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TEACHING DISCIPLINARY LITERACY: Strategic Learning In Jewelry Design

Posted by learntobead on May 31, 2019

 


TEACHING DISCIPLINARY LITERACY:

Strategic Learning in Jewelry Design

by Warren Feld, Jewelry Designer

Abstract:

Teaching literacy in jewelry design is a lot like teaching literacy in reading and writing.    We want our students to comprehend.   We want them to be able to be self-directed in organizing and implementing their basic tasks.   We want them to be able to function in unfamiliar situations and respond when problems arise.  We want them to make reasonable judgements on marrying aesthetics to functionality.  We want them to develop an originality in their work.   We want them to think like designers.   And, we want a high level of automaticity in all this.    The basic jewelry design curriculum does not accomplish this.   There is an absence of strategy and strategic thinking.    There is a weak commitment to jewelry design as a discipline, with its own vocabulary and ways of thinking through and doing and responding to different, often unfamiliar, situations as they arise.     Without a commitment to embed the teaching of a disciplinary literacy within the standard curriculum, we will fail to impart that necessary learned awareness about fluency, flexibility, originality, and comprehension the designer needs to bring to the design process.

 

TEACHING DISCIPLINARY LITERACY

She said it wasn’t her job!

This prominent jewelry instructor told me that it wasn’t her job to teach anything beyond the basic steps for getting a project done.   It was not her responsibility to share any insights, choices, compromises, fix-it solutions or design considerations she herself made when creating the original project – now taught as a class with a kit and a set of step-by-step instructions.   If a student asked a specific question, she would gladly answer it.  But otherwise, it was not her job.

This attitude is so prevalent in the standard jewelry making curriculum and education.     Teachers stick very closely to the standard, basic curriculum.    Facts, not ideas.   Absolutes, not what-ifs.  Step-by-steps, not creative thinking.  Teachers rarely explain the implications for using one bead vs. another, or one stringing material vs. another, or one clasp vs. another, or one material vs. another, or one technique vs. another.   They rarely discuss the deeper meanings and potentialities underlying various problematic situations.     They ignore the role and power of jewelry to influence human relations.

They have the student gloss over things as if, once seen and memorized, the student will automatically be able to make the right choices over and over, again and again.    The teachers see themselves as easily transferring knowledge, skills and understandings to the student as if inoculating them as you would with a vaccine and a syringe.   And the student becomes a star jewelry designer.   Or not.

Teachers too often see jewelry making and design as a basic set of skills, easily adaptable and applicable to all kinds of jewelry making situations.    They assume that the challenge of improving jewelry making skills would primarily be a function of making more and more jewelry.

This might be true for the novice student, but as the student moves from basic decoding to fluency, flexibility and originality in design, what was learned initially becomes less generally useful.   For example, the student may learn about basic color schemes, but not how to adapt these in different situations, or leverage them to achieve an even more resonant result, or be more deliberate and intentional when choosing colors and determining how to use them.

There is an absence of strategy and strategic thinking.    There is a weak commitment to jewelry design as its own discipline, with its own vocabulary and ways of thinking through and doing and responding to different, often unfamiliar, situations as they arise.

Jewelry, in the standard, traditional design education model, is understood as an object.   We can speak about and learn about it as an object.    This object is distanced from the creative spark that created it.    It is divorced from desire.   Apart from the wearer or the viewer.   Ignorant of context or situation.   There are no deeper explanations, no pointing out implications, no experimenting with situational contingencies, no debating synergistic or other external effects.    The student is run through color theories, materials composition, step-by-step jewelry construction as if learning a basic lexicon is sufficient and enough.

This whole traditional process of standard jewelry designer education ignores the required disciplinary literacy.    It assumes the student is creative, or not.    It approaches jewelry design as if it were a subset of some other discipline, usually art, or more specifically, painting or sculpture.    It ignores architectural requirements allowing jewelry to move, drape and flow as it is worn.   It forgets that jewelry has personal, situational and social consequences.   It pretends that jewelry design does not have any disciplinary requirements of its own.    There are no specialized knowledges or ways of thinking unique to jewelry design alone.

It is weak at teaching the student, from a design perspective, how to decode design elements and how to combine them into compositions apart from basic art theory.   It pretends there are no architectural issues underlying how jewelry functions.   It ignores the fact that jewelry gains much of its appeal and power only as it is worn, and not as it sits on a mannequin or easel.   It totally avoids confronting the fact that much of the power of jewelry results from how it instigates and sustains relationships – artist to self, artist to wearer, wearer to viewer, artist to seller, exhibitor to client, artist to collector, and so forth.    And, it fails to impart that necessary learned awareness about fluency, flexibility, originality and comprehension the designer needs to bring to the design process.

It’s not their job.    It’s not their job to assist the student’s developing creative thinking or applying that creative spark towards better jewelry design.

It’s not their job.

But, in fact, it is!

What Is Disciplinary Literacy?

Disciplinary Literacy1 assumes there are real differences in the way professionals across fields participate and communicate.   Without this, students and professionals in a particular field would flounder and fail.   Disciplinary literacy encompasses those techniques and strategies used to teach designers to think like designers (or historians like historians or scientists like scientists, and so forth)2.

Disciplinary literacy refers to how the particular discipline creates, disseminates, and evaluates knowledge.   Each discipline has its own way of looking at the world, defining things using a specific vocabulary, gathering information, specifying understandings, posing questions and problems, delineating solutions and using evidence to justify their ideas and conclusions.

An artist looking at jewelry, or a craftsperson looking at jewelry, for instance, would have different thought and interpretive processes than a jewelry designer looking at jewelry.     Jewelry, after all, is different than a painting or sculpture or simple functional object.    Jewelry is only art as it is worn.    It must satisfy the requirements of both aesthetics and functionality.    It exists in a 3-dimensional space.   It is worn on the body.    It establishes special relationships between designer and wearer, wearer and viewer, designer and seller, designer and collector.    It encapsulates situational and socio-cultural meanings.   To evaluate whether a piece of jewelry is finished and successful requires a different thought process than art or craft alone would provide.

There are key disciplinary differences in how a jewelry designer…

  • Chooses and evaluates evidence
  • Relates evidence to a perspective
  • Gains understanding
  • Visualizes things
  • Manipulates things
  • Creates a truth and achieves an error- free solution
  • Introduces things publicly

Training in jewelry design should teach students the unique challenges they face within their discipline as they think through design and create jewelry. At each increment within the jewelry design process, they need to think like a designer.Not as an artist, nor like a craftsperson.As a designer.Finding evidence whether a piece is finished and successful.Linking causes to effects. Understanding how inspiration resulted in a finished design.Developing knowledge, understandings and skills to the level where they can transfer these to others.Generating a large number of ideas.Making inferences about the implications of any one choice.Producing things which are original.Responding to problematic or unanticipated situations.Finding new ways to adapt existing ideas to new conditions.Anticipating shared understandings about how their work will be evaluated, assessed and judged.Knowing when something is parsimonious and finished, and knowing when something resonates and is successful.

Types of Literacy

There are three different types of literacy – Basic, Intermediate, and Disciplinary.     The standard jewelry design curriculum typically focuses on Basic literacy, with some nod toward Intermediate.    Disciplinary literacy is usually ignored, but it should be incorporated and integrated within Basic and Intermediate literacy instruction.

Basic Literacy

Basic literacy refers to the degree the student learns knowledge of high frequency concepts that underlie virtually all jewelry design and jewelry making tasks.   These concepts are typically universally recognized and understood by artist and client alike.      Here jewelry is understood as an object.    An object has literal characteristics which the student can identify and list.

The student demonstrates this basic literacy by an ability to decode.   The student can decode things like color use, rules of composition, materials selection, technique implementation and the like.    The student picks up the basic words and definitions, links the vocabulary to relevant objects, and can identify their presence and use within any piece of jewelry.   Each element and principle of design can be graphically represented, and the student begins to make connections between word and graphic.   The student begins to recognize which design elements can stand alone, and which are dependent on the presence of other elements.  The student can identify harmonious and balanced clusters of these design elements within compositions.    The goal is an automaticity in decoding.

Intermediate Literacy

Here the student develops the knowledge to make more complex jewelry forms and designs.    There is more comprehension.   The student recognizes that the various design elements and principles have a range of variations in meaning and expression.   In a similar way, the student begins to recognize that clusters of design elements and principles can also show variations in meaning and expression.

The student learns about different materials and what they can and cannot be used to achieve.    Materials have names, places of origins, stories about how they get from one place to another, processes.

The student is introduced to variations in techniques and technologies.   There is more than one way to accomplish things.    There are more things that can be created using familiar techniques.

The student learns to problem-solve with various “fix-it” procedures, like re-doing, changing tools, requesting help, looking things up, drawing analogies.

The student learns to process-plan.     S/he begins to relate inspirations, aspirations and intentions to more critically evaluate their choices or the choices of others.   Students are more able to stick with things and maintain attention to a more extended design process.

The student begins to learn how to design for an audience.   This might be a client, or a purchaser, or an exhibitor, or a collector.    This begins the developing understanding of how to meld personal held preferences with those of others.

Students monitor and reflect on their own comprehension.     The goal is an automaticity in fluency.[4]   Here jewelry is understood as content.  As content, the jewelry as designed conveys meanings and expressions which the student can derive.   The jewelry and its compositional design is still, however, mostly viewed objectively, as if sitting on an easel, not as it is worn.

Disciplinary Literacy

This involves a way of thinking and doing specific to the discipline.   The student learns specialized literacy skills relevant to jewelry design as the jewelry is introduced and worn publicly.   The student learns how parsimony and resonance as outcomes expressed in design differ from harmony and variety as expressed in art.

The student learns to anticipate shared understandings[5] and the role of desire among the many audiences the student works with, works in, and relates to.    These include clients, sellers, exhibitors, collectors, wearers, viewers, and the artist him- or herself.

Much of the design process takes on the qualities of backwards design.[7]  The designer begins the process by articulating the essential shared understandings  and desires against which their work will be evaluated and judged. The designer starts with questions about assessment, and then allows this understanding to influence all other choices going forward.”

The student has an ability to conceptualize and explain what jewelry means, how it is more an action than an object, and how this meaning emerges dialectically, as the jewelry is introduced publicly, worn, shared and displayed.

The student learns to recognize the dynamics of coherency, decoherency, and contagion.   The artist’s coherent choices about design become contagious, attracting someone to want to touch the piece, wear it, or buy it.    To the extent others share the artist’s ideas about coherence, the more likely the work will be judged finished and successful.   Jewelry becomes more than an expression of meanings, but rather, it becomes an expression of meanings within context.

The process of coherence continues with the wearer, who introduces the piece into a larger context.    There is more contagion.     When efforts at design are less than successful, we begin to have decoherence.    Decoherence may come in the forms of bad feedback, inappropriate feedback, less than satisfying feedback, or no feedback at all.  The wearer may not get that sense of self s/he seeks.   S/he may feel less motivated to wear the piece, or may store it, or give it away.

The student can comfortably and flexibly respond in unfamiliar situations or to new materials, techniques, technologies and requests, and take on larger challenges arising from higher levels of ambiguity, abstraction, subtlety, and contradiction.   The student can find new ways to adapt existing ideas to new situations and requirements.

The student learns how to inspire to.    That is, the student learns how to translate an inspiration into a design in such a way that the wearer and viewer are inspired to, not merely inspired by.  They don’t simply react emotionally by saying the piece is “beautiful.”  The piece resonates for them.   They react by saying they “want to wear” it or “want to buy it” or “want to make something like it”.   They come to feel and see and sense the artist’s hand.

The student learns how to manage a very involved, and often very long and time-consuming process of jewelry design, beginning with inspiration, then aspiration, then execution, and presenting the piece publicly for exhibit or sale.   The student also picks up the skills and attitudes necessary to stick with what can be a very long process.

The goal is an automaticity in design flexibility and originality.    Jewelry is understood as both intent and dialectic communication.  Here the student can visualize, anticipate, and respond to all the things which might happen when the jewelry is introduced publicly and its value and worth is judged and determined.

Literacy in Jewelry Design

Teaching literacy in jewelry design is a lot like teaching literacy in reading and writing.    We want our students to comprehend.  We want them to be able to be self-directed in organizing and implementing their basic tasks.   We want them to be able to function in unfamiliar situations and respond when problems arise.  We want them to make reasonable judgements on marrying aesthetics to functionality.  We want them to develop an originality in their work.   We want them to think like designers.  And, we want a high level of automaticity in all this.

Using literacy techniques, goals and concepts, we teach students to read, write, express and express in context when understanding jewelry and its design.

We teach the student to “read” jewelry.    That means learning a basic vocabulary, as well as the various design elements, and how these design elements can either function on their own, or be arranged and clustered together within a design.    They learn to describe the piece, including the name of the artist and the name of the piece, the style of the piece, when the piece was created, the materials used, the construction technique, and the use of design elements such as point, line, shape, form, space, texture, color, value and pattern.

We teach the student to “write” jewelry.    The student constructs (or anticipates how a particular designer has constructed), then reflects, upon the choices made.   That means learning various principles of composition, construction and manipulation.   These affect arrangements as well as the juxtaposition and clustering of design elements, materials and techniques.     They learn to how the placement and organization of elements, materials and techniques results in things like harmony, balance, contrast, variety, unity, emphasis, movement, depth, rhythm, focus, and proportions.

We further teach the student to be more “expressive” with jewelry.   That means learning how jewelry signifies various meanings and evokes emotions.    They learn to question and ponder through answers to questions like What did they think the designer was trying to say?  Or What kind of reaction(s) would you expect to this piece of jewelry?   What feelings does the jewelry convey?   In what context would wearing the piece be especially relevant and appropriate?   Are there things in the piece which might be symbolic or otherwise signify things which transcend the piece of jewelry itself?

Last, we teach the student to be “expressive within a context”.    That means understanding how jewelry functions communicatively, socially and psychologically within any context or situation.   That means learning how various artists and various audiences use jewelry as a means of self-identity and self-esteem, and how the interaction of the artist with various audiences affects the success (or failure) of their continued relationship oriented around (and perhaps anchored to) the jewelry.   It means delving into the how and why the jewelry would be valued or worth determined or evaluative judgements made, and, furthermore, how such judgements and determinations might be contingent in their expression.   It also means understanding what jewelry is as it is worn, and the required artistic, functional and design choices and compromises which must be made, if the piece of jewelry is to be judged finished and successful.

Literacy in jewelry design includes such things as:

  • Learning art and design vocabulary, including design elements, principles of composition, manipulation and construction, and basic vocabulary words
  • Developing an understanding of a range of materials, how these are selected, and the possibilities for their use, or mis-use, in any one project
  • Developing a range of technical and technological knowledges and skills, how to vary them, and when to apply them and when not to apply them
  • Translating inspirations into aspirations into specific designs and execution
  • Choosing media, technique and strategy to convey concepts, forms and themes
  • Organizing, managing and controlling a jewelry design process, from start to finish, especially over an extended period of time
  • Deciphering the graphic representation of ideas
  • Communicating these ideas through critique and analysis of jewelry genres, styles, media use, and artist/designer intent
  • Reconciling tensions and conflicts between appeal and functionality, especially as the jewelry is worn
  • Introducing their work to others, coordinating artist goals with marketing goals, and exhibiting or selling publicly
  • Working with various client audiences, and translating, influencing or mitigating their understandings and desires about jewelry with those of the designer, whether a piece should be judged as finished and successful
  • Figuring out “fix-it” strategies where things do not turn out as desired, are uncertain, or things go wrong
  • Reflecting on one’s own thought processes and choices, increasing that metacognitive awareness of what things lead to better design
  • Developing a personal style and originality and strategies for how these get reflected in the artist’s finished compositions

Why Do We Need More Fluent Designers?

The standard curriculum and approach for teaching the making and designing  of jewelry is commonly viewed as teaching basic literacy.  This includes teaching a basic set of skills, widely adaptable and applicable to all kinds of jewelry making situations.  These basic skills are highly generalizable and adaptable.

In the standard curriculum, it is assumed that the challenge of improving jewelry making skills is a function of making more and more jewelry.    The designer, thus over time, would automatically evolve into a better designer with better, more satisfying, more appealing designs.      We refer to this as the vaccination conception of teaching.

In some sense here, these ideas about teaching basic literacy are partly right.   All students need a basic vocabulary.    All jewelry designers need these basic perceptual and decoding skills which are very connected to early learning.     These are entailed in all jewelry designs and crafting tasks.

However, as the designer moves from basic decoding to fluency, flexibility and originality, the basics which were learned become less generally useful.   For example, the designer may learn basic color schemes, but not learn how to adapt these in different situations, with components which do not easily match colors on the color wheel, and which present differently when used in combination, or under different lighting or contextual situations.

Our standard teaching curriculum, if that is all we teach, becomes less than useful.    We rely on a bad assumption:  If we only provide adequate basic skills, so we assume, from that point forward, the student with adequate background knowledge will be able to design and make anything successfully.    When the emphasis is on giving out more information and instructions rather than on discussion and challenge, students have little chance to learn to think as a fluent jewelry designer.

But this also begs the question:  Why do we need more fluent designers?

Isn’t turning out basic technicians sufficient?    Aren’t there enough designers meeting everyone’s jewelry needs?    Even if there are not, are there enough clients and customers who would want to see and purchase better, more insightful, jewelry designs?

My answer, obviously, is Yes!    We need more fluent designers who have been taught and are fluent in a disciplinary literacy.   That is because there are many things going on around us which increase the need for all this.

These include,

  • The need to adapt to more global competition, better ride the ever-faster waves and changes of fashion and style trends, and more strategically confront and challenge global “sameness” in design
  • The need to adapt, and adapt more quickly, to changes in technologies and materials
  • Automaticity in how designers more easily and successfully meet their various client needs – self, wearer, viewer, seller, exhibiter, and collector
  • Creating a clearer, publicly sanctioned professionalization of the jewelry design discipline
  • Expanding the connectedness and networking of jewelry designers in today’s world
  • Increasing opportunities for more attention, visibility, communication, support, demand and income
  • Encouraging individual student pursuits, diversity and experimentation

How Should Disciplinary Literacy

Be Incorporated Into Jewelry Design Education?

Jewelry Design is rarely taught at this disciplinary level.

There is a need to identify what an advanced literacy curriculum in jewelry design might be, how it differs from that in art or craft, and how best to implement it.

We need to move away from the ideas of “teacher of art” or “teacher of craft”, and begin to understand the role of teacher as “teacher of disciplinary literacy in jewelry design”.    How can we best prepare all jewelry design students for the thinking, the making, and the critically reflecting upon required by more intermediate and advanced work?    How can we prepare students to be independent thinkers?   Self-starters?   What program of authentic learning more closely reflects what a jewelry designer does in the field?

A disciplinary literacy program should not, however, be understood as a separate curriculum.    It is not something supplemental.    Rather, disciplinary literacy should be a part of and embedded within all existing instruction, from basic to advanced.   Disciplinary literacy should support the standard curriculum with literacy tools uniquely tailored to jewelry design.

Some ideas for integration…

  1. Build more depth into what is already taught and increase student engagement
  2. Leverage a wide range of resources – popular articles and images, academic articles, interviews, gallery exhibits and their presentation and marketing materials, online videos, bead and jewelry making magazines
  3. Task students with communicating what they read, viewed, experienced and attempted to do, and elaborate more on their understandings
  4. Ask questions which encourage students to think like jewelry designers
  5. Model design strategies and fix-it strategies
  6. Allow students to do more problem-solving and experimentation

 

Students should be encouraged to…

Experiment

Perform

Demonstrate

Discuss findings

Anticipate the

understandings of others

Monitor their thinking

Deal with ambiguity

Problem solve

Read

Write

Debate options

Compare their work to

others

Challenge assumptions

Go beyond the ordinary

and obvious

Comment

Communicate

Ask questions

Seek evidence to inform their

work

Gather information

Detect bias

Expose their ideas and works to

others

BLOOM’S TAXONOMY

If you are not already familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy (1956)[6], and its model’s evolution and various adaptations in different disciplines, I urge you to do so.    This is a particularly useful tool when teaching higher level thinking and creative problem solving.    Are your lesson plans, assignments, projects, questioning strategies touching on each progressive level in Bloom’s Taxonomy?   The Taxonomy helps you evaluate the level of rigor in your instruction and the degree you are presenting your students and involving them in  learning higher level thinking skills in a subject or discipline.

In jewelry design, we might adapt Bloom’s Taxonomy like this…

Creating:  designing, constructing, developing, producing, manipulating, translating inspiration into aspiration and aspiration into a design

Evaluating:  judging, evaluating, appraising, defending, challenging, showing connections, linking design choices to emotional and resonant outcomes or sense that piece feels finished

Analyzing:  comparing, contrasting, experimenting, testing, questioning, examining, what happens when analyses with different materials, techniques, technologies, and construction and composition strategies

Applying:  dramatizing, sketching, using, solving, illustrating, writing, demonstrating, instructing, diagramming, arranging, using different techniques and technologies in making jewelry

Understanding:  classifying, describing, discussing, explaining, paraphrasing, locating, translating, decoding

Remembering:  memorizing, listing, recalling, repeating, reproducing, copying, building up a specialized vocabulary

As teachers of jewelry design, we want to build up our students’ design knowledge and skills through literacy.   This means such things as,

  1. Building prior knowledge – showing connections between what they are expected to do now with what they have done or experienced before
  2. Building a specialized vocabulary and how to use this in context
  3. Learning, applying, varying and experimenting with different materials, techniques and technologies
  4. Practicing translating inspirations into aspirations
  5. Learning to deconstruct complex visual representations of ideas which each piece of jewelry encapsulates
  6. Using knowledge of artistic design elements and genres to identify main and subordinate ideas expressed within any piece
  7. Articulating what the graphic representations mean and how they are used within a piece of jewelry, and how this supports the artist’s intent
  8. Posing disciplinary relevant questions
  9. Critically comparing one piece of jewelry to others
  10. Using reasoning with jewelry design, such as searching for alternatives, or selecting evidence to evaluate claims of finish and success
  11. Enabling students to be metacognitive – that is, become aware of the ways in which they think, learn, create and problem-solve, and aware of how they overcome those times of creativity block
  12. Anticipating shared understandings about what it means for a piece to be finished and successful
  13. Bridging creative learning to the creative marketplace

What Are Some Specific Useful Techniques?

We should teach students to design jewelry, not draw it, not sculpt it, not craft it.    And that should be our primary goal as teachers: developing our students’ Fluency, Flexibility and Originality with design.

This involves:

  1. a developmental approach and organization of knowledges, skills and understandings to be taught, usually taught as sets of interrelated, integrated skill sets, rather than one skill at a time
  2. a multi-method teaching plan and program with a shared goal of teaching disciplinary literacy,
  3. a rubric specifying degrees of accomplishment and the criteria of evaluation – all shared with the student
  4. a willingness to adjust teaching styles because different students rely on different senses and strategies for learning

I am going to touch on each of these below, but you will find numerous articles in print and online which go into much more detail.

Developmental Approach

Think of jewelry design as a large matrix.    The rows are the various knowledges, skills and understandings students need to master.    The columns represent ordered stages of learning, indicating what needs to be learned first, second and third, etc.

In the example below, learning objectives were specified for an introductory bead stringing class.   The learning objectives were characterized by skill level needed.    These objectives were clustered together and taught as a set.   The student could identify what things were learned at what level, and what things needed to be learned in another class.   Emphasis was placed during the instruction to visibly point out to the student how each learning objective was interrelated to the others.

At the conclusion of the class, students were asked to self-evaluate what they learned about each learning objective, and what else they would like to know or learn about it.    What were their take-aways, and what would they like to do next.

EXAMPLE MATRIX

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

BEAD STRINGING

Crimping

  BEGINNER  INTERMEDIATE  ADVANCED 
TECHNICAL MECHANICS
1. Holding Your Piece To Work It BEGINNER     
2. Reading Simple Pattern, Figure and/or Graph; Diagramming BEGINNER     
3. Selecting Stringing Materials BEGINNER     
4. Selecting Clasps and other Jewelry Findings BEGINNER     
5. Selecting Beads and other Components BEGINNER     
6. Laying Out Your Piece BEGINNER     
7. Identifying Areas of Potential Weakness, and

Strategies for Dealing With These

BEGINNER     
8. Selecting and Using Adhesives      
9. Use of Tools and Equipment BEGINNER     
10. Determining Measurements and Ease, including Width and Length of a Piece, Especially In Relationship To Bead Sizes BEGINNER     
11. Finishing Off Threads, Cable Wires or Other Stringing Materials in Piece or Adding Threads/Cable Wires/Stringing Materials BEGINNER     
UNDERSTANDING CRAFT BASIS OF STRINGING METHODS
1. Starting the Piece BEGINNER     
2. Implementing the Basic Method BEGINNER     
3. Finishing Off Your Piece With A Clasp Assembly BEGINNER     
4. Managing String/Cord/Thread/Wire Tension BEGINNER     
5. Crimping BEGINNER     
6. Making Simple and Coiled Loops Using Hard Wire      
7. Making and Using Connectors; Segmenting; Directional Control      
8. Adding Dangles and Embellishments      
9. Making Multi-Strands Piece      
10. Making Twist-Strands Piece      
UNDERSTANDING ART & DESIGN BASIS OF BEAD STRINGING
1. Learning Implications When Choosing Different Sizes/Shapes of Beads, or Using Different Stringing Materials  BEGINNER     
2. Learning Implications When Choosing Different Kinds of Clasps, or Using Different Jewelry Findings and Components BEGINNER     
3. Understanding Relationship of this Bead Stringing Method in Comparison to Other Types of Bead Stringing Methods  BEGINNER     
4. Creating Support Systems Within Your Piece In Anticipation of Effects of Movement, and other Architectural considerations BEGINNER     
5. Understanding How Bead Asserts Its Need For Color When Stringing Beads      
6. Creating Your Own Design with This Bead Stringing Method, in Reference to Jewelry Design Principles of Composition      
7. Creating Shapes, Components and Forms To Use With This Bead Stringing Method, and Establishing Themes      
BECOMING BEAD STRINGING ARTIST & DESIGNER
1. Developing A Personal Style      
2. Valuing or Pricing Your Work      
3. Teaching Others Bead Stringing Methods      
4. Promoting Yourself and Your Work      

 

When taking a developmental approach, you teach groups of integrated knowledges, skills and understandings.   You teach technical mechanics concurrently with art and craft history, and concurrently with discipline-specific literacy.     We want our students to be able to think strategically and critically, deal with unfamiliar or problematic situations, and be self directed.

In the Developmental Approach, you start with a cluster of a core set of skills.    You show, demonstrate, and have the student apply, communicate about, and experiment with how these skills inter-relate in jewelry design.

You then introduce another cluster of knowledges, skills, and understandings.    As with the core, you show, demonstrate, and have the student apply, communicate about, and experiment with how all these inter-relate.   Then you repeat all this by teaching how this second cluster of things inter-relates to the core.

And again, you introduce a third cluster, and link to the second, then link to the core.     And so forth.

Jewelry design covers a wide range of factors beyond the physical and structural aspects of jewelry.    It incorporates aesthetics, structure, value systems, philosophies, sustainability, technologies, and their integrations.   Thus the jewelry designer has to know some things about art, and some things about architecture, and about physical mechanics, and anthropology and psychology and sociology, and engineering, and be a bit of a party planner.   Here, this developmental approach serves them well.     It helps the student learn the inter-connectedness and inter-dependencies of them all, in a gradual, developmental, building-up-to-something sort of way.

Multi-Method Teaching Plan

Students need to come at jewelry design problems from different angles.    Within each lesson, teachers need to gradually relinquish control over the learning process to the student.     Using a single teaching method, such as having students keep rehearsing a series of steps, or relying on a single textbook won’t cut it.   We also need to infuse opportunities for reflection within virtually every activity.

Some of things I find especially useful include,

(a) Guided Thinking

(b) Thinking Routines

(c) Developing an effective questioning strategy

(d) Application, practice and experimentation

One approach is called “Guided Thinking”.    Here, within each lesson, the teacher begins with controlling the information and how it is presented.  This involves some lecture, some demonstration, some modelling.    The teacher never insists that there is only one way to accomplish any task.    Over the course of the lesson, the teacher gradually relinquishes more and more control to the student for directing the learning activity.

For example, we might encourage students to construct and feel and touch similar pieces made with different materials, beads or techniques, and have them tell us what differences they perceive. We should guide them in thinking through the implications for these differences. When teaching a stitch, I typically have students make samples using two different beads – say a cylinder bead and a seed bead, and try two different stringing materials, say Fireline and Nymo threads.

We also should guide them in thinking through all the management and control issues they were experiencing. Very often beginning students have difficulty finding a comfortable way to hold their pieces while working them. I let them work a little on a project, stop them, and then ask them to explain what was difficult and what was not. I suggest some alternative solutions – but do not impose a one-best-way – and have them try these solutions. Then we discuss them, fine-tuning our thinking.

After some trial-and-error and experimentation, I begin to introduce some goals.  They had identified some management and control issues, and had some observations about what they were trying to do.    I link these developing discussions to these goals. These are issues because….  And I let them fill in the blanks.    What do they think needs to be happening here?

I begin to put words to feelings.   I guide them in articulating some concrete goals.   We want good thread tension management for a bead woven piece. We want the beads to lay correctly within the piece. We want the piece to feel fluid. We want an easier way to work the piece and hold it, so it doesn’t feel so awkward.

We return to Guided Thinking. I summarize all the choices we have made in order to begin the project: type of bead, size of bead, shape of bead, type of thread, strategy for holding the piece while working it, strategy for bringing the new bead to the work in progress. I ask the students what ideas are emerging in their minds about how to bring all they have done so far together.

At this point, I usually would interject a Mini-Lesson, where I demonstrate, given the discussions, the smarter way to begin and execute the Project. In the Mini-Lesson, I “Think Aloud” so that my students can see and hear how I am approaching our Project.

And then I continue with Guided Thinking as we work through various sections of the Project towards completion. Whatever we do – select materials, select and apply techniques, set goals, anticipate how we want the Project to end up – is shown as resulting from a managed process of thinking through our design.

In “Guided Thinking”, I would prompt my students to try to explain what is/is not going on, what is/is not working as desired, where the student hopes to end up, what seems to be enhancing/impeding getting there.

As the lesson proceeds, I reduce the amount of direction and information I provide.    I relinquish this responsibility gradually to the student.   The student is asked to try out a technique or strategy, then try an alternative.   The student is asked to communicate the differences, their preferences, their explanations why, and what they might try to do next.

Experimentation with evaluation is encouraged.   The student is asked to develop a more concrete jewelry project, and explain the various choices involved.    What-if and what-next questions are posed.    The student is allowed to follow a pathway that might be not as efficient, or even a dead-end.    More discussion about what occurs begins.   If the student asks me what would happen if, I tell them to try it and see, and then discuss their experience and observations.

Towards the end of the lesson, I prompt the student to communicate what they have done and what they have discovered.   I ask them, in various ways, what take-aways they have from the class, or how they think they might apply what they learned in the future.   I suggest the “what next.”   I identify different options and pathways they might pursue next.    Metacognition and reflection are important skills for any jewelry designer to have.

And we’re ready for the next lesson.

Another approach is called “Thinking Routines”.    With guidance, demonstration and repetition, it is my hope that these experiences become a series of Thinking Routines my students resort to when starting a new project. As students develop and internalize more Thinking Routines, they develop greater Fluency with design.

Thinking Routines are different strategies for structuring a set of steps which lead a person’s thinking.    “They are the patterns by which we operate and go about the job of learning and working together in a classroom environment. A routine can be thought of as any procedure, process, or pattern of action that is used repeatedly to manage and facilitate the accomplishment of specific goals or tasks. Classrooms have routines that serve to manage student behavior and interactions, to organizing the work of learning, and to establish rules for communication and discourse. Classrooms also have routines that structure the way students go about the process of learning. These learning routines can be simple structures, such as reading from a text and answering the questions at the end of the chapter, or they may be designed to promote students’ thinking, such as asking students what they know, what they want to know, and what they have learned as part of a unit of study.[3]

Some examples:

  1. What Do You See…..What Do You Think…..What Do You Know
  2. Think – Pair – Share
  3. What Makes You Think That?
  4. I used to think…  Now I think…
  5. Connect – Extend – Challenge
  6. True for Who?
  7. Look – Score — Explain

We use Thinking Routines mirror the kinds of thinking and analytic practices common to the discipline of jewelry design.     We encourage students to reflect on what they were thinking.   We ask how they were anticipating getting to the point where they would call their piece finished.    We ask them whether there was some kind of order or routine to their process.    We ask them what criteria they would use to know that they were successful.    We ask them to anticipate what others would think, and whether others would agree that the piece was finished and successful.

These are some of the kinds of situations we want our students to develop thinking routines for:

a. Exploration of experience for a purpose; translating inspiration into designs

b. Search for meaning as conveyed by various design elements alone, clustered together, or arranged within a composition

c. Formulating how to deal with unfamiliar tasks or roadblocks preventing the finishing of a task

d. Completing well practiced technical tasks

e. Varying well practiced technical tasks

f. Contingent thinking and fix-it strategies

g. Incorporating the shared understandings of others into the thinking about what constitutes a finished and successful design

h. Introducing jewelry publicly, such as for exhibit or for sale

Another approach I want to point out is having an Effective Questioning Strategy.  Students need to be engaged in thinking and talking about jewelry and its design and its powers when worn.     The questions we ask them, and the way we phrase them, can have a big impact on this.

Questions should lead the student towards greater understanding.    Ask questions which encourage students to think like jewelry designers and understand jewelry design as a series of problems to be solved.

  • Decode piece of jewelry; measure jewelry’s impact; relate to artist intent
  • Correlation or causation when explaining and identifying design issues
  • What q’s weren’t answered; ability to assess the information at hand relevant to the design problem
  • Do the results solve the design problem and support the conclusions
  • Other explanations for the results
  • Given an artist intent, sketch a jewelry design
  • Given a piece of jewelry to be sold, develop a sales pitch

Some pointers:

  1. Avoid questions with Yes/No answers
  2. Avoid questions which contain the answers, such as “don’t you think the designer did a good job?”
  3. Avoid questions which seem to have a particular answer in mind, such as “how did the designer use materials to represent the upper class?”
  4. Do elicit questions with multiple answers.
  5. Do elicit questions which incorporate each of our senses, not just the visual, such as “what sounds do you think this piece of jewelry would make?”
  6. Do elicit questions of varying levels of difficulty and rigor.
  7. Do elicit personal interpretations of ideas and feelings, coupled with questions about what evidence the student used to come to these conclusions.
  8. Do elicit questions about how to value or judge worth, and how such values might differ among different audiences, and why.
  9. Do elicit questions about contingent situations — if such and such a variable or piece of information changed, how would our thoughts, feelings and understandings change?
  10. Do elicit follow-up questions.
  11. If no one responds immediately to a question, pause and wait about 5 seconds.
  12. Encourage conversation among all participants in the room.
  13. Encourage students to generate their own questions.

When looking at a piece of jewelry, students might be asked (in reference to Bloom’s Taxonomy)[6] to:

DESCRIBE IT:   What do you see?   What else do you see?   If you were describing this to another person who has not seen it, what would you say?

RELATE IT:   What things do you recognize?   Do you feel connected to the piece in any way?  Would you buy it?  Would you wear it?  How does this piece of jewelry relate (to any other piece of jewelry)?   What interests you the most in this piece?   If you passed this piece of jewelry onto your children or grandchildren, do you think they would relate to it in the same way you did; explain?    Would this jewelry be successful or appropriate in any culture or situation; explain with examples?

ANALYZE IT:   What can you tell me about the design elements used in this piece of jewelry?    About the arrangement and composition?    About its construction?   What type of person would wear this piece and why?    What is the most critical part of this piece of jewelry which leads to its success (or failure)?   What questions would you want to ask the designer?   What internal or external forces will positively or negatively impact the piece?   What about the piece creates good support, enabling it to move, drape and flow?  What about the piece creates good structure, enable it to keep its shape and integrity when worn?

INTERPRET IT:  What name would you give this piece of jewelry, and why did you pick this name?    What sounds do you think this piece of jewelry would make?   What role(s) would this piece of jewelry serve for the wearer, and why?    Why do you think the designer made this piece of jewelry, and made it this way?

EVALUATE IT:  Does this piece seem finished; explain?    Would you see this piece as successful; explain?    Would this piece evoke an emotion, and how?    Does this piece resonate, and how?    Does this piece feel parsimonious – that is, if you added (or subtracted) one more thing, would it make the piece seem less finished or successful?   How has the artist selected and applied materials, techniques and technologies, and could better choices have been made and why?   What do you think is worth remembering about this piece?    What do you think other people would say about this piece?   If you were selling this piece, what would be the selling points; explain?  In what ways might this piece have value and worth for various audiences?   Anticipating the artist’s purpose and intent, to what degree was the artist successful?   What would make the piece better, and what would make it worse?

RE-CREATE IT:  If you were making a similar piece, what would you do similarly and what would you do differently; explain why?    If you wanted to re-create something similar, but for a different audience or context than you thought it was originally made, what kinds of things might you do; explain?   What would you change about the piece to make it more appealing to you?   What would you change about the piece to change the “sound” it seems to make?   How could we make the piece more Traditional?  Or Avant Garde?   How could you build in more or better support or structure?  How might your own work be influenced (or not) by this piece?   Have you learned something from this piece that would influence you to do something differently in your own work in the future?   If a particular color / material / finding had not been available, what could you substitute instead?

One last approach is encouraging lots of opportunities for Application, Practice, and Experimentation.

Jewelry design students need time to create various understandings, correct or not, and to put these understandings to the test.   They should be encouraged to imagine, experiment, play, practice and apply their emerging knowledges and skills.    We need to ween them off the standard design-by-number curriculum.     We should provide opportunities for students to develop the skills to work intuitively and practically in context.

Towards this end, we should

  1. Provide space/time for artistic creativity and discovery
  2. Provide opportunities to discuss, reflect and critique about the design, management and control issues which arose
  3. Have students actively anticipate, through discussion and/or writing, what kinds of reactions various audiences might have to various design and composition choices
  4. Ask students to compare and contrast various designs or design approaches, including what is appealing (or not) and wearable (or not) and representative of an artist’s ideas and intent (or not)
  5. Students should be given various pieces to decode; that is, breaking them down into their essential design elements and compositional arrangements
  6. Students should be asked to reflect upon how the jewelry would hold up or be evaluated in different situations or cultures
  7. Students can be given different open-ended design tasks, such as creating a piece of jewelry that celebrates the student; or having students write “recipes” for the ingredients in a piece of jewelry and give these to other students to see what they come up with; or creating jewelry with social or political content; of develop a marketing and promotion strategy with a sales pitch for a particular piece of jewelry; or write a poem or short story about a piece of jewelry

A Rubric
RUBRIC[8] AS THINKING ROUTINE

Students who plan on becoming jewelry designers need a simple map to all these ideas about literacy and fluency – something they can easily review and determine where their strengths and weaknesses are, what kinds of courses they need to take, what kinds of learning goals they need to set in order to grow within the profession and gain proficiency and fluency in design over time.     One type of map is a rubric.

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

Here is one rubric we provide students to give them insight to the educational curriculum we offer in our program.   We divide the program into Skill Levels, from preparation to beginner, intermediate, advanced, and integrated.   We identify how jewelry is defined and conceptualized at each level.   We specify the kinds of learning goals at each level – that is, what the students needs to have mastered before continuing on to the next level.   We list the classes a student could take at each Skill Level.

BE DAZZLED BEADS:    EDUCATIONAL RUBRIC:   Learning How To Think Like A Jewelry Designer
Learning Stage Jewelry Defined As… I know I’ve mastered this level when… BEAD WEAVING CLASSES

Using needle and thread with seed beads to make things which approximate cloth

BEAD STRINGING and HAND KNOTTING CLASSES

Putting beads on stringing material to make necklaces and bracelets

WIRE WORKING and WIRE WEAVING  CLASSES

Incorporating wires and sheet metal in jewelry by making shapes, structural supports, or patterns and textures

BUSINESS OF CRAFT CLASSES

Bridging creative learning to the creative marketplace

JEWELRY DESIGN CLASSES

Using creative skills to conceptualize, construct and present jewelry pieces

PREPARA-TION   I have assembled basic supplies and tools, and set up a workspace ORIENTATION TO BEADS & JEWELRY FINDINGS CLASS   (**Required First Class)

Here we teach you about the choices you will need to make when buying or using different kinds of beads, metals, findings, stringing materials, tools, and various jewelry making techniques.   Focus on quality issues, contingencies and implications of making one choice over another

BEGINNER

(Decoding)

Object – defined apart from the maker, wearer and viewer, and apart from any inspiration or aspiration I am familiar with the range of materials, beads, jewelry findings, components, stringing materials, tools and types of techniques used in jewelry making, and all associated quality issues and issues of choice.

I can identify and list the basic design elements present in any piece of jewelry.

I can explain which design elements are independent – that is, can function on their own, and which are dependent – that is, require the presence of other design elements

I have mastered the mechanics of the major techniques in the interest area(s) I have chosen

* Bead Weaving Basics

* Basic Wrap Bracelet (laddering)

Clinics/Mini-Lessons:

– Flat Peyote

– Tubular Peyote

– Right Angle Weave

– Ndebele

– Petersburg Chain

– Brick Stitch

– Square Stitch

– Kumihimo

– Attaching End Caps

* Basics of Bead Stringing and Attaching Clasps

* Introduction to Pearl Knotting

* Mahjong Tile Bracelet

* Cozumel Necklace (micro-macrame)

Clinics/Mini-Lessons

– Crimping

– Elastic String

– Using Fireline

– Simple and Coiled Wire Loops

– Adjustable Slip Knots

* Wire Mix N Match Bracelet

* Viking Knit

*Wire Weave I: 2 base wires

*Wire Weave II: 3+ base wires

* Basic Soldering

* Intro to Silver Smithing

Clinics/Mini-Lessons:

– Simple and Coiled Wire Loops

– Let’s Make Earrings on Head Pins

– Let’s Make Earrings Off of Chain

* Getting Started In Business

* Pricing and Selling

* So You Want To Do Craft Shows

* Naming Your Business / Naming Your Jewelry

Clinics/Mini-Lessons:

– Pricing Formula

* Beads and Color
INTERMEDI-ATE

(Comprehending)

Content / Expression – conveys and expresses meaning; reflects ideas about how inspiration is to be translated into a design; inspires someone to respond emotionally I can select and arrange design elements into a pleasing composition.

I can anticipate both aesthetic and architectural requirements of my piece as it is to be worn.

I am comfortable self-directing my design process.   I know 1 – 2 variations in techniques I use.

I am beginning to develop “Fix-It” strategies when approaching new or difficult situations.

* Various Workshops during year

* Aztec Wrap Bracelet

Clinics/Mini-Lessons:

– Peyote Cabochon Bezel

* Mala Necklace w/Tassel * Cold Connections Bracelet

* Wire Wrap Bracelet w/Beads

* Wire Wrap Cabochon Pendant

* Wire Sparkle and Shine Necklace

* Wire Swirled Pendant w/Earrings

* Wire Contemporary Pendant

* Wire Woven Mayan Pendant

* Wire Woven Curvy Bracelet w/Beads

* Branding * Jewelry Design I: Principles of Composition
ADVANCED

(Fluent, Flexible, Original)

Action / Intent / Communica-tive Interaction – conveying content in context;  design choices understood as emerging from interaction between artist and various client audiences; jewelry reflects artist’s intent I have well-developed tool box of “Fix-It” strategies for dealing with unknown situations, with a high degree of automaticity in their use.

I understand how parts of the mechanics of every technique I use  allow the piece to maintain its shape (structure), and how other parts allow the piece to maintain good movement, drape and flow (support).

My jewelry reflects both parsimony in the choices of elements, and resonance in its expressive qualities for the wider audiences; I understand how this differs from traditional art concepts of “harmony” and ‘variety”

I can anticipate shared understandings as these are used to judge my piece as finished and successful; I understand how wider audiences affect the coherence – decoherence- contagion impacts of my designs

I am very metacognitive of all the composition, construction, and manipulation choices I have made, and constantly reflective of the effects and implications of these choices

* Various Workshops during year   * Wire Woven Cabochon Pendant

* Wire Woven Pagoda End Cap

  *Jewelry Design II: Principles of Form, Function, Structure, Body, Mind, Movement

*Architectural Bases

INTER-RELATING AND INTEGRAT-ING ALL LEVELS

(Disciplinary Literacy)

How we begin to build and expand our definitions of jewelry and design I am learning how all these things inter-relate, leading to better design and construction:

– art

– craft

– design

– architecture and engineering

– physical mechanics

– anthropology, sociology, psychology

– perception and cognition

– management and control

– systems theory

– party planning

– creative marketplace

JEWERLY DESIGN DISCUSSION SEMINARS
1. Good Design

2. Contemporary Design

3. Composition

4. Manipulation

5. Resonance

6. Beads and Color

7. Points, Lines, Planes, Shapes, Forms, Themes

8. Architectural Basics

9. Contemporizing Traditional Jewelry

10. Mixed Media / Mixed Techniques

11. Designing An Ugly Necklace

12. Backwards Design

13. What Is Jewelry, Really?

14. Is Jewelry Making Teachable, or Merely Intuitive?

15. Can I Survive As A Jewelry Artist?

16. Creativity Isn’t Found, It Is Developed

17. Jewelry Design Management

18. 5 Questions Every Jewelry Designer Should Have An Answer For

19. The Multiple Responsibilities of Being a Professional Jewelry Artist

20. Your Work Space

21. Design Theater

22. Overcoming Designer’s Block

23. Fashion, Style, Taste or Art?

24. Threading the Business Needle

Willingness To Adjust Styles To The Different Ways Students Think

Students learn in different ways.   Some are more visual, some more oral, some more tactile, some more experiential.   It is important that teachers vary their styles within each lesson.

For example, better instructions are presented not only with written steps, but also images illustrating each step, and diagrams or patterns explaining each step.

It is important to provide opportunities for students to reflect on what they did, and evaluate the thinking, management and control issues they confronted, and what they attempted to do to overcome these.

Last, it is just as important for the teacher to model (and think aloud) their own thought processes when attempting to design or construct a piece of jewelry.

Why Should The Teacher Be Motivated

To Take A Disciplinary Approach?

The unwillingness of instructors to break out of that mold of standard craft or art content curriculum is rooted in many things.

For one, it is not very lucrative.   Teaching disciplinary literacy on top of the standard content curriculum is more work.  It requires more thought and integration.   Initially, it requires more effort and planning.   Yet the earned instructional fees would remain the same had the instructor not made the additional effort.

Teaching disciplinary literacy involves making very public and visible the teacher’s design thinking and choices.    The teacher is expected to model design behaviors.    The teacher will introduce think-alouds, experimentation, thinking routines.   The teacher, within each lesson, gradually relinquishes control of the teaching task to the student.    The student takes over the design process, making more and more choices, whether good or bad, right or wrong.    The student then evaluates, citing evidence, what appears to be working, what not working, some reasons why, and some possible consequences.    These disciplinary literacy techniques might make the teacher feel very exposed, vulnerable and uneasy where such thinking and choices of the teacher might be questioned or challenged, or where the student begins to take over and assert control over learning about design.

Teachers must also expand their training and learning to go beyond art and craft.   They must more clearly incorporate ideas about architecture and functionality into their teaching.   They must train their students to be aware of how jewelry design is a process of communicative interaction.

Teacher reluctance to incorporate disciplinary learning into the standard curriculum might also be due to the fact that there is little professional recognition.   The recognition that tends to exist gets very tied to criteria based on a standard content which understands jewelry as an object, not a dialectic between artist and relevant other.   Jewelry design is an occupation becoming a profession, and it may feel safer for the teacher to remain in craft or art, rather than design, because the criteria for teacher evaluation is more well defined and agreed-upon.

And there is no student demand.   Jewelry design is often viewed more as an avocation or occupation, rather than a professional pursuit.   It’s a way to exercise creative thoughts.  A way to earn some extra money.  A way to have fun.   Jewelry design is not seen in professional terms with specialized knowledge and specific responsibilities.

Partly demand reflects low student expectations.   There are assumptions that you cannot teach creativity – you have it or you don’t.    There are assumptions that anyone can make jewelry, and that once you learn some basic vocabulary and techniques, better design skills will naturally evolve over time.   And these assumptions get affirmed because all students ever see and experience is good ole basic craft or art education.

Partly demand reflects some realities of the marketplace.  Most people who buy jewelry have little understanding about quality issues, art and design considerations, who the artists are and what their reputations are.   They don’t know better so they don’t demand better.   Jewelry purchases skew heavily toward the upper classes.     However, this does not mean that we should assume that better designed jewelry has to equate to more expensive jewelry.

It is my firm belief, however, that if instructors integrate disciplinary literacy – thinking routines for how designers think design – into the standard curriculum, both student and client demand will follow, as well as teacher pay and recognition.

As teachers of jewelry design, we should be motivated to create that demand for deeper, disciplinary learning.     We need to support the professionalization of the field.    We should want to make jewelry design even more fulfilling for our students.

Towards this end, we should teach jewelry design knowledge and skills development which lead to greater fluency, comprehension, self-direction, flexibility, originality and automaticity in design.   This means developing our students as architects, as well as artists.   It means helping our students develop those critical thinking skills so they can adapt to different design situations, and more easily problem-solve when things go awry.   It means enabling our students to evaluate situations and contexts in ways which make clear how the shared understandings of others impact the jewelry design process.  It means giving our students a clear understanding of how creative thinking relates to the creative marketplace.   It means teaching our students to be able to assert their worth – the worth of the pieces they create, their skills, their ideas, and their labor.    Only in these ways will we play an active part in enhancing the ability of our students to make a living from their artistry and design work.   Only in this way, moreover, will we elevate contemporary jewelry design so that it has a life outside the studio, and so that it doesn’t get whipped by the whims of fashion or seen only as a design accessory.

How Should We Measure Successful Teaching?

In the standard design curriculum, it is relatively easy to measure our success as teachers.   We can gauge how many students take our classes.   We can refer to the number of concepts learned.   We can count the number of successfully completed steps students have completed.    We can get a sense of how many students are able to sell or exhibit their pieces.

What is more difficult to measure, from a disciplinary literacy standpoint, is how well our students are able to think, analyze, reflect, create and engage in jewelry design, given variation and variability in audience, client, context, situation, society and culture.

It is difficult, as well, to gauge the degree we have been able to elevate the importance of jewelry design as a profession.    Something beyond craft.   Something beyond occupation.   Something even beyond art.


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?

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FOOTNOTES

[1] T. Shanahan, C. Shanahan.  “Teaching disciplinary literacy to adolescents: Rethinking content-area literacy,” Harvard Educational Review, 2008.

[2] Historians gathering evidence like letters, journals, newspaper articles, photographs, analyze them and compare then.   They look for patterns and corroboration.   From that they infer understanding and conclusions.    The historian may take many paths and turns to discover information that may or may not be factual, but may be helpful.

Scientists set up controlled experiments, typically using information they consider facts, and interrelated these facts mathematically in order to establish understandings and conclusions.    They go about things following the scientific method and approach, beginning with observations, formulating hypotheses, setting experiment and collecting data, and so forth.

Jewelry designers manage tensions between appeal and functionality.     The successful managing of these tensions involves adequately anticipating the shared understandings of various client groups about whether a piece should be considered finished and successful.   The designer is able to establish something in and about the piece which signals such anticipation and understanding.

[3]Thinking Routines.  I teach jewelry design.   I find it useful to engage students with various ways of thinking out loud.    They need to hear me think out loud about what choices I am making and what things I am considering when making those choices.   They need to hear themselves think out loud so that they can develop strategies for getting more organized and strategic in dealing with information and making decisions.    My inspiration here was based on the work done by Visible Thinking by Project Zero at Harvard Graduate School of Education .   http://www.visiblethinkingpz.org/VisibleThinking_html_files/VisibleThinking1.html

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

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

[6] Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Bloom, Benjamin S. 1956. Taxonomy of educational objectives; the classification of educational goals. New York: Longmans, Green.

Anderson, L. W., Krathwohl, D. R., & Bloom, B. S. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of educational objectives (Complete ed.). New York: Longman.

Bloom’s Taxonomy and the Arts.   Incredible Art Department.    As referenced at

https://www.incredibleart.org/files/blooms2.htm

Bloom’s Taxonomy.   Vanderbilt University.  Center for Teaching.   As reference at

https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/blooms-taxonomy/

[7] Backwards Design. I had taken two graduate education courses in Literacy and one in Planning that were very influential in my approach to disciplinary literacy. One of the big take-aways from Understanding by Design by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, 2nd Edition, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2005, was the idea they introduced of “backwards design”. Their point is that you can better teach understanding if you anticipate the evidence others will use in their assessments of what you are trying to do. When coupled with ideas about teaching literacy and fluency (see Literacy: Helping Students Construct Meaning by J. David Cooper, M. Robinson, J.A. Slansky and N. Kiger, 9th Edition, Cengage Learning, 2015), you can begin to introduce ideas about managing the design process in a coherent and alignable way.

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

Posted by learntobead on February 15, 2018

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Should the label be applied to all this variation?

Could it?

Why would we want it to?

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

What is contemporary jewelry?

“Contemporary” Is A Specific Approach For Thinking Through Design

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Think of all that power!

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

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

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

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

1. Work within our shared understandings about contemporary jewelry.

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

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

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

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

Shared Understandings[3]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These are,

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

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

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

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

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

3. Jewelry should evoke emotions.

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

4. Jewelry should connect people with culture.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The designer needs answers to several questions at this point.

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

How well have they anticipated these criteria of evaluation?

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

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

_________________________________________________________


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

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

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

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

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

_________________________________________________________

FOOTNOTES

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

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

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

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

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5 Questions Every Jewelry Designer Should Have An Answer For

Posted by learntobead on December 14, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Applying yourself creatively can be fun at times, but scary at other times. It is work. There is an element of risk. You might not like what you end up doing. Your friends might not like it. Nor your family. You might not finish it.  Or you might do it wrong. It may seem easier to go with someone else’s project.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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The DESIGN PERSPECTIVE

Posted by learntobead on November 3, 2011

The DESIGN Perspective
On Beading and Jewelry Making

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The beader and jewelry maker is seen as a multi-functional professional, similar to an architect who builds houses and an engineer who builds bridges. In all these cases, the professional must bring a lot of very different kinds of skills and abilities to bear, when constructing, whether house or bridge or jewelry. The professional has to be able to manage artistic design, functionality, and the interaction of the object with the person and that person’s environment.

Read: ABOUT GOOD JEWELRY DESIGN: Principles of Composition

Enter: The Ugly Necklace Contest – A Jewelry Design Competition With A Twist!

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Need for Critical Writing About Beading

Posted by learntobead on August 27, 2009

Need For Critical Writing and Dialog About Beading

One of the major gaps in Bead World is the support of more open and frequent critical writing and dialog about beading.   What it is.  Why it is.   It’s relationship to art.   The relationship of current modes and techniques to historical ones.   Contemporizing Traditional Beadwork.    Adding dimensionality.   Why there are numerous ways to work thru the same stitch, like Peyote, Brick, Daisy Stitch or Right Angle Weave.    Design elements and rules of composition underlying beading.    Beading structures.  Documenting beading techniques.  Forms and functions of beading.    Sex and sexuality, wealth and poverty, emotion and no emotion, and other pertinent themes underlying beading.   Comparative analyses of artists works.    Use of color with beads.    The relationship of jewelry as display item and jewelry as item as it is worn.   Why beads have power.   What makes some jewelry resonate.

Bead World lacks an academic center, which would encourage such discussions.   Bead World lacks magazines and journals which support these kinds of discussions.   Bead World is very step-by-step craft focused, and doesn’t tend to raise a lot of questions.     It doesn’t tend to support detailed documenting of beading traditions.   It doesn’t support urgent efforts to document and collect beadwork of rapidly disappearing ethnic groups, such as those in Dafur Africa.   It doesn’t create a clear sense of what is good beadwork, and what is sloppy beadwork. 

We have a recent history of beading in the US that began around 1960, and few people have witnessed the story.   Few people have asked deeper questions of the artists and teachers who first brought about an unbelievable increase in beading in the  1990s.   A lot of information has been lost.  

The information could be used to broaden the field, attract more people into beading, and encourage experimentation, research, deliberation.

Very sad.

At the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, Oregon, they have created exhibits and ongoing discussions about criticality in craft, in general at least.   Beading and jewelry come into play occasionally.  

Their new discussion series — CALL + RESPONSE — is outlined on their web-site:

http://museumofcontemporarycraft.org/call/introduction.html

It’s definitely worth a visit.   Be sure to read the full essays from each participant, as well as view images of the works associated with each essay.

Anya Kivarkis, area head, jewelry and metalsmithing, University of Oregon

Anya Kivarkis, area head, jewelry and metalsmithing, University of Oregon

 

 

 

Namita Gupta Wiggers, curator, Museum of Contemporary Craft
Complaints about a need for critical writing on craft surface with great frequency. Drawing on the musical concept of “call and response,” this exhibition opens a space for critical dialogue and exchange between craft-based artists and art historians. From nearly three years of discussion, studio visits and exchanges of ideas, the resulting exhibition presents artwork and essays by eight pairs of artists and art historians, all of whom currently teach in Oregon colleges and universities.

 

 

 

 

Kate Mondloch, assistant professor of contemporary art history and theory, University of Oregon on
Josh Faught, assistant professor and program coordinator of fibers, University of Oregon
Knitting was passed down to me from my grandmother. However, I attribute most of my early experiences with craft to my time in summer camp. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that I learned to weave before I learned to draw or paint. It’s a biographical aspect of my work that I still like to talk about since it locates my skill set from a time iconically loaded with issues of identity construction. In college, I studied art history and English but when I graduated I gained a bit more confidence in my creative abilities. 

 

 

 

 

 

Abby McGehee, associate professor, Oregon College of Art and Craft on
Anya Kivarkis, area head, jewelry and metalsmithing, University of Oregon

For any student of material culture, objects provide the means for understanding social values, ritual and domestic procedure, and individual artistic development. Objects and structures are proxies for vanished makers and patrons, and remnants of the world they created. But there is always a tension between the substantiality of these physical remains and the absence of their historical context.

 

 

 

 

Kirsi Peltomäki, assistant professor of art history, department of art, Oregon State University on
Jiseon Lee Isbara, associate professor and fibers department head, Oregon College of Art and Craft

Hand-sewing, whether to join fabric pieces together or make a mark on them by embroidery, remains at the center of Jiseon Lee Isbara’s artistic practice, although she freely makes use of a sewing machine as well, and, on occasion, includes other techniques such as inkjet printing on fabric. A fiber-based artist by training and profession, the material and conceptual dimensions of Lee Isbara’s works simultaneously resonate with contemporary sculpture, particularly work by Eva Hesse and Mona Hatoum, and with the Korean textile tradition of pojagi wrapping cloths. Lee Isbara’s recent work involves pieced fabric stitched into patchwork forms and displayed in three-dimensional installations or two-dimensional wall arrangements. In any configuration, Lee Isbara’s work constitutes mental maps, visualizing territories that are coded and decoded in languages at once familiar and uncharted.

 

 

 

 

Dawn Odell, assistant professor, department of art and art history, Lewis & Clark College on
Sam Morgan, ceramics instructor and art chair, Cascade Campus, Portland Community College

Although the necessity for a division between the fine and decorative arts has been under assault for decades, the ghost of this separation continues to haunt discussions of contemporary craft. When considering ceramics, for example, the fine/decorative divide is often breeched by emphasizing the sculptural qualities of ceramics, both in terms of the objects’ three-dimensional form and also by assuming that the work is best contemplated from a distance. Sam Morgan’s art resists this conflation of ceramic as sculpture. 

 

 

 

 

Rob Slifkin, assistant professor of art and humanities, Reed College on
Studio Gorm (John Arndt and Wonhee Jeong), associate professors, product design, University of Oregon

Understood in its most expansive sense, to design is to forge a possibility. Whether one sketches a preliminary study for a painting or sculpture, or draws a plan for a building or a piece of furniture – or outlines a draft for an essay – the act of design entails the projection of a desired future outcome from a present moment. 

 

 

 

 

Matt Johnston, assistant professor, department of art, Lewis & Clark College on 
Karl Burkheimer, associate professor and head of the wood department, Oregon College of Art and Craft
From Karl Marx to Clement Greenberg and beyond (and probably echoing as a refrain in this collection of essays), both craft and art are portrayed as heroic but losing enterprises within an increasingly pervasive dehumanization of life brought about by the growth of capitalist society. A tool-making species, in this apocalypse of our own creation, we are losing touch with basic hand-eye skills required to fashion, manipulate, and interpret objects; in effect losing the ability to re-imagine and re-make the world, and are instead becoming mere passive consumers of machine-fabricated commodities. 

 

 

 

 

Anne Marie Oliver, assistant professor of intermedia and contemporary art theory, Pacific Northwest College of Art on
David Eckard, chair of the sculpture department and an instructor in the foundation and intermedia departments, Pacific Northwest College of Art

It would be a mistake, however, to view magic simply as a reenactment of social behavior, the logic of belief, or a mere lure or decoy by which attention is drawn away from some tasks in order for others, often traumatic or violatory, to be accomplished. In the final analysis, magic is far more disturbing than any conjectured relation between duplicity and consciousness, belief and disbelief, distraction and destruction. 

 

 

 

 

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What Is Craft?

Posted by learntobead on March 27, 2009

This question comes up often:
What is Craft?

Is Craft Art?

Can Craft be Art?

In many circles “jewelry” is considered a craft.  In others, “jewelry” is art.

At the Victoria and Albert Museum in England, they have opened up their art collections to include those of craft.  Yet they continue to make a distinction between the two, as seems to be common across Europe.    Craft is what you do with your hands, and Art is what you do with your mind.

To celebrate a new partnership between the V&A and the Crafts Council, we asked leading figures in the craft world to tell us what the term craft means to them. We hope these comments will inspire you send us your views too, resulting in some healthy debate.”

[While you are visiting the V&A museum online, check out their jewellery collections — don’t you love the way the British spell jewelry!.]

va1

 

 

 

va2

 

I think in America, any distinctions between craft and art are starting to get very murky.    I guess we tend to be much more democratic about things.

I recently finished reading a book called SHARDS by Garth Clark on ceramic art.   Clark’s is a major voice for understanding craft as art.  But he decries the lack of leadership in the ceramics field in how ceramics are taught, and how ceramics are promoted.    He feels that ceramics relies too much on an industrial model — making the best toilets, and not enough on an art model — making objects that resonate from an artist’s personality, sensibilities, and social/cultural perspectives.

I wonder sometimes if there are not parallels in jewelry and beading to Clark’s assessments of ceramics.

Another book I’ve just begun is THINKING THROUGH CRAFT by Glenn Adamson.    He asks provocative questions about the marginalization of craft within modern art.   He advocates for visual artists to take a renewed look at craft to better understand the “working in media” craft techniques and theories which also underly the visual arts, but are too often ignored.

 And just in time for our blog discussion on craft vs. art, I received this announcement from the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, OR.

Community Conversations
Museum of Contemporary Craft, Pacific Northwest College of Art and panelists from Oregon’s creative community invite you to engage in a series of conversations about the anticipated integration of these two institutions. Explore the broader concepts relevant to creating a more vibrant and expanded organization that will strengthen its contribution to the cultural voice and economic vitality of the region. Conversations are moderated by Tim DuRoche, community program manager at Portland Center Stage.
 

Thursday, April 9, 6:30 pm
The Changing Dynamics of Craft and Design

Pacific Northwest College of Art, 1241 NW Johnson, Portland

Panelists
:
Andrew Wagner
, editor-in-chief, American Craft magazine
Namita Gupta Wiggers, curator, Museum of Contemporary Craft
JP Reuer, chair, MFA in applied craft and design, Oregon College of Art and Craft (OCAC) and PNCA

Karl Burkheimer
, head, OCAC wood department

What Does Craft Mean To You?   What Do You Think It Means To Others?
How Does This Affect Jewely Making, Beadwork and Jewelry Design?  
PLEASE POST YOUR VIEWS AND FEELINGS:

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Mandy Greer: Dare alla Luce

Posted by learntobead on March 5, 2009

Mandy Greer: Dare alla Luce

January 22-May 31
Museum of Contemporary Craft
Portland, Oregon

Northwest artist Mandy Greer creates her largest and most intricate artwork, extending her sculpture to a room-sized scale. Greer employs humble handicraft processes and materials, executing her work through crochet, braiding, sewing and beading processes that use yarn, beads, shells, feathers and more. Merging the mythical and the mundane, the resulting work intertwines objects and space in an exuberant, sensual and visceral installation.

See the installation on video

http://vimeo.com/2905630?pg=transcoded_embed&sec=2905630

  Read the rest of this entry »

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