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THE JEWELRY DESIGNER’S APPROACH TO COLOR

Posted by learntobead on February 16, 2019

THE JEWELRY DESIGNER’S APPROACH TO COLOR

by Warren Feld, Jewelry Designer


Abstract
Color is the single most important Design Element, whether used alone, or in combination with other Design Elements.    Yet jewelry creates a series of dilemmas for the colorist not always anticipated by what jewelry designers are taught in a typical art class.    This article reviews the basic concepts in color theory and suggests how to adapt each of these to the special requirements of beads and jewelry.   Special attention is paid to differentiating those aspects of color use we can consider as objective and universal from those which are more subjective.    The fluent designer is one who can maneuver between universal understandings and subjective beliefs when selecting and implementing colors, color combinations and color blends.  This involves managing the sensation of color light value (balance), the sensation of color contrasts (proportion), and the sensation of simultaneous color contrasts (context) among designer, wearer and viewer.

RETHINKING THE TEACHING OF “COLOR” IN JEWELRY DESIGN
You cannot paint with beads and other jewelry components.
I am going to repeat this:   You cannot paint with beads and other jewelry components.
When you take color class after color class rooted in art, they are teaching you how to paint.    You can’t do this with jewelry and beads.

As frustrating as this can be, you cannot ignore the fact that Color is the single most important Design Element.   Colors, their selection, use and arrangement, are believed to have universal powers to get people to see things as harmonious and appealing.   Color attracts attention.   A great use of color within and object, not only makes that object more coherent, it can be contagious, as well.    Using colors that do not work well together, or using too many colors or not enough colors, or using colors which look good on paper but distort in reality can put people off.

Designers can learn the artistic basics of Color concepts and theories.   They can reference this visual language of color to influence how they go about making choices, including those about picking and using colors.    However, jewelry artists who are fluent in design will be very aware of the limitations this artistic, painterly language imposes on them.    They will have to learn how to decode, adjust and leverage their thinking to anticipate how the bead and other related and integrated materials assert their needs for color, and how to strategically compose, construct and manipulate them.

Jewelry, unlike painting or sculpture, has certain characteristics and requirements which rely on the management and control of color, its sensation and its variability with a slightly different emphasis than learned in a traditional art class.  Jewelry is a 3-dimensional object, composed of a range of materials.  Jewelry situates, moves and adjusts in relation to the human body and what that body is doing at the moment.   To get the attention their jewelry deserves, jewelry artists must become fluent with color selection and application from their own disciplinary perspective.    We must understand color in jewelry as the jewelry is worn, and worn in a particular context or situation.

Beads  [here I use ‘beads’ as a stand-in for all the component parts and stringing materials used in a piece of jewelry]  are curved or faceted or otherwise shaped, and the shape and texture and material and dimensionality affect the color, its variation and its placement and movement on the beads surface.  They affect how light reflects and refracts, so depending on the angle at which you are standing, and how you are looking at the bead, you get some unexpected, unanticipated, sometimes unwanted colors in your piece of jewelry.

Additionally, you need to anticipate how the bead, when worn, can alter its color, depending on the source of light, the type and pace of movement of the wearer, and how the eye interacts with the bead at any point of time or positioning.   There are many gaps of light between each pair of beads, and you can’t paint these in.  The colors don’t blend, don’t merge, don’t spill over, don’t integrate.    You can’t create the millions of subtle color variations that you can with paint.

I’m not suggesting that beaders and jewelry makers be afraid of colors.    Rather, they should embrace them.  They should learn insights into understanding colors.  They should be inspired by colors.   They should express their artistic and creative selves through color.    They should use color palettes to their fullest.    They should recognize how their various audiences see and claim and interact with color.

It is most important that jewelry designers understand color, its use and application from their own disciplinary standpoint.   In some sense, however, the approaches of most bead artists and jewelry designers too often remain somewhat painterly – too routed in the Art Model.    The Art Model ignores things about functionality and context.    It diminishes how the individuality of the designer, and the subjective responses of the wearer and viewer affect each other.  In many respects, these are synergetic, mutually dependent and reciprocal.  The Art model understands the success of jewelry as if sitting on an easel, not as it is worn.

As a result, color theories get oversimplified for the jewelry artist.   “Value” is barely differentiated from “Intensity”.   Color selection focuses too much on harmony, and too little on resonance and edginess.  Color training too often steers jewelry designers towards a step-by-step, paint-by-number sort of approach to color selection and application.   The co-dependent relationship between Color and other Design Elements is downplayed and glossed over.    This is a major disservice.

So, I’ve tried to re-think how we could and should think about and teach “color” to jewelry artists.     Not easy.   Art and Design Theory suggests that, in order to teach designers to make good choices, we need to break down color concepts and theories into teachable and digestible groups of skills.    And then show how the next set of skills builds upon the first.

We need to show jewelry artists what kinds of color choices they will be making as they create pieces of jewelry, and then put them in situations where they are forced to make these kinds of choices.     We need to think of colors as “building blocks”, and the process of using colors, as one of creative construction.   Creative construction requires focusing on how color (and multiple colors) is (are) sensed, and sensed by various audiences which include the artist him- or herself, and the wearer and the viewer, and the exhibitor, collector, and the seller, if need be.

So, that’s where I’ll begin with color:   Delineating the types of choices that the jewelry artist needs to make, starting with choices about picking colors.

Picking Colors
As a design element, color is used to attract attention.   It aids in grouping some objects and setting boundaries between others.   It can emphasize and focus.   It conveys meaning and value.   Usually color enhances the aesthetics and appeal.    Color can be used as an organizing tool and create segments, components, rhythms, movement, dimension and hierarchical arrangements within your jewelry composition.   Color can affect the figure/ground relationship of the composition.

There are many different kinds of choices involved, when using Color:

Choices about colors based on our understanding of…
– Personal strategies for picking colors or finding inspirations for colors
– Color theories and concepts
– How the bead (and related jewelry materials) asserts its (their) needs for color
– How color affects the viewers of color
– The process for designing jewelry with color
– The situation or context within which the jewelry is to be worn

Part of picking colors is very personal and subjective.   And part of this is very strategic and must be managed.    That is, part of picking colors is about anticipating more universal understandings about how various audiences will sense and pick colors.     How do you actually go about picking your colors, and then deciding on your final colors for your piece?   What kinds of things influence you in choosing colors?   What inspires you?   Where do you look for inspiration?    Do you have favorite colors and color combinations?    Or colors and color combinations that you detest?    How do you anticipate how others will view and evaluate the colors you pick?

Choosing Colors is an involved exercise.     Most people avoid this kind of exercise, and settle for a set of colors that match.    But, in design terms, Colors are used by the designer to clarify and intensify the effects she or he wants to achieve.

What does it mean to “clarify and intensify” the effects you might want to achieve?   For example, the artist may use color to clarify and/or intensify any of these kinds of things…
– delineation of segments, forms, themes, areas
– expressions of naturalism or abstraction
– enhancing the sense of structure or physicality (forward/recede; emphasize mass or lines or surfaces or points)
– playing with light (surprise, distort, challenge, contradict, provoke)
– altering the natural relationship between the jewelry and the situation it is worn in (context, clothing, setting)

Color is the primary Design Element designers choose to express their intent, establish unity, create rhythm, set movement and dimensionality in place, enhance shape, make points, lines and planes come alive, and the like.    Alas, too few people apply this kind of thinking and make this kind of effort when choosing colors.

For myself, I know that as I start to play with my design arrangements, I also begin to identify potential color issues.    Designs are imperfect.   Beads are imperfect.  Colors are imperfect.   With each issue, I try to figure out solutions – other things I can do with colors to make everything work.   My choices begin with scientifically proven color theories – shared universals that virtually everyone has about picking colors.

In literacy terminology, this is called decoding. Then I begin to personalize my choices so that my results show more of my individuality as an artist.   Some of these latter choices do not necessarily reflect shared universal understandings about color, its sensation and its use.   In literacy terminology, my ability to move back and forth between the objective and subjective is called fluency.

Bead Choices
The bead – its very being – creates as series of dilemmas for the colorist.    And each dilemma is only overcome through strategically making and managing choices about color and design.
Such dilemmas include things like… 

  • Beads are not the same as using paints
  • Can’t blend beads
  • Boundary issues
  • Issues associated with shapes, faceting, edges, crevices
  • Jewelry reflects and refracts light, and this may change as the wearer moves, or lighting changes, or perspective and angle of vision changes, or materials or material mixes change
  • Limits in the range of colors (and color tones) you can pick from
  • Issues associated with the fact that jewelry as worn, takes many shapes/positions, as the person moves, and the color appearance may change or vary
  • Beads are parts in whole compositions, and juxtaposition of 2 or more beads may change or vary the colors’ appearance
  • Jumping from bead to bead within the composition, means the viewer’s mind has to fill in where there are gaps of color to give the illusion there is a continuance of color throughout the composition

Yet most people do not recognize or anticipate these kinds of dilemmas.

Emotions, Moods and Choices
The emotional and psychological effects of color are undeniable.  These effects are usually felt through processes of color comparisons and contrasts.   The better designer anticipates the goals of the wearer, and what emotions and moods the wearer wants to evoke in all that see the jewelry as worn.    This might be appeal, beauty, trust, power, wealth, intelligence, and the list goes on.


Designing With Color – Many Choices
The jewelry designer must be strategic with color, which comes down to..

  1. Selection
  2. Placement
  3. Distribution
  4. Transition
  5. Proportion

Designers must be intentional, not only with the selection of colors, but in the placement of color within the piece, as well.     The designer achieves balance and harmony, partly through the placement of colors.    The designer determines how colors are distributed within the piece, and how colors transition from one color to the next.   And the designer determines what proportions of each color are used, where in the piece, and how.   These kinds of choices affect movement and rhythm, dimensionality, and resonance.

Subjective or Objective Choices?
SOME TOOLS FROM ART THEORY

Many people are often skeptical that you can choose colors with any basis of rationality.     Choosing colors is intuitive, subjective, personal.    You can’t teach people to be better users of colors, because you’re either born with a sense of color, or you are not.

People seem to have cultural or social expectations about the meanings of some colors.   When Vanderbilt students see black and gold, they associate it with school colors.   When others see black and gold, they associate it with something else.    The same goes for University of Tennessee Orange, and so forth school to school.

If we are to be able to teach jewelry makers and beaders to be more scientific in their choices of colors, and be able to anticipate how their various audiences respond to colors, then we would need to have some objective rules, rules that refer universally to just about everyone.  Rules that inform people what colors are best.   What colors go together, which ones do not.   Rules that show how to manipulate color and its expression in perfect and predictable ways.

But everything seems so subjective.

When people see colors on the vertical, they may respond very differently than when they see these same colors on the horizontal.

Look at flags of countries around the world.   Many flag colors are red, white and blue.

If you look at France’s flag, you have red/white/blue on the vertical.

Russia’s flag has red/white/blue on the horizontal.

You frequently find that people might like a color arrangement in a vertical organization, but feel very uncomfortable, or have much disdain for those same colors, when found in the horizontal.

COLOR TOOLS AND THEIR THEORETICAL BASIS
Sensation Management

Color research over the past 100 years or so suggests that there are many universals in how people perceive, understand and respond to colors.   These universals provide the basis for several “sensation-management-tools” jewelry designers might use to help them manipulate various design elements and their arrangements within a jewelry composition.    Some of the most useful color tools are those which designers use to control how to make one color relate to another.     These have to do with creating and managing…

A. Sensations of Color Balance (Light Values)
B. Sensations of Color Proportions (Color Contrast)
C. Sensations of Simultaneous Color (Simultaneous Color Contrasts)

As jewelry designers, we need to know…

  • What these color TOOLS are, and with which we can play
  • What the special demands beads (and all other materials) place on our use of these TOOLS
  • How we can push the limits of these TOOLS to achieve harmony, variety and emotional responses
  • How Far We Can Push the limits of these TOOLS to achieve parsimony and resonance

Toward this end, we need to know a little bit about the research and theories these tools are based upon.We need to understand some things about perception and cognition.That is, we need to understand, as people interact with our jewelry, how the brain comes to see color, recognize color, and interpret color in context.

Theory / Research Underlying These Color-Sensation Management Tools
My favorite book on the research into the theoretical bases of these kinds of color management tools is by Johannes Itten [2] called The Elements of Color.    The most important theories about color universals for jewelry designers, as detailed in his book, include,

  1. After Images
  2. Use of the Color Wheel
  3. Color Schemes
  4. Color Proportions
  5. Simultaneity Effects

As a design element in and of itself, Color (and its attributes) are universally understood as if they were objective facts which comprise a visual grammar.  It is important to understand how to employ universal understandings about color.

Universality, in and of itself, however, is necessary but not sufficient for understanding why some color use draws your attention, and others do not.  Here aspects of subjective interpretations and reactions, given the context, have great influence.The fluent, successful jewelry designer should understand both those universal and subjective aspects of color.

The initial discussion below, however, primarily concerns itself about color as a design element – that is, as something universal and objective.

(1) After Images
The first research had to do with After Images.    If you stare at a particular color long enough, and close your eyes, you’ll begin to see the color on the opposite side of the color wheel.   So, if you stare at red, close your eyes, and you’ll see green.

I know you want to do this, so stare away:


So our first color-sensation tools are based on LIGHT VALUE.    Each color has its own energy signature.  This seems to be universally perceived, and perceived in the same way.

Some colors have a positive energy signature; other colors have a negative energy signature.   The brain wants to balance these out and harmonize them into some kind of zero-sum outcome.    Everyone seems to see after images and see the same after images.    It seems that the eye/brain wants somehow to neutralize the energy in color to achieve some balance or 0.0 point.      The brain always seeks a balanced energy in light and color.   The human eye is only “satisfied” when the complementary color is established.

[This is the basis underlying the various color schemes below. ]

If red had an energy of +10  (I’m making up this scale), and the eye/brain then convinced your psyche to see green, then I would suppose that green would have an energy of -10.   Hence, we reach a 0.0 point (+10 – 10 = 0).

Again, the brain wants balance, harmony, beauty, non-threatening situations.   The brain does not want edginess, tension, anxiety, fear, or ugliness.   So, when you perceive red, your brain, in knee-jerk fashion, and in the absence of other information which might lead to a different interpretation of the situation, tries to compensate for the imbalance by also seeing green.

And we can continue to speculate that your eye/brain does Not want you the designer to overly clarify and intensify, should this result in a more resonant, perhaps edgy, composition.   This takes you too far away from 0.0 energy, and starts to become threatening.   It might excite you.   It might revolt you.   In either case you would react, feel, sense the power of color, but maybe not in a more balanced way the eye/brain would prefer.

But all jewelry designers need to know, and this is important, that their guiding star is “Resonance”, and this can take you a little beyond the harmony the brain seeks.     Creating a little “edginess” in your jewelry can’t hurt, and might better help in achieving finish and success.   But creating too much “edginess” might strike too forcefully at the heart of our pre-wired anxiety response, and our brain will not let us go there.   Your eye/brain does Not want you to push yourself and your jewelry too far to the edge with color.  This countervailing force might create tensions with your artistic and design intentions.

The eye/brain wants balance, harmony, monotony.     Red and green can seem so much fun at Christmas time.    But if you put your red and green necklace on a copy machine, and took a photocopy of it, it would all look like one color of black.    Red and green will always copy as the same color and shade of black.

And that is how we perceive them.    And cognate them.   We see red and green as the same.   As the same color black.    And if we assign red a +10 score, and green a -10 score, the eye/brain is happy to end up with a 0.0 score.  This combination can be boring and monotonous.   Combinations of red and green can feel unified and appear varied, yet somehow fail as choices in our jewelry designs.

And it is important to recognized that if, your composition only uses red, that in reality, when something doesn’t balance off the color red, in this case, the brain will create its own after image – some sensation of green —  to force that balance.   The brain wants to feel safe and in harmony and balance.    Everyone’s brain seems to operate similarly so that this aspect of perceiving color is universally employed.

How far the jewelry designer should fight this universal tendency is up for debate.    However, when initially picking colors to combine in a piece, we might try to achieve this 0.0 balance score (thus, a point of harmony and balance), and then, by clarifying and intensifying, deviate from it a little bit, but always with an eye on that 0.0 – what anyone’s eye/brain is driving it to do.    We want the eye/brain to feel satisfied and “safe”, but as a designer, we also want to give the jewelry a punch, a wow, an edge.    There are many color tricks and techniques that the designer can apply here.


(2) The Color Wheel: A Spectrum of Light Values
Science and Art Theory have provided us with tools to help us pick and combine colors.    One tool is the Color Wheel.    With almost every book about color, there is a Color Wheel.   Some are more detailed than others.   Some are easier to turn and manipulate.    They all have different colors at the North, South, East and West points, but it is the same series of colors, ordered in the same way, color to color.

It is important to understand how to use the Color Wheel.  This curtain of color provides the insights for selecting and arranging colors that might go together well.   The color wheel helps us delineate what color choices we can make, and which combinations of colors might work the best together, to achieve a perceived harmony and balance.

The Color Wheel is a tool and a guide.   It’s not an absolute.   Beads don’t always conform to the colors on the wheel; nor do they reflect light and color in ways consistent with how these colors appear on the wheel.

Look at this color wheel:

Get some color pencils, and color in all the colors around the wheel.

On the Color Wheel, there are 12 colors arranged into three families of color.

The Primary Color [3] family includes three colors:   yellow, blue and red.     These colors present the world as Absolutes.  They are definitive, certain, and steady.   They convey intelligence, security, and clarity.

The Secondary Color family includes those colors you can make by mixing any two primary colors.   These three colors are:  green, orange and violet.    These colors present the world as Contingencies.  They are situational, dependent on something, and questioning.   They convey questioning, inquiry, risks assessed against benefits.

The Tertiary Color family includes six colors.    Each of these colors is a mix of one of the primary colors and one of the secondary colors.  These include:  red-violet, yellow-orange, blue-green, blue-violet, yellow-green, red-orange.   These colors show Transitions.   These colors are useful for transitioning from one primary or secondary color to the next.    They bridge, integrate, tie things together, stretch things out.   They give a sense of before and after, lower then higher, inside and outside, betwixt and between.    They convey ambiguity or a teetering on the fulcrum of a scale.

As you begin to pick colors, you will also want to manipulate them – make them lighter or darker, brighter or duller, more forward projecting or more receding, and the like.   Expressions of color are referred to as attributes.  Expressive attributes are the ways you use color as building blocks in design.   So, here are some important building block/color terms/attributes and vocabulary.


(3) Color Schemes – Rules for Balancing Light Values
Color schemes are different, universally recognized and proven ways to use and combine colors, in order to achieve a pleasing or satisfying result.

Good color combinations based on color schemes have balanced, harmonious tonal values – their light energy levels balance out at the zero-zero (0.0) point.    Better designers like to tweak these combinations a bit, in order to evoke an emotional and resonant response to their work.

Color Schemes, then, as represented in a Color Wheel, are based on harmonizing (e.g., zero-sum) combinations of colors.   Color schemes – like the split complementary scheme of violet, yellow-green and yellow-orange – are different combinations of colors the Light Values of which add up to zero, and achieve harmony.

You can place geometric shapes inside the Color Wheel, and rotate them, and where the points hit the wheel, you have a good color combination.    For example, if you place an equilateral triangle (all sides are equal length) within the circle, as in the diagram below, the points touch Yellow, Red and Blue.   If you rotate it two colors to the right, it touches Orange, Violet and Green.

Different color schemes are associated with different geometric shapes that you can overlay within the wheel, and rotate, thus helping you select colors that work well together.


With color schemes, you always need to think about things like:

  1. Whether one color should predominate, or all colors should be more or less equal
  2. Whether there should always be a “splash of color”, as interior designers like to say — a “drama” color to achieve exciting, focal, look at me first effects
  3. If symmetry works with or against your color choices
  4. If you need to adjust intensity (brightness) or value (lightness) in each color, to get a better sense of satisfaction
  5. If you need to adjust the proportions or distributional patterns or arrangements of each color used; that is, experiment with same colors, different placement or different sizes or different quantities or different shapes or mixes of shapes

Let’s look at the three most popular, often-used Color Schemes – Analogous, Complementary, and Split Complementary.

Analogous
The analogous color scheme is where you pick any 3 hues which are adjacent to one another on the color wheel.   For example, you might pick yellow-green, yellow, and yellow-orange.   This scheme is a little trickier than it seems.    It works best when no color predominates.    Where the intensity of each color is similar.   And the design is symmetrical.   I also think this scheme works best when you have blocks of each color, rather than alternating each color.   That is, BETTER:  color 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3 rather than WORSE: color 1, 2, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3, 2, 1.

Complementary  (also known as “true complementary” or “dyadic”)
The complementary color scheme is where you pick any 2 colors which are the direct opposite on the color wheel.   For example, you might pick yellow and violet.   To use this color scheme effectively, you would balance the contrast of the colors by value (lightness/darkness) and/or intensity (brightness/dullness).   In this color scheme, one color has to predominate.

Split Complementary
This is the most popular color scheme.  Here you choose three colors:  a hue and the hues on either side of its complement.   For example, you might choose yellow and blue-violet and red-violet  (thus, the two colors on either side of Violet – the complement).   In this scheme, one color needs to predominate.   This scheme works well with both symmetrical and asymmetrical designs.  You can use an isosceles triangle (has two sides with equal length) within the Color Wheel to pick colors.

One thing I like to do with this scheme is arrange all my beads, then replace one color with one of the others, and vice versa.    Let’s say you had 20 blue-green (aqua), 10 orange, and 5 red beads, which you had laid out in a satisfactory arrangement.    You could change it to 20 orange, 10 blue-green, and 5 red beads, and it would look just as good.

A lot of people have difficulty using the color orange in jewelry designs, but find it easy to use blue-green.   Here’s a nifty way to trick them into using orange, and liking it.   Do the composition with blue-green dominant, then switch out all the blue-green for orange, and any orange you used for blue-green.

There are many other color schemes.   Some examples:

Analogous Complementary
.(3 analogous colors, and one complement of one of these 3).             Example:  blue-violet, violet, red-violet with yellow-green.

Triadic
:  (3 tertiary hues equidistant on the color wheel.)             Example:  red-violet, yellow-orange, and blue-green.  You can use an equilateral triangle within the color wheel to help you pick choices.

Tetradic:
   (Using 4 colors, a double complementary scheme).   Example:   Yellow-green, orange, red-violet, and blue.   You can use a square or rectangle within the color wheel to help you pick choices.

Hexadic:   (Using 5 colors).   Can use a pentagon within the color wheel to select your colors.

Monochromatic:   (A single hue, though with different intensities, tints and shades)

Achromatic:  (black and white and gray  (without color))

Neutrals:   (mixes of hues to get browns (or grays))

Clash:  (combines a color hue with a color on either side of its complement).

Example:   blue w/red-orange or orange-yellow

There are many books, as well as free on-line color scheme designer apps to check out and play with.

(4) Color Proportions and the Sensation of Color Contrasts
Just because the colors picked conformed to a Color Wheel, doesn’t mean that they will be successful within your jewelry composition.   It turns out that making color choices based on Light Values alone are less than perfect.   Colors do not occur in a vacuum.    They appear next to other colors.   They appear within a situation or context.   They reflect and refract light and shadow differently, depending on setting, lighting, and context.

That means, perceiving and recognizing one or more colors is important information to have, but not enough information for the brain to determine if the object is satisfying or not, or safe or not.    People do not yet have enough information to make an absolute choice whether to wear or buy a piece of jewelry, at this point.

This bring us to the sensation of Color Contrasts.   Colors appear together in different proportions.   This also affects the brain’s processes of trying to harmonize them – that is, achieve a light value of zero.

Another series of color research focused on the effects of color proportions.   These scientifically derived proportions show the joint effect of 2 or more colors, if the brain is to score their sum as a value of 0.0.   (Again, I’ve made up this scoring, but you get the point about reaching equilibrium).     The brain would like to know, not only what color it is, but what proportion relative to other colors, we have before us.

As designers, to achieve a sense of harmony and balance, we are going to mimic what the brain does when seeing more than one color – we are going to vary the proportions so that, in combination, the sense of that perceptual and cognitive zero-sum game is still maintained.

And again, I’ll make the point that not all compositions have to be perfectly harmonious.

Itten has a picture of the ideal and relative proportions of colors in harmony and balance.

Yellow to purple, 1:4   (This is read as “1 in 4”, and means that given 4 parts, 1 should be yellow and the remaining 3 should be purple.  )

Orange to blue, 1:3
Red to green, 1:2
Yellow to orange: 1:1.3

Choreographing Color Blending and Transitioning:
Playing With Proportions

ColorBlock Bracelet, Warren Feld, 2017   (playing with progressive proportions)

Every so often, you might want to create a rainbow, or some sequencing of colors, say from light to dark, where all the colors seem to emerge from the last, and bleed into the next.    This is much more difficult with beads than with paints for all the usual reasons discussed above.

A “Random” selection or placement of colors doesn’t usually work as well as selecting and placing based on some more mathematical formula.  “Alternating” or “graduating” colors doesn’t always work as well, either.    You must create a more complex, involved patterning.   You must choreograph the layout of colors, so that, from a short distance, they look like they are blending, and gradually changing across the length of your piece.

Monet’s Garden Bracelet, Kathleen Lynam, 2013  (using math formula)

One of the easier mathematical formulas to come up with as a way to choreograph things, is to play with color proportions.   Go bead by bead or row by row, and begin with the ideal proportionate relationship between two colors.    Gradually manipulate this down the piece by anticipating the next ideal proportionate relationship between the next two colors that need to follow.

In fact, any kind of statistical or mathematical formula underlying an arrangement will work better than something random or intuitive, when managing color blending and transitions.

(5) Simultaneity Effects and the Sensation of Simultaneous Color Contrasts
It turns out there is even more to how the brain recognizes and tries to harmonize colors.  Knowing (1) the color (light value) and (2) the relative proportions (contrasts) of color within the piece of jewelry is necessary, but still not enough for the brain to decide whether the piece of jewelry will be satisfying, finished and successful, or somewhat ugly, not buy-able or unwearable.

Some colors, when sitting on or near a particular color, are experienced differently, than when sitting on or near a different color.    The line of research we are focusing on here deals with what are called Simultaneity Effects.   Colors can be affected by other colors around them (simultaneous color contrasts).    Colors in the presence of other colors get perceived differently, depending on the color combination.

Simultaneity Effects are a boon to the jewelry designer.   They are great tools for such things as… 

  • Filling in the gaps of light between beads
  • Assisting in the blending of colors or the sense of movement of colors along a line or plane
  • Assisting in establishing dimensionality in a piece that otherwise would appear flat
  • Harmonizing 2 or more colors which, on as a set, don’t quite match up on the color wheel
  • Establishing frames, boundaries or silhouettes
  • Re-directing the eye to another place, or creating sense of movement

For example, a White Square on a Black background looks bigger than a Black Square on a white background.  White reaches out and overflows the boundary; black contracts.


Gray always picks up some of the color characteristics of other colors around it.


Existence of these simultaneity effects is a great piece of information for the designer.  There will be gaps of color and light between beads.   Many bead colors are imperfect, particularly in combination.    Playing with what I call “grays” [thus, simultaneity effects] gives the designer tools to overcome some of the color limitations associated with the bead.

Simultaneity effects trick the brain into filling in those gaps of light between beads.  Simultaneity effects trick the brain into believing colors are more connected and blended and mutually-supportive than they would, if separately evaluated.    Simultaneity effects trick the brain into seeing satisfying arrangements, rhythms, and dimensionality, where, without them, things would be unsatisfying instead.

A final example of simultaneity effects has to do with how people sense whether colors are warm or cool.   In one composition, depending on the color mix, a particular color might be felt as “warm”.   In a second composition, with a different color mix, that same color might be felt as “cool”.

Here the yellow square surrounded by white feels lighter, brighter and a different temperature than its counterpart.    The red square surrounded by the black feels darker, duller, and a different temperature than its counterpart.

Again, simultaneity effects give tools to the jewelry designer for intensifying and clarifying the design, without disturbing the eye/brain pre-wired fear and anxiety responses.    These allow you to “blend” and build “bridges” and create “transitions.”   You have a lot of tricks to use here which enable you to push the envelop with your designs.   And still have your piece be judged as beautiful and appealing.

Simultaneity Effects are some of the easiest things the jewelry artist can control and manipulate, to fool the brain just a little bit.    They let you bring in unexpected colors, and fool the brain into seeing color coordination and color blending.   They let you convince the brain that the color proportions are correct when, in reality, they are not.  They let you convince the brain to jump the cliff, which the gap between beads presents.

For the brain, gaps between beads – that is, areas with undefined colors, creates work for the brain, and is fraught with danger.  The brain has to actually construct a color and meaning to fill in this gap.  Without any clues or rules or assistance, it is more risky for the brain to jump the cliff, so to speak, and fill in the gaps with color, than it is for the brain to follow an easier pathway and simply define the jewelry as ugly or boring and reject it and move on.   Similarly, simultaneity effects convince the brain to look around corners, go into crevices, explore and move around the whole piece from end to end.

It is at this point in the design process where the jewelry artist must be most fluent, creative and strategic in using color.     It is primarily and most often through establishing, and then managing, the sensation of simultaneous color contrasts where the artist begins to build that connection between audience and self, wearer and resonance, the wearing-of and the context, coherency and contagion.

With Simultaneity Effects, colors begin to take on meanings and emotions.    These can be as simple as sensations of warm and color, close and far, approaching and fleeing, soft and harsh.   Or they can be much more complex, even thematic and symbolic.


The Use of “GRAYS” (simultaneity effects) to tie things together – Blending and Bridging

With beads, the eye often needs to merge or coordinate colors, as it scans any piece.  And then there are the gaps of light between beads.  The eye needs help in spanning those gaps.   The Artist needs to build color “bridges” and “transitions”, so that the eye doesn’t fall off a cliff or have to make a leap of death from one bead, across the gap, all the way to the next.

One easy technique to use is to play with simultaneity effects.  One such effect is where gray takes on the characteristics of the color(s) around it.

In beads, there are many colors that function as “grays” – gray, black diamond, alexandrite, Montana blue, prairie green, fuchsia, Colorado topaz – colors that have a lot of black or gray tones to them.    Most color lined beads result in a gray effect (where the class encasing distorts the inside color).  Metallic finishes can result in a gray effect.

Aqua/peach lined Antique rose Teal iris

In one piece I made, for example, I used 11/0 peach lined aqua beads as a “gray” to tie in larger teal and antique rose beads together.    While aqua is different than teal and the peach is different than the antique rose, in combination, the aqua/peach-lined beads acted like a gray.  When close to the teal iris beads, the aqua took on the teal color; when close to the antique rose beads, the peach took on the antique rose color.   Gray colors pull from one bead, and transition to the next in a very subtle way, that tricks the brain, but does not disturb it.


Expressive Attributes of Color and Color Contrasts:
Important Color Terms and Vocabulary

Each color on the wheel is called a HUE.     Hues are pure colors – any color except black or white.    And if you look again, there is no black or white on the Color Wheel.

BLACK
is the absence of color.   We consider black to be opaque.   Usually, when people see black, they tend to see shadows.   With black, designs tend to feel older, more antique’y, richer, more traditional and solid, and seem to have a patina around them.

WHITE is all the colors merged together.    When all colors in “light” merge, you get White.  When all the colors in paints or pigments are merged, you get a neutral gray-black or beige.   With White, designs tend to feel sharper, brighter, more contemporary.

INTENSITY and VALUE.  Better jewelry designers are those who master how to play with INTENSITIES and play with VALUES.   This means they know and are comfortable with manipulating bright and dull (intensity), and light and dark (value).    They know the subtle differences among red, pink and maroon, and how viewers react to these.    They know how to punctuate – BAM! – with Yellow, and EASE – with purple, and CALM – with blue.

The contrasts between Bright and Dull or Light and Dark are not quite the same.    Bright and Dull (intensity) has to do with how much white, gray or black underlay the Hue or pure color.    Low intensity is duller; high intensity is brighter.    Think of a Stop Sign.   It could have just as easily been Red, Pink or Maroon.    Red is the most intense – the brightest of the 3 – and hence the sign is Red.   You can see red from the farthest distance away.    Red is “Bright (intensity)”, but not necessarily “Lighter (values)” than Pink or Maroon.

The contrasts between Light and Dark are called VALUES.  A lower value is darker, though not necessarily duller (intensity).   Pink has a higher value than maroon, because it is lighter.   Yellow is the lightest color; violet is the darkest.    Yellow has a higher value than violet.

Unfortunately, in many texts and guides written by Bead Artists and Jewelry Designers, they combine the concepts of intensity and value into a single concept they refer to as “Values”.   Bead Artists and Colorists often write that the “secret” to using colors is to vary “values”.     When they refer to “values”, they are actually combining these two color theory concepts – “values” and “intensities”.    Both are really different, so this combined meaning is a disservice to the bead artist and jewelry designer trying to learn to control color choices and color expression.

INTENSITY AND VALUES EXERCISE
Intensity Exercise:

Use your Blue Pencil, as well as your White, Gray and Black Pencils, to color in the 2nd column.   Start by coloring in all the squares with a medium shade of blue.

Using your white, gray and black pencils, now vary the darkness of the blue to approximate the darkness of the grays in the 1st column. 

Values Exercise:

Using your Blue Pencil only, color in each cell in the table below, making the top cell the lightest (highest value), subsequent cells darker than the previous ones, and the last bottom cell, the darkest (lowest value).   [Press lightly on the pencil when coloring in the first cell, and then harder and harder as you go down the column.]

So, as you work with people to create jewelry for them, you make choices about, and then manipulate:

– colors
– balance and harmony (distribution, placement, and proportions)
– intensities
– values
– simultaneity effects

Let’s say you wanted to design a necklace with blue tones.   If you were designing this necklace for someone to wear at work, it would probably be made up of several blue colors which vary in values, but Not in intensities.   To give it some interest, it might be a mix of light blue, blue, dark blue and very dark blue.    Thus, the piece is pretty, but does not force any power or sexuality issues on the situation.

If you were making this same necklace for someone to go out on the town one evening, you might use several blue colors which vary in intensity.    You might mix periwinkles and Montana blues and cobalt blues and blue quartzes.     You want to make a power or sensual statement here, and the typical necklace someone would wear to work just won’t do.

Let’s continue with some more important color building blocks or concepts.

TINT, SHADE and TONE are similar to values and intensities.    They are another way of saying similar things about manipulating color Hues.    TINTS are colors with white added to them.  Pink is a tint of Red.    SHADES are colors with black or gray added to them.   Maroon is a shade of Red.    And TONES define the relative darkness of a color.    Violet is a dark tone and yellow is a light tone.    Red and green have the same tonal value.   “Tones” are what copy machines pick up, and the depth of the black on a photocopy relates to the tonal value of the colors on the original paper you are copying.   Red and green photocopy the same black color.   They have the same tonal value.

TEMPERATURE.  Colors also have Temperature.   Some colors are WARM.   The addition of black tends to warm colors up.   Warm colors are usually based in Red.   Red-Orange is considered the warmest color.   Warm colors tend to project forward.

COOL
colors are usually based in Blue.   Green-blue is the coldest color.   Addition of white often cools colors.   Cool colors tend to recede.

Given the other colors which surround them, however, usually warm colors may appear cold, and vice versa.

Juxtaposing colors creates MOVEMENT and RHYTHM.   By creating patterns, you guide the brain/eye in its circuitous route around the piece, as it tries to make sense of it.   Juxtaposing Warm with Cool colors increases the speed or sense of movement.


Some colors tend to PROJECT FORWARD and others tend to RECEDE.   Yellow is an advancing color.  Black recedes.     You can play with this effect to trick the viewer into seeing a more MULTI-DIMENSIONAL piece of jewelry before her.   By mixing different colors and different finishes, you can create a marvelous sense of dimensionality.

 

  • Faceted, Glossy beads will tend to look closer and capture the foreground
  • Smooth, Glossy beads will tend to capture the middle ground
  • Matte, Dull, Frosted, or Muted beads will tend to fall into the background



To Reiterate Some of The Key Ideas and Understandings
The color research begins to open up ideas about how the brain processes color, and which of these processes might be seen as universal, and which more subjective.

The brain first perceives, then tries to understand the color as a color.    It senses Light Values.

The brain perceives, then tries to understand the color relative to other colors around it.    It senses Color Contrasts.

At the same time, the brain perceives and tries to understand the color within some context or situation, to gauge more meaning or emotional content.   It interprets Simultaneous Color Contrasts within the boundaries of a context, situation, personal or group culture.

The END RESULT is simple:
Should we consider the jewelry to be finished and successful?
Should we like the jewelry or not like it?
Should it get and hold our attention, or not?
Should we approach it, or avoid it?
Should we get excited about it, or not?
Should we comment about it to others?
Should we buy it?
Should we wear it?

All this perceptual and cognitive and interpretive activity happens very quickly, but somewhat messy.  Some of it follows universal precepts.   Some of it is very subjective.   Our brain is trying everything it can to make sense of the situation.   It tries to zero-sum the light values.   It has to take in information about a color’s energy signature.  It has to take in information about how much of one color there is in relation to other colors.   It has to take in information about emotional and other meaningful content the juxtaposition of any group of colors within any context or situation represents.

With any piece of jewelry, the artist and designer is at the core of this all.    It is the designer, in anticipation of how others perceive, recognize and interpret colors in their lives, who establishes how color is used, and manages its expression within the piece.    The jewelry designer is the manager.    The designer is the controller.   The designer is the influencer.   The designer establishes and conveys intent and meaning.

DECODING COLOR AS A DESIGN ELEMENT


A composition in orange and blue.

Art and design theory informs us how to objectively use color.    That means, there are universally accepted shared understandings and expectations about what makes a piece of jewelry more satisfying (or dissatisfying) in terms of choices about color.

So, when we refer to our lessons above about color use, and examine the orange and blue necklace above, we can recognize some problematic choices about color.

The first is about color proportions.      The most satisfying proportionate relationship between orange and blue is 1:3.    That means, for every 3 parts, one should be orange and two should be blue.    In our illustrated composition, the relationship is more 1:2 or half orange and half blue.   To make this piece more attractive and satisfying, we would need to reduce the amount of orange and increase the amount of blue.

The second is about color schemes.    Here we have a 2-color, complimentary color scheme.   To make this piece more attractive and satisfying as a complimentary color scheme, we have learned that one of the two colors should predominate.   Either we have to add more orange, or have to add more blue.

So, we have decoded our Color Design Element and we see that the proportions are less than optimal, and the color scheme chosen is less than optimal.    To make the necklace more appealing, and in conformance with universally agreed upon understandings about good color use, we will need to increase the amount of blue and decrease the amount of orange, so that we get a 1:3 (orange to blue) proportionate outcome, and we allow one color to predominate.

Let’s look at another example:


Composition in green, white and red.

First, white is not considered a color.   We can ignore it.

Second, proportionately, there should be equal amounts of green to that of red.   The relationship is 1:2, meaning for every 2 parts, 1 should be green and 1 should be red.    Proportionately, in this piece, we are close to this proportionate relationship.

Third, we have, in effect, since we ignore white, a 2-color complimentary color scheme.    We have learned that in this scheme, one color should predominate.

That means, in this composition, the current use of color will not and cannot work.  It results in an unacceptable and unsatisfying use of color.    Proportionately, both colors need to be equal.   Color Scheme wise, one color needs to clearly predominate.    We can’t conform to both universally-accepted shared understandings about the use of green and red in a 2-color scheme.


DESIGNING JEWELRY WITH COLOR
Always remember that your choice of color(s) should be secondary to the choices you make about concept, theme, arrangement and organization.    Color should be used to enhance your design thinking.    Color should not, however, be the design.

When we study color from a design standpoint, we think of color as part of the jewelry’s structure.  That means, color is not merely a decorative effect or object.    It is more like an integral building component which has been organized or arranged within a larger composition.   As a component, it is a “Design Element”.    Color is the most important Design Element.      It can both stand alone, as well as easily be combined with other Design Elements.  There are some universal aspects when color is objectively understood as an element of design.   As part of an arrangement, we begin to treat color in terms of Principles of Composition, Construction and Manipulation.   Color takes on some subjectivity.    Its effects become much more dependent on the artist’s intent and the situation in which the jewelry is worn.

Color is used to express meaning and enhance meaningful expressions.   We use color to express elements of the materials used, like glass or gemstone.   We use color to express or emphasize elements of the forms we are creating.   We use color to enhance a sense of movement or dimension.   We use color to express moods and emotions.   We use color to influence others in sharing the artist’s inspirations and aspirations.

As designers, we…
– Anticipate how the parts we use to make a piece of jewelry assert their needs for color
– Anticipate shared universal understandings among self, viewer, wearer, exhibitor and seller about color and its use
– Think through how colors relate to our inspirations and how they might impact our aspirations
– Pick colors
– Place and arrange colors
– Distribute the proportions of colors
– Play with and experiment with color values and color intensities
– Leverage the synergistic effects and what happens when two (or more) colors are placed next to one another
– Create focus, rhythm, balance, dimension and movement with color
– Create satisfying blending and transitioning strategies using color
– Anticipate how color and the play of color within our piece might be affected by contextual or situational variables
– Reflect on how our choices about color affect how the piece of jewelry is judged as finished and successful by our various client audiences
– Use color to promote the coherency of our pieces, and the speed and extent to which attention by others continues to spread

Fluent designers can decode color and its use intuitively and quickly, and apply color in more expressive ways to convey inspiration, show the artist’s strategy and intent, and trigger an especially resonant, energetic response by wearers and viewers alike.

Don’t get into a Color Rut
And a last piece of advice.

Don’t get into a color rut.    Experiment with different colors.   Force yourself to use colors you usually do not use or avoid.     If it’s too psychologically painful, make a game of it.

————————————————————————————


WARREN FELD, Jewelry Designer
warren@warrenfeldjewelry.com
615-292-0610

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

Warren leads a group of instructors at Be Dazzled Beads (www.bedazzledbeads.com).  He teaches many of the bead-weaving, bead-stringing, wire weaving, jewelry design and business-oriented courses. He works with people just getting started with beading and jewelry making, as well as those with more experience.    Many of his classes and projects have been turned into kits, available for purchase from www.warrenfeldjewelry.com  or www.landofodds.com.     He conducts workshops at many sites around the US, and the world.

Join Warren for an enrichment-travel adventure on Your World Of Jewelry Making Cruises.

His pieces have appeared in beading and jewelry magazines and books. One piece is in the Swarovski museum in Innsbruck, Austria.

He is probably best known for creating the international The Ugly Necklace Contest, where good jewelry designers attempt to overcome our pre-wired brains’ fear response for resisting anything Ugly.

He is currently writing a book – Fluency In Design:   Do You Speak Jewelry?

_________________________________________________________

FOOTNOTES
[1] Pantone website   https://www.pantone.com
[2]  Itten, Johannes.  The Elements of Color: A Treatise on the Color System of Johannes Itten, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 2001

[3] In reality, the selection of primary colors is arbitrary.    The primary colors depend on the light source, the color of the background, and the biology of the color-sensing components of the eye.    We choose red-yellow-blue when referencing painting or coloring on white background, like paper.   We choose red-green-blue when referencing color placed on a black background, such as a TV or computer screen.   We choose cyan-maroon-yellow-black when using overlapping inks to create color on a white background, and better reproduce true colors.    We understand that the eye sees red-greenish yellow-blue-violet most clearly.


Color References Worth Checking Out
Rockport Publishers, Color Harmony Workbook, Gloucester, MA: Rockport Publishers,
1999.
Deeb, Margie.  The Beader’s Guide to Jewelry Design, NY: Lark Jewelry & Beading,
2014.

 

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

CONTEMPORIZING TRADITIONAL JEWELRY

Posted by learntobead on February 11, 2019

CONTEMPORIZING TRADITIONAL JEWELRY:

Transitioning From Conformity To Individuality

by Warren Feld, Jewelry Designer

    

Etruscan Collar and Inspired Contemporary Pieces

Abstract

Many people, jewelry designers among them, draw inspirations from traditional jewelry styles.   The common inspirational thread here is a feeling of connectedness, coupled with a desire to feel connected.   But the core issue for jewelry designers today, striving to achieve jewelry which is more contemporary than merely a replay or reworking of traditional preferences and styles, is how to contemporize it.      That is, how to construct ideas into objects, challenge history and culture, produce that which is in opposition to standardization and monotony.    Contemporizing Traditional Jewelry has to do with how designers take these particular traditional forms and techniques, and both add in their personal style, as well as make them more relevant to today’s sense of fashion, style and individuality or personal expression. The challenge for the designer, when contemporizing traditional jewelry, is how to marry personal artistic intent with traditional ideas, keeping the jewelry design essential and alive for today’s audience.

 

CONTEMPORIZING TRADITIONAL JEWELRY:
Transitioning From Conformity To Individuality

Many people, jewelry designers among them, draw inspirations from traditional jewelry styles.   These styles could be ancient, like those of Egypt, Peru, Persia, India and China.    These styles could be more recent, like those of Art Deco, Art Nouveau, and Modern.    These styles could be primitive, like those of tribal cultures in the rain forests of Brazil or the savannas of Africa or the Native American traditions in North, Central and South America.

The common inspirational thread here is a feeling of connectedness, coupled with a desire to feel connected.    These styles strongly reflect particular premises, cultures, moralities, characters, and perspectives.    People not only identify and connect with these, but use these style traits – almost ideologies – to explain and position themselves within the larger social contexts in which they find themselves.

Traditions represent reasons.    Reasons justify everyday life.   These reasons are the conditions and shared understandings necessary to regulate ideas, to generate opportunities for success, and to minimize the risk that comes from making choices about what to do next.    Traditions justify thought and action, and because many people share these traditional understandings, living life becomes safer, easier, clearer.    Traditions help people to understand each other and predict their behaviors.  Traditions are often expressed within the designs of jewelry.

Jewelry, then, often signifies certain traditions through imitation or reference, and when mirroring them, reaffirms the wearer’s thoughts, actions, self-identity, and self-reflection.   Jewelry design which recognizes tradition feels more understandable.   It feels safer and less risky to say out loud that it is beautiful, knowing that others will think so, too.   It is no wonder that many jewelers resort to traditional forms and themes of expression, traditional techniques, traditional materials, traditional uses of color, texture, pattern, point, line, plane and shape.    It feels like a short-cut to success.

But the issue for jewelry designers today, striving to achieve jewelry which is more contemporary than merely a replay or reworking of traditional preferences and styles, is how to contemporize it.      That is, how to construct ideas into objects, challenge history and culture, produce that which is in opposition to standardization and monotony.    Contemporizing Traditional Jewelry makes sense because this mirrors how most people live their lives today.   They adhere less rigidly to societal and cultural norms, and moreso create their own.  Jewelry, and its identify-reconfirming role it plays for the wearer, should reflect this.

The contemporary jewelry designer who wants to incorporate traditional elements or styles in some way, must come to grips with…

  1. How Traditional jewelry differs from Contemporary Jewelry
  2. Why so many people draw inspirations and connectedness to traditional styles
  3. How literal the designer should be when contemporizing a traditional piece

 

Contemporizing Traditional Jewelry

Contemporizing Traditional Jewelry has to do with how you take these particular traditional forms and techniques, and add both your personal style to the pieces, as well as make them more relevant to today’s sense of fashion, style and individuality or personal expression. The challenge for the designer, when contemporizing traditional jewelry, is how to marry personal artistic intent with traditional ideas, keeping the jewelry design essential and alive for today’s audience.

This may be trickier than it might first appear. To what degree should you reference the traditional design elements in your contemporary piece? Just the colors? The colors and the pattern? The materials?  The stitching, stringing or other techniques? The structural components, as well? How do you break down the traditional piece, in order to better understand it? And how do you use this understanding to figure out how and what you should manipulate, as you design and construct your contemporary piece?

If you walked into a Museum of Contemporary Art, you would find some things that were abstract, but other things that were realistic or impressionistic or surrealistic. You would find a lot of individualized expression – works associated with a particular artist, rather than a particular culture. You would find a wide use of modern materials and techniques and technologies. You would find unusual or especially noteworthy assemblages of pieces or materials or colors or textures. You would find pieces that in some way reflect modern culture and sensibilities – fashions, styles, purposes, statements. The exhibits would change on a regular basis, and you would also find something new and different to experience and marvel at each time.

Traditional Art, on the other hand, suppressed individualized expression. Instead, whatever the art form, traditional art emphasized a restatement of its cultural narrative. That is, artists, working within that cultural tradition, would use similar materials, similar designs, and similar motifs. The artwork was a symbolic representation of that culture’s values and self-image. The “doing of the artwork” was a reaffirmation of one’s place within that culture. Simply, if you did the same kinds of things in the same kinds of ways as everyone else, this reaffirmed your membership within that group and culture. And if you visited a Museum of Traditional Art, there would be many displays of wonderful, sometimes elaborate, pieces, but the exhibits would never have to change.

Approaches To Contemporizing Traditional Jewelry

There are many approaches jewelry designers use to contemporize traditional jewelry.   Some approaches rely on mimicking traditional visual styles, techniques and materials.   Some approaches rely on modifications.   Still others seek to reinterpret traditional elements or introduce new elements into traditional designs.    And yet other approaches attempt to create a completely different aesthetic starting from some traditional core.

I want to develop a very narrow, legitimate lane for what should be called “Contemporized”.   I want to differentiate the thinking and practice that underlies Contemporizing, from other things artists do when addressing traditional design in contemporary pieces.

The way these different approaches get defined in the literature can get very muddied, so I want to begin with some simple categorization before elaborating more on ideas about contemporizing traditional jewelry.    It is important to know how literal the artist should be.    It is equally as important to know how much of the artist’s hand should be reflected in the new piece.

APPROACHES TO ADDRESSING TRADITIONAL DESIGN IN CONTEMPORARY PIECES
APPROACH DESCRIPTION DEGREE NOW FROM THEN IS DIFFERENTIATED RISK FOR THE CONTEMPORARY DESIGNER
ARCHAEOLOGICAL Preserving the style and techniques of historic artisans, characterized by attention to duplicating and mimicking period styles, craftsmanship, and materials. All about what existed then, and what should be preserved. No risk
HISTORICISM Imitating or recreating the work of historic artisans, characterized by attention to accurate period detail and thinking.  Very literal.   If new elements are added, these do not compete with or overshadow the historic vernacular. Primarily about what was relevant then, and what should be imitated or copied now. Very little risk
REVIVAL (sometimes referred to as CLASSICAL) Begins with an existential or sentimental romanticism of feelings about lifestyles, beliefs, imagery, symbols, cultures strongly associated with a particular historic group, society or period.    Characterized by use of traditional themes, materials and styles based on inspirations from the past.   Mostly literal with opportunities for reinterpretation and expression. Often emphasizes some contrast between antiquity and modernity, industrial and hand-crafted, power now vs. power then, then and now. Some risk, but does not create a barrier or roadblock to design
DECONSTRUCTIVE Here the artist begins with traditional pieces, components and materials, and breaks them up to form new pieces, components and materials.   The new piece results from the parts of the old piece, but that is the only connection.   Nothing is literal; everything is reinterpreted. Emphasizes the now, not much of the then. High risk
CONTEMPORIZED The artist imbues the design with inspirations from a rich cultural past, but creates a piece that has the sense it belongs in contemporary time.   Characterized by how tradition is leveraged to conceive new ideas and forms. Emphasizes the now, sometimes with reference to the then, but not really a matter of differentiating now from then. Considerable risk, where artist substitutes his/her ideas and values for those extending from various traditions.

 

Archaeological Approach

 

Zoe Davidson recreated this Pictish Necklace (circa 600 AD) using original techniques and materials

 

The Archaeological Approach seeks to replicate and preserve the original ways of making jewelry and the original materials used to make them.   The goal is to bring to life how things were thought about and constructed back then for a new contemporary audience.    New techniques, technologies and materials are not introduced.   There is a purity of belief in the traditional craftsmanship, norms and values reflected in these pieces of jewelry.

Often the Archaeological Approach requires years of detective work.   There is a sense of urgency to rescue the past before it decays or fades away.

There is an accompanying assumption that this is what people who make and wear jewelry want to see happen today.    This assumption seems to bear out because so many people express some kind of connectedness to these pieces and how they were originally crafted.    They draw a line from the past to the present, and the clearer and cleaner that line is, the more legitimate the present seems to be.

 

Historicism

Castellani Jewelry Company, Italian, circa 1927, reproduction of Roman piece to commemorate historic occasion

 

Historicism seeks to recreate or imitate the work of artisans in past periods of time, culture and society.    There is great attention to accuracy of period detail.     They might use new materials or modern equipment and technique, but these should never replace or overshadow the historic visual vernacular and grammar.

Historicism may draw parallels between the then and the now, but these are not sentimentalized or romanticized, as in Revival or Classicism approaches.    In Historicism, the emphasis is on thoughts and reasons.   History is presented as an analogy between then and now.   It creates a logical linkage.  Characteristics are specific and shared.  (This is in contrast to Revival or Classicism, where the emphasis is on feeling).   In Historicism, the past is presented as metaphor for now.   As it was then, so it is now.   It creates a meaningful, felt linkage.   Characteristics are not necessarily literal, but are to be interpreted and experienced.   Again, in contrast to Historicism, Revival styles (discussed below) more easily and powerfully evoke emotions, which is one of the primary goals of artists.

Revival or Classicism

Isadoras, Etruscan Earrings, 2015, created with the look and flourishes of gold, metal work, granulation, turquoise stones strongly associated with Etruscan style and culture, but befitting current earring styles, as well

 

Revival or Classicism approaches reflect the influences of pivotal fashion eras.    The goal in Revival or Classicism styles is to evoke a personal emotional experience, rather than something that is learned from afar or as part of an intellectual exercise.   The romanticized experience is like a call to conversion or rebirth, with a radical change in one’s sense of identity and existence.   There is a sense of a revived spirit in relation to the standard, dull, repetitive and boring jewelry seen all over.   Often revival jewelry evokes a reaction against modern technology, materials and ways.   Sometimes there is a call or push to connect the present day to some glorious past.

Revival approaches begin with inspirations from traditional themes and jewelry.   The past is felt as a simpler and purer time, where the individual was much closer to the earth and the earth’s spirit.   Inspiration is coupled with the natural curiosity of peoples around the world, their events, and their pasts.    The jewelry is not only an opportunity to express a personal identify and emotion, but a chance to explore something other than the everyday mundane and routine.   There is always this underlying tension of comparison and contrast between the past and the present, the current situation and situations faced by others, the advantages and disadvantages of modern life and antiquity.

The use of hand-craft, rather than machine-craft, is highlighted, even when the pieces are actually manufactured by machine.   Jewelry is defined as art-centered and artist-centered, one-of-a-kind, again, in spite of the fact that it is often machine made and mass produced.

Revival approaches often capitalize on the use of representative motifs and symbols.   These are evocative elements.    Often they are anti-Industrial.   As often, they are used to either impose or ease restrictions upon the female form and expressions of sensuality.

Deconstructivism

    
Pieces by Walid, for CoutureLab, 2009

 

Deconstructivism tears apart old pieces, and repositions all the parts into a new design.    It is a play on evoking those feelings of connectedness and recognizability in the wearer, but forcing that wearer to redefine or somehow rethink those feelings in terms meaningful for this individual and at the moment or within a context.

Deconstructivism anticipates the shared understandings of its various audiences about what contemporized jewelry should reflect, which include,

 

a. An appreciation for hand-craft

  1. Equating things of wealth and value with elegance and status
  2. Disengagement from, then a new re-engagement with ideas and values
  3. Sense of eccentricity and individuality – uniqueness in a cookie-cutter era
  4. Ephemeral – Here today, gone tomorrow

 

Contemporizing

Etruscan Collar and Inspired Contemporary Pieces (Feld, 2012)

 Contemporizing traditional jewelry really has nothing to do with nostalgia for a bygone era.   It might reinterpret tradition, but not preserve it.    It may strategically utilize tradition and leverage something about it in the current context.    While contemporized jewelry designs may be imbued with inspirations and symbolism from a rich cultural past, the design is kept contemporary.   That means, the piece is seen as belonging in a contemporary time.

The contemporized traditional piece is conceived as a new idea with new forms emerging from the inspirations of an individual artist and with aspirations to be judged by various contemporary audiences as finished and successful.    The jewelry designer, in effect, is bringing together modern aesthetics with traditional craftmanship, to give a fresh outlook on contemporary individual and/or group culture.    The jewelry designer is using a visual grammar, partly rooted in tradition, to portray or reveal a different narrative.

The difficulty for the contemporizing artist is how to disconnect or divorce the wearer from the memories and traditions of the past, while still representing inspirations and influences of tradition within the piece.  The past provides a visual alphabet and a strong and established sense of legitimacy of meanings that is difficult to compete with and overcome.

The jewelry designer must address and manage all the identify issues people have when viewing and experiencing traditional designs, or contemporary designs with traditional components.    The ultimate goal is for the jewelry designer, through the design and implementation of the piece, to establish new ideas and meanings about identity, history, culture, the present, perspectives, challenges, moralities, values, and characterizations.    This involves recognizing and managing the shared understandings among various client groups.

Contemporizing Etruscan Jewelry:

Process and Application

Etruscan Collar (circa 300 B.C.)

I was contracted to do a series of workshops in Cortona, Italy regarding Contemporizing Etruscan Jewelry.    I began with examining several pieces of Etruscan jewelry.    For the Etruscans, jewelry was a display of wealth and a depository of someone’s wealth maintained and preserved as jewelry. Jewelry tended to be worn for very special occasions and was buried with the individual upon her or his death.  One piece, an Etruscan Collar, (see above), was one I immediately connected with.

The challenge, here for me, was to create a sophisticated, wearable, and attractive piece that exemplified concepts about contemporizing traditional jewelry.    I began to interpret and analyze it.

I first broke it down in terms of its Traditional Components.

The use of Traditional Components serves many functions. When the whole group uses the same design elements — materials, techniques, colors, patterns and the like — this reinforces a sense of membership and community. Often Traditional choices are limited by what materials are available and the existing technologies for manipulating them. Traditional choices also reflect style and fashion preferences, as well as functional prerequisites.

If you were contemporizing a traditional piece, the first thing you would need to do would be to re-interpret the piece – that is, decode it — in terms of its characteristics and parts.These are the kinds of things you the designer can control:colors, materials, shapes, scale, positioning, balance, proportions, # of elements, use of line/plane/point, silhouette, etc.

Traditional Components in our Traditional Etruscan Collar included:

Gold metal plates, pendants and chain. The use of metal, especially precious metal was important to the Etruscans. They had a strong preference for gold.

Linearity. In traditional work, there is often a regimented use of line and plane, with a greater comfort for simple straight lines and flat planes. The Etruscans did not often use many variations of the line, such as a wavy-line or spiral.

Predictable, regular, symmetrical sequencing and placement of rectangular metal objects, pendant drops, centered button clasp, and chain embellishment. Balance and symmetry are always key.

Flat. The surface is flat, and there is little here that intentionally pushes any boundaries with dimensionality.

Rigidity – seemed that, while it definitely makes a power statement, it would be uncomfortable to wear

Silhouette.  Brings attention to the wearer’s face. Traditional silhouettes were often drawn to the face.

Focal Point.   Often resorted to clearly defined and centered focal point.

Wire and metal working techniques. There were not many choices in stringing materials. Wire working, by creating links, rings, rivets, chains and connectors secured individual metal components.  The metal plates were created using repousse.

The designer would also try to surmise who, why and when someone might wear the piece.    A final assessment would be made about how finished and successful the Traditional piece would have been seen at the time it was made.

I researched what jewelry meant to the Etruscans, and how their jewelry compared to other societies around them.

There is considerable artistry and craftsmanship underlying Etruscan jewelry. They brought to their designs clever techniques of texturing, ornamentation, color, relief, filigree, granulation and geometric, floral and figurative patterning. While their techniques were borrowed from the Greeks and other Mediterranean cultures, the Etruscans perfected these to a level of sophistication not seen before, and not often even today.

While Roman law outlawed the wearing of more than one ring or more than ½ ounce of jewelry at any one time, the Romans loved their jewelry, and wore many pieces, in spite of this. Most Roman jewelry designs were rigid interpretations of Greek and Etruscan jewelry.

I reflected on what might it mean to contemporize these Etruscan and Roman pieces? In other words, how would we manipulate the design elements to end up with something that was contemporary, paid some kind of reference or homage to the traditional piece, and was also a satisfying work of art?

I designed each of these two contemporized pieces, each taking me in a slightly different direction in what it means to Contemporize Traditional Jewelry.   The Vestment is definitely more literal, with a mix of Revival and Contemporized approaches.    The Collar is more Contemporized.

Vestment, Feld, 2012

Materials: Japanese seed beads, cube beads, delicas, Swarovski 2mm rounds, 14KT findings, Lampwork glass bead, fireline cable thread

Two overlapping and staggered layers of Ndebele stitched strips

Etruscan Collar, Feld, 2012

Materials:  Japanese seed beads, cube beads, delicas, Swarovski 2mm rounds, 14KT findings, fireline cable thread

Two overlapping and staggered layers of Ndebele stitched strips

Detail

 

Detail

 

To contemporize the traditional Etruscan Collar, I wanted to:

Simplify design.  Reference the overall sense of the design, but simplify the overall appearance a bit. Contemporary pieces find that point of parsimony — not too many elements, not too few — that best evokes the power of jewelry to resonate.

Use contemporary materials. I wanted to use glass seed beads and cable threads, with the addition of gold ornamentation and clasp.

Make it more feminine. I wanted my piece to have a sexy-ness about it.

Give it a curvilinearity, rather than a flatness and straightness. Dimensionality and curvilinearity are very characteristic of Contemporary design.   Here two Ndebele bead woven strips are layered, overlapping and staggered to get a curved edge.

Coordinate color choices, but not feel forced to match them.

Challenge strict linearity.  Keep the general symmetry, but with a lighter hand – for example, overlapping, staggered layers that don’t conform as tightly to an outline boundary. I wanted less social conviction and more artistry and the representation of the artist’s hand.

To break the sense of rigidity and predictability, I used the Ndebele Stitch, which is very fluid with an unexpected patterning, and stitched two overlapped, staggered layers of beadwork together.

Use of simultaneity color effects.    The application of more involved color theories and tricks to create more of a sense of excitement, as well as more multi-dimensionality. There is a complex interplay of colors within either strip of Ndebele bead work, as well as between each strip, as one lays on top of the other.

Use of contemporary techniques.  The use of bead weaving techniques which result in a soft, malleable, piece that drapes well and moves well. The result with bead weaving is something much more cloth-like.

_____________________________________________________________

WARREN FELD, Jewelry Designer

warren@warrenfeldjewelry.com

615-292-0610

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

Warren leads a group of instructors at Be Dazzled Beads (www.bedazzledbeads.com).  He teaches many of the bead-weaving, bead-stringing, wire weaving, jewelry design and business-oriented courses. He works with people just getting started with beading and jewelry making, as well as those with more experience.    Many of his classes and projects have been turned into kits, available for purchase from www.warrenfeldjewelry.com  or www.landofodds.com.     He conducts workshops at many sites around the US, and the world.

Join Warren for an enrichment-travel adventure on Your World Of Jewelry Making Cruises.

His pieces have appeared in beading and jewelry magazines and books. One piece is in the Swarovski museum in Innsbruck, Austria.

He is probably best known for creating the international The Ugly Necklace Contest, where good jewelry designers attempt to overcome our pre-wired brains’ fear response for resisting anything Ugly.

He is currently writing a book – Fluency In Design:   Do You Speak Jewelry?

_________________________________________________________

COPYRIGHT, FELD, 2019

 

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BEAD & BUTTON SHOW REGISTRATION BEGINS 1/8/19

Posted by learntobead on January 7, 2019

BEAD AND BUTTON SHOW
June 2-9, 2019
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
 
Registration opens at NOON CST on January 8th, 2019 http://www.beadandbuttonshow.com/store
 
 
Join jewelry designer Warren Feld, who will be teaching these three classes:
ETRUSCAN SQUARE STITCH BRACELET
JAPANESE GARDEN BRACELET
COLORBLOCK BRACELET

 

Posted in bead weaving, beads, beadwork, craft shows, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, Stitch 'n Bitch, Travel Opportunities, Workshops, Classes, Exhibits | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

What Is Jewelry, Really?

Posted by learntobead on December 30, 2018

 


WHAT IS JEWELRY, Really?

by Warren Feld, Jewelry Designer

“Tibetan Dreams”, Feld, 2010

  • ABSTRACT

    We create and wear jewelry because we do not want to feel alone.  But “not wanting to feel alone” can mean different things to different people.   The jewelry artist must have insight here.    The artist needs to understand what jewelry really is in order to make the kinds of successful choices about forms, materials, design elements, inspirations, techniques, arrangements, public presentations and exhibitions and the like.  There are different frameworks from which the artist might draw such understanding, including the sensation of jewelry as OBJECT, CONTENT, INTENT or DIALECTIC.  All these lenses share one thing in common – communication.    Although jewelry can be described in the absence of communicative interaction, the artist can never begin to truly understand what jewelry really is without some knowledge about its creation and without somehow referencing the artist, the wearer, the viewer and the context.    

WHAT IS JEWELRY, Really?

Simply put, we create and wear jewelry because we do not want to feel alone.

But “not wanting to feel alone” can mean different things to different people.   The jewelry designer, in order to make the best choices and the most strategic choices throughout the process of designing a piece of jewelry, requires some detail and clarity here.    What does it mean to say that we create and wear jewelry so we do not want to feel alone?

We might want to reaffirm that we are similar (or different) than someone else or some other group or culture.   We might want to signal some connection (or disconnection or mal-connection) with a higher power or mystical source or sense of well-being or with some idea, concept or meaning.  We might want to express an intent or feeling or emotion.

We might want to differentiate what it means to be yourself relative to something else, whether animate or inanimate, functional or artistic, part of a dialectic conversation with self or other.   We might want to signal or differentiate status, intelligence, awareness, and resolution.   We might want to separate ourselves from that which is sacred and that which is profane.

Whatever the situation, jewelry becomes something more than simple decoration or adornment.   It becomes more than an object which is worn merely because this is something that we do.   It becomes more than a functional object used to hold things together.    It is communicative.   It is connective.   It is intentional.      And concurrently, it must be functional and appealing and be seen as the result of an artist’s application of technique and technology.

The word jewelry derives from the Latin “jocale” meaning plaything.    It is traditionally defined as a personal adornment or decoration.     It is usually assumed to be constructed from durable items, though exceptions are often made for the use of real flowers.    It is usually made up of materials that have some perceived value.    It can be used to adorn nearly every part of the body.

Prehistoric Necklaces 40000 B.C

One of the earliest evidences of jewelry was that of a Neanderthal man some 115,000 years ago.     What was it – and we really need to think about this and think this through – which made him craft the piece of jewelry and want to wear it?    Mere decoration?   Did it represent some kind of status?   Or religious belief?   Or position or role?   Or sexuality and sensuality?    Or was it symbolic of something else?   Was this a simplified form or representation of something else?

Did this Neanderthal have concerns about craft and technique?   Did the making of it require some special or innovative technology?   Did the cost of materials come into play?    Was this an expression of art?  Self?  Power?  A show of intelligence and prowess?   A confirmation of shared beliefs, experiences and values?    Was it something he made himself, or was it something given to him as a gift or token of recognition?

Picture yourself there at this very moment.    What happened at the point this Neanderthal man put this piece of jewelry on?   Did this reduce or increase social and cultural barriers between himself and others?    Did this define a new way of expression or a new way of defining the self?    Did this impact or change any kind of outcome?    Did this represent a divergence between craft and art?    Was this piece of jewelry something that had to be worn all the time?     Were the purposes and experiences of this Neanderthal man similar to why and how we design and adorn ourselves with jewelry today?

We know that jewelry continued in importance.    Jewelry mattered.   It was an object we touched.   And it was an object we allowed to touch our bodies.    The object had form.   The form encapsulated meaning.    We allowed others to view the jewelry as we wore it, and when we did not.

Making and wearing jewelry became very widespread about 5,000 years ago, especially in India and Mesopotamia, but worldwide as well.    While some cultures banned jewelry or limited its forms and uses (see medieval Japan or ancient Rome, for example), they could not maintain these restrictions over time.     People want to support the making of jewelry, the wearing of it, the exhibiting of it in public, and the accumulating of it.   People want to touch it.  Display it.   Comment about it.  Talk about it with others.    Collect it, trade it, buy it, sell it.

As jewelry designers, we need to understand the why’s … Why make jewelry at all?     Why develop different techniques and use different materials and come up with different arrangements?

We observe that jewelry is everywhere, worn by all types of people, on various parts of the body, in many different kinds of situations.   Jewelry must possess a kind of inherent value for the artist, the wearer, the viewer and the society as a whole.

So we have to continue to wonder, Why is jewelry so coveted universally?   Why is it important?   How is understanding what jewelry is really necessary for making the kinds of successful choices about forms, materials, design elements, inspirations, techniques, arrangements, public presentations and exhibitions and the like?

Let us review the range of definitions and justifications for jewelry before fine-tuning any ideas and conclusions.      Each understanding leads us in different directions when filling in the blanks of this constructive phrasing:

Jewelry means to me …..… therefore,

These are the types of choices I need to make as a designer

to know my pieces are finished and successful,

including things like ………

These different definitional frameworks about jewelry are things characterized by the:

SENSATION OF JEWELRY AS OBJECT:

  1. ROUTINE: Something that we do with little or no reflection
  2. MATERIAL: Objects that we use as materials characterized or sorted by design elements, such as color, pattern, texture
  3. ARRANGEMENT AND FORMS: Materials are sorted by various Principles of Composition into arrangements and forms, expressing things like rhythm, focus, and juxtaposition of lines and planes
  4. TECHNIQUE: Techniques we use to assemble and construct
  5. FUNCTIONALITY: Things which have a useful purpose and functionality

SENSATION OF JEWELRY AS CONTENT:

  1. MEANING: Things to which we assign meaning(s) and such meaning(s) transcends materials, functions and techniques
  2. VALUE: Things to which we assign monetary and economic value, particularly materials

SENSATION OF JEWELRY AS INTENT:

  1. ORDER OUT OF CHAOS:  A sense-making attempt to control and order the world
  2. SELF-IDENTITY: An agent of personality

SENSATION OF JEWELRY AS DIALECTIC:

  1. INTERACTION AND SHARED UNDERSTANDINGS: A way to create, confirm and retain connections through interaction and shared understandings

Yet, no matter what the framework we use to try to makes sense about what jewelry really is, all these lenses share one thing in common – jewelry is more than ornament and decoration; it is communication, as well.Although we can describe jewelry in the absence of knowledge about its creation, we cannot begin to understand what jewelry really is without somehow referencing the artist, the wearer, the viewer and the context.

SENSATION OF JEWELRY AS OBJECT

Too often, ideas about communication and meaning and intent get too messy and complicated.     We seek a simpler framework within which to understand what jewelry is all about.    We try to fit the idea of jewelry into the confines of a box we call “object”.    It is decoration.     Jewelry succeeds as “object” to the extent that everyone everywhere universally agrees to what it is, how it is made, what it is made from, why it was made, and in what ways it is used.

Jewelry As Something That We Do.    Wearing jewelry might simply be something that we do.   We put on earrings.   We slip a ring onto a finger.    We clasp a necklace around our neck or a bracelet around our wrist.    It is habit.  Routine.   Not something to stop and ask why.      A necklace is a necklace.  An earring is an earring.    We mechanically interact with decorative objects we call jewelry.

Jewelry As A Material.   Sometimes we want to get a little more specific and describe what this object or ‘box’ is made of.    It is some kind of material.    Jewelry encompasses all types of stones and metals, in various shades and colors, which the artist has taken tools to them to shape and sharpen.     Sometimes we want to further delineate the character of materials within and around this box.    We refer to this as selecting various design elements such as color, pattern, texture.

Jewelry As Arrangements and Forms.    Sometimes we want to even further elaborate on our placement in terms of Principles of Composition which refers to arrangements and organized forms to create movement, rhythm, focal point, balance, distribution.       We apply this framework in a static way.    Jewelry is reduced to an object, somehow apart from its creator and disconnected from any wearer or viewer.

Jewelry As The Application of Technique(s).  We can also understand jewelry as object in a more dynamic sense.     It is something which is created by the application of one or more techniques.    The techniques are applications of ideas often corralled into routines.    The object is seen to evolve from a starting point to a finishing point.    As object, it is reduced to a series of organized steps.    These steps are disconnected from insight, inspiration, aspiration or desire.     There is no human governance or interference.

Jewelry As Function.   In a similar dynamic way, the object may be seen to have function.   It may hold up something, or keep something closed.     It may, in a decorative sense, embellish a piece of clothing.    It may assist in the movement of something else.    It is not understood to have any meaning beyond its function.   As it coordinates the requirements of form to the requirements of function, it plays a supportive, practical role, not a substantive role.  As such, it is unimportant.  It might allow the wearer to change position of the necklace on the neck.    It might better enable the piece to move with the body.    But it should not demand much insight or reflection by creator, wearer, or viewer.

SENSATION OF JEWELRY AS CONTENT

However, as we get closer to defining the object as one that is sensed and experienced and which evokes an emotional response, it becomes more difficult to maintain that the object does not reflect meaning, does not result from some kind of thought process and intent, and does not communicate quite a lot about the designer, the wearer, the viewer and the situation.     Jewelry when worn and which succeeds becomes a sort of identifier or locator, that can inform the wearer and the viewer about particular qualities or content, such as where you belong, or what you are about, or what your needs are.

Jewelry without content, after all, can skew to the superficial, boring,  monotonous and unsatisfying.   Without meaning and value, jewelry has little to offer.

Jewelry As Meaning.   Jewelry when worn signals, signifies or symbolizes something else.    It is a type of recognizable short-hand.   It is a powerful language of definition and expression.    By representing meaning, it takes responsibility for instigating shared understandings, such as membership in a group or delineating the good from the bad.     It might summarize difficult to express concepts or emotions, such as God, love, loyalty, fidelity.   It might be a stand-in marker for status, power, wealth, connection and commitment.    It might visually represent the completion or fulfillment of a rite of passage – puberty, adulthood, marriage, birthing, and death.

Sometimes, the sensation of jewelry as meaning derives from energy and powers we believe can transfer from the meaning of the materials the jewelry is made of to ourselves.  These might be good luck, or good fortune, or good health, or good love, or good faith or protection from harm.   Various gemstones, metals and other materials are seen to have mystical, magical and supernatural qualities that, when touching the body, allows us to incorporate these powers with our own.

Jewelry As Value.   When we refer to meaning as having power, sacredness, respect, significance, we are beginning to assign a value to it.    A sensation of value may emerge from how rare the item is – its material rarity or the rarity of how it was constructed or where it came from or who made it or who was allowed to wear it.    It may emerge from how bright it is or the noteworthy arrangement of its elements.     Its value may emerge from how pliable or workable the material is.   Its value might be set from how tradable it is for other materials, objects, access or activities.

By assigning value, we determine things like importance, uniqueness, appeal, status, need, want, and demand.     We establish control over how and how often a piece of jewelry will change hands.    We establish some regulation over how individuals in a group, culture or society interact and transact with one another.

SENSATION OF JEWELRY AS INTENT

Someone has to infuse the object with all this content, and this proactive act leads us to the idea of intent.    Often this imposition of meaning begins with the jewelry artist.   Jewelry becomes a means of self-expression.    The artist, in effect, tells the world who the artist is, and what the artist wants to happen next.    The artist might be subdued or bold, colorful or monochromatic, simple or complex, extravagant or economical.     The artist might be direct or indirect in how meanings get communicated.     It is important, in order to understand the meaning of an object, to begin by delineating the artist’s inspiration, aspiration and intent.

The jewelry artist begins with nothing and creates something.    The unknown, the unknowable, the nothingness is made more accessible.

The artist fills in a negative space with points, lines, planes, shapes, forms and themes.     Color, pattern and texture are added.     Things get organized and arranged.

Though often unstated, it becomes obvious that of all the possible choices the artist could have made in design, that some choices were ignored and excluded, while others were not.

The question becomes, what influences that artist’s selections?   Successful jewelry reveals the artist’s hand.

Jewelry As Creating Order Out Of Chaos.    Partly, what the artist does is attempt to order the world.   The artist looks for clues within him- or herself (inspiration and intent).    The artist formulates concepts and a plan for translating inspiration and intent into a design.  The artist determines whether to take into account the expectations of others (shared understandings) about what would be judged as finished and successful.

Jewelry is an object created out of chaos and which has an order to it.    The order has content, meaning and value.    It has coherency based on color and texture and arrangement.

Jewelry as an organized, ordered, coherent object reflects the hypotheses the artist comes up with about how to translate inspiration into aspiration, and do this in such a way that the derived jewelry is judged positively.    The artist anticipates how others might experience and sense the object on an emotional level.

It reflects the shared understandings among artist, wearer and viewer about emotions, desires, inherent tensions and yearnings and how these play out in everyday life.

The artist makes the ordered chaos more coherent, and this coherence becomes contagious through the artist’s choices about creative production and design.     The artist lets this contagion spread.    To the extent that others share the artist’s ideas about coherence, the more likely the work will be judged finished and successful.   And no one – not the artist, not the wearer, not the viewer – will feel alone.

The process of bringing order to chaos continues with the wearer.    The wearer introduces the piece of jewelry into a larger context.    We have more contagion.    The jewelry as worn causes more, ever-expanding tension and efforts at balance and resolution.    There is an effort to figure out the original artist intent and ideas about coherence as reflected in design.

Unsuccessful efforts at design, where the artist’s intent becomes obscured,  reverse the process, and the object – our piece of jewelry – then brings about decoherence.    Decoherence may come in the forms of bad feedback, inappropriate feedback, less than satisfying feedback, or no feedback at all.

Decoherence means the wearer may not get that sense of self s/he seeks.    S/he may feel less motivated to wear the piece.    S/he may store the piece or give the piece away.    As this decoherence filters down to the level of the artist, any necessary support in design may be lost.    There will be fewer clients, fewer opportunities to display the works publicly, and fewer sales.    The artist’s motivation may diminish.

Jewelry As An Agent of Personality.  People wear jewelry because they like it.   It becomes an extension of themselves.    It is self-confirming, self-identifying and self-reconfirming.    Liking a piece of jewelry gets equated with liking oneself, or as a strategy for getting others to express their like for you.    Jewelry makes us feel more like ourselves.    We might use jewelry to help us feel emotionally independent, or we might come to rely on jewelry for emotional support and feedback, leading us down the path to emotional dependency.

Jewelry may have personal significance, linking one to their past, or one to their family, or one to their group.     It may be a way to integrate history with the present.   It is a tool to help us satisfy our need to affiliate.

Jewelry may help us differentiate ourselves from others.   It may assist us in standing out from the crowds.    Conversely, we may use it to blend into those multitudes, as well.

Jewelry fulfills our needs.   If we look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, after meeting our basic physiological needs such as for food and water, and our safety needs, such as for shelter, we can turn to jewelry to meet our additional social needs for love and belonging and self-esteem.   Designing and creating jewelry can form an additional basis for our needs for self-actualization.

We may derive our personality and sense of soul and spirit from the qualities we assign the jewelry we wear.    If ruby jewelry symbolizes passion, we may feel passion when wearing it.   We may use jewelry as an expressive display of who we feel we are and want to be seen as in order to attract mates and sexual partners.     We use jewelry in a narcissistic way to influence the alignment of the interests and desires among artist, weaver, viewer, collector, exhibiter, and seller.

In similar ways, we may derive our sense of belief, devotion and faith to a higher power or spiritual being or God from wearing jewelry.   It may help us feel more connected to that religious, spiritual something within ourselves.    It may remind us to stay on our religious path.

As an agent of our psychological selves, jewelry is used to resolve those core conflicts – Who are we?     Why do we exist?    How should we relate to other people around us?      Jewelry orients us in coming to grips with our self-perceived place within critical contradictions around us.     Trust and mistrust.  Living and dying.   Good and evil.  Pleasure and pain.   Permission and denial.   Love and hate.  Experience and expectation.   Traditional and contemporary.   Rational and reasonable.

SENSATION OF JEWELRY AS DIALECTIC

Jewelry As Interaction and Shared Understandings

Jewelry is a two-way street.  It is a way to create, confirm and retain connections.    At its very core, it is communicative.   It is more an action than an object.   Jewelry can start a conversation.  Jewelry encapsulates a very public, ongoing matrix of choices and interactions among artist, wearer and viewer, with the purpose of getting responses.   It is a dialectic.

The optimum position to view jewelry is on a person’s body, where and when its dialectical power is greatest.   Again, it is very public, yet concurrently, very intimate.   We exhibit jewelry.    It forces reaction, response and reciprocity.    Jewelry helps us negotiate, in relatively non-threatening ways, those critical tensions and contradictions in life, not merely define them.

It very publicly forces us to reveal our values, delineate tensions and contradictions which might result, and resolve all those betwixt and between qualities which occur as the artist, wearer, viewer, marketer, seller, exhibitor and collector try to make sense of it all.    Conversely, jewelry, as worn, may signal that any negotiation would be futile, but this is a dialectic, communicative act, as well.

Jewelry expresses or implies things, the relevance of which emerges through interactions.    There is an exchange of meaning.    There is some reciprocity between the artist expressing an inspiration with the desire for a reaction, and the wearer evaluating the success of the piece and impacting the artist, in return.

Jewelry is persuasive.   It allows for the negotiation of influence and power in subtle, often soft-pedalled ways.    It helps smooth the way for support or control.    Compliance or challenge.    Wealth and success or poverty and failure.   High or low status.   Social recognition.   An expression of who you know, and who might know you.     Jewelry is a tool for managing the dynamics between any two people.

Jewelry is emotional and feeling, with attempts by the artist to direct these, and with opportunities for others to experience these.  It is not that we react emotionally to the beauty of an object.  It is not mechanical or fleeting.   It is more of a dialectic.    The jewelry is an expression of an artist’s inspiration and intent.    We react emotionally to what we sense as that expression as it resonates from the object itself.    This resonance ebbs and flows, waxes and wanes, over time as the object is worn in many different situations.

Jewelry draws attention.   It becomes a virtual contract between artist and wearer.     The artist agrees to design something that will call attention to the wearer and that wearer’s preferred sense of self.   The wearer agrees to wear something that reaffirms the artist’s insights for all to witness and experience and draw support.

Jewelry may cue the rules for sexual and sensual interactions.   Nurturing and desire.   Necklaces draw attention to the breasts.   Earrings to the ear and neck.     Rings to the hands.    Jewelry, such as a wedding band, may confirm a relationship, and signal permission for various forms of touching that otherwise would not be appropriate.    The silhouettes and placements of jewelry on the body indicate where it may be appropriate for the viewer to place his gaze, and where it would not.

Knowing What Jewelry Really Is

Translates Into Artistic and Design Choices

Knowing what jewelry really is better connects the artist to the various audiences the artist seeks to reach.    It results in better outcomes.   More exhibits.  More sales.  More collections.   Better self-esteem.   Better representation of self in various contexts and situations.

Jewelry asks the artist, the wearer and the viewer to participate in its existence.     In a somewhat subtle way, by allowing communication, dialog, evaluation, and emotion, jewelry allows each one not to feel alone.   It allows each one to express intent, establish a sense of self, and introduce these intents and self-expressions into a larger social context.

Jewelry judged as finished and successful results from these shared understandings among artist, viewer and wearer, and how these influence their subsequent choices.     These choices extend to materials and arrangements.   They extend to how the artist determines what is to be achieved, and how the work is talked about and presented to others.    These anticipate the reactions of others, beliefs about saleability, assumptions about possible inclusions in exhibitions, knowing what is appealing or collectible.

The artist is always omnipresent in the jewelry s/he creates.    The artist, through the jewelry, and how it is worn on the body, to some extent, arbitrates how other sets of relationships interact, transfer feelings, ideas and emotions, reduce ambiguity, influence one another, and make sense of the world around them.

These sets of relationships, through which jewelry serves as a conduit, include:

artist and wearer

wearer and viewer

artist and seller

seller and client

artist and exhibiter

artist and collector

exhibiter and collector

In the abstract, jewelry is a simple object.   We make it.   We wear it.   We sell it.  We exhibit it.  We collect it.    But in reality, jewelry channels all the artist’s and wearer’s and viewer’s energy – the creative sparks, the tensions, the worries, the aspirations, the representations, the assessments of risks and rewards, the anticipations of influence and affect.  Jewelry becomes the touchstone for all these relationships.   It is transformational.   It is a manifestation of their internal worlds.     An essence resonant in context.

The better jewelry designer is one who anticipates these shared understandings about what makes a piece of jewelry finished and successful, and can incorporate these understandings within the jewelry design process s/he undertakes.

________________________________________________________

WARREN FELD, Jewelry Designer

warren@warrenfeldjewelry.com

615-292-0610

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

Warren leads a group of instructors at Be Dazzled Beads (www.bedazzledbeads.com).  He teaches many of the bead-weaving, bead-stringing, wire weaving, jewelry design and business-oriented courses. He works with people just getting started with beading and jewelry making, as well as those with more experience.    Many of his classes and projects have been turned into kits, available for purchase from www.warrenfeldjewelry.com  or www.landofodds.com.     He conducts workshops at many sites around the US, and the world.

Join Warren for an enrichment-travel adventure on Your World Of Jewelry Making Cruises.

His pieces have appeared in beading and jewelry magazines and books. One piece is in the Swarovski museum in Innsbruck, Austria.

He is probably best known for creating the international The Ugly Necklace Contest, where good jewelry designers attempt to overcome our pre-wired brains’ fear response for resisting anything Ugly.

He is currently writing a book – Fluency In Design:   Do You Speak Jewelry?

_________________________________________________________

_________________________________________

FOOTNOTES

Grosz, Stephen, The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves, NY: W.W.Norton & Company, 2014.

COPYRIGHT, 2019, FELD, All Rights Reserved
warren@warrenfeldjewelry.com

 

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

So You Want To Do Craft Shows… A Free Video Tutorial For You

Posted by learntobead on November 30, 2018


SO YOU WANT TO DO CRAFT SHOWS…

A Free Video Tutorial for You
by Warren Feld, Jewelry Designer
Land of Odds-Be Dazzled Beads
www.landofodds.com

PREVIEW

View the full video tutorial online (1 hour and 45 minutes). Found on top of home page of Land of Odds-Be Dazzled Beads.

In this class, I discuss critical choices jewelry designers need to make when doing craft shows.  
That means, understanding everything involved, and asking the right questions.

Learn How To…
…Find, Evaluate and Select Craft Shows Right For You
…Set Realistic Goals
…Compute a Simple Break-Even Analysis
…Best to Develop Your Applications and Apply
…Understand How Much Inventory To Bring
…Best Promote and Operate Your Craft Show Business

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

 

 

Jewelry design is a life lived with wearable art.

My name is Warren Feld.
And I am here to share some of my life experiences and insights with you about beading and jewelry making.

In this class, I discuss critical choices jewelry designers need to make when doing craft shows.

It is very important for anyone thinking about selling at craft shows, festivals, markets or similar settings to be smart about it.
That means, understanding everything involved, and asking the right questions.

 

Many years ago, I started my business with my partner Jayden, by doing flea markets and craft shows. Eventually, our business evolved into one store, then a second store, and an online business. But you never forget your roots.

You can learn a lot of good business tricks and find out about a lot of good resources if,… And that’s a big, “IF”! you know what you are doing. All too often, jewelry designers who want to do craft shows, have not done their homework. They have not researched and evaluated which shows to do, and which not to do. They have not figured out how best to set up their booths and displays. They are clueless about what inventory to make, and to bring, and how to price it. They are unprepared to promote, to market and to sell.

I developed this online tutorial to help prepare you for doing this kind of craft show homework.

I discuss:
– What information you need to gather
– How to set personal and business goals
– How to find, evaluate and select craftshows
– How best to promote and operate your business at these craftshows

In fact, I go over 16 lessons I learned for successfully doing craftshows.

There are two groups of lessons.

First, I discuss lessons about finding and selecting craft shows, and determining how well your business will fit in.

In the second group of lessons, I discuss how to promote and operate your business at these craft shows.

Last, I offer some final advice.

At the end of the tutorial, I have a list of resources for you to explore in more detail.

You will find the full 1 hour and 45 minute tutorial
at the top of the Land of Odds-Be Dazzled Beads website.



And yes, One More Thing…

We are so Excited to offer an Awesome, fun Enrichment-Travel opportunity!

Find out more about our YOUR WORLD OF JEWELRY MAKING CRUISE!

Join us, Miami – Cozumel, Mexico – Key West, Florida, an unforgettable, 5-nights, February 29th thru March 5th, 2020

Jewelry Making Classes, Skills Development, Design Seminars, Fun Get-Togethers and Mixers
Unwind, Make New Friends, Learn New Skills

Sponsored by Land of Odds-Be Dazzled Beads, Be Well Travel, and Celebrity Cruise Lines

Posted in Art or Craft?, bead weaving, beads, beadwork, business of craft, craft shows, cruises, enrichment travel, jewelry collecting, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, Resources, Stitch 'n Bitch, Travel Opportunities, Workshops, Classes, Exhibits | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

I Will Be Teaching At Bead & Button This Year

Posted by learntobead on November 26, 2018

 

 

What’s New…What’s Happening

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BEAD AND BUTTON SHOW

June 2-9, 2019

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Since its humble origins during the 20th century’s final year, this annual event has swiftly transformed from small trade show to “the largest consumer bead show event in the world.” Hosted by Bead & Button Magazine, which is the crown jewel of Waukesha-based Kalmbach Publishing Company.

Hope you will be able to join us in Milwaukee to kick off your summer for great jewelry-making classes and shopping. Beads, metal, enamel, wire, polymer, gems, stones, fiber and more!

Classes are offered in a huge variety of techniques, skill levels and price points. The Expo had all the supplies and materials you need to make your own jewelry, plus so much unique finished jewelry directly from the artists.

 

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Join jewelry designer Warren Feld,
who will be teaching these three classes:

 

JAPANESE GARDEN BRACELET

Saturday, 6/8, 9am-Noon
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ETRUSCAN SQUARE STITCH BRACELET

Friday, 6/7,6-9pm
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COLORBLOCK BRACELET

Saturday, 6/8, 1-4pm
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Show Catalog (download .pdf file)

Online Browsing opens on December 11th, 2018

Registration opens at NOON CST on January 8th, 2019



 

Join our NASHVILLE BEADING AND JEWELRY DESIGN meetupLogo.png GROUP on line
to get announcements about our Wednesday afternoons
and once-a-month Saturday beading/jewelry making get-togethers.
No fees.


 


THE
JEWELRY DESIGN DISCUSSION GROUP

Please
join our group on facebook at:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/jewelrydesign/

LooBdLogoImage1.png

Land of Odds – Be Dazzled Beads

718 Thompson Lane, Ste 123

Nashville, TN 37204

PHONE: 615-292-0610

FAX: 615-460-7001

EMAIL: warren@bedazzledbeads.com

=”” “=””>Unsubscribe me from this list

Posted in Art or Craft?, bead weaving, beads, beadwork, design theory, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, Stitch 'n Bitch, Travel Opportunities, Workshops, Classes, Exhibits | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Architectural Basics of Jewelry Design

Posted by learntobead on August 18, 2018


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Land of Odds-Be Dazzled Beads

Article of Interest For You

ARCHITECTURAL BASICS OF JEWELRY DESIGN:

Building In The Necessary Support and Structure

by Warren Feld, Jewelry Designer

Abstract

Whenever you create a piece of jewelry, it is important to try to anticipate how your choice of materials, techniques and technologies might positively or negatively affect how the piece moves and feels (called Support) when worn and how its components maintain shape and integrity (called Structure).  Towards this end, it is important to redefine your techniques and materials in architectural terms.    Every jewelry making technique is an applied process with the end goal of trying to reach some type of equilibrium.  That is, balancing off all the external and internal forces impacting the piece.    Achieving this balance means that the piece of jewelry is at its point of least vulnerability.    This is where all the materials, techniques and technologies have been leveraged to maximize the four S’s:  Strength, Suppleness, Stability and Synergy.  I find that most jewelry designers do not learn their techniques with architectural principles in mind.    They arrange a set of materials into a composition, and assume its success is solely based on the visual grammar they applied.    But if the piece of jewelry doesn’t wear well, feels uncomfortable, gets in a weird position making the wearer look clownish, or breaks or comes apart too easily, the jewelry designer has failed in their mission. 

ARCHITECTURAL BASICS OF JEWELRY DESIGN:

Building In The Necessary Support and Structure

Everything boils down to support and structure.

Support is anything about the materials or techniques used which allow the finished piece to best move, drape and flow while the piece is worn.

Structure is anything about the materials or techniques used which allow the finished piece to maintain its shape and integrity while the piece is worn.

Constructing a bracelet or a necklace is really not much different than engineering and building a bridge.    Bridges have purpose and functions.   Jewelry has purpose and functions.   These are very much the same.  The jewelry designer needs to anticipate how the piece will purpose and function within a context or situation or environment, as worn.

Designers have to worry about the bracelet maintaining its shape and not falling apart, in the face of many stresses which come from movement, adjustments, obstructions, twisting, body geography and contour, aging of materials, and so forth.  They need to anticipate how the piece will comfortably move, drape and flow while worn.   They have to construct something that is appealing and friendly to the user.     Designers have to be fluent in, and be able to apply, not just a visual grammar, but a functional grammar, as well.

This means that the jewelry artist needs to know a little bit about physical mechanics.    A little bit about how to create, control and maintain shape.   A little bit about how to build in support and jointedness.    A lot about materials, how they go together and how they age together over time.   A lot about how various jewelry making techniques enhance or impede support and structure over time.   Some comfort about making tradeoffs and judgement calls between aesthetics and functionality.    And their finished jewelry needs to reflect all this jewelry artist knowledge, so it maintains its appeal, but doesn’t fall apart when worn.

We have all heard and seen the complaints.

  • Clasp slips around neck to the front
  • Necklace bezel settings turn around
  • Earring dangle gets locked in a 90 degree angle
  • Jump rings open up and bracelet pulls apart
  • Necklace doesn’t lay flat
  • Earring dangles don’t face the right way
  • Stone pops out of its setting
  • Stringing material breaks or pulls apart
  • Finishes on beads and components flake off
  • Necklace or bracelet breaks at the crimp
  • Solder or glue doesn’t hold
  • Beads crack and string breaks in overly tight pieces

These things that happen are not natural to jewelry.   They are examples of bad jewelry design.    They can be corrected by building in an architectural awareness of how materials and techniques function.     They may need more support, such as loops, rings, and hinges, for example.   They may need better structure, such as smarter selection of materials, or more strategic implementation of technique, or extra reinforcement at points of potential weakness.

This wire work bracelet pulls apart when worn.   The jump rings open up.   Upon closer inspection, we learn that the designer used dead soft wire to make the jump rings, and did nothing to harden the wire, either before or after shaping.   Harding the wire, such as twisting it before shaping it, or starting with half hard wire may have solved this problem.

 

This necklace clasp has slipped to the front.    This is not natural to jewelry; it is a design flaw.    The clasp assembly has insufficient support or jointedness.    This problem can more easily be prevented by building in more support.  In this case, adding additional rings – at least one where the clasp is attached to the chain, and at least one to the ring on the other end of the chain – would probably suffice.    Added support would absorb the stress movement places on the piece.   Without it, the necklace will always turn around in the opposite direction to the force applied.

 

This earring dangle is stuck at a 90 degree angle.    The problem is simple.    There is insufficient support.   This means that either the size of the loop where the dangle connects to the ear wire, is too small, or that the thickness of the wire making this loop is too thick for the opening on the ear wire.    

SUPPORT SYSTEMS

Support systems are components or design elements we build into our pieces, which allow good movement, flow, and drape.     This is known as support or jointedness.    Sufficient support allows for the absorption or channeling of stress so that negative impacts on a piece of jewelry when worn are minimized.

These may be things like

  • Rings
  • Loops
  • Links
  • Hinges
  • Rivets
  • Knots  (unglued)

They may involve different kinds of chaining or connecting.

I include knots as support systems.   Unglued knots provide a lot of support and jointedness.   Glued knots do not.  Glued knots are stiff, and increase the risk of breakage or support failure.   Some knots are looser, like lark’s head knots or weaver’s knots or overhand knots.    Looser knots provide a lot of support and jointedness.   Other knots are tighter, like square knots and surgeon’s knots, and provide less support and jointedness.

Without these kinds of support systems, pieces of jewelry become stiff.    When jewelry is worn, movement puts a tremendous amount of force on all our parts.   There is a lot of stress and strain on our beads, our stringing materials and other adornments.   There is a lot of stress on the clasp assembly.   There is a lot of stress on our larger components and forms.   If everything is too stiff, movement would force these components to crumble, chip, crack or break.

The designer’s choices about clasps, materials, string, technique, and design all affect the success or failure of the support systems integral to their pieces of jewelry.

Often, when people string beads on cable wire, and crimp the ends of the wire to secure the clasp, they ignore concerns about support or jointedness.   If the artist pushed the crimp all the way up to the clasp, the connection between crimped wire and clasp would be too stiff.   It would not allow movement.   It could not absorb any forces placed on the piece, such as from moving, pulling, tugging, getting caught on something, and the like.

When the connection between wire and clasp is too stiff, the metal pieces will bend back and forth, eventually breaking.   In this case, the crimp bead is metal, the cable wire is metal and the clasp is metal.    When someone wears a necklace or bracelet where no joint or support is created at the clasp, a couple of things might happen.    The necklace or bracelet will start to pull on itself, and as the person moves, and necklace or bracelet moves, and the clasp slides up to the front.   The turning around of the necklace or bracelet is that piece’s response for alleviating the forces of stress.      If, for some reason, the necklace or bracelet cannot turn around, then all these metal parts will bend back and forth and break.

The better designer, one more familiar with architectural considerations, will avoid these kinds of design flaws which result from leaving an inadequate amount of support or jointedness within the piece.     Leaving an adequately sized loop on the cable, as it attaches to the clasp, thus never pushing the crimp all the way up to the clasp, allows for movement and support.

When there is sufficient support, in our necklace example, the clasp will always rest securely on the back of the neck, no matter if the wearer is sitting, dancing, or bending forward to pick something up.   It will not turn around.   It will not break.

You will find that most clasps, and most jewelry findings, will need an extra intervening ring – either a jump ring, split ring or soldered ring, in order to have sufficient support and jointedness.

There are 4 key types of support systems:

Type of support Type of movement allowed Example
Loop Allows multi-directional movement Ring, Loop, Chain links, Netting
Pin Allows uni-directional movement Hinge, rivet
Roller Allows rotational movement Knot, Stringing material which can twist, Small spacer beads between larger beads
Rigid Movement occurs through bending or absorbing additional stress and strain Soldered joint, glued section, coil, spring

STRUCTURAL SYSTEMS

As designers, we always want to think about our piece of jewelry, its construction and execution in terms of what might happen when:

  • Pulling left and right, up or down  (horizontal movement)
  • Bearing weight (vertical movement)
  • Balancing from side to side or section to section or twisting (rotational  movement)

These structures are described in reference to how external forces operate on them.    The labels of horizontal, vertical and rotational do not refer to the placement or positioning of these structures, per se.

The structures we build into our jewelry help us manage shapes and their integrity as the piece of jewelry is worn.     They help us achieve that sweet-spot among the four S’s: strength, suppleness, stability and synergy.

Truss

Funicular Structure

Arch

Horizontal structures assist us in managing the effects of horizontal movement, such as pulling, tugging, stretching.   Horizontal structures are the most common ones we build into jewelry.   These include arches and trusses, funicular structures, and nets or webs.   Horizontal structures can more easily deflect and deform their shapes in response to adverse forces.

They may require adjustments in lengths as requirements for stability might require inward sloping, thus shorter lines, as things get connected closer to the neck, and elongated outer boundaries.    Well-designed Trusses and other horizontal structures will distribute the weight and channel the stresses placed on the piece in an equitable way.     They will alleviate dead space, drooping, and unsatisfying drape and flow.     Horizontal structures designed for strength will allow for more dimensionality, and allow the piece to include arches and puffed out components (vaults).

The success of horizontal systems is very dependent on the length of their span.   Their ability to adapt to the adverse effects of mechanical forces decreases or increases with their increasing length.    As the length shortens, it becomes more important how well these structures can bend.   As the length increases, it becomes more important how well these structures can deflect these forces.

Wall (which in jewelry can be vertical or horizontal)

Cantilever

 

Frame

Vertical structures assist us in managing the effects of vertical movement, such as bearing weight or resisting bending.    These include things like walls, cantilevers and frames.   They may be foundational bases for compositions.    They may be a set of wires bounded together to secure them and leverage their properties in the finished piece.   They may be bails or connectors for drops or charms.   They may be columns.   Most vertical structures are characterized by a certain amount of inflexibility, but will vary somewhat in flexibility by type or dimension (width, length, height).    With vertical structures, we sometimes worry about shift or drift or bending out of shape.

Vertical structures, like Walls, are things which allow jewelry or jewelry components to find a satisfying point of stability between the effects of gravity and the effects of their own weight (loads).

Roma, a cubic right-angle weave necklace by Sabine Lippert, is composed of square-shaped vertical units of cubic right-angle weave

This point of stability must hold when the jewelry is static (thus not worn) as well as when it is dynamic (thus, worn).

A Cantilever looks and functions like a tree with branches.    This vertical structure allows for a lot of bending.      You might visualize a necklace with a lot of charms or pendant drops cantilevered off a strap.

The Moment Frame is an additional type of vertical structure which allows for some temporary give and take.   The Moment Frame might involve the addition of several support systems, like loops, rings or rivets, and may allow some bending and compression without deformity of the piece.

A Braced Frame involves the placement of some kind of diagonal element across a section of the piece, thus bracing two sides at that section.    This functions similar to Trusses, and allows for bending and compression without deformity of the piece.

Rotational structures assist us in managing the effects of rotational movement, such as twisting, rotating, slipping over or under, or curling.    They enable these structures to deform without breaking.   Rotational structures can be either horizontal or vertical.    What is key is how they are attached.    The points of connection are allowed to rotate, temporarily adjusting or bending in shape in response to outside forces, but then rotating back in place.

EVERY JEWELRY MAKING TECHNIQUE

IS A TYPE OF DESIGN SYSTEM

Jewelry designers apply many different approaches to the creation of jewelry.   They may string.   They may bead weave.   They may wire work.  They may silversmith.   They may work with fibers or glass or other unusual materials to create components and appealing arrangements for people to wear as jewelry.

Every technique has, at its heart and the ways it should be best implemented, things which allow it to give jewelry support, and things which allow it to give jewelry structure.   Some techniques have a good balance between steps or strategies which support movement, drape and flow, with steps or strategies which structure shape and the maintenance of its integrity.    Other techniques are sometimes stronger in one side of the equation, say support, and weaker on the other side, which would be structure, or vice versa.

Every technique or design system is an applied process with the end goal of trying to reach some type of equilibrium.   Each piece of jewelry is the designer’s effort at figuring out, given the materials, techniques and technologies at hand, how to balance off all the external and internal forces impacting the piece.    Achieving this balance means that the finished and successful piece of jewelry is at its point of least vulnerability.    This is where the materials, techniques and technologies have been leveraged to best concurrently optimize all of our four S’s:  Strength, Suppleness, Stability and Synergy.

Achieving this balance or equilibrium is partly a function of the materials chosen, but mostly a function of how the designer selects techniques, makes choices about their implementation, and manages support and structure.    Every technique will have some steps which require stronger, heavier, firmer, tighter efforts, and some steps which require looser, lighter, weaker efforts.    Where the particular steps of the technique are supposed to lend more support, usually the designer will lighten up, and where the particular steps are supposed to lead to greater structural integrity, the designer will tighten up.

I find that most jewelry designers do not learn their techniques with architectural principles in mind.    They arrange a set of materials into a composition, and assume its success is solely based on the visual grammar they applied.    But if the piece of jewelry doesn’t wear well, feels uncomfortable, gets in a weird position making the wearer look clownish, or breaks or comes apart too easily, the jewelry designer has failed in their mission.

I also find most jewelry designers apply their techniques with the same amount of strength, tightness and tension, rather than learn to vary, manage and control these.    This suggests they are unaware of how the techniques they apply result in more or less support, and more or less structural integrity.

Let’s explore some bead weaving examples.   Bead weaving encapsulates and easily shows how all these support and structural issues come into play.

The Tuxedo Park Bangle Bracelet

Tuxedo Park Bangle Bracelet, Warren Feld 2014

The Tuxedo Park Bangle Bracelet is bead woven using a technique called brick stitch.    The brick stitch is a very robust bead weaving stitch, in that it allows for a lot of support while at the same time allows for good structure.   To phrase this another way, the brick stitch allows the piece to keep its shape and integrity, yet respond to all the forces and stress of movement.    The thread pathway of this stitch allows each individual bead to self-adjust in response to stress, while concurrently influencing all the beads around it in how they individually adjust to this same stress.

There are two major support systems in this bracelet.

The first support system is the thread path design system of the brick stitch itself.    The brick stitch attaches the new bead to the previous row by snagging a thread loop between two beads.   This looping not only ties all the beads together within our composition, but also, allows each bead and each row to bend in response to the forces of movement and then bend back into its original position.    And, importantly, it allows this flexing all the while maintaining the solidity and shape of our component.

The thread-looping pattern of the stitch also allows us to manipulate the flat beadwork into a curve.    It allows us to slide and stretch the bangle over our hand and also return to its original shape as it sits on the wrist.

It is important, while weaving the brick stitch, to maintain the integrity of the support systems, that is, of each thread-looping-over-thread intersection as best as can be.    Anything done which disrupts this looping, will begin to stiffen the joints, so to speak.   So, if our needle pierces an existing thread as we create the next loop-connection, this will begin to impede the support, or in a sense, those “swinging” properties of the looping.    If we tie off the thread into a knot, such as when we end an old thread and begin a new one, this too will impede support.   If we glue any knot, this will end all the support properties at that point in the piece.

The second major support system is in the design of the Tuxedo Park Bangle Bracelet itself.   We are creating a chain of links.   These links or “rings” provide support.   That is, they allow the bangle to easily curve around the wrist and to freely move when worn.

In our long link, we have cinched and sewn down the middle of the link.   This begins to disrupt that support in our chain-link.  So, we have to be comfortable with the size, thus support, of our now bi-furcated two new ring openings on either side of this cinched long link.    If these new openings are too small, one ring would lock into place with the preceding one, making the piece stiff, and thus, uncomfortable to wear, and perhaps putting too much pressure on the parts.

Russian Right Angle Weave Necklace

Russian Right Necklace, Warren Feld, 2008

It is important to understand each technique you use, whether a bead stringing technique, or wire working technique, or bead weaving stitch, or silversmithing technique, in terms of how it might enhance or impede support or structure.    How might it allow movement.  How might it absorb and direct the forces this movement places on our beads, stringing materials and other components within our piece.    How it allows the piece to encompass a shape and maintain that shape as worn.

The Russian Right Angle Weave Necklace is an example of another bead weaving stitch which has great properties allowing for both support and structure.

The basic right angle weave stitch begins with a circle of 4 beads.   It then moves on to create a second circle of four beads.    These two circles are linked with one shared bead, common to both circles, and which acts like a hinge.

Architecturally, we want each circle of 4 beads – what we call a right angle weave unit, to move in tandem, that is, all at the same time.    We want, as well, for each right angle weave unit to be able to influence the movement of all other right angle weave units within the piece, but to also move somewhat independently of all other right angle weave units within our piece.   Each unit should move as one.   Each unit should be allowed to somewhat self-adjust to stress independently, but at the same time, affect the interdependency of all units within the piece.

The right angle woven piece should move like a coil spring mattress.   Picture someone lying down on this mattress.   Each coil adjusts somewhat independently to the pressure of the body part immediately above it.   Yet each coil with the mattress also adjusts relative to the movement of the other coils as well.   Nothing gets out of line.   No matter what the person laying on the mattress does, or how they move around, all the coils adjust to the changes in weight very smoothly and coherently.

This is how right angle weave works, and maintains itself as a support system.  To achieve the optimal performance with right angle weave, the designer would want their four beads within a unit to be as tightly connected as possible, so that they always move and respond to forces as a whole unit.   The designer would want a looser tension at the place each right angle unit connects to another at the point of their shared bead.

VULNERABILTY:

Areas of Potential Instability and Weakness

Whenever a project is begun, it is important to carefully anticipate and identify potential areas of instability and weakness.    Where might your piece be vulnerable?   Where might the forces of movement, when the piece is worn, cause the stringing material or threads or beads or clasps to loosen up, and perhaps break.  Or the wire or metal to bend, distort or deform?

Most often, places of vulnerability occur where the structures or supports in place take on the shapes of either H, L, T, 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.   These hazardous shapes cry out for additional reinforcements or support systems.

Vulnerability and instability will also occur where the structures or supports are very thin or very soft or very brittle.    They will occur at points where there is a slant or a wedge or an unusual angle.

Pieces are vulnerable because the jewelry designer has made poor choices in selecting materials, techniques, or technologies, and in managing design from inspiration to execution.    REMEMBER: A piece of jewelry results from a Design System.   This system is a back and forth process of anticipating how others will judge the piece to be finished and successful, how choices are made and implemented regarding materials, techniques, arrangements and technologies in light of these shared understandings coupled with the artist’s intent.

If the piece is vulnerable, then the designer has failed to reflect upon what things will make the piece endure.    What will be expected of the piece when the person wearing it moves?   As the piece moves from a static place, say from in a jewelry box, and then must transition to the body as a person begins to put it on, what are those transitional issues the piece must accommodate?    What parts of the piece must always maintain their shape or position?    What happens when the piece has to either shrink, elongate or expand?    Does the piece need to bend or rotate for any reason?   What happens to all the materials and pieces over time?

Reinforcements at points of potential instability and vulnerability can take many forms, such as:

  • Anchoring
  • Bracing
  • Framing
  • Attaching/Securing
  • Connecting
  • Blocking
  • Adding in slack or elasticity
  • Isolating the area

THE 4 S’s:

Strength, Suppleness, Stability and Synergy

Jewelry must be designed, from an architectural standpoint, to find a special point of equilibrium.   This equilibrium point is a sweet efficient and effective spot among Strength, Suppleness, Stability and Synergy.     As our choices force us to deviate from this optimized sweet-spot, our pieces of jewelry become more vulnerable when worn.   They are more likely to distort and deform, pull apart, lose tension, and break.

To find this sweet-spot for any particular piece of jewelry, we first assess what shared understandings our various audiences will apply when determining if the piece is finished and successful.    A big part of this is figuring out how a piece will be worn, how often a piece will be worn, and how long a duration this piece is expected to hold up.   The designer assesses all this, then begins to incorporate personal artistic intent into the design process.

Strength involves choices we make about materials and techniques which prevent breaking.      For example, a well-done soldering joint or correctly crimping to secure a clasp to cable wire, would increase the strength.

Suppleness involves choices we make about materials and techniques which maximize elasticity and flexibility.   For example, the addition of intervening rings to various jewelry findings would increase suppleness.

Stability involves choices we make about materials and techniques which prevent deterioration, malformation or collapse.    For example, we might reject coated beads for a project, or might use a multi-strand rather than a single-strand clasp for a multi-strand piece of jewelry.  We might add extra reinforcement to the ends and the corners of pieces.

Synergy involves choices we make about materials, techniques, and technologies which not only reinforce our design, but also increase, enhance or extend the design’s appeal and functionality.    For example, a tight clustering of beads into an attractive pendant drop might be many times stronger, more supple, more stable and/or more appealing than any one bead alone.

Anatomy of a Necklace

The Vivian, Warren Feld, 2012

A necklace, or any type of jewelry, has a structure and an anatomy.    Each part has its own set of purposes, functions and aesthetics.   Understanding each type of structure or physical part is important to the designer.

If we looked at these sections of a necklace from solely an art standpoint, we might primarily focus on the centerpiece of the jewelry and consider The Strap (and most other parts) as supplemental to the piece, in a similar relationship as the frame to a painting or the pedestal to a sculpture.

However, jewelry is a 3-dimensional object serving both aesthetic as well as functional purposes.    As such, we need to be more sensitive to the entire jewelry-anatomy and both its art and architectural reason for being.

Typical structural parts of a necklace might include,

The Strap: The entire linear component of the piece, comprising Yoke, Clasp Assembly, and Frame

The Yoke:  The part of The Strap behind the neck, typically 6-7” including clasp assembly

The Clasp Assembly: Part of The Yoke, and includes all the pieces it takes to attach your Strap to the Clasp, including clasp, rings, loops at ends of stringing material

The Frame: The visually accessible part of The Strap, connecting to The Yoke at The Break point.   On a 16” necklace, The Frame might be 9-10”

The Break:  The point where The Yoke connects to The Frame, often at the collar bone on either side of the neck.  Very often, this point is one of a critical change in vector – that means, the angle The Frame lays radically changes from the angle of The Yoke.  Think of this as an inflection point.

The Bail:  A separate part which drops the centerpiece of pendant drop below the line of the Frame

The Focal Point, Centerpiece, or Pendant Drop:   A part which emphasizes or focuses the eye, usually dropped below the line of The Frame

The Canvas:  Typically the stringing material or foundation of the piece

The Embellishment:   Things added to the surface or edge of The Canvas, The Strap, or the Centerpiece which serve as decorative, rather than structural or supportive roles

Each part of the body of a necklace poses its own special design challenges for the jewelry artist.   These involve strategies for resolving such issues as:

  • Making connections
  • Determining angularity, curvature, and roundedness
  • Transitioning color, pattern and texture
  • Placing objects
  • Extending lengths
  • Adding extensions
  • Creating balance and coherency
  • Anticipating issues about compression, stretching, bending, load-bearing, and distortion
  • Anticipating issues related to physical mechanics, both when the piece is static (sitting) and dynamic (as worn)
  • Keeping things organic, so nothing looks like an afterthought, or an outlier, or out of place, or something designed by a committee
  • Determining which parts are critical to understanding the piece of jewelry as art and as it is worn, and which parts are merely supplemental to the piece

The Strap

The Strap is that continuous line that extends from one end of the clasp to the other.   The Strap may or may not consist of the exposed Canvas.   The Strap typically delineates a silhouette or boundary.    This usually sends the message to the viewer about where they may comfortably and appropriately place their gaze on the wearer’s body.

The Strap is a type of funicular structure.   A funicular structure is one where something like a string or chain or cable is held up at two points, and one or more loads are placed on it.   Loads increase tension.   Loads lead to compression.

The placement can be centered or off-centered.   If more than one object is placed on The Strap, each object can vary in mass, volume and weight.     We do not want The Strap to break because of the weight or placement of any load or loads.   We do want to control the resulting shape of the silhouette or curvature of The Strap which results from the weight or placement of any load or loads.

The Yoke

The Yoke is one section of the Strap which is the part around the back of the neck, including The Clasp Assembly.    The length of The Yoke, and whether the beginning and end parts of The Yoke should be exposed  on the front of the body is something to be determined by the designer.    The designer must also determine the proportional size of The Yoke relative to the remaining part of The Strap.    The designer must determine what role the elements, such as beads, which comprise The Yoke, will play, and whether they should be an active part of the visual composition, and/or a critical part in the functional success of the piece, or merely supplemental.   The Yoke balances the load requirements of the remaining Strap, Bail and Pendant.

The Break

At the point The Yoke connects to the remaining Strap (called The Break leading to The Frame) on either side of the neck, this is a point of vulnerability, often assisted and reduced with the addition of support elements.   Because it is at this point – The Break – where The Strap may alter its vector position in a dramatic way – that is, the angular positioning of the Strap at the point of The Break may vary a lot as The Strap continues around the front of the body – this is a major point of vulnerability.

There are always transitional issues at The Break.   The designer needs to have strategies for managing these transitions.   This might involve using visual cues and doing something with color or pattern/texture or rhythm or sizes.    The designer must decide the degree The Frame should be visually distinct from The Yoke.

The Clasp Assembly

The Clasp Assembly is part of The Yoke.   The Clasp Assembly includes, not just the clasp itself, but also all the other parts necessary to attach it to the Strap.    There might be some additional soldered rings.   There might be loops left at the ends of the stringing material.    There might be crimp beads or knots or glue or solder.

Whenever choosing a clasp, it is more important to think in terms of choosing a clasp assembly.   You might want to use a very attractive clasp, but it may take so many parts and turns to attach it to your beadwork, that you end up with a visually ugly clasp assembly.

The Frame

The Frame is that part of The Strap which connects to either side of The Yoke at The Break.

Too often, when the designer does not recognize the Yoke as distinct from The Frame – even if the transition is to be very subtle – less-than-satisfying things happen.   Proportions may be off.   The piece may not lay or sit as envisioned.   The Strap may have too much embellishment going too high up The Strap.   Sometimes the balance between Yoke and Frame is off – too much Yoke and not enough Frame.     The change in vector angles between The Yoke and The Frame may pose many architectural issues for the designer.

Bi-Furcated Frame:  A Frame visually split in half, usually at the center and in two equal parts, with a centerpiece focal bead or pendant drop in the middle.

The Focal Point, Centerpiece or Pendant Drop

While not every necklace has a focal point, centerpiece or pendant drop, most do.  The Focal Point gives the viewer’s eye a place to rest or focus.    Sometimes this is done with a centerpiece pendant.  Othertimes, the centerpiece is more integrated with The Strap.  This can be created by graduating the sizes or beads or playing with color or playing with rhythm or playing with fringe.

A Centerpiece would be a part that extends beyond the line of The Frame, usually below it, around it, or in front of it.   This forces transitional concerns between it and The Frame.

There should be a natural transition from The Strap to The Focal Point, Centerpiece or Pendant Drop.

The Bail

The Bail is a part that drops the Centerpiece below the Frame, forcing additional transitional concerns among Centerpiece, Bail and Frame.    We are concerned about its impact on emphasis, harmony, balance, distribution of size and proportion, point, line, plane and shape.    We are concerned about its ability to maintain stability, given the effects of gravity, the weight of the drop, and its relationship with and fit to The Frame of The Strap.  Most Bails would be considered vertical structures

The Canvas

The Canvas typically refers to the stringing materials.   However, in a layered piece, may refer to any created “background or foundation” off of which or around which the main composition is built.

It is important to know what The Canvas is made of, and how its function and appeal might improve or weaken as its Span is lengthened or shortened, widened or narrowed.     The steepness of its slope or positioning might also affect its integrity.

Sometimes more than one Canvas are interconnected.   You can picture a necklace with additional strands crossing the chest from one side of The Strap to the other.   You might also have a necklace where strands radiate out at angles from the neck and across the chest.

 

A Truss

Necklace with Trusses

Architecturally, additional Canvases which span from one side to the other of a piece of jewelry operate like Trusses, Arches or Support Beams.   These types of structures are referred to as Horizontal Structures.

The Embellishment

The Embellishment includes things like fringe, edging and surface decoration.    Embellishments are decorative elements added for purposes of improving the visual appeal of a piece.   Embellishments typically do not play any support or structural roles.

PHYSICAL MECHANICS:

Statics and Dynamics

Mechanics represents the behaviors of the jewelry when subjected to the forces which arise when wearing a piece.    These forces include movement.   They include pulling, tugging, bending, stretching, realigning, readjusting, bearing weight, carrying weight, securing weight, brushing against, rubbing against, curving and taking the shape of the body, loose- to just-right- to tight-fit, positioning, repositioning, and the like.

Statics are descriptions of jewelry behaviors when that piece of jewelry is on the body, but at rest.

Dynamics are descriptions of jewelry behaviors when that piece of jewelry is on the body, and the body is in motion.

Forces are external to the piece of jewelry.

Stresses are internal to the piece of jewelry.

Strains result from the deformation of the jewelry, as it responds to either external forces or internal stresses.

As jewelry designers, we want to understand jewelry mechanical behaviors in terms of our 4 S’s.   We do not need to go into any of the math here.    We primarily need to be aware of the kinds of things we need to think about, manage and control.   Some of these things will be forces external to the materials and construction of our piece of jewelry.   Other things will be internal stresses within our piece of jewelry.   Our jewelry will strain to respond to either forces or stresses or both, until it can strain no more and it loses its shape, breaks or otherwise becomes unwearable.

We want to anticipate jewelry mechanical behaviors at the points of (a) maintaining shape (strength), (b) maintaining comfort (suppleness), (c) maintaining position or placement (stability), and (d) right at that point where all the materials, techniques, and technologies are leveraged to their full effect (synergy).

TYPES OF FORCES
FORCE TYPE ACTION RESULTS FROM
Tension Elongates Strain on parts
Compression Shortens Weight and Pressure
Shear Sliding Force Resistance to sliding of adjacent parts
Bending Elongates one side, shortens the other Unevenly applied weight and pressure
Torsion Twists A turning force applied at some angle

Think about what the flow of forces through the piece of jewelry would be as worn in different situations.     The wearer could be sitting, perhaps writing at a desk.   The wearer might be walking, running, dancing, skipping, crouching, bending over, bending backwards.    With mechanics, again, we want to think about our piece of jewelry, its construction and execution in terms of what might happen when:

  • Pulling left and right, up or down  (horizontal movement)
  • Bearing weight (vertical movement)
  • Balancing from side to side or section to section, or twisting (rotation)

What about our choices of materials, techniques or technology leads us to design jewelry which mechanically achieves these points of equilibrium of forces?    What about the structures we use and the support systems we build in allows us (or prevents us) from achieving this point of force equilibrium?

DESIGNING IN ANTICIPATION OF

THE EFFECTS OF PHYSICAL MECHANICAL FORCES

The fluent jewelry designer can think about art and about architecture and context.    He or she can be able to anticipate the types of issues that arise, and the types of solutions that might be available.    And he or she can evaluate and reflect upon the choices and successes or failures.

Jewelry takes quite a beating when worn.   We want it to hold up.   We don’t want it to break.  We don’t want it to stretch out or distort or deform.   We don’t want the materials we use to fail, such as the finishes fading or rubbing off, the material cracking, or the material becoming too brittle or too soft relative to how it should function in the piece.    We do not want the individual components to shift positions, or inadvertently glom on top of each other.   We want the jewelry to make the person wearing look good, feel good, and get that sense of connectedness they seek when wearing a piece of jewelry.

The architecturally-sensitive designer will design for strength, suppleness, stability and synergy.    The forces affecting these can be very complex.    They might depend upon or vary based on physical dimensions (width, length, height and depth).    They might depend upon or vary based on environmental considerations, such as cosmetics, perfumes, body oils, pollution in the air, or certain chemicals in someone’s sweat.   And of course they are dependent and may vary based on anything that causes movement or prevents movement, such as the movement of the wearer, the wind, getting something caught on something, brushing against something, twisting, bending, shaking, and the like.

Jewelry is both art and architecture, and must be thought about and implemented as such.

It is always important to remember to think about any technique applied as a design system.

This design system will include the characteristics of the materials used, the strategy for implementing the technique, the technology incorporated into the process, support and structure, and finding equilibrium among the 4 S’s.

The design system is a process that is to be managed and controlled by the jewelry designer, in line with assessments about shared understandings and artist intent.

It is always important to visually and functionally specify how the design incorporates support.

It is always important to visually and functionally specify how the design incorporates structure.

And it is always important to remember we want to achieve a point of equilibrium among the four S’s:  Strength, Suppleness, Stability and Synergy.

…if one is to be fluent in design!

_________________________________________________________

WARREN FELD, Jewelry Designer

warren@warrenfeldjewelry.com

615-292-0610

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

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

His pieces have appeared in beading and jewelry magazines and books. One piece is in the Swarovski museum in Innsbruck, Austria.

He is probably best known for creating the international The Ugly Necklace Contest, where good jewelry designers attempt to overcome our pre-wired brains’ fear response for resisting anything Ugly.

_________________________________________________________

FOOTNOTES

G.G.Schierle, Architectural Structures, 1990-2006, as referenced at,

https://disegnodiezunibe.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/architectural-structures.pdf

Copyright, FELD, LearnToBead.net, 2018

warren@warrenfeldjewelry.com

 

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POINTS, LINES, PLANES, SHAPES, FORMS, THEMES: Creating Something Out Of Nothing

Posted by learntobead on July 20, 2018


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POINT, LINE, PLANE, SHAPE, FORM, THEME:
Creating Something Out Of Nothing
by Warren Feld, Jewelry Designer

      
      

Abstract
The artist creates something out of nothing.   And the jewelry artist does the same, but also imposes this act on the person who wears the result, who in turn, decides whether to display or demonstrate its desirability and wearability, and all within a particular context or situation. So, we start with nothing into something.   That something takes up space.   That space might be filled with objects we call points, lines, planes, shapes, forms and themes.    With whatever that space is filled, and however these objects are organized, the space and its composition convey meaning and value, communicated not merely to the artist, but as importantly, to the wearer and viewer, as well.     As Design Elements, it is important to differentiate among the power of each of these objects to focus, anchor, direct, balance, move, expand, synergize, coordinate, conform, bound, connect, and violate.
 
 
 
 
POINT, LINE, PLANE, SHAPE, FORM, THEME:
Creating Something Out Of Nothing

 
The artist creates something out of nothing.

And the jewelry artist does the same, but also imposes this act on the person who wears the result, who in turn, decides whether to display or demonstrate its desirability and wearability, and all within a particular context or situation.
 
So, we start with nothing into something.
 
That something takes up space.
 
Space separates and connects us with things.     It is these arrangements and contrasts which allows us to find meaning, feel connected, recognize implications.   
 
That space might be filled with points, lines, planes, shapes, forms and themes.    We might add color, texture and pattern.
 
With whatever that space is filled and organized, the space and its composition convey meaning and value, not merely for the jewelry artist, but as importantly, for the wearer and viewer, as well.    Filling space with objects will always create a level of tension because any viewer will feel compelled to make sense of it all.   This is work.   This is risky – what if the person evaluates poorly or makes a mistake or shows bad judgement or is compelled to pretend to understand?    It’s always easier (and perhaps safer) for the person to turn and look away.   To reject the jewelry.   Not wear it.  Not buy it.
 
Jewelry designers do not want people to avoid their creations.   So, it is important to also anticipate what happens when more objects are added to the composition.    Further adding to and organizing and arranging these points, lines, planes, shapes, forms and themes into a design will exacerbate things even more, increasing the risk, but also the reward, for the viewer to maintain their stance, keep looking at it, and keep trying to figure out what it all means, and what it all means for him or her.
 
Meaning and value emerge from some type of this dialectic-type interaction, first between artist and self, and then between artist and client, often reflected in the selection of materials and choices about arrangements.   The meta-qualities and inspirations and aspirations underlying these decisions then transition into forms and themes.
 
This emergence is contextually bound by shared understandings about whether the piece should be judged as finished and successful.
 
The choices are infinite.  
 
 

Let’s begin to decode points, lines, planes, shapes, forms and themes.    The jewelry designer’s ability to learn about, manage and control space is perhaps the most critical skills to develop.
 
[1]Points, lines, planes, and shapes are independent design elements, and forms and themes are their dependent cousins.   Independent design elements function a little like vowels in the alphabet, and can stand alone and be expressive.  Dependent design elements function more like consonants, and typically require some combination with independent elements to have fully formed expressions.
 
Whatever their independence or dependence, these design elements are progressively interrelated.     As we move from point along the list to theme, we increase our power to express meaning, establish value, create tensions, and resonate.     As we use more than one of these elements – either more of the same element or combinations of different ones — within the same composition, we also are increasing our artistic and design control, power, and ability to show intent, establish meaning, and achieve a successful result.
 
These design elements discussed here are considered objects to the extent that they are things to be positioned and manipulated.    They are considered parts of structures to the extent that they are part of some organization or arrangement.   Both objects and structures express meaning and value, but structures moreso.
 
Themes are explanatory meanings resulting from the interpretation of forms.   They may be literal or abstract.   They may be symbolic and layered.   They may be culturally- or situationally-specific.
 
Forms are especially coherent combinations and arrangements of points, lines, planes and shapes.   They may be distinct or overlapping.    They may be fully formed or partially formed.   They reflect broader, deeper meanings and reflections – something considerably beyond the meanings of the component parts.
 
Shapes are bounded lines and planes, delimiting spatial units which convey much more meaning than their individual component lines and planes could ever suggest on their own.    Shapes function in 2- or 3-dimensions.  Shapes are interpretable, whether they are immediately or easily recognized, or not.
 
Planes are defined by the intersection of 2 lines, or the presence of 3 noncollinear (not on the same line) points, or 2 parallel lines, or a line and a point not on that line.   Planes suggest the ideas of existence, thought, and development.   Planes imply the possibilities for movement and dimension. 
 
Lines are defined as a series of points.  Lines imply the possibilities for boundaries, directions and movement.    They can be used to measure things.    They can demarcate that which is OK and sacred from that which is unacceptable or dangerous or profane.
 
Points change the nothingness of space into something-ness.   They can focus the attention.    Points are the simplest geometric elements which imply the possibilities for imposing individual intent, meaning and value on the universe.   The presence of two or more points can suggest relativity.
 
 
The jewelry designer cannot ignore any of this.   As design elements, points, lines, planes, shapes, forms and themes are an integral part of the jewelry artist’s tool box.    As elements within compositions, they are to be constructed or manipulated into principled arrangements we call jewelry.   They allow the artist to show his or her hand.   They are some of the major building blocks the artist uses to convey meaning and connectedness, show intent and inspire others.
 
As Design Elements, it is important to differentiate among the power of each of these elements to…

(1) Focus the eye
(2) Anchor or establish some kind of predominance or hierarchy within a composition
(3) Direct the eye
(4) Establish balance, order, and a satisfying distribution of proportions and sizes, or their opposite
(5) Give a sense of movement and flow
(6) Give a sense of dimension
(7) Synergize or marry the relationship between positive and negative space
(8) Establish a sense of coherence, coordination, sameness, unity, difference, and/or variety, or some grouping rules for elements
(9) Conform to the shape of the body
(10) Establish a silhouette or personal identity
(11) Connect to a time frame, context, or situation
(12) Conform to or violate shared expectations about good design
 
As used with Principles of Composition, Construction and Manipulation, it is important to understand how each of these elements can enhance or impede the artist’s ability to arrange objects to achieve a finished and successful piece of jewelry.    Each can support or detract from a compelling arrangement.   
 
The designer does not have to use all of these elements.    But the designer does need to know what each can and cannot be used to do.    The designer must develop that intuitive and fluent knowledge how each of these elements function.    The goal of jewelry design is to communicate.   Communicate the artist’s inspirations and aspirations.  Communicate the choices made to turn aspirations into concrete products.    Communicate the self-identifying relevance of jewelry pieces to the wearers.    Communicate the socio-cultural relevance of jewelry pieces both wearers and viewers.
 
Finally, each element should be used parsimoniously (that is, that Goldilocks point of just right), to attain a level of resonance.    Our jewelry, at the minimum, should evoke an emotion, and more importantly, go a little beyond this and resonate.

 
POINTS

In math, the point exists but has no mass.     However, for this and our other design elements discussed in this article, we use a looser definition in art and design.    The point is the simplest geometrically based design element the artist can use to create something out of nothing and draw someone’s attention to a piece.    The point can be very small, or medium or large.   It can be a simple circle, or a blob, or a square, or anything that might get interpreted as a point.
 

   

 

 

 
 
The point is the building block for everything else.     Every mark we can make will be a combination of one or more points.   Every line, plane, shape or form is essentially a point, regardless of its size.
 
Most importantly, the point calls one’s attention to a place where no attention was called for or placed before.   They create a reference point.    With 2 or more points, that reference point builds up much more meaning.   It shows relativity in a relationship.   It suggests distance and direction.    It can suggest layering or dimension – think two over-lapping points.  

 

 

 
Relationships between and among points pose two especially important meanings.    One, the relationship that emerges about proportions of the point(s) to the space around it.    Two, the relationship that emerges about the position of the point(s) within the space around it.     Proportions and positioning.   
 
 
Jewelry Applications/Decoding Points

 


A continuous series of points

Points directing your attention

Points which convey distance and relativity

A Point which steers your eye to the upper right, partly due to proportion and placement

 
           
The jewelry designer usually starts with a collection of different kinds of points with some determination and a lot of experimentation to arrange them in some pleasing way.    Some points might be various round beads.   They might be beads of different shapes.    They might be a clustering of beads into some shape or form.    They might be a fully formed component.
 
The artist thinks about the distribution and balance of points.   Sizes,  relative sizes, shapes and variety of shapes are pondered over.   Then points are placed, usually, with jewelry, in some kind of circle or silhouette.  Their placement may establish a sense of balance, such as symmetry.    Their placement might create a rhythm, either fast or slow. 
 
The artist determines where any emphasis should go.    Often the artist uses a pendant drop, some variation in proportion, or some color placement effect to call a viewer’s attention to a certain part of the jewelry.   These function as points.
 
The artist determines how emphasis, size, proportionate relationships and placement affect how the piece will be interpreted and decoded by others.   In what way(s) does the point influence the space around it?  Should attention be focused or directed?   What kind of rhythm should be established?  Should a feeling of closeness, apartness, integration or skew be created?   Have the dots contributed to a sense of symmetry or asymmetry?   Do the points lose their “point-ness” and suddenly get perceived as a lines or shapes, when they move closer together?
 
The artist decides the number of points to be used, and decides their parsimonious selection and placement.    That is, the artist decides when enough points are enough.      Using more than one point adds a level of tension to the piece.   There is a competition for space and how position and proportion will affect interpretation of the artist’s intent, whether the piece feels finished, and whether the piece is seen as successful.
 
Overlapping points create a figure/ground perspective.    They change the nature of the space and the person’s interaction with it.   They add depth.    Overlapping points might get re-translated into a new point, or into a new shape.
 
 
 
 
LINES

Lines are defined by the connections between 2 or more points.     Lines have length and width.     They connect, they divide, they direct.     The points along the line can attract or repel each other.    They can emote strength, weakness, or harmony.    They can excite, muddle or confuse.    They can be actual or implied.    
 
Where points are about emphasis, lines are mostly about direction and movement.    A line is not attracting you to a point in space, but rather, it is directing you.    Lines prevent the viewer from getting stuck staring at one point in your jewelry composition.    They encourage the viewer to move around and take into account the whole piece.  
 

Lines both separate and join things.    They establish a silhouette.    They demarcate boundaries.    They signal a beginning and an end, or travel in one or both directions all the way out to infinity, and perhaps beyond.   Lines can violate boundaries, or establish walls around something.  
 
 

They can curve and curve around things.   A line which curves around and connects its beginning to its end becomes a circle.    If the line delineating the circle becomes too thick and fills all the negative space, it becomes a point.    If the curving line does not meet itself, beginning to end, it becomes a spiral.    A curved line usually conveys a different sense of beauty and romance than a straight line.
 

As lines become thicker, they begin to take on the characteristics of planes.   To maintain their identity and integrity as lines, they must always be longer than they are wide.     Changing the ratio of the length to the width has the greatest impact on how any line will be perceived and understood.
 
 

As lines become thinner, they more and more emphasize the quality of direction.   As both endpoints of lines seem to extend towards infinity, they emphasize movement.   If one endpoint is fixed, while the other endpoint is allowed to extend towards infinity, more tension is perceived as the space around the line is interpreted by the viewer.
 
Two or more lines together create a measure of things.   People try to make sense of each line, sometimes in combination, but often as individual segments.     The interval space between the lines becomes critical in this endeavor.
 


 
Eloquence, by Warren Feld, 2018, jasper, jade, Japanese seed beads
 
Here we have a 7-strand necklace.   Look at the use of points, lines, planes and shapes.   Look at the interval
spaces between each strand.

 
 
When two lines converge, they create an angle between them.    This joint or connecting point becomes the nexus for things moving in two different or altering directions.   The angle and juxtapositions of multiple angles can establish a rhythm.    Angles smaller than 90 degrees generate perceptions of more rapid movement than angles larger than 90 degrees.
 
When two lines are separated, they often are perceived separately, each with its own identify.    Think of the single vs. the multiple strand necklace or bracelet.    The interval between the lines becomes a critical part of the story ascribed to each line separately.    It is important how that interval’s negative space is filled up or left empty.  It is important how wide that interval is between each pair of lines.   Pieces with narrower interval spaces have more tension resulting from how the lines are perceived and thought about.
 
The width of interval spaces between lines creates rhythm.    The use of color can further enhance (or impede) this perception of rhythm within a piece of jewelry.    Varying the intensity and values of the lines can create dimensionality, where some lines appear to advance and others appear to recede.     
 
Thicker lines placed close together can change the gestalt, where the viewer’s attention shifts from the original lines to the negative interval spaces, now seen as the lines.
 
 
 
 
Jewelry Applications/Decoding Lines

 


Parallel lines

Curved lines

Directional lines

Circular lines

 
 
Lines are design elements used to compose, construct and manipulate beads and other pieces into jewelry.    They assist the artist in translating inspiration into aspiration, establishing intent, and securing shared understandings about whether the piece is finished and how successful that piece should be judged.
 
We’ve learned that the control over line includes choices about thinness or thickness, finite or infinite, continuous or sporadic, integrated or disjointed, connected or not, and spacing between intervals.     The presence of more than one line, and the chosen attributes of each line, adds more meaning, more complexity, and more opportunity for the jewelry artist to play with materials, techniques and designs.
 
The tensions underlying points get assessed and managed differently by the jewelry artist than those underlying lines.   While the point is more about attracting your eye, the line is more about directing it.    Points emphasize and focus and anchor.   Lines add movement and flow.    Points lead us to ideas about balance and predominance.   Lines lead us to ideas about alignment, coordination, closeness, grouping.     Lines add additional measures of meaning, such as those associated with violation, conformance, span of control, silhouette, dimensionality, boundaries and framing and walls.
 
 
 
PLANES
 

 
Planes are used to encompass a space.    Planes suggest unity.    Planes provide reference and boundaries and direction.    They suggest dimension and movement.   As such, the use of planes often makes it easier for the viewer to find and interpret meaning of all the other design elements found within or outside that plane.   
 
Because of this, establishing planar relationships among design elements can also lead to a measured sense of history and time and timeliness.    They can lead to more concrete understandings of context and situation within which the other design elements present themselves, and seek to affect.
 
Planes are created in different ways.   These include,
(a) Two intersecting lines
(b) A line and a point not on that line
(c) Three points, one of which is not on the same linear path as the other two
(d) Two parallel lines
 
Planes are not restricted to a single point of view.      They allow widespread placement and fragmentation.    
 
Planes may overlap.  They may be parallel.   They may intersect.    They may be flat or curved.     Their boundaries may be linear or nonlinear.    They may have clearly defined or diffuse boundaries.    They may be warped and pulled in different directions.
 
Just as lines can be thought of as an accumulation of points, planes can be thought of as an accumulation of lines.
 
As a plane becomes larger, it sometimes takes on the characteristics of a point.    If it takes on the characteristics of a point, then its contour takes on more critical importance, diminishing the point-like characteristics, and increasing those of shape-like attributes.
 
 

For jewelry designers, planes can be seen to have surfaces.   Textures and patterns may be added to these surfaces.     Textures involve the placement of 2 or more design elements within the same space and which are seen to somehow relate to one another.   Textures have visual impacts.   When this structural relationship among textural objects seems to have some order or regularity to it, we refer to the texture as a pattern.
 
Textures and patterns may be 2- or 3-dimensional.      They may be regular, predictable and statistical.   Or they may seem random and non-statistical.    They may be repeated or singular.    They may be both visual and tactile.    We may see textures and patterns which are layered or not, or smooth or rough.
 
 
 
 
Jewelry Applications/Decoding Planes

 


Simple planes

Multiple planes


 
 
Intersecting planes

 
 
Overlapping planes

 
 
For the jewelry artist, planes can become both a help and a hinderance.    They can aid the designer in establishing a coherent point of view.   But they can get away from the designer, and allow incoherence and irrelevance to slip into the composition.  
 
 
 
 

 
SHAPES
 

 
When we come to focus on the outer contours of a plane, we begin to recognize this design element as something we call a shape.
 
Shapes are areas in 2- or 3-dimensions which have defined or implied boundaries.    They are somehow separated from the space surrounding them.     Shapes may be delineated by lines.  They may be filled or emptied. They may be formed by differences in color values and intensities.   They may be formed by patterns and textures.   They suggest both mass and volume.
 
Shapes may be organic or mechanical.   They may relate to the background, foreground or middle ground.    They may be geometrical (regular, predictable contours) or organic, distorted or overlapping, blended or distinct or abstract.
 
Shapes may be interrelated by angle, sometimes forcing a sense of movement and rotation.
 
More than one shape in a particular space may make one shape appear more active or more important or more prominent.   This may change the perception of what that shape is about, particularly when shapes overlap.     Secondary shapes may seem more point-like or line-like in relation to the primary shape.   
 
When we recognize something as a shape, we begin to try to impose meaning on it.   Shapes provide orientation.    They are very powerful connectors between viewer and object.   They may take on attribute qualities, such as masculine or feminine.
 
Shapes have meaning in and of themselves, and are not dependent on the human body for their expressive qualities and powers.     When dependent on the human body, they become forms, rather than shapes.
 
 
 
 
 
Jewelry Applications/Decoding Shapes
 


Repeated butterfly shapes with clear boundaries

Implied butterfly shapes and no boundaries

 
Jewelry artists need to be able to relate the shape to the message they hope the shape will convey.   The shape should reconfirm, rather than obscure, that message.
 
Part of successfully working with shapes is controlling whether the boundaries are distinct, blurred or implied.     Another important part is controlling how the interior space is depicted – such as, left empty and negative, shaded, colored, textured, either partially or fully, densely or not.      A last important part is whether the shape represents a 2-dimensional or a 3-dimensional space.
 
 
 
 
 
 
FORMS

 
 
Form is any positive element in a composition.    It may be related to points, lines, planes and shapes.   
 
A form cannot be decoded and understood without referencing the space around it.    A viewer must be able to understand and impose some meaning on the relationship between the form and the space it occupies.   A viewer must be able to differentiate the form or figure from the space or ground.    The artist cannot change the form without concurrently changing the space, thus how things get interpreted and related to.   The tension established between form and space determines the extent, time, and motivation of the viewer to interact with that form, and find it satisfying or not.
 
With jewelry, forms are primarily actualized as they relate to and are worn on the body.   They convey and solidify the expressive relationships among design elements, person and context.     Jewelry forms are not merely structures with wearability.   They are expressive design elements which resonate their expressive purpose and power as they are juxtaposed and positioned against the curvilinearity the human body.   
 
Form tends to be similar to shapes, but more 3D in reality or implied by illusion.    Form can be delineated by light and shadow on it’s surface, whether actual or illusory.
 
 
 
Jewelry Applications/Decoding Forms
 


Forms supercede their constituent point, line and shape elements

 
For the jewelry artist, she or he must determine where the point, line, shape and plane end, and where the form begins.    This means developing the decoding and fluency skills which can delineate and anticipate what happens to the expressive powers of the jewelry when the piece is worn.
 
The choice of form becomes a primary consideration in communicating the artist’s message and intent.
 
The artist must manage the tensions between form and space, foreground (advancing) and background (receding), object (design element) and structure (arrangement).
 
Forms can have magnetic powers, stickiness, and synergy.    Forms can pull your eye in certain directions, or multiply, add, subtract or divide meaning and value, based on positioning, mass and volume.     Forms can provide additional control over balance and movement felt within a piece.  
 
 
 
 
 
THEMES


 
Themes are ideas which are conveyed by the visual, tactile and contextual experience with the piece of jewelry.   Most often themes are implied, rather than explicit.   They relate the jewelry to the mind, and cannot be understood apart from the individual or group culture in which the jewelry is worn.
 
Themes are forms which reference, or can be interpreted to have reference, or inflect in some way some reference to individual, group, cultural, societal or universal norms, values and expectations.  
 
Themes infuse or imply power, position, protection, or identification.    They may be clear or abstract.    They may be repeated or not.   They may result from interpretations of individual forms, or whole compositions.     They may be obvious or they may be symbolic.
 
 
 
 
  
 
Jewelry Applications/Decoding Themes
 


Thematic use of forms

 
Well developed themes enhance excitement, interest and investigation.    They increase the chances the artist’s design will achieve a level of resonance.   
 
 
 
 
In Summary
 
Points, Lines, Planes, Shapes, Forms, and Themes are objects used to turn nothingness into something.
 
That something holds meaning, asserts meaning and expresses meaning.   
 
Points anchor.
Lines direct.
Planes encompass.
Shapes orient.
Forms provide referents.
Themes connect ideas.
 
Meaning is dialectic, in that how it is ultimately received and interpreted results partly from the fluency of the jewelry designer to use these objects (and other design elements, as well) to translate inspiration into aspiration and aspiration into a finished result, and partly from the various audiences of the designer and their shared understandings about what it means to be finished and what it means to be successful.
 
Arranging these objects into some organized composition provides a structure for them.    Both the objects themselves, and the structures they are arranged and embedded in, convey expressive meanings.    As these meanings get expressed within shapes, forms and these, their complexity, tensions and implications become deeper and more resonant.
 
At some point in the design process, points, lines, planes and shapes take on the characteristics of forms and themes.    That is, the jewelry is no longer decoded as a set of individual parts.    Decoding jewelry becomes more contingent on how the jewelry relates to the body (forms) and how the jewelry relates to the individual or group culture within which it is worn (themes).   The whole of the composition takes on meaning and value beyond that of the sum of its parts.
 
 
 
So, take a moment.   Grab a pen and blank piece of paper.      Draw a dot.
 
You are now an artist.
Draw a series of dots, lines, planes and shapes in the form of a necklace.
 
You are now an artist with an interest in jewelry.
 
Jot down some ideas how you would build upon your initial sketch and develop forms and themes.    You might re-interpret what you drew as a series of components.   You might select other design elements – particularly Color – to better define the forms and establish a them.
 
You are now a jewelry artist.
 
Think about how your developing piece of jewelry reflects your personal inspirations and intent.    Anticipate how others will view your piece of jewelry and judge it as finished and successful.    Think about clues you can look for to reconfirm to yourself that your jewelry has degree of resonance  — that others will not just appreciate it, but want to wear it.
 
You are now a jewelry designer.
 
 
 

 

 
 

_________________________________________________________
WARREN FELD, Jewelry Designer
warren@warrenfeldjewelry.com
615-292-0610

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

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

His pieces have appeared in beading and jewelry magazines and books. One piece is in the Swarovski museum in Innsbruck, Austria.

He is probably best known for creating the international The Ugly Necklace Contest, where good jewelry designers attempt to overcome our pre-wired brains’ fear response for resisting anything Ugly.
_________________________________________________________

_________________________________________
FOOTNOTES
 
[1]Bradley, Steven, Points, Dots, And Lines: The Elements of Design Part II, Web Design, 7/12/2010.    This article incorporates many ideas from this article.
as seen on https://vanseodesign.com/web-design/points-dots-lines/


Copyright © 2018 FELD, LearnToBead.net

Posted in Art or Craft?, art theory, design management, design theory, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

DESIGNER CONNECT: Tony Perrin of Lock & Key

Posted by learntobead on July 5, 2018

designerConnect-banner.jpg

DESIGNER CONNECT

Following The Bead

Be Dazzled Beads is a community of Creatives. Some people use our beads to make jewelry. Some to do mosaics. Some to adorn and embellish costumes. Some to enhance things like wine classes or drapes or mirrors or sweaters or cross stitch patterns. Some to embellish paintings or sculptures. Some actually use our beads in science experiments.
To us, all Creatives are Designers. That is, they make artistic and functional choices about how to incorporate the types of supplies we sell into personal visions. Some design for themselves. Some design for friends and family. Some design as a business.
It is not as much fun to work alone or isolated when you realize you are part of the larger Be Dazzled, Land of Odds and Nashville communities. We can learn a lot of insights from each other. We can support each other. It’s all about Connection!

DESIGNER CONNECT PROFILE

Tony Perrin, Jewelry Designer

Founder and Designer, Lock & Key (www.lockandkeydesign.com)

tony perrin Tony: “I feel lucky. Blessed. Is the world easy? No. I have multiple jobs. I am part of the gig economy. I am trying to succeed in a world that favors large businesses. But I am working creatively. Finding my groove. There are a lot of sleepless nights. It’s not easy to be a Professional-Creative. But I would not change things for the world.”

STARTING OUT

Tony: “I have memories of always being surrounded by the arts.”

Tony comes from a family that was very arts-oriented, and very supportive of him pursuing the arts and crafts — wherever it took him. His mom was a watercolorwatercolorist and oil painter. His father was a small business owner as well as a photographer. His dad’s dad sculpted for Lockheed, and even was a street dancer. He had a great uncle in New York who had a jewelry business, and Tony remembers, even at age 5 or 6, his uncle was always making jewelry for everyone in the family.

Starting out with gymnastics, Tony graduated to dancing (because his older sister danced). As a dancer, he had to teach himself to sew for costumes as his Mom was much better with a glue gun then a needle. He remembers his family always making things — food, pastry, lapidary, painting. He has fond memories of always being surrounded by art and creativity.

A family friend — Frank — taught him how to bead weave the summer he was ten. That Summer Frank and his wife exposed Tony to the artisan craft as well lapidary, jewelry festivals and much more.

As many designers are, Tony is self taught. tony2.jpg

Warren: “Do you think now, with all the creative things you are doing, that you, in some respects are re-creating your childhood?”

Tony: “Oh, for sure! I would say that’s part of a goal I have. I swore I would never be a teacher, but kids gravitate towards me like a moth to a flame. I realized it is because I am ‘5’. Kids get me, which should be the other way around. I am young at heart. I think trying to retain that naivete, that sort of blissful ignorance, especially as a Creative, just allows you to be a little more free with your aspirations. All of a sudden you grow up. It’s like Peter Pan. You lose that sense of innocence and exploration.”

Tony grew up in Los Angeles, spent some time pursuing a career in fashion in New York City. He moved back to Los Angeles for a few years. And then he came to Nashville with his wife who is a singer-songwriter. Today Tony wears several hats: Jewelry Designer, Dance Educator, Choreographer, Costume Designer, Jewelry Design Educator.

Tony: “Growing Up, I always thought I had to do one of these things, or the other. Before I moved to Nashville, jewelry making was just a hobby. When I moved here, one of my goals was how do I interweave all of the creative aspects that make me whole. I think a lot of creatives are creative in more than one discipline, as well. So I’m just trying to figure out how to make it one — one happy world.”

KEEPING GOING

tony3.jpg

Tony: “It’s been a curvy road.”

Warren:“Today, how would you describe what your jewelry making is like today?”

Tony:“I describe Lock & Key as a modern interpretation honoring an artisan craft. I am doing something that is ancient in terms of its art, as a form of communication and expression. The loom that I use is about 80 years old at this point, so it’s touched many different hands and many different stories. It’s definitely art jewelry. I describe what I do as boho eclecticism. Tribal influences, so I say it is international in feel. One of the main feedbacks I get is that it is fashion, but not trendy.”

Tony continues by describing his core consumer.

Tony:“My core consumer is 40+. Is a woman who appreciates artisan product, as well as pieces which make them feel modern with a sense of timeless appeal.”

Warren:“So, that first day you decided to become a business. What was that like?”

Tony’s first piece, done around 1998, was a custom piece. He was asked to design a piece for the head designer at Betsey Johnson, a New York fashion designer of clothes and accessories. It was a loomed piece, 1 1/2″ wide choker with multi-colored skulls in it and dangling feathers. He was excited, to say the least. He shared the story about making this one piece, which inspired other people to ask him to design a piece. People responded to his authenticity, and then it became all about the product.

When Tony moved to Nashville, he decided to focus on jewelry. It was part, what was he going to do to make a living? Part, honoring his childhood mentor who had made the Indian jewelry. Part passion about his loom, and gradually adding precious metal clay to the mix of media he relied on for his jewelry designs.

Tony:“And I still love it. Exhausted. Up until 3am getting production ready. Fingers chewed up by my drill bits. But I absolutely still love it!

CREATIVE PROCESS

In describing a typical piece, Tony begins with multi-media. This includes some loom bead weaving. He incorporates ball and chain. He likes to use a lot of color and texture, and mix matte and glossy. People respond well to his color sensibility. He uses many square shaped beads with round beads. With the beadwork, he includes a piece of metal, like a sculpted metal clay piece, either an integral part of the piece, or as a pendant. He often includes semi-precious stones. He likes to mix metal finishes. “Silver and Gold is the same conversation as Navy and Black. If it is well-balanced, it makes it very versatile.”

tony1.jpg

Tony mentions that, to understand his creative process, you have to go back to his goal of trying to meld together all his creative worlds. His creative process is not a linear process.

He cites as an example a very successful pair of earrings he designed which are precious metal clay based. But they were flowers, which is very specific seasonal iconography. When he started thinking about what he wanted to do the next season, he thought about how he could adapt these earrings. He mentioned that a lot of his pieces and his bead weaving have an almost art deco or art nouveau feeling to them. At the time, there was an Egyptian revival style that was prominent because of a world wide tour of Egyptian antiquities.

He reflected on his artistic style and the current revival trend, and asked himself: This was a successful piece. I’m thinking business here. How do I creatively then come up with the next version of it? So for the Fall holiday he explored hieroglyphics and lotus flower motifs. And for the following Spring, he thought about incorporating the scarab and other Egyptian touches.

Tony: “Things started to trend in High Fashion — snakes, beetles, insects, and bees. I have a scarab beetle tattooed on my back that is about 14″ long, the whole width of my back. It’s an icon that is important to me. It symbolizes the sun god Ra. It represents newness and renewal, and I have chronic back pain, so it was interconnected. It started from something that was authentic and meaningful for me, and which started to become a trend years after I had gotten my tattoo. I introduced this sculpt and coupled it with beadwork. People responded to it. Then I started thinking how to tie this all up from a business perspective. If we’re just creating ‘pretty’, who cares? You have to be able to speak to an audience.”

Tony discussed that jewelry artists have to be able to synergize the Business-Creative Mind. Both worlds need to be respected. It’s a hard business, he agrees. Artists have to monetize their creative output and still remain authentic to themselves.

Frequently, he asks himself: Do I need to break up with my design? It is OK, he indicated, to say Yes! His scarab beetle was a good idea, but some reality testing was in order. Was it too early before the trend? Would it be marketable?

On a second business level, Tony poses the question: Can I stand behind my product? Can the store that sells his pieces be able to stand behind his products?

A third major consideration is whether he has successfully differentiated his products from the mass market. That is one reason he incorporates glass seed beads and Czech beads within his work. Glass beads allow him to inject colors, where more mass market pieces are mostly metal and look very machine made.

MOVING ALONG

Tony reflects daily how art jewelry, as opposed to jewelry mass produced overseas, will be accepted by the general public.

Tony: “Art Jewelry is a term I use a lot in my marketing. At an apparel show, where people are used to mass produced jewelry, it’s starting to change in perception and openness to my product.”

Warren:“Is the world helping you change people’s perceptions, or do you feel you are out there alone doing this?”

Tony:“It will be four years in September since I started pursuing jewelry as a business. In my microworld, there has always been acceptance. My wife is very accepting, but at first was hesitant. I said, Let’s look at this year by year and see what happens. She gets it now.”

tony4.jpg

Warren:“And in the broader world?”

Tony:“In the macro level, I think it’s interesting. I think if you look at the culture today, with technology and oversaturation and what is happening in mass market production, and fast fashion, which is down-trending, I think you’re having baby boomers that are looking for nostalgia in terms of smaller, handmade jewelry.”

He sees that consumer demand for artisan jewelry is on the rise, but there are still nagging questions whether you can make a viable business out of it. Can you make enough product? Can you do it efficiently? Can you transition from a one person designer business to having staff make the pieces, as well? Meeting business goals gets more complicated if you are not going to produce your jewelry overseas.

One of his biggest challenges coming up is to create sufficient infrastructure — studio space, supplies and personnel — to be able to easily kick out 30 pieces of 20 styles on demand.

MARKETING

Tony is natural marketer, so I asked him what kinds of things he does to reach his target audience. The extent of things he does can provide a lot of ideas and insights for all of us.

Tony:“I always try to make marketing creative so I still enjoy it.”

Things Tony Does…
– trunk shows at boutiques

– pop-up shows

– collaborates with fashion designers and creates evening events with them

– collaborates with sculptors, painters, and ceramic artists to do a joint show, say in a donated gallery space

– always thinking about marketing ideas which merge his interests in dance, photography, jewelry and sculpture

– for people who have bought, or even collect, his jewelry, he sends snail-mail postcards, hand-written notes, email blasts, and personal emails

– posts images with captions on instagram

– follows other people’s instagram sites with whom he feels some kind of fit or opportunity

– sometimes buys ads, but has not seen a risk/reward balance from purchased ads

– puts himself in situations where he can meet people, shake their hands, and talk with them

– develops relationships and works at maintaining them

– plays the “6-degrees of separation” game, identifying among his network of friends and relationships, who they know, who those people know, who those people of those people know, and so forth, to search for opportunities

– develops different strategies for returning customers as opposed to new customers

– visibly creates understanding that he sticks behind his products, and will immediately fix something if it breaks

– works with “influencers” — people who, usually in return for some free jewelry, will promote your products and show images of people wearing your products in social media sites

– looks for examples of “market-disrupters” — people who disrupt the market to be noticed — that he can be inspired by

– always carries samples with him

FUTURE PLANNING

Tony is a planner. He’s developed a clear vision for the future. Some of the things he wants to accomplish over the next 3 years include,

– maintaining a 60% year-over-year rate of growth

– grow from a more regional line to a national one

– focus on his infrastructure — studio space, materials and personnel — to keep production, shipping/receiving, website and marketing all on track

The big questions before him: How does he meet demand that he has created for his jewelry? How does he enhance his brand? How does he grow his ability to distribute his products?

He wants to contine to be flexible, given the instability of our economy. He wants to maintain his constant rate of sales so his business can sustain itself. He sees, perhaps, his line represented in a showroom. Perhaps he can gain more presence in museum shops.

Tony:“I have a lot of jobs right now and it would be great to have one focus. Or add a couple hours to the day.”

FINAL WORDS

Tony: “The true test of a good designer is an ability to sell it.”

Tony: “If I don’t get that gut feeling that my piece is going to be successful, it’s time to move on.”

Tony has had to create the opportunities himself. This has involved a lot of reflection, reality testing and planning. He has created a business plan framework with year over year goals for design, production, and distribution.

Tony:“In today’s world, you always have to be creating your own rules to stay on your feet. There is wide competition. Email inundation. I like the challenge but it’s exhausting.”

Tony: “Whether or not these jewelry artists work professionally, they need patrons, and that sometimes is even more important than being an artist.”

Tony wishes there was more of a connected jewelry designer/artist community in Nashville. It is still very fragmented. He finds that politics gets in the way of creative collaboration.

Tony:“There’s room at the table for everyone.”

He wants to call artists attention to the Arts and Business Council of Nashville, as well as their Periscope program. There are opportunities for networking, expanded contacts, a support system of creatives and their ideas, developing business skills and confidence.

Jewelry designers in Nashville still need a more functional, consistent support system, particularly to thread the business-needle better. Help to find studio space. Getting a small business loan. Finding an angel investor. Connecting to mentors. This is all important, and we need more organized systems to make these kinds of things easier, smoother and more reliable.

WHERE TO FIND TONY’S JEWELRY

Tony has taken a shot-gun approach to getting his jewelry out there. He does a little direct retail through an e-commerce site. He finds that this is a great billboard for him, but not a great selling outlet. He does art and craft festivals. He likes to focus on juried or well-curated shows in particular.

He wholesales his products to stores. Sometimes this involves cold-calling on stores, with product in hand. But he also does wholesale markets, like the Atlanta Gift and Apparel Market. In 2017, he did 2 shows there; in 2018, he plans on doing 4 shows. His pieces currently are in 28 stores in the United States and the Virgin Islands. He is looking at other wholesale markets. He is exploring options to lock in with a jewelry rep or a jewelry show room.

You may find Tony’s jewelry locally at:

Two Old Hippies (the Gulch)

401 12th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203

Stacey Rhodes Boutique (Brentwood)

144 Franklin Rd Suite A, Brentwood, TN 37027

T. Nesbitt & Co. (Franklin)

2nd Ave N, Franklin, TN 37064

Kitty (East Nashville)

521 Gallatin Ave #2, Nashville, TN 37206

Tony has an eye out to find his ideal studio-showroom. He pictures it full of natural light. Small and intimate. A low wall separating the front from the studio. Inspirational and calming. A sancturary.

Find Tony online at www.lockandkeydesign.com









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Visit BE DAZZLED BEADS online to view our classes, jewelry clinics, mini-lessons, and jewelry design discussion seminars!

Shop with us online at Land of Odds

Talk with us about Custom Jewelry Design
and Jewelry Repairs

Visit us in Nashville

718 Thompson Lane, Ste 123

Nashville, TN 37204

615-292-0610
(across from 100 Oaks Mall where the Applebees Restaurant is)

 

Posted in business of craft, design management, jewelry making, Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

The Goal-Oriented Designer: The Path To Resonance

Posted by learntobead on May 18, 2018

THE GOAL-ORIENTED DESIGNER:

The Path To Resonance

by Warren Feld, Designer

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“Vestment”, Warren Feld, 2004, Miyuki cubes, seed beads and delicas, Austrian crystals, with 14KT, gold filled, sterling silver, and antiqued copper chain, clasps and other findings, lampwork bead by Lori Greenberg

Abstract:

Jewelry Designers want to be successful.     But things can get a little muddled when thinking about how to get there.    Our teachers, our friends, our colleagues often disagree on this point, and tell us to look for conflicting measures of success.  We can often lose sight of what we want to end up with.    The Goal-Oriented Jewelry Designer has but one guiding star: To achieve Resonance.   Everything else is secondary.   We achieve Resonance by gaining a comfort in communicating about design.   This comfort, or disciplinary fluency, translates into all our composing, constructing and manipulating choices.    This is empowering.   Our pieces resonate.  We achieve success.

THE GOAL-ORIENTED DESIGNER:

The Path To Resonance

Jewelry Designers want to be successful.   

But things can get a little muddled when thinking about how to get there.    Where should they start?   What should they learn first?  What materials should they accumulate?   What techniques should they start with?   Should they focus on the process of designing jewelry?   Or moreso on making jewelry?   Or still yet, on achieving certain target measures, such as numbers of pieces made, or numbers of sales, or numbers of venues in which their jewelry is sold?    Are there qualitative things which are important to accumulate, such as self-satisfaction or customer-satisfaction?    Or style?  Or recognition?   Acceptance?   Understanding?

Our teachers, our friends, our colleagues often disagree on how to get there, and tell us to look for“Vestment”, Warren Feld, 2004, Miyuki cubes, seed beads and delicas, Austrian crystals, with 14KT, gold filled, sterling silver, and antiqued copper chain, clasps and other findings, lampwork bead by Lori Greenberg

Abstract:

Jewelry Designers want to be successful.     But things can get a little muddled when thinking about how to get there.    Our teachers, our friends, our colleagues often disagree on this point, and tell us to look for conflicting measures of success.  We can often lose sight of what we want to end up with.    The Goal-Oriented Jewelry Designer has but one guiding star: To achieve Resonance.   Everything else is secondary.   We achieve Resonance by gaining a comfort in communicating about design.   This comfort, or disciplinary fluency, translates into all our composing, constructing and manipulating choices.    This is empowering.   Our pieces resonate.  We achieve success.

THE GOAL-ORIENTED DESIGNER: 

The Path To Resonance

Jewelry Designers want to be successful.   

But things can get a little muddled when thinking about how to get there.    Where should they start?   What should they learn first?  What materials should they accumulate?   What techniques should they start with?   Should they focus on the process of designing jewelry?   Or moreso on making jewelry?   Or still yet, on achieving certain target measures, such as numbers of pieces made, or numbers of sales, or numbers of venues in which their jewelry is sold?    Are there qualitative things which are important to accumulate, such as self-satisfaction or customer-satisfaction?    Or style?  Or recognition?   Acceptance?   Understanding?

Our teachers, our friends, our colleagues often disagree on how to get there, and tell us to look for, what turn out to be in effect, conflicting measures of success.  We can often lose sight of what we want to end up with.    We get a lot of contradictory advice.   How should we organize our creative work and our time?  How should we select materials and techniques?   How do we know when our piece is finished?  How should we anticipate our client’s desires?   How should we showcase our jewelry?  How should we be judged and evaluated?   We need to perform, we want to perform authentically, but how – how should we perform as a jewelry designer?   The search for answers can be very frustrating, confusing, even demoralizing.

But it shouldn’t be.    Every jewelry designer should have but one guiding star – Resonance.    If our jewelry does not have some degree of resonance, we keep working on it.   If the process of creative exploration and design does not lead us in the direction of resonance, we change it.    If the results we achieve – numbers of pieces made and numbers of pieces sold – is not synced tightly with resonance, we cannot call ourselves designers.

The Goal-Oriented Jewelry Designer specifies those goals about performance which will lead to one primary outcome:  To achieve Resonance.   Everything else is secondary.   Design elements are selected and applied with that idea of Resonance in mind.    Principles of Composition, Construction and Manipulation are applied with that idea of Resonance in mind, with extra special attention paid to the Principle of Parsimony – knowing when enough is enough.

People may approach the performance tasks in varied ways.   For some this means getting very detailed on pathways, activities, and objectives.  For others, they let the process of design emerge and see where it takes them.   Whatever approach they take in their creative process, for all designers, a focus on one outcome – Resonance – frees them up to think through design without encumbrance.

This singular focus becomes a framework within which to question everything and try to make sense of everything.    Make sense of what the materials and techniques can allow them to do, and what they cannot.   Make sense of what understandings other people – clients, sellers, buyers, students, colleagues, teachers – will bring to the situation, when exploring and evaluating their work.     Make sense of why some things inspire you, and other things do not.   Make sense of why you are a jewelry designer designing jewelry.     Make sense of the fluency of your artistic expression, what works, how it works, why it works.

We achieve Resonance by gaining a comfort and ease in communicating about design.    This comfort and ease, or disciplinary fluency, has to do with how we translate our inspirations and aspirations into all our compositional, constructive and manipulative choices.    It is empowering.   Our pieces resonate.  We achieve success.

Resonance, communication, success, fluency – these are all words that stand in place for an intimacy between the designer and the materials, the designer and the techniques, the designer and inspiration.     They reflect the designer’s aspirations.   They reflect the shared understandings of everyone the designer’s jewelry is expected to touch.   They reflect the designer’s managerial prowess in bringing all these things together.

Resonance and disciplinary fluency result from a well-managed jewelry design process [3].  This process of creativity involves artist, audience and context.   It is very interactional.   Transactional.  Integrative.   Contingent.

For the artist, this process functions on several, coordinated levels, including…

  1. Contemplation
  2. Inspiration
  3. Aspiration
  4. Anticipation
  5. Specification
  6. Application
  7. Fluency and Empowerment

CONTEMPLATION: An Intimacy with Materials and Techniques

Contemplation is a mystical theology.   

Beads have a mystique to them.   You stare at a bead, and, ask what it is. You put some thread on a needle, then the bead on the needle, and ask what to do. You stitch a few beads together, and wonder what will become of this. You create a necklace, and, ask how it will be worn. And you stare at each bead again, and, think where do all these feelings welling up within you come from – curiosity, beauty, peace and calm, reflection, satisfaction, magic, appeal, a sensuousness and sexuality. Your brain and eye enter into this fantastic dance, a fugue of focusing, refocusing, gauging and re-gauging light, color, shadow, a shadow’s shadow, harmony, and discord.

You don’t just bead and make jewelry.   There’s a lot involved here.

You have to buy (or fabricate) beads and findings and stringing materials, organize them, buy some extra parts, think about them, create with them, live with some failed creations, and go from there. If there wasn’t something special about how our materials translate light into color, shade and shadow, then jewelry making would simply be work. But it’s not.

You have to put one piece next to another…and then another. And when you put two beads next to each other, or one on top of the other, you’re doing God’s work. There’s nothing as spectacular as painting and sculpting with light.

This bead before you — why is it so enticing? Why do you beg it to let you be addicted? An object with a hole. How ridiculous its power. Some curving, some faceting, some coloration, some crevicing or texturing, some shadow, some bending of light. That’s all it is. Yet you’re drawn to it in a slap-silly sort of way.

When you arrange many beads, the excitement explodes geometrically within your being. Two beads together are so much more than one. Four beads so much more than two. A hundred beads so much more than twenty-five times four. The pleasure is uncontainable. You feel so powerful. Creative. You can make more of what you have than with what you started.

You need to select a method or strategy for arranging your beads.   There are so many choices.    Your organization should be appealing.   It must enhance the power the bead has for you, then transcend as a power the bead has for others.    It must be architecturally correct because this architecture determines the wear, drape and flow where the jewelry meets the person at the boundary between bead and body.

And this assembling — another gift. String through the hole, pull, tug, align, and string through the hole, pull, tug, align, and string through the hole, pull, tug, align, and string through the hole, pull, tug, align. So meditative. Calming. How could beads be so stress-relieving, other-worldly-visiting, and creative-exciting at the same time?

Contemplation. To contemplate the bead is to enter the deep reaches of your mind where emotion is one with geometry, and geometry is one with art, and art is one with physics, and beads are one with self.

Designing jewelry is an authentic performance task.    This involves a profound intimacy with the materials (and techniques) the artist relies on.   This intimacy means understanding how to select them, how to leverage their strengths and minimize their weaknesses, and how to manage their ability to enhance or impede resonance.

INSPIRATION:   Becoming One with What Inspires You

Inspirations are sacred revelations you want to share through art and design.

The word inspiration comes from the Latin roots meaning “to breathe into.”   But  before you can breathe your inspiration into your jewelry, you need to become one with it.

There are these wonderfully exciting, sensually terrific, incredibly fulfilling things that you find as you try to imagine the jewelry you will create.   They come from many sources:   ideas, nature, images, people, behaviors.   They might be realistic or abstract.   They may be the particular color or pattern or texture or the way the light hits it and casts a shadow.   They may be a need for order over chaos.  They may be points of view.   They may flow from some inner imagination.

For some reason, these inspirations take on a divine, sacred revelation for you – so meaningful that you want to incorporate them somehow into what you do.   A fire in your soul.   You want to translate these inspirations into colors, shapes, lines, patterns and textures.   You want to impose an organization on them.    You want to recapture their energy and power they have had over you.   You feel compelled to bring these feelings into ideas.

There are many challenges to inspiration.    That which we call “inspiring” can often be somewhat fuzzy.   It might be a feeling.  It might be a piece of an idea, or a small spot on an image.   You might feel inspired, but, cannot put the What or the Why into words or images.    On the surface, it may seem important to you, but unimportant to others.   You the artist may not feel in control of the inspiration in that it seems like it is something that is evoked, not necessarily directed, by you.

When inspired, artists perceive new possibilities that transcend that which is ordinary around them.   Too often, the artist feels passive in this process.    This transcendence does not feel like a willfully generated idea.    However, it needs to be.  The successful artist – one who eventually can achieve a level of resonance – is one who is not only inspired by, but also inspired to.    This all requires a great deal of metacognitive self-awareness.   The artist must be able to perceive the intrinsic value of the inspiring object, and how to extend this value in design, where the piece of jewelry becomes its expression.

Inspiration is motivating.  Inspiration is not the source of creativity; creativity does not come from it.   Inspiration, instead, should be viewed as a motivational response to creativity.   It motivates the artist, through jewelry and its design,  to connect this inspiration with others.   It serves as a mediator between the self and the anticipated shared understandings of others.    The jewelry encapsulates the artist’s ability to make this connection.    When the connection is well-made, resonance follows.

But finding inspirations is not only personal, but more importantly, it is an effort to influence others.    It is an act of translating the emotions which resonate in you into some object of art which, in turn, will inspire and resonate with others.     How does the inspiration occur to you, and how do you anticipate how this inspiration might occur to others?

Too often we lose sight of the importance of inspiration to the authentic performance task of creating jewelry.   We operate with the belief that anyone can be inspired by anything.   There’s nothing more to it.   Moreover, inspiration gets downplayed when put next to the discussion of the effort of making jewelry itself.    But it should not.   Inspiration is not less important than perspiration.   It plays an equal role in the creative process.   The artist’s clarity about why something is inspiring, and why this inspiration motivates the artist to respond, will be critical for achieving success, that is resonance.

ASPIRATION: Translating Creativity into A Technical Product Design

Aspiration motivates the artist to actualize inspiration.  

Aspiration is where the artist translates inspiration into a completed product design.   The artist begins to control and regulate what happens next.    This involves selecting Design Elements[1] and clustering them to formulate meaningful expressions.    The artist then applies Principles of Composition, Construction and Manipulation[2] for organizing and arranging things into a more complete whole with more elaborated expressions.    The greater value the artist places on resonance, the stronger the aspiration will be to achieve it.

Aspiration is future-oriented.    It requires a stick-to-it-ness.   The artist must be sufficiently motivated to invest the time, energy and money into designing and making the jewelry that will not necessarily be finished, displayed or sold right away.   It may require some additional learning and skills-development time.   The artist may need to find a level of creativity within, and discover the kinds of skills, techniques and insights necessary for bringing this creativity to the aspired task at hand.

Aspiration requires the calculus:  Is it worth it?    It adds a level of risk to the project.    It forces the artist to pay attention to the world around her or him.    This world presents dynamic clues – what I discuss below as shared understandings – about opportunities, constraints, risks, contingencies, consequences, strategies and goals, and likely successes.

For some artists, motivation primarily is seen as instinctual.    Think of seat-of-the-pants.   Emergent, not controlled.   A search for harmony, balance, rhythm, unity as something that feels right and looks right and seems right with the universe.    Expressive, yes.  Imaginative, yes.   But not necessarily resonant.

Achieving resonance, however, is, for the most part, more than instinctual.  It has some deliberate quality to it.   It is communicative.  It requires a purposeful act on the part of the artist.    It is a different type of motivation — intentional.   The artist might want to convey a specific emotion.   Or advocate for some change.  Or illustrate a point of view.    The artist may want to entertain or teach.   Heal.  Attract mates.  Propagandize.     Where a jewelry’s design is not reflective of an artist’s intent, there can be no resonance.

ANTICIPATION: Shared Understandings[4]

Shared understandings dictate opportunities, contingencies and constraints.

The question of whether the audience correctly infers the presence of the artist’s inspiration, and the sense of how the artist’s hand comes into play within the design, remains.   The answer revolves around a dynamic interaction between artist and audience, as they anticipate understandings they share, and ones they do not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How the jewelry designer begins the process of creating a piece of jewelry is very revealing about the potential for success, and ultimately achieving a level of resonance.    The designer should always begin the process by articulating the essential shared understandings against which their work will be evaluated and judged.    For now, let’s refer to this as Backwards Design[5].    The designer starts with questions about assessment, and then allows this understanding to influence all other choices going forward.

Some essential shared understandings for good jewelry design, I would posit, might include the following:

  1. Every designer has some creative ability, but may need to learn concepts and techniques and ways to apply them
  2. Some understandings are universal and objective, particularly in reference to the selection, clustering and application of various Design Elements, such as color, shape, movement and dimension.
  3. Other understandings are both objective and subjective.     There is universal acceptance of what various organization and arrangement schemes — Principles of Composition, Construction and Manipulation – might be applied by the artist.   However, how they are actually applied, and how satisfying that is to various audiences, is very personal and subjective.
  4. The strengths and limitations of various materials or techniques should be respected, maximizing the strengths and minimizing the limitations 
  5. Jewelry should communicate and reflect the artist’s intent
  6. Jewelry should affirm the wearer’s purpose and identity in context
  7. Jewelry can only be considered as art, as it is worn
  8. We know the jewelry is finished and successful when the choices made and the tradeoffs among appeal, function, and context are implemented to the point we see parsimony and resonance.

SPECIFICATION:  Goal-Orientation

It’s not just what you do…it’s how you get there.

Jewelry designers are too quick to focus on the outcome, and too lax to focus on the process.    It’s always things like getting it done.   Getting it to the client on deadline.   Ending up with something concrete to show someone.   Too much concentration on outcome can lead to taking shortcuts.   Shortsightedness.  Inflexibility.  A misunderstanding, perhaps illusion about, whether the piece is finished and successful.

Artists more appropriately should focus on goals.   Artists who are focused on goals tend to embrace process.   It’s about all the smart choices regarding composition, construction and manipulation you made at each increment along the way.     By specifying goals, the artist is encouraged to find connections, and be connected to and aware of shared understandings and their impact on perceived success.   When problems arise, a goal-oriented focus allows the artist to be flexible and problem solve.   The artist is present from contemplation to inspiration and through to aspiration, anticipation, specification and application.   The goal-orientation prevents the artist from becoming lost or paralyzed with inaction.

The jewelry artist pursues several goals at once.    The jewelry should be both appealing and functional.   It should evoke emotion, elicit response, and resonate.   The piece should show both unity and variety.   The piece should create opinions, validate status, and reconfirm a cultural and social identify.   The piece should be reflective and communicative.    It should be pleasurable to the maker, the wearer and the viewer alike.

When specifying goals, it is important to remember that not all goals are alike.    The goals I am discussing here are the essential elements related to effective performance.   That effective performance results in a finished and successful piece of jewelry reflective of the artist’s hand and which resonates among a varied set of audiences.

The artist needs to set goals which clarify what results need to be accomplished by the time any piece of jewelry is finished and showcased.   Goals provide perspective.   They are there to prevent the artist from achieving anything less than resonance.   These goals relate to generating deep understandings and competence at performance.     They are not results-specific per se; they are overarching.    They serve as sign-posts to point to and highlight what jewelry designers need to engage with when thinking through and implementing design.

The jewelry designer specifies goals as standards of professional performance, such as…

  • Leveraging the strengths and minimizing the weaknesses of desired materials and techniques
  • Discussing and reflecting upon inspirations and motivations toward the expression of the creative self
  • Defining aspirational intent, point of view, and what it means to connect to various audiences
  • Delineating shared understandings among self, wearer, viewer, student, master, buyer and seller, in relationship to how the jewelry will be observed and assessed and worn within a context
  • Elaborating on all artistic and architectural elements and principles which should come into play, and why
  • Reflecting on personal learning throughout the process, particularly as it relates to developing and expanding on skills related to fluency in design
  • Determining how skills, insights and lessons learned from the current project might be transferred to your next one

Within each generalized performance goal, the designer can further identify particular tasks, knowledges and skills required in order to accomplish them.    Often, with too many choices about what to do, what to include, and how to proceed, priorities and timeframes will need to be set, as well.

Resonance is more easily achieved when the designer approaches design as a process, an understanding of the myriad sets and levels of choices as made within a coherent system of creative thinking and activity, and with clear performance goals to guide the way.

APPLICATION:  Unity, Emotions, Resonance

Think like an assessor[6]…find evidence related to desired results.

What is the evidence we need to know for determining when a piece is finished and successful?   What clear and appropriate criteria specify what we should look at?

There are different opinions in craft, art and design about what are the most revealing and important aspects of the work, and which every authentic jewelry design performance must meet.

The traditional criteria used in the art world are that the designer should achieve unity, variety and evoke emotions.     These, I feel, may work well when applied to paintings or sculpture, but they are insufficient measures of success when applied to jewelry.   Jewelry involves the creation of objects where both artistic appeal as well as practical considerations of use are essential.   The artistry of jewelry cannot be distinguished from that jewelry as it is worn, and the context within which it is worn.   So, when referencing any jewelry’s design,  I prefer to use criteria of parsimony and resonance, instead.    We know when a piece is finished and successful when the choices of the artist are deemed parsimonious, and the various audiences perceive the piece to resonate.

Parsimony vs. Unity/Variety

In art, the traditional measure of completion and success is a feeling or sense of “Unity.”   Unity signifies how everything feels all right.   All the Design Elements used, and how they were coordinated and placed, are very coherent, clear, balanced, harmonious and satisfying.   I think the idea of unity begins to get at the place we want to end up.   But this concept is not concrete enough for me.

What bothers me the most is that you can have unity, but the piece still be seen as boring when there is no variety.   Criteria provided from the art perspective recognizes this.   But somehow tempering unity with variety starts to add some ambiguity to our measurements of finish and success.   This ambiguity is unacceptable as a principled outcome of jewelry construction.

Another concern I have, is that you can have unity with variety, but, from the art perspective, these assessments rely too much on universal, objective perceptions of design elements and their attributes (for example, the use of color schemes).   Resonance is not about picking the correct color scheme.    It is more about how that color scheme is used, manipulated, leveraged or violated within the piece.   We must not leave the artist, the wearer, and the situation out of the equation.    We must not minimize the artist’s hand – the artist’s intent, thinking, strategizing, arranging, pushing the boundaries, even violating the universal, objective rules.

Jewelry creation usually demands a series of judgment calls and tradeoffs.   Tradeoffs between aesthetics and functionality.  Tradeoffs between artist goals and audience understandings and expectations.   Tradeoffs between a full palette of colors-shapes-textures and a very limited one.    Any measure of completeness and success needs to result from the forced choice decisions of the artist.    It needs to account for the significance of the results, not just the organization of them.    It needs to explain the Why, not just the What.

For me, the more appropriate concept here is Parsimony.  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.  The designer needs to be able to decide when enough is enough.   For jewelry designers, we want that economy or parsimony to apply to functional and situational effects, as well.

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 vs. Evoking Emotions

Finished and successful jewelry should not only evoke emotions, but, should resonate.

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 controls 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

FLUENCY[7] AND EMPOWERMENT: Managing Choices In Expression

Empowerment is about successfully making choices.   These are choices about expressing one’s intent through art and design.

These choices could be as simple as whether to follow through on some inspiration.  They might involve selection of elements of design, or principled arrangements of beads, forms and components.   The designer will make choices about how to draw someone’s attention to the piece, or, present the piece to a larger audience. The designer will make choices between aesthetics and functionality.   She or he may decide to submit the piece to a magazine or contest. She or he may want to sell the piece and market it. The designer will make choices about how a piece might be worn, or who might wear it, or when it might be worn, in what context.

The fluent designer will be adept at making these choices.    The better designer is able to bring a high level of coherence and consistency to the process of managing all this – intent, shared understandings, knowledge and skills, evaluative review, and reflection and adjustment. This is called “fluency in design”.

Fluency is the ability of the designer to select and connect Design Elements smoothly, in visually and functionally and situationally appropriate ways with understanding. The idea of understanding is broadly defined, to include the artist’s personal goals for expression, as well as the expectations of all the audiences – the wearer, the viewer, the buyer, the seller, the student, the master. The better designer achieves a level of disciplinary literacy where fluency becomes automatic, accurate, and rapidly applied.

The better, more fluent jewelry designer is able to anticipate how others will come to understand these mechanisms and the implications for applying them in one way or another.    For example, the better and more fluent designer would be able to select and combine design elements to appropriately differentiate jewelry that would best be worn at work, and jewelry that would best be worn, say, when someone was going to a night club for dancing and socializing.

Lastly, fluency means that the designer has also been taught to look for, anticipate and incorporate context clues. Design does not occur in a vacuum. It has implications which become realized in a context. That context might be historical, cultural or situational.

More proficient, fluent jewelry designers will be comfortable

and somewhat intentional and fluid in their abilities to…

  1. Leverage strengths and minimize weaknesses of materials and techniques.
  1. Decode, select, cluster and apply Design Elements, and implement and apply various organizational arrangements related to Principles of Composition, Construction and Manipulation.
  2. Work within shared understandings about jewelry and its successful design.

  3. Apply key knowledge and skills to achieve the desired result.
  4. Anticipate how their work will be reviewed, judged and evaluated by criteria reflective of these same shared understandings.
  5. Communicate their intent.
  6. Step back, reflect, and validate all their thinking to reject any misunderstandings, and make adjustments accordingly.

 

RUBRIC[8] AS THINKING ROUTINE

Designers need a simple map to all these ideas about literacy and fluency – something they can easily review and determine where their strengths and weaknesses are as they gain proficiency and fluency in design.     One type of map is a rubric.

A rubric is a table of criteria used to rate and rank understanding and performance.   A rubric answers the question by what criteria performance should be judged.    The rubric provides insightful clues for the kinds of evidence we need to make such assessments.    The rubric helps us distinguish degrees of performance, from the sophisticated to the naïve.   The rubric encapsulates what an authentic jewelry design performance would look like.

Such a rubric is presented below for the artist to use as a thinking routine.[9]  Here I have used one rubric to represent both (1) understanding and (2) performance, but, I could have easily created two separate rubrics toward this end.   In this rubric table below, the rows represent contemplation, inspiration, aspiration, anticipation, application, and fluency and empowerment.    The columns represent the degrees of understanding and performance along a continuum, from proficient on one end to not there yet on the other.   By way of example, I use the rubric to assess my performance with a piece I created called Vestment (Feld, 2004).


RUBRIC:  How Proficient Am I In Achieving Resonance?

The Rubric…

           
UNDERSTANDING

&

PERFORMANCE

4- Proficient

Insightful, intuitive understanding, effectively established, with clear intent, and  well supported by details

3-Capable

Well-considered understanding, appropriately established and supported by details

2-Shows Potential

Some plausible understanding, some consistency established and supported by details, but not always sustained

1-Not There Yet

Superficial or no understanding, not consistent or sustained, perhaps vague or incomplete

CONTEMPLATION

Exhibiting an intimacy with the materials and techniques

Purposeful in selection of materials and techniques which synergistically work together

Insightful understanding and clear ability to leverage strengths and minimize weaknesses of materials and techniques

Selects materials appropriate for technique used, and select technique appropriate for task at hand

Some ability to leverage strengths and minimize weaknesses of materials and techniques

Selects materials and techniques for which may have some fit the task at hand, but could not articulate the reasons why

Has limited understanding of the strengths and weaknesses materials and techniques bring to the task at hand

Does not understand the relationship between the selection of materials and techniques and the task at hand

Has no understanding of the strengths and weaknesses materials and technique

INSPIRATION

Sharing sacred revelations art and design

Clearly recognizes intrinsic value between inspiration and the design of finished piece; applies inspiration

Deliberately reflects on using inspiration and the design of the piece to motivate and energized others to so be inspired

Some recognition of the connection between inspiration and the design of finished piece; applies inspiration

Thinks how others might be inspired by and emotionally connected to the piece as well

Passively responds to inspiring objects while designing piece with some intent to evoke a personal emotion but limited intent to evoke that emotion in others; consumes inspiration

Does not think deeply about how the piece might inspire others

Either does not begin with an inspiration, or only a weak connection between an inspiring object and the design of a piece

Does not think about how the piece might inspire others

ASPIRATION

Actualizing inspiration into a design

Can clearly and intentionally

translate a feeling or idea into a jewelry design or model; With considerable intention and control, select and arrange Design Elements, Principles of Composition, Construction and Manipulation resulting in an inspiring design which resonates

Can clearly determine risk-calculus comparing all costs associated with constructing piece relative to all benefits from how the finished piece will be received

Can, with some clarity, translate a feeling or idea into a jewelry design or model, and select Design Elements and Principles of Composition, Construction and Manipulation which come together well and evokes emotion

Has an intuitive feel for the risk-calculus, comparing all costs associated with constructing piece relative to all benefits from how the finished piece will be received

Can translate a feeling or idea into a jewelry design or model, but mostly based on instinct rather than intent; can select Design Elements and Principles of Composition, Construction and Manipulation which results in a satisfying design

Has not taken the time to think about the risk-calculus for implementing a design

A jewelry design emerges somehow, but there is little obvious connection to an inspiration or an artist’s intention

Does not know how to think about the risk-calculus for implementing a design

ANTICIPATION

Awareness of shared understandings

Shows empathy;

can anticipate others’ points of view, and how to incorporate them with his/her own

Can engage with others around this project

Can delineate misunderstandings

Can explain how a piece and its construction conforms to others’ ideas of good jewelry design, and shows some evidence in applying this

Anticipates some understandings, but is somewhat reactive to them

Can explain, in an academic sense, how a piece fits broad understandings about good design, but is weak in applying this

Is weak, in reality, at anticipating others’ understandings about design and is very reactive to them

Cannot explain or apply understandings of how a piece fits a definition of good design

Does not anticipate others’ understandings about design, nor responds to them in any significant way

SPECIFICATION

Clarifying what results need to be accomplished

Can clearly define and articulate those performance goals necessary to achieve resonance

Can implement a coherent process and system of creative thinking and activity as a series of smart choices leading up to the finished product

Can make visible the consequences of his/her design process choices

Can identify what it will take to overcome misunderstandings, and flexibly problem solve, when necessary

Can define some performance goals necessary to achieve resonance

Can implement an organized process of creative production

Can identify some consequences related to his/her design process choices

Can identify misunderstandings and determine some strategies in response, when necessary

Does not overtly define performance goals necessary to achieve resonance; however, may have an intuitive sense of some performance goals which need to occur

Does not work within an organized process of creative production

Does not identify consequences related to his/her design process choices

Does not identify misunderstandings, nor develop strategies for overcoming these when they occur

Is not yet performance goal-oriented.

Does not understand how to define or work within an organized process of creative production

Cannot identify consequences related to his/her design process choices

Does not recognize, or incorporate shared understandings or misunderstandings into the creative process

APPLICATION

Strategically and parsimoniously selecting Design Elements and applying of Principles of Composition, Construction and Manipulation

Provides in-depth, coherent, insightful, and credible reasons, based on evidence and both art and design theory, for all design choices, particularly tradeoffs among aesthetics, function and context

Argues what is central to piece that makes it work; emphasizes application in context

Uses materials, techniques, design elements and principles in an especially novel way

Determines confidently that piece is finished and successful, that is parsimonious and resonant

Provides coherent, insightful reasons based on evidence in art theory for all design choices

Weak or no tradeoffs among aesthetics, function and context.

Uses materials, techniques, design elements and principles in novel way

Judges based on personal and art theory assumptions when piece is finished and successful, that is unified with some variety, and evokes emotions

Provides justifications for design choices, but not grounded in art or design theory and perspective

Does not make any accommodations among aesthetics, function and context

Uses materials, techniques, design elements and principles in interesting or generally appealing way

The piece is finished when the artist stops working on it; no judgements related to success

Does not recognize the design process as a series of choices, or in any way rooted in art or design theory and perspective

Does not understand that tradeoffs may need to get made among aesthetics, function and context

Does not show significant understanding about materials, techniques, design elements, principles, and how to choose, cluster them

Shows no confidence in determining whether piece is finished or successful.

EMPOWERMENT

Managing design process and demonstrating disciplinary literacy

Intuitive; metacognitive; can make choices based on intent, and anticipate implications of choices; can take a critical stance; can

recognize personal and situational biases

Effective and appearing almost effortless decoding Design Elements and applying Principles of Composition, Construction, and Manipulation; has complete and extensive knowledge about Elements and Principles and their application in context

Somewhat intuitive; can articulate some of the intentional choices and their implications made in design process; may not be fully aware of personal and situational biases

Understands what is required for decoding Design Elements and applying Principles of Composition, Construction, and Manipulation, but does this with some effort and some varying degrees of effectiveness; has extensive knowledge of Elements and Principles

Weak demonstration of process management; typically following step-by-step process outline or instructions where most choices have been made for the artist; unaware of implications of choices

Doing some decoding of Design Elements and some applying of Principles, but with some difficulties or misconceptions; may have considerable but not full knowledge of Elements and Principles

No demonstration of process management; requires others to delineate the necessary design and implementation choices; unaware that there are implications for any choice

Noticeable difficulties (or unable to do) decoding Design Elements and applying Principles; generally unfamiliar with full range of Elements and Principles

RUBRIC:  How Proficient Am I In Achieving Resonance?

The piece…

b01c915a-72b0-4913-a464-9f60fccbf9cc.jpg

“Vestment”, by Warren Feld, 2008

I was contracted to do a series of workshops on Contemporizing Etruscan Jewelry.   “Vestment” was one of the pieces I created as a contemporized version of a traditional Etruscan collar.    Contemporized refers to drawing inspiration from a traditional piece, not reviving or imitating it per se.

With my contemporized version of this Etruscan Collar, I’ve used bead weaving techniques (Ndebele stitch and Petersburg chain stitch) to get a more dimensional effect, stronger color play, and a more               contemporary sense of fashion and wearability.

The piece shown uses Miyuki cubes, seed beads and delicas, Austrian crystals, with 14KT, gold filled, sterling silver, and antiqued copper chain, clasps and other findings. With some pieces, I include artist-created handmade lampwork beads made by Lori Greenberg.

My Etruscan VESTMENT is worn like a scarf. It is meant to present a different jewelry profile than a typical necklace. It is at once formal  and relaxed, complementing the body and fashion, rather than  competing with it. The Vestment fastens in the front.

The main strips of the vestment are created using a double-layered, Ndebele stitch. These strips are attached to the clasp with an assemblage of pieces created using the Petersburg chain stitch.

2edceb2b-d8e6-433a-9274-22b70f7526e2.jpg

Detail 1

88166275-7bd0-456c-8abd-1caa483f5048.jpg

Detail 2

17bd664e-1b9f-455d-a617-7ef04af9dbab.jpg

Traditional Etruscan Collar

If I were using the Rubric above to evaluate my conception, design and implementation of this piece – Vestment – I would be thinking about the following…
CONTEMPLATION Score 4

Exhibiting an intimacy with the materials and techniques

The Ndebele stitch allows a fluidity and draping while still maintaining the basic shape.   Using two small beads and a cube to make the Ndebele stitch, rather than the traditional four small beads to complete the stitch, adds resonance.  Creating two overlapping layers of stitching creates unusual color/shadow effects while the piece is worn.

INSPIRATION Score 4

Sharing sacred revelations art and design

This piece draws inspiration from form, cultural color preferences, yet results in a very contemporary piece with more fluidity, dimensionality, movement, and sensual appeal.

ASPIRATION Score 4

Actualizing inspiration into a design

The design shows considerable intent and forethought in bringing together color, materials, techniques, forms, in a coherent arrangement.

ANTICIPATION Score 3

Awareness of shared understandings

The piece is generally well-received, with some questions about how and when it is to be worn, and whether it is sufficiently contemporary in design.

SPECIFICATION Score 3

Clarifying what results need to be accomplished

At the time I created this design, my process was generally organized but with considerable trial and error.   Tried to get result of appealing piece, had difficulty making tradeoffs between aesthetics and functionality.  Did not have a clear understanding of resonance.

APPLICATION Score 3

Strategically and parsimoniously selecting Design Elements and applying of Principles of Composition, Construction and Manipulation

Was primarily driven by art theory, with more last minute choices about functionality.   Otherwise, made strategic choices in selecting materials, construction techniques, and meeting most contemporary expectations.

EMPOWERMENT Score 3

Managing design process and demonstrating disciplinary literacy

Was not fluent in design at this point in time.     Most of my great strategic choices were more intuitive than intentional.

_________________________________________________________

WARREN FELD, Jewelry Designer

warren@warrenfeldjewelry.com

615-292-0610

2b2fc2fb-12df-4dee-a17d-7f9684461a84.jpg

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

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

His pieces have appeared in beading and jewelry magazines and books. One piece is in the Swarovski museum in Innsbruck, Austria.

He is probably best known for creating the international The Ugly Necklace Contest, where good jewelry designers attempt to overcome our pre-wired brains’ fear response for resisting anything Ugly.

_________________________________________________________

FOOTNOTES
 [1] Feld, Warren.  “Jewelry Design Composition: Playing with Building Blocks Called Design Elements,” 3/17/2018

[2] Feld, Warren.  “Jewelry Design Principles: Composing, Constructing, Manipulating,” 4/25/2018

[3] Feld, Warren.  “Jewelry Design: A Managed Process,” Klimt02, 2/2/18. https://klimt02.net/forum/articles/jewelry-design-managed-process-warren-feld

 [4]Shared Understandings.  In another graduate education class, the major text reviewed the differences between understanding and knowledge.   The question was how to teach understanding.    Worth the read to gain many insights about how to structure teaching to get sufficient understanding to enrich learning.   
Understanding by Design
by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, 2nd Edition, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2005.
[5]  Backwards Design.  One of the big take-aways from
Understanding by Design
(see footnote 3) was the idea they introduced of “backwards design”.   Their point is that you can better teach understanding if you anticipate the evidence others will use in their assessments of what you are trying to do.    When coupled with ideas about teaching literacy and fluency (see footnote 2), you can begin to introduce ideas about managing the design process in a coherent and alignable way.
[6]
Understanding by Design
by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, 2nd Edition, p. 146, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2005.
[7]Fluency. I took two graduate education courses in Literacy. The primary text we used was Literacy: Helping Students Construct Meaning by J. David Cooper, M. Robinson, J.A. Slansky and N. Kiger, 9th Edition, Cengage Learning, 2015. Even though the text was not about jewelry designing per se, it provides an excellent framework for understanding what fluency is all about, and how fluency with language develops over a period of years. I have relied on many of the ideas in the text to develop my own ideas about a disciplinary literacy for jewelry design.

[8]Rubrics.  
Understanding by Design
by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, 2nd Edition, p. 146, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2005.
[9]  Thinking Routines.  I teach jewelry design.   I find it useful to engage students with various ways of thinking out loud.    They need to hear me think out loud about what choices I am making and what things I am considering when making those choices.   They need to hear themselves think out loud so that they can develop strategies for getting more organized and strategic in dealing with information and making decisions.    My inspiration here was based on the work done by Visible Thinking by Project Zero at Harvard Graduate School of Education .

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JEWELRY DESIGN COMPOSITION: Playing With Building Blocks Called Design Elements

Posted by learntobead on March 17, 2018

JEWELRY DESIGN COMPOSITION:
PLAYING WITH BUILDING BLOCKS
CALLED DESIGN ELEMENTS

by Warren Feld, Designer

image002.jpg


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

Jewelry making is a constructive process of expression.
   

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

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

1) Vocabulary: Design Elements As The Basis Of Composition

2) Grammar:  Principles of Construction

3) Strategy:  Project Management[1]

4) Context/Culture:  Shared Understandings[2]

 

 

This article focuses on the first component – Design Elements.

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

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

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

INDEPENDENT DESIGN ELEMENTS

DEPENDENT DESIGN ELEMENTS

Function like vowels in alphabet

Many expressive variations

Syllabic

Can stand alone and be expressive

Expressions sensitive to placement or context

Function like consonants in alphabet

Limited expressive variations if used alone and not in combination

Non-syllabic

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

Expressions consistent, somewhat insensitive to placement or
context


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

DESIGN ELEMENTS COMPRISE A VOCABULARY
OF BASIC ARTISTIC EXPRESSION

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

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

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

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

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

DESIGN ELEMENT

Independent

GRAPHIC

REPRESENTATION

EXPRESSIVE VARIATIONS

EXPRESSIVE VARIATIONS

EXPRESSIVE VARIATIONS

Color


image004.jpg

 

Schemes

Hue and Saturation

Simultaneity Effects

Values and Intensity

Temperature

Receding or Projecting

Shape


image006.jpg

 

Recognizable

Focused

Distinct

Blended

Abstract

Filled or Empty

Delimited, fixed, geometric

Infinite, extending

Distorted or overlapped

Masculine or feminine

Organic or mechanical

Background, foreground, middle ground

Texture and
Pattern


image008.jpg

Regular, Predictable, Statistical

Repeated or singular

Random, Non-Statistical

Feel or look

Layered or Non-layered

Smooth or Rough

Point, Line,
Plane


image010.jpg

 

2-Dimensional

3-Dimensional

Conform or violate

Connected or Unconnected

Span and distance

Actual or implied

Thickness

Silhouette

Focused or unfocused

Bounded or unbounded

geometric or curved

 

Material


image012.jpg

 

Natural or Man-Made

Soft or solid

Heavy or light

Single or mixed media

Light refraction, reflection, absorption

Technique and
Technology


image014.jpg

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

With or without application of heat and/or
pressure

Fabricated or Machine Made

Pattern or freeform



DESIGN ELEMENT

Dependent

GRAPHIC
REPRESENTATION

EXPRESSIVE VARIATIONS

EXPRESSIVE VARIATIONS

EXPRESSIVE VARIATIONS

Dimensionality


image016.jpg

 

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

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

 

Interior and Exterior Contours

Frontal or in-the-round

 

Open or closed forms

 

Static or dynamic forms

 

Movement


image018.jpg

 

Passive
(ex: use of color guides the eye)

 

Direction

 

Linear or wave

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

 

Stable or erratic

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

Color Blending


image020.jpg

Simultaneity effects

Value and intensity

 

Saturation and vibrance

Distinct or blurred

 

Dominant or recessive

Theme, Symbols


image022.jpg

Surface or interpreted meaning(s) or
inflected

 

Power, position, protection, identification

Clear or abstract referents

 

Object as whole, or parts of object

Repetition or not

 

Individual, group, cultural, societal,
universal

Beauty and
Appeal


image024.jpg

 

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

 

 

Objective or emotional

 

 

Coherence, harmony and unity

 

Fashion, style, timeliness, timelessness

Structure and
Support


image026.jpg

 

Stiff or flexible

 

Flow and drape

 

Linkage, connectivity

Wearability

 

Display

 

Organization

Articulation

 

Autonomy vs. Temporariness

 

Interactive with wearer, or not

Craftsmanship


image028.jpg

 

Inspiration

 

Skill and dexterity

 

With tools, or not

 

 

Design acumen

Personality and preferences

Form, Segmentation,
Components


image030.png

 

Shape with Volume

 

Whole or divided

 

Organized or chaotic

Perspective

 

2-dimensional or 3-dimensional

 

Alignment

Shading

 

Positioning or spacing

 

Simple or Complex

Balance and
Distribution


image032.jpg

Symmetrical (By size, color, or shape)

 

Visual weight

 

Visual size

Asymmetrical (By size, color, or shape)

 


Radial
(By size, color or shape)

 

Visual placement

Random
(By size, color, or shape)

 

Stable or unstable

 

Directed or undirected

Referents to specific
idea or style


image034.jpg

 

Vintage Revival

 

Direct or implied

Contemporary

 

Literal or figurative

Symbolic

Context,
Situation, Culture


image036.jpg

Economic, social, psychological, cultural,
situational values

Complicit artist, or not

Derived meaning, or objective meaning

Negative and
Positive Space


image038.png

Figure or ground

 

Form or no form

 

Shading

 

Perspective

Depth

 

Use of space around an object

Interpenetration of space

 

Illusion or reality

 

Placement

Light and
Shadow


image040.jpg

 

Suggestive

 

Gradient

 

Perspective

Shading

 

Illumination

 

Solid or Cast

 

Dimensionality

 

Moon

The Japanese Fragrance Garden Bracelet

image042.jpg

image044.jpg  image046.jpg

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

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

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

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

What I Wanted To Achieve   

Design Elements I Thought About              


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

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

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


Dimensionality

where the piece would not be seen as flat

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

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


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

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

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

 

How Do You Teach Designers A Vocabulary of Design?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_________________________________________________________

warrenFeld1.jpg

WARREN FELD, Jewelry Designer
warren@warrenfeldjewelry.com
615-292-0610

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

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

His pieces have appeared in beading and jewelry magazines and books. One piece is in the Swarovski museum in Innsbruck, Austria.

He is probably best known for creating the international The Ugly Necklace Contest, where good jewelry designers attempt to overcome our pre-wired brains’ fear response for resisting anything Ugly.



Footnotes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[3] Backwards Design.  I had taken two graduate education courses in Literacy and one in Planning that were very influential in
my approach to disciplinary literacy.   One of the big take-aways from
Understanding by Design 
by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe,
2nd Edition, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development,
2005,  was 
the idea they introduced of “backwards design”.   Their point is that you can better teach understanding if you anticipate the evidence others will use in their assessments of what you are trying to do.
When coupled with ideas about teaching literacy and fluency (see
Literacy:Helping Students Construct Meaning
by J. David Cooper, M. Robinson, J.A. Slansky and N. Kiger, 9th Edition, Cengage Learning, 2015)
, you can begin to introduce ideas about managing the design process in a coherent and alignable way.

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

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

Posted by learntobead on February 15, 2018

CONTEMPORARY JEWELRY IS NOT A “LOOK” —
IT’S A WAY OF “THINKING”

by Warren Feld, Jewelry Artisan
warren@warrenfeldjewelry.com
718 Thompson Lane, Ste 123, Nashville, TN 37204
615-292-0610


“Canyon Sunrise”, Warren Feld, designer, 2004, Austrian crystal, glass seed beads, 14KT gold chain and constructed clasp, fireline cable thread, photographer Warren Feld

Abstract:
Contemporary Jewelry represents a specific approach for thinking through design. Making jewelry is, in essence, an authentic performance task. The jewelry artisan applies knowledge, skill and awareness within the anticipation of the influence and constraints of a set of shared understandings. Shared understandings relate to composition, construction and performance. These understandings are enduring, transferable, big ideas at the heart of what we think of as “contemporary jewelry”. They are things which spark meaningful connections between designer and materials, designer and techniques, and designer and client. Managing these connections is what we call “fluency in design”.

Jewelry Design is a professional discipline. Every legitimately defined profession has at its core a discipline-specific way of thinking. This includes core concepts, core rules, and core beliefs. And it includes professional routines and strategies for applying, manipulating and managing these. The good designer is fluent in how to think through design, and the good contemporary designer is fluent in how to think through design which earns the label “contemporary”.

But, the jewelry designer can only wonder at this with crossed eyes and bewilderment. As a profession, jewelry design balances a series of contradictions, most notably to what extent the practice is craft, art or design. This works against professional legitimacy.

Jewelry Design, as a discipline, is not always clear and consistent about its own literacy – that is, what it means to be fluent in design. Its core concepts, rules and beliefs are not well-defined, and often break down by medium, by operational location – (visualize museum, gallery, studio, store, factory, workshop, class, home), and by the degree of involvement and commitment to the profession of the jewelry designer him- or herself. The diversity of materials, approaches, styles and the like make it difficult to delineate any unifying principles or professional image.

As designers, we see, feel and experience the evolving dynamics of an occupation in search of a profession. But our profession is still in search of a coherent identify. Perhaps we see this most often in debates over how we come to recognize what jewelry we think should be labeled “contemporary” and what jewelry should not.

On the one hand, the idea of contemporary can be very elucidating. On the other, however, we are not sure what contemporary involves, how the label should be applied, and what the label represents. Yet, our sense-making search for its meaning is at the forefront of the professionalization of jewelry design. Our persistent questioning about “What is contemporary jewelry?” opens up thinking and possibilities for every jewelry designer, working across many styles and with many materials, both experienced and novice alike.

The term “contemporary” is defined as something occurring in our time, and that can be very confusing for the jewelry designer. We get caught in a major Identity Crisis for lack of a clear, agreed-upon definition of contemporary. How we resolve this Identity Crisis around a common understanding of “contemporary jewelry” can go a long way, I believe, towards developing a coherent disciplinary literacy and professional identity for all jewelry designers. Resolution can be very unifying.

Many conceptual questions about contemporary jewelry arise. We need to be very cognizant of how we think through our responses.

Does the label apply to every piece of jewelry made today? We see all kinds of styles, shapes, silhouettes, materials, techniques, fashions all around us. There appears to be no common denominator except that they all have been created in our time.

Should the label be applied to all this variation?

Could it?

Why would we want it to?

Does the label apply to a certain timeframe, with the expectation that it will be supplanted by another label sometime in the future?

What is contemporary jewelry?

“Contemporary” Is A Specific Approach For Thinking Through Design

I suggest that contemporary jewelry is not a specific thing. But rather it is a way of thinking through the design process. It is a type of thinking routine[1] which underlays the universal core of contemporary jewelry design.
Contemporary jewelry is not every piece of jewelry made in our time. It is, instead, jewelry designed and crafted with certain shared understandings in mind – understandings about composition, construction and performance.

Contemporary jewelry is not associated with any particular color or pattern or texture. It is, instead, a strategy for selecting colors, patterns and textures.

Contemporary jewelry is not something that only a few people would make or wear, whether boring or outlandish. It is, instead, something most people recognize as wearable with some level of appeal.

Contemporary jewelry is not restricted to the use of unusual or unexpected materials or techniques. It is, instead, something which leverages the strengths or minimizes the weaknesses of any and all materials and/or techniques used in a project.

Contemporary jewelry is not a specific silhouette, or line, or shape, or form, or theme, but, instead, something which shows the artist’s control over how these can be manipulated, used, played off of, and, even, violated.

Contemporary jewelry is an integral part of our culture. We wear jewelry to tell ourselves and to tell others we are OK. It is reflective of the sum of all our choices about how we think through our place among others, our relative value among others, our behaviors among others, our preferred ways to interact, challenge, conform, question, organize and arrange.

The contemporary jewelry designer is especially positioned to serve at the nexus of all this culture. The designer’s ability to think through and define what contemporary means becomes instrumental for everyone wearing their jewelry to successfully negotiate the day-to-day cultural demands of the community they live in. Designers have a unique ability to dignify and make people feel valued, respected, honored and seen.

Think of all that power!

Each person stands at that precipice of acceptance or not, relevance or not. The jewelry designer has the power to push someone in one direction, or another.
If only we had the established profession and a disciplinary literacy to help us be smart about this.

FLUENCY[2] IN DESIGN: Managing The Contemporary Design Process

Jewelry design is, in effect, an authentic performance task.

The jewelry designer demonstrates their knowledge, awareness and abilities to:

1. Work within our shared understandings about contemporary jewelry.

2. Apply key knowledge and skills to achieve the desired result – a contemporary piece of jewelry.

3. Anticipate how their work will be reviewed, judged and evaluated by criteria reflective of these same shared understandings.

4. Step back, reflect, and validate all their thinking to reject any misunderstandings, and make adjustments accordingly.

The better designer is able to bring a high level of coherence and consistency to the process of managing all this – shared understandings, knowledge and skills, evaluative review, and reflection and adjustment.
This is called “fluency in design”.

Shared Understandings[3]

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

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

Understanding is more than interpretation. The designer may be able to explain how a piece was constructed and conformed to ideas about contemporary, but this does not necessarily account for the significance of the results.
Understanding is more than applying principles of construction. It is more than simply organizing a set of design elements into an arrangement. The designer must match knowledge and interpretation about contemporary to the context. Application is a context-dependent skill.

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

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

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

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

When designing contemporary jewelry, the designer will push for shared understandings about what it means to be worthy of the label “contemporary.” I propose the following five shared understandings as a place to start, and hopefully, to generate more discussion and debate.

These are,

1. Fixed Frameworks and Rules should not pre-determine what designers do.

Rules do exist, such as color schemes or rules for achieving balance or rhythm. But rules may be challenged or serve as guidelines for the designer. In fact, the designer may develop and implement rules of their own.

Designers do not learn understanding if they are only able to answer a question if framed in one particular way. How the designer invents and applies rules for managing design as a process become of primary importance because they reveal design fluency and thinking. And this allows for a variety of approaches as well as an escape from any dominant definitions. Nothing is sacred.

2. Jewelry should extend, rework, and play with, or even push, the boundaries of materials, techniques and technologies.

Contemporary designers are meant to ask questions, evaluate different options and experiment widely. They do this in order to leverage the strengths and minimize the weaknesses of materials, techniques and technologies used. Their jewelry should reflect this.

3. Jewelry should evoke emotions.

The audience is an integral part of the success of contemporary jewelry. The viewer/wearer recognizes things in the piece and is allowed to, (in fact, expected to), react and interpret. The designer’s goal is to achieve a level of resonance.

4. Jewelry should connect people with culture.

Contemporary jewelry is not made for art’s sake alone. Contemporary jewelry is made to connect to the world around us. It is meant to assist a person in recognizing how they want to live their lives, and how they want to introduce their view of themselves into the broader community or communities they live in.

5. Successful jewelry designs should only be judged as the jewelry is worn.

Jewelry is not designed in isolation from the human body. Its design should anticipate requirements for movement, drape and flow. Its design should anticipate the implications of the context in which the jewelry is worn. The implications for all jewelry design choices are most apparent at the boundary between jewelry and person.

Given that the designer “backward-designs [4],” he or she begins the process by anticipating those understandings about how their work will be assessed. The designer then is equipped to make three types of informed choices:

A. Choices about composition
B. Choices about construction
C. Choices about performance

The designer determines (a) what design elements to include in the piece, and then (b) rules for manipulating them. The contemporary designer (c) measures these against our shared understandings about contemporary design. These measures are a continuum – degrees of contemporary, not either/or’s or absolutes. In any given piece of jewelry, some design elements may be very contemporary, and others might not.

GOOD COMPOSITION:
Selecting and Articulating Upon Design Elements and Their Attributes

Jewelry making is a constructive process. It makes sense for the designer to begin with something like building blocks, which I call design elements. Design elements include things like color, movement, dimensionality, materials, use of space, and the like.

Each design element, in turn, encompasses a range of acceptable meanings, yet still reflective of that design element, and which are called attributes.
These design elements can be arranged in different configurations.

The combination of any two or more design elements can have synergistic effects.
Working with design elements is not much different than working with an alphabet. An alphabet is made up of different letters. Each letter has different attributes – how it is written, how it sounds, how it is used. Configurations of letters result in more sounds and more meanings and more ways to be used.

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

This is exactly what the jewelry designer does with design elements. The designer has to decode, that is, make sense of a series of elements and their attributes in light of our shared understandings about jewelry design. The contemporary designer decodes in light of our further shared understandings about contemporary jewelry design.

The designer might, for example, want to select from this list of design elements I have generated below. I have arranged these design elements into what is called a thinking routine[1]. The designer uses the routine to determine how each element might be incorporated into the piece, and how the desired attributes of each element relate to contemporary design. They might also use the routine to look for issues of true and false. They might use the routine to rate each element as to importance and uncertainty.

DESIGN ELEMENT LESS CONTEMPORARY MORE CONTEMPORARY
Dimensionality Flat; Width/Length focus Not Flat; Noticeable Width/Length/Height focus
Movement, Moving Elements Little or no movement, either from the movement of actual components, or from how colors or patterns are used Great sense of movement, either from the movement of components, or from how colors or patterns are used
Color, Color Blending Follows color rules, resistant to violate them Pushes color rules to the edge, or violates them
Light and Shadow Little sense artist attempted to control light and shadow in a strategic sense Great sense artist attempted to control light and shadow, strategically
Negative and Positive Spaces Little sense artist attempted to control negative and positive spaces in a strategic sense Great sense artist attempted to control negative and positive spaces strategically
Point, Line, Plane, Shape, Form Conforms to expectations; comfortable working within basic parameters Violates expectations; challenges basic parameters
Theme, Symbols If used, themes and symbols are simplistic and readily identified If used, themes and symbols have a complex relationship to form and structure, and stimulate debate and discussion to fully make sense of them
Beauty and Appeal Primary goal of piece Synergistic relationship between beauty and function to achieve designer’s ends
Structure and Support Little concern with movement, drape and flow; unwilling to sacrifice appeal for function Considerable concern with movement, drape and flow, and a willingness to make tradeoffs between appeal and function
Materials Materials are selected for how they look Materials are selected for how they function; designer leverages strengths and minimizes weaknesses
Craftsmanship Disconnect from Artist as if Artist was anonymous Shows Artist’s Hand
Context, Situation, Culture Pieces created for the sake of making something, or for the sake of beauty and appeal only Pieces created in anticipation of shared understandings about contemporary jewelry
Balance, Distribution Conforms to expectations; comfortable working within basic parameters Violates expectations; challenges basic parameters
Technique(s) Selected without questioning implications of how technique affects boundary between jewelry and person Selected after questioning implications of how technique affects boundary between jewelry and person
Texture, Pattern Conforms to expectations; comfortable working within basic parameters Violates expectations; challenges basic parameters
Reference and Reinforce an Idea, Style May or may not reference and/or reinforce symbolic meanings; if so, usually does so in a linear fashion, such as mimicking or repeating them May or may not reference and/or reinforce symbolic meanings; if so, learns from them, and then, based on this learning, takes the references to another level

Example of some choices I made using the routine when creating my piece Canyon Sunrise:
Canyon Sunrise, Warren Feld, 2004

What are some things which make this piece “Contemporary”?

Dimensionality Two layers of beadwork. The top layer overlapping the bottom layer, where the first row of the bottom layer is attached to the 2nd row of the top layer, forcing a curvature along the top. The pendant sits on top of bottom layer and in line with top layer.
Moving Elements The two layers are only connected at their tops. As the wearer moves, each layer can move somewhat independently of the other.
Color, Color Blending The piece uses a 5-color scheme, but increases the natural proportions of one color relative to the others. There are many gaps of light between all the beads which calls for a color blending strategy(ies). The piece relies heavily on simultaneity effects, as well as the overlapping effects of transparent and translucent beads.
Technique(s) The bead woven strips are allowed to fan out from the top, thus better accommodating the wearer’s body.

GOOD CONSTRUCTION:
Applying Knowledge, Skills, Competencies for Manipulating Design Elements

Design elements need to be selected, organized and implemented in some kind of satisfying design. Towards this end, the artist, consciously or not, anticipates our shared understandings in order to make these kinds of choices.

These are the most visible choices the artist makes. We can see the finished piece of jewelry. We interact with it. We question it. We get a sense of whether we want to emotionally respond to it. We either feel its resonance, or we don’t.

Most artists manage intuitively, learning to make good choices as they receive feedback and assessment, and adjust their decisions accordingly. The better jewelry designers, however, show “metacognitive awareness” of all the things they have thought of, anticipated, structured, and accomplished during the design process as these relate to larger shared understandings about contemporary jewelry.

Let’s return, for a minute, to the analogy with building blocks and the alphabet. The design elements are building blocks. I compared them to the letters of the alphabet. Building blocks have attributes, and letters have attributes. Attributes further define them and give them purpose.

The novice designer learns to decode these building blocks and their attributes. With more experience, the blocks, just like letters, get combined and constructed into words and phrases and larger, meaningful ideas and expressions.

In essence, the finished piece of jewelry is an exemplar of the jewelry artisan’s vocabulary and grammar of design. The fluency in how the artist uses this vocabulary and grammar in designing their piece should be, I would think, especially correlated with the success and resonance of the piece.

Often, artists implement their design element choices with attention and recognition to Principles of Construction. Principles of Construction are the rules or grammar for using design elements in a piece. Given the artist’s goals for beauty and function, the artist is free to apply the rules in any way she or he sees fit. However, we expect to find this grammar underlaying all pieces of jewelry, whether the piece is contemporary or otherwise.

When we want to apply the label “contemporary,” however, we search for the choices and logic the artist has used for constructing design elements into a contemporary whole, and in anticipation of our shared understandings.

I suggest these 10 Principles of Construction. All Principles need to be applied, yet each is different from and somewhat independent of the others. For example, the colors may be well chosen, but proportions or placement not right.

Principle of Construction What the Principle is About
Rhythm How the piece engages the viewer and directs their eye
Pointers How the piece directs the viewer to a certain place or focal point
Planar Relationships The degree the piece is not disorienting; obvious what is “up” and what is “down”
Interest The degree the artist has made the ordinary…”noteworthy”
Statistical Distribution How satisfying the numbers and sizes of objects within the piece are
Balance How satisfying the placement of objects (and their attributes) is
Dimensionality The degree to which the piece is flat or 3-dimensional, how satisfying this dimensionality is to the piece
Temporal Extension How well the parts are integrated into the whole in anticipation of how, where and when the jewelry is to be worn; the whole should be more than the sum of its parts
Physical Extension/Finishing The degree the piece is designed so that it accommodates physical stresses when the piece is worn
Parsimony There should be no nonessential elements; the addition or subtraction of one element or its attribute will make the piece less satisfying

GOOD PERFORMANCE:
Seeking Continual Feedback and Evaluation About Choices and Results

The jewelry designer brings perspective. The designer shows they can rise above the passions, inclinations and dominant opinions of the moment to do what their feelings, thoughts and reflections reveal to be best. And, at the same time, the designer shows that they can strive for a rapport, a sharing of values, an empathetic response, a type of respect deemed contemporary.

If we return to our alphabet metaphor, it is necessary, but not sufficient, for the artist to assemble a palette of building blocks, thus, design elements. It is necessary, but not sufficient, for the artist to apply a vocabulary and grammar for arranging these building blocks, thus for constructing a piece of jewelry.

Most importantly, however, it is both necessary and sufficient for the artist to anticipate how the piece of jewelry will be assessed prior to making any choice about design element or construction. The more coherent and aligned each aspect of this process is, the better managed. To the extent the artist can strategically manage this whole “backwards” design process, the more fluent in design that artist is. The more fluent in design, the more the finished piece reveals the artist’s hand and resonates.

So, there is a very dynamic performance component to design. The contemporary jewelry designer needs to think about what criteria their client and the general culture and market will use as acceptable evidence of “contemporary” and “good contemporary design”, when the piece is introduced. The artist needs to think about things like connection, emotion, resonance, integrity, market.

The designer needs answers to several questions at this point.

What is the designer’s process and routine for thinking about shared understandings and evidence of authentic performance?

How well have they anticipated these criteria of evaluation?

Has the designer created a continual feedback loop so that acceptable evidence is introduced throughout the full process of design?

To what extent will the eventual evaluation of the contemporary jewelry designer and their work be fair, valid, reliable, and a sufficient measure of their results?

_________________________________________________________


WARREN FELD, Jewelry Designer
warren@warrenfeldjewelry.com
615-292-0610

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

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

His pieces have appeared in beading and jewelry magazines and books. One piece is in the Swarovski museum in Innsbruck, Austria.

He is probably best known for creating the international The Ugly Necklace Contest, where good jewelry designers attempt to overcome our pre-wired brains’ fear response for resisting anything Ugly.

_________________________________________________________

FOOTNOTES

1 Thinking Routines. I teach jewelry design. I find it useful to engage students with various ways of thinking out loud. They need to hear me think out loud about what choices I am making and what things I am considering when making those choices. They need to hear themselves think out loud so that they can develop strategies for getting more organized and strategic in dealing with information and making decisions. My inspiration here was based on the work done by Visible Thinking by Project Zero at Harvard Graduate School of Education .

2 Fluency. I took two graduate education courses in Literacy. The primary text we used was Literacy: Helping Students Construct Meaning by J. David Cooper, M. Robinson, J.A. Slansky and N. Kiger, 9th Edition, Cengage Learning, 2015. Even though the text was not about jewelry designing per se, it provides an excellent framework for understanding what fluency is all about, and how fluency with language develops over a period of years. I have relied on many of the ideas in the text to develop my own ideas about a disciplinary literacy for jewelry design.

3 Shared Understandings. In another graduate education class, the major text reviewed the differences between understanding and knowledge. The question was how to teach understanding. Worth the read to gain many insights about how to structure teaching to get sufficient understanding to enrich learning. Understanding by Design by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, 2nd Edition, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2005.

4 Backwards Design. One of the big take-aways from Understanding by Design (see footnote 2) was the idea they introduced of “backwards design”. Their point is that you can better teach understanding if you anticipate the evidence others will use in their assessments of what you are trying to do. When coupled with ideas about teaching literacy and fluency (see footnote 1), you can begin to introduce ideas about managing the design process in a coherent and alignable way.

Posted in design management, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

THE ARTISTS AT THE PARTY

Posted by learntobead on May 7, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

THE ARTISTS AT THE PARTY

yuppieparty

 

Jayden and I were invited to a party.   Not just any party.    A party at the renovated early 1900’s home in the Belmont section of town, a section of town somewhere squeezed from the West by Vanderbilt and from the East by Belmont universities.      A silversmithing student of his had invited us.    We had been to her home for dinner before, but it was just the two of us and she and her husband.

This was to be a party.    Perhaps a hundred people had been invited.    People associated with the universities.   People associated with the primary alternative newspaper in town – The Nashville Scene.    People in politics.   Professional people.    People with job titles who handed out business cards and spoke in that upwardly mobile dialect which made less-than-upwardly mobile people feel small and out of place.

When we arrived, the party was well underway.    The home was renovated in the way that people pay for to see in magazines that show page after page of inside and out.    Exquisite.   Creative.    Truly the home of someone very into the arts and very into home preservation.

I always head for the wine and cheese first.     I’m a cheese addict.     And I love rich, mellow red wines, not too sweet.

We walked around, trying to mingle.     We had conversations with some painters, one sculptor and one actor.     We tried to converse with others there, but when presented with that question of questions very early on after introductions — “What do you do?” — our answers were less than satisfying.   We were jewelry artists who owned a bead store.

We had no currency there.

We had no political ties to network off of.   No interesting gossip to trade.    No similar career paths.    We had nothing to say of value to the almost one hundred people frantically circulating room to room and hallway to hallway in this very beautiful but crowded house.

We were the decoration.

The entertainment.

The artists.

I stood in the corner of one room, watching the scene before me.    It was a madhouse of people playing some kind of speed dating game where the prize was upward mobility for the sake of mobilizing upwardly.      I realized I did have some currency.    My name and avocation.   All these people would be going back to their offices and social networks and political operations and news services, able to tell others that they met so-and-so the jewelry artist.

They knew they would never be questioned about what exactly I made.   Or be asked to evaluate anything I constructed.

They would only be asked my name and avocation – Warren Feld, Jewelry Artist.

 

Posted in Stitch 'n Bitch | Leave a Comment »

Learn Bead Embroidery Basics – Hapua Reef Bracelet Workshop, 10/25/14

Posted by learntobead on September 16, 2014

Be Dazzled Beads and The Center for Beadwork & Jewelry Arts in Nashvile, Tennessee

welcomes Warren Feld
October 25, 2014, 10am-5pm Sat

Hapua Reef Bracelet Workshop
Bead Embroidery
Advanced Beginner Level

full-moneyshot2

Amazonite Palette
For more information, Click Here: HAPUA REEF BRACELET WORKSHOP

1 Day
Saturday, October 25, 2014, 10am-5pm (with a break for lunch)
FEES: $45.00 plus Kit Fee
Kit available for purchase from instructor.
Palette: Amazonite ($95.00)
Registration Deposit: $45.00 + Kit Fee
registration by October 13th, 2014

Capture the romance of the shallow waters along a tropical lagoon beach!
Learn several simple bead embroidery techniques for expressing the artistry of it all.
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Amazonite Palette

In the Hapua Reef Bracelet project…

LearnToBead Goals:
– Basics of Bead Embroidery, including

— Preparing a brass cuff form, finishing the inner and outer surfaces with ultra-suede and Lacy’s Stiff Stuff foundation
— Drawing a template and setting up a design plan for your piece
— Attaching beads to the foundation, using various methods, including

~ back stitch
~ couching
~ bezeling a stone
~ placing beads linearly and curvalinearly
~ crowding
~ cross-hatch
~ fringe-style embellishment

— Adding an edging around your piece

Bead Embroidery has been used to embellish and decorate clothing since the dawn of civilization. In both Russia and China, remains have been found of bead embroidery dating back thousands of years. In more recent history, bead embroidery has been used to decorate religious items, formal attire, and household objects.

Bead Embroidery is such a versatile stitch that all beads are game! If you were working on a large wall-hanging, larger beads would be appropriate.

Conversely, if you were working on a necklace or bracelet, you would want to use beads that are proportionate to your project. Within those guidelines, any type of bead (bugle, seed, delica, drop, etc.) would enhance the dimensionality and texture of your piece.

We create a canvas, decide how to give form to this canvas, plan a design, and embroider that design onto our formed-canvas. The challenge is always to achieve a contemporary, artistic look to your piece — one that has a sense of movement, dimensionality, a use of materials that makes the ordinary ‘noteworthy’, and good technique.

In this piece, I wanted to re-create the colors, patterns and lines of the beautiful forms, waves and materials along the shoreline of a tropical lagoon and the underlying reef in the Caribbean. I especially liked looking through the shallow water where it met the beach at a particularly secluded part of the lagoon.

I also wanted to create an embroidery plan that allows the student to learn several different embroidery-patterning techniques within the composition as a whole.

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Hapua Reef Laguna

What Techniques Students Need To Know Before The Workshop

The skill level required: Advanced Beginner. The student must be comfortable with using needle and thread.

CENTER for BEADWORK & JEWELRY ARTS 718 Thompson Lane, Ste 123 Nashville, Tennessee 37204 PHONE:  615-292-0610 FAX:   615-292-0610 www.landofodds.com /beadschool/ beadschool@landofodds.com

Location, Lodging, Access by Car, Plane

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Check out the most recent special deals at Land of Odds/Be Dazzled Beads

Posted by learntobead on March 13, 2014

Sales and Promotions at Land of Odds – Jewelry Design CenterLand of Odds/Be Dazzled Beads- What’s On Sale

Land of Odds – Be Dazzled Beads    

Land of Odds –
Be Dazzled Beads

Sales and Promotions

SALE HAS BEGUN
Ends: Tues, 4/22/14

While supplies last / No Rainchecks

Live in Nashville?
Order ONLINE and Checkout and Select “WILL PICK UP AT BE
DAZZLED BEADS”

Check out ALL CURRENTLY RUNNING
SPECIALS

GREEK
MATTE CERAMICS
LARGE HOLE BEADS

Mini Tubes, Barrels, Washers, Cubes

50%
OFF

Mini Tubes,
4x6mm

Round Washer, 8mm

Barrel Tube, 6x10mm

Square Washer, 8mm

Cubes, 5.5mm

Triangle Washer, 10mm

Sale Ends 4/22/14

 

Our
Land of Odds…LEARN
TO BEAD
program is based on

The
Design Approach
:

– Focused on teaching how to make smart choices

– Developmentally-based, where you learn skills in an orderly
way, and understand how skills build upon each other

– Easy to follow

BEGIN
WITH OUR

ORIENTATION
CLASS

over 5 1/2 hours

of introductory video tutorials

for the beader and jewelry maker


At LAND OF
ODDS – BE DAZZLED BEADS
,

you may also purchase

Kits and Instructions
at all skill levels



Visit
our LearnToBead Blog


THE JEWELRY DESIGN DISCUSSION GROUP

Please join our new group on facebook at:

http://www.facebook.com/groups/jewelrydesign/


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