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Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

The Nature-Inspired Creations of Kathleen

Posted by learntobead on May 30, 2020

Poke Berry Lariat, by Kathleen Lynam


Kathleen was one of our bead-weaving instructors at the shop. Her primary sources of inspiration came from nature. I wrote this marketing intro for her jewelry making business she did on the side:

Intuitive. Inspired by Nature and the world around me. Translating feelings and senses and vague images into beautiful jewelry, wonderful beadwork, exciting wearable pieces of art. Beyond following step by step. We’re on the edge and we’re high strung about it.

Kathleen wrote:

Nature inspires all great art, including bead weaving.

Flowers, leaves, vines, and butterflies, (to name a few), are fairly common examples of attempts by bead weavers to transform nature into beadwork. Some are spectacular, like Diane Fitzgerald’s “Ginkgo Leaves.”

Along with other design elements, the color of your beads and the size of your beads and the materials of your beads play major roles in how successful your piece turns out. I have told my students that a solid foundation in the stitches, like we teach at our Stitch of the Month at The Center For Beadwork and Jewelry Arts / Be Dazzled Beads, will allow them the freedom to choose the best stitch for the project. This is particularly true when designing your own piece.

The following is an example of how I was inspired by nature and the resulting Poke Berry Lariat piece.

During a walk one day, I saw some poke weeds. I had so much fun playing with these when I was a child — I love making ink out of the berries! So I went over for a closer look.

Beading is always on my mind, as I examined the stem and berries. It could be done! At least, I could try and re-create this glorious work of nature using beads. I broke off the stem (a bright magenta) and the berries (both purple and green). I took the stem and berries to the bead shop to match up the colors.

The berries
The stem of the poke plant

The shape of the berries resembled some freshwater pearls. Again I used the actual berries (purple and bright green) to match up the colors with the pearls.

I already had certain stitches in mind. I decided to make this a lariat necklace. Bead crochet was my obvious stitch of choice for the vine-like rope. I decided to use size 8/0 seed beads for the crochet rope to provide strength and a balance to the berry clusters that I would add on to the rope.

For the berry clusters, Ndebele would have strength, provide movement and mimic the way the real clusters are attached to the vine. Using the same magenta color as the crocheted rope, I switched to size 11/0 Japanese seed beads.

The tubular Ndebele stitch was easy to begin right off the crochet rope — both from the ends and a berry cluster about 4 inches from one end. From this Ndebele base, the last stitch, fringe, was used to attach the pearls.

To represent the ripening of the berries, I used a combination of green and purple pearls on 2 of the berry clusters. I decided not to add any leaves. My “Poke Berry” necklace was ready to be worn.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry: What Works!

What Glue Should I Use When Making Jewelry?

Why Am I So Addicted To Beads?

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

The Martha Stewart Beaded Wreath Project

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

The Use of Armature In Jewelry: Legitimate or Not?

Pearl Knotting Warren’s Way

Organizing Your Craft Workspace…Some Smart Pointers

You Don’t Choose Clasps, You Choose Clasp Assemblies

Know Your Anatomy Of A Necklace

Mini Lesson: Making Stretchy Bracelets

Mini Lesson: Making Adjustable Slip Knots With Thicker Cords

Mini Lesson: How To Crimp

Mini Lesson: Attaching End Caps, Cones, Crimp Ends

Mini Lesson: Brick Stitch

Mini Lesson: Flat Even Count Peyote

Mini Lesson: Ndebele Stitch

Mini Lesson: Petersburg Chain

Mini Lesson: Right Angle Weave

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Everyone Has A Getting Started StoryThe Nature-Inspired Creations of Kathleen

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Glass Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Lampwork Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Crystal Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Seed and Cylinder Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Choosing and Using Clasps

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

Add your name to my email list.

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

Posted by learntobead on April 21, 2020

“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.



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 »


Posted by learntobead on February 11, 2019


Transitioning From Conformity To Individuality

by Warren Feld, Jewelry Designer


Etruscan Collar and Inspired Contemporary Pieces


Many people, jewelry designers among them, draw inspirations from traditional jewelry styles.   The common inspirational thread here is a feeling of connectedness, coupled with a desire to feel connected.   But the core issue for jewelry designers today, striving to achieve jewelry which is more contemporary than merely a replay or reworking of traditional preferences and styles, is how to contemporize it.      That is, how to construct ideas into objects, challenge history and culture, produce that which is in opposition to standardization and monotony.    Contemporizing Traditional Jewelry has to do with how designers take these particular traditional forms and techniques, and both add in their personal style, as well as make them more relevant to today’s sense of fashion, style and individuality or personal expression. The challenge for the designer, when contemporizing traditional jewelry, is how to marry personal artistic intent with traditional ideas, keeping the jewelry design essential and alive for today’s audience.


Transitioning From Conformity To Individuality

Many people, jewelry designers among them, draw inspirations from traditional jewelry styles.   These styles could be ancient, like those of Egypt, Peru, Persia, India and China.    These styles could be more recent, like those of Art Deco, Art Nouveau, and Modern.    These styles could be primitive, like those of tribal cultures in the rain forests of Brazil or the savannas of Africa or the Native American traditions in North, Central and South America.

The common inspirational thread here is a feeling of connectedness, coupled with a desire to feel connected.    These styles strongly reflect particular premises, cultures, moralities, characters, and perspectives.    People not only identify and connect with these, but use these style traits – almost ideologies – to explain and position themselves within the larger social contexts in which they find themselves.

Traditions represent reasons.    Reasons justify everyday life.   These reasons are the conditions and shared understandings necessary to regulate ideas, to generate opportunities for success, and to minimize the risk that comes from making choices about what to do next.    Traditions justify thought and action, and because many people share these traditional understandings, living life becomes safer, easier, clearer.    Traditions help people to understand each other and predict their behaviors.  Traditions are often expressed within the designs of jewelry.

Jewelry, then, often signifies certain traditions through imitation or reference, and when mirroring them, reaffirms the wearer’s thoughts, actions, self-identity, and self-reflection.   Jewelry design which recognizes tradition feels more understandable.   It feels safer and less risky to say out loud that it is beautiful, knowing that others will think so, too.   It is no wonder that many jewelers resort to traditional forms and themes of expression, traditional techniques, traditional materials, traditional uses of color, texture, pattern, point, line, plane and shape.    It feels like a short-cut to success.

But the issue for jewelry designers today, striving to achieve jewelry which is more contemporary than merely a replay or reworking of traditional preferences and styles, is how to contemporize it.      That is, how to construct ideas into objects, challenge history and culture, produce that which is in opposition to standardization and monotony.    Contemporizing Traditional Jewelry makes sense because this mirrors how most people live their lives today.   They adhere less rigidly to societal and cultural norms, and moreso create their own.  Jewelry, and its identify-reconfirming role it plays for the wearer, should reflect this.

The contemporary jewelry designer who wants to incorporate traditional elements or styles in some way, must come to grips with…

  1. How Traditional jewelry differs from Contemporary Jewelry
  2. Why so many people draw inspirations and connectedness to traditional styles
  3. How literal the designer should be when contemporizing a traditional piece


Contemporizing Traditional Jewelry

Contemporizing Traditional Jewelry has to do with how you take these particular traditional forms and techniques, and add both your personal style to the pieces, as well as make them more relevant to today’s sense of fashion, style and individuality or personal expression. The challenge for the designer, when contemporizing traditional jewelry, is how to marry personal artistic intent with traditional ideas, keeping the jewelry design essential and alive for today’s audience.

This may be trickier than it might first appear. To what degree should you reference the traditional design elements in your contemporary piece? Just the colors? The colors and the pattern? The materials?  The stitching, stringing or other techniques? The structural components, as well? How do you break down the traditional piece, in order to better understand it? And how do you use this understanding to figure out how and what you should manipulate, as you design and construct your contemporary piece?

If you walked into a Museum of Contemporary Art, you would find some things that were abstract, but other things that were realistic or impressionistic or surrealistic. You would find a lot of individualized expression – works associated with a particular artist, rather than a particular culture. You would find a wide use of modern materials and techniques and technologies. You would find unusual or especially noteworthy assemblages of pieces or materials or colors or textures. You would find pieces that in some way reflect modern culture and sensibilities – fashions, styles, purposes, statements. The exhibits would change on a regular basis, and you would also find something new and different to experience and marvel at each time.

Traditional Art, on the other hand, suppressed individualized expression. Instead, whatever the art form, traditional art emphasized a restatement of its cultural narrative. That is, artists, working within that cultural tradition, would use similar materials, similar designs, and similar motifs. The artwork was a symbolic representation of that culture’s values and self-image. The “doing of the artwork” was a reaffirmation of one’s place within that culture. Simply, if you did the same kinds of things in the same kinds of ways as everyone else, this reaffirmed your membership within that group and culture. And if you visited a Museum of Traditional Art, there would be many displays of wonderful, sometimes elaborate, pieces, but the exhibits would never have to change.

Approaches To Contemporizing Traditional Jewelry

There are many approaches jewelry designers use to contemporize traditional jewelry.   Some approaches rely on mimicking traditional visual styles, techniques and materials.   Some approaches rely on modifications.   Still others seek to reinterpret traditional elements or introduce new elements into traditional designs.    And yet other approaches attempt to create a completely different aesthetic starting from some traditional core.

I want to develop a very narrow, legitimate lane for what should be called “Contemporized”.   I want to differentiate the thinking and practice that underlies Contemporizing, from other things artists do when addressing traditional design in contemporary pieces.

The way these different approaches get defined in the literature can get very muddied, so I want to begin with some simple categorization before elaborating more on ideas about contemporizing traditional jewelry.    It is important to know how literal the artist should be.    It is equally as important to know how much of the artist’s hand should be reflected in the new piece.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL Preserving the style and techniques of historic artisans, characterized by attention to duplicating and mimicking period styles, craftsmanship, and materials. All about what existed then, and what should be preserved. No risk
HISTORICISM Imitating or recreating the work of historic artisans, characterized by attention to accurate period detail and thinking.  Very literal.   If new elements are added, these do not compete with or overshadow the historic vernacular. Primarily about what was relevant then, and what should be imitated or copied now. Very little risk
REVIVAL (sometimes referred to as CLASSICAL) Begins with an existential or sentimental romanticism of feelings about lifestyles, beliefs, imagery, symbols, cultures strongly associated with a particular historic group, society or period.    Characterized by use of traditional themes, materials and styles based on inspirations from the past.   Mostly literal with opportunities for reinterpretation and expression. Often emphasizes some contrast between antiquity and modernity, industrial and hand-crafted, power now vs. power then, then and now. Some risk, but does not create a barrier or roadblock to design
DECONSTRUCTIVE Here the artist begins with traditional pieces, components and materials, and breaks them up to form new pieces, components and materials.   The new piece results from the parts of the old piece, but that is the only connection.   Nothing is literal; everything is reinterpreted. Emphasizes the now, not much of the then. High risk
CONTEMPORIZED The artist imbues the design with inspirations from a rich cultural past, but creates a piece that has the sense it belongs in contemporary time.   Characterized by how tradition is leveraged to conceive new ideas and forms. Emphasizes the now, sometimes with reference to the then, but not really a matter of differentiating now from then. Considerable risk, where artist substitutes his/her ideas and values for those extending from various traditions.


Archaeological Approach


Zoe Davidson recreated this Pictish Necklace (circa 600 AD) using original techniques and materials


The Archaeological Approach seeks to replicate and preserve the original ways of making jewelry and the original materials used to make them.   The goal is to bring to life how things were thought about and constructed back then for a new contemporary audience.    New techniques, technologies and materials are not introduced.   There is a purity of belief in the traditional craftsmanship, norms and values reflected in these pieces of jewelry.

Often the Archaeological Approach requires years of detective work.   There is a sense of urgency to rescue the past before it decays or fades away.

There is an accompanying assumption that this is what people who make and wear jewelry want to see happen today.    This assumption seems to bear out because so many people express some kind of connectedness to these pieces and how they were originally crafted.    They draw a line from the past to the present, and the clearer and cleaner that line is, the more legitimate the present seems to be.



Castellani Jewelry Company, Italian, circa 1927, reproduction of Roman piece to commemorate historic occasion


Historicism seeks to recreate or imitate the work of artisans in past periods of time, culture and society.    There is great attention to accuracy of period detail.     They might use new materials or modern equipment and technique, but these should never replace or overshadow the historic visual vernacular and grammar.

Historicism may draw parallels between the then and the now, but these are not sentimentalized or romanticized, as in Revival or Classicism approaches.    In Historicism, the emphasis is on thoughts and reasons.   History is presented as an analogy between then and now.   It creates a logical linkage.  Characteristics are specific and shared.  (This is in contrast to Revival or Classicism, where the emphasis is on feeling).   In Historicism, the past is presented as metaphor for now.   As it was then, so it is now.   It creates a meaningful, felt linkage.   Characteristics are not necessarily literal, but are to be interpreted and experienced.   Again, in contrast to Historicism, Revival styles (discussed below) more easily and powerfully evoke emotions, which is one of the primary goals of artists.

Revival or Classicism

Isadoras, Etruscan Earrings, 2015, created with the look and flourishes of gold, metal work, granulation, turquoise stones strongly associated with Etruscan style and culture, but befitting current earring styles, as well


Revival or Classicism approaches reflect the influences of pivotal fashion eras.    The goal in Revival or Classicism styles is to evoke a personal emotional experience, rather than something that is learned from afar or as part of an intellectual exercise.   The romanticized experience is like a call to conversion or rebirth, with a radical change in one’s sense of identity and existence.   There is a sense of a revived spirit in relation to the standard, dull, repetitive and boring jewelry seen all over.   Often revival jewelry evokes a reaction against modern technology, materials and ways.   Sometimes there is a call or push to connect the present day to some glorious past.

Revival approaches begin with inspirations from traditional themes and jewelry.   The past is felt as a simpler and purer time, where the individual was much closer to the earth and the earth’s spirit.   Inspiration is coupled with the natural curiosity of peoples around the world, their events, and their pasts.    The jewelry is not only an opportunity to express a personal identify and emotion, but a chance to explore something other than the everyday mundane and routine.   There is always this underlying tension of comparison and contrast between the past and the present, the current situation and situations faced by others, the advantages and disadvantages of modern life and antiquity.

The use of hand-craft, rather than machine-craft, is highlighted, even when the pieces are actually manufactured by machine.   Jewelry is defined as art-centered and artist-centered, one-of-a-kind, again, in spite of the fact that it is often machine made and mass produced.

Revival approaches often capitalize on the use of representative motifs and symbols.   These are evocative elements.    Often they are anti-Industrial.   As often, they are used to either impose or ease restrictions upon the female form and expressions of sensuality.


Pieces by Walid, for CoutureLab, 2009


Deconstructivism tears apart old pieces, and repositions all the parts into a new design.    It is a play on evoking those feelings of connectedness and recognizability in the wearer, but forcing that wearer to redefine or somehow rethink those feelings in terms meaningful for this individual and at the moment or within a context.

Deconstructivism anticipates the shared understandings of its various audiences about what contemporized jewelry should reflect, which include,


a. An appreciation for hand-craft

  1. Equating things of wealth and value with elegance and status
  2. Disengagement from, then a new re-engagement with ideas and values
  3. Sense of eccentricity and individuality – uniqueness in a cookie-cutter era
  4. Ephemeral – Here today, gone tomorrow



Etruscan Collar and Inspired Contemporary Pieces (Feld, 2012)

 Contemporizing traditional jewelry really has nothing to do with nostalgia for a bygone era.   It might reinterpret tradition, but not preserve it.    It may strategically utilize tradition and leverage something about it in the current context.    While contemporized jewelry designs may be imbued with inspirations and symbolism from a rich cultural past, the design is kept contemporary.   That means, the piece is seen as belonging in a contemporary time.

The contemporized traditional piece is conceived as a new idea with new forms emerging from the inspirations of an individual artist and with aspirations to be judged by various contemporary audiences as finished and successful.    The jewelry designer, in effect, is bringing together modern aesthetics with traditional craftmanship, to give a fresh outlook on contemporary individual and/or group culture.    The jewelry designer is using a visual grammar, partly rooted in tradition, to portray or reveal a different narrative.

The difficulty for the contemporizing artist is how to disconnect or divorce the wearer from the memories and traditions of the past, while still representing inspirations and influences of tradition within the piece.  The past provides a visual alphabet and a strong and established sense of legitimacy of meanings that is difficult to compete with and overcome.

The jewelry designer must address and manage all the identify issues people have when viewing and experiencing traditional designs, or contemporary designs with traditional components.    The ultimate goal is for the jewelry designer, through the design and implementation of the piece, to establish new ideas and meanings about identity, history, culture, the present, perspectives, challenges, moralities, values, and characterizations.    This involves recognizing and managing the shared understandings among various client groups.

Contemporizing Etruscan Jewelry:

Process and Application

Etruscan Collar (circa 300 B.C.)

I was contracted to do a series of workshops in Cortona, Italy regarding Contemporizing Etruscan Jewelry.    I began with examining several pieces of Etruscan jewelry.    For the Etruscans, jewelry was a display of wealth and a depository of someone’s wealth maintained and preserved as jewelry. Jewelry tended to be worn for very special occasions and was buried with the individual upon her or his death.  One piece, an Etruscan Collar, (see above), was one I immediately connected with.

The challenge, here for me, was to create a sophisticated, wearable, and attractive piece that exemplified concepts about contemporizing traditional jewelry.    I began to interpret and analyze it.

I first broke it down in terms of its Traditional Components.

The use of Traditional Components serves many functions. When the whole group uses the same design elements — materials, techniques, colors, patterns and the like — this reinforces a sense of membership and community. Often Traditional choices are limited by what materials are available and the existing technologies for manipulating them. Traditional choices also reflect style and fashion preferences, as well as functional prerequisites.

If you were contemporizing a traditional piece, the first thing you would need to do would be to re-interpret the piece – that is, decode it — in terms of its characteristics and parts.These are the kinds of things you the designer can control:colors, materials, shapes, scale, positioning, balance, proportions, # of elements, use of line/plane/point, silhouette, etc.

Traditional Components in our Traditional Etruscan Collar included:

Gold metal plates, pendants and chain. The use of metal, especially precious metal was important to the Etruscans. They had a strong preference for gold.

Linearity. In traditional work, there is often a regimented use of line and plane, with a greater comfort for simple straight lines and flat planes. The Etruscans did not often use many variations of the line, such as a wavy-line or spiral.

Predictable, regular, symmetrical sequencing and placement of rectangular metal objects, pendant drops, centered button clasp, and chain embellishment. Balance and symmetry are always key.

Flat. The surface is flat, and there is little here that intentionally pushes any boundaries with dimensionality.

Rigidity – seemed that, while it definitely makes a power statement, it would be uncomfortable to wear

Silhouette.  Brings attention to the wearer’s face. Traditional silhouettes were often drawn to the face.

Focal Point.   Often resorted to clearly defined and centered focal point.

Wire and metal working techniques. There were not many choices in stringing materials. Wire working, by creating links, rings, rivets, chains and connectors secured individual metal components.  The metal plates were created using repousse.

The designer would also try to surmise who, why and when someone might wear the piece.    A final assessment would be made about how finished and successful the Traditional piece would have been seen at the time it was made.

I researched what jewelry meant to the Etruscans, and how their jewelry compared to other societies around them.

There is considerable artistry and craftsmanship underlying Etruscan jewelry. They brought to their designs clever techniques of texturing, ornamentation, color, relief, filigree, granulation and geometric, floral and figurative patterning. While their techniques were borrowed from the Greeks and other Mediterranean cultures, the Etruscans perfected these to a level of sophistication not seen before, and not often even today.

While Roman law outlawed the wearing of more than one ring or more than ½ ounce of jewelry at any one time, the Romans loved their jewelry, and wore many pieces, in spite of this. Most Roman jewelry designs were rigid interpretations of Greek and Etruscan jewelry.

I reflected on what might it mean to contemporize these Etruscan and Roman pieces? In other words, how would we manipulate the design elements to end up with something that was contemporary, paid some kind of reference or homage to the traditional piece, and was also a satisfying work of art?

I designed each of these two contemporized pieces, each taking me in a slightly different direction in what it means to Contemporize Traditional Jewelry.   The Vestment is definitely more literal, with a mix of Revival and Contemporized approaches.    The Collar is more Contemporized.

Vestment, Feld, 2012

Materials: Japanese seed beads, cube beads, delicas, Swarovski 2mm rounds, 14KT findings, Lampwork glass bead, fireline cable thread

Two overlapping and staggered layers of Ndebele stitched strips

Etruscan Collar, Feld, 2012

Materials:  Japanese seed beads, cube beads, delicas, Swarovski 2mm rounds, 14KT findings, fireline cable thread

Two overlapping and staggered layers of Ndebele stitched strips





To contemporize the traditional Etruscan Collar, I wanted to:

Simplify design.  Reference the overall sense of the design, but simplify the overall appearance a bit. Contemporary pieces find that point of parsimony — not too many elements, not too few — that best evokes the power of jewelry to resonate.

Use contemporary materials. I wanted to use glass seed beads and cable threads, with the addition of gold ornamentation and clasp.

Make it more feminine. I wanted my piece to have a sexy-ness about it.

Give it a curvilinearity, rather than a flatness and straightness. Dimensionality and curvilinearity are very characteristic of Contemporary design.   Here two Ndebele bead woven strips are layered, overlapping and staggered to get a curved edge.

Coordinate color choices, but not feel forced to match them.

Challenge strict linearity.  Keep the general symmetry, but with a lighter hand – for example, overlapping, staggered layers that don’t conform as tightly to an outline boundary. I wanted less social conviction and more artistry and the representation of the artist’s hand.

To break the sense of rigidity and predictability, I used the Ndebele Stitch, which is very fluid with an unexpected patterning, and stitched two overlapped, staggered layers of beadwork together.

Use of simultaneity color effects.    The application of more involved color theories and tricks to create more of a sense of excitement, as well as more multi-dimensionality. There is a complex interplay of colors within either strip of Ndebele bead work, as well as between each strip, as one lays on top of the other.

Use of contemporary techniques.  The use of bead weaving techniques which result in a soft, malleable, piece that drapes well and moves well. The result with bead weaving is something much more cloth-like.


WARREN FELD, Jewelry Designer



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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Gallery Hopping in August

Posted by learntobead on August 14, 2009

    Jewelry Exhibits at Galleries Around The World

The Sting of Passion
Saturday 11 July 2009 – Sunday 25 October 2009
Manchester Art Gallery
Manchester, England


Twelve international jewellery designers present new commissions in response to our Pre-Raphaelite painting collection.

Marianne Schliwinski for Joli Coeur by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Marianne Schliwinski for Joli Coeur by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Jivan Astfalck for Sappho by Charles-August Mengin

Jivan Astfalck for Sappho by Charles-August Mengin



Guild of Phillipine Jewellers
Winners from Past Design Competitions

















Dorothea Pruhl


Dorothea Pruhl is a leading exponent of the current art jewellery scene.
Her aesthetic stance is informed by abstract impressions from nature, concentration on essentials, eminent sensitivity and sculptural power.


She makes basic statements in gold and silver – but also in wood, aluminium, titanium and stainless steel – impressions manifest in generously proportioned, clear entities.


Starting with what is there, she tracks it down to its inmost core, applying to its quintessence a new aesthetic idiom – it might be a flower, the wind, a house, birds in flight.

Born in Breslau in 1937, Dorothea Pruhl studied art at Burg Giebichenstein in Halle before working in industry as a designer of manufactured jewellery.




Susanne Klemm

“Art creates memories of nature.”










An Interview With Vintage Costume Jewelry Collector Carole Tanenbaum



By Maribeth Keane and Jessica Lewis, Collectors Weekly Staff (Copyright 2009)

Carole Tanenbaum talks about vintage costume jewelry, discussing the major designers (such as Coco Chanel, Schiaparelli, Trifari, and Schreiner), popular fashion trends, and the origins of costume jewelry. She can be contacted at her website, caroletanenbaum.com.


jennifer trask: flourish

Susan Lomuto | Aug 11, 2009 |




Jennifer Trask’s latest series, Unnatural Histories: Flourish, begins with the following definitions of the word flourish:

1. To grow well or luxuriantly; thrive
2. To do or fare well; prosper
3. To be in a period of highest productivity; excellence or influence.
4. To make bold or sweeping movements.

The Hudson Valley, New York based artist, best known for jewelry that incorporates snake vertabrae, beetle shells, feathers, bone, pre-ban ivory and sea urchin shells, might have included her own name for a fifth definition. As her new work of removable jewelry mounted on encaustic drawings and paintings shows, Jennifer.Trask.Is.Flourishing.


Polymer Art Archive

This is a site where professional artists working in the medium of polymer will find inspiration. Museum and gallery curators will be able to access documentation about the evolution of this vibrant medium for artistic expression. And serious collectors will discover windows to new works and the medium’s most collectable artists.

Sandra McCaw, Persian Cuff, 2007

Sandra McCaw, Persian Cuff, 2007



Rachel Carren, William Morris Sebo Brooch, 2009

Rachel Carren, William Morris Sebo Brooch, 2009

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