variations might enhance the fashion piece, adding a sense of fun, surprise and funkiness.    The poorly drilled holes might mean that these beads will crack and break from wear, but given that fashion jewelry is not worn for a long time, this is a non-issue.

If you are making a more investment quality piece, the more expensive garnet beads might be the better choice.   They have more value, resulting from the higher quality.    The consistency in quality results in a more classic, timeless look.    These beads will last a long time.    Here, the inconsistencies in the less expensive strand of beads definitely would be viewed as flaws, not variations.

Types of Materials

One of the most fundamental and practical aspects of jewelry design is the importance of the materials.    The choices jewelry designers make when selecting materials influence the form, content and movement of their pieces.     Every material brings something special to the creative process and the finished jewelry pieces.    The material influences, not only the designer, but the wearer and viewer themselves, how they perceive it, the values they place on it, and the extent they desire it.

The types of materials jewelry designers might choose are only limited by the imagination of the designer, and that designer’s budget.     I have compiled a short listing of the more prevalent materials used in jewelry design.    I distinguish those materials called

Stringing Materials

which are used to form the canvas of our jewelry,

from those materials called

Aesthetic Materials

which form the primary visual vocabulary and expressiveness of the piece, but also may contribute some functionality,

from those materials called

Functional Materials

which solely or primarily have practical value, but only sometimes, most likely inadvertently, add to the aesthetic expression of the piece.

STRINGING MATERIALS
(The Canvas)

The canvas is the part of the piece of jewelry onto which things are placed.     The canvas is usually some kind of stringing material, and the things placed on it typically are beads and charms.    The canvas supports the piece, its shaping and its silhouette.  It may or may not be visible in the piece.    But the canvas can be anything, including fabric and ribbon, wire mesh, chains, and the like.   It can be like a string, or it can be like a flat sheet.

The designer selects the canvas or stringing material based on a vision of the structure of the piece, including both its supportive requirements as well as its appearance-related qualities.     The particular selection will also impact the durability of the structure.    Sometimes the selection of canvas takes on a symbolic meaning, such as using hemp in friendship bracelets or antiwar jewelry, or using leather in biker jewelry.

(  (1)Beading thread:    Typically shaped like a typewriter ribbon, made from bonded nylon.   It is something we wax before using it. Materials are strung onto thread using a beading needle.    The thread is attached to the clasp assembly by tying knots.   Glue should never be applied to these knots.   If the beading thread is twisted, rather than bonded, it will break very easily.

Structure:   Piece is very supple and moves, drapes and flows very easily.   Provides little resistance to the weight of materials placed on it

Durability:   Very durable when waxed, unless the holes of beads are very sharp

 


(2) Cable thread:    This is a material where threads are braided together and encased in a nylon sheathing.    Used similarly as beading thread.   You use a needle.   Waxing is optional, but strongly suggested. You tie knots to the clasp assembly.  Glue should never be applied to these knots.   Cable thread sold in bead stores is non-biodegradable.    That sold in fishing stores or fishing departments is biodegradable.

Structure:  Piece is very supple and moves, drapes and flows easily, but
not as easily as with beading thread.

Durability: Very durable, but the nylon sheathing can be compromised easily from body oils, perfume oils, and cosmetics.    Waxing will protect the nylon sheathing.

 


(3) Bead cord, hemp, knotting cord:   This is a material where threads or
fibers are braided or twisted together so that they look pretty.     This cord
is used when you want the stringing material to show, such as putting knots
between beads, or where you have a cluster of beads, then the cord showing, another cluster of beads, the cord showing, and so forth.   You use this material to macramé, knot, braid, knit, and crochet.    You do not wax this material.   That would make it look ugly.    The primary purpose is to make your piece look attractive when the stringing material is to show.    Bead cord may be nylon or silk.    You use silk with real pearls, but, I suggest using the nylon with other materials.    You will need a needle, usually a collapsible eye or big eye needle.   You tie knots to secure the cord to a clasp assembly. You minimize the use of glue applied to knots, but you usually need to apply glue to the final knot.

Structure:  Piece is a little stiffer than with bead thread or cable
thread, but still feels supple.    Will drape well, but respond imperfectly to
the movement of the body.

Durability:  Silk naturally deteriorates in 3-5 years; nylon does not.   Bead cord made from other natural materials will also deteriorate over a relatively short period of time.

 


(4) Cable Wires:  This flexible stringing material consists of wires braided together and encased in nylon.    The strength comes from the ability of the nylon sheathing to keep the twist in the wires.   If the nylon sheathing is compromised in any way, the wires will immediately untwist and the cable will break at that point.     The wire is stiff enough to be its own needle.   You use crimp beads to secure the cable wire to a clasp assembly because it is more difficult to tie a secure knot with the cable wire. A crushed crimp adds a more pleasing appearance than tying a knot, but it adds risk.   A crushed crimp is like razor blade, always trying to saw right through the cable when the jewelry is worn.

Structure: Piece will be stiff, and never take the shape of the body.  Piece will typically rotate in the opposite direction from the movement of the body or arm it rests on.

Durability:  Very durable.   The nylon sheathing can be compromised easily from body oils, perfume oils, and cosmetics.  Usually crimp beads are used to secure the clasp, and these increase the risk the cable will break at the crimp, when compared to the durability of tying a knot.

 

(5) Stretchy Cords, like elastic string,
gossamer floss, elastic cord:
  These materials are not particularly durable and lose their elasticity over time.    People like these because they hate clasps, and you don’t use clasps with these.    You secure these by tying knots, and putting glue (any glue except superglue) on the knots.  Be sure
to coat the bottom of the knot, as well as the top of the knot.  Elastic
cord is fabric covered around an elastic thong or floss.

Structure:  Piece will stretch and return back to its original shape and size.

Durability:   Material deteriorates and loses both its integrity as well as its memory over time, especially if left exposed to the air, or worn frequently.   The round elastic string is the most durable among the stretchy cords.   The floss is the least durable.

 


(6) Thicker cords like leather, waxed
cotton, ultra suede lace, rubber thong, and rat tail (satin cord):
  These cords are stiff enough to be their own needle.   You usually need special jewelry findings, such as crimp ends, end caps, or cones with larger interior openings, to prepare the ends of the thicker cord, so that you can attach a clasp assembly.   Some are glued on; some crimped.

Structure: Similar to bead cord, but little stiffer.

Durability:  Some cords, like leather, dry out over time and crack.    Other cords, like waxed cotton and ultra suede, last a very long time.    The rat tail tends to shred.

 


(7) Hard Wire:  Hard wire is not a stringing wire, per se.   You can use it to make a chain or bead-chain.   You can use it to make shapes, like clasps and ear wires.   You can bundle it so that it might be stiff enough to retain the shape of a bracelet or cuff.    You can weave it or knit it to create patterns and textures.   You create loops and rings to attach hard wire to a clasp assembly.

Structure: Wire stiffness comes as dead soft, half hard and hard.   You determine, given how much manipulation of the wire you plan on doing, how stiff you want the wire to be when you begin your project, so that it will hold and retain its shape.    Each time you manipulate the wire, it becomes stiffer and stiffer and stiffer, until it becomes brittle and breaks.

Durability: Very durable.   Wire 18 gauge or thicker has little risk of losing its shape, distorting, breaking, opening up or pulling apart.    As you get thinner, the risk increases dramatically.    Dead soft wire requires a lot more  manipulation until it can hold its shape, than half hard or hard hard wire.

     (8) Chain:Wire is bent into links of various shapes and sizes, and
these are interlinked together into a chain.   Sometimes the links are soldered closed.   Usually they are not.   You can string things onto the chain.   You can use the chain as part of the clasp assembly, often to make the size adjustable.    You can use the chain as a design element throughout your piece.

Structure: Thinner chains will be less able to keep their shape.

Durability: Chains can be very durable, particularly ones that have soldered links, wider links, and/or links created from thicker gauge wires.

(9) Ribbon, fabric:These wider cords are sometimes used as a stringing
material.    They are secured at each end with ribbon or bar clamps, which then form either side of your clasp assembly.

Structure:   Usually, these don’t by themselves support a shape.

Durability:  More aesthetic than functional

 

(10) Lacy’s Stiff Stuff, Stiff Felt, Ultra suede sheet, Paper, Card Board, Poster Board, Rolled Out Polymer or Metal Clay, Brass Cuff Blank:The canvas or stringing material does not have to be a narrow cord.   It can be a wide, flat surface, off of which to bead, glue, stitch, embroider, carve, or sculpt.   This  type of canvas needs to have some amount of stiffness to hold a shape, but not too much that the jewelry made with it feels uncomfortable, or does not move naturally with the person.

Structure:   If you were creating a pendant, you might want your
canvas o be a little stiffer than if you were creating a bracelet.

Durability:   Average durability

(11) Fused Glass:Sometimes the flat canvas is a piece of
glass.    Other pieces of glass are fused onto this, using a kiln, in order to create a pattern or image.  

 Structure:   Rigid shape.

Durability:  Same as any other piece of glass.

 

(12) Metal Sheet and Wire:Sometimes we fabricate a piece of
jewelry, either using soldering, stamping, molding, casting, 3-D printing, or cold connections.    Part of the sheet and/or wire becomes our canvas or stringing material.

Structure:  These are very reliable materials for creating and maintaining
shapes.

Durability:   Soldered and stamped pieces are much more durable than molded or cast ones.    3-D printed materials would be used with casting.    Cold connections could be used with any technique.

 

 

 

AESTHETIC MATERIALS

The canvas either passes through various aesthetic materials, or these are applied to the canvas or attached off the canvas in some way.    These aesthetic materials are used for the yoke, the clasp assembly, the frame, the focal point, the center piece, the strap, and the bail.    

Aesthetic Materials are expressive.   They are part of the visual vocabulary and grammar of the jewelry.    While some play functional roles, as well, they are usually selected for their expressive powers.     Some materials evoke sensory  or symbolic responses, as well.    A touch, a feel, a color sense, sometimes a smell, which extends beyond its factual elements.

Any type of material can be selected to use as an aesthetic material.    It can be something very specific, or a found object, or some kind of combobulation of things.  

Aesthetic Materials we see often include,

·
    Glass, Fused glass, lampwork glass, blown glass

        Metals and Plated Metals

·      Fibers

       Natural (gemstones, wood, bone, horn)

       Synthetic (plastic)

      Polymer and Precious Metal Clay

     Ceramic, Porcelain, Clay, Raku

      Paper, lacquered paper

      Oxidizers, Patinas, Paints, Fabric Dyes and Paints, Stains, Metal Paints and  Rouges

      Platings, Coatings

     Enameling

 

These aesthetic materials can be selected for their qualities of

(a) Appeal

(b) Functionality

(c) Sensations or symbolism extending beyond the physical and decorative bases underlying these materials

Aesthetic Materials: Appeal

The idea of appeal is a broad concept.    It is sometimes universal.   But often subjective. 

There are many variables underlying the ideas of appeal and beauty.    These include things like,


Clarity, translucence, opacity

      –Hardness, brittleness, softness, suppleness

      –Malleability

      –Luminescence, brightness, reflectiveness, refraction

      –Color, color combinations, intensity, value

      –Weight, lightness, heaviness, volume, density

      –Perceived value, worth, rarity

      –Cut, faceting, smoothness, carving, sculpting

      –Shapes

      –Direction, pointer, focal points, markings, striations, inclusions

 

Aesthetic Materials: Functionality

Some materials function better than others in certain situations.    For example, sterling silver is very malleable, nickel is more brittle.    Bending, shaping, coiling, weaving sterling silver requires much less effort, and with this, can lead to more artistic and design success, than using nickel or other wire material that is stiffer and harder than sterling.

Another example:   Using needle and thread as your stringing material is very time consuming.   It is awkward using needle and thread.   You have to wax it.   You want to pass through each bead a minimum of three times.    Using a cable wire, instead, lets you go much faster.    The cable wire is a self needle.   You don’t wax it.   You only have to go through each bead once.    If you are selling your pieces, it is virtually impossible to get your labor out of a needle and thread project.    You almost have to use a cable wire, if you don’t want to commit yourself to a life of slave labor.

 

Aesthetic Materials:  Sensations and Symbolism

Materials have sensory and symbolic powers which extend beyond the materials themselves.   Obviously, this can be very subjective.    It might have psychological roots, sociological roots and/or cultural roots.   

Things may feel warm, cold, soft, rough, oily, weighty.    Things may represent romance, power, membership, religiosity, status.

Vanderbilt University’s colors are gold and black, so using those colors in the Nashville, TN area might evoke a different emotional response than when used elsewhere.    And here’s that very-difficult-to-design-with University of Tennessee orange, again, in the Nashville area will evoke a very different response than elsewhere.

Materials like amber and bone and crystal are things people like to touch, not just look at.    The sensation extends beyond the visual grammar.

 

 

 

FUNCTIONAL MATERIALS

These materials are used in practical terms.   They help things hold together.   They help pieces stay in place.   They help make pieces adjustable in size.   They help polish, finish things off, assist materials through stages in their processing and development. They may be used to prevent or retard a change in color, such as a lacquer finish or rhodium plating over sterling to prevent tarnishing.  They help capture a form or shape.     They are not a part of the visual and expressive vocabulary and grammar of the piece.   Nor are they any kind of canvas.   

Functional Materials which are more prominent include,

·
Adhesives

      ·Solders

      ·Pickling, Flux

      ·Molding compounds

      ·Bead release

      ·Fixatives (like Krylon, lacquering, special platings, waxes, other things which create a protective barrier over something else).

 

It is especially important to know a lot about adhesives.   Many people reach for a tube of Superglue for everything.   Superglue has few uses in jewelry design.     This glue dries like glass, so the bond is like a piece of glass.    When the jewelry moves, the bond shatters like glass, and the bond looks like a broken piece of glass.   All jewelry moves when worn, so not a good choice.

Another glue many people reach for is hot glue.    This glue melts at body temperature, so not a wise choice for necklaces, bracelets and pendants.  

The best glue to use is jeweler’s glue.    Two brands are E6000 and Beacon 527.   Basically the same glue, but the former is thick and the latter is runny.    These glues take 10 minutes to set, so you can move things around for 10 minutes.   At about 20 minutes, the consistency is like rubber cement and you can use your finger or a tweezers to take off any excess glue.   Both glues take 24 hours to dry hard.    They dry clear and remain clear over time.    The bond does not expand.

If using fabric, particularly silk  (ribbon, bead cord, thread), you want to use a cement, rather than a glue.     Glues work by forming a collar around an object, then tighten up as the water or other solvent evaporates.    Cements work by adhering to each individual fiber.    Glue on fabric, as opposed to cement, will lose its grip, so to speak.   With silk, I suggest either G-S Hypo Fabric Cement, or any fabric glue.

Before using a glue, you want to know the characteristics of the bond, once dried.    These include things like,

– hardness

– whether dries clear, or yellows

– whether yellows with age

– whether it expands or not when it dries

– what materials it is most useful for

– whether you have to prepare the material’s surface before using

– how long it takes to fully set

– how easy it is to wipe away and remove any excess glue

– whether where-ever you purchase the particular brand of glue, such as at a craft store or discount store or bead store, that this brand of glue is the same quality product

– how long the glue will last in its container before hardening or drying out

Besides the importance of knowing the types of materials, it is also important to know the properties of materials.     These include (a) mechanical properties, (b) physical properties, and (c) chemical properties.

 

Mechanical Properties

Mechanical properties describe how a material reacts to an applied force.   These include,

·
Strength:   It’s ability not to break under stress or strain

·
Hardness:  How easily it can be scratched, faceted, carved, sculpted, cut, sand blasted

·
Elasticity:   The ability to regain its shape after a stress has been applied to it

·
Plasticity and Malleability:   How much force it takes to make a material permanently deform without breaking

·
Stiffness and Brittleness:  At some point, these materials will be so brittle, they will not bend, and will just break in response to force.    Wire materials, for example, get stiffer and more brittle, the more they are worked, such as from twisting, pulling, hammering, coiling and the like.    Crystal is much more brittle than glass, so it more likely to break from movement or other force.

·
Fatigue:   When the material fails, after repeated wear and use

·
Impact Strength:   how much a material can withstand an impact

·
Abrasion Resistance:   When two materials rub against each other, what is the resistance before one or both break

·
Creep: the slow movement of a material over time

 

Physical Properties

Physical properties
describe the inherent nature of the material.    Some more important ones
related to materials used in jewelry include:

·
Density:   mass and volume

·
Porosity: the quality of being full of tiny holes;
these might hold in something, like a perfume oil, or that something might
easily leach out through washing or sweating, like a dye or lead

·
Water
absorption, permeability and solubility

·
Softening and
Compression:
   how
material holds up under different conditions

·
Resistance to
Heat and Fire

·
Resistance to
Cold

·
Resistance to
a number of cycles of sharp temperature variations without failing

·
Changing form
from solid to liquid to gas

 

Chemical Properties

Chemical properties refer to how well the material holds up when exposed to chemicals.   These chemicals may be in the air.    They may be present in cosmetics, perfumes or hair sprays.   They may be present in a person’s sweat.    These include,


Corrosion

·    Melting, Dissolving, Removing

·
Etching

·
Colorizing, Oxidizing, Patinas

·
Platings

·
Bonding, Adherring

·
Biodegrading

 

We have looked at types of materials and their properties.   Now we need to understand how materials help establish the viability, finish and success of jewelry.   Here, our materials selection process begins to incorporate some value judgments.

 

 

Materials Help Establish
the Viability, Finish and Success of The Jewelry

Jewelry has character and personality.    People intuitively or consciously recognize when it is finished, that is, when the addition or subtraction of any one design element would make the piece seem less satisfying or desirable. Jewelry is judged as successful, to the extent it can maintain its shape while concurrently feeling comfortable, and moving, draping and flowing with the person, as the person wears the jewelry and moves with it on.

Every piece of jewelry has its artistic and individual character due to the many facets from which it is constructed.    Stringing, Aesthetic and Functional Materials are three of these facets.   Mechanical, Physical and Chemical Properties add some additional facets.    These among other additional material choices determine both what can be made, as well as the character of what is made.

Material selection in jewelry design is not only about choosing the most attractive, or most obvious, or most affordable, or most durable materials available.    Designers also choose materials for their sensual sensations, like warmth, their formal appearance, like classical, their functional practicality, like a clamp, or their geo-locality, like using materials found locally.   

The material selection process is complex.    It is influenced by many preconditions, choices made, and considerations to accommodate.    Too often, however, designers focus mainly on the visual aspects of the materials, and not enough on other factors.    In order to make well-considered and smart choices about materials, jewelry designers need a lot more information.    They need information about the entirety of the material, as created or constructed, as visually impactful, as functionally helpful, as perceptually and cognitively understood and as symbolically relevant for designer, wearer and viewer.

 

Selecting
Materials Is A Complicated Process

MATERIAL

(type and
property)


stringing

– aesthetic

– functional


mechanical

– physical

– chemical

JEWELRY
MAKING

 


production process

– assembly, fabrication, construction

– finishing

– accommodating temporal issues

– cost

EXPERIENCE

 


sensorial

– perception

– association and symbolism

– emotion and resonance

CONTEXT

 


of use

– physical

– historical and geographic

– socio-cultural and psychological

PERSPECTIVE

– artist

– wearer

– viewer

– seller, buyer, exhibiter, collector, student, teacher

Stringing,  Aesthetic, and sometimes, Functional Materials, coupled with their various Mechanical, Physical and Chemical properties, help to:

      (1)Establish a relationship between visual quality and structural stability (physical properties, shape, silhouette)

      (2)Establish a relationship between visual quality and support or jointedness (movement, drape and flow)

      (3)Influence the selection of the appropriate technique

      (4)Provide character and visual appeal

      (5)Reflect the time, era, and socio-cultural context and historical value of the piece

      (6)Mix aesthetic elements with functional ones

      (7)Highlight a theme or concept expressed in the design

      (8)Link the piece to a particular geography or location

      (9)Link the piece to its appropriate placement on the body

      (10) Determine the budget for the piece

      (11) Establish the relationship between quantity and quality, that is, how many similar pieces can be made

      (12) Best combine the materialistic qualities with the non-materialistic qualities of the project

 

 

 

(1) Establish a relationship between visual quality and structural stability (physical properties, shape, silhouette)

Jewelry making materials signify structural significance.    This may relate to the physical properties of the materials, such as hardness, brittleness, softness, pliability, porousness, and this list can go on and on.   This may relate to the shapes of the materials, and the placement and interaction of the shapes within the piece, or the final silhouette.    The same may be said for size, weight and volume.    This may relate to the stability of the material or its color or finish over time.

The choices and arrangement of materials within a piece of jewelry determines its structure.     Structure means shape and material integrity.     Shape in jewelry may refer to the silhouette of the piece as a whole, or to individual shapes which occupy one or more sections of our finished piece of jewelry.    It may refer to the positioning of positive and negatives areas within the piece.   When we refer to structure and shape and material, we imply structural integrity, and the degree we are able to maintain any shape, color or finish while the jewelry is worn over some period of time.

Example 1:   We may create a bracelet using Austrian crystal beads strung on a beading thread.   We achieve a high visual quality, at least initially.    But these beads will cut through the threads when the bracelet is worn, thus ending with a very low structural stability.

Example 2:  Sometimes a clam-shell bead tip is used to finish off each end of bead cord, when that is the stringing material.   The bead cord, at its end, is tied into a knot, which sits inside the clam-shell, the cord coming out a hole in the bottom of the clam shell.    We do not want the knot to work itself loose and slip through the hole.   So we glue it.   If we use a jeweler’s glue, like E6000 or Beacon 527, these glues dry like rubber.    With these glues, the knot can actually contort and work itself through the hole.    If we use a glue like Superglue or G-S Hypo Cement,
the knot will remain stiff and not be able to slip through the hole.   However, the stiff knot reduces what is called
support.   It reduces the piece’s jointedness, or ability to respond to stress and strain, thus an ability to best move, drape and flow.     An alternative to glue is to thread an 11/0 seed bead, passing through the bead twice, before bringing the cord through the hole.   This is secure.  No glue is used as all.    Full support is preserved.

Example 3:  How long a metal plated finish lasts depends partly on the metal underneath it, and if it bonds to that metal.    Metal plating bonds well to brass, so it lasts a long time before it fades away.   Metal plating does not bond at all to aluminum, so it quickly chips off.

 

(2)Establish a relationship between visual quality and support or jointedness (movement, drape and flow)

Jewelry making materials enhance or impede support or jointedness.    The selection and placement of materials, their density, weight, shape, and the like may enable the jewelry to take the shape of the body and move with the body, or not.  

Things strung on beading thread will always take the shape of the body and move with the body; things strung on cable wire will not.     But the designer has at their disposal several jewelry design tricks in construction which will make the cable wire function closer to needle and thread.

Example 1: A bracelet made up of very large beads, that when encircling the wrist, create a very stiff circle, with much strain and stress on each bead, on the stringing material and on the clasp assembly.    If the designer reworks the piece, to include small round spacer beads between each very large bead, the designer, in effect, has added what is called a rotator support system. Each very large bead can freely respond to stresses and strain which result from adjusting to the body and its movement by rotating and pivoting around the spacer bead.

Example 2:  People usually pick a clasp after they have designed their piece.   They look for something that will make do, perhaps easier to get on and off, and hopefully have some match to the piece.   A clasp, however, should be understood as more than a clasp.   It should be understood as a clasp assembly, which is a type of support system.
S-clasps are very attractive and a S-clasp design can always be found that feels an organic extension of the jewelry.   An S-clasp needs a soldered ring off of each arm, and, if stringing on cable wire, a loop in the wire where it connects to the soldered ring.      The crimp is never pushed all the way up to the clasp or ring.    Each ring or loop is a support system, so our S-clasp needs 4 support systems in this case, to function correctly.   With 4 supports on the S-clasp in a necklace, the clasp will always remain on the back of the neck, no matter how the person moves.   Without 4 supports, it will not, and the necklace will keep turning around. 

 

(3)Influence the selection of the appropriate technique

The designer must coordinate the selection of Stringing, Aesthetic and Functional Materials, and their inherent Mechanical, Physical and Chemical properties, so that they work in harmony with a particular technique used to assemble, weave, or otherwise secure them together in a finished piece of jewelry.

Conversely, the technique might dictate which materials will work best, and which will not.    Bead weaving works with thread or cable thread, but not as easily with elastic string or cable wire.

There was a time when the materials used in any one piece were restricted to a few.   Today any material can be used, as well as any combination of materials, without losing any appeal or value or desire.

Examples:  A Czech glass bead with a hole size of .8mm would not slip a leather cord with a diameter of 1.5mm.    It would be very difficult to create a loomed piece with beads of widely varying sizes.     If mixing metals (say, silver, gold and brass) in a fabricated and soldered bracelet, care must be taken in the soldering strategy because each metal melts at a different temperature.   You could not begin a wire weaving project using hard hard-wire.    We may select cable wire for our canvas. This would not be a suitable stringing material if the technique we wanted to apply was bead weaving.

 

(4)Provide character and visual appeal

The surface of a material has many characteristics which the jewelry designer leverages within the finished piece.    Light might reflect off this surface, such as with opaque glass or shiny metal.   Light might be brought into and below the surface before reflected back, such as with many gemstones and opalescent glass.  Light might refract through the piece at different angles, even creating a prism effect.

The surface might be a solid color.   It might be a mix of colors.    It might be matte.   It may have inclusions or markings.    It may have fired on coloration effects.   There may be tonal differences.    There may be pattern or textural differences.    It may have movement.   It may have depth.

Example:   It is often difficult to mix gemstone beads with glass beads.   However, if you use glass beads which have a translucent quality to them, this glass mimics the relationship of light reflecting
back to the eye with that of the gemstones.    The finished piece will feel
harmonious.

 

(5)Reflect the time, era, and socio-cultural context and historical value of the piece

Jewelry and its design and materials used can be iconic.   

Jewelry can relate the symbolic value of the piece to certain historical themes and ideas, or to specific functions.

Jewelry can be used to preserve, conserve or restore certain cultural or historical values.    The material(s) selected may glorify these.    Their availability may be closely tied to the time and place.   Their use within a piece may be socially subscribed.

Our understanding of how jewelry relates to these contexts can be used to document how jewelry and its design has evolved and spread.

Name an historical period, and you can visualize many of the materials used and design sense.    Roman. Victorian.    Prehistoric.   Modern.    

Name a socio-cultural context.     Religious.   Wedding.   Military.    American Southwest.   Any rite of passage.

Example 1:   Pearl knotted jewelry is very strongly associated with silk bead cord, pearl clasps, and bead tips.   It is also very associated with Victorian jewelry.   It would be difficult to substitute other materials and pieces, such as a different kind of clasp, or not knotting between beads, without the piece losing its appeal.

Example 2:  A rosary is made as a bead chain, with a certain number of beads, often a certain size and material of bead, with a Y-shaped connector at its center.   The rosary assists the wearer
in prayer and religiosity.   It’s specific design and use of materials
differentiates Catholicism from other religions.

 

(6)Mix aesthetic elements with functional ones

Jewelry is art only as it is worn.    Its aesthetic elements must tightly coordinate with its functional ones, if the piece is to maintain its shape and silhouette, and move with the person, without distorting, feeling uncomfortable or breaking.    Thus, its quality and durability are dependent upon how the designer successfully maneuvers the tradeoffs required between function and appeal.    A good part of this success stems from how materials are selected, combined and arranged.

Jewelry and its design preserve the aesthetic qualities, without disrupting and losing focus of the practical ones.

Example:   The clasp assembly on a piece of jewelry can be very organic, feeling an integral part of the piece.    Or it can be very disruptive and annoying, as if it were a last choice and consideration, and the designer found a clasp that would make do.   For an S-clasp to function appropriately, it needs at least one soldered ring off of the arm on each side
of the clasp.    This will force the clasp assembly to take up more space and
volume in the piece.   This too might end up detracting from the overall appeal of the piece.

 

(7)Highlight a theme or concept expressed in the design

Materials may be selected, combined and arranged into forms and themes so that they represent larger meanings and concepts.    Often this comes down to color, shape, placement, and arrangement.   The materials bring out the theme or concept in the design.

Example:    You create a piece of jewelry with a blue color scheme, using 4 shades of blue.    If the piece is to be worn, say, going clubbing in the evening, you might select 4 shades of blue (metallic blue iris, montana blue, blue quartz, cornflower) which vary in intensity. That means, varying how bright or dull they are by selecting tones with more or less underlying black, gray or white.    If the piece is to be worn, say, at work during the day, you might select 4 shades of blue (cobalt, sapphire, light sapphire, ultralight sapphire) which vary in value.    That means, varying how light or dark they are by selecting tones that are basically the same, but some
are lighter or darker than others.

 

(8)Link the piece to a particular geography or location

Materials may be strongly associated with a particular geography or location.    Lapis is strongly associated with Afghanistan.     Paint Rock with Tennessee.   

Example:  A necklace by a Tennessee designer made entirely with lampwork beads made by Tennessee artisans.

 

(9)Link the piece to its appropriate placement on the body

Jewelry can only be judged successful at the boundary between jewelry and the body.   It must be able to conform to the body’s shape.   It must be able to comfortably move, drape and flow as the person moves and shifts positions.

Materials selection might begin with what materials would be most appropriate for a given type of jewelry.    Or it might begin with what materials would be most appropriate for a certain body shape or size or placement.

Example:   Very heavy beads used in earrings can make them uncomfortable.    Creating a 4” earring dangle on a 4” head pin is not quite as a good a strategy as making a 4” earring dangle chain using eye pins.    Think about what happens to the former vs. the latter when the wearer bends her head, then returns to the upright position.

 

(10) Determine the budget for the piece

The total expenditure incurred while designing a piece of jewelry might be, to a large extent, determined by the materials used.     A designer often selects the material type based on a budget for the project.     [Techniques can also have a big impact on the cost, particularly when accounting for the time it takes to design and construct a piece of jewelry.]

Example:  A necklace made entirely of lapis lazuli beads might retail for $150.00.    A similar necklace made entirely of lapis color glass beads might retail for $25.00.    Both would look similar and take the same time to make.    

 

(11) Establish the relationship between quantity and quality, that is, how many similar pieces can be made

The choice of materials affects the quality of the elements.     Within a given project budget, and within a particular design goal, the quality of the materials may limit the number of similar pieces to be made, or the complexity or elaborateness of the design of any one piece.

Example:   A stretchy bracelet made with lava beads might retail for $15.00.    The materials – elastic string, lava beads, glue – are readily available and inexpensive.    The designer could easily make 50 of these to sell, and stay within a reasonable budget.    Change the materials to cable wire, crimp bead, horseshoe wire protector, crimp cover, black onyx beads, toggle clasp, and the investment in parts is considerably more.   We have more materials and more expensive materials.   This bracelet might have to retail for  $45.00.    Staying within the same budget framework, the designer would only be able to make 16 of these.

 

(12)Best combine the materialistic qualities with the non-materialistic qualities of the project

Every material has two over-arching qualities.   The obvious is its physical properties and physicality.    Let’s call this materialistic.   It is something that is measurable.   In the realm of the mystic, it is ordinary or profane.

But the material also has qualities that extend beyond this.   They can be sensory.   They can be symbolic.    They can be psychological.   They can be contextual.     Let’s call this non-materialistic.   It is something that is non-measurable.  In the realm of the mystic, it is extraordinary and sacred.

Both properties must be considered when designing a piece of jewelry.    They have equal importance, when selecting, placing and arranging materials and design elements within a piece.

Example:    Take a Chakra bracelet strung on cable wire with a clasp.      The beads used are gemstones.   Each gemstone has spiritual and healing properties.   Each gemstone has a coloration, and each different coloration, too, is associated with certain spiritual and healing properties.    Moreover, every individual has their own unique needs
for which set of gemstones and which assortment of colorations are best and most  appropriate.   This can get even more complicated in that each situation and context may have its own requirements.     The person may end up needing several Chakra bracelets for different occasions.     The designer could have used glass or acrylic beads, instead, which have less non-materialistic value, and might be less durable over time.    The designer could have strung the beads on elastic string without using a clasp, again, less non-materialistic value and durability.

 

 

 

LESSONS LEARNED

Selecting materials involves a complicated set of choices, some tangible, some intangible, some personal, some in anticipation of the perceptions of others.

Some lessons learned…

      1.You can use any material you want when designing jewelry

      2.Material selection is a complicated decision making process

      3.No material is perfect for every project

      4.Don’t assume you know what you know

      5.Be skeptical

      6.Always ask questions

      7.Select materials on both their aesthetic as well as functional properties

      8.Don’t sacrifice functionality for aesthetics

      9.Anticipate what might happen to your materials over time as the jewelry is worn

      10.Anticipate how your various audiences will respond to your selections of materials

      11.Work within a budget

      12.Match the quality of material to your design (and marketing) goals

 

 

 

 

Warren Feld,
Jewelry Designer

 

For Warren Feld, Jewelry Designer, (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com), beading and jewelry making have been wonderful adventures. These adventures have taken Warren from the basics of bead stringing and bead weaving, to pearl knotting, micro-macrame, wire
working, wire weaving and silversmithing, and onward to more complex jewelry designs which build on the strengths of a full range of technical skills and experiences.

In 2000, Warren founded The Center for Beadwork & Jewelry Arts (CBJA) as the educational program
for Be Dazzled Beads-Land of Odds.     The program approaches education from a Design Perspective.

There is a strong focus on skills development.   There is a major emphasis on
teaching how to make better choices when selecting beads, other parts and
stringing materials, and how to bring these altogether into a beautiful, yet
functional, piece of jewelry.   There are requirements for sequencing classes –
that is, taking classes in a developmental order.  

Theory is tightly wedded to applications throughout the program, from beginner to
advanced classes.    Since jewelry, unlike painting and sculpture, must
interrelate aesthetics, function and context, much attention is paid to how
such relationships should influence the designer.    Jewelry Design is seen as
an authentic performance task.    As such, the student explores ideas about
artistic intent, shared understandings among all audiences, and developing
evidence in design sufficient for determining whether a piece is finished and
successful.     The design educational program is envisioned as preparing the
student towards gaining a disciplinary literacy in design — one that begins
with how to decode the expressive attributes associated with Design Elements to
a fluency in the management of Principles of Composition, Construction and
Manipulation, as well as the systems management of the design process itself. 

Warrenleads a group of instructors at Be Dazzled Beads (www.bedazzledbeads.com).  He teaches many of the bead-weaving, bead-stringing, wire weaving, jewelry design and business-oriented courses. He
works with people just getting started with beading and jewelry making, as well
as those with more experience. 

His pieces have appeared in beading and jewelry magazines and books, including
Perlen Posie (“Gwynian Ropes Bracelet”,
No. 21, 2014), Showcase 500 Beaded
Jewelry (“Little Tapestries: Ghindia”, Lark Publications, 2012). One piece
(“Canyon Sunrise”), which won 4th place in Swarovski’s Naturally
Inspired Competition
(2008), is in the Swarovski museum in Innsbruck,
Austria.   His work has been written up in The Beader’s Guide to Jewelry
Design
(Margie Deeb, Lark Publications, 2014). He has been a faculty member
at CraftArtEdu.com, developing video tutorials.   

He has been selected as an instructor for the Bead & Button Show, June, 2019,
teaching 3 pieces – Japanese Garden Bracelet, Etruscan Square Stitch Bracelet,
and ColorBlock Bracelet.    In March 2020, Warren will be leading a
travel-enrichment program on Celebrity Cruise Lines, centered on jewelry
making, beginning with a cruise from Miami to Cozumel and Key West.

Personal style: multi-method, intricate color play, adaptive of traditions to
contemporary design, experimental.

Warren is currently working on a book tentatively titled:  SO YOU WANT TO BE A JEWELRY
DESIGNER… Merging Your Voice With Form.

Owner, Be Dazzled Beads in Nashville, and Land of Odds (www.landofodds.com). 

He is probably best known for creating the international The Ugly Necklace Contest,
where good jewelry designers attempt to overcome our pre-wired brains’ fear
response for resisting anything Ugly.    He has also sponsored All Dolled Up: Beaded
Art Doll Competition and The Illustrative Beader: Beaded Tapestry Competition.

Instructor, Bead & Button Show, Milwaukee, WI, 2019

Workshop Leader, Your World Of Jewelry Making Cruises, Celebrity Cruise Line,
2019-2020

 

 

_______________________________

FOOTNOTES

     (1) WASTIELS, Lisa and WOUTERS, Ine.  Material Considerations in Architectural Design: A Study of the Aspects Identified by Architects for Selecting Materials.   July, 2008.

As referenced in:

http://shura.shu.ac.uk/511/1/fulltext.pdf

Posted in architecture, Art or Craft?, art theory, bead weaving, beads, beadwork, business of craft, color, design management, design theory, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, wire and metal | Leave a Comment »

What Is Your Learning Style?

Posted by learntobead on November 17, 2019

There Are Many Ways To Learn

There are many ways to learn beading and jewelry making.

  • Rote Memory
  • Analogously
  • Contradictions
  • Assimilation
  • Constructing Meanings

Most people learn by Rote Memory.    They follow a set of steps, and they end up with something.  They memorize all the steps.   In this approach, all the choices have been made for them.    So they never get a chance to learn the implications of their choices.    Why one bead over another?  Why one stringing material over another?   How would you use the same technique in a different situation?   You pick up a lot of techniques, but not necessarily many skills.

Other people learn Analogously.    They have experiences with other crafts, such as sewing or knitting or other craft, and they draw analogies.   Such and Such is similar to Whatnot, so I do Whatnot the same way I do Such and Such.    This can work to a point.  However, beading and jewelry making can often be much more involved, requiring making many more types of choices, than in other crafts.    And there are still the issues of understanding the quality of the pieces you use, and what happens to them, both when jewelry is worn, as well as when jewelry is worn over time.

 

Yet another way people learn is through Contradictions.    They see cheap jewelry and expensive jewelry, and analyze the differences.   They see jewelry people are happy with, and jewelry people are not happy with, and analyze the differences.    They see fashion jewelry looked down upon by artists, and art jewelry looked down upon by fashionistas, and they analyze the differences.

Assimilation is a learning approach that combines Analogous Learning and Learning Through Contradictions.      People pursue more than one craft, keeping one foot in one arena, and another foot in the other.    They teach themselves by analogy and contradiction.      This assumes that multiple media mix, and mix easily.   Often, however, this is not true.    Usually one medium has to predominate for any one project to be successful.   So assimilative learning can lead to confusion and poor products, trying to meet the special concerns and structures of each craft simultaneously.   It is challenging to mix media.  Often the fundamentals of each particular craft need to be learned and understood in and of themselves.

The last approach to learning a craft is called Constructing Meanings.   In this approach, you learn groups of things, and how to apply an active or thematic label to that grouping.   For example, you might learn about beading threads, such as Nymo, C-Lon and FireLine, and, at the same time, learn to evaluate each one’s strengths and weaknesses in terms of Managing Thread Tension or allowing movement, drape and flow.   You might learn about crystal beads, Czech glass beads, and lampwork beads, and then, again concurrently and in comparison,  learn the pros and cons of each, in terms of achieving good color blending strategies.     You might learn peyote stitch and ndebele stitch, and how to combine them within the same project.

 

 

In reality, you learn a little in each of these different learning styles.    The Constructing Meanings approach, what is often referred to as the Art & Design Tradition, usually is associated with more successful and satisfying learning.    This approach provides you with the tools for making sense of a whole lot of information – all the information you need to bring to bear to make a successful piece of jewelry, one that is both aesthetically pleasing and optimally functioning.

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What Is Your Ambition/Motivation Type For Why You Became A Jewelry Designer?

Posted by learntobead on November 16, 2019

Not Just One Type Of Person

There is not just one type of person who becomes a jewelry designer.    There are many, many types of people who find jewelry design a common passion.    They may have different ambitions.   They may prefer to use different techniques and materials.    They may have different levels of financial success.    They may have different compulsions for creating jewelry.

We can differentiate people who become jewelry designers by their aspirations (1 Neuendorf, 2016) – why they became jewelry designers.    Some jewelry designers fit one type of aspiration; others, more than one.

Social Interactants

Creatives often seek out other creatives and form a social network.    They may be makers.   They may be sellers or exhibiters or collectors.     But they look for ways to interact and meet and share close-knot social ties.     Part of the reason is to learn new ideas.   Another part is to get feedback and critique.   The social group and network will offer support, advice, career and business opportunities and direction.   These are people you can lean on when times get tough.   There might even be some shared glamour and celebrity, depending on the artists and their group.

Social Interactants typically seek recognition for their efforts and their works.   The success of any piece of jewelry depends on the judgements of the various audiences which interact with it.     Social interactants allocate a good deal of their time anticipating how others will understand and react to any piece of jewelry.   They spend time seeking out opportunities to display their works publicly.

 

Compulsive Creators

There is this innate, compulsive, don’t-fight-it desire that some jewelry designers have for creating jewelry.    Composing, constructing and manipulating design elements is intrinsically rewarding.    There is a strong, profound commitment to jewelry design, and this directed energy is often associated with productivity and success.

Compulsive Creators love what they do.    It allows them to think creatively.    They allocate a lot of their time towards achieving a high level of quality and sophistication.

 

Lifestyle of Freedom Seekers

These designers like to set their own pace, establish their own routines, work when the spirit moves them.   A regular 9 to 5 job is not for them.   They like to make their own rules and be self-directive.       Any financial insecurity and uncertainty that comes with this is worth the price to pay for a lifestyle of freedom.

These designers believe that this freedom allows them to experience the world around them in a greater depth and to a greater degree.    In turn, they have more understandings for how to find and then turn inspirations into finished jewelry designs.

 

Financial Success Achievers

Successful jewelry designers can do quite well for themselves, but it takes a lot of drive, organization and business and marketing sense.    Jewelry design can be a lucrative career with such determination, gaining visibility, and a little bit of being in the right place at the right time.

But many designers primarily look for money to supplement their income or retirement.    Some look to make enough money to pay for their supplies.

Sometimes, designers make jewelry to seek wealth, rather than income.    They accumulate many pieces of jewelry and many unusual supplies and components to achieve wealth as success.

Financial Success Achievers typically try to create a business around their jewelry.

 

Happenstance and Chance

Not everyone who becomes a jewelry designer aspired to be one.   Sometimes people fall into it.   They need a piece of jewelry to match an outfit and decide to make something themselves, then get hooked.    They watch someone make jewelry, then get intrigued.    They try to repair a broken piece of jewelry by themselves.   They accompany a friend to a jewelry making class, then want to try it out.

 

 

Aspirations and ambitions vary.   There is no best way or right way.   It becomes a matter of the designer finding that balance of design, self, and other-life which works for them, and drives their passion.

Jewelry designers were motivated to become designers for many different reasons.    But motivations are only a start.   These make up only a small part of what it truly takes to be a successful designer.     Designers need to develop skills and techniques, creative thinking, design process management, and disciplinary literacy, to continue on their pathway to success.

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JEWELRY DESIGN: An Occupation In Search Of A Profession

Posted by learntobead on November 12, 2019

JEWELRY DESIGN:  An Occupation In Search Of A Profession

Jewelry design is an activity which occupies your time.   

How the world understands what you do when you occupy that time, however, is in a state of flux and confusion, and which often can be puzzling or disorienting for the jewelry artist, as well.

Is what you are doing merely a hobby or an avocation?    Is it something anyone can do, anytime they want, without much preparation and learning?

Is what you do an occupation?   Does it require learning specialized technical skills?   Is it something that involves your interaction with others?     Is it something you are paid to do?

Or is what you do a profession?    Is there a specialized body of knowledge, perspectives and values, not just mechanical skills, to learn and apply?    Do you provide a service to the public?    Do you need to learn and acquire certain insights which enable you to serve the needs of others?

Are you part of another occupation or profession, or have your own?     Is jewelry design merely a craft, where you make things by following sets of steps?

Is jewelry design an art, where your personal inspirations and artistic sense is employed to create things of aesthetic beauty for others to admire, as if they were sculptures?    Is the jewelry you create to be judged as something separate and apart from the person wearing it?

Or is jewelry design its own thing.    Is it a design activity where you learn specialized knowledge, skills and understandings in how to integrate aesthetics and functionality, and where your success can only be judged at the boundary between jewelry and person – that is, only as the jewelry is worn?

The line of demarcation between occupation and profession is thin, often blurred, but for the jewelry designer, this distinction is very important.     It feeds into our sense of self and self-esteem.    It guides us in the choices we make to become better and better at our craft, art and trade.    It influences how we introduce our jewelry to the public, and how we influence the public to view, wear, exhibit, purchase or collect the things we make.

 

What does it mean to become a professional?

At the heart of this question is whether we are paid and rewarded solely for the number of jewelry pieces that we make, or for the skill, knowledge and intent underlying our jewelry designs.

If the former, we do not need much training.   Entry into the activity of jewelry design would be very open, with a low bar.     Our responsibility would be to turn out pieces of jewelry.     We would not encumber ourselves too much with art theory or design theory.

If the latter, we would need a lot of specialized training and experience.    Entry into the activity of jewelry design would be more controlled, most likely staged from novice to master.     Our responsibility would be to translate our inspirations into aspirations into designs.    It would also be to influence others viewing our work to be inspired to think about and reflect and emote those things which have excited the artist, as represented by the jewelry itself.    And it would also be to enable others to find personal success and satisfaction when wearing or purchasing this piece of jewelry.

To become a professional jewelry designer is to learn, apply and experience a way of thinking like a designer.     Fluent in terms about materials, techniques and technologies.   Flexible in the applications of techniques and the organizing of design elements into compositions which excite people.    Able to develop workable design strategies in unfamiliar or difficult situations.    Communicative about intent, desire, purpose,  no matter the context or situation within which the designer and his various audiences find themselves.   Original in how concepts are introduced, organized and manipulated.

The designs of artisans who make jewelry reflect and refract cultural norms, societal expectations, historical explanations and justifications, psychological precepts individuals apply to make sense of themselves within a larger setting.    As such, the jewelry designer has a major responsibility, both to the individual client, as well as to the larger social setting or society, to foster that the ability for the client to fulfill that hierarchy of needs, and to foster the coherency and rationality of the community-at-large.

All this can happen in a very small, narrow way, or a very large and profound way.    In either case, the professional roles of the jewelry designer remain the same.    Successfully learning how to play these roles – fluency, flexibility, communication, originality – becomes the basis for how the jewelry designer is judged and the extent of his or her recognition and success.

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Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Posted by learntobead on November 10, 2019

DISCIPLINARY LITERACY AND FLUENCY IN DESIGN

Jeremy thought that the only thing he could do in life was design jewelry.    He loved it.   So it was not a question of “if” or “when” or “how”.    But he told me it was always important not to get tricked by fashion.    It was mandatory not to seek the trendy object.    Not to turn away from that odd thing.    And to pay very close attention to the details of how jewelry designers think, act, speak and reflect.

I thought about his advice a lot over the years of my own career as a jewelry designer.    The disciplined designer needs to be attuned to the discipline way of seeing the world, understanding it, responding to it, and asserting that creative spark within it.

Yet jewelry design does not yet exist as an established discipline.    It is claimed by art.   It is claimed by craft.  It is claimed by design.    And each of these more established disciplines offer conflicting advice about what is expected of the designer.    How should she think?  How should she organize her tasks?   How should she tap into her creative self?   How should she select materials, techniques and technologies?   How should she assert her creativity and introduce her ideas and objects to others?   How much does she need to know about how and why people wear and inhabit jewelry?   What impact should she strive to have on others or the more general culture and society as a whole?

In this book, I try to formulate a disciplinary literacy unique and special and legitimate for jewelry designers.    Such literacy encompasses a basic vocabulary about materials, techniques, color and other design elements and rules of composition.    It also includes the kinds of thinking routines and strategies jewelry designers need to know in order to be fluent, flexible and original.   These routines and strategies are at the heart of the designer’s knowledges, skills and understandings related to creativity, elaboration, embellishment, reflection, critique and metacognition.

At the heart of this disciplinary literacy are the strategies designers use to think through and make choices which optimize aesthetics and functionality within a specific context.     These enable the designer to create something out of nothing, to translate inspiration into aspiration, and to influence content and meaning in context.

There are four sets of routines and strategies which designers employ to determine how to create, what to create, how to know a piece is finished and how to know a piece is successful.    These are,

  • Decoding
  • Composing, Constructing and Manipulating
  • Expressing Intent and Content
  • Contextual Analysis of Shared Understandings as these relate to Desire, and in line with that, Determining Value and Worth

 

 

You don’t become a jewelry designer to be something.

You become a jewelry designer to do something.

The question becomes: How do you learn to do something?

How do you learn to be fluent, flexible and original in design?     And develop an automaticity?   And self-direction?

We call this ‘literacy’.     For the jewelry designer, literacy means developing the abilities to think like a designer.    These include,

  • Reading a piece of jewelry. Here you the designer are able to break down and decode a piece of jewelry into its essential graphical and design elements.   This aspect of fluency and literacy is very descriptive.
  • Writing a piece of jewelry. Here you the designer are able to identify, create or change the arrangement of these design elements within a composition.     Fluency and literacy are very analytical.
  • Expressing a piece of jewelry. Here you the designer use the design elements and principles underlying any arrangement to convey content and meaning.     Fluency and literacy are very interpretive.
  • Expressing a piece of jewelry in context. Here you the designer are able to anticipate, reflect upon and incorporate into your own thinking the reactions of various client groups to the piece, the degree they desire and value the piece, and whether they see the piece as finished and successful.    The designer comfortably moves back and forth between the objective and subjective, and the universal and the specific.   Fluency and literacy are very judgmental.

 

 

 

Everyone knows that anyone can put beads and other pieces together on a string and make a necklace.      But can anyone make a necklace that draws attention?   That evokes some kind of emotional response?    That resonates with someone where they say, not merely “I like that”, but, more importantly, say “I want to wear that!”?    That wears well, drapes well, moves well as the person wearing it moves?     That is durable, supportive and keeps its silhouette and shape?    That doesn’t feel underdone or over done?    That is appropriate for a given context, situation, culture or society?

True, anyone can put beads on a string.    But that does not make them artists or designers.    From artists and designers, we expect jewelry which is something more.    More than parts.  More than an assemblage of colors, shapes, lines, points and other design elements.   More than simple arrangements of lights and darks, rounds and squares, longs and shorts.    We expect to see the artist’s hand.   We expect the jewelry to be impactful for the wearer.    We expect both wearer and viewer, and seller and buyer, to share expectations for what makes the jewelry finished and successful.

Jewelry design is an occupation in the process of professionalization.    That means, when the designer seeks answers to things like what goes together well, or what would happen if, or what would things be like if I had made different choices, the designer still has to rely on contradictory advice and answers.    Should s/he follow the Craft Approach?  Or rely on Art Tradition?    Or take cues from the Design Perspective?    Each larger paradigm, so to speak, would take the designer in different directions.    This can be confusing.  Frustrating.   Unsettling.

As a whole, the profession has become strong in identifying things which go together well.   There are color schemes, and proven ideas about shapes, and balance, and distribution, and proportions.     But when we try to factor in the individualistic characteristics associated with the designer and his or her intent, things get muddied.   And when we try to anticipate the subjective reactions of all our audiences, as we introduce our creative products into the creative marketplace, things get more muddied still.     What should govern our judgments about success and failure, right and wrong?   What should guide us?   What can we look to for helping us answer the what would happen if or what would things be like if questions?

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JEWELRY DESIGN: An Occupation In Search Of A Profession

Posted by learntobead on November 7, 2019

JEWELRY DESIGN:  An Occupation In Search Of A Profession

Jewelry design is an activity which occupies your time.

How the world understands what you do when you occupy that time, however, is in a state of flux and confusion.

Is what you are doing merely a hobby or avocation?    Is it something anyone can do, anytime they want, without much preparation and learning?

Is what you do an occupation?   Does it required learning specialized skills?   Is it something that involves your interaction with others?     Is it something you are payed to do?

Or is what you do a profession?    Is there a specialized body of knowledge, perspectives and values to learn and apply?    Do you provide a service to the public?    Do you need to learn and acquire certain insights which enable you to serve the needs of others?

Are you part of another occupation or profession, or have your own?     Is jewelry design merely a craft, where you make things by following sets of steps?

Is jewelry design an art, where your personal inspirations and artistic sense is employed to create things of aesthetic beauty for others to admire, as if they were sculptures?    Is the jewelry you create to be judged as something separate and apart from the person wearing it?

Or is jewelry design its own thing.    Is it a design activity where you learn specialized knowledge in how to integrate aesthetics and functionality, and where your success can only be judged at the boundary between jewelry and person – that is, only as the jewelry is worn?

The line of demarcation between occupation and profession is thin, often blurred, but for the jewelry designer, this distinction is very important.     It feeds into our sense of self and self-esteem.    It guides us in the choices we make to become better and better at our craft, art and trade.    It influences how we introduce our jewelry to the public, and how we influence the public to view, wear, exhibit, purchase or collect the things we make.

 

What does it mean to become a professional?

At the heart of this question is whether we are paid and rewarded solely for the number of jewelry pieces that we make, or for the skill, knowledge and intent underlying our jewelry designs.

If the former, we do not need much training.   Entry into the activity of jewelry design is very open, with a low bar.     Our responsibility is to turn out pieces of jewelry.     We do not encumber ourselves too much with art theory or design theory.

If the latter, we need a lot of specialized training and experience.    Entry into the activity of jewelry design is more controlled, most likely staged from novice to master.     Our responsibility it to translate our inspirations into aspirations into designs.    It is also to influence others viewing our work to be inspired to think about and reflect and emote those things which have excited the artist, as represented by the jewelry itself.    And it is also to enable others to find personal success and satisfaction when wearing or purchasing this piece of jewelry.

To become a professional jewelry designer is learn, apply and experience a way of thinking like a designer.     Fluent in terms about materials, techniques and technologies.   Flexible in the applications of techniques and the organizing of design elements into compositions which excite people.    Able to develop workable design strategies in unfamiliar or difficult situations.    Communicative about intent, desire, purpose,  no matter the context or situation within which the designer and his various audiences find themselves.   Original in how concepts are introduced, organized and manipulated.

The designs of artisans who make jewelry reflect and refract cultural norms, societal expectations, historical explanations and justifications, psychological precepts individuals apply to make sense of themselves within a larger setting.    As such, the jewelry designer has a major responsibility, both to the individual client, as well as to the larger social setting or society, to foster that the ability for the client to fulfill that hierarchy of needs, and to foster the coherency and rationality of the community-at-large.

All this can happen in a very small, narrow way, or a very large and profound way.    In either case, the professional roles of the jewelry designer remain the same.    Successfully learning how to play these roles – fluency, flexibility, communication, originality – becomes the basis for how the jewelry designer is judged and the extent of his recognition and success.

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BECOMING THE BEAD ARTIST AND JEWELRY DESIGNER: The Ongoing Tension Between Inspiration and Form

Posted by learntobead on November 7, 2019

BECOMING THE BEAD ARTIST AND JEWELRY DESIGNER:
The Ongoing Tension Between Inspiration and Form

As a jewelry designer, you have a purpose.  Your purpose is to figure out, untangle and solve, with each new piece of jewelry you make, how both you, as well as the wearer, will understand your inspirations and the design elements and forms you chose to express them.   Not as easy as it might first appear.

You will want the piece to be beautiful and appealing.    So you will be applying a lot of art theories about color, perspective, composition and the like.     You will quickly discover that much about color use and the use of lines and planes and shapes and so forth in art is very subjective.    People see things differently.    They may bring with them some biases to the situation.   Many of the physical materials you will use may not reflect or refract the color and other artistic effects more easily achieved with paints.

You want the piece to be durable.    So you will be applying a lot of theories and practices of architects and engineers.   You will need to intuitively and intrinsically understand what about your choices leads to the jewelry keeping its shape, and what about your choices allows the jewelry to move, drape and flow.    You also will be attentive to issues of physical mechanics, particularly how jewelry responds to forces of stress, strain and movement.

You want the piece to be satisfying and accepted by various wearing and viewing audiences.    So you will have some understanding of the role jewelry plays in different people’s lives.   Jewelry is more than some object to them; jewelry is something they inhabit —  reflective of soul, culture, status, aspiration.    You will recognize that people ascribe the qualities of the jewelry to the qualities of the person wearing it.    You will bring to the forefront ideas underlying psychology and anthropology and sociology, and even party planning, while designing your jewelry or introducing it publicly.

 

 

 

BECOMING THE BEAD ARTIST AND JEWELRY DESIGNER

Sometimes becoming a designer begins by touching some beads.   Or running a strand of pearls through your hand.   Or the sight of something perfectly worn around the wrist, upon the breast, or up near the neck.

Jewelry designers are extraordinarily blessed to do what they love for a living.   For many, they have turned a hobby into an avocation into a lifestyle.

But it’s not like a regular job.    There are many intangibles.    Such as, what exactly is creativity?    What are all the things that have to come together to recognize that creative spark when it hits you in your heart, groin or head, and how to translate that into something real, with beauty, with function, and with purpose?    How do you mesh your view of aesthetics and functionality with those of your many audiences – wearer, viewer, buyer, seller, collector, exhibiter, teacher and student?

What exactly does it mean to design jewelry, and how do you know it is the right path for you?    This is a tough question.    You may love jewelry, but not know how to make it.   You may get off on creative problem solving or be a color addict but not know what specific techniques and skills you need to learn, in what organized way, with what direction, leading you towards becoming that better jewelry designer.    You may feel the motivation, but not know what the jewelry designer really has to do each day.

You may be taking classes and getting some training, but how do you know when you have arrived?  How do you know when you have emerged as a successful professional jewelry designer?    And what are your responsibilities and obligations, once you get there?

 

 

THERE IS SO MUCH TO KNOW

There is so much to know, and so many types of choices to make.    Which clasp?  Which stringing material?  Which technique?   Which beads?   Which strategy of construction?    What aesthetic you want to achieve?   How you want to achieve it?    Drape, movement, context, durability?    How to organize and manage the design process?

And this is the essence of this book – a way to learn all the kinds of things you need to bring to bear, in order to create a wonderful and functional piece of jewelry.   When you are just beginning your beading or jewelry making avocation, or have been beading and making jewelry awhile – time spent with the material in these segments will be very useful.    You’ll learn the critical skills and ideas.  You’ll learn how these inter-relate.   And you’ll learn how to make better choices.

Everyone knows that anyone can put beads and other pieces together on a string and make a necklace. But can anyone make a necklace that draws attention? That evokes some kind of emotional response? That resonates with someone where they say, I want to wear that!? That wears well, drapes well, moves well as the person wearing it moves? That is durable, supportive and keeps its silhouette and shape? That doesn’t feel underdone or over done? That is appropriate for a given context, situation, culture or society?

True, anyone can put beads on a string. But that does not make them artists or designers. From artists and designers, we expect jewelry which is something more. More than parts. More than an assemblage of colors, shapes, lines, points and other design elements. More than simple arrangements of lights and darks, rounds and squares, longs and shorts. We expect to see the artist’s hand. We expect the jewelry to be impactful for the wearer.

We want to gauge how the designer grows within the craft, and takes on the challenges during their professional lives.    This involves an ongoing effort to merge voice with form.     Often this effort is challenging.   Sometimes paralyzing.    Always fulfilling and rewarding.

Jewelry design is a conversation.   The conversation in ongoing, perhaps never-ending.   The conversation is partly a reflection about process, refinement, questioning, translating feelings into form, impressions into arrangements; life influences into choice.    It touches on desire.   It reflects value and values.   Aesthetics matter.   Architecture and function matters.   Context and situation matter.

Jewelry focuses attention.    Inward for the artist.  Outward for the wearer and viewer.    In many directions socially and culturally.     Jewelry is a voice which must be expressed and heard, and hopefully, responded to.

At first that voice might not find that fit with its audience.   There is some back and forth in expression, as the jewelry is designed, refined, redesigned, and re-introduced publicly.   But jewelry, and its design, has great power.   It has the power to synthesize a great many voices and expectations into something exciting and resonant.

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ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS ABOUT JEWELRY DESIGN WORTH ANSWERING

Posted by learntobead on November 3, 2019

ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS ABOUT JEWELRY DESIGN WORTH ANSWERING

As you develop yourself as a jewelry designer, it is important to recognize and understand the larger social and professional contexts within which jewelry design is but a part, and your place in it. Towards this end, I have formulated some essential questions every designer needs to have answers for and have deeper understandings about.

(1) Why are there disciplinary conflicts between art and craft, and between art and design?

(2) How do you resolve tensions between aesthetics and functionality within an object like jewelry?

(3) What is jewelry, and what is it for?

(4) Is jewelry necessary?

(5) What does it mean to be successful as a jewelry artist working today?

(6) What does it mean to “think like a jewelry designer”? How does this differ from thinking like an artist or thinking like a craftsperson?

(7) How does the jewelry designer know when a piece is finished and successful?

(8) Why does some jewelry draw your attention, and others do not?

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