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

Posted by learntobead on February 15, 2018

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Should the label be applied to all this variation?

Could it?

Why would we want it to?

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

What is contemporary jewelry?

“Contemporary” Is A Specific Approach For Thinking Through Design

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Think of all that power!

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

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

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

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

1. Work within our shared understandings about contemporary jewelry.

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

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

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

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

Shared Understandings[3]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These are,

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

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

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

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

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

3. Jewelry should evoke emotions.

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

4. Jewelry should connect people with culture.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The designer needs answers to several questions at this point.

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

How well have they anticipated these criteria of evaluation?

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

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

_________________________________________________________


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

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

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

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

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

_________________________________________________________

FOOTNOTES

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

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

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

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

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

Natural Combinations of Amber and Jet

Posted by learntobead on December 2, 2010

Natural Combinations of Amber and Jet

In many traditional cultures, the religious, the mystical, the magical, the royalty wore jewelry that consisted of combinations of amber and jet.     These natural fossils were believed have special qualities and powers, and when used together, even moreso.

Amber is fossilized tree sap.   Amber flowed from pine trees that flourished 50 to 60 million years ago.    Most amber comes from either the Dominican Republic, the Baltic area of Poland and Russia, and China.

Amber is one of the oldest substances used for jewelry.    In ancient times, it was prized as “solid sunlight”, and believed to have many of the sun’s properties.

Image above from Thyme2dreamwww.thyme2dream.com ),  blog: www.thyme2dream.blogspot.com from her Mabon Collection (http://www.artfire.com/modules.php?sterm=mabon&sub1=SEARCH&name=Shop&op=new&seller_id=10747&sort_cats=0&sc_id=0)
Amber comes in a wide range of colors.    The colors often are called food names.   We have cherry amber, custard, butterscotch, butter, caramel, egg-yolk, tomato, honey, cognac, orange, fatty, and cream.   There is also green amber and blue amber, tiger amber, black-and-white amber, blonde and white.

There are some simple tests to determine if your amber is genuine.   One is that you take a hot needle and touch it to the maber.    There should be a faint piney smell.   Another, rubbing amber with a soft cloth will often cause it to give off an electrical spark, and attract a very light object like a feather.   Yet another is a salt flotation test.  Place several tablespoons of salt in a glass of water, and float a piece of amber in it.   Amber floats; glass and plastic sinks.

Jet is the fossilized remains of trees.    It was often called “black amber”.    Jet comes in different softnesses, so some is less durable than others.   Jet from lignite coal is the softest, while that from anthracite coal is the hardest.   Jet became very popular during Victorian times in England for use in mourning jewelry.

Jet is easily confused with glass.  There is only one test.  First,wear safety goggles.    Take a single jet bead and suspend it from a wire, and hold it over a flame with a a pair of pliers.     Genuine jet will smoke and often turn white at the edges, while plastic will melt and glass will simply explode.

Image above from Thyme2dream ( www.thyme2dream.com ),  blog:www.thyme2dream.blogspot.com from her Mabon Collection(http://www.artfire.com/modules.php?sterm=mabon&sub1=SEARCH&name=Shop&op=new&seller_id=10747&sort_cats=0&sc_id=0)

Jet is more likely than glass to display tiny cracks and scratches, or to be irregularly faceted, and to feel lighter and warmer to the touch.    Jet is a generic term in jewelry, so buying “jet” is always something of a risk.   French Jet is glass.  Austrian jet is glass crystal.   Bakelite jet is a plastic.

The “magical union” between amber and jet dates from ancient times.   It probably represented the union between light and dark, yin and yang, female and male — dualities.

The combination of amber and jet is believed, by many magicians and witches, to be the only combination of stones that gives a full spectrum of electrical energies, from positive to negative.

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The Nadler Collection

Posted by learntobead on December 30, 2009

The Nadler Collection
of Tribal and Ethnic Silver Jewelry
From Around the World

If you find yourself in New York City, you might want to visit The Museum of Arts and Design. Daniel and Serga Nadler made a promised gift of their renowned jewelry collection to the Museum. This unparalleled collection encompasses approximately 800 modern and contemporary works in silver from around the world.

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Take a Trip Through Metal Cyberspace

Posted by learntobead on November 12, 2009

Take A Trip Through Metal Cyberspace

http://www.metalcyberspace.com/index.html

 

This online directory of contemporary jewelry artists is very large.    It makes a wonderful tour of important and creative pieces from some of the world’s best metal artists.

Some highlights:

 

Barbara Cohen

http://www.bcohendesign.com/


metalartcohen

 

 

Melissa Finelli

http://mellefinellijewelry.com/

metalartfinelli

 

 

Anoush Waddington

http://www.anoushwaddington.co.uk/portfolio.htm#

metalartwaddington2

 

 

metalartwaddington

 

 

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Photographing Fashionable Jewelry

Posted by learntobead on August 6, 2009

PHOTOGRAPHS and JEWELRY and FASHION and BUSINESS

You have to be creative in how you stage the set for photographing your jewelry.   If people are web-surfing, you want to entice them to stay on your page a little longer, rather than click-thru to somewhere else.    If they are looking at items in a magazine or newspaper, you want them to linger a bit longer than turning the page.

I first began looking for some good ideas for photographing jewelry at the 7th International Festival of Fashion Photography in Cannes.     There were few examples of jewelry photos, however.   These included two by Marc Turlan

marc turlan

marc turlan

marc turlan

marc turlan

These didn’t excite me, so I kept web-surfing and came across the website of a fashion photographer names Niva Kedem.     Now I was getting closer to the mark.

Her website:
www.nivakedem.com

She groups her photos into photo-style categories, so you can actually learn a lot about imaging on her website, from how she groups her own examples.

niva kedem

niva kedem

niva kedem

niva kedem

niva kedem

niva kedem

niva kedem

niva kedem

It’s difficult to photograph jewelry.  You need to convey details in the piece, and the details are small.    You want to convey a sensibility about the piece — its emotions, its sexuality and sensuality, its use of materials, its relevance to certain contexts.     Many of the components have reflective qualities, which can change colors in photos, or affect the colors of the nonreflective surfaces around it.    You want to convey the artist’s style.

“The photography of jewelry can achieve a whole lot more than just depicting products. It can focus on unique details that generate very different feelings and can contribute to the visual communication of the jewelrys inspiration. Unfortunately, we see time and again that jewelry designers adopt a strangely ambivalent position when faced with how to communicate their products. This applies in particular to jewelry manufacturers in the initial stages of their careers. It is a crying shame that there are so many designers able to achieve the highest standards of precision and perfect craftsmanship in the production of jewelry and then proceed to take inferior photos of it that in no way do justice to their own excellent work. Conversely, established designers who are familiar with trade fair business and with handling the media have usually already discovered or experienced how important it is to define a clear approach in communicating ones own style of jewelry and its special features. An idea of who is or may be the target group for the jewelry can help the photographer or designer find a suitable language of images….   —

Communication With Jewelry Photography
By Christel Trimborn
Spring 2004″
You can have a “clean” shot or a “staged” shot.   The clean shot shows the jewelry without any background or other details.    The staged shot shows the jewelry in some kind of context.   It may be worn by someone, or not.

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An unexpected source of gemstone jewelry…

Posted by learntobead on June 21, 2009

Wildscape Caddisfly Jewelry
www.wildscape.com

Here’s a jewelry component you don’t see very often, if ever.    Caddisfly larva created casings.
Kathy Stout and along with her Mom Marilyn Kyle and many good friends and jewelry designers, created Wildscape.  Their Jewelry is One Of A Kind!
The caddisfly larva is an aquatic insect that creates a beautiful case out of stones. They use this case to create unique jewelry. The twist!! They raise the caddisfly Larva in a simulated stream and give them Gem Stones to build their cases with. Ben Stout, a biologist at Wheeling Jesuit University, designed the simulated steam that is used to raise the caddisfly larva. It took 3 years to perfect the steam, but when it was completed they had an opportunity to give the caddisfly larva a unique predator free environment to live in.
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And in return, they received a beautiful gemstone case after the adult emerged from its case. Wow, who would have thought that an aquatic insect would be such an amazing artist!! That was her thought when she saw these incredible insects at work.
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So now 14 years later, they are still at it! Each year new gem stones are given to the caddisfly larva and then they sit back and watch them create their works of art.

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“Escape” Jewelry

Posted by learntobead on June 5, 2009

JEWELRY Is Partly About Emotions

Jewelry is partly about emotions and feelings.   For some reason, at the moment, I was thinking about “escapes.”   My vacation is coming up and I’m going to Maui.   Maybe that got me thinking in this direction.

Escape.   So what happens when you put the phrase “escape jewelry” into a google search?     How has the designer defined “escape” as a concept, and how is this definition reflected in her pieces?     Has this definition been successfully reflected in the pieces?

Here’s what we get:

Sweet Escape Boutique by Kerri Hall
www.sweetescapejewelry.com

Definition of Escape:
We create unique pieces that you will not find in department stores.  You will not see any of your friends wearing the same piece, or saying, “I have that same piece at home.”

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iDazz Jewelry
www.idazz.com
Their ESCAPE COLLECTION of Jewelry

Escape Definition:  We have one purpose: to open your world to a new set of fun, high quality, affordable handmade jewelry… and to make the shopping experience personal, simple and convenient.

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La Ti Da Boutique
www.latidaboutique.net

Escape definition:  Styles offered at the boutique are trendy, contemporary, and appeal to a woman with a certain attitude, not an age group.

From their Escape From Paris collection

From their Escape From Paris collection

Creative Dexterity
www.creativedexterity.com

Escape definition:  The escape key on your keyboard

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Escape
A jewelry store in Georgetown, TX
www.shoptheescape.com

Escape definition:  We strive for the finest quality products, at fair prices, with uncompromised service.

Alchemy Bracelet by Holly Yashi

Alchemy Bracelet by Holly Yashi

Cross by John Cross

Cross by John Cross

Burglars smash into jewelry store, escape in Porsche

3 masked men seen running from back of jewelry store and into gray SUV early this morning.

By SALVADOR HERNANDEZ
The Orange County Register
Comments 9| Recommend 4

MISSION VIEJO – Burglars smashed into jewelry store at The Shops at Mission Viejo early this morning, making off with an unknown amount of loot before the mall opened, authorities said.

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/mall-unknown-viejo-2344189-amormino-shops

Escape definition:  bank robbery and fleeing the scene

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The Art Escape Plan
www.theartescapeplan.com

A blog about Life through the eyes of a jeweler.

Escape definition:   living jewelry through reading about it through 30 pounds of reading material.

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—–

Not much more when you continue to search on Escape Jewelry.   Jewelry might be the perfect escape vehicle, but not necessarily as a theme from marketing or design perspectives.

But now, when you plug in the phrase “Escape Jewelry” into Google, you’ll find this page, which, in its own pleasurable, wry and weird way, has become a sort of jewelry escape.

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Lydia Courteille

Posted by learntobead on May 12, 2009

Lydia Courteille
Beautiful Jewelry and Fantastic Marketing Images

http://www.couturelab.com/editorial/story-lydiacourteille.html?utm_campaign=lydia_May2009&utm_medium=email&utm_source=email&utm_content=newsletter

From diamond encrusted frog earrings to a stunning pink jasper rose and jeweled monkey bracelet, Lydia Courteille has a talent for transforming aspects of nature into exquisite works of art.

Pay close attention to this promotional photograph of her jewelry.   The photo captivates her artistic perspective.   It enhances the appeal of her jewelry.   It makes you want to buy her pieces and wear them.

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It’s difficult to display or present cuff bracelets, whether it’s an image, or on the shelf.   You can’t easily get a look at the full piece, or a sense of its essence.   This is a great display image for her monkey bracelet.

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This wonderful piece is a ring.

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What Should Define The Boundaries of Contemporary Jewelry?

Posted by learntobead on May 2, 2009

What should define the boundaries
of Contemporary Jewelry?

Beauty?
Wearability?
Technique?
Materials?
Reactions?
Or should there be no boundaries?

What do you think?

Rian De Jong
http://www.riandejong.nl/

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Arline Fisch

http://www.taboostudio.com/artist_dtl.asp?artist=Arline%20Fisch

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Explore The World of Beads at the British Museum

Posted by learntobead on April 30, 2009

EXPLORE THE WORLD OF BEADS AT THE BRITISH MUSEUM

http://www.britishmuseum.org/search_results.aspx?searchText=beads

 

Necklaces of faience beads and pendants

These fine necklaces from the Fosse Temple at Lachish illustrates the strongly Egyptianizing style of Cannanite art of the Late Bronze Age. During this period the southern Levant was under Egyptian domination. Lachish is referred to in the Amarna letters – a group of clay tablets written in Babylonian cuneiform found at Tell el-Amarna in Egypt and preserving diplomatic correspondence to Egyptian pharaohs from vassal kings. The ruler of Lachish was Shipti-ba’al, a vassal king, subject to th…

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Necklace of lizard amulets, beads and pendants

Hollow gold lizards alternate with cornelian barrel beads and hollow gold date-shaped pendants. The central gold drop is inlaid with lapis lazuli and a cornelian cornflower pendant is attached at one end of the string. As well as being decorative, it was believed that these necklaces endowed the wearer with the powers and qualities symbolized by the amulets . For example, the fly was seen as a symbol of persistence and the lizard as one of regeneration because of its ability to re-grow wounded

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Beaded crown (ade ileke)

Beaded and veiled crowns, ade ileke , are traditionally worn by those kings who could trace their ancestry to Ododua, the mythic founder and first king of the Yoruba people. The crown is called an orisha , a deity, and is placed upon the king’s head by his female attendant. Powerful medicines are placed at the top of the crown to protect the king’s head and thus his future. The veil that covers the king’s face hides his individuality and increases attention on the crown itself, the real centre o

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‘Magical’ glass bead

This extraordinary ‘bead’ is made of opaque white glass with translucent purple marvered trails. It is exceptionally large and made in the shape of a bun with a flat base and the upper surface divided into six segments. It has a wide central piercing. The bead was found in 1860 in a woman’s grave. Also in the grave were a ring made from the burr end of a red deer antler, an iron purse-bar and a group of amber beads, some found at the neck and one at the right hand. The excavator indentified the

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Beads and pendants

The archaeologist Leonard Woolley found these beads and pendants in the burial shaft and on the floor of one of the first Royal Graves at Ur to be excavated. The objects on the floor of the tomb may have belonged to human attendants, as discovered in similar tombs, while those found in the shaft may have been left as offerings, when the tomb was being filled with soil after the burial. Sumerian craftsmen were highly skilled in stone and metalwork. Beads found in graves of this period were gener

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Beaded Neck Ornament

British Museum online tour: Sudan: from the Islamic Period to the Modern World

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Painted wooden paddle doll with mud beads for hair

Female figurines were included in burials from the Predynastic period onwards. They were often highly stylized, emphasizing the sexual characteristic of the figure, such as the breast, hips and pubic area. In the past, there have been two opposing interpretations of these figurines. One argues that they should be interpreted as dolls, ignoring the emphasis placed on their female attributes. The other recognizes only these features, and the figurines are seen as ‘concubine figures’, intended to p

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Read full detailed descriptions of these and other beads on their website.

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Naming Your Business

Posted by learntobead on April 28, 2009

NAMING YOUR BUSINESS
What on earth do you think you would buy from The Flan Corporation?

Flan? The Spanish kind or the Mexican version?

Flans? Whatever they are – automotive parts?

Franny-Lisa-Alicia-Nancy kind of stuff?

Would you ever buy a Swarovski necklace of glass pearls, crystallized elements, 14KT gold clasp and real faceted emeralds from The Flan Corporation?

The Flan Corporation is a Chinese company that sells handcrafted, beadwoven jewelry. I don’t know what “Flan” means in Chinese, but, here in the US, it’s not a word that would immediately make me salivate about handcrafted, beadwoven jewelry.

It’s really difficult to pick a business name. It’s harder than naming your child. It’s harder than naming your dog. I’ve tried many times with varying degrees of success. And the first business name you pick might seem great and work great at the beginning, but will it evolve with your business as well? Maybe yes, maybe not. What’s important is not only how good your business name sounds, and how appealing it is today, but also how adaptable it is over time, as you grow or change your business.

I can’t claim 100% success with my tries at naming a business. Take “Land of Odds.” This has been my best name-selection to date, but it hasn’t been perfect.

I came up with that name 30 years ago for a hobbyist type business, where I refinished antique lamps, and some other antiques, for people. When James and I started our jewelry, beads and gifts business, I thought that Land of Odds would be good for that, as well. The name “Land of Odds” always gets such great responses from people. And it is memorable.

As our business grew and grew, Land of Odds – the name – grew with it. We added more handcrafted jewelry, unusual greeting cards, some neat clothing, collectible lines. The name still worked.

Then our business hit a wall. We were located downtown, and the city of Nashville took away 6,000 parking spaces within an 18 month period of time. The city had renovated this downtown historic district, and for various reasons, cars and parking got in the way of continued development. Our business dropped precipitously. I had to put us into Chapter 11 for awhile. James and I dissolved our business partnership, and we put most of the assets in a new business for him that we called Be Dazzled, and we put most of the liabilities under the Land of Odds name.

Now we were functioning with two names used to describe similar businesses that emphasized unusual, often hand-crafted jewelry, gifts, collectibles, gourmet foods, posters, clothing, and beads and jewelry findings.

I shut the physical Land of Odds store down, and continued the business as an internet company – http://www.landofodds.com . The online company was still called Land of Odds. At first, I put all our merchandise online – beads, jewelry, gifts, clothing, posters and gourmet food. Only two categories did well – beads and posters. I slowly began narrowing our focus to beads and posters, and eventually beads only.

As an online entity, we needed to get top placements in search engines in terms of key words like beads and jewelry findings. Search engine robots that indexed a business name with the words beads and/or jewelry findings in the name, would automatically assign it a higher ranking for those terms. A better online name would have been Beads At Land Of Odds or Land of Odds Beads.

Land of Odds” was still a name liked by all, but it no longer had the same strong association with beads and posters, and then with beads only. The business grew quickly online, and “Land of Odds” began to have a strong “brand” following. But again, no longer the most strategic business name, given what I was doing now.

Be Dazzled” was another popular name. The image James had for this business was jewelry that was hand made and wowed people. The business faltered, however. We got rid of most of the merchandise, turned Be Dazzled into a bead store, and eventually recombined Land of Odds and Be Dazzled. At the time we recombined them, both had strong brand identities, so we kept both names. We managed the physical store called Be Dazzled separately from Land of Odds – the online store. When Be Dazzled became all “beads”, I added the word “BEADS” everytime I referred to Be Dazzled — “Be Dazzled Beads” — , from our stationery to answering the phone to setting up its website — www.bedazzledbeads.com .

In the bead business, there are many variations on the name “Beadazzled”. Most people, even regular customers who visit the shop everyday, think that’s our name. We were lucky that Be Dazzled/jewelry morphed so well into Be Dazzled/beads. But we would have been better off if we had worked “beads” into the name somehow. There are a couple of small chain operations called “Beadazzled.” For awhile, someone opened up a bead store in Nashville called “Beadazzled”. There’s always some confusion for and with our shop name.

Read the rest of this entry »

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HOT LINKS – From Connie Welch

Posted by learntobead on April 8, 2009

 

Well we have an interesting winner with the beadstudies – we now have Jean Power giving us her comments along with Diane – So anyone else who would like to chime in – please do so
…Bead StudyII       By the way last time at Bead Studies – Lily was there and barked at Warren until he got up and got her a chair – she then sat at attention  and became a member of the discussion. We need a picture of our own Ewok pup at BEADS
 
Today is so cold here in Nashville – 42degrees at my house I am going to give you something to do
 
 
 
Paper Puppet Palooza  for Kathleen
 
 
 
That should keep everyone busy for a while.
  C

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Web-Surf to the Primavera Gallery

Posted by learntobead on April 3, 2009

THE PRIMAVERA GALLERY
210 11th Avenue at 25th Street, Suite 800, New York, NY 10001
http://www.primaveragallery.com/index.asp

Jewelry

Jewelry is a major part of Primavera Gallery. They offer fine, rare and collectible jewels spanning over 200 years of jewelry design, with pieces dating from the late 17th century up until the present. Their  emphasis, however, is on unusual signed pieces, Art Deco through the 1960’s.

They are not interested in large diamonds or masses of precious stones — this, for them, is geology rather than jewelry. They are interested in great style, exciting design and integrity of workmanship. Their collection includes all of the major individual designers, as well as the great jewelry houses. In their spacious new Chelsea gallery, they are also showing jewelry by both well-known and emerging Studio jewelers.

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They also offer the work of individual contemporary jewelry designers of special merit, among them Pol Bury, Bruno Martinazzi and Andrew Grima, and they are adding interesting contemporary and studio jewelry from many talented designers working today.

Some things in the Gallery:

 

MARCHAK TURQUOISE AND DIAMOND RING
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A very unique cocktail ring. The sugar-loaf turquoise set in a domed turquoise and diamond base creates, literally, high drama. The House of Marchak excelled at creating unusual pieces, and especially this kind of jewelry in the 1950’s.
Marchak, Paris

ART DECO BRACELET WATCH

primavera2An elegant and refined bracelet with great Art Deco style in 18k gold set with damonds and calibre-cut rubies. The clasp is also set with rubies, and the central motif cleverly conceals a watch.

 

BOIVIN “LILAC LEAF” BROOCH

primavera3The House of Boivin is well known for beautiful jewelry based on natural forms. This leaf shimmers with the colors of aquamarines, peridots, citrines, and amethysts. It will bring Springtime to any season.
French, ca. 1938

 

 

 

 

 

BUCCELLATI DIAMOND RING

primavera4A wonderful vintage Buccellati, with their famous exquisite gold and silver work, and a 4 carat diamond of unusual and mysterious color.
Buccellati, Italy
 

 

 

 

 

SUSANNE BELPERRON RING

primavera5Pale blue chalcedony was one of Suzanne Belperron’s favorite materials. Here, it is finely carved and centers a fine pearl. Belperron’s jewelry is in great demand, and there are few pieces around. This is a beauty.
France
 

 

 

 

Lot’s of pretty stuff to admire on their website.

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Worldwide Tour of Jewelry Exhibits

Posted by learntobead on March 31, 2009

Jewelry Exhibits Around The World:
Let’s Web Surf

I don’t have the money nor the time to go visit every museum with ongoing or special exhibits on jewelry.   So thank God for the internet.   I can get my cultural fix.

WIRE KNOTTING WITH LOREN DAMEWOOD
New York City 92nd st Y
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http://www.golden-knots.com/

Loren describes himself as “I’m a middle aged guy with a red face and not much hair, at least for now. I was born in the early fifties, observed the hippie generation mostly from the sidelines, and managed to survive the Viet Nam war by dint of becoming a technician instead of a killing machine. The former might not pay as well, but it’s a more marketable skill. That’s what I’ve been doing ever since, anyway, up until the end of 2006, when I retired from the aerospace industry.”

Many of his pieces are based on what he calls the Turk Head Knot.   See the ring above.

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GIA MUSEUM
Carlsbad, California
http://www.gia.edu/research-resources/museum/index.html

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The GIA Museum’s current focus is building the Historical Collection, a sophisticated collection of jewelry, objets d’art and gemstones of known provenance from earlier cultures and periods.

 

 

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Barbara Paganin and Patricia Lemaire

Galerie Orfeo

Luxembourg, Luxembourg

http://www.galerie-orfeo.com/ausstellung.html

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Founded in April 1992 by Susy Ciacchini, the Orfèo Gallery is the meeting point of the Art of contemporary jewellery in Luxembourg.
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Link to other jewelry artists which the gallery represents:

http://www.galerie-orfeo.com/kuenstler_e.html

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LUCCA PREZIOSA
Contemporary Jewelry
Toscany, Italy
Group Jewelry Artist Showing

http://www.luccapreziosa.it/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=205&Itemid=62&lang=en

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Huib Petersen Workshops Scheduled

Posted by learntobead on March 31, 2009

Huib Petersen – Bead Weaving Artist

Huib Petersen visited the shop yesterday, and we had a very nice visit.  He brought with him many of his wonderful pieces.   

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He has one series of work that is very nature-inspired.   I love the way he can manipulate his peyote stitch work to get the natural curves and twirls in the butterfly wings.    And his use of color placement is superb.    With these techniques, he gets very realistic-looking pieces, with a strong sense of dimensionality, with beauty and wearability.    Unfortunately, computer images can’t show the detail and the dimensionality.

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Another series of pieces he’s begun working on involves tubular right angle weave in cubic forms.    In one piece, he layered one tubular right angle rope/chain (line of open square donuts done as a continuous rope) over another rope/chain.     In appearance, it looked like he had used basket-weaving techniques to intertwine the rope/chains, but in reality, it was just how they were layed one on top of the other.

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Huib will be with us May 20-22, 2011.
His website:
www.petersenarts.com

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