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THE COMPETITION: Underestimate Them At Your Peril!

Posted by learntobead on February 3, 2021

The Workshop

The weekend had arrived.

I slowly glanced around the room, at each and every participant, all seventeen of them, sitting quietly around this very large classroom table, eagerly awaiting what was to come before them. Our guest Jewelry Design Instructor standing at the head of the table. Me sitting at the other end.

Two very special days with this super-hero Instructor. She guiding them step-by-step through the processes of design and construction. Demonstrating how to use the tools. Then the technique. Then the discussion about strategy and materials. And finally, beginning this fabulous necklace project design.

The excitement was palpable. No one could contain themselves. They were lapping at the starting gate. Eyes on the prize. Working together with a celebrity designer. Hearing her thoughts. Seeing her in action. Becoming at least a Facebook friend. Hoping to be able to finish by the end of the next day. And show it off the next.

It took two years to get to this point.

I had arranged everything.

My plans methodical.

My organization without question.

My calendar and schedule to the point.

But until that moment we all entered the classroom, finding our seats, laying out our tools and materials, making sure our water or coffee or tea was at hand, snacks carefully positioned along the center of the table, our guest Instructor passing out the instruction kits … until that very moment, I wasn’t sure this was all going to happen.

The Advanced Study Was To Culminate In 
 A Masters Class In Beadweaving and Design

I am a jewelry designer.

I own a bead store.

I have all kinds of clients and customers interested in various aspects of jewelry making and design. There are bead stringers. Also wire workers. Some fiber artists, silversmiths, and lampwork artists. Toss in some hand-knotters and braiders. The occasional biologist and physicist who use beads in their experiments, and we meet the beading needs of quite a large range of people

One group gets my special attention — the bead weavers. These are people who like to use those tiny little seed beads and needle and thread, and make jewelry, tapestries, embellished clothing, and sculptures, and whatever they can think of. Our bead weavers have a special Advanced Jewelry Design Study Group which has existed for many years. One of the earlier projects this group pursued was to study the life of a well-known and well-respected bead artist and designer. At the time we studied her life, she had already become a celebrity designer and teacher in the bead weaving field.

The question before the group: What makes an accomplished bead weaver and jewelry designer?

Was it family upbringing? Special innate talents? Schooling? Happenstance? What influenced her in her development as a bead artist and designer? Were there ups and downs? Was the career path linear? How important was it to have a mentor or special teacher? How about comradery — what kind of social network did she have, and how important a role did that play?

The group picked their target. I phoned her, and explained what the group wanted to accomplish. I asked if she would be willing to be interviewed, probably about once a week, and she agreed. And that began our adventure and exploration which lasted a little more than a year.

The Advanced Jewelry Design Study Group, to say the least, was very excited. To have this kind of access to a master bead weaving artist and designer was extraordinary. And they had many, many questions for her.

So, my routine began with asking the group what questions they had. Then I would phone the instructor and we would talk about 30 minutes. I reported her answers back to the group. There was some group discussion. Then we generated some more questions.

There were questions about how she got started. She was a seamstress. How she got into beading. She was hired to work in a bead store. How beading became a passion for her. She began to teach classes. She saw how she could integrate the techniques she used as a seamstress into techniques for weaving beads. Did she have a mentor. The woman who owned the bead shop had been a basket weaver, and adapted those techniques for bead weaving. This person was very inspirational, and took her under her wing. Was there any happenstance. Someone was wanting to start a major bead weaving magazine. They came to town — San Diego — to interview several bead weaving artists to see whom they might highlight in the first issue of the magazine. Our Instructor was one of the chosen few.

Over the year, we talked about variations in several bead weaving techniques, and how she came to choose the variations she preferred. We asked what it meant to her to have a design sense. We discussed other bead weaving artists, what of their history she was familiar with, and how they came to specialize in certain techniques over others. We were inquisitive about her selection of materials. We asked questions about what it was like to teach, and how her approaches were similar or different, given the varying skill levels of her students.

During the summer, I asked her if I could arrange a 3-day workshop with her in Nashville, Tennessee. We decided on the weekend of June 21st, about 1 year later at that point. We planned to do two projects — a simpler bracelet, and a more advanced 2-day necklace.

I added the dates to my calendar. I created my marketing plan and schedule. And did not give it much more thought, since the workshop was not to happen for about another year.

Competitive Conflict #1:
 The Local Bead Society

I had been an active member and supporter of our local bead society until the year previous to when my Advanced Jewelry Design Study Group began its study of the artist and designer.

As a store owner, I actively promoted the bead society. I garnered them a large membership. I offered steep discounts to their members. I steered many opportunities their way. I let them use our classroom spaces. I provided materials for their activities at no cost to them. I assisted their planning, program and development committees. I worked with them to write their bylaws.

Everything worked smoothly for many years. But then it didn’t.

Bead society officers were elected every two years. In that last election before I discontinued my relationship with the group, three of the four officers elected — the president, the vice president and the secretary — no longer managed the society and functioned in the members’ interests, nor followed the bylaws.

The society had a bylaw that stated that every program had to have a prespecified date, on which, if that program looked like it would lose money, the membership had to vote whether to continue with the program, or cancel it. The officers ignored the rule. They scheduled several workshops of interest primarily to themselves, many which had nothing to do with beading, over their first two years in office. They drove down the $8,000 the society had in the bank to a little under $1,000.

The officers made themselves the chairs of all the organization’s committees. Refused to do the monthly reports to the membership, including information about the society’s bank accounts.

The officers refused to let the treasurer have access to the bank, or any signatory powers as specified in the bylaws.

The three officers spent society money on lavish gifts for themselves.

And on and on.

Which is why I withdrew.

The Society Wanted A Workshop Too

About six months after I had booked our workshop with the Instructor, the bead society officers approached this same Instructor, and cleverly booked a workshop the weekend before ours. They did not pick any particular workshop projects at that time. I had already done a lot of pre-marketing, so the message about our workshop and our dates was very visible and out there way before the time they approached our Instructor.

We’re in the same town — Nashville, TN. Our potential market of possible participants is virtually the same. The market was not large enough to support two workshops. I did not find out about their plans until 3 months before our workshop was to begin. That’s the timeframe when they began their marketing.

The Instructor should have had more control over the situation. But she did not. She thought the bead society was located in another part of Tennessee, where there would not be a major conflict.

So, here we were.

I proposed to the Instructor and the bead society the following, hoping for a compromise:

a. We would keep our June 21 weekend date

b. We would do the two projects that the Instructor and I had agreed upon.

c. We would hold the workshop at my bead store

d. My advanced students would get first priority for available seats, which would still leave room for a large number of additional participants

e. The workshop would be marketed as a joint project between the bead store and the bead society

f. The bead society could have all the proceeds, which would have been several thousand dollars

The bead society said No!

I held our workshop as planned and scheduled.

The Instructor canceled their workshop, and told them she would never do a workshop with them again.

Competitive Conflict #2:
 Another Local Bead Store

My bead store is located less than half a mile from another bead store. I view them as friendly competition. They see me as the enemy. The two stores have different mixes of merchandise. Some customers overlap, but I view my market area as a 5-hour driving radius around Nashville. They view their market as Nashville only. They offer classes, but come from a craft perspective. They teach steps. I offer classes, but come from a design perspective. I teach theories and applications. We do not attract the same customers. We do not attract the same students.

For me, the presence of both stores, plus a Michaels craft store across the street creates a lot of synergy — more things to buy, more things to do, more customers to entice into learning beading and jewelry making. For the other store, they assumed loss of sales, loss of students and loss of customers. The reality was that our businesses presented more of a continuum than any overlap.

But having this Instructor teach here was a coup. It was status. Power, Legitimacy. Credibility. It was an endorsement of who I was, what I was, and my way of thinking. And the other bead store owners — a husband and wife — wanted all of this for themselves. They were not happy.

We may have been seen as some kind of enemy in this instance. Or, perhaps conversely, as a friend providing more opportunities to bead artists and designers for fun and professional development in Nashville. I guess it depends how you think about competition and where you are standing.

The first thing the other store’s owners tried to do was steal the workshop for themselves. Not long after I had booked the Instructor that summer, they called her. They asked her to reschedule the workshop the same weekend, but at their bead store instead. Even before she told them No!, they began a premarketing campaign. Emails, signage, phone calls — all indicating that they were to host the Instructor the weekend of June 21st. And after she told them No!, they continued their premarketing campaign anyway.

This confused lots of people. Many people thought I might be lying about our program. Luckily, I was interviewing the Instructor weekly, and reporting back to our study group. I included summaries in our marketing materials we sent out to all our customers each month. Eventually, the other bead store stopped their marketing.

The wife who owned the bead store found out the Instructor was doing a workshop in Kansas City. This was about 5 months before our scheduled date. She drove all the way to Kansas City from Nashville. She arranged to meet the Instructor at the hotel lobby one morning, on a pretense and supposedly to show her and sell her some specialty Czech glass beads. They had never met in person before.

The Instructor told me that she had come down into the lobby, and the wife began pulling out displays of Czech glass. But the conversation quickly turned to the Nashville workshop. The wife asked the Instructor to change the venue to their bead store. The Instructor again said No!, and sent the wife on her way. “Creepy,” was the word the Instructor used.

There was more to come.

Three weeks before the workshop, the husband this time phoned the Instructor. He asked her when she would arrive, and which airline she was flying on. He told her that he would pick her up at the airport.

She was already suspicious of the couple. She told him she had other arrangements.

And one more thing.

For three days during my workshop — Friday and Saturday and Sunday, the husband parked his car in the parking lot. Directly in front of my store. Headlights on. He was there all day, every day. As if he were taking names of the customers coming into my store.

Creepy.

Underestimate Your Competition At Your Peril

Looking back, it all seems so much fun — great stories to tell. An adventure in competitive competition. But it was very important to take competition seriously then, and seriously now. It is important to know…

1. What competition is

2. Who you competitors are

3. The specific characteristics of your marketplace

4. What your competitive advantage over your competitors is

5. How to get the message across to your clients and customers — current and possible — about your competitive advantage

Many businesses do not take the time to truly understand their marketplace, and all the competitive forces within it. They may spend some time listing some differences between themselves and those they compete with. Lower prices. More accessibility. Better quality. Faster service.

But the differences in and of themselves do not make the difference between capturing your market or not. It’s the visibility of these differences. And the credibility of how these differences are conveyed. And the risk and reward calculus of your customers. Your competitive advantage is not the quality or price of your product or service you are selling, but your ability to make this information known in the market, and believable in that market, and valued in that market.

1. What Competition Is

Competition is a process utilized to influence outcomes.

Competition begins with perceptions of differences in status or position, and the subsequent recognition of contradictions between market reality and personal or organizational expectation. Status or position can relate to things like wealth, power, attention, income, market share, access to scarce resources, prestige and fame.

A person or business makes the decision to compete when those contradictions become personally or organizationally untenable. Survive or die.

The motivation to pursue competition, then, is to enhance or impede positive or negative changes in status or position.

A strategic competitive response, intuitive or formal, is developed. It is an opportunity for action based on an assessment of the relative risks and rewards for acting versus not acting.

This competitive response and pursuit can take two forms: 
 Either,
 
a) cooperation, when a common goal can be shared, and both can gain,
 or,
 b) conflict, when a common goal cannot be shared, and the gain for one is a loss for the other.

Whatever the response, competition can incentivize. It can set in motion positive things which make the person or business more efficient, more effective, more responsive, more actively learning, more adaptive, and more innovative. Or just the opposite can happen.

Competition is never a fixed state of affairs. It is a journey. So the rivalry has a lot of give and take, and ebb and flow, to it. Things can improve for one party, and diminish for the other. Things can improve for both. Just as easily, things can deteriorate for both. These can lead to compromising ethical standards. These can lead to financial ruin.

2. Who Your Competitors Are

Your competitor is anyone operating in your market — whether individual or business or network or organization or even an event or other more abstract thing — which can influence outcomes related to your status or position.

This might relate to the products you sell. This might relate to the services you offer. This might relate to your design sense, ideas and philosophy. So, you want to get a handle on how your competitors CAN INFLUENCE THINGS, and WHAT RESOURCES AND CONNECTIONS they have on hand to exert such influence, and what their MOTIVATIONS are for wanting to influence things.

Understanding Your Competitors

You cannot compete if you do not have a thorough understanding of who your competitors are. Their understandings and assumptions. Their business strategies. Their operations. Their client / customer base and how they market to them. Their perceptions. Their expectations. Their skill sets. Their level of resiliency and ability to adapt to changing market conditions. How they position themselves within their market.

You cannot compete if you do not have a good estimate of how many competitors you have, and whether they are direct or indirect competitors.

Your competitors include any individual or business which might deter a potential client or customer from choosing you. Some of these individuals or businesses will be obvious because they compete directly with you. Another designer. Another design business. Another business, but not specifically a design business, which sells the same types of design products or services you offer.

These direct competitors may be in the same locale or service area you are in. They may be online. They may have a print catalog. They may be registered as ancillary employees with another service.

With direct competition, you want to be as visible or moreso than they are in order to attract and retain clients and customers. Visibility means that people know who you are, where you are, and the relative risks and rewards for patronizing you rather than one of your other direct competitors.

Indirect competitors are those who do not offer the same products or services that you do; however, the products and services they do offer satisfy your clients’ or customers’ needs in a similar way. They are viable alternatives to what you offer, as understood by a shared or overlapping client / customer base. You must always ask yourself, to understand these indirect competitors, what all the alternatives to your products and services might be.

For example, people buy jewelry for many reasons, one of which is to be adorned in an appealing way. That same person, rather than buy jewelry, might meet their same need by getting a tattoo or buying another accessory like a handbag. Jewelry purchases might be seasonal, timed to special holidays and occasions or the schedule of the partying circuit. At other times, these same people might be attracted to other artistic products and services. In the winter, they might think more about getting a knitted sweater. In the spring, they might think more about planting a garden.

To reach your client / customer base when they are involved with your indirect competitors will still require strategies to increase your visibility. But the specific things you do might be very different, than when competing for the attention of clients and customers who visit your direct competitors. You will need to change your field of vision. You may redefine your client or customer based into different sub-groups. Your marketing messages will probably be very different. Where you place these messages, and when you schedule these messages to go out, may be very different.

3. The Specific Characteristics Of Competition In Your Marketplace

You cannot compete if you do not have a good understanding, not only of who your competitors are, but also, how good they are at competing. What is their position, both in terms of status and location, in your market place –marginal or core? What is their strategy for pricing and how does that relate to clients’ or customers’ perceptions, wants and needs? Do they offer discounts? Payment terms? Do they have anything related to special status, such as awards? What kinds of marketing do they do, and what is the content of their messaging? Are there cultural or social things which impede or enhance their competitiveness? What is their history, how did they get started, how did they keep going? How adaptive and resilient do they appear to be as market conditions change, and what kinds of things make you draw your conclusions?

How Do You Define Your Market Boundaries?

It is very important that you have a clear understanding of how people find you, or find where your products and services are available. This will influence what marketing messages you want to send, where you want to post them, and how often you want to post them.

Some of this information may involve mapping out local shopping behaviors. An example, 25% of your clients or customers visit both the local mall and your business or where your products or services are on the same shopping trip. Another example, 15% of your clients or customers interact with you or your products or services three times each month.

Other information may be specified in terms of how extensive the driving radius is, such as, 50% of your clients or customers are willing to drive 1 hour to get to you, your products or your services.

Within your market boundaries, you may have some sub-markets or market niches. This might break down by age or by income or by gender or by some other variable. You might have clients who want fully customized services, or those who want boiler-plate.

Your physical, geographic market boundaries may have little to no relationship to your online market boundaries. In fact, you may have several different online market boundaries, given where and how you create your online presence.

Concurrently with all your analyses, with a simple review of your various competitors advertising and websites, you can determine how they define their market boundaries. This might trigger new ideas and understandings for you in your own marketing efforts. Or it might create new competitive puzzles to solve. It might give you a better way of calculating whether any one marketing approach is worth the costs.

Also, ask yourself, are there any gaps in the market which you might exploit? Conversely, are any parts of the market oversaturated, and should be avoided?

How Do Your Competitors Position Themselves?

Your same products or services can be presented within your market or market niches in a number of different ways, and through various combinations of circumstances and contingencies.

Based on the packaging and presentation, different existing and potential clients or customers may vary in what resonates with them. That is, even though the products or services may be the same or similar, people won’t always recognize how all of these may equally meet their needs, wants and demands.

The circumstances surrounding the packaging and presentation of products or services is known as positioning. It is important to know how your competitors position themselves. Ask yourself: Am I positioning myself similarly or differently from my competition?

This information about positioning helps you differentiate what you offer from what they offer. It helps your clients or customers compare you to your competitors in a way which influences them to believe that they would trust purchasing from you rather than them.

What Is Their Pricing Strategy?

One of the most visible aspects of your business is how you price your products or services. Your prices provide a concrete measure your clients or customers can use to compare you to your competition. They are perhaps the most singularly important way you recruit and retain your clients or customers.

Obviously, it is critical to get an understanding of how your competitors price things. Do you use a similar or different strategy for pricing your products or services? How appealing are your prices? Are prices in line with what people in your market area are willing to pay? Do your clients or customers trust you in how you value things in order to price them — especially if your prices are higher than your competitors?

Do any of your competitors offer discounts? Are there volume requirements before giving someone a discount? Do they offer different payment options? Terms?

And many designers find they often have to compete with other designers who under-price their products or services, sometimes even below their costs, because they are unaware of the business fundamentals of pricing. There is no good competitive strategy here except to ignore them. Under-pricing is a yellow flag that these designers will not be able to provide a quality service or product, and won’t be able to survive very long as a business.

What Are Your Competitors’ Strengths?

You want to fully understand what clients and customers like about your competition, and like more about your competition than your own business. Then you ask yourself, are these qualities or products or services you need to adopt and include in your own business. Or maybe differences in appeal come down to how you market yourself. Or maybe these are things you need to ignore and not try to offer.

Examine the backgrounds and skill-sets of the owner, and if a larger organization, that of the staff. How much does this lead to their success?

Have they had any particular wins? Can you learn from those?

What Are Your Competitors’ Weaknesses?

It is not only the strengths of your competitors which you need to be aware of, but also their weaknesses. This may further help you identify both your own strengths and weaknesses. This may help you understand how your clients view the strengths and weaknesses of both you and your competitors. It may help you better sharpen your marketing messaging or reveal how to add to your list of products and services.

Often competitor weaknesses in design businesses relate to those businesses trying to impose one design solution on every situation. They have no adaptive skills. They aren’t very resilient. Their knowledge and skill-set in design is shallow and limited. They have difficulty overcoming unknown or unfamiliar situations. They do not know how to engage with their clients in a fully empathetic way.

Has your competitor had any particular failures? What can you learn from those?

Your competitor’s weakness may have less to do with the competitor but rather some deficiency or disorganization in your market. You might learn how that competitor has tried to respond to market imperfections, and take that into account when formulating your own responses.

What Are Your Clients’ or Customers’ Views and Understandings
 of Your Competitors?

Clients and customers make or break your business. It is what they perceive and what they expect and what they value which are critical. Every business, whether a 1-person office or a multiplex, must be able to anticipate the understandings people have who use their services, or who may use their products. And then ditto for that of your competitors.

Additionally, every business needs to have an arsenal of competitive strategies for aligning the understandings of others with those of the business. Do you know what your competitors’ strategies are towards this end?

You may think you offer quality products, but they may not know or may not recognize this. You may think your hours of operation are sufficient, but they may not. You may think your design sense is current and fashionable, but they may not or may be unaware. You may think you have better messaging, connections, and relations with your clients and customers, but they may feel that moreso with your competitors.

One place where all these dynamics converge is online through facebook likes, customer reviews, customer comments and the like. It is important to devote resources towards managing and participating at these types of nexus points.

Always do some reality-checking: How do the understandings and views your customers have of the competition or your own business coordinate with your own understandings and views?

What Are The Primary Ways Information Is Exchanged 
 About The Sale Of The Types Of Products Or Services You Sell?

How do people find out about you? About your competitors? How do they know what your sell? Where you sell it? The value? The opportunity to buy? What happens if they are dissatisfied after the sale?

There are all kinds of options.

– Print advertising in newspapers and magazines

– Ads or classifieds in directories and neighborhood papers

– Marketing materials like brochures, business cards, hand-outs

– Online promotions — banners, search engine ads, search engine listings, classified listings, online calendars

– Indexing of websites

– Links from other websites

– Online reviews

– Articles written about you, in print or online

– Co-marketing with a compatible business

– Relationships with your suppliers or distributors

– Classes you teach

– Trade fairs, exhibits, art and craft shows you attend or participate in

– Attendance at social or business events

– Sponsorships

– Word of mouth

It’s that last one — word of mouth — where you usually get your biggest bang for the buck. So you need to think of ways to drive it.

4. What Your Competitive Advantage Over Your Competitors Is

Part of driving that word of mouth is establishing in clear, visible, legitimate and valuable terms what your competitive advantage or advantages are over those of your competitors.

Your competitive advantage(s) are all the reason someone should contract for your services or buy your products rather than those of any of your competitors. What are those 5–10 things about you and your work that sets you apart from, and perhaps makes you better than, your competition?

There’s always something to differentiate yourself from your competition. Even if your products and services are the same, your pricing is similar, your turn-around time the same, your choices of design elements very similar, there are always other things which come into play and with which you can use to differentiate yourself. You can be a better manager of relationships. You can be clearer and more directional about how to develop your business, and assist others in developing theirs. You can deliver an outstanding customer experience better than anyone else.

5. How To Get Your Message Across To Your Customers 
— Current And Possible — About Your Competitive Advantage

What gives any individual or company a competitive edge are four values:

1. Authenticity

2. Rarity

3. Individuality

4. Legitimacy

You want to position yourself so that you stick out among the competition. This is true geographically. This is true in cyberspace. This is true in the marketplace of ideas, feelings, and values.

Start your strategic planning by focusing on the client or customer, their needs, wants, demands and decisions to buy. Get a solid handle on their thinking, their understandings of the marketplace, their understandings of your business and those of your competitors. Get very detailed about their shopping behaviors.

Last, you want to build relationships and emotional connections with these clients and customers. You want to be known as someone who hears, listens and understands them. You want to be a part, not only of the present, but their history and future, as well.

Design your communications and your interactions to maximize your advantages. You have core convictions — Authenticity. You are a unique source for things — Rarity. You can tailor what you do to the needs of each client of customer — Individuality. You can justify why patronizing you makes more sense than patronizing someone else — Legitimacy.

Ask yourself: What devices do my competitors employ to get their messages across and build customer loyalty in terms of authenticity, rarity, individuality and legitimacy?

Messaging About Your Competitive Advantages Is Not A One Shot Deal

Managing your design business and growing it means you have to be constantly learning about it and making necessary adjustments. Learning about your business in relation to the competition provides a myriad of clues and ideas. Anticipating the shared understandings of your clients and customers allows you to refine your business in a very positive way. And don’t forget to assume that your competitors are assessing you at the same time you are assessing them.

Keep a running list of your ideas, and as they evolve or change.

a. What you do better than your competitors

b. What your competitors do better than you

c. Things your discovered, learned about, and might exploit, and which might be incorporated into your own thinking

d. Things you have learned and insights you have gained which you might leverage into new innovative ideas

Keep on improving. You want to at least match your competition, but better yet surpass them. They are not the standard. Don’t copy them. Innovate, don’t imitate.

Workshop Post Mortem

So how did competition play out after my workshop?

The bead society lost a lot of members, and soon closed down. But many of their members stopped coming into the store. As one former bead society member and former store customer put it: It was more important for her to have a group to come to every Tuesday night, get out of her house at least once a week, and be with others who shared her interest, in spite of any wrong-doing on the part of the bead society officers.

Having a bead society in the area, and maintaining a visible presence in it, was very cost-effective for the store. They were 300 ambassadors spreading good word of mouth about my business. The bead society was also influencing people in the community to take up beading and jewelry making as a hobby and avocation. These were things I didn’t have to utilize store resources for.

My bead store competitor is still in business. To this day I do not think that the owners there recognize that we are different businesses. We have different values and goals. Our customer bases overlap some, but we provide different experiences and attract different market niches.

I try to minimize a sense of Us vs Them. I always refer customers to them and to Michaels. To me, the local customer does this calculus. Is it less risk to find what they want locally, see the real colors and real quality, and get it immediately, or is it less risk to try to find what they want online? With three stores merely blocks apart, it lowers the risk to shop locally. This is incredibly advantageous. I don’t think the other bead store recognizes this.

I was lucky to have approached the design of my classes differently from the traditional craft, step-by-step, learn mechanics approach. The internet, where now you can get all these types of step-by-step classes for free, has driven the value of this type of class to $0.00. My classes focus on the art and design aspects of beading and jewelry making — things not easily conveyed in video tutorials online. So my competitors — the bead store a few blocks away, as well as Michaels — have significantly reduced the number of classes they offer. At the same time, I have tripled mine.

_________________________________

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Should I Set Up My Craft Business On A Marketplace Online?

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

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

A Fool-Proof Formula For Pricing And Selling Your Jewelry

Designer Connect Profile: Tony Perrin, Jewelry Designer

My Aunt Gert: Illustrating Some Lessons In Business Smarts

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

Naming Your Business / Naming Your Jewelry

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

To What Extent Should Business Concerns Influence Artistic and Jewelry Design Choices

How Creatives Can Successfully Survive In Business

Getting Started In Business: What You Do First To Make It Official

So You Want To Do Craft Shows: Lesson 4: Set Realistic Goals

______________________

I hope you found this article useful.

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

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

Add your name to my email list.

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

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

___________________________

FOOTNOTES

360 Live Media, Who Is Your Competitor? 8/28/2017.
 As referenced in:
 https://www.360livemedia.com/post/who-is-your-competitor

 Info Entrepreneurs. Understand Your Competitors. Canada Business Network, 2009.
 As referenced in:
 https://www.infoentrepreneurs.org/en/guides/understand-your-competitors/

Grey, Ingar. 6 Advantages To Knowing Your Competition. Bizjournals, 5/3/2016.
 As referenced in:
 https://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/how-to/growth-strategies/2016/05/6-advantages-to-knowing-your-competition.html

McCormick, Kristen. 5 Things You Should Know About Your Competitors. 12/22/2016.
 As referenced in:
 https://thrivehive.com/5-things-you-should-know-about-your-competitors/

Misner, Ivan. My Philosophy About Competition, 6/21/2010.
 As referenced in:
 https://ivanmisner.com/my-philosophy-about-competition/

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PART 1:THE FIRST ESSENTIAL QUESTION EVERY DESIGNER   SHOULD BE ABLE TO ANSWER:   Is What I Am…

Posted by learntobead on August 16, 2020

PRACTICE-BY-DESIGN SERIES

Image by Feld, 2020

In order to make better artistic and design choices, the Fluent and Empowered Designer should have answers to 5 essential questions. In this article, I present the first essential question: Is What I Am Doing Craft, Art, or Design?

Jane landed her first real client. She had designed websites and social marketing campaigns for some friends and family. But this was the first real contract. She was excited, as you would expect, and could not wait to begin.

The client was a furniture manufacturing company. They wanted to promote themselves by holding a contest online. It was to take the form of a sweepstakes and furniture give-away. This company had been online for several years, but this was the first contest they had ever done. They wanted this effort to have a huge marketing impact.

The first task was to design a Landing Page for this contest. The page was to coordinate with general look and feel of the company’s website. It should generate excitement about the contest, and persuade people to register their email addresses for future company marketing. It needed to be completed within 6 weeks.

Jane began outlining and sketching some things to share with the client.

· She felt the colors in the client’s logo did not completely work as a harmonious color scheme. So, for the Landing Page, she tweaked them a bit.

· She had posted her draft page on her own website, using her own domain name. She understood that this would be temporary.

· She researched a set of 25 key words relevant to furniture sales. She used these key words to develop three descriptive paragraphs.

· She located the email text-box on the left side of the web-page, and the submit button on the right side, parallel on the page with the text box. The submit button text was SUBMIT.

· She was unfamiliar with responsive web page design, so she did not consider any implications for various browsers and screen sizes.

At the 3-week mark, she met with the client, and presented her work to them. They were not happy. The tweaking of the logo colors did not go over well. They were confused about the domain name. The key words, and subsequent descriptions, did not resonate with them. The look of the Landing Page on a cell phone was very disjointed, and the submit button ended up about 4” below the email text box — not visible without scrolling down.

Jane was at a loss. She did not know what she should do next.

Designers, like Jane, need to learn to think like designers. They need to become fluent in the disciplinary way of defining problems, developing solutions, anticipating the client’s understandings, and introducing these solutions publicly. They need strategies to adapt to changing or unfamiliar circumstances.

However, what all this specifically means, and how all this plays out, gets a bit muddled. There is a lot of advice to sift through. Designers learn what they do from several sources, including teachers to books to online videos. It turns out that what perspective the advisor, teacher, how-to author is coming from affects what they suggest you do. Because of this, and especially because of this, every designer must get straight in their heads that to think like a craftsperson or to think like an artist is not the same as thinking like a designer.

There are three competing perspectives (or what are called paradigms) for how designers should be taught and practice — (1) The Craft Approach, (2) The Art Tradition, and (3) The Art and Design Perspective. Each provides a different set of advice for telling the designer what to do. Each uses different criteria for judging success.

Had Jane been able to answer the question: Craft, Art or Design?, she may have managed the design process much better. She probably would not have hit this wall with the client. She could have come up with ideas to fix and overcome the problems.

Fluency and Empowerment

The fluent designer is able to think like a designer. The designer is more than a craftsperson and more than an artist. The designer must learn a specialized language, and specialized way of balancing the needs for appeal with the needs for functionality. The designer must intimately recognize and understand the roles design plays for individuals as well as the society as a whole. The designer must learn how art, architecture, physical mechanics, engineering, sociology, psychology, context, even party planning, all must come together and get expressed at the point where the design meets the boundary of the individual.

And to gain that fluency, the designer must commit to learning a lot of vocabulary, ideas and terms, and how these imply content and meaning through expression. The designer will need to be very aware of personal thoughts and thinking as these get reflected in all the choices made in design. The designer will have to be good at anticipating the understandings and judgements of many different audiences, including the user and all the user’s own clients.

With fluency comes empowerment. The empowered designer has a confidence that whatever needs to be done, or whatever must come next, the designer can get through it. Empowerment is about making and managing choices. These choices could be as simple as whether to finish a piece or project or not. Or whether to begin a second piece or project. The designer will make choices about how to draw someone’s attention to the work, or present the work to a larger audience. She or he may decide to submit the work to a magazine or contest. She or he may want to sell the work and market it. The designer will make choices about how the work might be used, or who use it, or when it might be used, in what context.
 
 
And for all these choices, the designer might need to overcome a sense of fear, doubt, boredom, or resistance. The designer might need to overcome anxiety, a sense of giving up, having designer’s block, feeling unchallenged, and even laziness.

This makes it critical for any designer, in order to flourish and succeed, to be able to answer these 5 essential questions, beginning with question 1.

Question 1: Should Design work be considered ART or CRAFT or DESIGN?

All designers, whether making jewelry, building buildings, creating interiors, putting together websites and digital marketing plans, confront a world which is unsure whether design is “craft” or “art” or its own special thing I’ll call “design”. 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.

CRAFT: When defined as “craft,” design is seen as something that anyone can do — no special powers are needed to be a designer. Design is seen as a step-by-step process, almost like paint-by-number. Designers color within the lines. The craft piece or project has functional value but limited aesthetic value.

If following the Craft Approach, the designer would learn a lot of techniques and applications in a step-by-step fashion. The designer, based on their professional socialization into Craft, would assume that:

a) The outlines and the goals of any piece or project can be specified in a clear, defined way.
 b) Anyone can do these techniques.
 c) There is no specialized knowledge that a designer needs to know beyond how to do these step-by-step techniques and applications.
 d) If a particular designer has a strong sense of design, this is something innate and cannot be learned or taught.
 e) There is little need to vary or adapt these techniques and applications.
 f) The primary goal is functionality.
 g) There are no consequences if you have followed the steps correctly.

As “craft”, we still 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 which have some artistic sensibilities.

ART: When defined as “art”, design is seen as something which transcends itself and its design. It is not something that anyone can do without special insights and training. The goal of any project would be harmony with a little variety, and some satisfaction and approval.
 
 “Design as art”
evokes an emotional response. Functionality should play no role at all, or, if an object has some functional purpose, then its functional reason-for-being should merely be supplemental to the art. For example, the strap on a necklace is comparable to the frame around a painting, or the pedestal for a sculpture. They supplement the art. The borders, and perhaps the footer and side navigation bars, on a website home page would also be understood as supplemental to the design. As supplemental components, these would not be included with nor judged as part of the design work. In an extreme example, from the art perspective, the beauty, balance and harmony of a website’s appearance should be unencumbered by any considerations of user experience and navigatability.

If following the Art Tradition, the designer would learn a lot of art theories and rules about the manipulation of design elements, such as color, movement, perspective, within the piece or project. Then, the designer would keep rehearsing these until their application becomes very intuitive. The designer, based on their professional socialization into Art, would assume that:

a) Whether the piece or project outlines are clear from the beginning, or emergent or process-like, what is most important is that art theories and rules be applied at each little increment along the way.
 b) The designer as artist must learn some specialized knowledge — art theories and rules — in order to be successful.
 c) The outcomes — either pieces or projects — would be judged on visual and art criteria alone, as if they were paintings and sculptures on display.
 d) While everyone has within them the creative abilities to design as an artist, for most people, this must be learned.
 e) The primary goals are beauty and appeal. Beauty and appeal are typically judged in terms of harmony and variety.
 f) If you have not applied the theories and rules optimally, the piece or project would be judged as incomplete and unsuccessful.

What is nice about the Art Tradition, is that the goal is Beauty. Beauty is achieved through smart choices and decisions. The designer as artist is not encumbered by having to follow specific steps or patterns. Nor is the designer encumbered by the structural and functional properties of all the pieces or elements she or he uses — only their beauty. The designer does not have to compromise Beauty for Functionality.

DESIGN: When defined as “design”, you begin to focus more on construction and functionality issues. You often find yourself making tradeoffs between appeal and functionality. You incorporate situational relevance into your designs. You anticipate what the client (and the various audiences of the client) understands as something which is finished and successful. You see “choice” as more multidimensional and contingent. You define success only in reference to the design as it is worn, placed, constructed or used.

If following the Art and Design Perspective, the designer would have to learn a lot of things. These would include things in art, architecture, engineering, social science, psychology, behavioral science, and anthropology. The designer would develop those professional skills and insights, what we might call disciplinary literacy, so that she or he could bring a lot of disparate ideas and applications to the fore, depending on what the situation warranted.

The designer, based on their professional socialization into Art and Design, would assume that:

a) Whether the piece or project outlines are clear or emergent, what is most important is the ability to bring a wide range of design principles and applications to the situation.

b) The designer must learn a lot of specialized knowledge, some related to art, and some related to several other disciplines, such as architecture and social science.

c) The outcomes — either pieces or projects — must find the best fit between considerations about appeal with concerns about functionality. Functionality is not an add-on. It is an equal, competing partner with beauty and appeal.

d) The designer does not design in a vacuum. She or he must anticipate the shared understandings among self, client and the various audiences of the client about what might be seen as finished and successful. These anticipations must be incorporated into the design process and how it is managed.

e) Anyone can learn to be a designer, but fluency and literacy in the profession involves development of skills and insights over a period of time.

f) The primary goal is to find the best fit between appeal and functionality.

g) The consequences for not finding that best fit is some level of client dissatisfaction.

The Art and Design Perspective is very relevant for the education and training of designers. Here, the designer is seen as a multi-functional professional. The designer must bring a lot of very different kinds of skills and abilities to bear, when constructing a piece or developing a project. The professional has to be able to manage artistic design, functionality, and the interaction of the piece or project with the client as well as that client’s environment. This approach also believes that “Design” should be appreciated as its own discipline — not a subset of sculpture or painting. And that a piece or project as designed can only be understood as these are placed in use.

How you define your work as ART or CRAFT or DESIGN (or some mix) will determine what skills you learn, how you apply them, and how you introduce your pieces to a wider audience. The Craft Approach ignores the need to learn a specialized knowledge and approach. The Art Tradition focuses solely on the artistic merits of the project, and assumes the client will have more passive relationship to it, as if the client were standing in front of the project in a museum. The Art and Design Perspective focuses on how to anticipate shared understandings and incorporate these into how best to make tradeoffs between appeal and functionality.

So, returning to the situation with Jane, she had not yet become fluent in design thinking. She tried to apply art theory to balance the colors in the logo, and that’s not what the client wanted. She had applied the techniques she knew, but did not arrive at an acceptable place. She became stumped about the next steps she needed to take after the client expressed reservations. She was unable to delineate a learning plan for herself so that she could make the web-page responsive. She researched key words without putting them to some kind of reality test with the client.

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

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

Continue reading about the Second Essential Question every designer should be able to answer: What Should I Create?

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

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Backward Design is Forward Thinking

How Creatives Can Successfully Survive In Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.

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

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

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

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

Add your name to my email list.

______________________________

FOOTNOTES

Feld, Warren. Jewelry Design: A Managed Process. (2020)

Feld, Warren. Teaching Disciplinary Literacy. (2020)

Feld, Warren. Backward-Design Is Forward Thinking. (2020

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

Posted by learntobead on August 16, 2020

PRACTICE-BY-DESIGN SERIES

Image by Feld, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Parsimony vs. Unity/Variety

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

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

Another concern I have, is that you can have unity with variety, but, from the art perspective, these assessments rely too much on universal, objective expectations about design elements and their attributes (for example, the use of color schemes).

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

Resonance is not about picking the correct color scheme (or any other design element). It is more about how that color scheme (or design element) is used, manipulated, leveraged or violated within the piece. We must not leave the artist, the user, and the situation out of the equation. We must not minimize the artist’s hand — the artist’s intent, thinking, strategizing, arranging, pushing the boundaries, even violating the universal, objective rules.

Design and the act of creation usually demand a series of judgment calls and tradeoffs. Tradeoffs between aesthetics and functionality. Tradeoffs between artist goals and audience understandings and expectations. Tradeoffs between a full palette of colors-shapes-textures and a very limited one.

Any measure of completeness and success needs to result from the forced choice decisions of the artist. It needs to account for the significance of the results, not just the organization of them. It needs to explain the Why, not just the What.

For me, the Art criteria are insufficient when applied to design. The more appropriate concept here is Parsimony. Parsimony is when you know enough is enough. When the finished and successful piece is parsimonious, the relationship of all the Design Elements and their expressed attributes, as understood by designer and client alike, will be so strong, that to add or remove any one thing would diminish, not just the design, but rather the significance of the design.
 
 Parsimony is sometimes referred to in art and design as Economy, but the idea of economy in art is reserved for the visual effects. Design not only pays homage to the visual, but to the functional, socio-cultural-psychological and situational, as well. The designer needs to be able to decide when enough is enough with all these multi-dimensional cues.

The Traps of Over-Doneness and Under-Doneness

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

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

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

– not sure if someone will like it

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

– uncertain if they can learn a new technique

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Backward Design is Forward Thinking

How Creatives Can Successfully Survive In Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.

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

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

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

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

Add your name to my email list.

_______________________________

FOOTNOTES

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

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

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

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

Posted by learntobead on August 16, 2020

PRACTICE-BY-DESIGN SERIES

Image by Feld, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

He was perplexed, and felt a little defeated.

What was it about his work that somehow fell short?

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

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

An artistic and well-designed piece or project should evoke, at the least, an emotional response. In fact, preferably, it should go beyond this a bit, and have what we call “resonance”. The difference between an emotional response and resonance is reflected in the difference between someone saying, “That’s beautiful,” from saying “I need to wear that piece,” or, “I need to buy that piece,” or, “I need to implement that project.” 
 
 Quite simply: If no resonant response is evoked, then the piece or project has some remaining issues including the possibility that it is poorly designed. Evoking a resonant response takes the successful selection and arrangement of materials or objects, the successful application of techniques as well as the successful management of skills, insights, and anticipating the client’s needs and understandings.
 
 
Every designer should have but one guiding star — Resonance. If our piece or project does not have some degree of resonance, we keep working on it. If the process of creative exploration and design does not lead us in the direction of resonance, we change it. If the results we achieve — numbers of pieces made and numbers of pieces sold — is not synced tightly with resonance, we cannot call ourselves designers.

The Proficient Designer specifies those goals about performance which will lead to one primary outcome: To Evoke Resonance. Everything else is secondary.

Materials, techniques and technologies are selected with resonance in mind. Design elements are selected and applied with that idea of Resonance in mind. Principles of Composition, Construction and Manipulation are applied with that idea of Resonance in mind, with extra special attention paid to the Principle of Parsimony — knowing when enough is enough.

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

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

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

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

Evoking An Emotional Response vs. A Resonant One

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

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

The traditional criteria used in the art world are that the designer should achieve unity with some variety and evoke emotions. These, I feel, may work well when applied to paintings or sculpture, but they are insufficient measures of success when applied to design. Design involves the creation of objects or projects where both artistic appeal as well as practical considerations of use are essential. Unity and variety can feel harmonious and balanced, but yet boring, monotonous and unexciting. Art, in contrast to Design, can be judged apart from its use and functionality. The response to Art can show some positive emotion without the client having to show any strong commitment. Design doesn’t share that luxury.

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

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

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

Resonance is something more than emotion. It is some kind of additional energy we see, feel and otherwise experience. Emotion is very reactive. Resonance is intuitive, involving, identifying. Emotion is very sympathetic. Resonance is more of an empathetic response where artist and audience realize a shared (or contradictory) understanding without losing sight of whose views and feelings belong to whom.

Resonance results from how the artist controls light, shadow, and their characteristics of warmth and cold, receding and approaching, bright and dull, light and dark. Resonance results from how the artist leverages the strengths of materials, objects and techniques and minimizes their weaknesses. Resonance results from social, cultural and situational cues. Resonance results from how the artist takes us to the edge of universal, objective understandings, and pushes us ever so slightly, but not too, too far, beyond that edge.

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

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

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

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

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Backward Design is Forward Thinking

How Creatives Can Successfully Survive In Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.

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

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

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

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

Add your name to my email list.

____________________________________

FOOTNOTES

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

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

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

Posted by learntobead on August 16, 2020

PRACTICE-BY-DESIGN SERIES

Image by Feld, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Backward Design is Forward Thinking

How Creatives Can Successfully Survive In Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.

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

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

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

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

Add your name to my email list.

______________________________

FOOTNOTES

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by learntobead on August 16, 2020

PRACTICE-BY-DESIGN SERIES

Image by Feld, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Creative people…

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

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

Creativity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Types of Creativity

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

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

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

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

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

How Do We Create?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Backward Design is Forward Thinking

How Creatives Can Successfully Survive In Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.

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

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

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

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

Add your name to my email list.

______________________________

FOOTNOTES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Creatives Can Successfully Survive In Business? Design-In-Practice Series

Posted by learntobead on July 12, 2020

Designed Impacts was a management consulting firm I started in 1980. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, I worked with several large corporations on internet marketing. Today, I provide management and marketing assistance and training to jewelry designers under the Warren Feld Jewelry company name. Image Source, Feld, 2020

STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT: 
 How Do You Start and Run A Business Selling Creative Products?

Between Commerce and Art

Many people learn design in order to sell what they make. Designers create websites. They create interiors and exteriors. They build things. They craft things. They make art. All in an effort to make some money.

In today’s world, designers who sell what they create must become savvy in both regular retail selling, that is, directly business-to-customer, as well as internet retail, or virtually business-to-customer. This might seem too complex. Too overwhelming. Too impossible. Too boring. There are a lot of tensions here between commerce and art, not least of which is having to introduce your creative products publicly and persuade people to buy them. Creative thinking is not the same as business thinking. This makes many creatives uncomfortable.

Let Business Concerns Influence Your Artistic Choices

OK, you want to sell your work. But there is always this nagging question: To what extent do (and should) business concerns influence the artistic choices you make?

If you want to be in business, then I’d say, “A Lot!” But this isn’t what a lot of artists like to hear. Design is not the same as painting a painting or sculpting a sculpture. With paintings or sculptures, the artist does not need to communicate interactively with the viewer in order to create the product and that product be deemed successful. Design, instead, is more of an interactive art. It is like architecture, where success can only be created through some kind of meaningful interaction with others, and only be defined as successful as the product is introduced publicly.

Selling your pieces is merely another phase of this interactive art, but, as a business, selling creative products sometimes forces upon you some more limits and refinements. You have to market to audiences. You may have to make trade-offs between visual appeal and functionality. You may have to standardize things to be able to make the same thing over and over again. You may have to work in a production mode and repeat making certain designs, rather than freely creating and designing anew each time. You have to price things so that they will sell, and you have to price things so that you can make a sufficient profit. You shouldn’t undersell yourself, like offering discounts to family, friends and co-workers, lest you run out of money.

You have to conform to prevalent styles and colors and forms. You have to make things that will photograph well. You have to make things that clients want and are willing to buy. You may end up with a lot of “one size fits all,” because producing too much variety in sizes, shapes, colors and sizes could overwhelm you financially.

You find that if you want to make your designs into a successful business, you may have to compromise with yourself, your artistic drives and sensibilities. You may have to limit what you offer. In order to make that sale. In order to make a profit. And stay in business.

A Good Business Selling Creative Products involves:
— Putting your artwork on a sound cost/revenue footing
 — Developing market-driven (what they want) strategies as opposed to product-driven ones (what you want)
 — Pricing your work for sale
 — Implementing various selling strategies
 — Compromising artistic and design choices, in the interest of the business

Why Designers Fail In Business: Some Key Reasons

Over and over again, I have seen one designer after another fail as a business. Usually the reasons why keep repeating themselves with each designer.

1. A reluctance to learn how to conduct oneself as a business

2. Gets bored

3. A fear of marketing your own things

4. Trying to please all audiences

5. Doesn’t do homework on the competition

1. A reluctance to learn how to conduct oneself as a business.

Many designers get so excited after making their first sale, that they think they don’t have to get too involved with business principles. They misunderstand their “business” as a “project-by-project” endeavor. Make something, sell it. Doesn’t matter what the price. Doesn’t matter to whom. Doesn’t matter if making the work in the first place is in line with the resources you currently have, or will drive you in debt in order to get those resources. All that matters is the count — the number of pieces or designs you have sold.

Designers need to focus, not with the count, but on what’s called Velocity, instead. You need to have in place sufficient strategies for keeping your money turning over at a constant rate. You make something. You sell it. You reallocate the money you just made to reinvesting in more inventory, replacing the inventory you sold, evaluating the pros and cons of the sale that just happened, adjusting accordingly, and strategizing how to keep this velocity going at a constant, or ever-increasing, velocity or rate. If you can’t maintain this rate, you go in the hole.

And artists need to keep good records, and implement good accounting principles so they can monitor and evaluate the data about velocity.

2. Gets Bored.

People who get started are very excited. They’ve made a lot of pretty pieces or designs, and someone has bought some of them. But then you need to leave your creative mode, and enter a production mode. You need to discipline yourself to make the same things over and over again, particularly in the first 2 or 3 years of your business. Many designers quickly lose interest.

3. A fear of marketing your own things

You won’t succeed without marketing. Marketing is more than advertising. It includes all forms of self-promotion. It includes doing research on your markets and market niches. It incluces how to reach your potential clients in these markets, how to get their attention, how to get them to translate this attention into needs and wants and desires, and how to get them to part with some money.

Many artists are shy about self-promotion. Time to train yourself, if this is you, to get over it.

4. Trying to please all audiences

When people get started, they are reluctant to use the “No” word. They want to please everyone. But when you get started, you can’t. It will put you out of business.

Let’s say you are a jewelry designer, and have some jewelry for sale that is predominantly purple. Someone at work loves the jewelry, but asks if you can make it in red. If you don’t have an inventory of red beads, and will have to go out and buy them, it may make this sale foolish, from a business standpoint. You can’t buy just one bead at a time; you need to buy strands or packages of these beads — many more parts than you would need to make one piece of jewelry for this customer.

When you start in business, you need to pursue a strategy of depth, rather than breadth. As a digital designer, you want to invest in a limited number of software applications, equipment, and related resources, and narrow your focus on the types of projects you undertake. As a jewelry or crafts designer, you want to buy a limited number of pieces, colors, sizes and shapes of materials in large enough quantities to get adequate price breaks. So, initially, your designs will be limited, as well. If someone asks you to develop a project or design that is outside your budgeted resources, you need to be able to say No!. No! to your family. No! to your friends. No! to the people you work with.

Source, Feld, 2013

In my experience, such as the situation for the jewelry designer with red vs purple beads above, when you say No!, the potential customer tends to make a face. Pitiful. Angry. Frustrated. Sad. Pleading. If you can wait 60 seconds, in almost every case, the customer stops making this face, and says, in our jewelry example, for instance, “OK, I’ll take what you have in purple.”

60-seconds. That’s how long you have to wait without responding. Only 60-seconds before that person gives up and stops making the Face. It always amazes me, but so many jewelry and other designers can’t wait those 60 seconds. They cave.

And don’t give these people discounts. They’re already getting it cheaper, than if they bought the same design in a store, or purchased the design services from a large corporation. One major way your business will get built up is word-of-mouth. You don’t want some of that information to include extremely low price expectations. If you are stuck giving low prices, you will never be self-supporting in your business.

5. Doesn’t do homework on the competition

You need to understand how other designers you compete with function as a business.

How do they define their markets?
 How do they price things?
 What kinds of inventory, software and equipment do they own? What kinds do they NOT own?
 Where do they advertise? How do they promote themselves? 
How do they staff up, contract out, or learn the necessary skills to get the jobs done within the set time-frame?
 How do they define their competitive advantage — that is, all the reasons people should buy from them, rather than from anyone else, like you?
 Where do they sell things? What seems to work better for them?
 How do they figure out the best place — real or virtual — to link their product and product message to the customers most likely to need, want and buy their designs?

You can find a lot of this out by Googling. You can look for designers in your field and occupation. Directories of designers. You can plug in a designer’s website, and see where they are listed, and who lists them. You can look at their work. Often, you can discover many of their clients. You can look at reviews.

Can I Make Money?

Some designers are only interested in selling the occasional piece or project. Others want to create a steady flow of some extra income. Still others want to be financially self-sufficient as a designer.

Whatever your personal goal and commitment, can you make money? The answer is YES… That is, if you are smart about it.

Your friends and relatives might tell you that living as a creative designer “Is not practical,” or a warning “Don’t quit your day job.”

I won’t lie to you. It’s tough. It requires commitment and perseverance. It requires some introverted skills and some extroverted skills. It requires managing a process that includes some creative elements and some business and administrative ones. But you can do it.

First, Goals. Sit down and write down some do-able sets of goals for your business. Some sets of goals will be on the creative side; others on the business side.

One set of goals should answer the question: How are you going to manage the design process (from inspiration to aspiration to finished product to marketing and selling your products)?

Another set of these goals should answer the question: How are you going to maintain your cash flow throughout the whole year?

After you start implementing your goals, at some point you should be able to ask a friend: Did I achieve my goals or not?

Second, Time. Organize your time. You need to spend a certain amount of time with creative activity. Another block of time on business, administrative and marketing activities. And a certain amount of time for reflection and evaluation and self-care. You need to maintain balance between the personal and the professional, and between the creative and the administrative.

Third, Limits. Do not try to do too many different projects or work with too many different kinds of design elements and components at the same time — particularly in your first 3 years in business.

As your business grows, you’ll reach a point where you have enough cash flow — that Velocity of sales — that you can begin to broaden your efforts, meeting more of the needs of your current clients, and expanding the options for new clients.

Fourth, Realism. Do not go for roofs before setting foundations. Learn about materials and techniques in a developmental order. Things will make much more sense and be easier to accomplish as you advance your skills and endeavors.

Last, Supports. You can’t do everything by yourself. Find compatriots. Find a mentor. Share or coordinate some workloads. Be sure you structure in ways to be accountable and get feedback.

_____________________________________

FOOTNOTES

Bethke, Kelly. “A creative’s guide to starting a new business,” Fast Company, 11/9/18.

Campbell, Anita. “A 30-Point Checklist For Your Start-Up,” Small Biz Trends, 4/18/13.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Should I Set Up My Craft Business On A Marketplace Online?

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

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

A Fool-Proof Formula For Pricing And Selling Your Jewelry

Designer Connect Profile: Tony Perrin, Jewelry Designer

My Aunt Gert: Illustrating Some Lessons In Business Smarts

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

Naming Your Business / Naming Your Jewelry

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

To What Extent Should Business Concerns Influence Artistic and Jewelry Design Choices

How Creatives Can Successfully Survive In Business

Getting Started In Business: What You Do First To Make It Official

Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.

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

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

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

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

Add your name to my email list.

Other Suggested Readings:

Backward-Design Is Forward Thinking, (FELD, 2020)

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency in Design, (FELD, 2020)

Jewelry Design: A Managed Process, (FELD, 2020)

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“Backward-Design” is Forward Thinking: Design-In-Practice Series

Posted by learntobead on July 9, 2020

Land of Odds homepage detail, Source, Feld, 2020

So often, designers struggle to figure out the reasons why their designs did not feel finished or as successful as they could be. They get so caught up in the here and now of design that they forget to study what was, and fail to sufficiently anticipate what will happen when that design is introduced publicly — to the client, to the client’s client and to the world.

Clients sense this. When the designer does not share, or at least anticipate, the understandings and expectations of the client, the project could go awry. The designer could end up expending many non-billable hours trying to adjust, tweak, re-do, re-conceive the project. And the whole process ends up not feeling good. Unfulfilling. A chore.

Often the core of the problem is the design approach to the project. Designers like to follow a linear process of design. This is an unfortunate remnant of the scientific management philosophy prevalent in the 1930’s. A belief that everything can be reduced to a progressive series of steps, performed in an objective, almost-scientific way. Processed from a beginning, through a middle, and leading to an end. No iteration or back and forth. Little trial and error. Objectively gather information and data. Analyze it. Formulate a hypothesis. Test it. Draw conclusions. Set goals, objectives and activities accordingly. Organize resources. Arrange things in a pleasing manner and implement. Evaluate. Happy client, happy life.

But, as we all know, things aren’t so linear. They aren’t so clear-cut and pat. They are not so perfectly objective and universally understood. We have all felt these things:

  1. Working with imperfect information.
  2. Often inarticulate clients.
  3. Or clients not understanding or appreciating or anticipating what you are trying to do.
  4. Some limits to the access to resources we want and need.
  5. Not fully skilled in every single technique that might come to bear.
  6. Can often get caught up in our heads, sometimes over-thinking, other times not thinking enough.
  7. A fear of failing to know when enough is enough.
  8. A weak sense of what happens when we introduce our designs publicly.
  9. Never fully sure if we have achieved acceptable results.

Design should not be seen as a set of steps per se. Rather, design is a way of thinking. That way of approaching the professional task with fluency, flexibility and comprehension. Here the designer must provide a sense of the underlying intellect in the design of the project, or else others cannot appreciate or anticipate what the designer was trying to accomplish. They need to sense the designer’s thought process all along the way.

Towards this end, we want designers to get socialized into a disciplinary literacy as they pursue design as an occupation and profession. They need to learn how design differs from art. Achieving a harmony and some variety in design — the goal in an art project — often falls short of client expectations. There’s that “It’s nice, but…” or “Where’s the WOW factor I was looking for…” or “I like it, but I’m not sure how I’m going to use it…”.

And professional, experienced designers need to learn how to tell when enough is enough. That is, they need to have this automatic, intuitive sense when if they added or subtracted one more thing from their design, it would not be as good.

One useful type of tool, designers can resort to is called a Thinking Routine (see footnote 2). The Thinking Routine is any structured way of asking yourself questions which help you organize your thoughts. You should have several thinking routines in your designer tool-box. These aid you in applying that disciplinary literacy you are forever developing and improving upon.

One Thinking Routine I want to introduce you to here is called “Backward-Design(see footnote 1).

How the designer begins the process of creating a design is very revealing about the potential for success. One of the things designers more literate in their discipline learn to do is called “Backward-Design.” The designer starts with determining how their finished project will be assessed, then works backward from there in specifying the tasks and methods to be employed.

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 designer anticipates what evidence others will use in their assessments of what the designer is trying to do.

Given that the more successful designer “backward-designs,” he or she would begin the process by anticipating those understandings about how their work will be assessed. The first assessment is how others, particularly the client, but including the client’s audience(s) as well, will see the design as finished, complete, coherent, and parsimonious. The second assessment is how others will see the design as successful, satisfying, having the desired effect, contagious, and impactful.

The designer then is equipped to make three types of informed, purposeful choices:

1. Choices about composition

2. Choices about construction and manipulation

3. Choices about performance

These choices involve what to include and not include. How to organize and how not to organize. How to mesh things together and not mesh things together. How to introduce things publicly and not introduce things publicly.

Given what the client wants, your choices will be influenced by what evidence they will look for to know you have achieved it. These choices involve evidence about what tasks will be worthy to be accomplished, and the most efficient and effective ways to accomplish them. These choices signal that the designer really gets it and is ready to perform with understanding, knowledge and skill.

In backward-design, these choices emerge through dialect and communicative interaction. Choices about tasks are purposeful. Design is more seen and operated as an action, rather than an object.

When beginning the process of design, the designer thinks about assessment before beginning to think about what and how they will design. Designers do not wait until the end — what scientific management calls the evaluation step — of the process. Thinking backward as a strategy for problem solving really isn’t that difficult. While this may feel illogical or counter-intuitive, in the end it makes more sense.

Again, we can set up a backward-design process as a Thinking Routine. A Thinking Routine can help the designer internalize the backward-design process. It can help the designer sharpen their focus. The Routine becomes a way, used informally or formally based on your style, to structure the client intake process. It also becomes a way to force you to prioritize your tasks.

Here is a simple example useful for designers interested in backward-design, and which I call DESIGN FRAMEWORK.

How Do We Elicit This Information From The Client?

Critical here is the designer’s ability to elicit a lot of information from the client. Information about expectations. Past experiences. Things they like and dislike. What they want to happen at the end. Values, desires, worth, risks, rewards. What the client’s various audiences might expect and desire.

Understandings are often revealed through the exercises of comparing and contrasting or summarizing key ideas and images. We can provide pictures. We can take the client on an internet tour. We can ask the client to take us on an internet tour. During all this, we encourage the client to explain, interpret, apply, critique, empathize or reveal prior knowledge about and experience with. This gives us a lot of information to start with.

We can then seek to find specific examples of what the client has done in the past, or has tried to do recently. They can describe certain actions they have taken. They can share with you various products they have designed or had designed for them, and their feelings about these products. They can explain the “facts” as they present them. Or offer up “interpretations”.

We then have to step back from our interactions with the client, and ask ourselves: Does the information we have collected provide enough evidence for us to determine a task plan? Can we see patterns and themes emerging? Hard and fast convictions? Things loosely connected? Are the client’s understanding of the problem(s) to be solved consistent with those of the possible solution(s) which can be implemented?

Or is there still some ambiguity needing clarification? Are any expectations unrealistic? If so, we return to interacting with the client to gather more evidence of their desires and understandings about what they want to be accomplished.

The Successful Designer

The successful designer is one who can generate designs which are engaging and effective, as judged by the client (and perhaps by extension, the client’s various audiences).

The design process should allow the designer to identify and prioritize those tasks which are most relevant to or likely to achieve the end result. And in turn, reject or shorten tasks which do not.

The client should see the design as relevant, provoking, meaningful and energizing. The project should feel finished. It should meet the client’s understandings about what constitutes success. You do not want the client to walk away thinking the design was merely the result of an academic exercise. You do not want the client to think or feel you have sold them a cookie-cutter solution.

The design process itself should impact not only the final product, but the client him- or herself. It should elevate the client’s own sense of design and accomplishment. It should result in a client more competent when interacting with you and securing your services the next time.

____________________________________

FOOTNOTES

(1) Backward-Design. I had taken two graduate education courses; one in Literacy and one in Planning that were very influential in my approach to disciplinary literacy. One of the big take-away 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 “backward-design”. Their point is that you can better teach understanding [and my words, perform professionally] 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.

Understanding by Design by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, 2nd Edition, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2005.

Literacy: Helping Students Construct Meaning by J. David Cooper, M. Robinson, J.A. Slansky and N. Kiger, 9th Edition, Cengage Learning, 2015

(2) Thinking Routines. There are many different types of Thinking Routines. The Harvard Graduate School of Education has researched, evaluated and categorized these. These routines can be used in your own reflections with yourself, or as active tools when working with clients. They are used to help you understand and manipulate your world.

Project Zero’s Thinking Routine Toolbox. Harvard Graduate School of Education.

_____________________________________________

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

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

What Is Jewelry, Really?

The Jewelry Design Philosophy

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

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Becoming The Bead Artist and Jewelry Designer

5 Essential Questions Every Jewelry Designer Should Have An Answer For

Getting Started / Channeling Your Excitement

Getting Started / Developing Your Passion

Getting Started / Cultivating Your Practice

Becoming One With What Inspires You

Architectural Basics of Jewelry Design

Doubt / Self Doubt: Major Pitfalls For The Jewelry Designer

Techniques and Technologies: Knowing What To Do

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

Teaching Discplinary Literacy: Strategic Thinking In Jewelry Design

The Jewelry Designer’s Approach To Color

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

The Jewelry Designer’s Path To Resonance

Jewelry Design Principles: Composing, Constructing, Manipulating

Jewelry Design Composition: Playing With Building Blocks Called Design Elements

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

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.

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

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

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

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

Add your name to my email list.

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BEADS AND RACE

Posted by learntobead on June 19, 2020

Is there racism in beading?

“No,” yells the white beader chick carefully stitching her beadwork to perfection.

But I’m not sure about that. I don’t think there’s racism with a capital “R”, but maybe some things with a little “r”.

Look around. Very, very, very few, virtually none, Black bead artists. Or Latino. Or Asian. Look at the major national instructors. We have Joyce Scott. Who else?

Look at the faces of the women and men who contribute articles to the various bead magazines. White, white, white.

Look at the complexion of the attendees at bead shows, or the customers, staff and owners of bead shops, or the members of the local bead societies. Or at the entrants to all our national and international contests sponsored by Land of Odds and The Center for Beadwork & Jewelry Arts — The Ugly Necklace Contest, All Dolled Up: Beaded Art Doll Competition or The Illustrative Beader: Beaded Tapestry Competition.

Does this mean, from a color palette sense, that beading is primarily monochromatic, with no color clash, contrast, coordination or complimentarity — mostly of interest to white folks, and not black, brown, or yellow? I have my doubts. I imagine everyone loves jewelry, and the same proportions of people within any cultural group probably like to make jewelry as much as any other group, as well.

One of my friends told me that in New York and New Jersey, there is a diversity of culture and complexion, and one that is very natural. But this diversity doesn’t extend across the country. Certainly not in Nashville, Tennessee.

And I always have wondered why some people called the Ndebele Stitch, the “Herringbone Stitch”. Is it the pronunciation of the word “Ndebele” that influenced the switch? Or something more sinister?

All this is sad. If all there was to Jewelry Design was following a set of instructions and mimicking someone else’s work, a concern about diversity would not be that important. You follow the steps. You get the job done. No socio-cultural issues influencing any of your choices.

But for people who design things, this isn’t the case. Design is about creative construction. Design is where you take ideas and you take emotions and you apply your hands. Segregating ideas weakens your own. Segregating ideas result in failed opportunities to interact with others who are not like yourself. Segregating ideas are failed opportunities to learn new designs. They are failed opportunities for manipulating design elements in ways you’ve never thought about.

As a designer, you want to have many and varied experiences all through life. These experiences influence your recognition of colors, your choices for linking beads and pieces to stringing materials, your ideas about styles and looks and lengths and fashions. You don’t want to close yourself off to any part of the world. If you did, you would short-change your creative spirit. That essence within you and from which your jewelry resonates.

Yes, I know, you often bead and make jewelry as a type of escape from the real world. A meditative, relaxing, no problemo means of production. But you can’t escape the real world entirely. And you shouldn’t want to.

Race issues aren’t new problems that suddenly appeared circa 2020. They have historical roots, and an unsettling lingering quality to them. The day I wrote this article, these were some of the headlines on the MSNBC.com website home-page:

“Interracial couple denied marriage license [in Louisiana]”
“Appearance matters more for black CEO’s”
 “Breaking Barriers: US Minority Leaders”

I remember when I was in high school, there were only 7 other Jewish-Americans and only 1 other Chinese-American in the entire school. We were all called the N-word by our peers. They used the N-word because they didn’t know the K-word or the C-word. The N-word would do. It was uncomfortable and awkward to go to school, and I learned, at least while I was in high school, to see an anti-Semite under every rock, whether there was one or not.

I can remember, also, and this was decades ago, when I was young and in junior high and high school, that my dad had to manage racial issues on a different level. It wasn’t discrimination against him. It was he discriminating against others — a perhaps necessary discrimination, from a business standpoint.

My dad owned a small pharmacy in a very small town called Raritan, New Jersey. Raritan was inhabited mostly by old world Italians, and was very insular. There were no black people in town. The people in town wouldn’t allow it. I remember once that a black family had bought a house there. A week later, before this family had moved in, it was suspiciously burnt to the ground. No one knew who did this, and everyone knew who did this. This family did not rebuild.

My father was not racist. Yet he would never hire a black person as a clerk or as a delivery driver. A black clerk, he feared, would keep his customers away. And a black driver, he feared, would be shot dead.

All these tensions in the air did not mean that we had no black customers. In fact, we had many black customers. They boarded the bus — during the day, not at night — and traveled the 2 miles from the next town over — Somerville. There were two drugstores in Somerville at the time. Blacks perceived that they were discriminated against at these stores, and not at ours. As I said, my father was not a racist.

Similar issues still arise. And while not as emotionally charged as when I was young, they’re still a bit emotionally charged. Owning the bead store means I can’t run and hide and bury myself. I have to deal with uncomfortable situations involving race. And I do.

It wasn’t until around 2009–22 years after starting this business — that we seemed to have some regular, repeat customers who were black, and Latino, and Asian. But still very few. Definitely not enough. I can’t imagine that there are not many, many more minority beaders and jewelry makers in town.

Each time we advertise to fill a staff position, we try to go out of our way to attract qualified minority applicants. We talk to our minority customers. We contact newspapers and agencies that target various minority communities. We contact the state’s Job Service. We get very few minority applicants, and fewer qualified ones. We pay well. The job is very interesting and rarely boring. While I’ve offered jobs to minority applicants, I’ve never had a taker. Whether I project this onto the situation, or it’s real, I get a sense of ill-ease, some risk, some discomfort.

Minority customers seem to self-select where they shop, where they look for jobs, and where they take classes. They seem to go to the large craft stores and discount stores, rather than the small bead and craft shops. This is understandable. As a minority, you are more likely to get discriminated against in a mom-and-pop shop in the South, than you are in a large corporate retail setting. You more likely have to deviate from the major roads or what are safe neighborhoods for you in order to visit these mom-and-pop shops. The odds are against you of getting hired in these small shops, because, just like with my dad, even if the owners are not racist, they have to be realists.

It doesn’t take much to make someone feel uncomfortable and ill-at-ease. Perceived slights are everywhere. Not getting asked if you need some help. A too-abrupt explanation of classes. A question which reveals that assumptions have been made about you, because of your ethnicity. Often an expected level of service rises and falls with the energy-level of the staff, or how pressured they have been during the day, or other things going on in their personal lives. It rarely rises and falls because of race. But it’s not always perceived or understood that way.

I had one minority student who tried to register for one of my advanced jewelry design classes — a class with 3 other prerequisites — and I turned her down. She was furious. She explained that she had taken all these other classes at other bead stores. I told her that our classes are not the same as at other beads stores. They teach steps; we teach theory and applications. I asked her a couple of design-theory questions — things I cover in my other classes — and she was clueless. My first question is always “Do you know the difference between gold-filled and gold-plated?” Rarely does anyone know the answer, and she did not either. I explained to her that I make everyone start at the beginning of our curriculum, including experienced beaders and jewelry makers, because classes elsewhere are craft-oriented project classes, and our classes are skills-based and more academic. I told her she would be wasting her money starting with this advanced class. She took it to mean that, as a minority, I felt she was incapable of learning. I tried to reason with her, but to no avail. Lost a student, garnered more bad word of mouth, and felt I was not heard nor understood.

On another occasion, a minority customer walked into the store, and was not greeted by staff. She walked in at a moment where the staff member who would have greeted her, had gotten sick and was throwing up in the bathroom, two other staff working on internet orders had been dealing with a problem with a customer on the phone, and another staff was getting some inventory from the back room. She expected to be greeted. She assumed the lack of any attention — and she did not even have a staff member glance her way and smile — was because she was black. She complained vociferously to me. Barely stretching my voice over her anger, I explained in great detail what was happening around her. Eventually, she calmed down. She has remained a customer. But she could as easily have gone elsewhere. She did not have to complain to me, and in effect, challenge her first assumptions. But she did. And this was a subject I did not want to deal with — not at all. But glad we had that conversation.

People make assumptions about other people based on their race. This is an unfortunate, but rationale thing that people do. It can be both funny and tragic. Someone puts you into a box in terms of the types of beading or jewelry making they expect you to do, because of your skin color or the slant of your eyes. Someone assumes that your level of jewelry-making proficiency must be based on your cultural and social and biological history.

Time and again over the years, I’ve introduced minority students to one of our bead study groups or jewelry making classes. The groups and classes are very inviting. But how many times I’ve overheard them peppering the person with questions, assuming, for instance, a black person would automatically be interested in Zulu beadwork, tribal jewelry and motifs, or African Trade Beads. And they’re not. Or that an Asian student would only be interested in bead weaving or pearl knotting, and only with Japanese seed beads or Japanese pearls. And they’re not. Or that a Latino student would prefer to use very bright colors. When they’re not. And they get asked all these questions which re-emphasizes that they are not necessarily among friends. And they don’t come back.

While these occurrences are the exception, rather than the rule, they happen often enough to make you think about the relationship of beads to race, beading to race, and bead stores to race. We don’t want to contribute to a hostile environment, even if this sense of hostility is very slight, often unintended. We want to contribute to a free flowing and overflowing multitudinous outpouring of ideas.

The beader’s job is not to solve the problems of the world. But in a quest for good design, the beader has to let some of the world in — problems and all.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Do You Know Where Your Beading Needles Are?

Consignment Selling: A Last Resort

Odds or Evens? What’s Your Preference?

My Clasp, My Clasp, My Kingdom For A Clasp

Why Am I So Addicted To Beads?

The Bead Spill: My Horrifying Initiation

The Artists At The Party

How To Bead A Rogue Elephant

You Can Never Have Enough Containers For Your Stuff

Beading While Traveling On A Plane

Contemplative Ode To A Bead

How To Bead In A Car

My Aunt Gert: Illustrating Some Lessons In Business Smarts

A Jewelry Designer’s Day Dream

A Dog’s Life by Lily

I Make All The Mistakes In The Book

How Sparkle Enters People’s Lives

Upstairs, Downstairs At The Bead Store

Beads and Race

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

Women and Their Husbands When Shopping For Beads

Women Making Choices In The Pursuit Of Fashion

Existing As A Jewelry Designer: What Befuddlement!

The Bridesmaid Bracelets

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

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JEWELRY MAKING MATERIALS

Posted by learntobead on June 5, 2020

Knowing What To Know

Abstract:

There are no perfect jewelry making materials for every project. Selecting materials is about making smart, strategic choices. This means relating your materials choices to your design and marketing goals. It also frequently means having to make tradeoffs and judgment calls between aesthetics and functionality. Materials differ in quality and value. They differ in their sensorial effects on people. They differ in how people perceive them. They differ in the associational and emotional connections which they evoke. They differ in their functional efficiency and effectiveness to lend pieces an ability to retain a shape, while at the same time, an ability to move, drape and flow. They differ in cost and durability. Last, materials may have different relationships with the designer, wearer or viewer depending on how they are intended to be used, and the situational or cultural contexts.

JEWELRY MAKING MATERIALS:
Knowing What To Know

The materials I use are alive

The world of jewelry design and the materials used can be complex, especially for jewelry designers just starting out in their careers. The novice, but also the more experienced designer, as well, often run up against some terms and properties of materials they have not dealt with before. Materials affect the appeal of the piece. They affect its structural
integrity. They affect the cost. They affect how people view, sense, desire and understand the piece.

You Would Be Very Aware Of…

If you want to gain an understanding of materials, you would be very aware of where they come from, how they are described, sold and marketed. You would be very aware of the beads and jewelry findings and stringing materials and tools, their qualities, when they are useful and when they are not, and what happens to them when they age. You would be very aware of what country the material is made or found in, how the material is manufactured, synthesized or gotten at, if it is modified or changed in any way, and how it comes to market. You would be very aware if the product is sold at different levels of quality, even if this is not differentiated on the product’s label. It is also important to be very aware how any of these aspects of the material have changed over time, or might change over time in the future.

You would be very aware that there is no such thing as the perfect material. There are only better materials, given your situation and goals. There is no perfect bead for every situation. No perfect clasp. No perfect stringing material. Every choice you make as a jewelry designer will require some tradeoffs and judgment calls. The more you understand the quality of the materials in the pieces you are working with are made of, and the clearer you are about your design goals, and if you are selling things, your marketing goals, as well, the more prepared you will be to make these kinds of choices.

You would be very aware that materials have different values and life spans, and this must relate to your project goals. You would not want to use metalized plastic beads, for example, in a piece you call an heirloom bracelet. Metalized plastic beads are a metal shell around a milky white plastic bead. The shell will chip easily. On the other hand, when doing fashion jewelry, these very inexpensive beads, and which have a short life-span, would be perfect. Not only are they cheap, but because they are cheap, there are lots and lots of designs and shapes and textures.

If your goal is to create more investment quality pieces, then you would not want to buy lampwork beads which have not been appropriately annealed (that is, if not cooled down correctly, they will fracture and break easily). You would buy appropriately annealed ones, but which are considerably more expensive. This may affect the look of your pieces. For an inexpensive, fashion oriented piece, your necklace made up entirely of lampwork beads which have not been appropriately annealed might be very affordable. It would have that great handmade, artisan look. It might sell for only $60.00. With more investment quality lampwork beads, however, you might just use one, or perhaps three lampwork beads, and
have a lot of cord showing, or a lot of filler beads, to keep the piece
affordable. This would be a very different design look and style. If the
necklace was made up of all quality lampwork beads, — to have the same look and style as its inexpensive cousin — it might have to retail for $600–800.00.

Again, for an investment quality piece, you would want to use crystal beads manufactured in Austria or the Czech Republic, and not ones manufactured elsewhere. And you would not let yourself be fooled when the front of the package says “Austrian Crystal” when the back says “Made In China”. Crystal beads made in China are not as bright, there are more production issues and flaws in the beads, and the holes are often drilled off-center when compared to their “Made In Austria” counterparts. But crystal beads more appropriate for that investment quality piece might be overkill for a fashion piece where you want to add a pop of brightness without a lot of additional cost.

You would want to be very aware of the treatments of beads and metals. Some things are radiated, heated, reconstituted, partly synthesized, lacquered or dyed. Sometimes this is a good thing and these treatments enhance the quality of materials in appearance and durability. Othertimes this is a bad thing, negatively affecting the quality of materials.

You would be very aware that many of the materials you use are described in ways that do not provide you with sufficient information to make a choice. Take the material gold-filled. The definition of gold-filled is that the material is a measurable layer of real gold fused to brass, sometimes copper. But the legal definition does not tell you how thick the gold has to be over the brass for the material to be called gold-filled. So in the market, some gold-filled has very little gold and will lose its gold very quickly, and other gold-filled has a thicker layer and will keep its gold, its shine and its shape for decades.

Or sterling silver. Sterling silver is supposed to be 92.5% silver (marked .925). The alloy, that is the remaining 7.5%, is supposed to contain, by law, a lot of copper. However, many manufacturers substitute some nickel for the copper to keep the cost down. This makes the sterling silver less expensive, yes, but it also makes it more brittle. It is the difference between being able to open and close the loop on an ear wire, off of which to hang the dangle, many, many times or only two or three times before the wire loop breaks.

Lots of sterling silver items get marked .925. And in jewelry making, many of the pieces we use are so small, there is no .925 stamp on them. Besides a change of what is in the alloy affecting the usefulness and value, many other things happen in the marketplace, as well. Many sterling silver items have been cast. What frequently happens is that some of the silver is lost in the casting process, so it is no longer at 92.5%. Manufacturers are supposed to make note of this, but many just stamp .925 on these items. Some shops label items as sterling silver, but in reality, are selling you pieces that are nickel. And some places will sell you something silver plated, and put sterling silver .925 tag which is marked .925 on it off the clasp. The tag is sterling; the jewelry is not. I’ve seen some major craft stores and some major jewelry stores sell metalized plastic jewelry and jewelry components and label it .925.

Flexible, nylon coated cable wires are one of the primary types of stringing materials. The measure of cable wire strength is called tensile strength. This has to do with what the wires are made of, what the nylon sheathing is made of, and how thick that nylon sheathing is. What makes the wire strong is the nylon sheathing’s ability to maintain the twist in the wire. As soon as the integrity of the nylon sheathing is violated, the wire untwists and immediately breaks. You will not see tensile strength referenced on the labels of these products. The information that is referenced (number of strands, wire thickness) gives you some information needed to make a choice, but insufficient to make an actual choice. Even when they list the number of strands, this doesn’t give you enough factual information to depend on. One brand’s high-end, 7-strand is stronger and more supple than that same brand’s 49-strand middle range product. This same brand’s middle range 49-strand product is stronger and more supple than another brand’s high end 49-strand product.

You would also be very aware that you cannot assume that there is consistency and uniformity for any given product. There are many production issues that arise in the manufacture of glass beads, for example. Some beads are perfect. Some have flaws. These flaws might include some flat surfaces when everything should be rounded. The color not going all the way through. Holes drilled off-centered. Bead sizes and hole sizes inconsistent from bead to bead. Some bead holes that are especially sharp. Some beads which have coated coloration which is poorly applied and chips off quickly. In clothing, these beads with flaws would be labeled irregulars, but they are not so labeled in beads. Some companies specialize in selling you perfect manufactured glass beads; other companies specialize in selling you the irregulars. They don’t advertise that fact. Either quality looks the same when you buy it; they just don’t hold up the same in close examination or from wear.

You would be aware that fabricated and stamped metal pieces are more durable than cast metal pieces, but a lot more expensive, and with a smaller palette of designs for the artist. You would be aware that the measure of pound strength on any label is the weakest piece of information to grab onto. The law only defines how pound strength should be measured. Since most products are manufactured abroad, little care is taken to guarantee the validity of this information.

You would be aware that there are a lot of things to know about the materials used in jewelry design.

It Is All About Choices

Materials play a significant role in jewelry design. You need to relate and justify the choices you make about selecting and using materials to your design goals (and your marketing goals, as well). Sometimes your choices are preformulated and planned; othertimes, these choices are spontaneous and emerge within your process of design. But these are all choices to be made, with inevitable impacts and consequences.

It is through the characteristics and qualities of the materials that the designer comes to keenly and fully appreciate values, intents, desires, and understandings associated with any design.

It is also through the most effective presentation specific to the materials that the designer experiences the piece to its best advantage and potential. The effectiveness results from the designer’s ability to maximize the strengths of each material, while minimizing its weaknesses. This is called leveraging.

It is a useful exercise, as well, to attempt to simplify the materials and reflect upon whether the piece feels more satisfying and successful, or less so. One key goal of any designer is to reach a point of parsimony where enough is enough.

Appreciation of materials, their selection, use and arrangement lead the designer to see, feel, think and listen to the visual poetry laid out before them. Jewelry is more than functional adornment. It resonates. Materials contribute to this. This appreciation allows the artist to share inspiration and intent with other audiences, the wearer and viewer included. The materials influence the artist in discovery, expression, invention, re-invention, and originality. They become part of the human experience in jewelry design.

For example, you might be in a situation having decide whether to purchase an $80.00 strand of 6mm round garnet beads, or a $28.00 strand of these same beads.

In that $80.00 strand, all the beads actually measure 6mm. They are all perfectly round. The holes are drilled well, and drilled through the center. There are no chips at the hole. There is good coloration, and the coloration from bead to bead is very consistent.

In that $28.00 strand, none of the beads measure 6mm. They are a bit smaller, perhaps 5.5mm. The beads from bead to bead on the strand are not consistent. Sizes are approximate, not exact. Several beads on the strand are not perfectly round. Some have flat surfaces on them. There are many chips at the hole, suggesting that they are not drilled well. Some are drilled off-center. The coloration is good from afar, but a close exam reveals that some beads are less desirable than others.

This situation doesn’t present an easy choice, however. If you are making fashion jewelry, the less expensive strand might be the best choice. Fashion jewelry is not worn for a long time. It is not an investment. It is a look. These beads are less expensive. In this context, the flaws, in this case, may not be so much as a flaw, as more a variation. The variations might enhance the fashion piece, adding a sense of fun, surprise and funkiness. The poorly drilled holes might mean that these beads will crack and break from wear, but given that fashion jewelry is not worn for a long time, this is a non-issue.

If you are making a more investment quality piece, the more expensive garnet beads might be the better choice. They have more value, resulting from the higher quality. The consistency in quality results in a more classic, timeless look. These beads will last a long time. Here, the inconsistencies in the less expensive strand of beads definitely would be viewed as flaws, not variations.

Types of Materials

One of the most fundamental and practical aspects of jewelry design is the importance of the materials. The choices jewelry designers make when selecting materials influence the form, content and movement of their pieces. Every material brings something special to the creative process and the finished jewelry pieces. The material influences, not only the designer, but the wearer and viewer themselves, how they perceive it, the values they place on it, and the extent they desire it.

The types of materials jewelry designers might choose are only limited by the imagination of the designer, and that designer’s budget. I have compiled a short listing of the more prevalent materials used in jewelry design. I distinguish those materials called

Stringing Materials

which are used to form the canvas of our jewelry,

from those materials called

Aesthetic Materials

which form the primary visual vocabulary and expressiveness of the piece, but also may contribute some functionality,

from those materials called

Functional Materials

which solely or primarily have practical value, but only sometimes, most likely inadvertently, add to the aesthetic expression of the piece.

STRINGING MATERIALS
(The Canvas)

The canvas is the part of the piece of jewelry onto which things are placed. The canvas is usually some kind of stringing material, and the things placed on it typically are beads and charms. The canvas supports the piece, its shaping and its silhouette. It may or may not be visible in the piece. But the canvas can be anything, including fabric and ribbon, wire mesh, chains, and the like. It can be like a string, or it can be like a flat sheet.

The designer selects the canvas or stringing material based on a vision of the structure of the piece, including both its supportive requirements as well as its appearance-related qualities. The particular selection will also impact the durability of the structure. Sometimes the selection of canvas takes on a symbolic meaning, such as using hemp in friendship bracelets or antiwar jewelry, or using leather in biker jewelry.

(1)Beading thread: Typically shaped like a typewriter ribbon, made from bonded nylon. It is something we wax before using it. Materials are strung onto thread using a beading needle. The thread is attached to the clasp assembly by tying knots. Glue should never be applied to these knots. If the beading thread is twisted, rather than bonded, it will break very easily.

Structure: Piece is very supple and moves, drapes and flows very easily. Provides little resistance to the weight of materials placed on it

Durability: Very durable when waxed, unless the holes of beads are very sharp

(2) Cable thread: This is a material where threads are braided together and encased in a nylon sheathing. Used similarly as beading thread. You use a needle. Waxing is optional, but strongly suggested. You tie knots to the clasp assembly. Glue should never be applied to these knots. Cable thread sold in bead stores is non-biodegradable. That sold in fishing stores or fishing departments is biodegradable.

Structure: Piece is very supple and moves, drapes and flows easily, but
not as easily as with beading thread.

Durability: Very durable, but the nylon sheathing can be compromised easily from body oils, perfume oils, and cosmetics. Waxing will protect the nylon sheathing.

(3) Bead cord, hemp, knotting cord: This is a material where threads or
fibers are braided or twisted together so that they look pretty. This cord
is used when you want the stringing material to show, such as putting knots
between beads, or where you have a cluster of beads, then the cord showing, another cluster of beads, the cord showing, and so forth. You use this material to macramé, knot, braid, knit, and crochet. You do not wax this material. That would make it look ugly. The primary purpose is to make your piece look attractive when the stringing material is to show. Bead cord may be nylon or silk. You use silk with real pearls, but, I suggest using the nylon with other materials. You will need a needle, usually a collapsible eye or big eye needle. You tie knots to secure the cord to a clasp assembly. You minimize the use of glue applied to knots, but you usually need to apply glue to the final knot.

Structure: Piece is a little stiffer than with bead thread or cable
thread, but still feels supple. Will drape well, but respond imperfectly to
the movement of the body.

Durability: Silk naturally deteriorates in 3–5 years; nylon does not. Bead cord made from other natural materials will also deteriorate over a relatively short period of time.

(4) Cable Wires: This flexible stringing material consists of wires braided together and encased in nylon. The strength comes from the ability of the nylon sheathing to keep the twist in the wires. If the nylon sheathing is compromised in any way, the wires will immediately untwist and the cable will break at that point. The wire is stiff enough to be its own needle. You use crimp beads to secure the cable wire to a clasp assembly because it is more difficult to tie a secure knot with the cable wire. A crushed crimp adds a more pleasing appearance than tying a knot, but it adds risk. A crushed crimp is like razor blade, always trying to saw right through the cable when the jewelry is worn.

Structure: Piece will be stiff, and never take the shape of the body. Piece will typically rotate in the opposite direction from the movement of the body or arm it rests on.

Durability: Very durable. The nylon sheathing can be compromised easily from body oils, perfume oils, and cosmetics. Usually crimp beads are used to secure the clasp, and these increase the risk the cable will break at the crimp, when compared to the durability of tying a knot.

(5) Stretchy Cords, like elastic string,
gossamer floss, elastic cord:
These materials are not particularly durable and lose their elasticity over time. People like these because they hate clasps, and you don’t use clasps with these. You secure these by tying knots, and putting glue (any glue except superglue) on the knots. Be sure
to coat the bottom of the knot, as well as the top of the knot. Elastic
cord is fabric covered around an elastic thong or floss.

Structure: Piece will stretch and return back to its original shape and size.

Durability: Material deteriorates and loses both its integrity as well as its memory over time, especially if left exposed to the air, or worn frequently. The round elastic string is the most durable among the stretchy cords. The floss is the least durable.

(6) Thicker cords like leather, waxed
cotton, ultra suede lace, rubber thong, and rat tail (satin cord):
These cords are stiff enough to be their own needle. You usually need special jewelry findings, such as crimp ends, end caps, or cones with larger interior openings, to prepare the ends of the thicker cord, so that you can attach a clasp assembly. Some are glued on; some crimped.

Structure: Similar to bead cord, but little stiffer.

Durability: Some cords, like leather, dry out over time and crack. Other cords, like waxed cotton and ultra suede, last a very long time. The rat tail tends to shred.

(7) Hard Wire: Hard wire is not a stringing wire, per se. You can use it to make a chain or bead-chain. You can use it to make shapes, like clasps and ear wires. You can bundle it so that it might be stiff enough to retain the shape of a bracelet or cuff. You can weave it or knit it to create patterns and textures. You create loops and rings to attach hard wire to a clasp assembly.

Structure: Wire stiffness comes as dead soft, half hard and hard. You determine, given how much manipulation of the wire you plan on doing, how stiff you want the wire to be when you begin your project, so that it will hold and retain its shape. Each time you manipulate the wire, it becomes stiffer and stiffer and stiffer, until it becomes brittle and breaks.

Durability: Very durable. Wire 18 gauge or thicker has little risk of losing its shape, distorting, breaking, opening up or pulling apart. As you get thinner, the risk increases dramatically. Dead soft wire requires a lot more manipulation until it can hold its shape, than half hard or hard hard wire.

(8) Chain:Wire is bent into links of various shapes and sizes, and
these are interlinked together into a chain. Sometimes the links are soldered closed. Usually they are not. You can string things onto the chain. You can use the chain as part of the clasp assembly, often to make the size adjustable. You can use the chain as a design element throughout your piece.

Structure: Thinner chains will be less able to keep their shape.

Durability: Chains can be very durable, particularly ones that have soldered links, wider links, and/or links created from thicker gauge wires.

(9) Ribbon, fabric:These wider cords are sometimes used as a stringing
material. They are secured at each end with ribbon or bar clamps, which then form either side of your clasp assembly.

Structure: Usually, these don’t by themselves support a shape.

Durability: More aesthetic than functional

(10) Lacy’s Stiff Stuff, Stiff Felt, Ultra suede sheet, Paper, Card Board, Poster Board, Rolled Out Polymer or Metal Clay, Brass Cuff Blank:The canvas or stringing material does not have to be a narrow cord. It can be a wide, flat surface, off of which to bead, glue, stitch, embroider, carve, or sculpt. This type of canvas needs to have some amount of stiffness to hold a shape, but not too much that the jewelry made with it feels uncomfortable, or does not move naturally with the person.

Structure: If you were creating a pendant, you might want your
canvas o be a little stiffer than if you were creating a bracelet.

Durability: Average durability

(11) Fused Glass:Sometimes the flat canvas is a piece of
glass. Other pieces of glass are fused onto this, using a kiln, in order to create a pattern or image.

Structure: Rigid shape.

Durability: Same as any other piece of glass.

(12) Metal Sheet and Wire:Sometimes we fabricate a piece of
jewelry, either using soldering, stamping, molding, casting, 3-D printing, or cold connections. Part of the sheet and/or wire becomes our canvas or stringing material.

Structure: These are very reliable materials for creating and maintaining
shapes.

Durability: Soldered and stamped pieces are much more durable than molded or cast ones. 3-D printed materials would be used with casting. Cold connections could be used with any technique.

AESTHETIC MATERIALS

The canvas either passes through various aesthetic materials, or these are applied to the canvas or attached off the canvas in some way. These aesthetic materials are used for the yoke, the clasp assembly, the frame, the focal point, the center piece, the strap, and the bail.

Aesthetic Materials are expressive. They are part of the visual vocabulary and grammar of the jewelry. While some play functional roles, as well, they are usually selected for their expressive powers. Some materials evoke sensory or symbolic responses, as well. A touch, a feel, a color sense, sometimes a smell, which extends beyond its factual elements.

Any type of material can be selected to use as an aesthetic material. It can be something very specific, or a found object, or some kind of combobulation of things.

Aesthetic Materials we see often include,

Glass, Fused glass, lampwork glass, blown glass

Metals and Plated Metals

Fibers

Natural (gemstones, wood, bone, horn)

Synthetic (plastic)

Polymer and Precious Metal Clay

Ceramic, Porcelain, Clay, Raku

Paper, lacquered paper

Oxidizers, Patinas, Paints, Fabric Dyes and Paints, Stains, Metal Paints and Rouges

Platings, Coatings

Enameling

These aesthetic materials can be selected for their qualities of

(a) Appeal

(b) Functionality

c) Sensations or symbolism extending beyond the physical and decorative bases underlying these materials

Aesthetic Materials: Appeal

The idea of appeal is a broad concept. It is sometimes universal. But often subjective.

There are many variables underlying the ideas of appeal and beauty. These include things like,

–Clarity, translucence, opacity

–Hardness, brittleness, softness, suppleness

–Malleability

–Luminescence, brightness, reflectiveness, refraction

–Color, color combinations, intensity, value

–Weight, lightness, heaviness, volume, density

–Perceived value, worth, rarity

–Cut, faceting, smoothness, carving, sculpting

–Shapes

–Direction, pointer, focal points, markings, striations, inclusions

Aesthetic Materials: Functionality

Some materials function better than others in certain situations. For example, sterling silver is very malleable, nickel is more brittle. Bending, shaping, coiling, weaving sterling silver requires much less effort, and with this, can lead to more artistic and design success, than using nickel or other wire material that is stiffer and harder than sterling.

Another example: Using needle and thread as your stringing material is very time consuming. It is awkward using needle and thread. You have to wax it. You want to pass through each bead a minimum of three times. Using a cable wire, instead, lets you go much faster. The cable wire is a self needle. You don’t wax it. You only have to go through each bead once. If you are selling your pieces, it is virtually impossible to get your labor out of a needle and thread project. You almost have to use a cable wire, if you don’t want to commit yourself to a life of slave labor.

Aesthetic Materials: Sensations and Symbolism

Materials have sensory and symbolic powers which extend beyond the materials themselves. Obviously, this can be very subjective. It might have psychological roots, sociological roots and/or cultural roots.

Things may feel warm, cold, soft, rough, oily, weighty. Things may represent romance, power, membership, religiosity, status.

Vanderbilt University’s colors are gold and black, so using those colors in the Nashville, TN area might evoke a different emotional response than when used elsewhere. And here’s that very-difficult-to-design-with University of Tennessee orange, again, in the Nashville area will evoke a very different response than elsewhere.

Materials like amber and bone and crystal are things people like to touch, not just look at. The sensation extends beyond the visual grammar.

FUNCTIONAL MATERIALS

These materials are used in practical terms. They help things hold together. They help pieces stay in place. They help make pieces adjustable in size. They help polish, finish things off, assist materials through stages in their processing and development. They may be used to prevent or retard a change in color, such as a lacquer finish or rhodium plating over sterling to prevent tarnishing. They help capture a form or shape. They are not a part of the visual and expressive vocabulary and grammar of the piece. Nor are they any kind of canvas.

Functional Materials which are more prominent include,

·Adhesives

·Solders

·Pickling, Flux

·Molding compounds

·Bead release

·Fixatives (like Krylon, lacquering, special platings, waxes, other things which create a protective barrier over something else).

It is especially important to know a lot about adhesives. Many people reach for a tube of Superglue for everything. Superglue has few uses in jewelry design. This glue dries like glass, so the bond is like a piece of glass. When the jewelry moves, the bond shatters like glass, and the bond looks like a broken piece of glass. All jewelry moves when worn, so not a good choice.

Another glue many people reach for is hot glue. This glue melts at body temperature, so not a wise choice for necklaces, bracelets and pendants.

The best glue to use is jeweler’s glue. Two brands are E6000 and Beacon 527. Basically the same glue, but the former is thick and the latter is runny. These glues take 10 minutes to set, so you can move things around for 10 minutes. At about 20 minutes, the consistency is like rubber cement and you can use your finger or a tweezers to take off any excess glue. Both glues take 24 hours to dry hard. They dry clear and remain clear over time. The bond does not expand.

If using fabric, particularly silk (ribbon, bead cord, thread), you want to use a cement, rather than a glue. Glues work by forming a collar around an object, then tighten up as the water or other solvent evaporates. Cements work by adhering to each individual fiber. Glue on fabric, as opposed to cement, will lose its grip, so to speak. With silk, I suggest either G-S Hypo Fabric Cement, or any fabric glue.

Before using a glue, you want to know the characteristics of the bond, once dried. These include things like,

– hardness

– whether dries clear, or yellows

– whether yellows with age

– whether it expands or not when it dries

– what materials it is most useful for

– whether you have to prepare the material’s surface before using

– how long it takes to fully set

– how easy it is to wipe away and remove any excess glue

– whether where-ever you purchase the particular brand of glue, such as at a craft store or discount store or bead store, that this brand of glue is the same quality product

– how long the glue will last in its container before hardening or drying out

Besides the importance of knowing the types of materials, it is also important to know the properties of materials. These include (a) mechanical properties, (b) physical properties, and © chemical properties.

Mechanical Properties

Mechanical properties describe how a material reacts to an applied force. These include,

Strength: It’s ability not to break under stress or strain

Hardness: How easily it can be scratched, faceted, carved, sculpted, cut, sand blasted

Elasticity: The ability to regain its shape after a stress has been applied to it

Plasticity and Malleability: How much force it takes to make a material permanently deform without breaking

Stiffness and Brittleness: At some point, these materials will be so brittle, they will not bend, and will just break in response to force. Wire materials, for example, get stiffer and more brittle, the more they are worked, such as from twisting, pulling, hammering, coiling and the like. Crystal is much more brittle than glass, so it more likely to break from movement or other force.

Fatigue: When the material fails, after repeated wear and use

Impact Strength: how much a material can withstand an impact

Abrasion Resistance: When two materials rub against each other, what is the resistance before one or both break

Creep: the slow movement of a material over time

Physical Properties

Physical properties describe the inherent nature of the material. Some more important ones related to materials used in jewelry include:

Density: mass and volume

Porosity: the quality of being full of tiny holes;
these might hold in something, like a perfume oil, or that something might
easily leach out through washing or sweating, like a dye or lead

Water: absorption, permeability and solubility

Softening and Compression: how material holds up under different conditions

Resistance to Heat and Fire

Resistance to Cold

Resistance to a number of cycles of sharp temperature variations without failing

Changing form from solid to liquid to gas

Chemical Properties

Chemical properties refer to how well the material holds up when exposed to chemicals. These chemicals may be in the air. They may be present in cosmetics, perfumes or hair sprays. They may be present in a person’s sweat. These include,

-Corrosion

· Melting, Dissolving, Removing

·Etching

·Colorizing, Oxidizing, Patinas

· Platings

· Bonding, Adherring

· Biodegrading

We have looked at types of materials and their properties. Now we need to understand how materials help establish the viability, finish and success of jewelry. Here, our materials selection process begins to incorporate some value judgments.

Materials Help Establish
the Viability, Finish and Success of The Jewelry

Jewelry has character and personality. People intuitively or consciously recognize when it is finished, that is, when the addition or subtraction of any one design element would make the piece seem less satisfying or desirable. Jewelry is judged as successful, to the extent it can maintain its shape while concurrently feeling comfortable, and moving, draping and flowing with the person, as the person wears the jewelry and moves with it on.

Every piece of jewelry has its artistic and individual character due to the many facets from which it is constructed. Stringing, Aesthetic and Functional Materials are three of these facets. Mechanical, Physical and Chemical Properties add some additional facets. These among other additional material choices determine both what can be made, as well as the character of what is made.

Material selection in jewelry design is not only about choosing the most attractive, or most obvious, or most affordable, or most durable materials available. Designers also choose materials for their sensual sensations, like warmth, their formal appearance, like classical, their functional practicality, like a clamp, or their geo-locality, like using materials found locally.

The material selection process is complex. It is influenced by many preconditions, choices made, and considerations to accommodate. Too often, however, designers focus mainly on the visual aspects of the materials, and not enough on other factors. In order to make well-considered and smart choices about materials, jewelry designers need a lot more information. They need information about the entirety of the material, as created or constructed, as visually impactful, as functionally helpful, as perceptually and cognitively understood and as symbolically relevant for designer, wearer and viewer.

Stringing, Aesthetic, and sometimes, Functional Materials, coupled with their various Mechanical, Physical and Chemical properties, help to:

(1)Establish a relationship between visual quality and structural stability (physical properties, shape, silhouette)

(2)Establish a relationship between visual quality and support or jointedness (movement, drape and flow)

(3)Influence the selection of the appropriate technique

(4)Provide character and visual appeal

(5)Reflect the time, era, and socio-cultural context and historical value of the piece

(6)Mix aesthetic elements with functional ones

(7)Highlight a theme or concept expressed in the design

(8)Link the piece to a particular geography or location

(9)Link the piece to its appropriate placement on the body

(10) Determine the budget for the piece

(11) Establish the relationship between quantity and quality, that is, how many similar pieces can be made

(12) Best combine the materialistic qualities with the non-materialistic qualities of the project

(1) Establish a relationship between visual quality and structural stability (physical properties, shape, silhouette)

Jewelry making materials signify structural significance. This may relate to the physical properties of the materials, such as hardness, brittleness, softness, pliability, porousness, and this list can go on and on. This may relate to the shapes of the materials, and the placement and interaction of the shapes within the piece, or the final silhouette. The same may be said for size, weight and volume. This may relate to the stability of the material or its color or finish over time.

The choices and arrangement of materials within a piece of jewelry determines its structure. Structure means shape and material integrity. Shape in jewelry may refer to the silhouette of the piece as a whole, or to individual shapes which occupy one or more sections of our finished piece of jewelry. It may refer to the positioning of positive and negatives areas within the piece. When we refer to structure and shape and material, we imply structural integrity, and the degree we are able to maintain any shape, color or finish while the jewelry is worn over some period of time.

Example 1: We may create a bracelet using Austrian crystal beads strung on a beading thread. We achieve a high visual quality, at least initially. But these beads will cut through the threads when the bracelet is worn, thus ending with a very low structural stability.

Example 2: Sometimes a clam-shell bead tip is used to finish off each end of bead cord, when that is the stringing material. The bead cord, at its end, is tied into a knot, which sits inside the clam-shell, the cord coming out a hole in the bottom of the clam shell. We do not want the knot to work itself loose and slip through the hole. So we glue it. If we use a jeweler’s glue, like E6000 or Beacon 527, these glues dry like rubber. With these glues, the knot can actually contort and work itself through the hole. If we use a glue like Superglue or G-S Hypo Cement,
the knot will remain stiff and not be able to slip through the hole. However, the stiff knot reduces what is called support. It reduces the piece’s jointedness, or ability to respond to stress and strain, thus an ability to best move, drape and flow. An alternative to glue is to thread an 11/0 seed bead, passing through the bead twice, before bringing the cord through the hole. This is secure. No glue is used as all. Full support is preserved.

Example 3: How long a metal plated finish lasts depends partly on the metal underneath it, and if it bonds to that metal. Metal plating bonds well to brass, so it lasts a long time before it fades away. Metal plating does not bond at all to aluminum, so it quickly chips off.

(2)Establish a relationship between visual quality and support or jointedness (movement, drape and flow)

Jewelry making materials enhance or impede support or jointedness. The selection and placement of materials, their density, weight, shape, and the like may enable the jewelry to take the shape of the body and move with the body, or not.

Things strung on beading thread will always take the shape of the body and move with the body; things strung on cable wire will not. But the designer has at their disposal several jewelry design tricks in construction which will make the cable wire function closer to needle and thread.

Example 1: A bracelet made up of very large beads, that when encircling the wrist, create a very stiff circle, with much strain and stress on each bead, on the stringing material and on the clasp assembly. If the designer reworks the piece, to include small round spacer beads between each very large bead, the designer, in effect, has added what is called a rotator support system. Each very large bead can freely respond to stresses and strain which result from adjusting to the body and its movement by rotating and pivoting around the spacer bead.

Example 2: People usually pick a clasp after they have designed their piece. They look for something that will make do, perhaps easier to get on and off, and hopefully have some match to the piece. A clasp, however, should be understood as more than a clasp. It should be understood as a clasp assembly, which is a type of support system.
S-clasps are very attractive and a S-clasp design can always be found that feels an organic extension of the jewelry. An S-clasp needs a soldered ring off of each arm, and, if stringing on cable wire, a loop in the wire where it connects to the soldered ring. The crimp is never pushed all the way up to the clasp or ring. Each ring or loop is a support system, so our S-clasp needs 4 support systems in this case, to function correctly. With 4 supports on the S-clasp in a necklace, the clasp will always remain on the back of the neck, no matter how the person moves. Without 4 supports, it will not, and the necklace will keep turning around.

(3)Influence the selection of the appropriate technique

The designer must coordinate the selection of Stringing, Aesthetic and Functional Materials, and their inherent Mechanical, Physical and Chemical properties, so that they work in harmony with a particular technique used to assemble, weave, or otherwise secure them together in a finished piece of jewelry.

Conversely, the technique might dictate which materials will work best, and which will not. Bead weaving works with thread or cable thread, but not as easily with elastic string or cable wire.

There was a time when the materials used in any one piece were restricted to a few. Today any material can be used, as well as any combination of materials, without losing any appeal or value or desire.

Examples: A Czech glass bead with a hole size of .8mm would not slip a leather cord with a diameter of 1.5mm. It would be very difficult to create a loomed piece with beads of widely varying sizes. If mixing metals (say, silver, gold and brass) in a fabricated and soldered bracelet, care must be taken in the soldering strategy because each metal melts at a different temperature. You could not begin a wire weaving project using hard hard-wire. We may select cable wire for our canvas. This would not be a suitable stringing material if the technique we wanted to apply was bead weaving.

(4)Provide character and visual appeal

The surface of a material has many characteristics which the jewelry designer leverages within the finished piece. Light might reflect off this surface, such as with opaque glass or shiny metal. Light might be brought into and below the surface before reflected back, such as with many gemstones and opalescent glass. Light might refract through the piece at different angles, even creating a prism effect.

The surface might be a solid color. It might be a mix of colors. It might be matte. It may have inclusions or markings. It may have fired on coloration effects. There may be tonal differences. There may be pattern or textural differences. It may have movement. It may have depth.

Example: It is often difficult to mix gemstone beads with glass beads. However, if you use glass beads which have a translucent quality to them, this glass mimics the relationship of light reflecting
back to the eye with that of the gemstones. The finished piece will feel
harmonious.

(5)Reflect the time, era, and socio-cultural context and historical value of the piece

Jewelry and its design and materials used can be iconic.

Jewelry can relate the symbolic value of the piece to certain historical themes and ideas, or to specific functions.

Jewelry can be used to preserve, conserve or restore certain cultural or historical values. The material(s) selected may glorify these. Their availability may be closely tied to the time and place. Their use within a piece may be socially subscribed.

Our understanding of how jewelry relates to these contexts can be used to document how jewelry and its design has evolved and spread.

Name an historical period, and you can visualize many of the materials used and design sense. Roman. Victorian. Prehistoric. Modern.

Name a socio-cultural context. Religious. Wedding. Military. American Southwest. Any rite of passage.

Example 1: Pearl knotted jewelry is very strongly associated with silk bead cord, pearl clasps, and bead tips. It is also very associated with Victorian jewelry. It would be difficult to substitute other materials and pieces, such as a different kind of clasp, or not knotting between beads, without the piece losing its appeal.

Example 2: A rosary is made as a bead chain, with a certain number of beads, often a certain size and material of bead, with a Y-shaped connector at its center. The rosary assists the wearer
in prayer and religiosity. It’s specific design and use of materials
differentiates Catholicism from other religions.

(6)Mix aesthetic elements with functional ones

Jewelry is art only as it is worn. Its aesthetic elements must tightly coordinate with its functional ones, if the piece is to maintain its shape and silhouette, and move with the person, without distorting, feeling uncomfortable or breaking. Thus, its quality and durability are dependent upon how the designer successfully maneuvers the tradeoffs required between function and appeal. A good part of this success stems from how materials are selected, combined and arranged.

Jewelry and its design preserve the aesthetic qualities, without disrupting and losing focus of the practical ones.

Example: The clasp assembly on a piece of jewelry can be very organic, feeling an integral part of the piece. Or it can be very disruptive and annoying, as if it were a last choice and consideration, and the designer found a clasp that would make do. For an S-clasp to function appropriately, it needs at least one soldered ring off of the arm on each side
of the clasp. This will force the clasp assembly to take up more space and
volume in the piece. This too might end up detracting from the overall appeal of the piece.

(7)Highlight a theme or concept expressed in the design

Materials may be selected, combined and arranged into forms and themes so that they represent larger meanings and concepts. Often this comes down to color, shape, placement, and arrangement. The materials bring out the theme or concept in the design.

Example: You create a piece of jewelry with a blue color scheme, using 4 shades of blue. If the piece is to be worn, say, going clubbing in the evening, you might select 4 shades of blue (metallic blue iris, montana blue, blue quartz, cornflower) which vary in intensity. That means, varying how bright or dull they are by selecting tones with more or less underlying black, gray or white. If the piece is to be worn, say, at work during the day, you might select 4 shades of blue (cobalt, sapphire, light sapphire, ultralight sapphire) which vary in value. That means, varying how light or dark they are by selecting tones that are basically the same, but some
are lighter or darker than others.

(8)Link the piece to a particular geography or location

Materials may be strongly associated with a particular geography or location. Lapis is strongly associated with Afghanistan. Paint Rock with Tennessee.

Example: A necklace by a Tennessee designer made entirely with lampwork beads made by Tennessee artisans.

(9)Link the piece to its appropriate placement on the body

Jewelry can only be judged successful at the boundary between jewelry and the body. It must be able to conform to the body’s shape. It must be able to comfortably move, drape and flow as the person moves and shifts positions.

Materials selection might begin with what materials would be most appropriate for a given type of jewelry. Or it might begin with what materials would be most appropriate for a certain body shape or size or placement.

Example: Very heavy beads used in earrings can make them uncomfortable. Creating a 4” earring dangle on a 4” head pin is not quite as a good a strategy as making a 4” earring dangle chain using eye pins. Think about what happens to the former vs. the latter when the wearer bends her head, then returns to the upright position.

(10) Determine the budget for the piece

The total expenditure incurred while designing a piece of jewelry might be, to a large extent, determined by the materials used. A designer often selects the material type based on a budget for the project. [Techniques can also have a big impact on the cost, particularly when accounting for the time it takes to design and construct a piece of jewelry.]

Example: A necklace made entirely of lapis lazuli beads might retail for $150.00. A similar necklace made entirely of lapis color glass beads might retail for $25.00. Both would look similar and take the same time to make.

(11) Establish the relationship between quantity and quality, that is, how many similar pieces can be made

The choice of materials affects the quality of the elements. Within a given project budget, and within a particular design goal, the quality of the materials may limit the number of similar pieces to be made, or the complexity or elaborateness of the design of any one piece.

Example: A stretchy bracelet made with lava beads might retail for $15.00. The materials — elastic string, lava beads, glue — are readily available and inexpensive. The designer could easily make 50 of these to sell, and stay within a reasonable budget. Change the materials to cable wire, crimp bead, horseshoe wire protector, crimp cover, black onyx beads, toggle clasp, and the investment in parts is considerably more. We have more materials and more expensive materials. This bracelet might have to retail for $45.00. Staying within the same budget framework, the designer would only be able to make 16 of these.

(12)Best combine the materialistic qualities with the non-materialistic qualities of the project

Every material has two over-arching qualities. The obvious is its physical properties and physicality. Let’s call this materialistic. It is something that is measurable. In the realm of the mystic, it is ordinary or profane.

But the material also has qualities that extend beyond this. They can be sensory. They can be symbolic. They can be psychological. They can be contextual. Let’s call this non-materialistic. It is something that is non-measurable. In the realm of the mystic, it is extraordinary and sacred.

Both properties must be considered when designing a piece of jewelry. They have equal importance, when selecting, placing and arranging materials and design elements within a piece.

Example: Take a Chakra bracelet strung on cable wire with a clasp. The beads used are gemstones. Each gemstone has spiritual and healing properties. Each gemstone has a coloration, and each different coloration, too, is associated with certain spiritual and healing properties. Moreover, every individual has their own unique needs
for which set of gemstones and which assortment of colorations are best and most appropriate. This can get even more complicated in that each situation and context may have its own requirements. The person may end up needing several Chakra bracelets for different occasions. The designer could have used glass or acrylic beads, instead, which have less non-materialistic value, and might be less durable over time. The designer could have strung the beads on elastic string without using a clasp, again, less non-materialistic value and durability.

LESSONS LEARNED

Selecting materials involves a complicated set of choices, some tangible, some intangible, some personal, some in anticipation of the perceptions of others.

Some lessons learned…

1.You can use any material you want when designing jewelry

2.Material selection is a complicated decision making process

3.No material is perfect for every project

4.Don’t assume you know what you know

5.Be skeptical

6.Always ask questions

7.Select materials on both their aesthetic as well as functional properties

8.Don’t sacrifice functionality for aesthetics

9.Anticipate what might happen to your materials over time as the jewelry is worn

10.Anticipate how your various audiences will respond to your selections of materials

11.Work within a budget

12.Match the quality of material to your design (and marketing) goals

_______________________________

FOOTNOTES

(1) WASTIELS, Lisa and WOUTERS, Ine. Material Considerations in Architectural Design: A Study of the Aspects Identified by Architects for Selecting Materials. July, 2008.

As referenced in: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/511/1/fulltext.pdf

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

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

What Is Jewelry, Really?

The Jewelry Design Philosophy

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

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Becoming The Bead Artist and Jewelry Designer

5 Essential Questions Every Jewelry Designer Should Have An Answer For

Getting Started / Channeling Your Excitement

Getting Started / Developing Your Passion

Getting Started / Cultivating Your Practice

Becoming One With What Inspires You

Architectural Basics of Jewelry Design

Doubt / Self Doubt: Major Pitfalls For The Jewelry Designer

Techniques and Technologies: Knowing What To Do

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

Teaching Discplinary Literacy: Strategic Thinking In Jewelry Design

The Jewelry Designer’s Approach To Color

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

The Jewelry Designer’s Path To Resonance

Jewelry Design Principles: Composing, Constructing, Manipulating

Jewelry Design Composition: Playing With Building Blocks Called Design Elements

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by learntobead on April 21, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

INSPIRATION: Becoming One with What Inspires You

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Core Aspects of Inspiration

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

– Evocation

– Transcendence, and

– Approach motivation

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

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

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

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

Where Do You Find Inspirations?

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

1. Look Around You

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

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

3. Meet New People

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

4. Get Lost

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

5. Read or Watch Something New and Inspirational

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

6. Change Your Routine

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

7. Learn Something New

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

How Does Inspiration Relate To Design?

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

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

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

What Is Aspiration?

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

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

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

ASPIRATION: Translating Creativity into A Technical Product Design

Aspiration motivates the artist to actualize inspiration.

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

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

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

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

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

What Is The Relationship of Aspiration to Resonance?

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

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

Anticipating Shared Understandings

Shared understandings dictate opportunities, contingencies and constraints.

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

_________________________________________

FOOTNOTES

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

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

What Is Jewelry, Really?

The Jewelry Design Philosophy

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

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Becoming The Bead Artist and Jewelry Designer

5 Essential Questions Every Jewelry Designer Should Have An Answer For

Getting Started / Channeling Your Excitement

Getting Started / Developing Your Passion

Getting Started / Cultivating Your Practice

Becoming One With What Inspires You

Architectural Basics of Jewelry Design

Doubt / Self Doubt: Major Pitfalls For The Jewelry Designer

Techniques and Technologies: Knowing What To Do

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

Teaching Discplinary Literacy: Strategic Thinking In Jewelry Design

The Jewelry Designer’s Approach To Color

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

The Jewelry Designer’s Path To Resonance

Jewelry Design Principles: Composing, Constructing, Manipulating

Jewelry Design Composition: Playing With Building Blocks Called Design Elements

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

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

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

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

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

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

Add your name to my email list.

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

So You Want To Be A Jewelry Designer… Discipinary Literacy and Fluency in Design

Posted by learntobead on April 20, 2020

“Canyon Sunrise”, FELD, 2008

DISCIPLINARY LITERACY AND FLUENCY IN DESIGN
An Introduction To This Series of Articles

Abstract: Jewelry Design is an occupation in search of a profession. Long thought merely a craft, or a subset of art, painting and sculpture, we have begun to recognize that Jewelry Design is something more. Jewelry making encapsulates the designer’s anticipation, not only of aesthetic requirements, but also those of function and context, as well. Creating jewelry means understanding how to make strategic design choices at the boundary between jewelry and person. Translating inspirations and aspirations into designs and finished products requires an intuitive, integrative sensitivity to shared understandings brought to the design situation by the artist and all the audiences ultimately invested in the product. 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. For the jewelry designer, there is a defined set of concepts and principles which revolve around this disciplinary literacy — the professional way of thinking through design, production, communication and critique — and how to be proficient at this. This is what this series of articles is all about.

DISCIPLINARY LITERACY AND FLUENCY IN DESIGN
 
 
Jeremy thought that the only thing he could do in life was design jewelry. He loved it. So it was not a question of “if” or “when” or “how”. But he told me it was always important not to get tricked by fashion. It was mandatory not to seek the trendy object. Not to turn away from that odd thing. And to pay very close attention to the details of how jewelry designers think, act, speak and reflect.

I thought about his advice a lot over the years of my own career as a jewelry designer. The disciplined designer needs to be attuned to the discipline way of seeing the world, understanding it, responding to it, and asserting that creative spark within it.

Yet jewelry design does not yet exist as an established discipline. It is claimed by art. It is claimed by craft. It is claimed by design. And each of these more established disciplines offer conflicting advice about what is expected of the designer. How should she think? How should she organize her tasks? How should she tap into her creative self? How should she select materials, techniques and technologies? How should she assert her creativity and introduce her ideas and objects to others? How much does she need to know about how and why people wear and inhabit jewelry? What impact should she strive to have on others or the more general culture and society as a whole?

In this book series, I try to formulate a disciplinary literacy unique and special and legitimate for jewelry designers. Such literacy encompasses a basic vocabulary about materials, techniques, color and other design elements and rules of composition. It also includes the kinds of thinking routines and strategies jewelry designers need to know in order to be fluent, flexible and original. These routines and strategies are at the heart of the designer’s knowledges, skills and understandings related to creativity, elaboration, embellishment, reflection, critique and metacognition.

At the heart of this disciplinary literacy are the strategies designers use to think through and make choices which optimize aesthetics and functionality within a specific context. These enable the designer to create something out of nothing, to translate inspiration into aspiration, and to influence content and meaning in context.

There are four sets of routines and strategies which designers employ to determine how to create, what to create, how to know a piece is finished and how to know a piece is successful. These are,

(1) Decoding

(2) Composing, Constructing and Manipulating

(3) Expressing Intent and Content

(4) Expressing Intent and Content within a Context

You don’t become a jewelry designer to be something.

You become a jewelry designer to do something.

The question becomes: How do you learn to do something?

How do you learn to be fluent, flexible and original in design? And develop an automaticity? And self-direction?

We call this ‘literacy’. For the jewelry designer, literacy means developing the abilities to think like a designer. These include,

o Reading a piece of jewelry. Here you the designer are able to break down and decode a piece of jewelry into its essential graphical and design elements. This aspect of fluency and literacy is very descriptive.

o Writing a piece of jewelry. Here you the designer are able to identify, create or change the arrangement of these design elements within a composition. Fluency and literacy are very analytical.

o Expressing a piece of jewelry. Here you the designer use the design elements and principles underlying any arrangement to convey content and meaning. Fluency and literacy are very interpretive.

o Expressing a piece of jewelry in context. Here you the designer are able to anticipate, reflect upon and incorporate into your own thinking the understandings and reactions of various client groups to the piece, the degree they desire and value the piece, and whether they see the piece as finished and successful. The designer comfortably moves back and forth between the objective and subjective, and the universal and the specific. The designer analyzes contextual variables, particularly the shared understandings as these relate to desire, and in line with that, thus determining value and worth. Fluency and literacy are very judgmental.

Everyone knows that anyone can put beads and other pieces together on a string and make a necklace. But can anyone make a necklace that draws attention? That evokes some kind of emotional response? That resonates with someone where they say, not merely “I like that”, but, more importantly, say “I want to wear that!” or “I want to buy that!”? Which wears well, drapes well, moves well as the person wearing it moves? Which is durable, supportive and keeps its silhouette and shape? Which doesn’t feel underdone or over done? Which is appropriate for a given context, situation, culture or society?

True, anyone can put beads on a string. But that does not make them artists or designers. From artists and designers, we expect jewelry which is something more. More than parts. More than an assemblage of colors, shapes, lines, points and other design elements. More than simple arrangements of lights and darks, rounds and squares, longs and shorts, negative and positive spaces. We expect to see the artist’s hand. We expect the jewelry to be impactful for the wearer. We expect both wearer and viewer, and seller and buyer, to share expectations for what makes the jewelry finished and successful.

Jewelry design is an occupation in the process of professionalization. That means, when the designer seeks answers to things like what goes together well, or what would happen if, or what would things be like if I had made different choices, the designer still has to rely on contradictory advice and answers. Should s/he follow the Craft Approach? Or rely on Art Tradition? Or take cues from the Design Perspective? Each larger paradigm, so to speak, would take the designer in different directions. This can be confusing. Frustrating. Unsettling.

As a whole, the profession has become strong in identifying things which go together well. There are color schemes, and proven ideas about shapes, and balance, and distribution, and proportions. But when we try to factor in the individualistic characteristics associated with the designer and his or her intent, things get muddied. And when we try to anticipate the subjective reactions of all our audiences, as we introduce our creative products into the creative marketplace, things get more muddied still. What should govern our judgments about success and failure, right and wrong? What should guide us? What can we look to for helping us answer the what would happen if or what would things be like if questions?

ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS ABOUT JEWELRY DESIGN WORTH ANSWERING

As you work your way through the articles in this series, it is important to recognize and understand the larger social and professional contexts within which jewelry design is but a part, and your place in it. Towards this end, I have formulated some essential questions every designer needs to have answers for and have deeper understandings about.

(1) Why are there disciplinary conflicts between art and craft, and between art and design?

(2) How do you resolve tensions between aesthetics and functionality within an object like jewelry?

(3) What is jewelry, and what is it for?

(4) Is jewelry necessary?

(5) What does it mean to be successful as a jewelry artist working today?

(6) What does it mean to think like a jewelry designer? How does this differ from thinking like an artist or thinking like a craftsperson?

(7) How does the jewelry designer know when a piece is finished and successful?

(8) How do you place a value on a piece of jewelry?

(9) Why does some jewelry draw your attention, and others do not?

(10) What does it mean to be a contemporary jewelry designer?

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

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

What Is Jewelry, Really?

The Jewelry Design Philosophy

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

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Becoming The Bead Artist and Jewelry Designer

5 Essential Questions Every Jewelry Designer Should Have An Answer For

Getting Started / Channeling Your Excitement

Getting Started / Developing Your Passion

Getting Started / Cultivating Your Practice

Becoming One With What Inspires You

Architectural Basics of Jewelry Design

Doubt / Self Doubt: Major Pitfalls For The Jewelry Designer

Techniques and Technologies: Knowing What To Do

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

Teaching Discplinary Literacy: Strategic Thinking In Jewelry Design

The Jewelry Designer’s Approach To Color

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

The Jewelry Designer’s Path To Resonance

Jewelry Design Principles: Composing, Constructing, Manipulating

Jewelry Design Composition: Playing With Building Blocks Called Design Elements

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

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

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

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

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

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

Add your name to my email list.

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

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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Jewelry Design Principles: Composing, Constructing, Manipulating

Posted by learntobead on April 24, 2018

JEWELRY DESIGN PRINCIPLES:

COMPOSING, CONSTRUCTING, MANIPULATING

by Warren Feld, Designer

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Abstract:

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

JEWELRY DESIGN PRINCIPLES:

COMPOSING, CONSTRUCTING, MANIPULATING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1) Vocabulary: Design Elements As The Basis Of Composition

2) Grammar:  Principles of Composition, Construction and Manipulation

3) Strategy:  Project Management[2]

4) Context/Culture:  Shared Understandings[3]

This article focuses on the second component – Principles.

What Are Principles of Composition, Construction and Manipulation?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These organizing and arranging schemes might include:

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

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

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

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

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

The Principles include,

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

TABLE OF PRINCIPLES

Principles of Composition, Construction, and Manipulation

(Organizing Schemes)

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

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

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

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

Repetition

Pattern

Random

Regular

Alternating

Flowing

Progressive

Vertical, Horizontal, Diagonal, Overlapping, Piercing

Placement

  1. Pointers
    e48219c2-5b33-448b-a8dc-bfb5220297b2.png
Pointers are places of emphasis, dominance or focus.    Certain elements assume more importance than others within the same composition. Isolating

Directional

Contrast

Anomaly

Leading

Convergence

Size, Weight, Color Gradient

Framing

Focusing and Depth

Absence

Implied

  1. Linear and Planar Relationships

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

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

Orienting and Directional

Straight or Curved

2-D or 3D

Violating, Crossing or Intersecting, Interpenetrating

Parallel or Aligned

Perpendicular

Angular or Diagonal

Vector

Fixed, Directional,  Infinite, or Disappearing

Continuous, Broken or Perforated

Radial

At Edges or Within; Framed or Bound

Thin or Thick

Textured or Smooth

Opaque or Transparent

Moving, Rotating, Spinning, Darting, Flashing

Silhouette

  1. Interest

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

 

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

Give person an experience

Vibrance, Intensity

Unexpected use or positioning

Surprise

Sense of strength or fragility

Symbolic meaning

Perspective

Inspirational

Pattern

Clash

Juxtaposition

Simultaneity effects

  1. Statistical Distribution

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

 

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

Randomness

Color proportions

Scale

Measurements

Numbers of

  1. Balance

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

 

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

Symmetry or Asymmetry

Pattern or No Pattern

Regular or Irregular

Equalizing visual forces

Scale

Permanent, Illusory, Contingent

Placement, Alignment, Proximity, Repetition

Radial

Identical or Similar

  1. Forms, Their Proportions, Distributions, and

    Dimensionality

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

 

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

Evolving

Variety

Segmentation

2-D or 3-D

Realistic or Abstract

Geometric or Organic

Complete or Incomplete

Layering, Overlapping

Fringing, Surface Embellishment

Continuity

Coordinating

Clashing, Off-putting

  1. Temporal Extension: Time and Place

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

 

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

Materials Expectation

Techniques/Technology Expectation

Referents, Inscriptions, Images

Symbolism

Themes

Rule-bound or not

Revival style or Contemporized Traditional style

Appropriateness/Relevance to situation or context

Coordination with situation or context

  1. Physical Extension: Functionality

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

 

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

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

Length, Fit

Adjustability

Choices of stringing material or assembly strategy

Clasp Assembly (how piece attached to clasp)

Strap, Bail, Pendant, Fringe, Embellishment

Stiffness, Looseness, Bending, Conforming

Inclusion of technology

Structural Integrity

Application of architectural principles of construction

Physical mechanics

Weight-bearing

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

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

 

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

Goodness of fit

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

An economy in the use of resources

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

THE PRINCIPLES IN MORE DETAIL

1.   Rhythm

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

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

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

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

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

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

Example:

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

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

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

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2.  Pointers

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

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

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

Examples:

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

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

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3.  Linear and Planar Relationships

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

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

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

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

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

– a strategic use of lines and planes

— shapes

— boundaries

– -silhouettes

— contours

– symmetry

– or, more difficult to achieve, a satisfying asymmetry

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

– how sections of the piece interlock

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

Example:

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

Example:

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

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

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

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

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

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

– selection of color combinations

– varying the sizes of things

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

– playing with the rhythm

– clever use of a focal point

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

5.  Statistical Distribution

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

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

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

Examples:

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

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

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

6.   Balance

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

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

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

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

There are different types of balance.

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

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

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

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

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

7.  Forms, Their Proportions, Distributions and Dimensionality

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

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

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

The artist might play with things like:
Layering

Surface embellishment

Fringing

Curvature

Overlapping planes

Balance

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

Example:

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

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

8.   Temporal Extension: Time and Place

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

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

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

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

Other examples:

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

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

9.   Physical Extension: Functionality

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

Any piece of jewelry must be functional when worn.

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

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

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

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

Example:   The crimped bracelet which breaks at the crimp.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– over-embellish the surface

– add too much fringe

– repeat themes and design elements too often

– use too many colors

Parsimony vs. Unity

In art, the traditional measure of completion and success was a feeling or sense of “Unity.”   Unity signified how everything felt all right.   All the Design Elements used, and how they were coordinated and placed, were very coherent, clear, harmonious and satisfying.

I think the idea of unity begins to get at the place we want to end up.   But this concept is not concrete enough for me.    You can have unity, but the piece still seen as boring when there is no variety.   This condition is unacceptable as a principled outcome of jewelry construction.    Finished and successful jewelry should evoke emotions and resonate.    You can have unity, but the assessments rely too much on universal, objective perceptions of design elements and their attributes.   The artist, the wearer, and the situation are too easily left out of the equation.

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

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

Parsimony…

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

– relies on evidence moreso than assumptions to get at criticality

– focuses examination of the few elements that make a difference

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THINKING ROUTINE[4]:   LOOK – SCORE – EXPLAIN

LOOK:

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

Warren Feld, 2001.

Materials and Description:

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

 

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

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

S-clasp in back.

KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

(see key at bottom of table for list)

  1. COLOR

 

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

 

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

1a. Some Tonal quality and finish

1b. Split Complementary color scheme

1c. Gradation dark to light

2a. Symmetry

3a. Same size druk rondelles

4a. Strong lines core design feature

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

5a. Mixing glass, metal and gemstone

6a. Center stones allowed to spin on tubes

7a. Layering of center stones

8a. Unexpected connection of strap to centerpiece

SCORE:

SCORE CARD ON PRINCIPLES:

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

EXPLAIN:

RHYTHM:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

One smooth flow from clasp to centerpiece down straps

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

BALANCE AND DISTRIBUTION

POINTERS

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

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

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

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

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

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

POINTERS:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

Overlapping stones in centerpiece

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

POINT/LINE/PLANE

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

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

Strengthen: better color coordination between center piece and straps

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

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

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

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

LINEAR/PLANAR RELATIONSHIPS:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

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

 

Overlapping planes in centerpiece

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

POINT/LINE/PLANE

STRUCTURE/SUPPORT

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

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

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

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

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

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

INTEREST:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

Overlapping stones in centerpiece

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

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

POINT/LINE/PLANE

MATERIAL

MOVEMENT

STRUCTURE/SUPPORT

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

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

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

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

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

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

STATISTICAL DISTRIBUTION:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

One shape and size of bead in the 3 straps.

Single color within each strand.

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

SHAPE

COLOR

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

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

Weaken: vary shape or add more colors

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

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

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

BALANCE:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

Single color in each strand

Symmetry

Repeated same length in each strand

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

BALANCE/DISTRIBUTION

POINT/LINE/PLANE

FORM/SEGMENTS/COMPONENTS

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

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

Weaken:  Make piece unbalanced, or asymmetrical

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

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

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

FORMS:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

Clear forms:

– 3 strands, one of each color

– clear sense of right side and left side and center

– segmented centerpiece

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

FORM/SEGMENTS/COMPONENTS

COLOR

BALANCE/DISTRIBUTION

POINTER

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

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

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

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

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

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

TEMPORAL EXTENSION:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

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

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

FORMS/SEGMENTS/COMPONENTS

COLOR

BALANCE/DISTRIBUTION

BEAUTY/APPEAL

CONTEXT/SITUATION/CULTURE

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN THIS….

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

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

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

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

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

PHYSICAL EXTENSION:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

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

 

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

 

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

STRUCTURE/SUPPORT

TECHNIQUE/TECHNOLOGY

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

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

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

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

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

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

PARSIMONY:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

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

 

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

SHAPE

COLOR

POINT/LINE/PLANE

MOVEMENT

FORMS/SEGMENTS/COMPONENTS

BALANCE/DISTRIBUTION

MATERIAL

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

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

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

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

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

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

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

 

 

LOOK:

THE BLUE WATERFALL NECKLACE

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

Warren Feld, 2001.

Materials and Description:

Mix of glass, crystal, and sterling silver beads.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The sterling silver tubes are all curved.

 

There is no focal point per se.

 

The clasp is an adjustable hook and eye choker clasp.

KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

(see key at bottom of table for list)

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

 

  1. STRUCTURE / SUPPORT

 

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

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

2a. Simultaneity effects

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

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

4b. Curved lines distort the linearity

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

6a. Curved tubes key element

6b. Bead of different shapes

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

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

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

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

SCORE:

SCORE CARD ON PRINCIPLES:

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

EXPLAIN:

RHYTHM:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

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

 

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

 

Staggered alignment of forms.

 

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

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

FORM, SEGMENTS, COMPONENTS

BALANCE, DISTRIBUTION

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

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

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

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

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

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

POINTERS:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

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

 

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

POINT, LINE, PLANE

BALANCE, DISTRIBUTION

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

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

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

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

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

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

LINEAR/PLANAR RELATIONSHIPS:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

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

 

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

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

POINT, LINE, PLANE

FORMS, SEGMENTS, COMPONENTS

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

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

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

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

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

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

INTEREST:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

Piece evokes feeling of a waterfall. 

 

Piece feels finished and successful.

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

COLOR BLENDING

FORM, SEGMENTS, COMPONENTS

SHAPE

TEXTURE, PATTERN

BALANCE, DISTRIBUTION

LIGHT, SHADOW

DIMENSIONALITY

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

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

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

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

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

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

STATISTICAL DISTRIBUTION:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

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

 

Numbers of clusters and numbers of sterling silver curved tubes.

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

POINT, LINE, PLANE

BALANCE, DISTRIBUTION

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

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

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

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

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

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

BALANCE:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

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

 

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

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

BALANCE, DISTRIBUTION

FORM, SEGMENTS, COMPONENTS

POINT, LINE, PLANE

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

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

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

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

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

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

FORMS:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

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

 

Forms vary in length and makeup.

 

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

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

POINT, LINE, PLANE

FORM, SEGMENTS, COMPONENTS

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

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

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

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

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

Could not get curved tubes, have to rethink design.

TEMPORAL EXTENSION:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

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

 

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

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

REFERENTS

POINT, LINE, PLANE

FORM, SEGMENTS, COMPONENTS

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN THIS….

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

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

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

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

Could not get curved tubes, have to rethink design.

PHYSICAL EXTENSION:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

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

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

TECHNIQUE/TECHNOLOGY

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

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

Weaken: use of fixed clasp

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

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

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

PARSIMONY:

 

How you see this playing out in this piece:

 

Piece is neither too short or too long.

 

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

ESTABLISHED BY KEY DESIGN ELEMENTS:

FORM, SEGMENT, COMPONENTS

POINT, LINE, PLANE

BALANCE, DISTRIBUTION

COLOR BLENDING

POINTER

WHAT DESIGN CHOICES MIGHT WEAKEN OR STRENGTHEN THIS….

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

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

WHAT IF CONTINGENCIES…

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Posted by learntobead on February 15, 2018

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Should the label be applied to all this variation?

Could it?

Why would we want it to?

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

What is contemporary jewelry?

“Contemporary” Is A Specific Approach For Thinking Through Design

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Think of all that power!

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

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

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

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

1. Work within our shared understandings about contemporary jewelry.

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

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

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

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

Shared Understandings[3]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These are,

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

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

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

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

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

3. Jewelry should evoke emotions.

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

4. Jewelry should connect people with culture.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The designer needs answers to several questions at this point.

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

How well have they anticipated these criteria of evaluation?

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

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

_________________________________________________________


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

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

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

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

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

_________________________________________________________

FOOTNOTES

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

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

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

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

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