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PART 1: THE JEWELRY DESIGNER’S ORIENTATION TO OTHER JEWELRY FINDINGS: PART 1: PREPARERS

Posted by learntobead on March 14, 2021

Continue Part 2: Controllers and Adapters

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online. Begin with my ORIENTATION TO BEADS & JEWELRY FINDINGS COURSE. There are 18 video modules including handouts, which this is one of.

Choosing and Using Other Jewelry Findings: 
Preparers

You have to approach the Jewelry Findings with a large measure of respect. “Jewelry Findings” are all the pieces that you use, including clasps, other than stringing materials and beads. They are called “jewelry findings”, because up until about 15 years ago, many of these pieces didn’t exist. People went to sewing notion stores, antique stores, flea markets, hardware stores, cannibalized old jewelry, wherever, and found things and made them work. Because many of these pieces are new, there is not a consensus on what some of these things should be called, so you have a lot of similarly looking pieces that go by different names. I’m sure over time, the name-game will shake out, and there will be more consistency.

Respect these jewelry findings. They are the pieces that get pulled and strained, torn at and squeezed, maligned and misused. These are the pieces that will make or break your piece of jewelry. Understand and respect them.

Many designers fail to make the full range of these pieces available to them. They either don’t know about them, or are afraid of them or think they might use them incorrectly. They too often limit their own design possibilities by relying on the same limited set of findings for everything they make. But the world of possibilities that these jewelry findings open up for us is endless.

Below is a list of other major jewelry findings used in bead stringing. I’ve tried to group them into three categories to make it a little easier to relate to.

PREPARERS:
 Things Which Prepare the Ends of Cords and Stringing Materials:

These kinds of jewelry findings are mostly used with thicker cords, like leather and waxed cotton, but also with cable wires. These enable you to create a “loop end” on each side of the cord or cable.

From the two loop ends you have created on each end of your cord, you then continue to create the rest of your clasp assembly. If the loop is big enough (to give you jointedness), or looks substantial enough (like it won’t break from movement), you can attach the clasp directly to the loop. If not, you will want to attach your clasp/ring to jump or split rings, and these, in turn, to your loop ends.

You usually try to match the size of the interior opening on the jewelry finding to the thickness of your cord or cable. For some of these pieces, this match is more important than others.

You always put some glue on your cord or cable before you stick them into the piece. You use glue because all these cords are oily, and some will sweat, as well. They will slip out of the findings — even with tight crimping or clamping — because they are slippery. That’s why you use glue.

I recommend using a glue like E6000 or Beacon 527. Don’t use super glue. Super glue (or the jeweler’s version called G-S Hypo Cement) dries like glass, so the bond will shatter like glass, because all jewelry moves. Also, after it shatters, the bond looks like a broken coke bottle. E6000 and Beacon 527 dry like rubber, so they act as a shock absorber, when the jewelry moves.

CRIMP ENDS

These come very fancy or plain. They come with a small opening to use with cable wires, and wider and wider openings to use with leather or waxed cotton, or even braided leather.

These pieces have a loop at the end of a tube. The tube has 3 bands. The first and third are decorative. The center band is meant to be crushed and crimped. You put some glue on the cord or cable — any glue except super glue — stick it into the tube, and take a pliers and crush the center band as flat as you can get it.

When you crush the middle band, visually, it looks like it is part of a pattern of beads. It doesn’t look like an ugly crushed piece of metal.

Some crimp ends come with a hook, so that you attach a loop on one end and the hook on the other, to create a hook and eye clasp.

These and clamps (see below) work best for preparing the ends of cable wires and thicker cords. Crimp ends tend to be on the pricier side; clamps are very inexpensive. Both hold well, relying on both the glue and the crimp.

CHAIN/CORD ENDS

These pieces have a loop at the end of a split tube. For chain, these are soldered on. For cords or cable, you put some glue on (again never super glue), stick it into the split tube, and take a pliers and crush snug, NOT flat. What’s holding these on is the glue. If you crush flat, you lose the bond. Should tightly match cord thickness to interior diameter.

We need to crush snug because we want the glue to adhere to all the interior surfaces. If there are any gaps where the glue has not adhered, the bond will break.

These are terrible pieces, because it is difficult to achieve that perfect bonding with the glue.

END CAPS

These pieces come in just a few sizes, but many designs. Those pictured are very industrial looking, but they come very decorative, as well. Some pieces have a hole at the end instead of a loop and are labeled “end caps,” but technically, these should be called either a cone or a bead cap. Usually, the interior opening size of the end cap will be listed, such as ID=6mm or ID=8mm or ID=12mm. You coordinate this with the width of whatever you are trying to slip into the end cap. But because of the shape of the end cap, there still may be fit issues.

These pieces have a loop at the end of a hard metal tube. The loop is either an eyelet or a fixed loop. You put some glue (not super glue) on cord or cable and stick in. The glue is all that holds. Should tightly match cord thickness to interior diameter.

Because it is important, for the bond to hold, to get the glue to adhere to all the interior surfaces, and you cannot crush the ends snug, you need to put a lot of excess glue on the cord when you stick it in. And you need to be prepared to wipe away the excess glue that bleeds back out.

You never attach your clasp directly to these pieces. You need an additional intervening ring — jump ring or split ring or soldered ring — between the end cap and your clasp component.

CLAMPS
 Ribbon or Bar Clamps:

These clamps are folded metal with a loop in the center edge, come in different lengths, and have teeth. These are for ribbons or fabric. You don’t use glue, because the glue will bleed into the ribbon or fabric.

You fold over the end of the ribbon or fabric, making the end pretty, and stick into the clamp, and use a pliers to crush firm. If your material is wider than the clamp you have, you would make several folds in the end, like you would when gift-wrapping a package.

Foldover or Wing Clamps:

These come in a few different sizes, some with square loops, some with round loops. Some have plain backs; some have patterned backs.

These typically are a loop on top of flat metal with two wings that fold over. You put some glue (not super glue) on the cord or cable, sit in the saddle between the two wings, and use a large pliers, and crush the two wings over each other and over the cord. Crush as flat as you can get it. This is not done in one movement because the wings are stiff and strong. You usually take your pliers and move then to one side, then the other, then back, until you get the two wing position over each other, and you can crush them flat.

One mistake people make with this piece is that they crush snug, not flat. Where the wings overlap each other, this leaves an air passage. Again, we want our glue to adhere to all the interior surfaces. If you crush snug, this air passage will weaken the bond, and your cord will pull out. You have to crush as flat as you can get it, to force the glue up into that air passage.

You can use one clamp for multiple strands, if you wish. You can seat multiple strands of cable wire or leather or whatever into the saddle of one clamp.

These and the crimp ends work the best for preparing the ends of cable wires and thicker cords. Crimp ends are pricier; clamps are cheap. Crimp ends have a design impact; clamps are very utilitarian.

COIL ENDS

Coil ends have an open ended loop at the top of a tightly wound coil. I don’t like the way these look after they are crushed onto the cord, and they don’t hold up well. One advantage is that the coil functions as a spring, and absorbs a lot of the excess force place on the piece, that comes from movement.

With coil ends, you put some glue, (but not super glue), on the cord, shove it into the coil. You take a chain-nose pliers and crush the first two rings of the coil onto the cord. If you crush too hard, you’ll slice the cord. If you don’t crush hard enough, the cord will pull out.

The way the loop was designed to work, was that you take a pliers, move the open ring to the side, slip on your clasp or ring, and, using the pliers, move the open ring to a closed position again. DON’T DO IT THIS WAY. When you move the loop back and forth, it breaks off easily. These loops are rather brittle. SO, the way you would use this, is that you would take a jump ring or split ring, and attach this to the loop and your clasp piece. As long as you don’t move this loop wire, it stays strong.

Coil ends come in two sizes in terms of the width of the interior diameter. If your cord is thicker than the smaller size, see if you can make it work with this smaller size, anyway. The larger size is more awkward to use. Say you had leather cord. You can take a single-edge razor blade and cut the end at an angle, put some glue on the cord, and shove it into the smaller piece.

BEAD CAPS

This is a decorative cup-like or bowl-like piece, with a hole in the center. This piece is originally used as a decorative element, to cover one or both sides of a bead, as you string your beads on. However, you can adapt this piece to be an end. You might have multi-strands, where you tie them all off together, and use the bead cap to hide the mess. You might have a bead crocheted rope, and again, use the bead cap to give your piece a decorative end. You glue the bead cap on. Then you take an independent wire or thread, attaching it to your piece about 2–3” from the end, and running it through your piece, through the cap, then finishing off the rest of your clasp assembly.

What’s nice here are that there are hundreds of styles, whereas the more typical jewelry findings look very utilitarian.

BELL CAPS

A bell cap is a bead cap with a loop on it. This is a decorative cup-like or bowl-like piece, with a loop sticking above the center. This piece is originally used to adapt something, like gluing it to the top of a crystal pendant or bead, to be a drop. But it can be adapted to use as a fancy end-cap. Use glue here. Attach the clasp assembly to an additional jump ring or split ring. Again, there are many, many decorative styles in bell caps, so you won’t have to rely on the typical and very plain specialized jewelry findings.

The arms on the bell cap are somewhat independent, and can be pushed into the shape of whatever piece they are attached to. So, for example, you can take a rough stone, position the bell cap at the top, push on the arms to shape them to the stone, then put glue on each arm and attach the bell cap to the piece.

BEAD TIPS (aka, KNOT-COVERS)

These pieces are used to hide knots. One style has a cup with a tongue attached. Another style ends with a loop, not a tongue. The most widely used style — Clam Shell Bead Tip (or double-cup) — has two half cups that close over the knot, and a tongue extending from one end. While some people use these pieces with cable wire, they are primarily designed for use with needle and thread.

These take some practice in learning how to use them. On the first side of your piece, you string on the bead tip, say the clam shell. You tie a bunch of knots in the tail, so your knot is bigger than the hole in the bead tip, and won’t slip out. Cut off the tail. Put a drop of glue on the knot. Here you would use something like superglue. Superglue will make the knot stiff, so it won’t pull through the hole. E6000 will make the knot rubbery, and it will be able to contort and work its way through the hole. Trim the tail. Press the two halves of the clamp together over the knot, so it looks like a bead. Take the tongue, fold it over and through the ring on your clasp, and back to itself, so it forms a loop.

On the other side of your piece, here’s the tricky part. You need to keep your tension on the thread, so the thread doesn’t show when you’re finished. You need to tie a bunch of knots, and complete the rest of the process. This is a 3-hand operation, but you only have 2 hands.

Here you slide the bead tip onto your thread. Use one hand to hold everything tight. Take an awl or a round nose pliers — something where the width graduates into a point, and put the tip where you want your finished knot to end up. Tie an overhand knot over the awl or pliers up high on the wider part of the jaws. Tighten the loop of this knot. Tighten the tension on your thread. Move the loop down the awl or pliers a bit, moving towards the narrow pointed end. Tighten this loop. Check your overall thread tension. Move the loop down a little bit more. Tighten this loop. Check your overall thread tension. When you loop gets to the tip of your awl or pliers, you need to pull your knot tightly, and push the awl or pliers out of the way, AND, you want to maintain the thread tension in your piece. Tie a bunch more knots. Put glue on the knot. Trim the tail. Close the clamp. Loop the tongue into the other part of your clasp. This takes about 5 tries before your body gets that muscle memory to do the task easily and correctly.

When I started in jewelry making, almost every piece used bead tips. I’m not a big fan of this type of piece today. The tongue when bent over to hook and secure the clasp is not jointed enough. It doesn’t leave a big enough loop, so there is tension and these tongues break off. Today, you can tie your piece to the clasp using knots, then slip a crimp cover over the knot, so it looks finished as if there were a bead there. This is both more secure and easier to do.

Some alternatives to tying a globular knot: (1) with needle and thread work, you can tie off an end to an 11/0 seed bead, and have your clam-shell enclose the seed bead, and (2) with cable wire, you can crimp on a crimp bead on the end of your wire, and have your clam-shell enclose the crushed crimp bead.

CONES

Cones come in many shapes and designs, but basically look like a megaphone. These are used to finish off the ends of jewelry, often to hide a lot of messy knots or unfinished ends inside the cone.

One style of cone is called a 3-to-1 cone (also, 2-to-1 up to 11-to-1). This is a flattened cone, with one hole on one side, and 3 holes on the other. This is supposed to help you finish off a 3-strand piece in a decorative way. You pull each of 3 strands through the 3 holes on one side, and out together through the one hole on the other side. For two of the strands, you tie a large knot or double-knot, cut off the excess tail, and let the knot fall back into the box of the cone. I’ve only known one person in my life who could accomplish this, and maintain sufficient string tension so that none of the cable wire showed on the other side of the cone and as part of the bracelet. For the 3rd string, you would continue creating your clasp assembly. This is a good piece in theory, but not practice. Most people end up tying the three strands into this big, globular knot, and then trying to finish off the clasp assembly, only to have the clasp assembly take up 25–30% of their finished bracelet.

Regular cones are used like lampshades to hide some ugliness. With the typical cone style — that megaphone looking piece, the way you are supposed to use this piece is as follows: You take a soldered ring, something small enough so that it will fit far enough back into the cone, that the cone will hide any of the finishing knots or ends. If we start with a 3-strand necklace, you would tie off each strand to one side of the soldered ring. Then you would take a separate, independent cable wire, hard wire or thread, whatever you are stringing with, and tie it off in a knot to the other side of the soldered ring, pull the whole works into the cone, with the stringing material coming out the narrow end. Then you would finish off your clasp assembly.

The soldered ring, in this case, acts as a “support system”, creating jointedness. Otherwise, without this ring or support system, the cone could not support the resulting stress and strain. Since all the pieces are metal — cable wire, cone, clasp, crimp — , and these would be too stiff and would not move easily, and, as you now know very well, when you bend metal back and forth, it breaks.

EYEGLASS HOLDER ENDS

A major category of jewelry are eyeglass leashes. You make an eyeglass leash by attaching an eyeglass holder end to the eyeglasses, making a string of beads, attaching the string of beads to a split ring, and attaching the split ring to the eyeglass holder end. You never attach the beadwork directly to the holder ends. Eyeglass leashes take a huge beating, as they are worn, and you need to create as much jointedness as possible, so you don’t ruin someone’s eyeglasses, have the lenses shift position within the frames, or have the leash break. In fact, we want to use a split ring — about 10mm or 12mm in diameter — that is a little larger visually than you might feel comfortable with.

Eyeglass leash holder ends are made from round rubber thong (usually black or clear), flat vinyl (usually black or clear), or elastic cord (comes in many colors). The round rubber thong is the most durable. Elastic cord is not durable at all. There are various style options. Most come with what is called a “coil center”. When the eyeglass leashes are worn, the rubber, vinyl or elastic cord sweats, both from the humidity found in the air, as well as the wearer’s own body sweat. Coil centers tend to slip, so these don’t work well with narrow arms on eyeglasses. Other eyeglass leashes come with a bead center, usually a 6mm glass roller bead. The beads don’t slip.

The ones with bead centers are a little more expensive than the ones with coil centers. One company bought the ones with the coil centers, slipped these off what is basically a rubber band, and slipped on a 6mm glass roller bead. They took a $0.45 cent piece and sold them for $4.00 a piece. People thought they were magic because the beads didn’t slip, so were willing to pay the premium. You can do the same thing. There are about 300 colors of roller beads, so you can personalize your line.

WATCH BAND COMPONENTS

These pieces are used to adapt watch faces so you can make beaded watch bands off them. They consist of a tube designed to slip over the spring bar on each end of a watch face, and some kind of loop or series of holes that come off the tube. Beaded watch bands have become so popular, that now you can purchase watch faces designed specifically to attach these to them.

CRIMP BEADS, CRIMP COVERS, and HORSESHOE WIRE PROTECTORS

Crimp beads come in many styles, sizes and finishes. These are used to secure cable wires to clasps. The crimping process involves crushing the crimp onto the cable wire, first separating the tail wire from the main wire, then creating a lock, and finally re-shaping it so it looks like a bead again.

Crimp Covers

These are U-shaped beads that slip over the crushed crimp. They are used like a lampshade to hide something that is ugly.

You attach the crimp cover in two steps. First, 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.

So, Second, at this point, you return the crimp cover to your crimping pliers, this time resting it between the top notches (thus, furthest from your hand) in each jaw. This will help preserve the roundness of the crimp cover as you manipulate it. Gently push the jaws to force the lips to meet more perfectly. You can slide crimp covers over your crushed crimps. You can also use these to slide over any knots, to hide the knots.

Horseshoe wire protectors

These serve several purposes. (1) 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.

(2) The horseshoe also makes the loop more finished looking — better than a bare-wire loop. Most people hate 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.

(3) The horseshoe prevents the cable wire from folding into a V 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 break.

There are many choices to make when selecting crimp beads:

Crimp Beads

tube vs. round 
 no difference in “holdability”, but most people prefer the tubes

THE SILVER COLOR ISSUE: sterling silver vs. silver plated vs. silver plated crimp with sterling silver crimp cover vs. argentium silver crimps
 Silver-plated crimps are usually plated over brass. Brass has a very high degree of integrity as a jewelry making metal. The plating wears off relatively quickly, and your crimps will look black — basically tarnished brass. More recently, these plated crimps have been plated over aluminum, which can break from the force of the crimping pliers.

Sterling softens at body temperature. If your crimp is resting on the wrist or the neck, there is some risk of it softening and weakening. This risk is minimal, however. If you’ve crimped correctly, you shouldn’t lose sleep over this. I prefer to use the sterling silver crimps; they are often made better than the other crimps.

You can also use a silver-plated crimp to crimp, and slide a sterling silver crimp cover over it.

Argentium has the same silver content as sterling but does not soften as easily at body temperature. These are a lot more expensive than sterling.

crushing the crimp and re-rounding it vs. crushing, then using crimp cover

Some people don’ t like the look of the re-rounded crimp, or feel uncomfortable trying to re-round them. The crimp covers add about $0.50 — $1.00 more to each piece.

plain tube vs. 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.

Regular or long tube vs. short or half tube
 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 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, by using more than one crimp on each end, that one of these crimps will cut through the cable wire. One crimp on either end is enough.

variations on quality/grade of crimp beads
 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.

using 1 crimp on each end vs. using more than 1 crimp on each end
 Using 1 crimp on each end of your piece is sufficient. Using more than 1 crimp on each end is too risky. Sometimes you mind, or your best friend, thinks that is 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.

size of crimp

Manufacturers are inconsistent in how they label the sizes of crimp beads. In general:

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

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

2.5mm is slightly more than averg For .019 and .024 cable wires

3.0mm is large For .024 cable wires, or thicker cords, or bringing

more than 1 strand thru at a time

4.0mm and larger For thicker cords, or bringing 2+ strands thru

Continue Part 2: Controllers and Adapters

______________________________________________

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 StoryThe 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

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

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Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online. Begin with my ORIENTATION TO BEADS & JEWELRY FINDINGS COURSE.

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

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

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PART 2: THE JEWELRY DESIGNER’S ORIENTATION TO OTHER JEWELRY FINDINGS: PART 2: CONTROLLERS AND…

Posted by learntobead on March 14, 2021

Continue Part 1: Preparers

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online. Begin with my ORIENTATION TO BEADS & JEWELRY FINDINGS COURSE. There are 18 video modules including handouts, which this is one of.

Choosing and Using Other Jewelry Findings: Controllers and Adapters

You have to approach the Jewelry Findings with a large measure of respect. “Jewelry Findings” are all the pieces that you use, including clasps, other than stringing materials and beads. They are called “jewelry findings”, because up until about 15 years ago, many of these pieces didn’t exist. People went to sewing notion stores, antique stores, flea markets, hardware stores, cannibalized old jewelry, wherever, and found things and made them work. Because many of these pieces are new, there is not a consensus on what some of these things should be called, so you have a lot of similarly looking pieces that go by different names. I’m sure over time, the name-game will shake out, and there will be more consistency.

Respect these jewelry findings. They are the pieces that get pulled and strained, torn at and squeezed, maligned and misused. These are the pieces that will make or break your piece of jewelry. Understand and respect them.

Many designers fail to make the full range of these pieces available to them. They either don’t know about them, or are afraid of them or think they might use them incorrectly. They too often limit their own design possibilities by relying on the same limited set of findings for everything they make. But the world of possibilities that these jewelry findings open up for us is endless.

CONTROLLERS:
 Things Which Control the Positioning of Pieces or Sections within Your Piece:

SEPARATOR or SPACER BARS

These are multi-hole pieces that are used to keep multi-strand pieces neat and organized. In a bracelet you might use 3–5, spaced evenly along the length of the piece. In a necklace, you might use 5–7, spaced evenly along the length of the piece.. Some of these pieces are very narrow and meant to be “hidden”. Others have a decorative edge that will be seen as part of the overall design. Separators with a broad surface are referred to as Separator Boxes.

END BARS (can also be used for making earring dangles)

These pieces are basically a bar, with one centered loop off one side, and multiple loops off the other. For a 3-loop end bar (which has 4 loops — 1 centered on one side, and 3 on the other) you would finish off a 3-strand piece on the one side, and then use the single loop on the other side to begin your clasp assembly. The bar can be plain, or very decorative. The bar can be straight, curved, or zig-zagged.

On an earring, with the bar positioned horizontally, you can dangle these one from the other, and create a neat cascading effect with dangles.

These come plain, as well as very decorative.

CONNECTORS and LINKABLES

There is a sub-family of jewelry findings originally called “Connectors”, and more recently referred to as “Linkables”. [The word “connectors” didn’t seem to resonate with customers, so they are trying “linkables”, which also doesn’t particularly resonate, because people are unfamiliar with most of these types of parts. That’s unfortunate, because connectors and linkables open up myriad design possibilities.]

Connectors or linkables are pieces that either have a lot of holes in them, or have multiple loops that come off them. They enable the designer to create segments or sections of beads, which are then connected to each other. They enable the designer to re-direct the flow or pathway of the piece, or to start new pathways/directions off the original piece. They allow you to create support systems within your pieces which are very attractive, appealing, and create a higher level of interest on the part of both viewers and wearers.

The most basic connectors or linkables are rings of various sorts.

Jump rings have a gap or split in them. 
 Split rings are like little key rings, in which the wire of the ring goes around twice. 
 Soldered rings or stamped solid rings have no gaps whatsoever.

In making a choice among these, you would first try to use a soldered or stamped solid ring. If this won’t work, because you have to make some kind of jump, your second choice is a split ring. If this won’t work, either functionally or sometimes from a visual-appeal standpoint they are not appealing, you would use a jump ring.

To open and close a jump ring, you move the wire ends, on either side of the gap, sideways just a bit, so that you have an opening wide enough to slip over whatever you need to slip them over on. You never pull the wires out and in, just back and forth. After you have connected your pieces to your ring, you close the ring by moving the two ends side to side until the two ends meet. If you have difficulty doing this with your fingers, or the aid of a chain nose pliers, you can purchase a jump ring pliers. With the jump ring pliers, you close the jump ring as best as you can with your fingers. Then you put the jump ring between the jaws of these pliers, and squeeze to close perfectly.

Bead Attach Rings

These are two rings soldered together, one small and one larger. These are primarily used in beaded charm bracelets. If you strung your charms on with your beads, they would get locked between the beads, and not flow freely. Instead, you string on your beads, and string on (through the smaller hole) a bead attach ring, everywhere you want to place a charm. Then you attach the charms, usually using a jump ring or split ring, to the larger hole.

Rosary and Y-Necklace Components, and other multi-hole or multi-loop pieces (see above) let you segment your pieces, or take the strings in different directions.

Beads

There are some beads that are considered a part of the Connector or Linkable family.

Double beads are either tubes that are soldered together so that the directions of the tubes are different, or you have a tube with one or more rings soldered along its length.

Say you have two tubes soldered together, and one is curved to the left and the other to the right. You take two strings, one through one, and the other through the other tube, add some beads to both, add another 2-tube-double-bead, to twist the strings in the opposite direction, add more beads to each string, another double bead, and so forth. You end up with a bracelet or necklace that looks somewhat like a DNA-strand (double helix).

Say you have a twist tube with two loops soldered to it, one near the top, and the other near the bottom. You can take two of these, and make a long necklace, with one tube+loops positioned on the left side, and a second one positioned on the right side. The wire of this necklace is strung through the tubes. Next, you take another stringing wire from the top loop on the left side and the top loop of the other tube+loops bead on the right side, and make a strand of beads across the chest. Do this again, attaching the lower loops from left to right. You end up with a necklace that also has two strands going across the chest.

Twister beads are round beads that are soldered together, so that the holes go in different directions. Usually these come as two soldered beads or three soldered beads. You place these in 2-strand or 3-strand necklace or bracelet, at each point you want the strands to cross over each other.

The traditional way to make a twist necklace or bracelet is to take two end bars, and attach the strands in the following way:

Twister beads come in handy because problems arise when these multiple strand pieces are done the traditional way and are worn. First, if you flip one of the end bars over to its other side, you lose the twist as you envision it. Second, when people wear these pieces, they often don’t twist at the points you envisioned, either.

By using two twister beads — in this case, a twister bead comprised of 2 beads soldered together — in the example, the piece will always twist in the way the artist envisions.

Tubes with loops.

These are basically a tube with a loop soldered off the middle. You string these on everyone wherever you to add a drop or pendant to your piece.

ADAPTERS: Things Which Help Adapt Something So It May Be Used Within Your Piece:

BAILS

These are basically pieces that enable you to put a loop somewhere along your strung piece of jewelry. You string these pieces on everywhere you want to add a drop or a pendant. Regular bails look similar to tubes or beads with a soldered loop off the end.

Some loops are set horizontally, and some vertically, and this positioning of the loop may affect how useful it is for your piece. PAY ATTENTION to the positioning of the bail’s loop relative to the positioning of the hole on your pendant piece.

Other types of bails: 
 Pinch bail — basically a fancy V-shaped piece. The legs have pointed pinchers at their ends. You push these pinchers into a horizontally drilled drop. Austrian crystal drops, for example, are horizontally drilled. And you end up with a loop to string through.

Pinch bails come in many sizes, and a few different configurations, today. You need to match the pinch bail and its design to the pendant drop you want to combine it with. When you open and close the pinch bail too many times, it breaks. You are basically taking metal and bending it back and forth. When you try to fit the bail onto the drops, often you break the tops of the drops, particularly if your drops are some type of crystal material. A hazard of using these. So, when planning your projects (and also when pricing these), always assume you will need some extra bails and some extra pendant drops.

While not my favorite thing to do, some people put a drop of super glue where each point or beg of the bail enters the drilled hole.

Snap on bail — basically a fancy lanyard clasp. This is used to make your pendant removable. You can snap on the bail over the stringing wire, and then take it off the stringing wire.

Wire bails — basically a triangular shaped jump ring, where the gap is off to the side, rather than at the bottom. The drop or pendant won’t have a gap to pull through, because the gap is on the side. What I like about these is that people often bring things into the shop to have us convert into some kind of pendant drop, and if I can’t find a regular piece to work, I usually can always make a wire bail work.

Donut bail

The donut bail is used to convert a glass or gemstone donut into a drop. You slip one side of the bail through the donut hole, then push the two loops on the end of the bail together. Then you string through the two loops.

Beaver Tail or Beaver Tail Bail

Beaver tails are flat surfaces with a loop or bail loop attached to one end. You glue the flat surface to your piece, say a piece of fused glass, letting the loop or bail loop to stick out over the top of the piece. If a plain loop, you would add a jump ring or similar piece, to finish off the piece.

Leaf or Foldover Bail

This is a long piece of metal with flat, decorative ends on each side, usually a leaf stamping. You carefully fold this over, creating a loop in the middle. Then you glue either flat surface to the surface of your pendant drop, like a piece of fused glass.

To glue the leaf, foldover, beaver tail or beaver tail bail to a piece, first try either E6000 or Beacon 527. If these don’t work, try a 5-minute epoxy that comes in a dual-syringe. If your piece is smooth glass, you might use some sandpaper or a file to rough up the surface a bit before gluing. If you have still having difficulty with a glass piece, try using glass cement.

SCREW EYES

These pieces are a screw-threaded post, with a loop soldered to the top. You put some glue (any glue except super glue) on the post, push it into a bead — they do not screw into anything — , attach a jump ring to the loop and string the bead on to your piece as a drop.

EXTENDER CHAINS

This is a short length of chain, usually with a spring ring clasp on one side, and a bead-drop on the other. You can buy these pre-made, or make your own. These are used to lengthen necklaces. The spring ring clasps onto the existing ring of the necklace; the hook-clasp can clasp into any link on the chain. The bead drop is primarily decorative.

SAFETY CHAINS

These 2 ½” to 3” lengths of chain, have two tiny jump rings, one on each end. These are used to attach to bracelets, to prevent you from losing your bracelet, should the clasp come undone. You can buy these pre-made, or make your own.

HEAD PINS

Head pins are pieces of wire with a flattened or decorative end or head. You put beads on the head pin, and the head stops them from falling off. You make a loop on the other end, and string these on a necklace, or dangle them from an ear-wire or other loop. You need ½” of exposed wire to make a loop. You can make a single loop, a double loop or a triple loop. Each provides a different level of security, a different visual appearance, and a different impact on the resulting silhouette.

Head pins come in different thicknesses (gauges). 
 Regular thickness: 20 gauge
 Extra Thin: 22 gauge or 21 gauge
 Ultra Thin: 24 gauge or 26 gauge

Too many people try to use the longest head-pins they can get. They end up with bent dangles and drops on funny looking necklaces, bracelets and earrings. If you want something “long”, consider making a series of links using eye pins, instead.

When you make your loops on the head pin, make them large enough so that they have sufficient jointedness and support, and will easily slip over the stringing material or finding. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen women with earring dangles stuck in a 90 degree angle, because the loops were too small.

EYE PINS

Eye pins are pieces of wire with a loop on one end. These are used to make bead-chains, such as in a rosary. You put one or more beads on the eye pin, then make a loop on the other end. You need ½” of exposed wire to make a loop. These come in different thicknesses (gauges).
 Regular thickness: 20 gauge
 Extra Thin: 22 gauge or 21 gauge
 Ultra Thin: 24 gauge or 26 gauge

You can buy head pins and eye pins pre-made. Or you can easily make your own, using simple wire working techniques.

Continue Part 1: Preparers

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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 StoryThe 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

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

______________________________________________

Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online. Begin with my ORIENTATION TO BEADS & JEWELRY FINDINGS COURSE.

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

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

Add your name to my email list.

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

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So You Want To Be A Jewelry Designer… Becoming One With What Inspires You

Posted by learntobead on April 21, 2020

INSPIRATION AND ASPIRATION
“In the beginning, there was the idea.”

The words creativity, inspiration and aspiration are often used interchangeably, and I think it’s important that we draw a clearer distinction.

Creative people don’t just sit around and wait for inspiration to strike. Inspiration is not the source of creativity. Rather, inspiration is the motivated response to the creative impulse. Aspiration, in turn, is the motivated response by the artist to actualize inspiration.

Creativity is “a phenomenon where both something new and, at the same time, somehow valuable is created.”

Inspiration is defined as, “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something.”

Aspiration is, “a hope or ambition of achieving something.”

There are many dichotomies. Stimulation versus ambition. Excitement versus action. Idea versus value. And most significantly, external versus internal.

Inspiration is something we seek to ingest from outside. Aspiration is something we cultivate within ourselves.

I have been inspired by an extraordinary number of people over the course of my life. My mentors in college when I was struggling to decide between becoming an archaeologist or a psychologist. In my first job at New Brunswick Tomorrow where I guided a board of health care providers in creating a health plan for the city. In a subsequent job by government officials with a clear vision for health care in Tennessee. Finding inspirations has never been a challenge for me.

But I had never really aspired to be like anyone until I dropped out of the corporate race, and turned to jewelry designing. It had never excited me or got my juices flowing before in the same way. But with jewelry design, I felt I could accomplish these wonderful designs, And, as my aspirations came into fruition, I began to feel that I could shape the field and profession of jewelry design and change the way jewelry makers work in some way. I was filled with aspirations to be heard and to make a difference. The response to my aspirations, from students or people reacting to my written articles, inspired me. If filled me with aspirations, and I had to figure the details out. I had to be very self-directed to continue as a jewelry designer and begin to transform how it is understood as a professional endeavor all its own — apart from craft and apart from art.

INSPIRATION: Becoming One with What Inspires You

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

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

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

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

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

When inspired, artists perceive new possibilities that transcend that which is ordinary around them. Too often, the artist feels passive in this process. This transcendence does not feel like a willfully generated idea. However, it needs to be.

The successful artist — one who eventually can achieve a level of resonance — is one who is not only inspired by, but also inspired to. This all requires a great deal of metacognitive self-awareness. The artist must be able to perceive the intrinsic value of the inspiring object, and how to extend this value in design, where the piece of jewelry becomes its expression.

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

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

Too often we lose sight of the importance of inspiration to the authentic performance task of creating jewelry. We operate with the belief that anyone can be inspired by anything. There’s nothing more to it. Moreover, inspiration gets downplayed when put next to the discussion of the effort of making jewelry itself.

But it should not. Inspiration awakens us to new possibilities. It allows us to transcend the ordinary, surface experiences. It propels us to design. In transforms how we perceive what we do and what we can do. Inspiration is not something that should be overlooked just because it is somewhat fuzzy and elusive.

Inspiration is not less important than perspiration. It plays an equal role in the creative process. The artist’s clarity about why something is inspiring, and why this inspiration motivates the artist to respond, will be critical for achieving success, that is resonance.

The Core Aspects of Inspiration

In psychology, inspiration is seen to have three key qualities:

– Evocation

– Transcendence, and

– Approach motivation

Evocation. Inspiration is evoked. It feels spontaneous. Unintentional.

Transcendence: Inspiration transcends the ordinary to the noteworthy. It involves a moment of clarity, or at least a bit of clarity, which makes us aware of new possibilities. The moment itself may be vivid, very emotional, even passionate.

Approach motivation: The person strives to transmit, express or actualize their inspiration. The person, for whatever reason, wants to act on that inspiration.

Inspired people are more open to experience. They are not necessarily conscience about it. It just happens. It isn’t willed. Inspired people appear to be more self-directed. They want to master their work. They do not consider inspiration a competitive sport, at least most don’t. Inspired people focus on the subjective, intrinsic value of an object, not its external, objective worth.

Where Do You Find Inspirations?

Inspirations matter a lot. This may cause you to feel pressure to become inspired and find new topics and projects to work on, and feel helpless when you can’t. But remember, inspirations cannot be willed. They are more spontaneous and transcendent. This does not mean, however, that inspiration is completely out of your control. If you put yourself in situations where you are more likely to find inspiration, you will find inspirations. You always need to be working towards finding it.

1. Look Around You

Notice something different. Focus on something and ask yourself why it exists, in the form that it is in, in the place your find it, in the uses you put to it. What if it wasn’t there? What if it was different? When was the last time you used it? Could something else substitute for it? In your workspace, surround yourself with inspiring images.

2. Go For A Walk
 
 Try to find the things you don’t often see or focus on. Try to declutter your mind, and fill it with new observations. Walk the same path at different times during the day, or when the weather changes. Find other pathways you think are similar or different and walk those, evaluating the similarities or differences.

3. Meet New People

Surround yourself with other inspiring and creative people. Go out of your way to meet them. Talk. Discuss. Dialog. Share an experience. Collaborate. Show genuine interest in what they do, how they do, why they do.

4. Get Lost

Take a wrong turn on the highway. Visit a place you have never been to before. Take it all in. What are your thoughts? Feelings? Emotions? Are you excited, scared, bored, in wonder?

5. Read or Watch Something New and Inspirational

The internet provides all kinds of resources to lose yourself in. Visit a museum. Change the channel on the TV. Check out a bookstore. But deviate from the same-ole, same-ole.

6. Change Your Routine

If you have a schedule, deviate from it. If you are a morning person, try being a night person for a few days. If you like to think and work in one setting, change the setting.

7. Learn Something New

Take a class. Do a tutorial. Try a different technique. Use different materials. Try something you are not good at.

How Does Inspiration Relate To Design?

Jewelry design is an extended process. Some of the process is planned, and some of it is spontaneous. At the beginning of the process we have Inspiration. We make choices, then question our choices, relating inspiration to aspirations to designs. We are critical, in a positive sense, and slowly maintain our attention and work through what is a more extended design process.

What is most important here is that you learn, not only to inspire others by, but how to inspire others to. That is, you want to learn how to translate an inspiration into a design in such a way that the wearer and the viewer are inspired to emotionally connect with the pieces as if they were following and identifying with your own thoughts and feelings.

They don’t simply react emotionally by saying the piece is “beautiful.” The piece conveys more power than that. It resonates for them. They react by saying they “want to touch it“ or want to wear it” or “want to buy it” or “want to make something like it”. They come to feel and see and sense the artist’s hand.

What Is Aspiration?

Aspiration is the motivational basis for wanting to translate your inspiration into a design. To aspire is to rise up to a great plan, an abundance of hope and desire. To aspire is to bring others into this plan, hope and desire. Aspiration is a inspired-related search for possibilities.

There are certain objective aspects to it. The artist is translating the inspiration into concrete concepts, such as color choice, material choice, and the choices of techniques and composition. The concepts are goal-oriented and have universally shared meanings. They are reasonable.

And there are certain subjective aspects to it. It is the artist who wants the thing, and finds pleasure in all this. It is the artist who wants others to experience the emotional content of the inspirations as the artist does. These subjective aspects are rationale.

ASPIRATION: Translating Creativity into A Technical Product Design

Aspiration motivates the artist to actualize inspiration.

Aspiration is where the artist translates inspiration into an expressive design concept. The artist begins to control and regulate what happens next. This involves selecting Design Elements[1] and clustering them to formulate meaningful expressions. The greater value the artist places on resonance, the stronger the aspiration will be to achieve it.

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

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

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

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

What Is The Relationship of Aspiration to Resonance?

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

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

Anticipating Shared Understandings

Shared understandings dictate opportunities, contingencies and constraints.

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

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FOOTNOTES

CA Griffin Group. The Intersection of Inspiration and Aspiration. Jan 19, 2018.
 As referenced in https://medium.com/@craig_38900/the-intersection-of-aspiration-and-inspiration-23893e250bb3

Hess, Whitney. Inspiration and Aspiration. July 27, 2010.
 As reference in https://whitneyhess.com/blog/2010/07/27/inspiration-and-aspiration/

Kaufman, Scott Barry. Why Inspiration Matters. Harvard Business Review, Nove 8, 2011.

Lamp, Lucy. 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

Metz, John. April 10, 2013. 
 As referenced in https://www.thindifference.com/2013/04/do-you-have-to-aspire-to-inspire/

Sharma, Shashank. Comprehensive Guide To Finding Inspiration For Art: Everything you need to know about finding creative art inspiration, March 31, 2017.
 As referenced in https://blog.dextra.art/https-blog-dextra-xyz-comprehensive-guide-to-finding-inspiration-for-art-c9f2e764a5fc

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 »

WHAT IS JEWELRY … Really?

Posted by learntobead on April 18, 2020

“Tibetan Dreams”, Feld, 2010

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

WHAT IS JEWELRY, Really?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prehistoric Necklaces 40000 B.C

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

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

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

We know that this Neanderthal man was not the last person to wear a piece of jewelry. Jewelry continued in importance over time. Jewelry mattered. It was an object we touched. And it was an object we allowed to touch our bodies. The object had form. The form encapsulated meaning. We allowed others to view the jewelry as we wore it, and when we did not.

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

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

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

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

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

Jewelry means to me …..… therefore, 
 These are the types of choices I need to make as a designer 
 to know my pieces are finished and successful, 
 including things like ……… .

These different definitional frameworks about jewelry are things characterized by sensations the jewelry evokes in designer, wearer and viewer.

These frameworks for defining what jewelry really is include,

SENSATION OF JEWELRY AS OBJECT:

1. ROUTINE: Something that we do with little or no reflection

2. MATERIAL: Objects that we use as materials characterized or sorted by design elements, such as color, pattern, texture, volume, weight, reflective and refractive properties

3. ARRANGEMENT AND FORMS: Materials are sorted by various Principles of Composition into arrangements and forms, expressing things like rhythm, focus, and juxtaposition of lines and planes

4. TECHNIQUE: Steps or routines we use to assemble and construct

5. FUNCTIONALITY: Things which have a useful purpose and practicality

SENSATION OF JEWELRY AS CONTENT:

6. MEANING: Things to which we assign meaning(s), especially where such meaning(s) transcends materials, functions and techniques

7. VALUE: Things to which we assign monetary and economic value, particularly materials

SENSATION OF JEWELRY AS INTENT:

8. ORDER OUT OF CHAOS: A sense-making attempt to control and order the world

9. SELF-IDENTITY: An agent of personality

SENSATION OF JEWELRY AS DIALECTIC:

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

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

SENSATION OF JEWELRY AS OBJECT

“Tibetan Dreams”, detail, FELD, 2010

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

This universality in defining and evaluating jewelry helps us not to feel alone.

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

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

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

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

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

SENSATION OF JEWELRY AS CONTENT

“Tibetan Dreams”, detail, FELD, 2010

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

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

These shared recognitions and valuing of meanings helps us not to feel alone.

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

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

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

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

SENSATION OF JEWELRY AS INTENT

“Tibetan Dreams”, detail, FELD, 2010

Someone has to infuse the object with all this content, and this proactive act leads us to the idea of intent. Often this imposition of meaning begins with the jewelry artist. Jewelry becomes a means of self-expression. The artist, in effect, tells the world who the artist is, and what the artist wants to happen next.

The artist might be subdued or bold, colorful or monochromatic, simple or complex, extravagant or economical, logical or romantic, deliberate or spontaneous. The artist might be direct or indirect in how meanings get communicated. It is important, in order to understand the meaning of an object, to begin by delineating the artist’s inspiration, aspiration and intent.

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

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

Though often unstated, it becomes obvious that of all the possible choices the artist could have made in design, that some choices were ignored and excluded, while others were not. Some negative space is left so. Some positive space has direction, motion, weightiness. Somethings are abstract; other things realistic. These and related choices have implications and consequences.

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

Our perceptions of the coherence in the artist’s inspiration and intent, as reflected in our interpretations of that artist’s jewelry, helps us not to feel alone. We may see coherence as a subjective thing or a universally understoodthing. It doesn’t matter which. If we believe we can make sense of things, if the jewelry feels and seems coherent in some way, we feel safe, and that we have reduced the risks in life. We do not feel so left alone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We may derive our personality and sense of soul and spirit from the qualities we assign the jewelry we wear. We do not merely wear jewelry as some object; more specifically, we inhabit jewelry. If ruby jewelry symbolizes passion, we may feel passion when wearing it. We may use jewelry as an expressive display of who we feel we are and want to be seen as in order to attract mates and sexual partners. We use jewelry in a narcissistic way to influence the alignment of the interests and desires among artist, weaver, viewer, collector, exhibiter, and seller.

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

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

SENSATION OF JEWELRY AS DIALECTIC
 
Jewelry As Interaction and Shared Understandings

“Tibetan Dreams”, FELD, 2010

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

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

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

Jewelry expresses or implies things, the relevance of which emerges through interactions. There is an exchange of meaning. There is some reciprocity between the artist expressing an inspiration with the desire for a reaction, and the wearer evaluating the success of the piece and impacting the artist, in return. We have those coherence-contagion-decoherence behavioral patterns discussed above.

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

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

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

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

We don’t feel alone because we have opportunities to have a dialectic experience — a dialogue between self and artist, self and others, self and self — all catalyzed by the piece of jewelry, and our sensation of all the choices that had to be made in order for it to exist, in order for it to feel coherent, in order for it for fulfill desire, and in order for all of this to somehow feel contagious and resonant. We don’t feel alone because the jewelry taps into something inside us that makes us want to wear it, buy it and share it.

Jewelry Ages In Place With Us

Jewelry comforts us as we age in place. The bracelet we got for graduation still worn on an occasion when we are 65. The ring he bought her when she was in her 20’s still worn on the day she passed away.

With jewelry, we will never feel alone as we grow older. As our body changes in pallor and texture. As we gain weight or lose weight. As we change our styles of clothing or hair or activity.

This constellation of material objects, distributed across the human body, reflects transformation, movement, growth, and behavior. These reflect the life we live, and how we lived it. These are a story of how we performed our lives over time. They reveal an otherwise unseen perspective on life as the body ages, and we live through time. They show that not all lived lives have been ad libbed.

The jewelry will also show its age over time. Changes in color, perhaps fading, perhaps becoming duller or spotty. A clasp may have been replaced. The piece may have been restrung. It may have been shortened or lengthened. It may have been worn a lot. Or lost for a while. Or given away. Its associative or symbolic value may have changed.

Jewelry is life performed. Both are observable. Both indicative of our place — our aura — in the world around us as time goes on. Both an experience — often changing — of a point of view from the hand that crafted the piece in the first place, and the desires of the person who wore the piece over time. We possess it and wear it so it reminds us that we are not alone.

Knowing What Jewelry Really Is
 Translates Into Artistic and Design Choices

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

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

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

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

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

artist and wearer
 wearer and viewer
 artist and self
 artist and seller
 seller and client
 artist and exhibiter
 artist and collector
 exhibiter and collector

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

The better jewelry designer is one who anticipates these shared understandings about what makes a piece of jewelry finished and successful, and can incorporate these understandings within the jewelry design process s/he undertakes. Knowing what jewelry really is forms a critical aspect of what sets jewelry design as a discipline apart from that of art or craft. Knowing what jewelry really is and how it helps us not feel alone forms the basis of the professional identity and disciplinary literacy of the jewelry designer.

_________________________________________

FOOTNOTES

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

(2) Pravu Mazumdar, Jewellery as Performance: on Gisbert Stach’s Experiments with 
 Jewellery and Life
, Klimt02, 11/22/2019

As referenced:

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.

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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Use of Armature in Jewelry Design — Legitimate, or Not?

Posted by learntobead on April 17, 2020

Autumns End Bracelet

While I occasionally use armatures in my beadwork projects, I have a psychological aversion to them as somehow contaminating my beadwork, making it less pure, taking the sacred and making it profane. I think what I viscerally react to is how often, the way people use the armatures, makes the piece look more crafty or less finished.

Nevertheless, when you need your beadwork to hold a shape, what other things can you resort to?

What kinds of experiences do you have with armatures? What kinds of materials have you used, and which to you like to use best?

How do you marry the beadwork with the armature? Camouflage?

About Armature

Armature is used to create and preserve shape within a piece. It is a type of “skeleton” or internal structure.

Your goals, as a bead artist and jewelry designer, are to select an appropriate material and size of the armature, so that it does not compete or detract from your finished piece. You do not want your piece to look or feel “crafty.” You want it to look and feel artistic and well-designed. You do not want your piece to feel weak, or somehow insufficient, given the wearer’s and the viewer’s expectations.

You do not want the essence of the armature’s materials in any way to work against the essence of the material(s) your beads are made of. Usually, but not always, this means hiding the armature inside the piece.

In making your selection of armature, you need to understand the design-relationships between those sections of the piece requiring armature, and why they require it.

One reason is to create or preserve a Shape. In Autumn’s End (pictured), Kathleen Lynam wanted to turn the somewhat soft, floppy and flimsy Ndebele tube into a solid, 3-dimensional tube which maintained a consistence 3-D s cylindrical shape.

A second reason to use an armature is to Pose. In Autumn’s End, she wanted the Ndebele tube to make a circle around a person’s wrist, and, once there, stay in form and place. Thus, our armature needs some degree of flexibility, but at the same time, it must be able to hold the pose, as well.

A third reason has to do with Action. She was concerned with Action, when a part of her piece had to be animated in some way. This is somewhat important with Autumn’s End, in that our wearer will have to pull open and push closed on the wristlet, to get it on and off, and to position it comfortably on the wrist..

There are many types of materials bead artists and jewelry designers use to make armatures. Sometimes this involves stuffing with cotton or fiber fill. It might involve using tin foil. Othertimes, we might use a toothpick, dowel, straw, tubing, wire, or metal rod. We can also create the armature using glue or floor wax to create a solid or stiffened structure. We can also create our armature from sculpted clay, like polymer clay or metal clay or plastic wood.

Given the shape and pose requirements of Autumn’s End, her choices came down to plastic aquarium tubing, a thick-gauge wire, or plumber’s solder. The tubing would not have met her “pose” and “action” requirements anywhere near as well as the solder does. Nor would a thick gauge wire.

In this piece, she used the idea of “Armature” in a secondary way. She painted the flowers and leaves with acrylic floor wax. This stiffened the threads — what would be considered the canvas of the piece — so that these threads, too, turned into a type of armature preserving “shape” and “pose”.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Best Way To Thread Your Needle

Bead Stringing With Needle and Thread

Beading Threads vs. Bead Cord

Turning Silver and Copper Metals Black: Some Oxidizing Techniques

Color Blending; A Management Approach

Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry: What Works!

What Glue Should I Use When Making Jewelry?

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

The Color Effects of Threads

Wax, Wax, Wax

When You Attend A Bead Show…

When Your Cord Doesn’t Come With A Needle…What You Can Do

Duct Tape Your Pliers

What To Know About Gluing Rhinestones

Know Your Anatomy Of A Necklace

How Does The Jewelry Designer Make Asymmetry Work?

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.

The Autumns End Bracelet project is available as instructions for download on the Land of Odds website.

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

Add your name to my email list.

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

Posted by learntobead on April 16, 2020

Caterpillar Espiritu, FELD, (2014)

Abstract: 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). There are ten attributes associated with creative problem solving: fluency, flexibility, elaboration, originality, complexity, risk-taking, imagination, curiosity, assessment, and implementation. Last, different strategies are discussed for enhancing creativity and overcoming creative blocks.

CREATIVITY ISN’T FOUND, IT’S DEVELOPED

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, imaginative and knowledge and skills 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 designing jewelry.

You sit down, and you ask, what should I create? For most people, especially those getting started, they look for patterns and instructions in bead 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.

When you feel more comfortable with the materials and the techniques, you can begin to make additional choices. You can choose your own colors. You can make simple adaptations, such as changing out the bead, or changing the dimensions, or changing out a row, or adding a different clasp.

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

But applying yourself creatively is also work. It can be fun at times, but scary at others. 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 always will seem easier to go with someone else’s project, already proven to be liked and tested — because it’s been published, and passed around, and done over and over again by many different people. Sometimes it 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 bead artist or jewelry designer. And pursuing opportunities to exercise your creative talents even more, as you enter the world of design.

What Is Creativity?

We create. Invent. Discover. Imagine. Suppose. Predict. Delve into unknown or unpredictable situations and figure out fix-it strategies for resolution and to move forward. All of these are examples of creativity. We synthesize. Generate new or novel ideas. Find new arrangements of things. Seek out challenging tasks. Broaden our knowledge. Surround ourselves with interesting objects and interesting people. Again, these are examples of creativity.

Yet, creativity scares people. They are afraid they don’t have it. Or not enough of it. Or not as much as those other people, whom they think are creative, have. They don’t know how to bring it to the fore, or apply it.

But creativity shouldn’t scare you. Everyone has some creative abilities within themselves. For most people, they need to develop it. Cultivate it. Nourish it. They need to learn various tools and skills and understandings for developing it, applying it and managing it. Creativity is a process. We think, we try, we explore, we fall down and pick ourselves up again. Creativity involves work and commitment. It requires a lot of self-awareness — what we call metacognition. It takes some knowledge, skill and understanding. It can overwhelm at times. It can be blocked at other times.

But it is nothing to be scared about. Creativity is something we want to embrace because it can bring so much self-fulfillment, as well as bring joy and fulfillment to others. Creativity is not some divine gift. It is actually the skilled application of knowledge in new and exciting ways to create something which is valued. Creativity can be acquired and honed at any age or any experience level.

For the jewelry designer, it’s all about how to think creatively. Thinking creatively involves the integration and leveraging of three different kinds of ideas — insight and inspiration, establishing value, and implementing something.

(1) Seeing something out of nothing (perception). Technically, we talk about this as controlling the relationship of space to mass. You begin with a negative space. Within this space, you add points, lines, planes and shapes. As you add and arrange more stuff, the mass takes on meaning and content. The designer has to apply creative thinking in finding inspiration, choosing design elements, arranging them, constructing them, and manipulating them.

(2) Valuing something (cognition). Connections are made. Meaning and content, when experienced by people, result in a sense of appeal and value. We refer to this as desire and expression. Value can relate to the worth or cost of the materials, the intuitive application of ideas and techniques by the artist, the usefulness or functionality of the piece, or something rare about the piece. Value can center on the power to leverage the strengths of materials or techniques, and minimize their weaknesses. The designer has to apply creative thinking to anticipate how various audiences will judge the piece.

(3) Implementing something (acceptance). Jewelry design occurs within a particular interactive context and dialog. The designer translates inspirations into aspirations. Aspirations are then translated into design ideas. Design ideas are implemented, refined, changed, and implemented again until the finished product is introduced publicly. The design process has to be managed. When problems or road-blocks arise, fix-it strategies and solutions need to be accessed and applied. All this occurs in anticipation of how various audiences will respond to the jewelry, and convey their reactions to the artist, their friends, family and acquaintances, and make choices about wearing it and buying it and displaying it publicly. The designer has to apply creative thinking in determining why anyone would like the piece, want the piece, buy the piece, wear the piece, wear it publicly, and wear it again and again, or give it as a gift to someone else.

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 jewelry, so creatively designed, does not have to be a totally and completely new and original design. 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 that enhances the functionality or value of the piece.

Creativity in jewelry 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 jewelry 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, because then it would represent a mere object, not jewelry. Creativity requires implementation. And for jewelry designers, implementation is a very public enterprise.

What Does It Take To Be Creative?

Creative people tend to possess a high level of energy, intuitiveness, and discipline. They are also comfortable spending a great deal of time quietly thinking and reflecting. They understand what it means to cultivate emotions, both within themselves, as well as relative to the various audiences they interact with. They are able to stay engaged with their piece for as long as it takes to bring it to completion. They fall in love with their work and their work process.

Creativity is not something that you can use up. To the contrary, the more you use your creativity, the more you have it. It is developmental, and for the better jewelry designer, development is a continual, life long process of learning, playing, experimenting and doing.

To be creative, one must have the ability to identify new problems, rather than depending on others to define them. The designer must be good at transferring knowledge gained in one context to another in order to solve a problem or overcome something that is unknown. I call this developing a designer tool box of fix-it strategies which the designer takes everywhere. The designer is very goal-oriented and determined in his or her pursuit. But, at the same time, the jewelry designer also understands and expects that the design process is very incremental with a lot of non-linear, back-and-forth thinking and application. There is an underlying confidence and belief, however, that eventually all of this effort will lead to success.

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 jewelry designer is able to comfortably weave back and forth between divergence and convergence, and know when the final choices are parsimonious and the piece is finished, and when the final choices will be judged as resonant and 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.

Creative Thinking

Creative thinking first involves cultivating divergent thinking skills and exposing ourselves to the new, the different, the unknown, the unexpected. It is, in part, a learning process. Then next, through our set of convergent thinking skills, we criticize, and meld, and synthesize, and connect ideas, and blend, and analyze, and test practicality, as we steer our thinking towards a singular, realistic, do-able solution in design.

Partly, what we always need to remember, is that this process of creative thinking in jewelry design also assists us finding that potential audience or audiences — weaver, buyer, exhibitor, collector — for our creative work. Jewelry is one of those special art forms which require going beyond a set of ideas, to recognizing how these ideas will be used. Jewelry is only art only when it is worn. Otherwise, it is a sculptural object.

There are 10 aspects to creative thought. Each should be considered as a separate set of skills, both for divergent as well as convergent thinking, which the jewelry designer wants to develop within him- or herself. Initially, the designer wants to learn, experiment with and apply these skills. Over time, the designer wants to develop a level of comprehension and fluency to the point that the application of each of this skills is somewhat automatic.

Fluency: Having a basic vocabulary in jewelry design, and the ability to see how these concepts and design elements are present (decoding) and arranged (composition, construction and manipulation). 
 Divergence: to generate as many possible elements and combinations to increase number of possible designs.

Flexibility: Ability to adapt selections and arrangements, given new, unfamiliar or unknown situations. 
 Divergence: generate a range and variety of possible configurations leading to same solution.

Elaboration: Ability to add to, embellish or build upon ideas incorporated into any jewelry design. 
 Divergence: generate the widest variety of attributes of design elements and combinations which have value-added qualities, given a particular design.

Originality: Ability to create something new or different which has usefulness and value. 
 Divergence: to delineate many ideas and concepts which are both new and have value.

Complexity: Ability to conceptualize difficult, multi-faceted, intricate, many-layered ideas and designs. 
 Divergence: to take a solution and break it down or reinterpret it into as many multiple facets or multiple layers as possible.

Risk-Taking: Willingness to try new things or think of new possibilities in order to show the artist’s hand publicly and stand apart. 
 Divergence: to elaborate the widest possible scenarios for publicly introducing the piece, given various design options, as well as all the ways these potential audiences might interact and use the jewelry, and all the ways these audiences might influence others, as well.

Imagination: Ability to be inspired, and to translate that inspiration into an aspiration. 
 Divergence: to think of many ways an inspiration might be described, interpreted, or experienced physically and emotionally, and to identify the many different ways inspirations might be interpreted into a jewelry design.

Curiosity: Ability to probe, question, search, wanting to know more about something. 
 Divergence: questioning the situation from many angles and perspectives.

Assessment: Ability to anticipate shared understandings, values and desires of various audiences for any piece of jewelry. 
 Divergence: identifying all the possible audiences a piece of jewelry might have, and all the different ways they might judge the piece as finished (parsimonious) and successful (resonant).

Implementation: Ability to translate aspirations into a finished jewelry design and design process. 
 Divergence: delineating all the possibilities an aspiration might get translated into a design, evaluated against all the possibilities the design could be successfully, practically and realistically implemented.

Enhancing Creativity and Overcoming Creativity Block

So, what kinds of creative advice can I offer you about enhancing your creativity? How can you nurture your creative impulses? How can you overcome roadblocks that might impede you?

Here is some of my advice:

Success Stories. While you are fiddling with beads and wire and clasps and everything else, try to be as aware as you can of why your successes are successful. What are all the things you did to succeed? On what points does everyone agree the project succeeds?

Un-Block. Don’t set up any road blocks. Many people, rather than venture onto an unknown highway of creativity, put up walls to delay their path. If they just had the right beads. Or the right colors. Or sufficient time. Or had learned one more technique. Or had taken one more class. Or could find a better clasp. These are excuses. Excuses to avoid getting creative.

Adapt. Anticipate contingencies. It amazes me how many people come into my shop with a picture out of a magazine. We probably can find over half the components, but for the remaining components pictured which we don’t have in stock, we suggest substitutes. But, NO, the customer has to have it exactly like the picture, or not at all. Not every store has every bead and component. Many beads and components are not made all the time. Many colors vary from batch to batch. Many established companies have components especially made up for them — and not available to the general public. The supplies of many beads and components are very limited — not unlimited. Always be prepared to make substitutions and adapt.

Play. Be a kid again. Let your imagination run wild. Try things. Try anything. If the world says your color combination is ugly, don’t listen to them. Do it anyway. Ignore all restrictions. Forget about social and art conventions.

Be Curious. Play “What If…” games. What if a different color? What if a different technique? What if a different width or length? What if a different style of clasp. Re-arrange things. Tweak. Take out a bead board, and lay out beads and findings on the board, and re-order everything — Ask yourself: More or less satisfying?

Embrace the New / Challenge yourself. Don’t do the same project over and over again, simply because you have proven to yourself that you can make it. While you might want to repeat a project, with some variations, to learn more things, too much doing of the same-ole, same-ole, can be very stifling.

Create An Imaginative Working Space / Manage Disruptions and Disruptors. You need comfortable seating, good lighting, smart organization of parts and tools and projects-in-process. Some people like music playing. If family or friends tend to interrupt you, explain to them you need some boundaries at certain times of the day or days of the week.

Evaluate / Be metacognitive. Learn from failures. You have invested time, money and effort into making these pieces. And not everything works out, or works out well. Figure out why, and turn these failed pieces into lessons and insights. Give yourself permission to be wrong. Build up your skills for self-awareness, self-management and self-assessment.

Take a break / Break your daily routine / Incubate it / Sleep on it. And if you suddenly find your productivity interrupted by Bead-Block and Artist-Block and Jeweler’s-Block, put your project down. Take a break. Mull on things awhile. Put yourself in a different environment. Take a walk. Sleep. A period of interruption or rest from a problem may aid creative problem-solving in that it lets us let go of or forget some misleading cues, thoughts, feelings and ideas.

Network / Connect With Other Jewelry Designers and Artists / Collaborate on a Project. Here you want to tap into and absorb someone else’s energy, knowledge and insights. Surround yourself with interesting and creative people. Learn different ways of knowing and doing. Get encouragement. Find a mentor. The fastest way to become creative is to hang around with creative people.

Do something out of the ordinary. Something unexpected. Or something just not done. This will shock your system to think in different ways. To see things in a new light. To recognize contradictions. Robert Alan Black gives great advice. 
 He shouts at the blocked: Break A Crayon. 
 He shouts again: Draw Outside The Lines. 
 And I would add and shout: Stick your hands into a bowl full of mud or jello.

These are all great advice.

Make creativity a habit. Make it routine in your daily life.

– Keep a journal. Write down your thoughts and experiences and insights.

– As you create a new piece, keep a running written log of all the choices you are making.

– Challenge yourself. Change colors, arrangements, sizes and shapes. Create forms and new components. Think of different silhouettes.

– Expand your knowledge base and skills. Look for connections with other disciplines.

-Surround yourself with interesting things and interesting people. Get together regularly. Collaborate. Take a field trip together.

What Should I Create?

The process of jewelry making begins with the question, What Should I Create?

You want to create something which results in an emotional engagement. That means, when you or someone else interacts with your piece, they should feel some kind of connection. They might see something as useful. It may have meaning. Or it may speak to a personal desire. It may increase a sense of self-esteem. It may persuade someone to buy it. It may feel especially powerful or beautiful or entertaining. They may want to share it with someone else.

You want to create something that you care about. It should not be about following trends. It should be about reflecting your inner artist and designer — what you like, how you see the world, what you want to do. Love what you are making. Otherwise, you run the risk of burning out.

It is easier to create work with someone specific in mind. This is called backwards design. You anticipate how someone else would like what you do, want to wear it, buy it, and then let this influence you in your selection about materials, techniques and composition. This might be a specific person, or a type of person, such as a potential class of buyers.

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. You can do several pieces. Showing restraint allows for better communication with your audiences. Each piece you make should not look like you are frantically trying to prove yourself. They should look like you have given a lot of thought about how others should emotionally engage with your piece.

There is always a lot of pressure to brand yourself. That means sticking with certain themes, designs or materials. But this can be a little stifling, if you want to develop your creativity. Take the time to explore new avenues of work.

You want to give yourself some time to find inspirations. A walk in nature. A visit to a museum. Involvement with a social cause. Participation in a ritual or ceremony. Studying color samples at a paint store. A dream. A sense of spirituality or other feeling. A translation of something verbal into something visual. Inspirations are all around you.

Final Words of Wisdom

We don’t learn to be creative We become creative. We develop a host of creative thinking skills. We reflect and make ourselves aware of all the various choices we make, the connections we see, the reactions we get, and the implications which result.

We need to be open to possibility.

We need to have a comfort level in taking the unknown or unexpected, and bridging the differences. That is, connecting what we know and feel and project to ideas for integrating all the pieces before us into a completed jewelry design. We need to become good translators, managing our choices from inspiration to aspiration to completed design.

We need to be able to hold on to the paradoxes between mass and space, form and freedom, thought and feeling, long enough so that we can complete each jewelry making project. We need to be comfortable while designing during what often become long periods of solitude.

We need to know jewelry and jewelry making materials and techniques inside and out. We need to know how to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. We need to be able to discover new ways of designing with them. It is critical that we put ourselves on a path towards greater fluency, flexibility and originality.

We must be willing to give and receive criticism.

We must be aware, not only of our desires, goals and understandings, but those of our various audiences, as well.

Be motivated by the design process itself, and not its possible and potential external rewards.

We must be very reflective and metacognitive of how we think, speak and work as jewelry designers.

We need to give ourselves permission to make mistakes.

We must design things we care about.

_________________________________________

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)

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.

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?

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.

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What Is Jewelry, Really?

Posted by learntobead on December 30, 2018

 


WHAT IS JEWELRY, Really?

by Warren Feld, Jewelry Designer

“Tibetan Dreams”, Feld, 2010

  • ABSTRACT

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

WHAT IS JEWELRY, Really?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prehistoric Necklaces 40000 B.C

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jewelry means to me …..… therefore,

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

to know my pieces are finished and successful,

including things like ………

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

SENSATION OF JEWELRY AS OBJECT:

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

SENSATION OF JEWELRY AS CONTENT:

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

SENSATION OF JEWELRY AS INTENT:

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

SENSATION OF JEWELRY AS DIALECTIC:

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

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

SENSATION OF JEWELRY AS OBJECT

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

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

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

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

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

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

SENSATION OF JEWELRY AS CONTENT

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

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

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

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

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

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

SENSATION OF JEWELRY AS INTENT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SENSATION OF JEWELRY AS DIALECTIC

Jewelry As Interaction and Shared Understandings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Knowing What Jewelry Really Is

Translates Into Artistic and Design Choices

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

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

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

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

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

artist and wearer

wearer and viewer

artist and seller

seller and client

artist and exhibiter

artist and collector

exhibiter and collector

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

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

________________________________________________________

WARREN FELD, Jewelry Designer

warren@warrenfeldjewelry.com

615-292-0610

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

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

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

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

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

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

_________________________________________________________

_________________________________________

FOOTNOTES

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

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

 

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

Jewelry Design Principles: Composing, Constructing, Manipulating

Posted by learntobead on April 24, 2018

JEWELRY DESIGN PRINCIPLES:

COMPOSING, CONSTRUCTING, MANIPULATING

by Warren Feld, Designer

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Abstract:

It is not happenstance that some pieces of jewelry draw your attention, and others do not.   It is the result of an artist fluent in design.   That fluency begins with selecting Design Elements, but it comes to full fruition with the application of Principles of Composition, Construction and Manipulation.  This is where the artist flourishes, shows a recognition of shared understandings about good design, and makes that cluster of jewelry design choices resulting in a piece that is seen as both finished and successful.    These Principles represent different organizing schemes the artist might resort to.    Jewelry artists translate these Principles a little differently than painters or sculptors, in that jewelry presents different demands and expectations on the artist.  The better artist/designer achieves a level of disciplinary literacy – selecting Design Elements and applying Principles — where fluency becomes automatic, accurate, and rapidly applied.

JEWELRY DESIGN PRINCIPLES:

COMPOSING, CONSTRUCTING, MANIPULATING

Some pieces of jewelry draw your attention.   Others do not.

This is not a matter of happenstance.    It is the result of an artist fluent in design.    That fluency begins with the selection of Design Elements – the smallest meaningful units of design.    But it comes to full fulfillment with the application and manipulation of Principles of Composition, Construction and Manipulation.    These “organizing schemes” reflect what the individual artist wants to express, and how the individual artist anticipates how others will understand and respond to this expression.

Design Elements, which I have discussed in an earlier article [1], are like building blocks and function a bit like the vowel and consonant letters of the alphabet.   They have form.  They have meaning.   They can be assembled into different arrangements which extend their meaning and usefulness in expression.  Examples: color, shape, texture, point/line/plane, movement, dimensionality, and the like.   Each Design Element has a set of expressive attributes.  Color can be expressed as a color scheme, or as proportions, or as simultaneity effects.   Shape can be geometric or dimensional or recognizable or symbolic.   And so forth.

Design Elements function like a vocabulary.   They represent universally accepted expressive content.    Visualize the analogy between design elements and vocabulary.   Picture a “t”, perhaps combined with an “h”, and then with an “e”.  Or, picture the difficulty in trying to combine a “th” with a “z”.   Or, still yet, picture how the “c” in “cat” is pronounced differently than the “c” in “sense”, yet still recognized as a “c”.  In similar ways, the artist might decide to use the design elements of “color” and “line,” and combine them to yield another design element of “movement.”    Literacy begins with the ability to decode, and this ability centers on the selection and use of Design Elements.

Principles of Composition, Construction and Manipulation function more like a grammar.    Given the Design Elements selected by the artist, Principles represent organizing strategies to which the artist resorts when attempting to achieve a piece that will be seen as both “finished” and “successful”, both by the artist, as well as that artist’s audience.   The artist might arrange several design elements and their expressive attributes to yield a higher level organizing principle.   For example, the artist might combine color(intensity)+line(direction)+

shape( geometry)+placement(symmetry)+balance+material” to yield a sense of “rhythm.

To continue our analogy with vocabulary, grammar and literacy, picture our “t”, “h” and “e” put together to form a full word like ”thesaurus”, then expanded into an idea, like “teachers like to use a thesaurus”, and further expressed, in anticipation of a response, to something like “but students hate when the teacher asks them to use a thesaurus.” 

Literacy goes beyond decoding; it includes a fluency in how the Design Elements are organized to evoke an emotional response.   This involves an intuitive understanding of Principles of Composition, Construction and Manipulation, and how to apply them.    While Design Elements are selected primarily based on shared, more universal understandings of what they express, often, Principles are applied in ways more reflective of artist’s hand, and its subjective expression.

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

This Disciplinary Literacy in jewelry design has a structure all its own.  There are four main components to it:

1) Vocabulary: Design Elements As The Basis Of Composition

2) Grammar:  Principles of Composition, Construction and Manipulation

3) Strategy:  Project Management[2]

4) Context/Culture:  Shared Understandings[3]

This article focuses on the second component – Principles.

What Are Principles of Composition, Construction and Manipulation?

Jewelry Design is the strategic application of basic principles of organization and expression to achieve a piece which evokes emotion, resonates, and is appealing as it is worn.    Traditionally the art and design worlds referred to these as “Principles of Composition.”   Often artists and designers get tripped up on the word Principles, and jewelry designers get a bit confused or frustrated with the word Composition.

The use of the word “Principles” in art and design can be somewhat confusing.   These Principles do not represent a set of universal, dependable and repeatable standards to strive for, which we might assume, at first.

A different meaning about “Principles” applies here.   A Principle is an organizing scheme as a way to combine design elements into a more pleasing whole composition.   The design elements include things which are visual effects; but, for jewelry designers, they also include things which functional, as well as things which are more social, psychological, cultural and situational.   Principles inform artists in their expressive, authentic performances.   Every artist is expected to apply these Principles, but only in ways the artist chooses.   There might be better or worse ways to apply them, but no right or wrong ways.

Another aspect of confusion is the use of the word “Composition”.   I’ve expanded the phrase, though somewhat awkwardly, to “Principles of Composition, Construction and Manipulation.”   The traditional art and design idea of “composition” covers two very different types of jewelry design literacy skills under a single label, namely decoding (Design Elements) and fluency (Principles).    The better jewelry designer needs to learn and apply both aspects of disciplinary literacy, but each involves different ways of thinking.   As a teacher, both require different sets of strategies for training and educating jewelry designers.

Jewelry designers, by the nature of jewelry, have to deal equally with functional aspects of design, not just artistic composition.    Traditional Principles of Composition need to be re-oriented for the jewelry artist to be more sensitive to the more architectural aspects of design.     Design choices are also best understood at the boundary between the art of design and the body it adorns.

Limited to the idea of composition, jewelry might be judged successful as “art”, as if it was displayed on a mannequin or easel.    But jewelry, in reality, can only be judged as a constructive, manipulated result situated at the boundary between art and body; that is, jewelry can only be judged as “art as it is worn.”

In this article, I focus on Principles of Composition, Construction and Manipulation.   The Principles, as organizing schemes, are intertwined, and, the use of one will often depend on another.   Movement might be achieved by the placement of lines, which might also establish a rhythm.    Such placement of lines might be symmetrically balanced, with line thinness and thickness statistically distributed evenly through the piece.

These organizing and arranging schemes might include:

  • the Positioning and/or Ordering of things    (white/black/white/black   vs.  black/black/black/white)
  • the Volume or Area the piece takes up   (one row of beads vs. 3 rows of beads)
  • the Scale and Size of the pieces      (6mm 6mm 6mm  vs. 10mm 10mm 10mm)
  • the Colors, Textures and Patterns of individual pieces, and/or sets or groupings of pieces    (matte/matte/shiny/matte/matte   vs.  shiny/shiny/matte/shiny/shiny)
  • the Forms  (identifiable sets of pieces, highly integrated)
  • the Materials
  • the interplay of Light, Dark, Shadow, Reflection and Refraction    (dark/dark/transparent/dark/dark   vs. transparent/transparent/dark/transparent/transparent)
  • the clasp assembly and other supporting systems

Some of these design Principles are applied in similar ways to all art forms, such as painting and sculpture, no matter what the medium.

For other Principles, jewelry creates its own challenges, because all jewelry places some different demands and expectations on the artist than painting or sculpture does.    Jewelry…

  • functions in a 3-dimensional space, particularly sensitive to position, volume and scale
  • must stand on its own as an object of art
  • but must also exist as an object of art which interacts with the body, movement, personality, and quirks of the wearer
  • serves many purposes, some aesthetic, some functional, some social, cultural or situational
  • has a much more integrated and inter-dependent relationship of the center piece, strap, fringe, edge, bail and surface embellishment – an arrangement that traditional Art theory rejects.   Art sees the center piece as the “art”, and these other things as supporting, not artistic details, like a frame for a painting or a pedestal for a sculpture.

Good jewelry should exude an energy.  It should resonate.   This energy results from how the artist applies these Principles to compose with, construct and manipulate light and shadow, and their characteristics of warmth and cold, receding and approaching, bright and dull, light and dark.    The artist’s piece is judged on whether the resulting piece feels coherent, organized, controlled, and strategically designed, again, as the jewelry is worn.   Successful application of these Principles results in a piece which feels finished and successful.

The Principles include,

  1. Rhythm
  2. Pointers
  3. Linear and Planar Relationships
  4. Interest
  5. Statistical Distribution
  6. Balance
  7. Forms, Their Proportions, Distributions and Dimensionality
  8. Temporal Extension: Time and Place
  9. Physical Extension: Functionality
  10. Parsimony (something similar to, but a little beyond harmony and unity)

TABLE OF PRINCIPLES

Principles of Composition, Construction, and Manipulation

(Organizing Schemes)

What the Principle is About How Principle Might Get Expressed as Organizing Schema
  1. Rhythm

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This is how the piece leads the viewer through sequences of steps.   It is a measure of the degree the piece engages the viewer’s eye.

There is a continuance, a flow or a feeling of movement from one place of the piece to another.

Repetition

Pattern

Random

Regular

Alternating

Flowing

Progressive

Vertical, Horizontal, Diagonal, Overlapping, Piercing

Placement

  1. Pointers
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Pointers are places of emphasis, dominance or focus.    Certain elements assume more importance than others within the same composition. Isolating

Directional

Contrast

Anomaly

Leading

Convergence

Size, Weight, Color Gradient

Framing

Focusing and Depth

Absence

Implied

  1. Linear and Planar Relationships

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The degree the piece is not disorienting; obvious what is “up” and what is “down”.

Orienting and Directional

Straight or Curved

2-D or 3D

Violating, Crossing or Intersecting, Interpenetrating

Parallel or Aligned

Perpendicular

Angular or Diagonal

Vector

Fixed, Directional,  Infinite, or Disappearing

Continuous, Broken or Perforated

Radial

At Edges or Within; Framed or Bound

Thin or Thick

Textured or Smooth

Opaque or Transparent

Moving, Rotating, Spinning, Darting, Flashing

Silhouette

  1. Interest

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The degree the artist has made the ordinary…”noteworthy” Add variety

Give person an experience

Vibrance, Intensity

Unexpected use or positioning

Surprise

Sense of strength or fragility

Symbolic meaning

Perspective

Inspirational

Pattern

Clash

Juxtaposition

Simultaneity effects

  1. Statistical Distribution

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How satisfying the numbers and sizes and measures of objects within the piece are Equality, Equity, Equal Weight, Mass, Volume, Visual Effect (or the opposite of equality)

Randomness

Color proportions

Scale

Measurements

Numbers of

  1. Balance

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How satisfying the placement of objects (and their attributes) is Equilibrium in Weight, Mass, Volume, Visual Effect

Symmetry or Asymmetry

Pattern or No Pattern

Regular or Irregular

Equalizing visual forces

Scale

Permanent, Illusory, Contingent

Placement, Alignment, Proximity, Repetition

Radial

Identical or Similar

  1. Forms, Their Proportions, Distributions, and

    Dimensionality

    4297ff8c-e117-46a8-babc-136b136ea57d.png

 

Jewelry often can be structured in terms of segments, components or forms.    How the pieces get interconnected or amassed is of concern. Unique, Singular, Parallel/Symmetrical, Repeated, Multiple

Evolving

Variety

Segmentation

2-D or 3-D

Realistic or Abstract

Geometric or Organic

Complete or Incomplete

Layering, Overlapping

Fringing, Surface Embellishment

Continuity

Coordinating

Clashing, Off-putting

  1. Temporal Extension: Time and Place

    404016db-e237-403e-9a98-7f3b64a86976.png

 

Any piece of jewelry must be acceptable within a certain historical, social, cultural or situational context. Visual Expectation

Materials Expectation

Techniques/Technology Expectation

Referents, Inscriptions, Images

Symbolism

Themes

Rule-bound or not

Revival style or Contemporized Traditional style

Appropriateness/Relevance to situation or context

Coordination with situation or context

  1. Physical Extension: Functionality

    9c4e225d-cb59-411f-b9e5-8d2d7a86ec60.png

 

The degree the piece is designed so that it accommodates physical stresses when the piece is worn Jointedness and Support (links, rivets, hinges, loops, unglued knots, and the like)

Drape, Flow, Movement (built-in features allowing adjustment to body shape or body movement)

Length, Fit

Adjustability

Choices of stringing material or assembly strategy

Clasp Assembly (how piece attached to clasp)

Strap, Bail, Pendant, Fringe, Embellishment

Stiffness, Looseness, Bending, Conforming

Inclusion of technology

Structural Integrity

Application of architectural principles of construction

Physical mechanics

Weight-bearing

  1. Parsimony (something similar to but beyond harmony and unity)

    c6d606c7-4029-466c-85a0-ada6ac4860c4.png

 

There should be no nonessential elements; the addition or subtraction of one element or its attribute will make the piece less satisfying Length, Volume, Mass, Weight, Visual Effects

Goodness of fit

Sufficient balance between unity and variety to evoke an emotional response and resonance

An economy in the use of resources

A result which feels finished and successful, reflecting the artist’s hand, as well as an anticipation of shared understandings among all audiences – viewer, wearer, buyer, seller, student, master

THE PRINCIPLES IN MORE DETAIL

1.   Rhythm

46adb9dc-c42d-4cac-8a66-c6fc262a4504.png

Movement is the path our eyes follow when we look at a work of art, and it is generally very important to keep a viewer’s eyes engaged in the work. Without movement, artwork becomes stagnant. A few good strategies to evoke a sense of movement (among many others) are using diagonal lines, placing shapes so that the extend beyond the boundaries of the picture plane, and using changing values.

Rhythm is one Principle used to shape the viewer’s experience with the piece.  Rhythm is how the piece leads the viewer through sequences of steps.   It is a measure of the degree the piece engages the viewer’s eye.

There is a continuance, a flow or a feeling of movement from one place of the piece to another.

Repetition and pattern are key here.   The artist might achieve a rhythm by varying or repeating colors, textures, sizes, forms.   The rhythm might be slow, fast, predictable, random, staccato, measured, safe, edgy, and so forth.  The intervals between repetitions and patterns can create a sense of rhythm in the viewer and a sense of movement.    Repetitions and patterns can be random, regular, alternating, flowing, progressive – there are many directions the artist can go in establishing a rhythm.

When a piece has multiple and coordinated rhythms, we call this Symphonic Rhythm.  For example, in a piece, there might be a clear rhythm set by the use of colors throughout the piece, as well as the positioning of definable forms, such as a series of beaded leaves or other shapes.

The Rhythm should assist the viewer in cognitively making a complete circle around the piece.   You don’t want the viewer to lose interest, get bored, or fall flat, before the eye and brain can make that complete circle.

Example:

Black-o-Black-o-Black-o-White-o-Black-o-Black-o-Black-o-White-o
Or,

Black-o-White-o-Black-o-White-o-Black-o-White-o-Black-o-White-o

The better designer can empower the design, if using Rhythm in the right way.

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2.  Pointers

e48219c2-5b33-448b-a8dc-bfb5220297b2.png

Pointers are places of emphasis, dominance or focus.    Certain elements assume more importance than others within the same composition.

Pointers guide the viewer to a specific place, or focal point.    Cognitively, you want to create the place for the eye/brain to come to rest.

Examples:

  • Something can be centered
  • The color can be varied, say from dark to light, to serve as an “arrow” or “Pointer” to a section of the necklace
  • The positioning of the clasp might serve as a pointer
  • A dangling pendant might serve as a pointer
  • The size of the beads can be varied, such as smallest to largest, to serve as an “arrow” or “Pointer”
  • Coordinating the placement of Focal Point on jewelry with the pattern in the clothing upon which the piece will rest
  • Something can be strategically off-centered.

The better designer is able to capture the viewer’s attention to more important parts of the piece.

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3.  Linear and Planar Relationships

2c537434-032f-4025-9ab9-9ce9ea2fa53d.png

This is the degree the piece is not disorienting to the viewer, or particularly confusing in terms of what is up and what is down.

People always need to orient themselves to their surroundings, so that they know what is up and what is down.   They usually do this by recognizing the horizontal planes of the floor and the ceiling of a room (ground and sky outside), and the vertical planes of the walls of a room (buildings, trees and the like outside).

Jewelry must assist, or at least not get in the way, of this natural orienting process.   It accomplishes this in how its “lines” are arranged and organized.  If a piece is very 3-dimensional, then how its “planes” are arranged and organized becomes important, as well.

Design elements we might use to achieve a satisfactory planar relationship within our piece:

– a strategic use of lines and planes

— shapes

— boundaries

– -silhouettes

— contours

– symmetry

– or, more difficult to achieve, a satisfying asymmetry

– a planar pattern in how each section of the piece relates to the other sections

– how sections of the piece interlock

– how we “draw and interrelate” parallel lines/planes, perpendicular lines/planes and curved lines/planes within the piece

Example:

How can a person truly pull off wearing only one earring?    After all, visually, it pulls the person off to one side, thus violating the basic orienting planar relationships.    What about the composition of the earring, allows this to work; what about the composition doesn’t?

Example:

Wearing a necklace, where the clasp is worn on the side, instead of the back.    Again, what about the composition of the necklace, allows this to work; what about the composition doesn’t?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
4.   Interest

ebe92b2f-d212-4798-a0c9-04c3f1f398e3.png

“Interest” means the degree to which the artist makes the ordinary…noteworthy.

Here the artist demonstrates how to balance off and control “variety” with “unity” and “harmony”.     Without unity and harmony, the piece becomes chaotic.   Without variety, the piece becomes boring, monotonous and uninteresting.

Arranging and organizing Design Elements might involve:
– selection of materials and mix of materials

– selection of color combinations

– varying the sizes of things

– pushing the envelop on interrelating planar relationships among the sections of the jewelry

– playing with the rhythm

– clever use of a focal point

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5.  Statistical Distribution

7d9627a3-3f88-41a1-95cf-1dd2ebc8b4ad.png

The artist is always concerned with the number or size or scale or measurement of things.    This principle focuses on these statistics.      With this principle, we are not concerned with the placement or balance of things – just the numbers and measurements.

We ask:  How pleasing and satisfying are the selection of the numbers, sizes, proportions, volumes/weights, and color/textures of objects the artist wants to use in the piece.   The artist might, at this point, anticipate creating a pattern, or not.

Examples:

BIG-o-BIG-o-small-o-BIG-o-BIG-o-small-o-

PURPLE-o-PURPLE-o-PURPLE-o-YELLOW-o-PURPLE-o-YELLOW-o-

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

6.   Balance

2e326072-d239-4d54-b8d8-03dc764e4cfe.png

Balance has to do with placement.       How pleasing or satisfying is the placement of objects (and their attributes) within a piece?

Usually, the designer is trying to achieve a feeling of equality in weight, attention or attraction of the various visual design elements.  The design attributes would include such things as the positioning or relative positioning of the materials used, the colors, textures and patterns, the sizes and scales.

The artist might play with placement in terms of proximity, alignment or repetition.

There are different types of balance.

(1) symmetry:   the use of identical compositional units on either side of a vertical axis

(2) approximate symmetry:   the use of similarly balanced compositional units on either side of a vertical axis

(3) radial symmetry:   an even, radiating out from a central point to all four quadrants (directions) of the shape’s plane (surface)

(4) asymmetry:  even though the compositional units are not identical on either side of a vertical axis, there is a “felt” equilibrium of the total piece.   Often, with jewelry, this equilibrium depends on what clothes or other jewelry the person is wearing, or something about that person’s body/body shape.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

7.  Forms, Their Proportions, Distributions and Dimensionality

4297ff8c-e117-46a8-babc-136b136ea57d.png

Jewelry often can be structured in terms of segments, components or forms.    How are pieces interconnected or amassed?    Is this achieved through optical effects or reality?

The designer is concerned with managing these structures in terms of proportions, distributions and/or dimensionality.    The artist makes choices about how each part relates to the whole in terms of scale or relevance.

The artist might play with things like:
Layering

Surface embellishment

Fringing

Curvature

Overlapping planes

Balance

The better designer creates pieces where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Example:

Flat loomed bracelet and a button clasp, that sits so high on the bracelet, that it detracts from the 2-dimensional reason-for-being of the piece.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

8.   Temporal Extension: Time and Place

404016db-e237-403e-9a98-7f3b64a86976.png

Any piece of jewelry must be acceptable within a certain historical, social, cultural or situational context.

For example, is a piece appropriate for a wedding also appropriate for office wear?    Is a great University of Tennessee Orange Necklace as successful when worn to a Vanderbilt football game?

Temporal Extension may narrowly refer to one specific wearer in particular, or more broadly to group, situational, social or societal expectations.

Other examples:

  • white pearls are associated with bridal jewelry
  • using metalized plastic beads, where the plating chips off in a short period of time, should not be used in an heirloom bracelet
  • making a matching set of earrings and necklace for jewelry that typically should be worn as a matching set
  • gifting a carved jade pendant with an message-word carving inappropriate for the religion of the person receiving it

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

9.   Physical Extension: Functionality

9c4e225d-cb59-411f-b9e5-8d2d7a86ec60.png

Any piece of jewelry must be functional when worn.

Functionality has to do with such things as movement, drape, comfort, flow and durability.    The piece of jewelry needs to feel comfortable when worn, always look good on the wearer no matter what the wearer is doing, and be durable.    This involves a lot of building in understandings of physical mechanics and architectural principles of construction.

When there is (or should be) movement in a piece, there should be clear evidence that the designer anticipated where the parts came from, and where they are going to.   Jewelry is worn by people who move, so the design should be a natural physical extension to such movements, and the stress they put on the piece.

For example, in a necklace, the clasp should remain on the neck, even as the beadwork moves with the person, without the necklace turning around on the neck, or breaking.

Example:   The dangle earring which has the dangle stuck in a 90 degree angle.

Example:   The crimped bracelet which breaks at the crimp.

Example: The bracelet too tight when the design is turned into a circle placed around the wrist

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

10.  Parsimony
(something similar to, but a little bit beyond harmony and unity)

c6d606c7-4029-466c-85a0-ada6ac4860c4.png

At the point where the piece is judged to be finished and successful, there should be no nonessential elements.     When the piece is finished and successful, it should evoke emotions and resonate.

The designer should achieve the maximal effect with the least effort or excess.

There is a tendency of beaders and jewelry makers to over-do:

– over-embellish the surface

– add too much fringe

– repeat themes and design elements too often

– use too many colors

Parsimony vs. Unity

In art, the traditional measure of completion and success was a feeling or sense of “Unity.”   Unity signified how everything felt all right.   All the Design Elements used, and how they were coordinated and placed, were very coherent, clear, 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.    You can have unity, but the piece still seen as boring when there is no variety.   This condition is unacceptable as a principled outcome of jewelry construction.    Finished and successful jewelry should evoke emotions and resonate.    You can have unity, but the assessments rely too much on universal, objective perceptions of design elements and their attributes.   The artist, the wearer, and the situation are too easily left out of the equation.

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

For me, the more appropriate concept here is “Parsimony.”  Parsimony is sometimes referred to in art and design as “Economy”, but the idea of economy is reserved for the visual effects.  For jewelry designers, we want that economy or parsimony to apply to functional and situational effects, as well.   When the finished and successful piece is parsimonious, the relationship of all the Design Elements and their expressed attributes will be so strong, that to add or remove any one thing would diminish, not just the design, but rather the significance of the design.

Parsimony…

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

– relies on evidence moreso than assumptions to get at criticality

– focuses examination of the few elements that make a difference

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THINKING ROUTINE[4]:   LOOK – SCORE – EXPLAIN

LOOK:

CLASSICISM NECKLACE
840ba795-c23c-4ad0-a6c6-161ef6ccf0d3.jpg

Warren Feld, 2001.

Materials and Description:

Three strands, druk rondelles Czech glass, in matte amethyst, matte olivine, and matte topaz.   Center, overlapping agate stones.

 

At the center, each of the three strands pass through a 3-hole separator bar, and through one of three thin sterling silver tubes.

The centerpiece stones slide over the top and bottom tubes.   The middle tube is sandwiched between the stones.  These stones can spin around on the tubes, allowing them to adjust to body shape and movement, but the middle tube restricts the movement to maintain the general visual appearance as in the image.

S-clasp in back.

KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

(see key at bottom of table for list)

  1. COLOR

 

  1. BALANCE AND DISTRIBUTION
  2. SHAPE
  3. POINT/LINE/PLANE

 

  1. MATERIALS
  1. MOVEMENT
  1. DIMENSIONALITY
  1. TECHNIQUE/TECHNOLOGY
KEY ATTRIBUTES OF DESIGN ELEMENTS:

1a. Some Tonal quality and finish

1b. Split Complementary color scheme

1c. Gradation dark to light

2a. Symmetry

3a. Same size druk rondelles

4a. Strong lines core design feature

4b. Overlapping centerpiece stones establishes 2 planes; can move but restricted from violating planes

5a. Mixing glass, metal and gemstone

6a. Center stones allowed to spin on tubes

7a. Layering of center stones

8a. Unexpected connection of strap to centerpiece

SCORE:

SCORE CARD ON PRINCIPLES:

DESIGN CRITERIA Very Unsatisfying…….Very Satisfying
1.  Rhythm 1     2    3    4    5
2.  Pointers 1     2    3    4    5
3.  Linear and Planar Relationships 1     2    3    4    5
4.  Interest 1     2    3    4    5
5.  Statistical Distribution 1     2    3    4    5
6.  Balance 1     2    3    4    5
7.  Forms 1     2    3    4    5
8.  Temporal Extension: Time, Place 1     2    3    4    5
9.  Physical Extension: Functionality 1     2    3    4    5
10. Parsimony 1     2    3    4    5

EXPLAIN:

RHYTHM:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

One smooth flow from clasp to centerpiece down straps

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

BALANCE AND DISTRIBUTION

POINTERS

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

(examples: change length, shapes, lines, bead size, bead color, bead placement)

Weaken: Mixing different sizes; adding more colors within each strand; changing length

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

(examples: If cannot get some bead, color, size, finish, clasp, what could you resort to instead)

If cannot get any one of 3 colors or finishes or sizes, would have to change to 3 different split complementary colors and new stones for focal point

POINTERS:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

Overlapping stones in centerpiece

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

POINT/LINE/PLANE

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

(examples: change length, shapes, lines, bead size, bead color, bead placement)

Strengthen: better color coordination between center piece and straps

Weaken: mix colors/sizes in strap; change rhythm in strap; add patterns

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

(examples: If cannot get some bead, color, size, finish, clasp, what could you resort to instead)

Would need to have alternative gemstones, similar sizing to original, color coordinated with strap colors

LINEAR/PLANAR RELATIONSHIPS:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

Strong sense of line and downward direction towards centerpiece, represented by 3 strands, strong implementation of 3-color scheme

 

Overlapping planes in centerpiece

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

POINT/LINE/PLANE

STRUCTURE/SUPPORT

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

(examples: change length, shapes, lines, bead size, bead color, bead placement)

Weaken:  have less fluid structure support connecting one side through centerpiece to other side; have only one center stone rather than two which overlap

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

(examples: If cannot get some bead, color, size, finish, clasp, what could you resort to instead)

If hole in center stones not big enough to slide over sterling silver tube, would have to make holes larger, find thinner tubes or alternative stones

INTEREST:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

Overlapping stones in centerpiece

Structure of tubes and stones in centerpiece, particularly in terms of allowing and restricting movement

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

POINT/LINE/PLANE

MATERIAL

MOVEMENT

STRUCTURE/SUPPORT

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

(examples: change length, shapes, lines, bead size, bead color, bead placement)

Weaken: no overlap stones and no movement; put pattern or change bead sizes in strap

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

(examples: If cannot get some bead, color, size, finish, clasp, what could you resort to instead)

If could not create the structure creating the overlapping stone centerpiece, use a centerpiece with some dimension that supports the rhythm of the piece.

STATISTICAL DISTRIBUTION:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

One shape and size of bead in the 3 straps.

Single color within each strand.

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

SHAPE

COLOR

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

(examples: change length, shapes, lines, bead size, bead color, bead placement)

Weaken: vary shape or add more colors

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

(examples: If cannot get some bead, color, size, finish, clasp, what could you resort to instead)

If could not get enough beads in specific size, shape, color for each strap, come up with different design.

BALANCE:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

Single color in each strand

Symmetry

Repeated same length in each strand

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

BALANCE/DISTRIBUTION

POINT/LINE/PLANE

FORM/SEGMENTS/COMPONENTS

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

(examples: change length, shapes, lines, bead size, bead color, bead placement)

Weaken:  Make piece unbalanced, or asymmetrical

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

(examples: If cannot get some bead, color, size, finish, clasp, what could you resort to instead)

If could not restrict the movement of the center stones, would lose visual balance; would have to come up with different strategy for restricting movement, or just use one, rather than two stones.

FORMS:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

Clear forms:

– 3 strands, one of each color

– clear sense of right side and left side and center

– segmented centerpiece

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

FORM/SEGMENTS/COMPONENTS

COLOR

BALANCE/DISTRIBUTION

POINTER

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

(examples: change length, shapes, lines, bead size, bead color, bead placement)

Weaken: create a size or color pattern in the straps; additional segmentation

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

(examples: If cannot get some bead, color, size, finish, clasp, what could you resort to instead)

If could not get enough beads in specific size, shape, color for each strap, come up with different design or color scheme.

TEMPORAL EXTENSION:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

Piece has a classical elegance to it.   Can picture it worn in a more upscale social setting like a banquet or dinner party.

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

FORMS/SEGMENTS/COMPONENTS

COLOR

BALANCE/DISTRIBUTION

BEAUTY/APPEAL

CONTEXT/SITUATION/CULTURE

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN THIS….

(examples: change length, shapes, lines, bead size, bead color, bead placement)

Weaken: brighter or primary colors; glossy color finishes; shorter or longer length

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

(examples: If cannot get some bead, color, size, finish, clasp, what could you resort to instead)

If could not get enough beads in specific size, shape, color for each strap, come up with different design or color scheme.

PHYSICAL EXTENSION:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

The support structure for the centerpiece which both allows and restricts movement.

 

The 3 strands on each side of the necklace can move independently and allow better movement, drape and flow.

 

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

STRUCTURE/SUPPORT

TECHNIQUE/TECHNOLOGY

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

(examples: change length, shapes, lines, bead size, bead color, bead placement)

Weaken: leave out middle tube which lays between top and bottom center stone; connect the 3 strands together at two or more places along their length.

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

(examples: If cannot get some bead, color, size, finish, clasp, what could you resort to instead)

If could not get support structure to work, come up with different design.

PARSIMONY:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

The choice of colors, materials, bead sizes, length of strands, symmetry

 

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

SHAPE

COLOR

POINT/LINE/PLANE

MOVEMENT

FORMS/SEGMENTS/COMPONENTS

BALANCE/DISTRIBUTION

MATERIAL

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

(examples: change length, shapes, lines, bead size, bead color, bead placement)

Weaken: change any color, material, bead size, length, symmetry

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

(examples: If cannot get some bead, color, size, finish, clasp, what could you resort to instead)

If did not have sufficient access to these resources, would have to come up with a different design.

KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:
COLOR MOVEMENT BALANCE / DISTRIBUTION DIMENSIONALITY
SHAPE COLOR BLENDING REFERENTS FORM, SEGMENTS, COMPONENTS
TEXTURE/PATTERN THEME/SYMBOLS CONTEXT, SITUATION, CULTURE CRAFTSMANSHIP
POINT/LINE/PLANE BEAUTY, APPEAL NEGATIVE , POSITIVE SPACES TECHNIQUE/TECHNOLOGY
MATERIAL STRUCTURE, SUPPORT LIGHT, SHADOW

 

 

LOOK:

THE BLUE WATERFALL NECKLACE

b0627895-b67f-4226-9dff-3c10d6095453.jpg

Warren Feld, 2001.

Materials and Description:

Mix of glass, crystal, and sterling silver beads.

 

Each segment of beads has a different number of bead, and different sizes/color/finish of beads within it.

 

The colors are not part of a color scheme, and would be seen to clash if compared one to one outside of their use in the bracelet.   Example: sapphire blues and montana blues; golds and silvers; matte and glossy.

 

The segments nearer the clasp are shorter than those further from the clasp.

 

The sterling silver tubes are all curved.

 

There is no focal point per se.

 

The clasp is an adjustable hook and eye choker clasp.

KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

(see key at bottom of table for list)

  1. COLOR
  1. COLOR BLENDING
  1. BALANCE AND DISTRIBUTION
  2. POINT/LINE/PLANE
  3. MOVEMENT
  4. SHAPE

 

  1. STRUCTURE / SUPPORT

 

  1. FORM /SEGMENTS/ COMPONENTS
KEY ATTRIBUTES OF DESIGN ELEMENTS:

1a. No conformance to color scheme, though leans toward the monochromatic

2a. Simultaneity effects

3a. Feels balanced though there the distribution of sizes, numbers and segment lengths varies within each strand and between each strand

4a. Brings your eye down to a central place, but no specific focal point

4b. Curved lines distort the linearity

5a. Expresses feeling of moving water, but no moving parts

6a. Curved tubes key element

6b. Bead of different shapes

7a. Adjustable choker clasp allows wearer to adjust necklace to body, to achieve that optimum sense of balance and movement

8a. Consists of each length segments separating unequal length segments.

8b. Important that segments on both strands do not match up with each other, but feel staggered

8c. Important that no segment shows dominance or becomes a clear focal point.

SCORE:

SCORE CARD ON PRINCIPLES:

DESIGN CRITERIA Very Unsatisfying…….Very Satisfying
1.  Rhythm 1     2    3    4    5
2.  Pointers 1     2    3    4    5
3.  Linear and Planar Relationships 1     2    3    4    5
4.  Interest 1     2    3    4    5
5.  Statistical Distribution 1     2    3    4    5
6.  Balance 1     2    3    4    5
7.  Forms 1     2    3    4    5
8.  Temporal Extension: Time, Place 1     2    3    4    5
9.  Physical Extension: Functionality 1     2    3    4    5
10. Parsimony 1     2    3    4    5

EXPLAIN:

RHYTHM:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

The forms or segments alternate between clusters of beads and a curved sterling silver tube.

 

The length of each bead cluster varies, with longer clusters furthest from the clasp.

 

Staggered alignment of forms.

 

The perceived “weight” of the left side seems the same as the perceived “weight” of the right side.

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

FORM, SEGMENTS, COMPONENTS

BALANCE, DISTRIBUTION

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

(examples: change length, shapes, lines, bead size, bead color, bead placement)

Weaken: making every bead cluster the same length and the same assortment of beads; having a clear focal point; using straight rather than curved tubes; having forms in both strands align more tightly.

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

(examples: If cannot get some bead, color, size, finish, clasp, what could you resort to instead)

Can’t get curved sterling silver tubes, will need to find alternative, either plated, or different sizes

POINTERS:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

There is no specific pointer per se, but piece feels as if it has a definite top and bottom, and brings your eye downward.

 

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

POINT, LINE, PLANE

BALANCE, DISTRIBUTION

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

(examples: change length, shapes, lines, bead size, bead color, bead placement)

Weaken:  Adding too much color/size variation within each cluster of beads.

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

(examples: If cannot get some bead, color, size, finish, clasp, what could you resort to instead)

If desired effect of a waterfall was achieved, would have to rethink the piece.

LINEAR/PLANAR RELATIONSHIPS:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

Piece dependent on staggered clustering of points and connecting curved lines.

 

The two strands and the forms suggest a greater dimensionality than 2-D.

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

POINT, LINE, PLANE

FORMS, SEGMENTS, COMPONENTS

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

(examples: change length, shapes, lines, bead size, bead color, bead placement)

Weaken:  making relationship of parts more consistent, including using straight lines rather than curves; lining up the two strands more symmetrically

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

(examples: If cannot get some bead, color, size, finish, clasp, what could you resort to instead)

If piece felt too flat, work more with sizes and shapes of beads in each cluster.

INTEREST:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

Piece evokes feeling of a waterfall. 

 

Piece feels finished and successful.

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

COLOR BLENDING

FORM, SEGMENTS, COMPONENTS

SHAPE

TEXTURE, PATTERN

BALANCE, DISTRIBUTION

LIGHT, SHADOW

DIMENSIONALITY

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

(examples: change length, shapes, lines, bead size, bead color, bead placement)

Weaken: making piece longer or shorter; making forms more consistent in size and design; giving piece clear focal point

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

(examples: If cannot get some bead, color, size, finish, clasp, what could you resort to instead)

The bead colors are carefully matched and coordinated through simultaneity effects.   If cannot get same beads, near very close substitutes, or need to redesign cluster from start.

STATISTICAL DISTRIBUTION:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

Selection of colors, sizes and shapes within and across bead clusters.

 

Numbers of clusters and numbers of sterling silver curved tubes.

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

POINT, LINE, PLANE

BALANCE, DISTRIBUTION

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

(examples: change length, shapes, lines, bead size, bead color, bead placement)

Weaken: more consistency in size, shape, color, form

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

(examples: If cannot get some bead, color, size, finish, clasp, what could you resort to instead)

The bead colors and sizes are carefully matched and coordinated through simultaneity effects.   If cannot get same beads, near very close substitutes, or need to redesign cluster from start.

BALANCE:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

Piece feels balanced, although the forms do not line up, and in reality are made up of different colors/shapes/sizes of beads.

 

Shorter clusters of beads near clasp; longer near bottom of necklace.

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

BALANCE, DISTRIBUTION

FORM, SEGMENTS, COMPONENTS

POINT, LINE, PLANE

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

(examples: change length, shapes, lines, bead size, bead color, bead placement)

Weaken: more consistency in size, shape, color, form

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

(examples: If cannot get some bead, color, size, finish, clasp, what could you resort to instead)

If the placement of colors/shapes/sizes does not work, have to rethink the design.

FORMS:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

Two types of forms – bead clusters and single sterling silver curved tubes.

 

Forms vary in length and makeup.

 

Forms in both strands feel coordinated, but do not align or include the same or parallel colors/shapes/sizes.

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

POINT, LINE, PLANE

FORM, SEGMENTS, COMPONENTS

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

(examples: change length, shapes, lines, bead size, bead color, bead placement)

Weaken:  More standardizing of lengths and bead colors, shapes, sizes; changing the patterning from alternating clusters and long curved tubes, to something else

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

(examples: If cannot get some bead, color, size, finish, clasp, what could you resort to instead)

Could not get curved tubes, have to rethink design.

TEMPORAL EXTENSION:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

We expect this piece can be worn both casually and formally.  

 

Piece has a very fluid feel to it, and we expect that this sense of fluidity will always be felt, no matter where the piece is worn.

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

REFERENTS

POINT, LINE, PLANE

FORM, SEGMENTS, COMPONENTS

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN THIS….

(examples: change length, shapes, lines, bead size, bead color, bead placement)

Weaken:  More standardizing of lengths and bead colors, shapes, sizes; changing the patterning from alternating clusters and long curved tubes, to something else

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

(examples: If cannot get some bead, color, size, finish, clasp, what could you resort to instead)

Could not get curved tubes, have to rethink design.

PHYSICAL EXTENSION:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

Adjustable necklace clasp allows wearer to adjust the piece, so that both strands lay so that they evoke this feeling of a waterfall.    Otherwise, piece would not lay right on every body shape.

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

TECHNIQUE/TECHNOLOGY

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

(examples: change length, shapes, lines, bead size, bead color, bead placement)

Weaken: use of fixed clasp

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

(examples: If cannot get some bead, color, size, finish, clasp, what could you resort to instead)

Could not get an adjustable choker clasp, would have to craft something to be adjustable

PARSIMONY:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

Piece is neither too short or too long.

 

Forms in piece do not seem to need to be longer or shorter or more consistent or less consistent.

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

FORM, SEGMENT, COMPONENTS

POINT, LINE, PLANE

BALANCE, DISTRIBUTION

COLOR BLENDING

POINTER

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

(examples: change length, shapes, lines, bead size, bead color, bead placement)

Weaken:  More standardizing of lengths and bead colors, shapes, sizes; changing the patterning from alternating clusters and long curved tubes, to something else; changing length or silhouette of necklace

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

(examples: If cannot get some bead, color, size, finish, clasp, what could you resort to instead)

Could not achieve color blending, sense of balance, or an up-down orientation, then would need to rethink design.

KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:
COLOR MOVEMENT BALANCE / DISTRIBUTION DIMENSIONALITY
SHAPE COLOR BLENDING REFERENTS FORM, SEGMENTS, COMPONENTS
TEXTURE/PATTERN THEME/SYMBOLS CONTEXT, SITUATION, CULTURE CRAFTSMANSHIP
POINT/LINE/PLANE BEAUTY, APPEAL NEGATIVE , POSITIVE SPACES TECHNIQUE/TECHNOLOGY
MATERIAL STRUCTURE, SUPPORT LIGHT, SHADOW

 

FOOTNOTES
 [1] Feld, Warren.  “Jewelry Design Composition: Playing with Building Blocks Called Design Elements,” 3/17/2018
[2] Feld, Warren.  “Jewelry Design: A Managed Process,” Klimt02, 2/2/18. https://klimt02.net/forum/articles/jewelry-design-managed-process-warren-feld

 [3]Shared Understandings.  In another graduate education class, the major text reviewed the differences between understanding and knowledge.   The question was how to teach understanding.    Worth the read to gain many insights about how to structure teaching to get sufficient understanding to enrich learning.   
Understanding by Design
by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, 2nd Edition, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2005.
[4]  Thinking Routines.  I teach jewelry design.   I find it useful to engage students with various ways of thinking out loud.    They need to hear me think out loud about what choices I am making and what things I am considering when making those choices.   They need to hear themselves think out loud so that they can develop strategies for getting more organized and strategic in dealing with information and making decisions.    My inspiration here was based on the work done by Visible Thinking by Project Zero at Harvard Graduate School of Education .

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Posted in Art or Craft?, design management, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

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

Posted by learntobead on February 15, 2018

CONTEMPORARY JEWELRY IS NOT A “LOOK” —
IT’S A WAY OF “THINKING”

by Warren Feld, Jewelry Artisan
warren@warrenfeldjewelry.com
718 Thompson Lane, Ste 123, Nashville, TN 37204
615-292-0610


“Canyon Sunrise”, Warren Feld, designer, 2004, Austrian crystal, glass seed beads, 14KT gold chain and constructed clasp, fireline cable thread, photographer Warren Feld

Abstract:
Contemporary Jewelry represents a specific approach for thinking through design. Making jewelry is, in essence, an authentic performance task. The jewelry artisan applies knowledge, skill and awareness within the anticipation of the influence and constraints of a set of shared understandings. Shared understandings relate to composition, construction and performance. These understandings are enduring, transferable, big ideas at the heart of what we think of as “contemporary jewelry”. They are things which spark meaningful connections between designer and materials, designer and techniques, and designer and client. Managing these connections is what we call “fluency in design”.

Jewelry Design is a professional discipline. Every legitimately defined profession has at its core a discipline-specific way of thinking. This includes core concepts, core rules, and core beliefs. And it includes professional routines and strategies for applying, manipulating and managing these. The good designer is fluent in how to think through design, and the good contemporary designer is fluent in how to think through design which earns the label “contemporary”.

But, the jewelry designer can only wonder at this with crossed eyes and bewilderment. As a profession, jewelry design balances a series of contradictions, most notably to what extent the practice is craft, art or design. This works against professional legitimacy.

Jewelry Design, as a discipline, is not always clear and consistent about its own literacy – that is, what it means to be fluent in design. Its core concepts, rules and beliefs are not well-defined, and often break down by medium, by operational location – (visualize museum, gallery, studio, store, factory, workshop, class, home), and by the degree of involvement and commitment to the profession of the jewelry designer him- or herself. The diversity of materials, approaches, styles and the like make it difficult to delineate any unifying principles or professional image.

As designers, we see, feel and experience the evolving dynamics of an occupation in search of a profession. But our profession is still in search of a coherent identify. Perhaps we see this most often in debates over how we come to recognize what jewelry we think should be labeled “contemporary” and what jewelry should not.

On the one hand, the idea of contemporary can be very elucidating. On the other, however, we are not sure what contemporary involves, how the label should be applied, and what the label represents. Yet, our sense-making search for its meaning is at the forefront of the professionalization of jewelry design. Our persistent questioning about “What is contemporary jewelry?” opens up thinking and possibilities for every jewelry designer, working across many styles and with many materials, both experienced and novice alike.

The term “contemporary” is defined as something occurring in our time, and that can be very confusing for the jewelry designer. We get caught in a major Identity Crisis for lack of a clear, agreed-upon definition of contemporary. How we resolve this Identity Crisis around a common understanding of “contemporary jewelry” can go a long way, I believe, towards developing a coherent disciplinary literacy and professional identity for all jewelry designers. Resolution can be very unifying.

Many conceptual questions about contemporary jewelry arise. We need to be very cognizant of how we think through our responses.

Does the label apply to every piece of jewelry made today? We see all kinds of styles, shapes, silhouettes, materials, techniques, fashions all around us. There appears to be no common denominator except that they all have been created in our time.

Should the label be applied to all this variation?

Could it?

Why would we want it to?

Does the label apply to a certain timeframe, with the expectation that it will be supplanted by another label sometime in the future?

What is contemporary jewelry?

“Contemporary” Is A Specific Approach For Thinking Through Design

I suggest that contemporary jewelry is not a specific thing. But rather it is a way of thinking through the design process. It is a type of thinking routine[1] which underlays the universal core of contemporary jewelry design.
Contemporary jewelry is not every piece of jewelry made in our time. It is, instead, jewelry designed and crafted with certain shared understandings in mind – understandings about composition, construction and performance.

Contemporary jewelry is not associated with any particular color or pattern or texture. It is, instead, a strategy for selecting colors, patterns and textures.

Contemporary jewelry is not something that only a few people would make or wear, whether boring or outlandish. It is, instead, something most people recognize as wearable with some level of appeal.

Contemporary jewelry is not restricted to the use of unusual or unexpected materials or techniques. It is, instead, something which leverages the strengths or minimizes the weaknesses of any and all materials and/or techniques used in a project.

Contemporary jewelry is not a specific silhouette, or line, or shape, or form, or theme, but, instead, something which shows the artist’s control over how these can be manipulated, used, played off of, and, even, violated.

Contemporary jewelry is an integral part of our culture. We wear jewelry to tell ourselves and to tell others we are OK. It is reflective of the sum of all our choices about how we think through our place among others, our relative value among others, our behaviors among others, our preferred ways to interact, challenge, conform, question, organize and arrange.

The contemporary jewelry designer is especially positioned to serve at the nexus of all this culture. The designer’s ability to think through and define what contemporary means becomes instrumental for everyone wearing their jewelry to successfully negotiate the day-to-day cultural demands of the community they live in. Designers have a unique ability to dignify and make people feel valued, respected, honored and seen.

Think of all that power!

Each person stands at that precipice of acceptance or not, relevance or not. The jewelry designer has the power to push someone in one direction, or another.
If only we had the established profession and a disciplinary literacy to help us be smart about this.

FLUENCY[2] IN DESIGN: Managing The Contemporary Design Process

Jewelry design is, in effect, an authentic performance task.

The jewelry designer demonstrates their knowledge, awareness and abilities to:

1. Work within our shared understandings about contemporary jewelry.

2. Apply key knowledge and skills to achieve the desired result – a contemporary piece of jewelry.

3. Anticipate how their work will be reviewed, judged and evaluated by criteria reflective of these same shared understandings.

4. Step back, reflect, and validate all their thinking to reject any misunderstandings, and make adjustments accordingly.

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

Shared Understandings[3]

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

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

Understanding is more than interpretation. The designer may be able to explain how a piece was constructed and conformed to ideas about contemporary, but this does not necessarily account for the significance of the results.
Understanding is more than applying principles of construction. It is more than simply organizing a set of design elements into an arrangement. The designer must match knowledge and interpretation about contemporary to the context. Application is a context-dependent skill.

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

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

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

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

When designing contemporary jewelry, the designer will push for shared understandings about what it means to be worthy of the label “contemporary.” I propose the following five shared understandings as a place to start, and hopefully, to generate more discussion and debate.

These are,

1. Fixed Frameworks and Rules should not pre-determine what designers do.

Rules do exist, such as color schemes or rules for achieving balance or rhythm. But rules may be challenged or serve as guidelines for the designer. In fact, the designer may develop and implement rules of their own.

Designers do not learn understanding if they are only able to answer a question if framed in one particular way. How the designer invents and applies rules for managing design as a process become of primary importance because they reveal design fluency and thinking. And this allows for a variety of approaches as well as an escape from any dominant definitions. Nothing is sacred.

2. Jewelry should extend, rework, and play with, or even push, the boundaries of materials, techniques and technologies.

Contemporary designers are meant to ask questions, evaluate different options and experiment widely. They do this in order to leverage the strengths and minimize the weaknesses of materials, techniques and technologies used. Their jewelry should reflect this.

3. Jewelry should evoke emotions.

The audience is an integral part of the success of contemporary jewelry. The viewer/wearer recognizes things in the piece and is allowed to, (in fact, expected to), react and interpret. The designer’s goal is to achieve a level of resonance.

4. Jewelry should connect people with culture.

Contemporary jewelry is not made for art’s sake alone. Contemporary jewelry is made to connect to the world around us. It is meant to assist a person in recognizing how they want to live their lives, and how they want to introduce their view of themselves into the broader community or communities they live in.

5. Successful jewelry designs should only be judged as the jewelry is worn.

Jewelry is not designed in isolation from the human body. Its design should anticipate requirements for movement, drape and flow. Its design should anticipate the implications of the context in which the jewelry is worn. The implications for all jewelry design choices are most apparent at the boundary between jewelry and person.

Given that the designer “backward-designs [4],” he or she begins the process by anticipating those understandings about how their work will be assessed. The designer then is equipped to make three types of informed choices:

A. Choices about composition
B. Choices about construction
C. Choices about performance

The designer determines (a) what design elements to include in the piece, and then (b) rules for manipulating them. The contemporary designer (c) measures these against our shared understandings about contemporary design. These measures are a continuum – degrees of contemporary, not either/or’s or absolutes. In any given piece of jewelry, some design elements may be very contemporary, and others might not.

GOOD COMPOSITION:
Selecting and Articulating Upon Design Elements and Their Attributes

Jewelry making is a constructive process. It makes sense for the designer to begin with something like building blocks, which I call design elements. Design elements include things like color, movement, dimensionality, materials, use of space, and the like.

Each design element, in turn, encompasses a range of acceptable meanings, yet still reflective of that design element, and which are called attributes.
These design elements can be arranged in different configurations.

The combination of any two or more design elements can have synergistic effects.
Working with design elements is not much different than working with an alphabet. An alphabet is made up of different letters. Each letter has different attributes – how it is written, how it sounds, how it is used. Configurations of letters result in more sounds and more meanings and more ways to be used.

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

This is exactly what the jewelry designer does with design elements. The designer has to decode, that is, make sense of a series of elements and their attributes in light of our shared understandings about jewelry design. The contemporary designer decodes in light of our further shared understandings about contemporary jewelry design.

The designer might, for example, want to select from this list of design elements I have generated below. I have arranged these design elements into what is called a thinking routine[1]. The designer uses the routine to determine how each element might be incorporated into the piece, and how the desired attributes of each element relate to contemporary design. They might also use the routine to look for issues of true and false. They might use the routine to rate each element as to importance and uncertainty.

DESIGN ELEMENT LESS CONTEMPORARY MORE CONTEMPORARY
Dimensionality Flat; Width/Length focus Not Flat; Noticeable Width/Length/Height focus
Movement, Moving Elements Little or no movement, either from the movement of actual components, or from how colors or patterns are used Great sense of movement, either from the movement of components, or from how colors or patterns are used
Color, Color Blending Follows color rules, resistant to violate them Pushes color rules to the edge, or violates them
Light and Shadow Little sense artist attempted to control light and shadow in a strategic sense Great sense artist attempted to control light and shadow, strategically
Negative and Positive Spaces Little sense artist attempted to control negative and positive spaces in a strategic sense Great sense artist attempted to control negative and positive spaces strategically
Point, Line, Plane, Shape, Form Conforms to expectations; comfortable working within basic parameters Violates expectations; challenges basic parameters
Theme, Symbols If used, themes and symbols are simplistic and readily identified If used, themes and symbols have a complex relationship to form and structure, and stimulate debate and discussion to fully make sense of them
Beauty and Appeal Primary goal of piece Synergistic relationship between beauty and function to achieve designer’s ends
Structure and Support Little concern with movement, drape and flow; unwilling to sacrifice appeal for function Considerable concern with movement, drape and flow, and a willingness to make tradeoffs between appeal and function
Materials Materials are selected for how they look Materials are selected for how they function; designer leverages strengths and minimizes weaknesses
Craftsmanship Disconnect from Artist as if Artist was anonymous Shows Artist’s Hand
Context, Situation, Culture Pieces created for the sake of making something, or for the sake of beauty and appeal only Pieces created in anticipation of shared understandings about contemporary jewelry
Balance, Distribution Conforms to expectations; comfortable working within basic parameters Violates expectations; challenges basic parameters
Technique(s) Selected without questioning implications of how technique affects boundary between jewelry and person Selected after questioning implications of how technique affects boundary between jewelry and person
Texture, Pattern Conforms to expectations; comfortable working within basic parameters Violates expectations; challenges basic parameters
Reference and Reinforce an Idea, Style May or may not reference and/or reinforce symbolic meanings; if so, usually does so in a linear fashion, such as mimicking or repeating them May or may not reference and/or reinforce symbolic meanings; if so, learns from them, and then, based on this learning, takes the references to another level

Example of some choices I made using the routine when creating my piece Canyon Sunrise:
Canyon Sunrise, Warren Feld, 2004

What are some things which make this piece “Contemporary”?

Dimensionality Two layers of beadwork. The top layer overlapping the bottom layer, where the first row of the bottom layer is attached to the 2nd row of the top layer, forcing a curvature along the top. The pendant sits on top of bottom layer and in line with top layer.
Moving Elements The two layers are only connected at their tops. As the wearer moves, each layer can move somewhat independently of the other.
Color, Color Blending The piece uses a 5-color scheme, but increases the natural proportions of one color relative to the others. There are many gaps of light between all the beads which calls for a color blending strategy(ies). The piece relies heavily on simultaneity effects, as well as the overlapping effects of transparent and translucent beads.
Technique(s) The bead woven strips are allowed to fan out from the top, thus better accommodating the wearer’s body.

GOOD CONSTRUCTION:
Applying Knowledge, Skills, Competencies for Manipulating Design Elements

Design elements need to be selected, organized and implemented in some kind of satisfying design. Towards this end, the artist, consciously or not, anticipates our shared understandings in order to make these kinds of choices.

These are the most visible choices the artist makes. We can see the finished piece of jewelry. We interact with it. We question it. We get a sense of whether we want to emotionally respond to it. We either feel its resonance, or we don’t.

Most artists manage intuitively, learning to make good choices as they receive feedback and assessment, and adjust their decisions accordingly. The better jewelry designers, however, show “metacognitive awareness” of all the things they have thought of, anticipated, structured, and accomplished during the design process as these relate to larger shared understandings about contemporary jewelry.

Let’s return, for a minute, to the analogy with building blocks and the alphabet. The design elements are building blocks. I compared them to the letters of the alphabet. Building blocks have attributes, and letters have attributes. Attributes further define them and give them purpose.

The novice designer learns to decode these building blocks and their attributes. With more experience, the blocks, just like letters, get combined and constructed into words and phrases and larger, meaningful ideas and expressions.

In essence, the finished piece of jewelry is an exemplar of the jewelry artisan’s vocabulary and grammar of design. The fluency in how the artist uses this vocabulary and grammar in designing their piece should be, I would think, especially correlated with the success and resonance of the piece.

Often, artists implement their design element choices with attention and recognition to Principles of Construction. Principles of Construction are the rules or grammar for using design elements in a piece. Given the artist’s goals for beauty and function, the artist is free to apply the rules in any way she or he sees fit. However, we expect to find this grammar underlaying all pieces of jewelry, whether the piece is contemporary or otherwise.

When we want to apply the label “contemporary,” however, we search for the choices and logic the artist has used for constructing design elements into a contemporary whole, and in anticipation of our shared understandings.

I suggest these 10 Principles of Construction. All Principles need to be applied, yet each is different from and somewhat independent of the others. For example, the colors may be well chosen, but proportions or placement not right.

Principle of Construction What the Principle is About
Rhythm How the piece engages the viewer and directs their eye
Pointers How the piece directs the viewer to a certain place or focal point
Planar Relationships The degree the piece is not disorienting; obvious what is “up” and what is “down”
Interest The degree the artist has made the ordinary…”noteworthy”
Statistical Distribution How satisfying the numbers and sizes of objects within the piece are
Balance How satisfying the placement of objects (and their attributes) is
Dimensionality The degree to which the piece is flat or 3-dimensional, how satisfying this dimensionality is to the piece
Temporal Extension How well the parts are integrated into the whole in anticipation of how, where and when the jewelry is to be worn; the whole should be more than the sum of its parts
Physical Extension/Finishing The degree the piece is designed so that it accommodates physical stresses when the piece is worn
Parsimony There should be no nonessential elements; the addition or subtraction of one element or its attribute will make the piece less satisfying

GOOD PERFORMANCE:
Seeking Continual Feedback and Evaluation About Choices and Results

The jewelry designer brings perspective. The designer shows they can rise above the passions, inclinations and dominant opinions of the moment to do what their feelings, thoughts and reflections reveal to be best. And, at the same time, the designer shows that they can strive for a rapport, a sharing of values, an empathetic response, a type of respect deemed contemporary.

If we return to our alphabet metaphor, it is necessary, but not sufficient, for the artist to assemble a palette of building blocks, thus, design elements. It is necessary, but not sufficient, for the artist to apply a vocabulary and grammar for arranging these building blocks, thus for constructing a piece of jewelry.

Most importantly, however, it is both necessary and sufficient for the artist to anticipate how the piece of jewelry will be assessed prior to making any choice about design element or construction. The more coherent and aligned each aspect of this process is, the better managed. To the extent the artist can strategically manage this whole “backwards” design process, the more fluent in design that artist is. The more fluent in design, the more the finished piece reveals the artist’s hand and resonates.

So, there is a very dynamic performance component to design. The contemporary jewelry designer needs to think about what criteria their client and the general culture and market will use as acceptable evidence of “contemporary” and “good contemporary design”, when the piece is introduced. The artist needs to think about things like connection, emotion, resonance, integrity, market.

The designer needs answers to several questions at this point.

What is the designer’s process and routine for thinking about shared understandings and evidence of authentic performance?

How well have they anticipated these criteria of evaluation?

Has the designer created a continual feedback loop so that acceptable evidence is introduced throughout the full process of design?

To what extent will the eventual evaluation of the contemporary jewelry designer and their work be fair, valid, reliable, and a sufficient measure of their results?

_________________________________________________________


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

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

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

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

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

_________________________________________________________

FOOTNOTES

1 Thinking Routines. I teach jewelry design. I find it useful to engage students with various ways of thinking out loud. They need to hear me think out loud about what choices I am making and what things I am considering when making those choices. They need to hear themselves think out loud so that they can develop strategies for getting more organized and strategic in dealing with information and making decisions. My inspiration here was based on the work done by Visible Thinking by Project Zero at Harvard Graduate School of Education .

2 Fluency. I took two graduate education courses in Literacy. The primary text we used was Literacy: Helping Students Construct Meaning by J. David Cooper, M. Robinson, J.A. Slansky and N. Kiger, 9th Edition, Cengage Learning, 2015. Even though the text was not about jewelry designing per se, it provides an excellent framework for understanding what fluency is all about, and how fluency with language develops over a period of years. I have relied on many of the ideas in the text to develop my own ideas about a disciplinary literacy for jewelry design.

3 Shared Understandings. In another graduate education class, the major text reviewed the differences between understanding and knowledge. The question was how to teach understanding. Worth the read to gain many insights about how to structure teaching to get sufficient understanding to enrich learning. Understanding by Design by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, 2nd Edition, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2005.

4 Backwards Design. One of the big take-aways from Understanding by Design (see footnote 2) was the idea they introduced of “backwards design”. Their point is that you can better teach understanding if you anticipate the evidence others will use in their assessments of what you are trying to do. When coupled with ideas about teaching literacy and fluency (see footnote 1), you can begin to introduce ideas about managing the design process in a coherent and alignable way.

Posted in design management, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

5 Questions Every Jewelry Designer Should Have An Answer For

Posted by learntobead on December 14, 2017

Interested in trying your hand at jewelry design? Before you begin, consider the following 5 questions, as outlined by Nashville jewelry designer and teacher Warren Feld  (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com) 

Susan felt very unsure of herself. And unsure of her jewelry. Would people like it? Was the color mix appropriate? Was the construction secure? Was the price smart and fair? She allowed all this uncertainty to affect her design work – she had difficulty finishing pieces she was working on, starting new projects, and getting her work out there.

Like many of my jewelry and beadwork students, Susan needed to be empowered as a designer.

Empowerment is about making choices. These choices could be as simple as whether to finish a piece or not. Or whether to begin a second piece. The designer will make choices about how to draw someone’s attention to the piece, or present the piece to a larger audience. She or he may decide to submit the piece to a magazine or contest. She or he may want to sell the piece and market it. The designer will make choices about how a piece might be worn, or who might wear it, or when it might be worn, in what context.

And for all these choices, the jewelry designer might need to overcome a sense of fear, boredom, or resistance. The designer might need to overcome anxiety, a sense of giving up, having jeweler’s block, feeling unchallenged, and even laziness.

The empowered jewelry designer should have answers to 5 critical questions:

Question 1:  Should BEADWORK and JEWELRY MAKING be considered ART or CRAFT?
The jewelry designer confronts a world that is unsure whether jewelry is “craft” or “art.” This can get very confusing and unsettling. Each approach has its own separate ideas about how the designer should work, and how he or she should be judged.

When defined as “craft,” jewelry is seen as something that anyone can do – no special powers are needed to be a jewelry designer. As “craft,” there is somewhat of a pejorative meaning — it’s looked down upon, thought of as something less than art. But as “craft,” we recognize the interplay of the artist’s hand with the piece and the storytelling underlying it. We honor the technical prowess. People love to bring art into their personal worlds, and the craftsperson offers them functional objects that have artistic sensibilities.

When defined as “art,” jewelry is seen as something which transcends itself and its design. It evokes an emotional response from the viewer.   It has more of a sense of clarity of purpose and choice, a sense of presence. As “jewelry art,”  things done to improve functionality – durability, movement, drape and flow – should play no role at all, or as a compromise, merely be supplemental.

How you define your work as ART or CRAFT will determine what skills you learn, how you apply them, and how you introduce your pieces to a wider audience.

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 jewelry? What is your creative process?

Applying yourself creatively can be fun at times, but scary at other times. It is work. 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.

Set no boundaries and set no rules. Be free. Go with the flow. Don’t conform to expectations.
Play. Pretend you’re a kid again. Have fun. Get the giggles.
Experiment. Take the time to do a lot of What Ifs and Variations On A Theme and Trial and Error.
Keep good records. Make good notes and sketches of what seems to work, and what seems to not work.
Evaluate. Learn from your successes and mistakes. Figure out the Why did something work, and the Why Nots.

QUESTION 3:  What kinds of MATERIALS work well together, and which ones do not?   
The choice of materials, including beads, clasps, and stringing materials, set the tone and chances of success for your piece.   There are light/shadow issues, textural issues, and color issues.  All of these choices:
… affect the look
… affect the drape
… affect the feel
… relate to the context

I always suggest using the highest quality materials your budget will allow.

Question 4: Beyond applying basic techniques, how does the Jewelry Designer evoke an emotional response to their jewelry?
An artistic and well-designed piece of jewelry should evoke an emotional response. This takes both the successful application of techniques as well as skills.

Unfortunately, beaders and jewelry makers focus too often on techniques and not often enough on skills. It is important to draw distinctions here.

Techniques are necessary but not sufficient to get you there. You need skills. The classic analogy comparing techniques and skills references cutting bread with a knife. Technique:  How to hold the knife relative to the bread in order to cut it. Skill:  The force applied so that the bread gets cut successfully.

Skills are the kinds of things the jewelry designer applies which enhance his or her capacity to control for bad workmanship. These include:
– Judgment
– Presentation
– Care and dexterity
– Taking risks

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

In the bead and jewelry arenas, you see piece after piece that is either over-embellished or under-done. Things may get too repetitive with the elements and materials. Or the pieces don’t feel that they are quite there yet.

For every piece of jewelry there will be that point of parsimony, where adding or subtracting one more element will make the experiencing of the whole greater than the sum of its parts.

The empowered jewelry designer will have answers to these questions, though not every designer will have the same answers, nor is there one best answer. Yet it is unacceptable to avoid answering any of these 5 questions, for fear you might not like the answer.

The empowered jewelry designer will have learned the skills for making good choices. These choices include making judgments about combining materials, both physical and aesthetic, into wearable art forms and adornment. This is jewelry making and design.

 

Warren FFor Warren F., Jewelry Designer and teacher in Nashville, TN, beading and jewelry making endeavors have been wonderful adventures. These adventures, over the past 25 years, have taken Warren from the basics of bead stringing and bead weaving, to wire working and silver smithing, and onward to more complex jewelry designs which build on the strengths of a full range of technical skills and experiences. Learn more about Warren here!

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The DESIGN PERSPECTIVE

Posted by learntobead on November 3, 2011

The DESIGN Perspective
On Beading and Jewelry Making

The DESIGN PERSPECTIVE is very focused on teaching beaders and jewelry makers how to make choices. Choices about what materials to include, and not to include. Choices about strategies and techniques of construction. Choices about mechanics. Choices about aesthetics. Choices about how best to evoke emotions.

These choices must also reflect an understanding of the bead and its related components, and how all these pieces, in conjunction with stringing materials, assert their needs. Their needs for color, light and shadow. Their needs for durability, flexibility, drape, movement and wearability. Their needs for social and psychological and cultural and contextual appropriateness, satisfaction, beauty, fashion, style, power and influence.

This DESIGN PERSPECTIVE contrasts with the more predominant Craft Approach, where the beader or jewelry maker merely follows a set of steps and ends up with something. Here, in this step-by-step approach, all the choices have been made for them.

And this DESIGN PERSPECTIVE also contrasts with another widespread approach – the Art Tradition – which focuses on achieving ideals of beauty, whether the jewelry is worn or not. Here the beader or jewelry maker learns to apply art theories learned by painters and sculptors, and assumed to apply equally to beads and jewelry, as well.

The Craft Approach and the Art Tradition ignore too much of the functional essence of jewelry. Because of this, they often steer the beader and jewelry maker in the wrong directions. Making the wrong choices. Exercising the wrong judgments. Applying the wrong tradeoffs between aesthetics and functionality.

The focus of the DESIGN PERSPECTIVE is strategic thinking. At the core of this thinking are a series of design principles and their applications. These principles provide the beader and jewelry maker with some clarity in a muddled world.

The belief here is that, since there are so many different kinds of information to be learned and applied, it is impossible to clearly integrate this information all at once. When learned haphazardly or randomly, it becomes too difficult or confusing to bring to bear all these kinds of things the beader or jewelry maker needs to do when designing and constructing a piece of jewelry. Thus, the beader and jewelry maker best learn all this related yet disparate information in a developmental order, based on some coherent grammer or set of rules of design. This is the DESIGN PERSPECTIVE.

So, we begin with a Core set of skills and concepts, and how these are interrelated and applied. Then we move on to a Second Set of skills and concepts, their interrelationships and applications, and identifying how they are related to the Core. And onward again to a Third Set of skills and concepts, their interrelationships and applications and relationship to the Second Set and the Core, and so forth.

In the DESIGN PERSPECTIVE, “Jewelry” is understood as Art, but is only Art as it is worn. It is not considered Art when sitting on a mannequin or easel. Because of this, the principles learned through Craft or Art are important, but not sufficient for learning good jewelry design and fashioning good jewelry.

Learning good jewelry design creates its own challenges. All jewelry functions in a 3-dimensional space, particularly sensitive to position, volume and scale. Jewelry must stand on its own as an object of art. But it must also exist as an object of art which interacts with people (and a person’s body), movement, personality, and quirks of the wearer, and of the viewer, as well as the environment and context. Jewelry serves many purposes, some aesthetic, some functional, some social and cultural, some psychological.

The focus of the DESIGN PERSPECTIVE is on the parts. How do you choose them? How should they be used, and not be used? How do you assemble them and combine them in such a way that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts? How do you create and build in support systems within your jewelry to enable that greater movement, more flexibility, better draping, longer durability? How do you best use all these parts, making them resonate and evoking that emotional response from your audience to your style, vision and creative hand that you so desire?

The beader and jewelry maker is seen as a multi-functional professional, similar to an architect who builds houses and an engineer who builds bridges. In all these cases, the professional must bring a lot of very different kinds of skills and abilities to bear, when constructing, whether house or bridge or jewelry. The professional has to be able to manage artistic design, functionality, and the interaction of the object with the person and that person’s environment.

Read: ABOUT GOOD JEWELRY DESIGN: Principles of Composition

Enter: The Ugly Necklace Contest – A Jewelry Design Competition With A Twist!

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Do You Know Where All Your Beading Needles Are?

Posted by learntobead on December 18, 2009

Do You Know Where
All Your Beading Needles Are?

Cleo is a cat owned by one of our customers.     She has a propensity, or is it proclivity, or is it pronounced desire for, or something which attracts her to beading needles.    It turns out that cats especially are attracted to things like beading needles….And they swallow them.

I’m sure they have the mechanical physics wrong in their brains — after all, cats aren’t specifically trained in physics.   Because instead of passing all the way through their digestive systems — like other things they eat that they are not supposed to — beading needles pass through the esophageal walls, and lodge into other organs, muscles and bones.

Here is one of Cleo’s recent X-rays.   You can see the needle on the left side of the image, near her heart.

So, do you know where all your beading needles are today?    Be sure to keep them out of sight of your cat.

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Web-Surf to the Primavera Gallery

Posted by learntobead on April 3, 2009

THE PRIMAVERA GALLERY
210 11th Avenue at 25th Street, Suite 800, New York, NY 10001
http://www.primaveragallery.com/index.asp

Jewelry

Jewelry is a major part of Primavera Gallery. They offer fine, rare and collectible jewels spanning over 200 years of jewelry design, with pieces dating from the late 17th century up until the present. Their  emphasis, however, is on unusual signed pieces, Art Deco through the 1960’s.

They are not interested in large diamonds or masses of precious stones — this, for them, is geology rather than jewelry. They are interested in great style, exciting design and integrity of workmanship. Their collection includes all of the major individual designers, as well as the great jewelry houses. In their spacious new Chelsea gallery, they are also showing jewelry by both well-known and emerging Studio jewelers.

Dali-Ruby-Lips-With-Teeth-L.jpg (Small)

They also offer the work of individual contemporary jewelry designers of special merit, among them Pol Bury, Bruno Martinazzi and Andrew Grima, and they are adding interesting contemporary and studio jewelry from many talented designers working today.

Some things in the Gallery:

 

MARCHAK TURQUOISE AND DIAMOND RING
primavera1
A very unique cocktail ring. The sugar-loaf turquoise set in a domed turquoise and diamond base creates, literally, high drama. The House of Marchak excelled at creating unusual pieces, and especially this kind of jewelry in the 1950’s.
Marchak, Paris

ART DECO BRACELET WATCH

primavera2An elegant and refined bracelet with great Art Deco style in 18k gold set with damonds and calibre-cut rubies. The clasp is also set with rubies, and the central motif cleverly conceals a watch.

 

BOIVIN “LILAC LEAF” BROOCH

primavera3The House of Boivin is well known for beautiful jewelry based on natural forms. This leaf shimmers with the colors of aquamarines, peridots, citrines, and amethysts. It will bring Springtime to any season.
French, ca. 1938

 

 

 

 

 

BUCCELLATI DIAMOND RING

primavera4A wonderful vintage Buccellati, with their famous exquisite gold and silver work, and a 4 carat diamond of unusual and mysterious color.
Buccellati, Italy
 

 

 

 

 

SUSANNE BELPERRON RING

primavera5Pale blue chalcedony was one of Suzanne Belperron’s favorite materials. Here, it is finely carved and centers a fine pearl. Belperron’s jewelry is in great demand, and there are few pieces around. This is a beauty.
France
 

 

 

 

Lot’s of pretty stuff to admire on their website.

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What Is Craft?

Posted by learntobead on March 27, 2009

This question comes up often:
What is Craft?

Is Craft Art?

Can Craft be Art?

In many circles “jewelry” is considered a craft.  In others, “jewelry” is art.

At the Victoria and Albert Museum in England, they have opened up their art collections to include those of craft.  Yet they continue to make a distinction between the two, as seems to be common across Europe.    Craft is what you do with your hands, and Art is what you do with your mind.

To celebrate a new partnership between the V&A and the Crafts Council, we asked leading figures in the craft world to tell us what the term craft means to them. We hope these comments will inspire you send us your views too, resulting in some healthy debate.”

[While you are visiting the V&A museum online, check out their jewellery collections — don’t you love the way the British spell jewelry!.]

va1

 

 

 

va2

 

I think in America, any distinctions between craft and art are starting to get very murky.    I guess we tend to be much more democratic about things.

I recently finished reading a book called SHARDS by Garth Clark on ceramic art.   Clark’s is a major voice for understanding craft as art.  But he decries the lack of leadership in the ceramics field in how ceramics are taught, and how ceramics are promoted.    He feels that ceramics relies too much on an industrial model — making the best toilets, and not enough on an art model — making objects that resonate from an artist’s personality, sensibilities, and social/cultural perspectives.

I wonder sometimes if there are not parallels in jewelry and beading to Clark’s assessments of ceramics.

Another book I’ve just begun is THINKING THROUGH CRAFT by Glenn Adamson.    He asks provocative questions about the marginalization of craft within modern art.   He advocates for visual artists to take a renewed look at craft to better understand the “working in media” craft techniques and theories which also underly the visual arts, but are too often ignored.

 And just in time for our blog discussion on craft vs. art, I received this announcement from the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, OR.

Community Conversations
Museum of Contemporary Craft, Pacific Northwest College of Art and panelists from Oregon’s creative community invite you to engage in a series of conversations about the anticipated integration of these two institutions. Explore the broader concepts relevant to creating a more vibrant and expanded organization that will strengthen its contribution to the cultural voice and economic vitality of the region. Conversations are moderated by Tim DuRoche, community program manager at Portland Center Stage.
 

Thursday, April 9, 6:30 pm
The Changing Dynamics of Craft and Design

Pacific Northwest College of Art, 1241 NW Johnson, Portland

Panelists
:
Andrew Wagner
, editor-in-chief, American Craft magazine
Namita Gupta Wiggers, curator, Museum of Contemporary Craft
JP Reuer, chair, MFA in applied craft and design, Oregon College of Art and Craft (OCAC) and PNCA

Karl Burkheimer
, head, OCAC wood department

What Does Craft Mean To You?   What Do You Think It Means To Others?
How Does This Affect Jewely Making, Beadwork and Jewelry Design?  
PLEASE POST YOUR VIEWS AND FEELINGS:

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