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PART 5: THE FIFTH ESSENTIAL QUESTION EVERY DESIGNER   SHOULD BE ABLE TO ANSWER:   How Do I Know…

Posted by learntobead on August 16, 2020

PRACTICE-BY-DESIGN SERIES

Image by Feld, 2020

In order to make better artistic and design choices, the Fluent and Empowered Designer should have answers to 5 essential questions. In this article, I present the fifth and last essential question: How Do I Know When My Design Is Finished?

I taught a bead weaving workshop where my students followed a basic pattern to make an amulet bag. When they finished the bag itself, they were then given free rein on making a strap and adding fringe.

And they went to town. They added some fringe. Then some more fringe. Then some longer fringe. And fringe with more beads on it. And bigger beads. And some tiny charms. And some more fringe.

Yes, it’s fun to create fringes. But the star of the piece should have been the design of the amulet bag itself. Not the fringe. The fringe detracted. It competed. It made the piece feel very overdone. Not particularly artistic, or designed well.

My students needed to think about editing. As they continued to build each component of the amulet bag and its fringe, they should have repeatedly asked themselves would the addition of one more thing make the project more or less satisfying. Designers should be able to answer these 5 essential questions, especially question 5: How Do I Know When My Design Is Finished?

QUESTION #5: When is enough enough? How does the designer know when the piece is done? Overdone? Or underdone? How do you edit?

It is the challenge for the designer not to make the piece or project under-done or over-done. Each and every material and component part should be integral to the work as a whole. Things should not get too busy, or not busy enough. Things should not be too repetitive. The work should feel, not merely coordinated and balanced, but coherent, as well. The work should not convey a sense that you are not quite there yet.

For every design, there will be that point of parsimony when enough is enough. We want to find that point where experiencing the “whole” is more satisfying than experiencing any of the parts. That point of parsimony is where, if we added (or subtracted) one more thing, we would detract from the whole of our design. The design would be less satisfying. Less resonant.

Finding that point of parsimony is also related to anticipating how and when others will judge the piece as finished and successful. And what to do about it when judged unfinished or unsuccessful.

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 coordinated, matching, 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 as a designer.

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 recognize this. But somehow tempering unity with variety starts to add some ambiguity to our measurements of finish and success. Our work too easily can be judged as lacking coherence. This ambiguity is unacceptable as a principled outcome of construction and design.

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 expectations about design elements and their attributes (for example, the use of color schemes).

A lot of client reactions to our work and a lot of our own design decisions can be very subjective. They can be very culture- and context-related. And sometimes, we intentionally want to violate these universal, objective expectations. We want to give a little edge to our work, or a splash of color, or a shout-out. We may find we have limited material resources, or all the colors / patterns / textures which ideally should be used are unavailable to us. We may want to personalize things so people recognize who the designer is behind the design.

Resonance is not about picking the correct color scheme (or any other design element). It is more about how that color scheme (or design element) is used, manipulated, leveraged or violated within the piece. We must not leave the artist, the user, 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.

Design and the act of creation usually demand 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 Art criteria are insufficient when applied to design. 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, as understood by designer and client alike, 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 in art is reserved for the visual effects. Design not only pays homage to the visual, but to the functional, socio-cultural-psychological and situational, as well. The designer needs to be able to decide when enough is enough with all these multi-dimensional cues.

The Traps of Over-Doneness and Under-Doneness

Among designers, you will find a lot of over-doers and under-doers.

· There is a tendency of designers to over-do:
 — over-embellish the surface
 — add too much fringe
 — repeat themes and design elements too often
 — use too many colors

· Or a fear or self-doubt causing designers to under-do:

– not sure if someone will like it

– hesitant to push forward too far, for fear of a negative reaction

– uncertain if they can learn a new technique

– feeling choosing alternative colors, materials or techniques by be too risky

With over-doneness comes a naivete. The designer shuts him- or herself off from what should be that inner designer voice warning about parsimony. It stunts your development as a designer. You begin to allow yourself to overlook important factors about materials and techniques to the detriment of your final products. You close yourself off to doubt and self-doubt, which is unfortunate. Doubt and self-doubt are tools for asking questions and questioning things. These help you grow and develop as an artist and designer. These influence your ability to make good, professional choices.

On the other extreme is under-doneness. Often this results from a lack of confidence in our design abilities, including the ability to introduce our work publicly. We question our lack of ability and technical prowess for accomplishing the necessary tasks at hand. We fear we cannot work things out when confronted with unfamiliar or problematic situations. Here, doubt and self-doubt become excuses for less than satisfying results, rather than tools for improvement. Doubt and self-doubt become self-imposed, but unnecessary, barriers we impose to prevent us from thinking like a designer, and experiencing the full excitement of design.

Designers need to build within themselves that key sense of parsimony. Keep things simple and parsimonious. Edit your ideas. You do not want to over-do or under-do your pieces. You do not have to include everything in one piece or project. You can do several pieces or projects. Showing restraint allows for better communication with your audiences. Each work you make should not look like you are frantically trying to prove yourself. These should look like you have given a lot of thought about how others should emotionally engage with your piece.

Many people begin to explore design as a hobby, avocation, business or career. This requires, not only strong creativity skills, but also persistence and perseverance. A lot of the success in this pursuit comes down to an ability to make and follow through on many artistic and design decisions within a particular context or situation. Developing this ability — a fluency, flexibility and originality in design — means that the designer has to become empowered to answer these 5 essential questions: (1) whether creating something is a craft, an art or design, (2) how they think creatively, (3) how they leverage the strengths of various materials and techniques, and minimize weaknesses, (4) how the choices they make in any one design evoke emotions and resonate, and (5) how they know their piece is finished and successful.

Design is more than the application of a set of techniques. It is a mind-set. This fluency and empowerment enable the designer to think and speak like a designer. With fluency comes empowerment, confidence and success.

The 5 Essential Questions:
1. Is What I Am Doing Craft, Art or Design?
2. What Should I Create?
3. What Materials (And Techniques) Work The Best?
4. How Do I Evoke A Resonant Response To My Work?
5. How Do I Know My Piece Is Finished?

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Backward Design is Forward Thinking

How Creatives Can Successfully Survive In Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 1: SHARED UNDERSTANDINGS: THE CONVERSATION CENTERED WITHIN A DESIGN What Are Shared Understandings?

Part 2: SHARED UNDERSTANDINGS: THE CONVERSATION CENTERED WITHIN A DESIGN What Does The Designer Need To Know?

Part 3: SHARED UNDERSTANDINGS: THE CONVERSATION CENTERED WITHIN A DESIGN How Assumptions, Perceptions, Expectations and Values Come Into Play?

Part 4: SHARED UNDERSTANDINGS: THE CONVERSATION CENTERED WITHIN A DESIGN How Does The Designer Establish Shared Understandings?

Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.

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

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

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

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online. Check our my video tutorials on DOING CRAFT SHOWS and on PRICING AND SELLING YOUR JEWELRY.

Add your name to my email list.

_______________________________

FOOTNOTES

Feld, Warren. The Goal Oriented Designer: The Path To Resonance. Art Jewelry 
 Forum, 2018.

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

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

PART 4:THE FOURTH ESSENTIAL QUESTION EVERY DESIGNER   SHOULD BE ABLE TO ANSWER:   How Do I Evoke A…

Posted by learntobead on August 16, 2020

PRACTICE-BY-DESIGN SERIES

Image by Feld, 2020

In order to make better artistic and design choices, the Fluent and Empowered Designer should have answers to 5 essential questions. In this article, I present the fourth essential question: How Do I Evoke A Resonant Response To My Work?

Jason seemed to never be able to get past “That’s nice.” His clients always said, “That’s nice,” and that was about it.

His colors were balanced and harmonious. They fit rules about color schemes and color proportions. His placement of shapes and sizes were always pleasing to the eye. The little bit of math he had to do always checked out. His clients liked him.

They had approved the initial sketches. Their comments were positive. They never complained about his approach. But they were never satisfied enough for Jason to make that final sale.

Even though the feedback always seemed positive, he rarely had repeat business.

He was perplexed, and felt a little defeated.

What was it about his work that somehow fell short?

Jason was stuck with the impression that if someone said they liked something, that this would translate into them doing something more, like buying it. All designers need a firm and comprehensive understanding about the differences among like, need, want, demand, and parting with some money for it. Another way to put this is that designers need to recognize the differences between an emotional response and a resonant one. Designers should be able to answer these 5 essential questions, especially question 4: How Do I Evoke A Resonant Response To My Work?

Question 4: Beyond applying basic techniques and selecting quality materials, how do I evoke a resonant response to my work?

An artistic and well-designed piece or project should evoke, at the least, an emotional response. In fact, preferably, it should go beyond this a bit, and have what we call “resonance”. The difference between an emotional response and resonance is reflected in the difference between someone saying, “That’s beautiful,” from saying “I need to wear that piece,” or, “I need to buy that piece,” or, “I need to implement that project.” 
 
 Quite simply: If no resonant response is evoked, then the piece or project has some remaining issues including the possibility that it is poorly designed. Evoking a resonant response takes the successful selection and arrangement of materials or objects, the successful application of techniques as well as the successful management of skills, insights, and anticipating the client’s needs and understandings.
 
 
Every designer should have but one guiding star — Resonance. If our piece or project 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 Proficient Designer specifies those goals about performance which will lead to one primary outcome: To Evoke Resonance. Everything else is secondary.

Materials, techniques and technologies are selected with resonance in mind. 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. It allows them to express meaning. It allows them to convey expressions in meaningful ways to others.

This singular focus on resonance 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 designer. 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 what we can call 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 piece or project is expected to touch. They reflect the designer’s managerial prowess in bringing all these things together.

Evoking An Emotional Response vs. A Resonant One

What is the evidence we need to know for determining when a piece or project is finished and successful? What clear and appropriate criteria hone in at what we should look at? What clues has the designer provided to let the various audiences become aware of the authenticity of the performance?

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 with some 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 design. Design involves the creation of objects or projects where both artistic appeal as well as practical considerations of use are essential. Unity and variety can feel harmonious and balanced, but yet boring, monotonous and unexciting. Art, in contrast to Design, can be judged apart from its use and functionality. The response to Art can show some positive emotion without the client having to show any strong commitment. Design doesn’t share that luxury.

Finished and successful designed objects or projects not only must evoke emotions, but, must resonate with the user (and user’s various audiences), as well.

Achieving Resonance is the guiding star for designers, at each step of the way.

Resonance is some level of felt energy which extends a little beyond an emotional response. The difference between emotion and resonance can, for example, be like the differences between saying that piece or project is “Beautiful” vs. saying that piece or project “Makes me want to wear it”. Or that “I want to touch it.” Or “My friends need to see this.” Or “I need to implement this at once.”

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. Emotion is very sympathetic. Resonance is more of 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, objects 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 ever so slightly, but not too, too far, beyond that edge.

Many people begin to explore design as a hobby, avocation, business or career. This requires, not only strong creativity skills, but also persistence and perseverance. A lot of the success in this pursuit comes down to an ability to make and follow through on many artistic and design decisions within a particular context or situation. Developing this ability — a fluency, flexibility and originality in design — means that the designer has to become empowered to answer these 5 essential questions: (1) whether creating something is a craft, an art or design, (2) how they think creatively, (3) how they leverage the strengths of various materials and techniques, and minimize weaknesses, (4) how the choices they make in any one design evoke emotions and resonate, and (5) how they know their piece is finished and successful.

Design is more than the application of a set of techniques. It is a mind-set. This fluency and empowerment enable the designer to think and speak like a designer. With fluency comes empowerment, confidence and success.

Continue reading about the Fifth Essential Question every designer should be able to answer: How Do I Know My Piece Is Finished?

The 5 Essential Questions:
1. Is What I Am Doing Craft, Art or Design?
2. What Should I Create?
3. What Materials (And Techniques) Work The Best?
4. How Do I Evoke A Resonant Response To My Work?
5. How Do I Know My Piece Is Finished?

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Backward Design is Forward Thinking

How Creatives Can Successfully Survive In Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 1: SHARED UNDERSTANDINGS: THE CONVERSATION CENTERED WITHIN A DESIGN What Are Shared Understandings?

Part 2: SHARED UNDERSTANDINGS: THE CONVERSATION CENTERED WITHIN A DESIGN What Does The Designer Need To Know?

Part 3: SHARED UNDERSTANDINGS: THE CONVERSATION CENTERED WITHIN A DESIGN How Assumptions, Perceptions, Expectations and Values Come Into Play?

Part 4: SHARED UNDERSTANDINGS: THE CONVERSATION CENTERED WITHIN A DESIGN How Does The Designer Establish Shared Understandings?

Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.

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

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

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

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online. Check our my video tutorials on DOING CRAFT SHOWS and on PRICING AND SELLING YOUR JEWELRY.

Add your name to my email list.

____________________________________

FOOTNOTES

Feld, Warren. The Goal Oriented Designer: The Path To Resonance. Art Jewelry Forum, 2018.

Feld, Warren. “Jewelry Design: A Managed Process,” Klimt02, 2/2/18.

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

PART 3: THE THIRD ESSENTIAL QUESTION EVERY DESIGNER   SHOULD BE ABLE TO ANSWER: What Materials…

Posted by learntobead on August 16, 2020

PRACTICE-BY-DESIGN SERIES

Image by Feld, 2020

In order to make better artistic and design choices, the Fluent and Empowered Designer should have answers to 5 essential questions. In this article, I present the third essential question: What Materials (and/or Techniques) Work The Best?

Ferity was determined to make a Kumihimo bracelet. Kumihimo is a braiding technique. You make a braid and attach a clasp. Ferity thought it would be cool to incorporate some beads in her braid. So she strung up a lot of beads on various cords, and braided them. She glued on end caps on either side, and attached a clasp.

But she wasn’t liking her piece. She couldn’t figure out why. All the different colors, widths and materials of the cords she used were very upscale and attractive. She used a mix of crystal, gemstone and hand-made beads in the project — all very expensive and all very attractive.

But braided all together was somewhat unsatisfying. She didn’t think she would wear it very often. She didn’t think she could sell it. And she couldn’t figure out why.

A successful design has character and some kind of evocative essence. The choice of materials often sets the tone. And a choice of techniques cements that tone in place. Techniques link the designer’s intent with the client’s expectations. The successful designer has a depth of knowledge about materials, their attributes, their strengths, their weaknesses, and is able to leverage the good and minimize the bad within any design. The same can be said of techniques.

For some designs, the incorporation of mixed media or mixed techniques can have a synergistic effect — increasing (or decreasing) the appeal and/or functionality of the piece or project better than any one media or technique alone. It can feel more playful and experimental and fun to mix media or techniques. But there may be adverse effects, as well. Each media or technique will have its own structural and support requirements. Each will enable the control of light and shadow, space and mass, dimension and movement in different ways. Each will react differently to various physical forces impacting the piece when worn or the project when used. So it becomes difficult for the designer to successfully utilize any one medium or technique, as well as much more difficult to coordinate and integrate more than one media or technique.

Ferity had little understanding about the materials and their combined use within a Kumihimo technique. All designers need a firm and comprehensive understanding about selecting materials and techniques, and should be able to answer these 5 essential questions, now with question 3: What Materials (and/or Techniques) Work The Best?

QUESTION 3: What kinds of MATERIALS work well together, and which ones do not? This applies to TECHNIQUES as well. What kinds of TECHNIQUES (or combinations of techniques) work well when, and which ones do not?

The choice of materials and the choice of techniques set the tone and chances of success for your piece. Materials and techniques establish the character and personality of your designs. They contribute to understandings whether the piece is finished and successful.

However, there are no perfect materials (or techniques) for every project. Selecting materials (or techniques) is about making smart, strategic choices. This means relating your choices to your design and marketing goals. It also frequently means having to make tradeoffs and judgment calls between aesthetics and functionality. Last, materials may have different relationships with the designer, wearer or viewer depending on how they are intended to be used, and the situational or cultural contexts.

There are many implications of choice. There are light/shadow issues, pattern, texture, rhythm, dimensionality, proportions, placement and color issues. There are mechanics, shapes, forms, durability, drape, flow and movement issues. There are positive and negative space issues. There are user experience issues.

It is important to know what happens to all these materials (or applications of techniques) over time. It is important to know how each material (or technique) enhances or impedes architectural requirements, such as allowing an object to move and drape, or assisting the object in maintaining a shape or allowing a project to adapt to its audience and environment, or utilizing an object to direct navigation or viewing.

Each material or technique has strengths and weaknesses, pros and cons, and contingencies affecting their utilization. The designer needs to be able to leverage the strengths and minimize the weaknesses.

All of these choices:
 
… affect the look
 … affect the movement
 … affect the feel
 … affect the durability
 … affect both the designer’s and user’s responses
 … relate to the context

Many people begin to explore design as a hobby, avocation, business or career. This requires, not only strong creativity skills, but also persistence and perseverance. A lot of the success in this pursuit comes down to an ability to make and follow through on many artistic and design decisions within a particular context or situation. Developing this ability — a fluency, flexibility and originality in design — means that the designer has to become empowered to answer these 5 essential questions: (1) whether creating something is a craft, an art or design, (2) how they think creatively, (3) how they leverage the strengths of various materials and techniques, and minimize weaknesses, (4) how the choices they make in any one design evoke emotions and resonate, and (5) how they know their piece is finished and successful.

Design is more than the application of a set of techniques. It is a mind-set. This fluency and empowerment enable the designer to think and speak like a designer. With fluency comes empowerment, confidence and success.

Continue reading about the Fourth Essential Question every designer should be able to answer: How Do I Evoke A Resonant Response To My Work?

The 5 Essential Questions:
1. Is What I Am Doing Craft, Art or Design?
2. What Should I Create?
3. What Materials (And Techniques) Work The Best?
4. How Do I Evoke A Resonant Response To My Work?
5. How Do I Know My Piece Is Finished?

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Backward Design is Forward Thinking

How Creatives Can Successfully Survive In Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 1: SHARED UNDERSTANDINGS: THE CONVERSATION CENTERED WITHIN A DESIGN What Are Shared Understandings?

Part 2: SHARED UNDERSTANDINGS: THE CONVERSATION CENTERED WITHIN A DESIGN What Does The Designer Need To Know?

Part 3: SHARED UNDERSTANDINGS: THE CONVERSATION CENTERED WITHIN A DESIGN How Assumptions, Perceptions, Expectations and Values Come Into Play?

Part 4: SHARED UNDERSTANDINGS: THE CONVERSATION CENTERED WITHIN A DESIGN How Does The Designer Establish Shared Understandings?

Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.

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

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

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

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online. Check our my video tutorials on DOING CRAFT SHOWS and on PRICING AND SELLING YOUR JEWELRY.

Add your name to my email list.

______________________________

FOOTNOTES

Feld, Warren. Materials: Knowing What To Know. Art Jewelry Forum, 2020.

Feld, Warren. Techniques and Technology: Knowing What To Do. Art 
 Jewelry Forum, 2020.

WASTIELS, Lisa and WOUTERS, Ina. Material Considerations in Architectural 
 Design: A Study of the Aspects Identified by Architects for Selecting Materials. July, 2008. As referenced in:
 http://shura.shu.ac.uk/511/1/fulltext.pdf

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

PART 2: THE SECOND ESSENTIAL QUESTION EVERY DESIGNER  SHOULD BE ABLE TO ANSWER:  What Should I…

Posted by learntobead on August 16, 2020

PRACTICE-BY-DESIGN SERIES

Image by Feld, 2020

In order to make better artistic and design choices, the Fluent and Empowered Designer should have answers to 5 essential questions. In this article, I present the second essential question: What Should I Create?

Selma got by very well in life by asking her teachers, and in subsequent years, her bosses, what she should do. She followed their instructions to the letter, and was particularly good at coloring within all the lines. Everyone was always pleased with her work. So pleased, in fact, that her current boss promoted her into a designer position.

In her new position, she was to work with construction, architectural and interior design firms. She was to assist them and guide them into choosing textiles with which to incorporate into their interior and exterior building plans.

When she met with various clients, she started byasking them to tell her what they wanted. But no one could really articulate much more than general ideas about colors. For Selma, this was disconcerting. She thought she could do a great job, but needed more information and direction. These were never forthcoming.

At the core of Creativity is the ability to generate options, and then narrown them down. Creativity is not innate; it is developed. Creativity is a muscle requiring attention and practice. This is something Selma never really worked on.

This was critical for Selmer, as well as any other designer, in order to flourish and succeed, to be able to answer these 5 essential questions, now with question 2.

QUESTION 2: How do you decide what you want to create? What kinds of things do you do to translate your passions and inspirations into design?

Applying yourself creatively can be fun at times, but scary at other times. It is work. You are creating something out of nothing. There is an element of risk. You might not like what you end up doing. Your friends might not like it. Nor your family. You might not finish it. Or you might do it wrong. It may seem easier to go with someone else’s project.

Applying creativity means developing abilities to generate options and alternatives, and narrowing these down to specific choices. It means developing an ease and comfort generating fix-it strategies when approaching unknown situations or problematic ones. It means figuring out how to translate inspiration into design in a way that inspires others and taps into their desires. It means differentiating yourself from other designers as a measure of your originality.
 

Creative people…

Set no boundaries and set no rules. They go with the flow. Don’t conform to expectations.
 
 Play.
They pretend they are kids again.
 
 Experiment.
They take the time to do a lot of What Ifs and Variations On A Theme and Trial and Error.
 
 Keep good records.
They make good notes and sketches of what seems to work, and what seems to not work.
 
 Evaluate.
They learn from their successes and mistakes.

As designers gain more and more creative experiences, they begin to assemble what I call a Designer’s Tool Box. In this virtual tool box are a set of thinking routines, strategies and fix-it strategies whichhave worked well in the past, are very workable in and of themselves, and are highly adaptive when used in unfamiliar situations. Every designer should develop their own Tool Box. This vastly contributes to adaptability and success in creative thinking and application.

Creativity

Creativity isn’t found, it is developed. Creativity is a phenomenon where both something new and, at the same time, somehow valuable is created. While some people come to creativity naturally, in fact, everyone can develop their creative ability.

Thinking creatively involves the integration and leveraging of three different kinds of ideas — insight and inspiration, establishing value, and implementing something.

We work through creative thinking through divergence (that is, generating many possibilities), and convergence (that is, reducing the number of these possibilities).

Kierkegaard — and I apologize for getting a little show-off-y with my reference — once described Creativity as “a passionate sense of the potential.” And I love this definition. Passion is very important. Passion and creativity can be summed up as some kind of intuitive sense made operational by bringing all your capabilities and wonderings and technical know-how to the fore. All your mechanical and imaginative abilities grow over time, as do your abilities for creative thinking and applications. Creativity isn’t inherently natural. It is something that is developed over time as you get more and more experience in design.

You sit down, and you ask, What should I create?

For most people, especially those getting started, the answer to this question is very basic. They look for patterns and instructions in magazines or how-to books or websites online. They let someone else make all the creative choices for them. The singular creative choice here is picking what you want to make. And, when you’re starting, this is OK.

As you grow as a designer, and feel more comfortable with materials and techniques, you can begin to make additional choices. You can choose your own colors. You can make simple adaptations, such as tweaking colors or placements or dimensions or proportions.

Eventually in your designer career, however, you will want to confront the Creativity issue head on. You will want to decide that pursuing your innermost designer, no matter what pathway this takes you along, is the next thing, and right thing, to do. That means you want your projects or objects to reflect your artistic hand. You want to develop a personal style. You want to come up with your own designs.

Sometimes creativity seems insurmountable, after finishing one project, to decide what to do next. Exercising your creative abilities can sometimes be a bear. But it’s important to keep pushing on. Challenging yourself. Developing yourself. Turning yourself into a designer. And pursuing opportunities to exercise your creative talents even more, as you enter the world of design.

Types of Creativity

Creativity has two primary components: (1) originality, and (2) functionality or value.

The idea of originality can be off-putting. It doesn’t have to be. The projects or objects, so creatively designed, do not have to be totally and completely new and original. The included design elements and arrangements do not have to be solely unique and never been done before.

Originality can be seen in making something stimulating, interesting or unusual. It can represent an incremental change which makes something better or more personal or a fresh perspective. It can be something that is a clever or unexpected rearrangement, or a great idea, insight, meaningful interpretation or emotion which shines through. It can include the design of new patterns and textures. It can accomplish connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and generate solutions. It can be a variation on a technique or how material gets used. It can be something which enhances the functionality or value of the piece.

Creativity in design marries that which is original to that which is functional, valued, useful, worthwhile, desired. These things are co-dependent, if any creative project is to be seen as successful.

For designers, creativity is not the sketch or computer aided drawing. It is not the inspiration. It is not the piece which never sees the light of day. Creativity requires implementation. And for designers, implementation is a very public enterprise.

How Do We Create?

It’s not what we create, but how we create!

The creative process involves managing the interplay of two types of thinking — Convergence and Divergence. Both are necessary for thinking creatively.

Divergent thinking is defined as the ability to generate or expand upon options and alternatives, no matter the goal, situation or context.

Convergent thinking is the opposite. This is defined as the ability to narrow down all these options and alternatives.

The fluent designer is able to comfortably weave back and forth between divergence and convergence, and know when piece or project is finished, and when the final choices will be judged as successful.

Brainstorming is a great example of how creative thinking is used. We ask ourselves What If…? How about…? Could we try this or that idea…? The primary exercise here is to think of all the possibilities, then whittle these down to a small set of solutions.

Many people begin to explore design as a hobby, avocation, business or career. This requires, not only strong creativity skills, but also persistence and perseverance. A lot of the success in this pursuit comes down to an ability to make and follow through on many artistic and design decisions within a particular context or situation. Developing this ability — a fluency, flexibility and originality in design — means that the designer has to become empowered to answer these 5 essential questions: (1) whether creating something is a craft, an art or design, (2) how they think creatively, (3) how they leverage the strengths of various materials and techniques, and minimize weaknesses, (4) how the choices they make in any one design evoke emotions and resonate, and (5) how they know their piece is finished and successful.

Design is more than the application of a set of techniques. It is a mind-set. This fluency and empowerment enable the designer to think and speak like a designer. With fluency comes empowerment, confidence and success.

Continue reading about the Third Essential Question every designer should be able to answer: What Materials (And Techniques) Work The Best?

The 5 Essential Questions:
1. Is What I Am Doing Craft, Art or Design?
2. What Should I Create?
3. What Materials (And Techniques) Work The Best?
4. How Do I Evoke A Resonant Response To My Work?
5. How Do I Know My Piece Is Finished?

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Backward Design is Forward Thinking

How Creatives Can Successfully Survive In Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Part 1: SHARED UNDERSTANDINGS: THE CONVERSATION CENTERED WITHIN A DESIGN What Are Shared Understandings?

Part 2: SHARED UNDERSTANDINGS: THE CONVERSATION CENTERED WITHIN A DESIGN What Does The Designer Need To Know?

Part 3: SHARED UNDERSTANDINGS: THE CONVERSATION CENTERED WITHIN A DESIGN How Assumptions, Perceptions, Expectations and Values Come Into Play?

Part 4: SHARED UNDERSTANDINGS: THE CONVERSATION CENTERED WITHIN A DESIGN How Does The Designer Establish Shared Understandings?

Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.

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

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

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

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online. Check our my video tutorials on DOING CRAFT SHOWS and on PRICING AND SELLING YOUR JEWELRY.

Add your name to my email list.

______________________________

FOOTNOTES

Besemer, S.P. and D.J. Treffinger. Analysis of Creative Products: Review and 
 Synthesis. Wiley Online Library, (1981).

Black, Robert Alan. Blog: http://www.cre8ng.com/blog/

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention. Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (August 6, 2013)

Feld, Warren. Creativity: How Do You Get It? How Do You Enhance It? (2020)

Guilford, J.P. Creativity. American Psychologist, 5, 444–454, 1950.

Koestler, Arthur. The Act of Creation. Last Century Media (April 1, 2014).

Lucy Lamp. “Inspiration in Visual Art Where Do Artists Get Their Ideas. As 
 reference in: 
 https://www.sophia.org/tutorials/inspiration-in-visual-art-where-do-artists-get-the

Maital, Shlomo. “How IBM’s Executive School Fostered Creativity,” Global Crisis Blog, April 7, 2014. Summarizes Louis R. Mobley’s writings on creativity, 1956.

March, Anna Craft. Creativity in Education. Report prepared for the 
 Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, March, 2001.

Seltzer, Kimberly and Tom Bentley. The Creative Age: Knowledge and Skills for the New Economy. Demos, 1999.

Torrance, E. P. The Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking-Norms-Technical Manual Research Edition-Verbal Tests, Forms A and B-Figural Tests, Forms A and B. Princeton, NJ: Personnel Press, 1966.

Torrance, E. P. The Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking-Norms-Technical Manual Research Edition- Verbal Tests, Forms A and B- Figural Tests, Forms A and B. Princeton, NJ: Personnel Press, 1974.

Turak, August. “Can Creativity Be Taught,” Forbes, May 22, 2011.

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HOW TO CRIMP THE WAY BETTER DESIGNERS DO: Using Crimp Beads, a Crimp Pliers and Flex Wire

Posted by learntobead on April 25, 2020

How to Crimp Using Crimp Beads, a Crimp Pliers and Flex Wire

Crimping is a technique for securing a clasp to beads strung on cable wires. Here crimp beads are used instead of tying knots.

Mechanically, crimping does three things:
 
 In the first steps in crimping, you need to separate two wires that lead to the clasp component. One wire is your spine — what your beads are strung on. The other wire is your tail — extra wire you will need to cut off.
 
 Second, you need to create a lock to literally lock the two wires in place.

Last, you need to make it pretty. The crushed crimp is ugly, and you need to make it look more like a bead again.

So with your pliers and your crimp bead, you separate the wires and create a lock and make things pretty again. The process is relatively simple and requires only a little practice.

If using a traditional crimping pliers, you would follow the 4-Steps listed below.

However, you can also use what is called a One-Step Crimper. This crimping pliers does all four steps in one step. If crimping is a technique that you will be doing often, then I suggest investing in a One-Step Crimper.

My warnings to you:

(a)Usually the instructions on the package that comes with your crimping pliers is inadequate to the task. Better designers know this from experience. Less experienced designers, however, rely on these inadequate instructions.

(b) There are over 55 different crimping pliers on the market. The only ones that truly work are the original and the more recent One-Step Crimper. The originals are made in China. I’ve noticed that the major craft stores now sell copies of the original ones. These are made in India. Total disaster. They don’t do the job at all because they have a poor configuration of the jaws.

(c ) When students and customers say they are having trouble crimping, they usually blame themselves or the pliers. What I have found is that have bought cheap crimp beads, usually from one of the craft stores. With crimp beads, you get what you pay for. The plated aluminum ones sold in craft stores break when you crush them. The cheap sterling ones have nickel in the alloy (sterling is 92.5% silver and 7.5% something else we call an alloy), which makes the sterling brittle. Sterling is supposed to have copper in the alloy, which makes it malleable, but many manufacturers substitute nickel to keep the cost of sterling down.

Successful crimping requires that you understand the following:

1 . Which cable wires are best for which projects

2 . How the materials you use affect your success

3. The mechanical process itself, how it works, why it works, and why we do each step

CABLE WIRES

Cable wires are nylon coated, braided wires and are very flexible. These are made for stringing.

[What is called Hard Wire — wire that is not braided and is not encased in nylon — in contrast, is not meant for stringing.]

Cable Wires come in 3 quality grades.

Tiger Tail.The low end is called Tiger Tail. Tiger Tail was the original cable wire product. Today it is the low end of the cable wire line. Most spools of Tiger Tail do not have the words “tiger tail” on their labels. You know it is Tiger Tail because of the price — typically $5.99 or less for a 30ft spool you would find in a bead or craft store.

Tiger Tail wire breaks very easily in and of itself. It kinks easily, and even with the beads on the wire, the kink often shows. The way you attach Tiger Tail to a clasp is that you take the wire through the loop on the clasp, and tie an over-hand knot. You can tie a single knot or a double knot. This actually gives you a very secure connection to the clasp. This is one positive of Tiger Tail.

Unfortunately, when you use crimp beads with Tiger Tail, they too easily cut into the Tiger Tail and make it break. So that is why we suggest tying knots. If you do not like the look of the knotted cable wire here, you can either use beads on each end and which have larger holes so that they swallow the knots. Or, you can slide a crimp cover over the knots, press the two ends on the cover together, and you have something that looks a like a bead to hide your knots.

Flex Wire. The middle quality level — what I suggest people start with, if they want to use cable wire as their stringing material — is called Flex Wire. This wire does not break easily. It does not kink easily. However, it is difficult to tie into a knot. So, we use a crimp bead to secure the wire in place.

The price on this is considerably more than the Tiger Tail. It will start between $10.00 and $20.00 for that 30-foot spool.

Professional or Artistic Wire. The top of the line is referred to as Professional or Artistic Wire. Most of these wires are very expensive, and we don’t suggest this level as the place to start.

There are many brands of cable wire. I am particularly fond of two brands — Soft Flex and Flexrite. I find the wire of other brands too stiff, and sometimes not strong enough.

Cable Wires come in different diameters or widths, usually stated in inches.

We recommend the following:

.014″ — .015″ for necklaces: here you want the best drape you can get, and still have a durable piece

.018″ — .019″ for bracelets: here you want the most durability, yet your piece still feels good when worn

.019″ — .024″ for eyeglass leashes: here durability is you primary factor

About Selecting Cable Wires

There is a lot of information on the labels of cable wires. However, while most of this information is necessary, it is not sufficient for determining which wire is best.

The only true measure of cable wire strength is called Tensile Strength, and you will not find this information on the labels. The strength of a cable wire will come from what the wire is made of, what the nylon sheathing is made of, and how thick that nylon sheathing is. You cannot assume that a 49-strand product is stronger than a 21-strand product, without knowing more about the wire composition and the sheathing. That 49-strand product may actually be weaker.

Nor can you assume that a product, the label of which indicates 20-pound strength is necessarily stronger than a product that indicates 10-pound strength. “Pound Strength” is very unreliable as a measure. In most cases, these pound strength numbers on the label are somewhat made up.

Governments provide two definitions for pound strength — what it takes to hold up a fish of a certain weight, and what it takes to reel in a fish of a certain weight. But they leave it up to the factory to determine exactly how to measure and report pound strength. So you are at the mercy of some factory worker in a place like Taiwan, high on Toluene, having the motivation to maintain a pound strength standard.

On most cable wire products, measures of pound strength are not included. Many years ago, pound strength was listed on all cable wires. The people at the factories responsible for the labels, however, could never get the same pound strength listed from batch to batch. One time it might list 20 pounds; another 2 pounds; another 6 pounds; then back to 20 pounds. So the manufacturers told them to leave this information off.

It is very difficult to compare cable wires across brands. Each company organizes its line, from low end to high end, differently. Some companies, like Beadalon, use 7-strands for Tiger Tail, 19-strands for Flex wire, and 49-strands for their Professional wire. But other companies do not use this ordered arrangement of number of strands to quality. In the Soft Flex line, their top-of-the-line 7-strand product is stronger than their 49-strand middle-range product. And don’t assume one brand’s 49-strand wire is equivalent to another’s. They are not. The Soft Flex 49-strand middle range produce is stronger and more subtle than Beadalon’s top of the line 49-strand product.

I actually only recommend 2 brands — Soft Flex and Flex Rite. These are considerably stronger and more subtle than other brands.

Know this: What makes cable wire strong is the nylon sheathing’s ability to maintain the twist in the cable wire. As soon as the integrity of the nylon sheathing is violated, the wires inside immediately untwist and break. I find that the nylon sheathing on most brands is very thin, sometimes porous, and weak chemically.

CRIMP BEADS, CRIMP COVERS, and HORSESHOE WIRE PROTECTORS

Crimp Beads

Crimp beads come in many styles, sizes and finishes. These are used to secure cable wires to clasps. You take your cable wire up through the crimp bead, through the loop on the clasp, and back down through the crimp, forming a loop. The crimping process involves crushing the crimp onto the cable wire loop, first, separating the tail and spine wires, then, locking them in place, and finally, re-shaping the crushed crimp so it looks like a bead again.

Sterling silver crimps are usually made the best, especially ones you buy in places other than the big craft stores. For plated crimps, if they are plated over brass (and years ago, they all were plated over brass), than they were very good. Brass is your best jewelry metal. The major issue was that the plating would wear off and you would have a black crimp (basically, tarnished brass). Now, most plated crimps are over aluminum. These break easily when crimped.

I tend to use sterling silver crimps for every piece, though my crimp covers and horseshoes may or may not be sterling, based on the value of the piece, and the finish colors I want to end up with.

Crimp Covers

These are U-shaped parts that slip over the crushed crimp. You can slide crimp covers over your crushed crimps. You can also use these to slide over any knots, to hide the knots. Crimp covers come in different sizes, finishes, and texturing. Crimp covers are optional pieces. They act as lamp-shades to hide something ugly, but they serve no structural role, per se.

Closing a crimp cover is done in 2-steps, not one.

(1) Using the tips of your crimping pliers, you push the two sides of the U together, so you have a pretty bead. These are made of a soft metal, so you don’t want to push too hard, or you will crush them. After you get the two sides to meet, you’ll find that the lip on either side doesn’t meet up perfectly, line up perfectly or close perfectly.

(2) At this point, you return the crimp cover to your crimping pliers, this time resting it between the top notch in each jaw. Gently push the jaws to force the lips to meet more perfectly. Sometimes you have to position the pliers in an awkward or odd position, in order to push in the desired direction. The two half-cup shaped ditches in the top position on each jaw helps to keep your crimp cover rounded while you apply pressure to it and shift the relative positioning of each open side.

Horseshoe Wire Protectors

This part is basically a bent tube, with the top of the tube at the arch cut out. These come in many finishes and metals. There is some variation in size relative to how wide an opening the tube has.

Using these serve several purposes.

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

The horseshoe also makes the loop more finished looking — better than a bare-wire loop. Your eye/brain wants you to push the crimp all the way to the clasp. It hates a bare, exposed loop. The horseshoe fools the eye/brain here, making it think that the loop is finished and more organically a part of the whole composition.

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

You will find that the legs of some horseshoes you will buy have too-narrow openings and won’t fit your cablewire. Also, the thickness of the cablewire along its length will vary somewhat. And sometimes where you cut your cablewire, it sometimes broadens or flattens out the end, making it too big to shove up into the leg. The morals here: have extra horseshoes on hand, and be prepared to cut off some more of the cablewire to get to that area on the wire that has the perfect width.

There are many choices to make when selecting crimp beads:

– Do you want to use a tube shape or a round shape

A crimp is a crimp. There is no difference in “holdability” between the tube and the round, but most people prefer the tubes. They sense that the tube covers more area, so it will be more secure.

A round bead actually starts as a tube. They blow air into the tube to puff it up and make it look round.

– If you want to maintain a silver color, how do you do that?

You have several choices here, each with pros and cons. You can use a sterling silver crimp. Sterling silver softens at body temperature. If your sterling crimp rests on the wrist or the neck, there is some risk that it will soften and release its hold. From experience, this risk, if you have crimped correctly, is very small, but the risk exists.

Another option is to use a silver-plated crimp. Silver plated crimps are plated usually over brass. Brass is your best jewelry design metal. Once you crush that brass, you never have to lose any sleep over it. Unfortunately, the plating wears away somewhat quickly, and you are left with a black crimp — basically tarnished brass.

Some people use silver plated crimps and slide sterling crimp covers over them. This adds about $0.90 per piece.

Another option: Use an argentium silver crimp. Both argentium silver and sterling silver are 92.5% silver. It’s the alloy that is different. Argentium is more expensive. There is no risk of argentium silver softening at body temperature.

– How do you achieve a satisfactorily re-rounded bead?

In the traditional crimping processing, you flatten the crimp and then you re-round it so that it looks like a bead again. You do not end up with a great look. Some people can live with this; for others, they are bothered by not seeing a perfectly round bead again.

There is a crimping pliers, which I do not recommend, called the Magical Crimping Pliers. This re-rounds that bead perfectly, but I find, in doing so, it weakens the hold.

You can always crush your crimp bead, and then slide a crimp cover over it, to get that pretty look.

– How many crimp beads should you use on each end — 1 crimp or more than one?

If you have crimped correctly, using 1 crimp on each end of your piece is more than sufficient, even if your beads are very heavy.

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

– Should you use a plain tube or a twisted tube?

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

– Should you use regular and long tubes or short and half tubes?

Short tubes or half tubes are primarily used in pieces like illusion necklaces, where you have a cluster of beads, and the cord shows, another cluster of beads, the cord shows, etc. Half tubes are used on either side of the clusters to keep the beads in place. When you crush the half tube, the volume of space it takes up is not noticeable. When you crush the regular sized tube, its volume of space is too noticeable and detracts from the general look of the piece.

One mistake people make with the short or half tubes, is that, when they use them to finish off the ends of jewelry, their mind tells them, since these are shorter than usual, to use 2 or 3 of them so that they will “hold better.” A crimp is a crimp, and if you crimped correctly, there is no difference in holdability between the short and longer tubes. Each crushed crimp you add becomes like a little razor blade. All jewelry moves, so you’re increasing the chances one of these crimps will cut through the cable wire. One crimp on either end is enough.

– Are there differences or variations on quality/grade of crimp beads?

The short answer is Yes! Basically, you get what you pay for!

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

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

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

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

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

– How do you know what size of crimp bead to buy?

Manufacturers are inconsistent in how they label the sizes of crimp beads. In general, although you may not know exactly what their measurement refers to, when they list:

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

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

2.5mm, this is slightly more than average For .019 and .024 cable wires

3.0mm and 4.0mm, these are large for .024 cable wires, or thicker cords, or bringing more than 1 strand through at a time

LET’S PRACTICE OUR CRIMPING

How to Crimp Using Crimp Beads, a Crimp Pliers and Flex Wire

Supplies:
 2mm sterling silver crimp tubes
 silver plated crimp cover
 silver-plated horseshoe wire protectors
 .019” soft flex cable wire
 toggle clasp
 enough beads to make a bracelet
 
 Chain Nose Pliers
 Crimping Pliers
 Flush Cutters or Cable Wire Cutters

Work Surface
 Bracelet Sizing Cone
 Bead Board
 Bead Stoppers or Hemostats

Before we get started on our bracelet, we are going to practice crimping.

The Traditional Crimping “Pliers”

The traditional crimping pliers works with all sizes of crimp beads. In fact, I find it works better than most other types of crimping pliers, whether the micro-crimpers, macro-crimpers or magical crimpers.

If you look closely at the jaws, you will see that each jaw has two notches or ditches on it. The bottom notch or ditch in each jaw (those closest to your hand) is a full ditch on one side, and a ditch with a pyramid or triangle in it on the other side. It is important that you be able to see that pyramid. This is critical to the crimping process. Sometimes when you buy these, and other times when you use these awhile, the pyramid isn’t there or wears away.

The top notch in each jaw (furthest from your hand) has a full ditch on either side.

There are four steps in the crimping process. Basically, you use the crimping pliers first to separate the two wires (spine and tail), then second, to lock them in place. The last step is to make things pretty again.

We do the first two steps using the bottom notch in each jaw. We do the last two steps using the top notch in each jaw.

Hold your pliers parallel to the table, with curved part of jaws facing you.

[NOTE: There is also a new 1-step crimping pliers which works very well.]

The “Loop”

Position the crimp and the wires, so you leave an adequate “loop” (joint).

The clasp should be able to move freely.

You never push the crimp bead all the way up to the clasp.

Your eye/brain cognition wants you to push the crimp all the way up to the clasp; it sees the bare loop as ugly. You must fight your inner self on this, in order to build in appropriate level of support or jointedness. You are going to have to sacrifice some beauty in order to build in more durability and adaptability to movement.

When crimp/wire/clasp are too tight, and can’t move, then you basically have stiff metal bending back and forth against itself, and it breaks. If the bare loop bothers you, you can always cover the loop with 15/0 or 11/0 seed beads, or 13/0 charlottes.

Or you can use a horseshoe wire protector to cover the loop. What I like about the horseshoe wire protector is that it forces you to leave an ideal sized loop, and also makes what was a bare loop look very finished and appealing.

The “Tail”

You need to leave about a 3–4” tail on either side. You want to hold the tail so that it runs parallel to the spine, though not touching.

When you crimp by closing and letting go of your pliers, don’t let go of the tail. This is a mistake many people make. When they let go of the pliers, they let go of the tail. Don’t do this. If you let go of the tail at the same time, the tail will either bend over far to one side, creating a “V” with it and the spine. Or, it will cross over the spine.

When we trim our tails, we do not cut them off at the crimp. Instead, we feed back the tail through at least the first (or last) bead, and preferably several other beads, and then cut the tail as close to the hole of the bead it is exiting as possible. You want to be sure that at least your first bead and your last bead have large enough holes, so that they can slip over both the spine and the tail.

Tail sticking out too far and tail crossing over wire:

Finishing Your Piece Off and TrimmingThe Tails

On the first side of your bracelet or necklace, you secure your clasp component with your crimped wire. You then string on your beads. You want at least the first bead, and preferably several beads to slip over both the spine and the tail wires. When you get to the other side, you will add your crimp bead and horseshoe wire protector, slide your remaining clasp component over the tail up into the horseshoe. You need to have a 3–4″ tail remaining. Grab your tail, and bring it back through (top to bottom) of your crimp bead, and through at least your last bead, and preferably several beads.

Now you want to pull things tight, but not too tight, before you crimp that second crimp bead. Hold onto your clasp (or your horseshoe wire protector ) with one hand, and pull the wire with the other, to get everything tight, but not too tight. You do not want your bracelet to have poor “ease” and be too stiff. You should test the length of the bracelet one more time, using a sizing cone or someone’s wrist. Make any necessary adjustments to ease and length.

If your tail is showing on your first side of the bracelet, then trim it off now. Flush cutters or cable wire cutters work well here. If you pull your tail away from the bead, this creates a bit of tension, and when you cut the wire, the wire coming out your bead will pull back a bit into the hole of the bead.

If you haven’t been able to cut the wire flush enough with the bead, and some wire is poking out, work it with your fingers into the hole of the next bead on the string.

Re-check your length and ease.

Now crimp your ending side. Trim the remaining tail as close to the hole of your bead as possible.

NOTE: If you can’t work the tail back through the first bead, then cut it off as close to the crimp as possible. There will be two sharp edges. One will be the crushed crimp itself. The other will be the cable wire. You can’t really cut the wire totally flush with the crimp, so a little bit of a nipple will be protruding. Use an emery board or nail file or metal file and smooth out the rough edges of the crimp, and sharp point of the cable wire. Feel with your finger, until it is smooth. This is not your best option. Your piece will look less finished and be less secure.

Camouflaging the Crimp Bead

You can always make your crimp beads the second and next to last beads, instead of the first and last. In this case, the crimp will look like it is part of a pattern. The ends will look very finished.

Let’s Crimp: A Practice Exercise

Cut a 15″ length of cable wire.

Horseshoe on first. Take your horseshoe wire protector, holding it so that the arch is toward the ceiling and the legs are to the floor. Take your wire from floor to ceiling, up into the leg, over the arch, and back down through the over leg. Give yourself a 3–4″ tail past the horseshoe.

Slide on clasp component. Take your tail wire through the loop on the ring end of your Toggle clasp, and slide that ring’s loop right up into the horseshoe.

Add Crimp Bead. Slide a crimp bead onto the spine of your cable wire, and bring it all the way up to the legs of the horseshoe. As you get close to the tail, you want your crimp to slide over both the spine and the tail.

Pinch the legs of the horseshoe closer together, and get your crimp as close to the legs as possible. You can use your fingers or the tips of your crimping pliers to pinch the horseshoe legs.

Be sure your have left yourself as 3–4″ tail. Make any adjustments.

Crimp. Now grab your crimping pliers, holding them parallel to your table, curved part of the jaws bending towards you.

Pinch the tail and spine near to your crimp bead with your thumb and forefinger, making sure that your tail is parallel, but not touching, the spine.

In Bottom Notches (closet to your hand): 
ditch on one side, and pyramid on the other

STEPS 1 and 2: Your goal is to separate the wires. The pyramid in your pliers jaw pushes the wires apart, and makes a scoring line down the middle of your crimp, turning it into a double-tube, one wire in each channel.

Step 1: Crush

Sit your crimp bead between the bottom notches in each side. The loop/horseshoe should be laying horizontally, parallel to the table.

Crush the pliers all the way down onto the crimp bead, and let go of the pliers (but not the tail).

Step 2: Turn over 180 degrees, and crush again

When we crushed the first time, the part of the crimp closest to our hand crushed down, but the part furthest from our hand actually flared out a bit. In Step 2, we crush down the part that had flared up.

You end up with a flat pancake. If you look at this flat pancake, you will see a scoring line down the middle. This line was made by our pyramid.

So we turn the crimp over to its other side, and crush again.

In Top Notches (furthest from your hand): Ditch on either side

STEP 3: The goal is to create a lock.

Step 3: Fold flat pancake to make half-a-flat pancake

Sit your crimp bead between the top pair of notches. Hold so that your loop/horseshoe is vertical, thus perpendicular to the table.

Hold the crushed crimp vertically, and crush, to fold this flat pancake in half along the scoring line. You end up with half a flat pancake.

STEP 4: Your goal here is to make things pretty.

Step 4: Re-Round

Use the top notches to gently force and push the flat crimp back into a rounded tube shape again. If you look at either end of the crimp — from the loop end and from the tail end — you want to see a circular shape again, rather than a rectangular slit. It’s best to keep your pliers steady in one place, and turn your wire/crimp bead as you work the pliers. You do not CRUSH; you PUSH on the metal with your pliers to re-round.

Now, your crimp bead is wider than the width of the jaws the pliers. So, you will have to work the top and bottom of the crimp a little bit independently, so that both ends are round again.

NOTE: Instead of Step 4, you can use a crimp cover, and slide this over the crushed crimp to hide it.

But if using a crimp cover, be sure to do Steps 1 thru 3.

Putting The Beads On.

If you were creating a piece from scratch, and not following a pattern, you would probably use something like clamps, hemostats or bead stoppers. You would cut a length of cable wire — about 12″ more than the bracelet or necklace length you want to end up with. You lay out all your beads and the parts of the clasp assembly on a bead board or other work surface. Then you would clamp one end of your cable wire, slide beads on, and clamp the other end. This would let you add and subtract beads, or change your mind about the patterning, before you finished off the ends with the clasp assembly.

Otherwise, if you are following a particular pattern, you would start by securing one end with a crimp bead, and stringing the rest of the beads on. You would cut your cable wire — about 12″ more than the bracelet length you want to end up with.

Lay out all your beads and the clasp assembly parts on the bead board or some other work surface, in the order they are to be used.

You would attach the largest part of your clasp first — with Toggles, this is the ring — on one end, crimping it in place, and leaving a 3–4″ tail.

Slide on your beads, following the pattern. At least your first bead should slide over both the spine and the tail.

Determine the fit — both length and ease — by clamping or holding with your fingers the open end, and encircling a sizing cone or someone’s wrist with your bracelet. Remember here that the other end of the clasp will add another 1/2″ to this length.

“Ease” — You do not want to pull the cable wire too tight, making it stiff, thus uncomfortable to wear. And you do not want to pull the cable not tight enough, thus allowing the cable wire to show between the beads and the beads and the clasp.

Adjust the number of beads, if necessary.

Add your crimp bead, horseshoe wire protector, the other end of the clasp — in our case, the bar.

Don’t actually crimp things on this side, or trim your tail yet.

Slide the tail back through some beads. Pull tight enough to get an acceptable ease. Test the length and ease again.

POOR EASE
GOOD EASE

When satisfactory, do your final crimping. Slide the tail through some more beads, if possible. Trim the tails on both ends.

Using a Crimp Cover

Use your pointer finger as an easel and your thumb as a clamp.

Sit your crimp cover on the top of the pad on your pointer finger, as if the cover were a cradle (open side up).

Set your crushed crimp on your cable wire right inside the crimp cover.

Immediately, clamp down over the loop/clasp part with your thumb. Your thumb is pushing down on the wire loop/clasp, so that the crimp cover can’t move.

We close the crimp cover in 2 steps.

Take your crimping pliers, and use the tips of each jaw. With these tips, push the opening of the crimp cover closed as best as you can. Press firm but gently. It is easy to crush these crimp covers. The two lips on each side will not meet perfectly, will not be aligned, and there may be a gap.

The second step is to put the crimp cover between the two top ditches on your crimp pliers (both ditches are open), and gently push to get things in place.

You may have to orient your pliers in some weird angles to get the two halves of your crimp covered lined up correctly.

Give It The Once Over…

Once your bracelet is done, look it over carefully. Be sure your cable wire isn’t showing. Be sure that it has sufficient ease.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry: What Works!

What Glue Should I Use When Making Jewelry?

Why Am I So Addicted To Beads?

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

The Martha Stewart Beaded Wreath Project

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

The Use of Armature In Jewelry: Legitimate or Not?

Pearl Knotting Warren’s Way

Organizing Your Craft Workspace…Some Smart Pointers

You Don’t Choose Clasps, You Choose Clasp Assemblies

Know Your Anatomy Of A Necklace

Mini Lesson: Making Stretchy Bracelets

Mini Lesson: Making Adjustable Slip Knots With Thicker Cords

Mini Lesson: How To Crimp

Mini Lesson: Attaching End Caps, Cones, Crimp Ends

Mini Lesson: Brick Stitch

Mini Lesson: Flat Even Count Peyote

Mini Lesson: Ndebele Stitch

Mini Lesson: Petersburg Chain

Mini Lesson: Right Angle Weave

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Everyone Has A Getting Started Story

The Nature-Inspired Creations of Kathleen

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Glass Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Lampwork Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Crystal Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Seed and Cylinder Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Choosing and Using Clasps

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

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

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

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

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

Add your name to my email list.

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

Contemplative Ode To A Bead

Posted by learntobead on April 23, 2020

Contemplation

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 — beauty, peace and calm, 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.

There’s a lot involved here. You have to buy beads, 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 beads translate light into color, shade and shadow, then beading would simply be work. But it’s not.

You have to put one 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 me — why is it so enticing? Why do I beg it to let me 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 I’m am drawn to it in a slap-silly sort of way.

When I arrange many beads, the excitement explodes geometrically in my being. Two beads together are so much more than one. Four beads so much more than two. A hundred beads so much more than four. The pleasure is uncontainable.

I feel so powerful. Creative. I can make more of what I have than with what I started with.

And the 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.

So these days, I confront my innermost feelings about beads. What I enjoy, and what I do not. What I have learned, and what I have not. What I want to achieve, and what I fear I cannot.

It’s not that, originally, I wanted to bead much of anything. I imagined what I wanted to create, and quickly found I couldn’t create it. This became my Rogue Elephant — the sum of all my jewelry design ambitions, and my fluency and ultimate success with it.

I had very specific ideas of what my beadwork should look like, and how it should function. I did not want to be considered a painter who uses beads, or a sculptor who uses beads. I wanted to be considered a bead artist. A bead artist who legitimately uses beads, and not paints, and not clays or stone. This was my dilemma.

Alas, this was the basis of all my fears. Could bead artists intentionally design with light in a fundamentally different way than painters use paint, or sculptors use clay or stone? If I beaded a mannequin, I’d be painting or sculpting.

But what if I beaded a Rogue Elephant? Something that moved. Something that reacted differently in different situations. Something that appeared in different contexts. Would my beadwork stand up to some test of grammar, poetry, art, vision and even love?

I was tentative, at first, about beading, but that Rogue Elephant kept getting in my way. To tame it, to get rid of it, to make sense of it, I had to bead it.

But how? Should I? Could I? Would I? It’s huge! It’s fast! It’s ornery!

Should I make my Elephant some kind of necklace or anklet to wear? How about a little hat? I can tubular peyote around its trunk OK, but what about its ears? What do I do there? That mid-section is awfully rotund. Fringe would be pretty, hanging around some kind of blanket. But, alas, wouldn’t it just drag along the ground?

The main problem is, though, that this beast keeps moving. How am I ever going to get anything to look good, and stay looking good, on this Elephant if it keeps moving? After all, Rogue Elephants don’t Pose. They’re not “Vogue” Elephants. They’re “Rogue” Elephants. They’re too busy tossing their heads at everything else in sight.

If I use large beads, I can accomplish this feat faster, but not necessarily as elegantly. Should my Elephant be elegant? Sophisticated? Earthy? Adventurous? Bohemian? Fashion-aware or fashion-I-don’t-care?

I can not get this Rogue Elephant out of my mind. The thoughts of beading it seem insurmountable, unconquerable. My eyes strain, my hands ache, my back stiffens at these thoughts. It will never get done. I won’t finish it. I won’t do it. I most certainly don’t have the time. I’ll try something easier, like a toy rabbit or a stick. A small stick. A very small, very straight, perfectly round stick. Surely not an Elephant, a Rogue one at that.

Calm down, I say to myself. Stop hyperventilating. Wipe those clammy palms. Don’t let the task before you scare you before you even start.

I grit my teeth. I stand up straight. I squeeze my hands into a fist. I hold my fisted-hands stiffly and tightly against my right and left sides. I lift my chin up ever-so-slightly until my eyes meet his. I stare that Rogue Elephant right into the face for those few seconds it stands in my field of vision. I will bead you. I will bead you. I will bead you.

I set my mantra going. I try to focus on my inner self. I reach way back to grab my inner being, setting its life force and motivation on track to complete this awesome task.

I will bead you. I can bead. I will bead you. I can bead. I will bead you. I can bead. I will bead you. I can bead.

Glue. Thank God someone invented glue. I could corner that Elephant, pour buckets of glue on him, and use a leaf blower to blow a pile of beads right onto that beast. They’ll stick. I’ll be done. Whatever happens, happens. That’s what I’ll do.

But I wouldn’t be happy. And that Elephant would probably want to scratch and itch. Beads would pop off. The glue would yellow. That Elephant wouldn’t be able to walk with any sense of style or grace. It might trip. It would probably fall down, actually. And not be able to get up. Pitiful. It would lose its Rogue-ness. It’s essence of being. I would tame it, yet more than humble it. Where’s the excitement? Glue just won’t do.

I will bead you. I can bead. I will bead you. I can bead. I will bead you. I can bead. I will bead you. I can bead.

How about Mardi Gras beads? These beads, already ironed into place onto a string, could be wrapped around and around and around. Purple Iris’s. Topaz AB’s. Olivine Lusters. They’d be colorful. They’d shine. They’d sparkle. It would be like lassoing a steer — over and over again. I don’t know if my Elephant would stand still for that. Perhaps I could corral him. I could tape one end of the bead string to the tail. Then go around and around and around his body until I reached the other end of the trunk. I’d parade the Elephant in front of all the other Elephants out there, and they’d all want to look as dapper. Everyone the Elephant meets, in fact, will want to be wrapped in bead-ropes. How easy, how simple, how divine.

Once I let my Elephant out of the corral, however, I fear the bead-ropes will reposition themselves and slip off and look sloppy. My Elephant would have to lose its Rogue-ness to pull off this look. My Elephant would have to stand still and pose. I don’t think my Elephant would stand for that. In fact, I know he wouldn’t. The jungle is not a circus, and the banks of the jungle watering hole do not provide a level pedestal for such an event. My elephant would be perplexed. And the result would not be satisfactory beadwork. He’d be off in an instant. This would be a mess — a big Mardi Gras mess. Only sanitation workers in New Orleans getting paid much overtime would have any determined appreciation.

I will bead you. I can bead. I will bead you. I can bead. I will bead you. I can bead. I will bead you. I can bead.

Just what is the recipe then? Take needle and thread, add beads, mix lightly, separate whites and darks, bake, turn once, and voila? Do I have to have a recipe? A determined strategy? A plan of action? Can’t I just bead it? Do I have to think about how to get the beadwork to stay in place? Look good? Look great? Must the Elephant still be able to run with the beadwork on? If the Elephant runs, must the beadwork stay on? And still look good? Oh, dear, my head is beginning to hurt. I don’t know if I can do all this. And be satisfied.

And the poor Elephant. It looks at me one more time. It’s green eyes dart on me. Challenging me. Daring me. Perhaps fearing me and my determination. Perhaps pondering the why’s and wherefores of my insistence that he be beaded — in totality, Rogue-ness and all. The Elephant turns its head, touching his long torso from shoulder to belly with his trunk. His tusks shift uncomfortably. I’m sure the Elephant is wondering How! — How would the beads go on? How would they be arranged? How could he continue to walk and drink and eat and talk? How would the other Elephants react? How could anyone ever begin to bead a Rogue Elephant?

My Elephant looks at me one more time — staring directly into my eyes. It’s more than a glance. He stares, as if to say, it can’t be done. My Elephant lifts its trunk, extends its ears, snorts, shakes its tail, turns and darts away toward the horizon.

I will bead you. I can bead. I will bead you. I can bead. I will bead you. I can bead. I will bead you. I can bead.

I follow him.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Do You Know Where Your Beading Needles Are?

Consignment Selling: A Last Resort

Odds or Evens? What’s Your Preference?

My Clasp, My Clasp, My Kingdom For A Clasp

Why Am I So Addicted To Beads?

The Bead Spill: My Horrifying Initiation

The Artists At The Party

How To Bead A Rogue Elephant

You Can Never Have Enough Containers For Your Stuff

Beading While Traveling On A Plane

Contemplative Ode To A Bead

How To Bead In A Car

My Aunt Gert: Illustrating Some Lessons In Business Smarts

A Jewelry Designer’s Day Dream

A Dog’s Life by Lily

I Make All The Mistakes In The Book

How Sparkle Enters People’s Lives

Upstairs, Downstairs At The Bead Store

Beads and Race

Were The Ways of Women or of Men Better At Fostering How To Make Jewelry

Women and Their Husbands When Shopping For Beads

Women Making Choices In The Pursuit Of Fashion

Existing As A Jewelry Designer: What Befuddlement!

The Bridesmaid Bracelets

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

Add your name to my email list.

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

Two Insightful Psych Phenomena Every Jewelry Maker Needs To Know

Posted by learntobead on April 23, 2020

The First Cognitive Thing The Viewer Wants To Do Is Make A Complete Circle

The Cognitive Processes of the Viewer

As a Designer, one thing you need to anticipate is how the piece will be viewed and understood. It turns out that jewelry plays some very important psychological functions for both the wearer and the viewer. By understanding these perceptual and cognitive processes, you the designer have some powerful information to play with. Here I discuss two cognitive processes that happen immediately when the viewer first interacts with a piece of jewelry.

When a viewer walks into a room, and in the room is a stranger who also happens to be wearing a necklace, the viewer has to very quickly determine whether the situation is safe or not. We are pre-wired with an anxiety response, so that we can assess the situation almost instantaneously, and flee or fight, so to speak. The eye/brain looks for clues. One clue is provided by the necklace the stranger in the room is wearing. The eye/brain focuses on the jewelry and performs two simple tests.

When our viewer first cognitively interacts with the piece, her eye/brain tries to “make a complete circle around the piece”. Very simple: Make a Complete Circle. If something about the piece slows her down, or otherwise disrupts this natural cognitive process of trying to visualize a complete circle, she begins to feel some anxiety or discomfort or edginess. This might be a clasp that doesn’t coordinate well with the beadwork. It might be an inappropriate or poor use of color, shape, texture, pattern, or size. It might be a clasp assembly that takes up too much space along the yoke of the piece.

The eye/brain looks to see a complete circle. The viewer, in turn, begins to react to and translate this situation, where things get in the way of or somehow disrupt the process of visualizing that complete circle, as seeing the piece as monotonous or boring or ugly or some other negative, less satisfying characteristic or scary or will cause death. If the brain gets edgy, then the interpretation of the stimuli becomes a negative emotion-laden response. The viewer’s anxiety response is telling this person that it may be time to consider turning around and fleeing, instead of going forward, approaching or even fighting.

These negative traits of the jewelry quickly get associated by implication, with the wearer. The wearer begins to get defined as monotonous or boring or ugly or some other negative, less satisfying characteristic or scary or will cause death. As a designer, you don’t want this to happen.

The Second Cognitive Thing The Brain Wants To Do Is Find A Natural Place For The Eye To Come To Rest

The second thing the brain tries to do, after making that complete circle, is “come to rest.” The eye/brain looks for a natural place to come to rest.

We usually achieve this by creating a focal point. We might use a pendant. We might graduate the size of the beads, or graduate the color intensity or value.

In a very simple piece, the clasp assembly itself might be the natural place for the eye/brain to come to rest. In pieces where there is not a natural place for the eye/brain to make a complete circle and then come to rest, the brain starts to get edgy and feel some anxiety. The piece, in turn, begins to get interpreted as monotonous, boring, ugly, some other negative, less satisfying characteristic, scary, will cause death.

As the piece gets labeled, so does the wearer. Again, you don’t want this to happen. Not to the wearer when wearing one of your pieces. As the viewer runs screaming from the room.

People are prewired with an avoidance response. This occurs in our brain-stem. This protects the viewer from things like snakes and spiders, by making them want to avoid things which are ugly or dangerous.

When someone views the jewelry for the first time, they have to interpret it. One cultural and often subconscious reason people wear jewelry is to make people feel comfortable around them.

As a designer, you can anticipate all this. You now know that the viewer, cognitively when interacting with a piece of jewelry, will first try to make a complete circle, and then will want the eye to come to rest. Otherwise, the brain will start to get edgy and feel anxiety. The person might want to turn around and flee.

The eye/brain wants to make a complete circle, then come to rest.

Design accordingly.

Just one more note: Our brains process a lot of information at once — what we call parallel processing. Other perceptions cognitions co-occuring withthe anxiety response might mitigate the viewer’s reaction. Or might amplify it. Who knows?

Below are two images of one of the entries to our The Ugly Necklace Contest, which somewhat illustrates the point about what happens cognitively. The image on the left shows the whole necklace. The image on the right shows the lower half of the necklace. Look at each image. For each, get a feeling for how motivated you are to make the complete circle, or how satisfied you feel about the necklace.

NECKLACE FULL VERSION: With these beads and this rhythm and configuration, are you less motivated to make the complete circle around the whole piece, or less satisfied when doing so?
NECKLACE CUT IN HALF VERSION: With the necklace shown shorter, with these beads and this rhythm and configuration, are you more motivated to make the complete circle around the whole piece, or more satisfied when doing so?

People typically find that the full version takes more work to motivate yourself to make the complete circle. While the beads vary a bit, they are basically the same color tone. A pattern is set in the lower half of the piece, and the upper half adds little or no new information to excite the viewer. It becomes more work to make that complete circle. It becomes boring.

In the half version, people feel a little more satisfied with it. The artist has made her point, without additional repetition of what feels like monotonous components. People see it as less monotonous, less boring, less ugly. (…And of course, less scary and less likely to cause death.)

In this necklace, the designer created a pendant drop as the natural place rest. There is some awkward treatment, positioning and placement of the protruding elements near the bottom of the necklace, which makes the place to come to rest it a little less satisfying.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Oy Ve! The Challenges of Custom Work

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

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

Don’t Just Wear Your Jewelry…Inhabit It!

Two Insightful Psych Phenomena Every Jewelry Designer Needs To Know

A Dog’s Life by Lily

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

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Jewelry Design: An Occupation In Search Of A Profession

Teaching Discplinary Literacy: Strategic Thinking In Jewelry Design

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

Beads and Race

Were The Ways of Women or of Men Better At Fostering How To Make Jewelry

The Bridesmaid Bracelets

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

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

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

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

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

Add your name to my email list.

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Know Your Anatomy Of A Necklace

Posted by learntobead on April 22, 2020

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 and less important 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. This kind of thinking is at the core of what makes jewelry design, as a discipline, different than art.

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, not only the clasp itself, but rather all the pieces it takes to attach your Strap to the Clasp, including clasp, rings, loops or knots or crimps 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 or 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, but is sometimes a separate treatment of The Frame itself

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 (not moving when worn) and dynamic (moving when 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 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 span of The Strap is very sensitive to force and stress. A piece of jewelry may have more than one Strap. In this case, the span of each Strap, and their built in support and structural systems, must be tightly coordinated, if to respond optimally to forces and stresses.

The Yoke

The Yoke is one section of the Strap which is the part around the back of the neck, typically 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 (The Frame), 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 might add support systems, such as rings, at this point. The designer must decide the degree The Frame should be visually distinct from The Yoke.

The Clasp Assembly

The Clasp Assembly is most often 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.

Occasionally, The Clasp Assembly is part of The Frame. This will present a different set of architectural issues and considerations.

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. Here the designer needs to think whether the two lengths should move in a coordinated fashion, or not.

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. Usually this is done with a Centerpiece or Pendant Drop.

Othertimes, The Focal Point is more integrated with The Strap. This might 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 visual as well as functional 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 visual and functional 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. The Canvas might be either a horizontal structure (like an arch or truss) or a vertical structure (like a wall or frame). It might be exposed, partially covered, or fully covered. It might change materials or construction systems along its length, such as transitioning from a cable wire to a chain.

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, over time. 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.

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.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

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

What Is Jewelry, Really?

The Jewelry Design Philosophy

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

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Becoming The Bead Artist and Jewelry Designer

5 Essential Questions Every Jewelry Designer Should Have An Answer For

Getting Started / Channeling Your Excitement

Getting Started / Developing Your Passion

Getting Started / Cultivating Your Practice

Becoming One With What Inspires You

Architectural Basics of Jewelry Design

Doubt / Self Doubt: Major Pitfalls For The Jewelry Designer

Techniques and Technologies: Knowing What To Do

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

Teaching Discplinary Literacy: Strategic Thinking In Jewelry Design

The Jewelry Designer’s Approach To Color

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

The Jewelry Designer’s Path To Resonance

Jewelry Design Principles: Composing, Constructing, Manipulating

Jewelry Design Composition: Playing With Building Blocks Called Design Elements

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

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

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

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

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

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

Add your name to my email list.

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

ARCHITECTURAL BASICS OF JEWELRY DESIGN: Building In The Necessary Support and Structure

Posted by learntobead on April 22, 2020

ARCHITECTURAL BASICS OF JEWELRY DESIGN: 
Building In The Necessary Support and Structure

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 (called a Design System) with the end goal of trying to reach some type of equilibrium. That is, steps taken to balance 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 optimize 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, techniques or technologies used which allow the finished piece to best move, drape and flow while the piece is worn.

Structure is anything about the materials, techniques, or technologies 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 or necklace 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, environmental conditions, 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 and fluency, so it maintains its appeal, but doesn’t fall apart when worn.

We have all heard and seen the complaints.

o Clasp slips around neck to the front

o Necklace bezel settings turn around ending up facing backwards

o Earring dangle gets locked in a 90 degree angle o Jump rings open up and bracelet pulls apart

o Necklace doesn’t lay flat o Earring dangles don’t face the right way

o Stone pops out of its setting

o Stringing material breaks or pulls apart

o Finishes on beads and components flake off

o Necklace or bracelet breaks at the crimp

o Solder or glue doesn’t hold

o Beads crack and string breaks in overly tight pieces

These kind of things which 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.

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:

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.

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. Think of spans, and the things we hang off of spans, which, in turn, put stress on the places where each end of the span is attached. 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 pulling and tugging on them.

They may require adjustments in lengths to achieve better stability. Better stability might require inward sloping, thus shorter lines, as things get connected closer to the neck, and elongated outer boundaries. Well-designed Funicular 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 may decrease (or increase) 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.

Vertical structures assist us in managing the effects of vertical movement, such as bearing weight or resisting bending. They hold things up and are used to build and secure shapes. 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).

This point of stability must hold when the jewelry is static (no movement when worn) as well as when it is dynamic (thus, movement when 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 Moment Frame is a good example. 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. I would label these more advanced techniques. 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. I would label these more primitive techniques.

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 forces and internal stresses 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, and technologies applied, 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, tension, sizing and proportion throughout, rather than learn to vary, manage and control these over the course of creating the piece. 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 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.

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 — horizontal, vertical or rotational, when the piece is worn, cause the stringing material or threads or beads or clasps to loosen up, pull apart, 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. The legs are not braced. These hazardous shapes cry out for additional reinforcements or support or structural 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:

o Anchoring

o Bracing

o Framing

o Attaching/Securing

o Connecting

o Blocking

o Adding in slack or elasticity

o 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. We call this the point of least vulnerability. 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. A thicker cord might provide more strength than a thinner cord of the same material.

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. The use of stringing thread rather than a stringing wire, 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. We might wax our stringing materials to place a barrier between environmental and body chemicals which might affect them.

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

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 and less important 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. This kind of thinking is at the core of what makes jewelry design, as a discipline, different than art.

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, not only the clasp itself, but rather all the pieces it takes to attach your Strap to the Clasp, including clasp, rings, loops or knots or crimps 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 or 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, but is sometimes a separate treatment of The Frame itself

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 (not moving when worn) and dynamic (moving when 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 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 span of The Strap is very sensitive to force and stress. A piece of jewelry may have more than one Strap. In this case, the span of each Strap, and their built in support and structural systems, must be tightly coordinated, if to respond optimally to forces and stresses.

The Yoke

The Yoke is one section of the Strap which is the part around the back of the neck, typically 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 (The Frame), 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 might add support systems, such as rings, at this point. The designer must decide the degree The Frame should be visually distinct from The Yoke.

The Clasp Assembly

The Clasp Assembly is most often 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.

Occasionally, The Clasp Assembly is part of The Frame. This will present a different set of architectural issues and considerations.

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. Here the designer needs to think whether the two lengths should move in a coordinated fashion, or not.

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. Usually this is done with a Centerpiece or Pendant Drop.

Othertimes, The Focal Point is more integrated with The Strap. This might 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 visual as well as functional 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 visual and functional 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. The Canvas might be either a horizontal structure (like an arch or truss) or a vertical structure (like a wall or frame). It might be exposed, partially covered, or fully covered. It might change materials or construction systems along its length, such as transitioning from a cable wire to a chain.

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, over time. 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.

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, bends, dents, squishes, 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 and optimized to their full effect (synergy).

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/stress equilibrium or least vulnerability?

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 and stresses 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 — that point of least vulnerability — 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 — that point of least vulnerability — among the four S’s: Strength, Suppleness, Stability and Synergy.

…if one is to be fluent and proficient in design!

_________________________________________

FOOTNOTES

G.G.Schierle, Architectural Structures, 1990–2006, as referenced at, https://disegnodiezunibe.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/architecturalstructures.pdf

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

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

What Is Jewelry, Really?

The Jewelry Design Philosophy

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

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Becoming The Bead Artist and Jewelry Designer

5 Essential Questions Every Jewelry Designer Should Have An Answer For

Getting Started / Channeling Your Excitement

Getting Started / Developing Your Passion

Getting Started / Cultivating Your Practice

Becoming One With What Inspires You

Architectural Basics of Jewelry Design

Doubt / Self Doubt: Major Pitfalls For The Jewelry Designer

Techniques and Technologies: Knowing What To Do

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

Teaching Discplinary Literacy: Strategic Thinking In Jewelry Design

The Jewelry Designer’s Approach To Color

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

The Jewelry Designer’s Path To Resonance

Jewelry Design Principles: Composing, Constructing, Manipulating

Jewelry Design Composition: Playing With Building Blocks Called Design Elements

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

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

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

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

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

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

Add your name to my email list.

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

You Don’t Choose Clasps… You Choose Clasp Assemblies!

Posted by learntobead on April 22, 2020

Left: Clasp Assembly with no support. Right: Clasp Assembly with support.

CHOOSING CLASPS AND CLASP ASSEMBLIES AND SUPPORT SYSTEMS

From a design perspective, when we speak of “choosing a clasp,” we are referring to something almost always broader, longer and with more volume than the clasp itself. We are referring to what is called the “Clasp Assembly”.

The “Clasp Assembly” is everything that has to come together in order to attach your beadwork to the clasp. The “CLASP ASSEMBLY” usually consists of several parts. Besides the Clasp itself, there are probably jump rings and connectors, crimp beads, clamps or other jewelry findings. If we had an S-clasp, the clasp assembly would also include 2 soldered rings (one on each side) plus, if using a cable wire, the loop created with the cable wire and crimp bead which attach and secure the wire around the soldered rings.

The “Clasp Assembly” is a more specific term for the more general jewelry-design terminology called a Support System. The Clasp Assembly is the most important support system in any piece of jewelry.

In any one piece, there are usually 1 or more support systems. In a bracelet, you might only have the one support system — the clasp assembly. In a necklace you might have three or five.

Support Systems are built into jewelry for many reasons. You want your clasp assembly to be able to adjust to your wearer’s movements somewhat independently of how your beadwork adjusts to this movement. Often, you want the clasp to stay in one place, while the beadwork moves to and fro, out and in, up and down, with the wearer’s movements. This only works if you build support systems into your piece. When you see someone whose necklace has turned around on her neck, this is an example of poor Design. This is not natural to necklaces. Usually the poor design has to do with insufficient support systems built into the necklace.

The most obvious support systems or joints are interconnected “rings” and “loops” and “knots.” Other support systems include “hinges” and “rivets” among other concepts. The support systems through a necklace or bracelet play several roles, and are similar to the joints in your body. They aid in movement. They prevent any one piece from being adversely affected by the forces this movement brings to the piece. They make the piece look and feel better, when worn. They keep segments within the piece from getting too stiff or too tight or too rigid. They help absorb excess force placed on your components because of movement, keeping them from cracking, splitting apart or breaking.

With needle and thread bead stringing, one of the more important support systems is the knot you tie to secure your beadwork to the clasp. The knot absorbs excess force. It allows the bracelet or necklace to move easily on and with your body. Because of this support function that knots play, it usually is NOT a good idea to apply glue to the knots. This would cause the knots to stiffen up, create lots of tension on the thread, and cause it to break from force and movement. They would lose their support function.

The best clasp is one that has no moving parts. These include toggles, buttons, slides, S-clasps, and hook & eye clasps.

One clasp element that we jewelry designers call a “moving part” is a tongue. If a metal piece is bent into a “V” or “Arch” shape, and is forced to move back and forth as it gets pushed in and pulled out of the basic clasp, we consider this a moving part. When you bend metal back and forth, it breaks. When metal is bent into a V or Arch, and is pushed/pulled, it will break. In any clasp, where you have a metal part that is bent back and forth in use, we call this a moving part.

The clasp should be proportional to the beads used in the piece. The full Clasp Assembly should be proportional to the piece as a whole. If half your bracelet is taken up by the Clasp Assembly, then there’s a problem here.

Don’t forget that you can also use clasps in a way where they can be worn on the front, not just behind the neck. They can be used to sit on the side or on the bottom. Clasps which are very decorative are used in this way.

All clasps work well in necklaces. In bracelets, however, care and consideration should be paid to how difficult or easy it is to secure and undo the clasp — especially if the wearer has to accomplish these steps by her or himself.

In better pieces, the clasp seems as if it is an organic and integral part of the rest of the piece. It does not feel as it were an add-on.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

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

What Is Jewelry, Really?

The Jewelry Design Philosophy

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

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Becoming The Bead Artist and Jewelry Designer

5 Essential Questions Every Jewelry Designer Should Have An Answer For

Getting Started / Channeling Your Excitement

Getting Started / Developing Your Passion

Getting Started / Cultivating Your Practice

Becoming One With What Inspires You

Architectural Basics of Jewelry Design

Doubt / Self Doubt: Major Pitfalls For The Jewelry Designer

Techniques and Technologies: Knowing What To Do

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

Teaching Discplinary Literacy: Strategic Thinking In Jewelry Design

The Jewelry Designer’s Approach To Color

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

The Jewelry Designer’s Path To Resonance

Jewelry Design Principles: Composing, Constructing, Manipulating

Jewelry Design Composition: Playing With Building Blocks Called Design Elements

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

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

Add your name to my email list.

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