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THE JEWELRY DESIGNER’S APPROACH TO COLOR

Posted by learntobead on February 16, 2019

THE JEWELRY DESIGNER’S APPROACH TO COLOR

by Warren Feld, Jewelry Designer


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Subjective or Objective Choices?
SOME TOOLS FROM ART THEORY

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

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

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

But everything seems so subjective.

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

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

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

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

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

COLOR TOOLS AND THEIR THEORETICAL BASIS
Sensation Management

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

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

As jewelry designers, we need to know…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Look at this color wheel:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are many other color schemes.   Some examples:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Choreographing Color Blending and Transitioning:
Playing With Proportions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Aqua/peach lined Antique rose Teal iris

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

INTENSITY AND VALUES EXERCISE
Intensity Exercise:

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

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

Values Exercise:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

 

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DECODING COLOR AS A DESIGN ELEMENT


A composition in orange and blue.

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s look at another example:


Composition in green, white and red.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

————————————————————————————


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_________________________________________________________

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

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


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

 

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

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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It’s not too late to VOTE! for the UGLIEST NECKLACE of 2014

Posted by learntobead on December 4, 2014

OnLine Voting Ends 12/15/2015!
10th International 2014 The Ugly Necklace Contest
A Jewelry Design Competition With A Twist

Your expert opinion counts!

It ain’t easy doing Ugly!

Five Jewelry Artists from around the world have been selected as Semi-Finalists of The 10th International 2014 The Ugly Necklace Contest –  A Jewelry Design Competition With A Twist, by a panel of judges from Be Dazzled Beads, The Center for Beadwork & Jewelry Arts and Land of Odds.

Vote Online for your favorites, and help determine who will win the Grand Prize – a $992.93 shopping spree on the Land of Odds web-site (http://www.landofodds.com).  Runner Up Prize:  $399.07 shopping spree.   Voting Ends December 15, 2014

Help the world determine which necklace is the absolutely ugliest necklace in 2014!

More details and images on-line at:
http://www.landofodds.com/store/ugly10contest.htm

 

2014 Semi-Finalists Announced:

Patricia Parker, Quakertown, Pennsylvania

Joan Veress, Norwood New York

Cecilia Wells, Brentwood, Tennessee

Lynn Davy, Wimborne, Dorset, United Kingdom

Pamela Orians, Zanesville, Ohio

 

 

 

Synopsis:

It’s not easy to do Ugly!

So the many jewelry designers from across America and around the Globe who entered our 10th International 2014 The Ugly Necklace Contest — A Jewelry Design Competition With A Twist, found this contest especially challenging.   After all, your brain is pre-wired to avoid and reject things which are ugly.   Think of snakes and spiders.   And even if you start your necklace with a bunch of ugly pieces, once you organize them into a circle, the very nature of an ordered round form makes it difficult to achieve Ugly.   Yes, “Ugly” is easier said than done.

Who will win?   We need your help to influence our panel of judges.

Our respected judges evaluated these creatively-designed pieces in terms of hideousness, use of materials and clasp, the number of jewelry design principles violated, and the designer’s artistic control.   Extra points were awarded for artists’ use of smaller beads, because it’s much more difficult to do Ugly with these.

Now it’s time for America and the World to help finalize the decision about which of these 8 semi-finalists’ Ugly Necklaces to vote for.   The winner will truly be an exceptional jewelry designer.   The losers….well….this isn’t a contest where you really can “lose”.

Come see these and the other semi-finalists’ pieces at www.landofodds.com, and vote your choice for the Ugliest Necklace,  2014.

And if you are in the Nashville, Tennessee area, please stop by The Open Windows Gallery (fine art jewelry) at Be Dazzled Beads, where the 8 semi-finalists’ Ugly Necklaces are on display through March 15, 2014.

 

LAND OF ODDS-BE DAZZLED BEADS
Attention: Warren Feld
www.landofodds.com
718 Thompson Lane, Ste 123, Nashville, TN 37204
Phone: 615-292-0610; Fax: 615-460-7001
Email: warren@landofodds.com

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The Ugly Necklace Contest – Submission Deadline Approaching

Posted by learntobead on April 28, 2014

 

THE UGLY NECKLACE CONTEST
– A JEWELRY DESIGN COMPETITION WITH A TWIST
Submission Deadline Approaching:  August 31, 2014

uglynecklace1

 

 

QUESTION:  Have you ever designed something truly ugly? Look at some of the previous submitted entries to the Ugly Necklace Contest? In your view, and from a design sense, are there any particularly outstanding  examples of “Ugly”?

Past Contests — View  the Galleries of Entries

2003:  http://www.landofodds.com/store/ugliest2003a.htm
2004:  http://www.landofodds.com/store/ugliest2004a.htm
2005:  http://www.landofodds.com/store/ugliest2005a.htm
2006:  http://www.landofodds.com/store/ugliest2006a.htm
2007:  http://www.landofodds.com/store/ugliest2007a.htm
2008: http://www.landofodds.com/store/ugliest2008a.htm
2010: http://www.landofodds.com/store/ugliest2010a.htm
2012: http://www.landofodds.com/store/ugly9contest.htm

 

 

About The UGLY NECKLACE CONTEST — A Jewelry Design Competition With A Twist
Submission Deadline: August 31, 2014
Enter To Win! http://www.landofodds.com/store/uglynecklace.htm

The UGLY NECKLACE CONTEST is a jewelry design contest with a twist. The contest presents a challenge not often tackled — at least intentionally. The contest draws the jewelry designer into an alternative universe where beautiful artists create ugly necklaces. It’s not easy to do.

“Ugly” is more involved than simple surface treatment. It is not just laying out a bunch of ugly parts into a circle. It turns out that “Ugly” is something more than that. “Ugly” is the result of the interplay among Designer, Wearer, and Viewer. “Ugly” is very much a result of how a necklace is designed and constructed. “Ugly” is something the viewer actively tries to avoid and move away from. “Ugly” has deep-rooted psychological, cognitive, perceptual, sociological and anthropological functions and purposes.

As research into color and design has shown, your eye and brain compensate for imbalances in color or in the positioning of pieces and objects – they try to correct and harmonize them. They try to neutralize anything out of place or not quite right. You are pre-wired to subconsciously avoid anything that is disorienting, disturbing or distracting. Your mind and eye won’t let you go here. This is considered part of the fear response, where your brain actively attempts to avoid things like snakes and spiders…. and ugly necklaces.

This means that jewelry designers, if they are to create beautiful, wearable art, have to be more deeply involved with their pieces beyond “surface”. Or their pieces will be less successful, thus less beautiful, thus more disturbing or distracting or disorienting, thus more Ugly.

Luckily, for the jewelry designer, we are pre-wired to avoid these negative things. This makes it easier to end up with pieces that look good. Beauty, in some sense, then, is very intuitive. On the other hand, it makes it more difficult to end up with pieces that look bad. You see, Ugly goes against our nature. It’s hard to do.

To achieve a truly hideous result means making the hard design choices, putting ourselves in situations and forcing us to make the kinds of choices we’re unfamiliar with, and taking us inside ourselves to places that we are somewhat scared about, and where we do not want to go.

– Can I push myself to use more yellow than the purple warrants, and mix in some orange?

– Can I make the piece off-sided or disorienting, or not have a clear beginning, middle or end?

– Can I disrupt my pattern in a way that, rather than “jazz,” results in “discord?”

– Can I work with colors and materials and patterns and textures and placements and proportions I don’t like?

– Can I design something I do not personally like, and perhaps am unwilling, to wear around my neck?

– Can I create a piece of jewelry that represents some awful feeling, emotion or experience I’m uncomfortable with?

– Can I make something I know that others won’t like, and may ridicule me for it?

 

Because answering questions like these is not something people like to do, jewelry designers who attempt to achieve “Ugly,” have to have a lot of control and discipline to override, perhaps overcome, intuitive, internally integrated principles of artistic beauty. The best jewelry designers, therefore, will be those artists who can prove that they can design a truly Ugly Necklace. In our contest, we invite all those jewelry designers out there to give it a try.

The Ugly Necklace Contest is one of the many programs at Be Dazzled Beads and The Center for Beadwork & Jewelry Arts in Nashville, Tennessee, that encourage beadwork and jewelry makers to challenge themselves and to test their design skills, and learn some fundamentals about jewelry design in the process.

 

 

What Is Ugly?

Different participants in The Ugly Necklace Contest have interpreted “Ugly” in different ways.

Some focused on the ugliness of each individual component. Some used materials that they felt conveyed a sense of ugly, such as llama droppings, or felted matted dog hair, or rusty nails, or cigarette butts, or a banana peel. Some focused on mood and consciousness, and how certain configurations of pieces and colors evoked these moods or states of consciousness.

Others focused on combining colors which don’t combine well. Still others focused on how the wearer’s own body would contribute to a sense of ugliness, when wearing the piece, such as the addition of a “Breast Pocket” which would lay just below the woman’s breast, or peacock feathers that covered the wearer’s mouth, or the irritating sounds of rusty cow bells, or the icky feeling of a rotting banana peel on the skin. Still others saw Ugly as a sense of psychological consciousness, such as being homeless, or an uncomfortable transition from adolescence to adulthood. For some Ugly meant politically ugly, like Saddam Hussein of Iraq, or the trans-fats associated with fast foods.

It is not enough just to string a bunch of ugly beads on a wire. Ugly pieces do not necessarily result in an ugly necklace. As one entrant learned, when she strung her ugly beads together, the final project was beautiful, and sold for $225.00, before she could enter it into the contest! Actually, if you look at many of the entries, you see that ugly pieces, once arranged and organized, don’t seem as ugly. Organization and arrangement contribute their own qualities and sense of beauty that transcends the ugly parts.

Adding to the fun, the contestant also has to create a piece of jewelry which is functional and wearable. This is what sets beadwork and jewelry design apart from other design arts. A piece of jewelry as art, (even Ugly art), has to maintain its essence and purpose, even as the wearer moves, bends down, or rubs against things. Jewelry is Art as it is worn. Jewelry is not a subset of painting or a type of sculpture.

Jewelry is something more. Jewelry is art and architecture in motion, often frenetic motion. The pieces that make it up, and the techniques and designs which coherently interrelate these pieces, must also anticipate this dynamic totality. Otherwise, the piece of jewelry becomes a failure not only as a piece of jewelry, but of art, as well.

 

The Ugly Necklace Contest is an arena for budding and established beadwork and jewelry designers to strut their stuff – to show how adept they are at creating ugly-necklace-pieces-of-art. It’s a jewelry design competition with a twist.

The finalists of The Ugly Necklace Contest are those beadwork and jewelry designers who can best elaborate upon rules of design, whether intuitively or strategically. These rules of design are, in effect, an underlying grammar and vocabulary – the theoretical and professional basis of beadwork and jewelry making as art, not just craft.

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

Be sure to check out this new book by Margie Deeb, in which she includes a discussion about The Ugly Necklace Contest:

The Beader’s Guide to Jewelry Design: A Beautiful Exploration of Unity, Balance, Color & More Paperback
by Margie Deeb  (Author)

Once beaders have mastered the basics and enjoyed bringing others’ patterns to life, they’re ready and eager to take the next step: creating their own original pieces. Here, finally, is their must-have guidebook to the fundamental principles of visual design. Focusing on jewelry, it helps beaders explore concepts such as unity, scale, proportion, balance, rhythm, volume, shape, pattern, texture, movement, drape, and color in their work. Exercises, reader challenges, and lavish photos enhance understanding and assure design success.

This book is available for Pre-Order at Amazon.com.

deeb-jewelrydesign

 

http://www.amazon.com/The-Beaders-Guide-Jewelry-Design/dp/1454704063/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1391443968&sr=8-1&keywords=the+beaders+guide+to+jewelry+design

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Piece accepted for inclusion 500 BEADED JEWELRY book

Posted by learntobead on February 8, 2012

Just found out that one of my pieces — Little Tapestries/Ghindia — was juried into the book SHOWCASE 500 BEADED JEWELRY, Lark Publications. The book comes out August 2012, but is already listed on Amazon.com at http://amzn.to/z6tZH2 .

From Amazon.com:

This book gathers photographs of 500 of the most breathtaking beaded jewelry designs created in recent years. The techniques the beaders employ are as varied as the aesthetic sensibilities they bring to their gorgeous creations and include beadweaving in every stitch imaginable, embroidery, quilling, loom weaving, and kumihimo braiding, as well as basic stringing, simple wirework, and fine metalwork. Sometimes, a bead maker’s focal piece simply is set in a straightforward, unpretentious, and beautiful design.

 

Virtually all of the world’s most famous beaders who make jewelry have pieces included — including Carol Wilcox Wells, Diane Fitzgerald, Marcia DeCoster, Jamie Cloud Eakin, Huib Petersen, Paulette Baron, Sabine Lippert, Sherry Serafini, Margie Deeb, Maggie Meister, Melanie Potter, Ann Tevepaugh Mitchell, Laura McCabe, Suzanne Golden, Jean Campbell, Rachel Nelson-Smith, Eva Dobos, and many more — but we also present work from many artists who have never been published before. All together, this extensive, international, and fabulous survey of 500 pieces includes work from nearly 300 artists from 30 countries and reveals the striking vision and ambition of today’s beading community.

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BEADED TAPESTRY COMPETITION SEMI-FINALISTS SELECTED

Posted by learntobead on October 21, 2011

BEADED TAPESTRY COMPETITION SEMI-FINALISTS SELECTED

Images of our semifinalists entries posted on facebook
The Illustrative Beader: Beaded Tapestry Competition, 2011
Theme: Mystery Genre Book Covers
http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Illustrative-Beader-Beaded-Tapestry-Competition/176006269128968?sk=wall

KAY FIELDEN

Auckland, New Zealand

“The Lovely Bones”
by Alice Sebold

JUNE JACKSON and JAMIE BRUNS

Bryan, Texas

“Lizzie Borden”
by Elizabeth Engstrom

DOT LEWALLEN

Westerville, Ohio

“Black Notice”
by Patricia Cornwell


PATTY ROCKHILL

O’Brien, Florida

“When Night Falls”
by Jenna Ryan

Voting online for the winner will begin around 11/7/2011 on the land of odds website —

http://www.landofodds.com/

http://www.landofodds.com/store/tapestry.htm

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Join Warren in On-Line Discussion Seminar

Posted by learntobead on October 9, 2011

JOIN WARREN IN ON-LINE DISCUSSION SEMINAR

Warren will be leading this discussion on Bead Chat/Facebook next Tuesday, 10/11, 10:00am central time (11:00am eastern time). Please join us.

EMPOWERING THE JEWELRY ARTIST:
5 Questions Every Jewelry Designer Should Have An Answer For!

Time
Tuesday, October 11 · 10:00am-11:00am Central Timel (11:00am -12:00pm Eastern Time)
Location
Bead Chat Room
http://www.facebook.com/groups/261514230535263/
Created By
Auntie’s Beads
For Bead Chat (hosted by Auntie’s Beads)

Warren Feld discusses these questions in the context of art vs. craft, passion and inspiration, materials and components, techniques vs. skills, and when is enough enough. There is not one best answer. These are the kinds of things each jewelry designer must define for themselves, in a way satisfying to them, but anticipating their audience’s needs, as well. Join us for live chat with Warren!

About Auntie’s Beads Bead Chat on Facebook
Ask to join if you are interested in group chat discussions about beading and jewelry making topics. Chat is ongoing and informal, but we also post event notices and host these online events via chat…

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Huib Petersen Workshops – 5/20-22/2011

Posted by learntobead on April 20, 2011

Be Dazzled Beads,
and The Center for Beadwork & Jewelry Arts
in Nashvile, Tennessee

welcomes

Huib Petersen
May 20th-22nd, 2011

Art Nouveau Sweet Pea Necklace
Friday, 5/20

Playing with Butterflies and Bugs
Saturday/Sunday, 5/21-22

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Click Here 

Huib Petersen is known for his creative translation of nature’s themes, wonders and little inhabitants through beadwork. His necklaces tell little stories about how nature’s elements come together and play.

What a wonderful opportunity to expore our craft with the artist in person — share special insights, get that master-level perception, understand her craft and artistic strategy!

Posted in beadwork, Workshops, Classes, Exhibits | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Loom Work of Douglas Johnson

Posted by learntobead on July 1, 2010

LOOM WORK
Of Douglas Johnson
http://www.douglaswjohnson.com/index.html

The loom work of artist Douglas Johnson is breathtaking and very large.     If you’ve ever worked on a loom, creating Large pieces can be quite a challenge.   Many people sew panels together, and you can always see the seam.    Others create larger and larger looms and strategies for managing large projects.    This is what Douglas Johnson has done.

“I first came in contact with seed beads in 1970. At first I strung them into necklaces using different patterns of color. I loved the colors and was soon shown how to weave them on a loom.

Being a guitar player at the time I decided to make a guitar strap out of beads. So I built a long loom and started weaving a strip of beads to be sewn onto leather. As I was weaving this long strap, I thought it would be nice to get wilder and make a scene out of beads. Imagine a house and barn or even a little village.

So I built a loom that could hold four strips in a row, each strip was 25 beads wide (like my guitar strap) so I ended up with a piece 100 beads wide. I wove each strip separately and sewed them together when they were done.

It was not until 1990 that I figured out how to connect the rows on the loom ending up with a solid piece when taken off the loom.”

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Summer The Designers Gazette, 2010

Posted by learntobead on June 15, 2010

The Designers Gazette
Summer Issue, 2010

available on-line
CLICK HERE
http://www.warrenfeldjewelry.com/pdf/sg062010/summer2010pdf.pdf

To receive emailed copies of our quarterly newsletter – The Designers Gazette –, as well as occasional First Dibs Sales Announcements, go to this web-page:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/landofodds/join/

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Read our FALL DESIGNERS GAZETTE 2009

Posted by learntobead on November 2, 2009

DESIGNERS GAZETTE, FALL 2009

You can read our DESIGNERS GAZETTE, Fall, 2009 online. 

Go To:

http://www.warrenfeldjewelry.com/pdf/fg102009/fall2009pdf.pdf

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ALL DOLLED UP: Beaded Art Doll Competition

Posted by learntobead on October 2, 2009

ALL DOLLED UP: Beaded Art Doll Competition
6 Semi-Finalists Announced
OnLine Voting begins around 11/07/09
www.landofodds.com/store/alldolledup.htm

Synopsis:
Creating a Beaded Art Doll requires an extraordinary mix of multi-media talents by the successful artist.   It involves the design of a 3-dimensional doll form.   It requires an imaginative application and manipulation of beads resulting in a tactile, visual and emotional representation of the artist’s goals.    This year, these goals are focused on the theme: EARTHEN MOTHER.

The Fourth Bi-Annual 2009 All Dolled Up: Beaded Art Doll Competition — sponsored by Land of Odds, Be Dazzled Beads, The Open Window Gallery and The Center for Beadwork & Jewelry Arts in Nashville, TN — sought out beaded art doll artists nationwide.     This competition primarily focuses on the design skills of the doll artists; it’s not merely a beauty pageant. 

Each entrant created a beaded art doll, and then wrote a story about it, beginning with this sentence:

“The mirror reflects more than my hands can feel.
Lines, edges, shadings, a weariness under the eyes, an awkward stance.
Yet, not reflected is a certain vibrancy —
a compassion and wisdom and wonder so many people rely on.
Only you, my beaded art doll,
capture the fullness of me as I age in place .
You embody changes I want to make, so I aptly name you…”

Six semi-finalists were chosen by a panel of experts from The Center for Beadwork & Jewelry Arts from 12 wonderful entries.   Images and stories will be displayed online around November 7th on the Land of Odds website (www.landofodds.com ).   Visitors will be asked to vote and evaluate each doll, to help select the Winner and Runner-up.   The winner receives a $1,000 shopping spree on the website; the Runner-up receives a $400 shopping spree).

 These semi-finalists are,

Kathy Ford
Deep Gap, North Carolina
“Jolyma”

adu2009ford

“As a child you spoke to me from mud as I sat at the far end of the garden patting earthen cakes between my palms.   And how luminous that mud like the color of your skin could be.   Chocolate, gold and olive green the fertile soil in which you breathe.  Life survives and thrives in your rich ground….

…In this guise she embodies life as celebration.  My life as celebration.”

 

Vera Fox-Bond
LaVergne, Tennessee
“Ta Dah”

adu2009fox

“I shall tell my story through TA DAH or TA for short.  TA had been to the beauty shop for a new perm and the latest gossip.  Her curls turned out to be a bit much and she stepped on bubble gum on her way to the car.  What a day!   Upon arriving home, TA looked in the bathroom mirror at her new do and the mirror changed her life and mine forever….

…Don’t discard the older things of this world as they contain their own kind of beauty, wisdom and peacefulness….”

 

Cathy Helmers
Dayton, Ohio
“Aikatrine”

adu2009helmers

“You embody changes I want to make, so I aptly name you Aikaterine, meaning each of the two….

Life-giver, life-taker.
powerful, fragile
serene, chaotic
forgiving, harsh
Compassionate, rageful

…But Aikatrine has no time for self-reflection.
She is busy with self-regeneration.”

 

Ralonda Patterson
Decatur, Texas
“Willow”

adu2009patterson

 

You were not always as you appear this day.  You were fearful and lonely.   You turned to learning for a safe haven, a place for you to be acknowledged in a positive light.  Then sprang the hunger to be taught, a desire that was placed within the seed from which you sprang.   Your roots began to thrive in the fertile soil that had been plowed by your ancestors’ faith.   They grew deeper and had tapped into the eternal spring of the Spirit and from it came an understanding….

Now with such poise, you stand in the garden while showers of blessing rain down.  You are forgiven and redeemed, a most beloved creation of the Heavenly Father.   He gives you rest from your enemies and an eternity in the most beautiful garden of all.”

 

Dot Lewallen
Westerville, Ohio
“Rachel’s Dream”

adu2009lewallen

 

I close my eyes and am transported to a dream world.  My fingers tingle with a sound permeating the forest as my ears hear the sharp crackling of the pine leaves I step upon.   My nose is being teased with a plethora of smells dancing and embracing with a promise of more if I would follow deeper into the woods….Mother Earth takes time to heal one small flower…

Then I am awake lying in my own bed….I touch the place where the dream woman had kissed me, and can still feel the moisture from her breath.  I know this woman.  I’ve seen her before….The woman was Rachel Carson the author of Silent Sprint, and I had followed her into her dream….

We should all take the mirror we see ourselves in, wipe away the fog, and view our beautiful World with a childlike thrill….”

 

Joan M. Cromley
Sedro Woolley, Washington
“Yamka Wuti Kachina (Flowering Woman Spirit)”

adu2009cromley

 

“As I sit here and prepare you for your future, you represent not just me, but also my mother, my daughter, all the women of the past, present and future….As the sacred Bead Keeper for the women of our village, my job is to perform the ceremonies and rituals in creating our precious beaded treasures. …

Just as my mother made my kachina for my puberty rite, so I am making you for my daughter.  When she comes of age and goes through the Beadway Blessing, you will remind her of all the things she has within her, and all the things she can call on as a woman….”

 

About Beaded Art Dolls

A Beaded Art Doll is a physical representation in three dimensions, using human figural and expressive characteristics, through the creative use and manipulation of beads. Beads are a unique art medium, allowing multidimensional surface treatment, and phenomenal opportunities for interplay among colors, light, shadow, texture and pattern.   Beaded Art Dolls submitted as entries for this Competition should be immediately recognizable as a “Doll” as defined above.

That said, Beaded Art Dolls submitted as entries for this competition may be realistic, surrealistic, whimsical or imaginary. They may be humanistic, animalistic, caricatures, cartoons, impressions or abstractions. The doll may take many forms, including a figure, purse, box, vessel, puppet, marionette, or pop-up figure.

Beaded Art Dolls should be between 8” and 36” in size. The surface area of the doll must be at least 80% composed of beads.

The doll’s internal form and structure may result from many techniques, materials and strategies. The bead stitches themselves might be used to create the skeletal structure. Various forms of cloth dolls might be stitched or embellished with beads. The underlying structure might be made of polymer clay, wood, ceramic, porcelain, Styrofoam, wire, corn husk, basket weaving, yarns, cardboard, paper, cotton, or some combination of materials. It might be a found form or object.

The Artist is given wide leeway in techniques for how the doll is to be beaded, and may use one particular technique or several. Techniques, for example, may include bead weaving stitches, bead embellishment, bead appliqué, bead knitting, bead crochet, bead embroidery, lampworking. For the 80% of the surface area that must be beaded, these would NOT include the application of rhinestones, sequins, nailheads or studs. The beads may be of any size, shape, color and material.

The Artist may include a doll stand or display support with the Art Doll, though this is not a requirement. This stand or support may be an off-the-shelf piece, or created from scratch by the Artist. It may be a base, a created setting, a decorative box, or frame. The stand or display support need not be beaded.

The Artist may interpret and apply the theme any way she or he chooses. The Beaded Art Doll might be thought of as a plaything; or as a visual representation of a person, feeling, spirit or thing; or as a tool for teaching; or as a method for stimulating emotional development or healing.

As an object of art, the goal of the Doll should be to make a statement, evoking an emotional, cultural or social response, either by the Artist her/himself or by others.

The Doll must be an original work, and may be the work of one Artist or a Collaboration.

Dolls have been a part of human existence for many thousands of years. Whether part of a ritual or part of child’s play, dolls function as symbols for meaning. Sometimes these meanings are broad social and cultural references; other times, these meanings focus on an individual’s relationship with oneself.

ALL DOLLED UP: BEADED ART DOLL COMPETITION is more than a beauty pageant. It is a design competition. The Competition will take into account the Artist’s intentions and how well these are incorporated into the design.

 

ALL DOLLED UP: Beaded Art Doll Competition
www.landofodds.com/store/alldolledup.htm

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Vintage Interpretations

Posted by learntobead on September 15, 2009

Vintage Interpretations

Our bead study group is about to embark on a new series of studies involving bead weaving interpretations of vintage costume jewelry of the 1920’s thru 1950’s.

Walid is a contemporary jewelry designer I came across while researching materials for our new study unit.   He’s very into the interpreting of vintage approach, using bead embroidery, beaded fringe, lace applique.

Walid for CoutureLab

Walid for CoutureLab

 

When interpreting vintage pieces, it is important to understand the materials, and their contribution to the success of the piece.    You would probably want to use Czech seed beads, rather than Japanese, because the Czech seed beads are more irregular.   They would convey a more hand-done, rather than machine-done, sensibility to your piece.   You might rely on hand-cut beads rather than pressed glass, and older color palettes, rather than new ones, for similar reasons.

Walid for CoutureLab

Walid for CoutureLab

 

Historically, people wore jewelry for many reasons.    This included mourning, commemoration, fun, and imitating fine jewelry.

What were the goals of vintage styles?
– appreciation of hand craft
– to be “wealthy” was to be “elegant”
– decadence
– class distinctions
– eccentricy

Walid for CoutureLab

Walid for CoutureLab

People today are attracted to vintage pieces, because these pieces demonstrated great “hand” skill.    Working in vintage styles feels a lot like recapturing lost treasures.    These proven vintage styles seem to transcend fashion.   Wearing vintage jewelry always makes the wearer feel very special because these are always conversation pieces.

So, here were are trying to restore life to forgotten styles.    We want to try to be unique in a cookie cutter era.  

Walid for CoutureLab

Walid for CoutureLab

 

Walid for CoutureLab

Walid for CoutureLab

Some links of interest:

http://www.couturelab.com/editorial/story-walid.heml#1

http://www.collectorsweekly.com/articles/an-interview-with-vintage-costume-jewelry-collector-carole-tanenbaum/

http://www.collectorsweekly.com/costume-jewelry/overview

http://www.collectorsweekly.com/articles/an-interview-with-fine-jewelry-and-costume-jewelry-collector-christie-romero/

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The Donut Dilemma

Posted by learntobead on June 17, 2009

The Donut Dilemma

By Kathleen Lynam

 

Perhaps you can help our bead study group solve our donut dilemma.

Here’s what happened—our bead study group is currently exploring bead woven shapes and dimensionality. How did we decide on this particular segment of bead weaving? Well, we were inspired by Diane Fitzgerald’s new book, Shaped Beadwork. This book has become a springboard for our discussions—both technically and aesthetically. As we work on the shapes in the book, the group talks about the degree of difficulty, clarity of directions, etc.

 donut1

Last week, “donuts” were brought up in our conversation. No, not the delicious confections filled with jelly or covered with sprinkles. The “donuts” I’m referring to are usually made out of gemstones, have a small hole in the center and are rather flattish.

donut2

They fit into our discussion because they are a shape and have dimension. I immediately tensed. Then I shouted out, “I hate donuts!” Why should a particular shape — donuts —  spark such strong feelings? 

donut3

Then I looked around the table and other heads were shaking in agreement. Other than one dissenting opinion, it seemed we all had a dislike for this shape.   But why, what is it about the donut that leaves us wanting and dissatisfied?

donut4

We talked about the usual way they are worn—knotted with a cord strung through it, maybe embellished with some seed beads or fringe. We were stymied to think of an example that showed creativity and yet still kept the integrity of the donut.

donut5

I decided to look through old magazines to see what I could find. I found quite a few examples for it seems donuts are very popular.

 donut6

As a bead weaver, I love to bezel cabochons, I’ve used gemstone chips in crocheted ropes, but I’m still looking for a creative way to use a “donut”.

donut7

Maybe you have the answer.

donut8

 

donut9

Posted in beads, jewelry design | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Beading Needles – What Do You Prefer?

Posted by learntobead on April 29, 2009

4/29/09

 

Connie posted the following on ALL ABOUT BEADS group, and got some of these responses.   What do you think?

 

 

 

 

Warren I posted on All About Beads about the needles, and so far these are the answer
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

At my bead group – we have been discussing beading needles. I know that is a subject with as many opinions as thread. So could you please tell what kind of a needle you use and why you like them.

I will go first – for general beading such as peyote, etc. I use Pony needles, or John James – which ever I grab first. I use long needles 99% of the time, but when I do bead embroidery I use short beading sharp size 12.

CONNIE

I use long size 12 loom needles when I loom (which I haven’t done for a while and should think about), and John James long size 12 or 13 needles for everything else. (What I really need is sewing needles because I keep using beading needles for mending.)

Marilee

  8867.3 in reply to 8867.1 
 
I too prefer John James and size 12.  Carol Perrenoud from BEADCATS in Wilsonville, OR just gave a presentation to our bead society (Bead Society of Northern California) on the History of Beading Needles and it was amazing.  The one thing that she told us that I had NEVER heard before is to match the shape of your needle’s eye to the “thread” you are using.  Most beading needles have skinny oval eyes which is best for NYMO-type threads that compress. BUT if you use FIRELINE which is more rounded and has a coating, to pick a needle that has a more oval eye.  The needle that she had, I had never seen before ~ they are called STRAW NEEDLES. The issue is that the skinny oval eye will squish/remove the coating on the fireline which can cause it to twist, kink, and eventually even break with the coating gone.  I wish I had picked up more packets. marilyn

  8867.5 in reply to 8867.1 
 
When I am doing a pin, or a doll or something “odd” shaped, I use my curved needles.   I do use more thread with them, but the curve allows me to get in to spaces I could not before.katieB

  8867.7 in reply to 8867.1 
 
For embroidery I use my curved needles and for regular beading like peyote I use my Big Eye needles because it is so hard for me to see to thread the dang things :)Dot

Size 12 John James are my standard needle of choice.  If I must stray I’ll use a Size 12 Pony, but I hate how brittle they can be.  And I am super near-sighted so will take my glasses off and bring my work right up to my face to get a “magnified” look.  When those puppies break it is a scary moment for sure!

I also like the Mary Arden needles…they are apparently made in the same factory as the John James, just in a prettier package.

When the project calls for it, I’ll move down to a size 13 John James.

I don’t like Sharps…I can’t seem to get a good grip on them.  But I have noticed over the years that customers with small, thin fingers enjoy working with them better than a standard length.

We were introduced to Straw Needles last fall.
I’m still looking for them.

I am sold out again….much to Thom’s disappointment.  =o/

  8867.13 in reply to 8867.1 
 
I use Pony 11’s most of the time. If I need something smaller, I go to a 12. The only John James I use with any regularity is the curved needles.Arline

  8867.14 in reply to 8867.9 
 
I don’t like Sharps…I can’t seem to get a good grip on them.  But I have noticed over the years that customers with small, thin fingers enjoy working with them better than a standard length.”Hmm, maybe that explains why I like them! :)Maia

Hi, Connie!

Usually I go for Pony or John James, which are the two brands I can find easily in Chicago. I also buy the Coats & Clark ones when I can find them, but I wish they came in bigger sets than just 4 needles as they last a long time – even when they are really bent, the Pony and Coats and Clark ones are still strong, my latest batch of John James ones were rather brittle this time .

I use the long beading needles for bead weaving, and also sharps and tapestry needles for bead embroidery.Most of the beads I use are smaller than size 8/0 so I tend to use 12s or 13 needles and I keep size 15 needles for beads with small holes.I also have twisted wire ones for stringing beads for pearl knotting.

I hope this helps a bit,

Love, Jan

 

 

 

For beadweaving, I prefer the John James 12’s, for dolls I like the John James 12 sharps.  For most other work, I think the John James 13’s are what I use.  I may try some of the straw needles, if I can figure out the sizing.  May have to buy a packet of each of two sizes to see which direction they go… are the large numbers smaller needles, or vice versa?

  8867.17 in reply to 8867.4 
 
I love straw needles. They don’t bend and break easily and they have an easy to thread eye.They are also known as milliner’s needles and I like the size 11.Both Richard Hemmings and John James make these and they are easily available on the internet for about $1.95 to $3.00 a pack.

Highly recommended.

Sylvia
  8867.18 in reply to 8867.1 
 
I prefer short needles unless I am doing fringe.  I don’t like Pony brand, so I stick with John James.  I’ll use the thickest needle that I can get away with for as long as I can, unless I’m beading into leather when I’ll grab the thinnest needle that I have available. 

Some people like the Japanese beading needles because they are stiffer.   Some people think that the John James needles went downhill in quality when they started making them in China, instead of England.   I prefer the John James regular English Beading Needles, and try to use size 10 and size 12.    I like that they are not super stiff.   The sharps needs are too small for my hand — my hand cramps when I use them.  — Warren

 

 

 

8867.19 in reply to 8867.1

 

 

 

 

  

I’m like Sandi, in that I like to use the thickest needle I can get away with. I do prefer long needles, though, it seems easier to pick up my beads with a long needle. Most of my things are done using a John James size 10 needle. I keep some JJ 13’s around as well as a couple big eye needles, but I only like the big eye for loom work and sometimes fringe. I’ve never tried a size 12 long or short, but I don’t care for the 13’s as they seem very fragile and never last very long for me.

I tend to muscle up on my needles, so they get very bendy. I can usually straighten them out by rolling them between my big anvil and a slab of steel I keep around. It does make them brittle, but I get a little more life out of them.

Jen

 
I prefer sharps (10?12?) for bead embroidery, unless I’m using charlottes and then I have to use a beading needle. As several people have said, I use the largest needle I can get away with – 10 or 12. For awhile I was using size 15 seed beads a lot and used the 15 needles – crispy critters! I’ve had a bad batch of larger John James needles also. That’s when I tried Pony needles, which I liked. And about the same time a friend who sells historical reproduction items for re-enactors gave me some beading needles – I think they are English, but I don’t know if they are JJ. They might be Japanese. They were great though. I really should get some more from her. The most of JJ needles I bought seem to be fine. I have more problems with losing needles than I do breaking them!Cathy

Fortunately, I don’t often lose needles.  Stepping on a few has made me very careful.  I tend to use JJ 12s and 13s most of the time and the 15s when necessary (for some charlottes and gemstones).  I will occasionally use the cheap Indian needles.  For me, they work as well and last as long as the JJ.  I have some sharps but I don’t care for them.  I’ve tried the big eye needles, but the ones I’ve tried have been too large for the beads I use (mostly 15s and charlottes).  I just accept that the 13s and 15s won’t last that long.  Needles aren’t that pricey, so that’s just the way it is.

8867.23 in reply to 8867.1 
 
I use size 10 Pony needles almost all the time. I can’t stand a bent needle and these stay straight most of the time!

 

SUZANNE COOPER
8867.23 in reply to 8867.1 
 
I use size 10 Pony needles almost all the time. I can’t stand a bent needle and these stay straight most of the time!

 

SUZANNE COOPER

 

8867.23 in reply to 8867.1 
 
  8867.27 in reply to 8867.19 
 
I like my needles getting a gentle curve; I can pick up beads easier that way. My first JJ 12 packet lasted for more than 10 years, and I bought some more from Sandi recently so I may never have to buy more of my regular needles.Marilee

 
I think it interesting that your first packet of needles lasted so long. I’m having a hard time with the finish flaking off the packet of needles I am using right now. It flakes off then gradually the thread snags on the uneven coating. I hope it is only this pack as I’m having to change needles several times for each project.

 
Karen, are they Delica needles?  I have a friend who used them once, and they wore off so quickly she would go through two or three in one small project.  We were thinking it might be something in her skin that caused it.
 
 
I loved my first package of 25 John James size 12 needles. They rarely broke, just got nice and bendy. And if I worked slowly and carefully, I could even gently straighten most of the bends with two pairs of pliers. That package lasted almost two years, and I’ve only used two from a package of 10 JJ size 13 purchased at the same time.About two months ago, I purchased another package of 25 JJ size 12. They are twisted, rough, and break easily, especially near the eye; 12 are already broken. After grumbling and muttering, I read the fine print on the package and see that JJ are now made in China. And JJ is now owned by Entaco Ltd.
 
 

from John James Company:

 

The John James factory was sold to new owners who are Chinese.  They did have a couple of batches of needles that were incorrectly annealed and snapped very easily.  They seem to have gotten that back under control again and are producing quality needles again.  We accepted bad needles back and exchanged them.  We also went through our stock and threw out any bad packages.  We lost a bit of money, but it’s nothing short of frustrating to work with bad tools and we were happy to make sure that the products functioned the way they were supposed to.

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