LAND OF ODDS - BE DAZZLED BEADS -- Jewelry Design Center
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ABOUT GOOD JEWELRY DESIGN
- Principles of Composition

by Warren Feld

Some pieces of jewelry draw your attention.
Others do not.
Why?

Also Check Out:
The Ugly Necklace Contest

- A Jewelry Design Competition With A Twist?

ABOUT THE JEWELRY DESIGN CRITERIA
USED TO EVALUATE THE ENTRIES
IN THE UGLY NECKLACE CONTEST

- It Ain't Easy Doing Ugly, or as my momma says, "Ugly is as Ugly does."




 




Jewelry Design And Its Application:
Principles of Composition


Jewelry Design is the application of basic principles of artistic expression. These principles involve:

1. COMPOSITION
2. MOVEMENT, Flow, Drapery, and Torque
3. FORMS in Relationship to the Body and the Mind,
including Functionality and Support
4. TECHNIQUES and MATERIALS

In this discussion, we focus primarily on Principles of Composition. These include,
a. Rhythm
b. Pointers
c. Planar Relationships
d. Interest
e. Statistical Distribution
f. Balance
g. Dimensionality
h. Temporal Extension
i. Physical Extension/Finishing
j. Parsimony

The jewelry artist applies these Principles of Composition by manipulating the elements of the piece. These elements might include:

- the Positioning and/or Ordering of things

Example: Black/White/Black/White

vs. Black/Black/Black/White



- the Volume or Area the piece takes up

Example: One row of beads vs. Three rows of beads



- the Scale and Size of the pieces

Example: A 36" string of 6mm round beads vs. an 18" string of 10mm round beads



- the Colors, Textures and Patterns of individual pieces, and/or sets or groupings of pieces

Example: A necklace of all shiny beads vs. a necklace mixed with shiny and matte beads



- the Forms and Structures (identifiable sets of pieces, highly integrated)

Example: A necklace made up of 6 sets of beads, one set connected to the next with a large wire ring. Each set of beads represents types of animals found in a zoo.



- the Materials

Examples: Glass, Gemstone, Plastic, Wood, Bone, Horn, Paper, Clay, Polymer Clay, Pewter, Base Metal, Brass, Sterling Silver, Argentium, Gold-Filled, Plated, Glazed, Embossed, Frosted, Galvanized, Color Lined, and the like.



- the interplay of Light, Dark, Shadow, Reflection and Refraction

Example: Dark/Dark/Transparent/Dark/Dark vs. Transparent/Transparent/Translucent/Transparent/Transparent



- the clasp assembly and other supporting systems

Examples: Hidden Clasp, Clasp in Front, Clasp in Rear, Hand-crafted clasp, pre-formed clasp, hinges, rivets, joints, connectors, linkables, and the like.

 


"Teaching" Jewelry Design - 3 Approaches

There are 3 different approaches for teaching “Jewelry Design”. Each approach makes different assumptions about the process of making jewelry and about the skills/ abilities/ and capabilities the jewelry designer will require.

It’s important to understand how you are being taught and led – that is, where the teacher (or how-to author) is coming from – so that you can appreciate what the teacher is saying and trying to accomplish, and how this may or may not apply to your own goals as a jewelry designer.

 

THE CRAFT APPROACH

By far, the most typically-encountered approach is called the Craft Approach. Here you are taught a set of specific steps to follow in order to complete a very defined project. You might be expected to follow a set of step-by-step instructions in a class or read a pattern in a book.You are not taught how to apply those steps to any other project. You are not taught the consequences for choosing one type of bead or clasp or stringing material over another. You are not provided any kind of evaluation about the steps -- for example, are they clear, well-written, relevant, pertinent, user-friendly?

You find the Craft Approach taught most often in a bead store or crafts store, or as the basis of how-to books. These stores are in the business of selling classes, books and kits -- basically, selling you "STEPS". If the student has difficulty completing the steps, the Crafts Approach teacher usually suggests going back and re-doing the steps, buying another book of more steps, or taking another class to learn more steps.

Some students enjoy learning from this approach. It's relatively straightforward. It's easy. There's no pressure to create "Art". The only challenge is to finish. You don't have to make a great commitment to the craft. You can concentrate on having fun.

The Craft Approach assumes:

1. That you are either born with creative talents or are not. They can’t be taught in any way.
2. The only thing that matters when stringing is to complete the task.
3. Jewelry is a craft that anyone can do. It is not art.

Some consequences:

a. No thought is given about the durability and functionality of the piece, or how, through the choice of parts and stringing materials, the student may enhance this durability and functionality

b. Appeal and beauty are based on simply completing the project – no matter how it looks or feels

c. The jewelry artist is taught to start with a set of instructions or a pattern.

d. Not concerned that the beader truly learn anything. A better beader is one who does more and more steps (that is, follows more and more patterns). In most of the places that teach from a Craft Approach, the primary concern tends to be selling kits and beads and collecting class fees.

e. Easy to define an acceptable outcome. Easy to respond to a student who says s/he doesn’t understand the directions for the project. Tell them to go back and re-do the steps, or take another class to practice some additional steps.



THE ART TRADITION

A second approach to teaching jewelry design is called the Art Tradition. If you were studying beadwork or other fine crafts at an art school or most jewelry design programs or community college or university, you would probably be taught from the Art Tradition. The Art Tradition believes that you need to learn a set of rules that you can use to apply to any situation where you are making jewelry. Artistic expression cannot be learned as a set of steps. It is less important that you follow a set of steps. It’s more important to know how to apply art theory to your project at each stage of the process, whatever that process is, and wherever that process takes you.

The types of rules you are probably most familiar with are those involving color. What colors go with each other? Which colors are “spring” and which are “fall”? There are also rules involving texture/pattern, shape, balance and harmony, distribution of sizes and colors, interplay of light and shadow, perspective, dimensionality, and the like.

These art theories detail what defines successful (and unsuccessful) manipulation of design elements within a piece of art. The Art Tradition, however, very narrowly defines what it considers an acceptable medium for art work. "Jewelry" is understood either as a subset of painting or a subset of sculpture, and subjected to those theories only. "Jewelry" is not seen as its own discipline and medium, with its own special rules, theories, techniques and approaches.

Art, Jewelry Design and Fine Craft programs teach from this perspective because they are in the business of selling classes where they teach art THEORIES. The student is encouraged to learn more and more theories, and to experiment with different ways and strategies for applying them. The Art Tradition views jewelry as a subset of either painting or sculpture. There need not be special jewelry design classes, per se, because learning theories from painting or sculpture is sufficient. Achieving "beauty" is paramount. What matters most is how successfully the student has incorporated art theories within the final piece -- as it sits on a pedestal or rests on a mannequin.

Thus you see in magazines, galleries and museums, many pieces that are visually stunning, but often not wearable. For example, the bracelet with spikes that would kill the wearer, should she let her arm down; or the ring that would never stay upright on the finger in real life; or the 35 pound necklace that would drag the wearer down by the neck.

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

The Art Tradition assumes:

1. While different people have different creative abilities, everyone has some creative ability, and can be influenced in how to apply these creative talents.
2. What matters in bead stringing is how you approach the process. If you apply the rules correctly at each step of the way, your end result will be a very beautiful necklace.
3. Jewelry as art is really a form of sculpture, and should be judged by the rules of sculpture. The focus is on how you think through the process. There is no concern about following a set of steps. It doesn’t matter if the jewelry sits on an easel or on a person.


Some consequences:

a. Little thought is given about durability and functionality of the piece, or how, through the choice of parts and stringing materials, the student may enhance this durability and functionality

b. The beauty of the piece, as if it had been painted or sculpted, is paramount.

c. The jewelry designer is taught to start with a palette of colors and textures.

d. The beader should focus on the process of making jewelry. More insights about the process (meaning how to apply rules of art theory) makes a better beader.

e. An acceptable outcome is one that is beautiful and appealing. It doesn’t matter what specific steps you went through to create your jewelry. It matters how well you applied the rules of art theory. It doesn't matter if the piece would hold up or wear well, as it is worn.



THE ART AND DESIGN TRADITION

A third approach to jewelry design is what we teach at Land of Odds, Be Dazzled Beads and The Center For Beadwork & Jewelry Arts – the Art and Design Tradition. This approach isn’t widespread. This approach began in schools of architecture. These schools originally were departments in Schools of Art. Their students were initially taught in the Art Tradition. They designed and built buildings and bridges, without thinking about and dealing with how people, cars, the weather, and the surroundings and context interacted and were mutually interdependent with, with-in and with-out these buildings and bridges.

These buildings and bridges often turned out to be “failures”. People couldn't find the entrances, or the elevators. Buildings were set on vast plazas that people were afraid to walk across. Ultra-modern buildings were set in the middle of historical districts. Aesthetics were more important than functionality and usability and workability and durability and environmental fit and appropriateness. Bridges undulated in the wind, or had to be closed to small cars for fear of them blowing off in the winds.

"Departments" of Architecture rebelled, and became "Schools" of Architecture. And hence, a new teaching philosophy – Art and Design – was born. Design was merged with Craft was merged with Art.

The focus became teaching design principles and their applications. Some of these design principles are applied in similar ways to all art forms, such as painting and sculpture, no matter what the medium. For other principles, architicture (and in our case, jewelry) creates it’s own challenges, because all architecture (and by extension, jewelry)
- functions in a 3-dimensional space, particularly sensitive to position, volume and scale
- must stand on its own as an object of art
- but must also exist as an object of art which interacts with people (and a person's body), movement, personality, and quirks of the user (wearer), environment and context
- serves many purposes, some aesthetic, some social and cultural, some psychological

The Art and Design Tradition believes that you teach steps, like in the Craft Approach, and you teach rules, like in the Art Tradition, but that you approach teaching and learning from a developmental perspective. That means, that certain steps and rules should be learned before others, and that continual learning keeps building upon itself. The focus is on the process of construction, so a lot of attention is paid to all the parts, and how they should be chosen, how they should/could and shouldn't/couldn't be used, and how they may or may not be integrated within the whole.

The Art and Design Tradition is very relevant for the education and training of jewelry designers, as well. Here, the Jewelry Artist is seen as a multi-functional professional, similar to an engineer who designs and builds bridges. The jewelry designer must bring a lot of very different kinds of skills and abilities to bear, when constructing a piece of jewelry. The professional has to be able to manage artistic design, functionality, and the interaction of the piece with the individual as well as that person's environment. This approach also believes that “Jewelry as Art” should be appreciated as it’s own discipline – not a part of sculpture or painting. And that Jewelry can only be understood as Art as it is worn.

 

The Art and Design Tradition assumes:

1. Everyone has creative abilities, but for most people, these need to be carefully groomed and attended to. Expressing creativity is not a matter of turning a switch on and off. It’s a process that can be influenced by ideas and situations. The challenge is to teach people to become more intuitive in expressing their creative abilities and ideas.
2. What matters in bead stringing is that your project be judged as a work of art. In this case, the definition of “art” is specific to jewelry and it’s design, in anticipation of how it will be worn.
3. Jewelry can only be understood as “art” as it is worn. This means that the wearer’s own body, clothing, hairstyle influences the sense of the piece as art. The context influences this sense. How the jewelry moves when the wearer moves influences this sense. How the wearer feels and thinks about
the piece, when worn, influences this sense.


Some consequences:

a. This approach focuses on design issues. Functionality, wearability, durability, context, movement are all key considerations in selecting parts and interrelating these parts in a design. Very concerned with how you select parts and materials.

b. The beauty of the piece involves it’s construction, it’s lay-out, it’s consistency with rules of art theory, and how it holds up (physically and aesthetically) as it is worn. The focus is on how you organize your construction, piece by piece. The beader needs to bring many talents to bear in order to achieve a successful outcome. Here the beader is similar to an architect or engineer.

c. The jewelry designer is taught to start, not only with a palette of colors and textures, but of parts and components, as well.

d. More experience – especially learning skills developmentally – are required to be a better beader. You learn how skills and techniques are interrelated. You start with a core set of skills. Then you build upon these, and learn how to link your new set of skills to the core. You learn the next set of skills, and link them back to the second set, and link them back to the core.

e. An acceptable outcome is one where the piece of jewelry maintains a sense of itself as art, as the piece is worn.




Where the Craft Approach is systematic, and

the Art Tradition methodical,

the Art and Design Tradition is systemic.



JEWERLY DESIGN:
PRINCIPLES OF COMPOSITION


The reason we learn these principles of design is to help us answer the question:

Why do some pieces of jewelry draw your attention,
and others do not?


In this discussion, we are going to evaluate 3 pieces of jewelry in terms of 10 jewelry design principles of composition. Two pieces are well-designed, though not perfectly. The third piece is an entry from Land of Odds' The Ugly Necklace Contest.

Contemporary

Materials: sterling silver tubes, assorted austrian crystal and czech glass beads in montana blues, indian sapphires, crystals, with bronze and gold touches, 2-strand adjustable choker clasp, strung on Soft Touch cable wire, .010".

Classic

Materials: Czech glass rondelles in matte amethyst, matte topaz and matte olivine, some sterling silver pieces such as 3-hole rondelles spacers and a sterling silver tube bead at the center, 2 hand cut carnelian flat disc beads, hook and eye clasp, strung on Soft Touch cable wire, .010"


Ugly

This submission to our ugly necklace contest is made up of plastic beads, 3 shell drops, strung on elastic string, tied into a knot at the back.





1. Rhythm

This is how the piece leads the viewer through sequences of steps. It is a measure of the degree the piece engages the viewer’s eye.
The artist might achieve a rhythm by varying colors, textures, sizes, forms.

When a piece has multiple and coordinated rhythms, we call this Symphonic Rhythm. For example, in a piece, there might be a clear rhythm set by the use of colors throughout the piece, as well as the positioning of definable forms, such as a series of beaded leaves or other shapes. There may be multiple strands within the same piece, each with its own sense of rhythm.


Example:

Black-o-Black-o-Black-o-White-o-Black-o-Black-o-Black-o-White-o
Or,
Black-o-White-o-Black-o-White-o-Black-o-White-o-Black-o-White-o




The Viewer, The Necklace, and Two Cognitive Certainties:
When a viewer interacts with a piece of jewelry worn by someone else, the brain and eye perform two cognitive actions right off the bat.

First, the brain/eye try to visually inspect the piece from end to end. The brain/eye want to make a complete circle around the piece. Anything that inhibits, impedes or distracts the brain/eye from making this complete circle, ends up evoking the fear and anxiety response. If this is the case, the viewer begins to label the jewelry boring or ugly, in order to avoid it. This pre-wired "avoidance / fear / anxiety response" protects the individual from things like snakes and spiders.

Look at the example of the Ugly Necklace below. I can position it one way, and then another way. I think you can feel in yourself a noticeable difference in how motivated you feel to make a circle around the whole piece. All I've done is alter the pattern, hence rhythm, a little.


With this rhythm and configuration, are you less motivated to make the complete circle around the whole piece?

With this rhythm and configuration, are you more motivated to make the complete circle around the whole piece?

The more the viewer is motivated to make the complete circle around the piece, the more the piece will be judged as beautiful, satisfying and appropriate. Rhythm is one of the primary principles used here, though the other principles contribute as well.

[The second Cognitive Certainty is discussed in the next section below.]

EVALUATE AND SCORE THE SAMPLES FOR RHYTHM.
WHAT KINDS OF THINGS COULD BE ALTERED TO INCREASE, DECREASE OR CHANGE THE SENSIBILITY OF THE PIECE, GIVEN THIS JEWELRY COMPOSITION PRINCIPLE?

 

Contemporary

A stepped rhythm is created by altering areas of sterling silver tubes with areas of sets of beads. The bead-sets vary in length and composition. Both strands present a similar, though not perfectly similar, rhythm.

Classic

A sweeping rhythm of 3 steps is created here. A long sweep, then a short stop at the center, and another long sweep. All three strands present the same rhythm. At the back of the necklace, there is a subtley designed transition from the glass beads to the clasp assembly.



Ugly

This pieces fails to sustain a satisfying rhythm. The colors of the beads are the same tones, a weak pattern is established, and there are no pieces of interest or points of interest to motivate the viewer to want to see the whole piece from end to end.



 


2. Pointers

Guide viewer to a specific place, or focal point.

Examples:
- Something can be centered
- The color can be varied, say from dark to light, to serve as an “arrow” or “Pointer” to a section of the necklace
- The positioning of the clasp might serve as a pointer
- A dangling pendant might serve as a pointer
- The size of the beads can be varied, such as smallest to largest, to serve as an “arrow” or “Pointer”
- Coordinating the placement of Focal Point on jewelry with the pattern in the clothing upon which the piece will rest
- Something can be strategically off-centered.



Cognitive Certainty #2: After the brain/eye of the viewer tries to make the complete circle around the piece, the second cognitive thing that happens is that the brain/eye wants to come to rest. The major design principle used to allow the brain/eye to come to rest, is the use of a focal point or pointer.

So, the better designed piece has some way to allow the viewer's eye, first to make a complete circle around the piece, and second, to come to rest. The focal point can be an obvious piece, or a subtle configuration of pieces, forms or themes, or a deliberate manipulation of the viewer's perception and interaction with the piece.


Pendant as Focal Point

Graduated Sizes,
and a light to dark color pattern,
to Establish Focal Point



A more complex necklace might have more than one pointer within its design.


EVALUATE AND SCORE THE SAMPLES FOR POINTERS.
WHAT KINDS OF THINGS COULD BE ALTERED TO INCREASE, DECREASE OR CHANGE THE SENSIBILITY OF THE PIECE, GIVEN THIS JEWELRY COMPOSITION PRINCIPLE?

 

Contemporary


The pointer is subtley created by varying (1) the length of each bead-set, so that the longer sets are closer to the center of the piece, and (2) the sizes of the beads in each set, so that the larger beads are part of the composition of the bead-sets closest to the center of the piece.

Classic

Here a clear focal point is presented.



Ugly


There is some attempt at creating a focal point, through the placement of the 3 shell pieces, as well as use of darker beads at the base of the piece. What you can't see in the picture is that the shell pieces are orange on one side and white on the other, and are color-positioned in a way that diminishes their impact as pointers.







3. Planar Relationships

This is the degree the piece is not disorienting to the viewer, or particularly confusing in terms of what is up and what is down.

People always need to orient themselves to their surroundings, so that they know what is up and what is down. They usually do this by recognizing the horizontal planes of the floor and the ceiling of a room (ground and sky outside), and the vertical planes of the walls of a room (buildings, trees and the like outside).

Jewelry must assist, or at least not get in the way of, this natural orienting process. It accomplishes this in how its “lines” are arranged and organized. If a piece is very 3-dimensional, then how its “planes” are arranged and organized becomes important, as well.

The goal here is to “see” the piece of jewelry, especially when worn, as something that is coherent, organized, and controlled.

Design elements we might use to achieve a satisfactory planar relationship within our piece:
- symmetry
- or, more difficult to achieve, a satisfying asymmetry
- a planar pattern in how each section of the piece relates to the other sections
- how sections of the piece interlock
- how we “draw and interrelate” parallel lines, perpendicular lines and curved lines within the piece

Example:
How can a person truly pull off wearing only one earring? After all, visually, it pulls the person off to one side, thus violating the basic orienting planar relationships. What about the composition of the earring, allows this to work; what about the composition doesn’t?

Example:
When wearing a necklace, where the clasp is worn on the side, instead of the back, sometimes this works, and sometimes it does not. Again, what about the composition of the necklace, allows this to work; what about the composition doesn’t?





Off-centered piece is disorienting and disturbing.


EVALUATE AND SCORE THE SAMPLES FOR PLANAR RELATIONSHIPS.
WHAT KINDS OF THINGS COULD BE ALTERED TO INCREASE, DECREASE OR CHANGE THE SENSIBILITY OF THE PIECE, GIVEN THIS JEWELRY COMPOSITION PRINCIPLE?

 

Contemporary


This piece has the subtle feel of what is up and what is down, less so for what is right and what is left.

Classic

This piece clearly delineates up/down and right/left.


Ugly

This piece clearly tells the viewer what is up and what is down, and a little less clearly what is left and what is right.




4. Interest

“Interest” means the degree to which the artist makes the ordinary…noteworthy.

Design elements might include:
- selection of materials and mix of materials
- selection of color combinations
- varying the sizes of things
- pushing the envelop on interrelating planar relationships among the sections of the jewelry
- playing with the rhythm
- clever use of a focal point

EVALUATE AND SCORE THE SAMPLES FOR INTEREST.
WHAT KINDS OF THINGS COULD BE ALTERED TO INCREASE, DECREASE OR CHANGE THE SENSIBILITY OF THE PIECE, GIVEN THIS JEWELRY COMPOSITION PRINCIPLE?

 

Contemporary


Noteworthy aspects of this piece: configuration and color blending of beads; varying pattern and layout of beads on the 2 strands

Classic

Noteworthy aspects of this piece: "Surface-simple" but really very elaborate configuration of beads and parts in center, including some interesting techniques that allow movement; rich appearance of ordinary glass rondelles

Ugly


This necklace is rather ordinary and boring. The beads are similar in material and color tone.





5. Statistical Distribution

How satisfying the numbers and sizes of objects are within the piece. This may form a “pattern”, or not.

Too few of any one size, shape or color? Too much? Strange use of size or number?

 


Examples:


 

4mm+4mm+4mm+4mm+4mm+12mm+12mm+12mm+4mm+4mm+4mm+4mm+4mm




12mm PURPLE+12mm PURPLE+4mm PURPLE+6mm YELLOW+12mm PURPLE+8mm YELLOW




Examples of varying the sizes. Is one strand more satisfying than the others?


Examples of varying the colors and sizes. Is one strand more satisfying than the other?

EVALUATE AND SCORE THE SAMPLES FOR STATISTICAL DISTRIBUTION.
WHAT KINDS OF THINGS COULD BE ALTERED TO INCREASE, DECREASE OR CHANGE THE SENSIBILITY OF THE PIECE, GIVEN THIS JEWELRY COMPOSITION PRINCIPLE?

 

Contemporary


A lot of playing with the distribution of sizes and colors within this piece, as well as the relationship of the long tubes vs. the clusters of small beads. Distribution results in the feeling of a "waterfall".

Classic


Very controlled distribution of primarily one size and shape of bead, allowing a strong classical feel to the piece. The carnelian color might not have been the best choice, when put with the amethyst, topaz and olivine colors.



Ugly

This necklace does not have a satisfying distribution of sizes or shapes or colors. The necklace is mono-tonal. It feels like it needs something more to it.




6. Balance

How satisfying the placement of objects (and their attributes) within a piece is.

The attributes would include such things as the materials used, the colors, textures and patterns, the sizes, shapes and scales.

The statistical distribution of size and number might seem OK, but their placement might be awkward. For example, you might have used purple and yellow beads in the correct proportions (hence, good statistical distribution), but their placement within the piece might not be optimal (hence, bad balance).


Bad Balance

Better Balance

EVALUATE AND SCORE THE SAMPLES FOR BALANCE.
WHAT KINDS OF THINGS COULD BE ALTERED TO INCREASE, DECREASE OR CHANGE THE SENSIBILITY OF THE PIECE, GIVEN THIS JEWELRY COMPOSITION PRINCIPLE?

 

Contemporary


While there are differences in rhythm and distribution in both strands, the necklace still feels balanced.

Classic


Tight symmetrical balance.


Ugly

Elements feel balanced.



 


7. Dimensionality

The degree to which, whether the piece is flat or 3-dimensional, the placement of objects (and their attributes) is satisfying, and does not compete or conflict with the dimensionality of the piece as a whole.

Sometimes dimensionality is achieved through the positioning of masses of objects or planes of interconnected pieces.

Othertimes, dimensionality is achieved through color/texture optical effects, such as the use of glossy and matte beads in the same piece.


Example:
Flat loomed bracelet and a button clasp, that sits so high on the bracelet, that it detracts from the 2-dimensional reason-for-being of the piece.


Would a clasp, and a flatter clasp, at the end of the piece work better?

Glossy surfaces move toward the viewer, and matte ones recede.

EVALUATE AND SCORE THE SAMPLES FOR DIMENSIONALITY.
WHAT KINDS OF THINGS COULD BE ALTERED TO INCREASE, DECREASE OR CHANGE THE SENSIBILITY OF THE PIECE, GIVEN THIS JEWELRY COMPOSITION PRINCIPLE?

 

Contemporary

This piece is relatively flat.

Classic

The matte beads recede, and the shiny sterling comes forward. The focal point beads overlap each other, and extend forward from the rope.


Ugly

Very flat piece.




8. Temporal Extension

This principle concerns the degree to which the parts of the piece are integrated into the whole, especially in terms of how the materials relate to their historical use.

The idea of “historical use” refers to one of two situations.

a. As the piece is worn over time. For example, how relevant or successful is the piece if worn only once, versus if worn twice a week? Has the piece been designed and constructed to endure and last as long as it is expected to last?

For example, you would not use metalized plastic beads in an Heirloom Bracelet, because the platings on the beads would wear or chip off long before the expected "life" of the heirloom bracelet.

Or,

b. As the piece is judged and understood within a historical or cultural context.

For example, is a piece appropriate for a wedding also appropriate for office wear? Is a great Univ of Tennessee Orange Necklace as successful when worn to a Vanderbilt football game?

“Historical Use” may narrowly refer to one specific wearer in particular, or more broadly to a group, social or societal expectations.

Other examples:
- white pearls are associated with bridal jewelry
- making a matching set of earrings and necklace for jewelry that typically should be worn as a matching set


Images submitted by Robert De Luccia, with his elk bone necklace submission to The Ugly Necklace Contest, 2003

 

EVALUATE AND SCORE THE SAMPLES FOR TEMPORAL EXTENSION.
WHAT KINDS OF THINGS COULD BE ALTERED TO INCREASE, DECREASE OR CHANGE THE SENSIBILITY OF THE PIECE, GIVEN THIS JEWELRY COMPOSITION PRINCIPLE?

 

Contemporary

This piece has both formal and informal elements, making it acceptable for a wide range of situations.

Classic

The formality and classicism of the piece probably limits the occasions it would be appropriate for. In some cases, it might also be considered a power piece -- that is, something that would enhance the wearer's authority.



Ugly

The materials and construction suggest that this necklace would not be considered an investment piece, or something that you would want to have around for a long time.




9. Physical Extension/Finishing

When there is (or should be) movement in a piece, there should be clear evidence that the designer anticipated where the parts came from, and where they are going to. Jewelry is worn by people who move, so the design should be a natural extension to such movements, and the stress they put on the piece.

Example of bad physical extension/finishing: The dangle earring which has the dangle stuck in a 90 degree angle.

Example of bad physical extension/finishing: The crimped bracelet which breaks at the crimp, thus has been incorrectly crimped and has broken from movement and wearing.

 

The piece should move with the body.

It should not put undue stress on any piece, component or section that would result in the jewelry breaking, bending or denting "before its time."

The piece should drape well and feel good when worn -- no stratchy edges such as from exposed cable wire, or crushed crimp beads; no forced and too-stiff "circle" where a joint or hinge might be needed

Components of the piece should not get "stuck" out of place, or move inappropriately.


EVALUATE AND SCORE THE SAMPLES FOR PHYSICAL EXTENSION/FINISHING.
WHAT KINDS OF THINGS COULD BE ALTERED TO INCREASE, DECREASE OR CHANGE THE SENSIBILITY OF THE PIECE, GIVEN THIS JEWELRY COMPOSITION PRINCIPLE?

 

Contemporary

The adjustable choker clasp allows the wearer to adjust the necklace a little, hence how the two strands lay relative to each other. Everyone's body is different.

Classic

The center piece is designed to move in an intriguing way; however, either carnelian bead can end up stuck in a wrong position. This is a design flaw.


Ugly

The pieces are strung tightly together. The 3 shell pieces are stiff, pointy and scratchy.




10. Parsimony

There should be no nonessential elements.

The designer should achieve the maximal effect with the least effort or excess.


Many jewelry designers, when they like a particular bead, or a particular design, often over-do their pieces. The thinking here is that, if they have a beautiful part, adding many of these parts will make the whole even more beautiful. Often, it results in the finished product that is boring or uninteresting. The finished product loses a type of tension, power and energy.

Good Parsimony shows that the designer has a good sense of the relationship of the parts to the whole.


EVALUATE AND SCORE THE SAMPLES FOR PARSIMONY.
WHAT KINDS OF THINGS COULD BE ALTERED TO INCREASE, DECREASE OR CHANGE THE SENSIBILITY OF THE PIECE, GIVEN THIS JEWELRY COMPOSITION PRINCIPLE?

Contemporary

There does not appear to be too many or too few pieces here. A 3rd strand would not further contribute to the overall success of the piece.

Classic

There does not appear to be too many or too few pieces here. Creating more pattern or adding more colors would not further contribute to the overall success of the piece. Changing the size of the focal point would not further contribute to the overall success of the piece.



Ugly

This necklace needs more or different to succeed.





 

BRIEF MENTION OF OTHER SETS OF DESIGN PRINCIPLES
WE COVER IN OTHER CBJA CLASSES ON JEWELRY DESIGN :


A. PHYSICAL FUNCTION: Jewelry must withstand the forces that usage places on the piece. Design strategies must anticipate whether the piece would be worn daily or occasionally; was expected to last a year, more than a year, a lifetime; was to be worn in situations where there was little movement/activity by the wearer or a lot of movement/activity.

The designer does not want the piece to pose any kind of problem of manipulation. The Design and Construction should be conditioned by anatomy and situation.

PHYSICAL FUNCTION is understood in terms of MOVEMENT, Flow, Drapery, Flexibility, Rigidity, Volume, Weight, and Torque. It is understood in terms of proportions and sizes and coherency among the parts. It is understood in terms of the relationship of the piece to the purpose it is worn, or what it is worn with. It is understood in terms of how the piece is secured from loss.

You don't want to end up with a top-heavy brooch, or a bracelet that is too stiff around the wrist. You don't want a bracelet or necklace to shift position on the body.

Wide necklaces must be tapered conically toward the neck to lie flat.

 

B. PSYCHO-SOCIAL FUNCTION: Jewelry has many uses, including meeting the individual's needs for self-esteem, self-actualization, sex and sexuality, a sense of oneness and uniqueness, a sense of being a part of a larger group or community, a sense of survival and protection, a re-affirmation of values and perspectives, a connection to a higher power or spirituality, fantasy, personal use-goals.

 

C. FORMS: It is important for the jewelry designer to think in terms of "parts", "forms", and the "piece as a whole". Forms are inter-related objects. For example, they might be sections of beads that seem to be thematically inter-related.

Design-control over forms enables the designer to create a "whole" that is more than the sum of its "parts".


Very well-designed necklace by Lisa Klakulak,
made up of 15/0 seed beads organized into
several organic and organically-arranged forms.
The clasp on the lower right side also repeats the basic form.

 


D. TECHNIQUES and MATERIALS: The choice of materials, particularly clasps and stringing materials, set the tone and chances of success for the piece.

These choices involve such things as:
- Type of material(s)
- Thickness and other physical parameters of the parts, such as whether they have been stamped, fabricated or cast; interaction with sunlight, ultraviolet light, heat and cold; how the pieces have been finished off
- Cost of materials
- Durability of materials
- Compatibility of different types of materials
- Structural integrity and integration of materials, particularly in multi-media art jewelry or related pieces

For example, it is difficult to mix different materials, such as glass and gemstones, in the same piece. When your brain/eye interacts with most gemstones, it not only focuses on the surface of the bead, but is drawn into the bead at well, so there is a lot of cognitive interaction between person and bead, as she or he tries to make sense of the bead and its qualities. With most glass, the brain/eye focuses on the surface, and that's it. Most glass beads do not draw the eye deeper within them. What results, is that more successful pairing of glass and gemstones would use glass that mimics the effect of gemstones. This might include glass that is frosted or translucent, of might have built up layers of transparent glass, each layer a different color.

Another example: 14KT gold beads tend to dent, unless heavy-walled or extra-heavy walled. Most jewelry using 14KT gold beads would be considered "investment-quality". If the beads dent easily, this would be a design-contradiction.


E. JEWELRY SUPPORT SYSTEMS: In the marriage of thought to process, the jewelry designer needs to focus on how the piece is constructed, and to understand how to construct the piece in anticipation of how it is to be worn.

The piece of jewelry should be understood as a series of parts and forms connected by Support Systems. Support systems function like joints, pulleys, rivets, hinges. They allow the piece to take the shape of the wearer's body, and to move comfortably with that person as that person moves.

Common Jewelry Support Systems:
1. Hanging, Positioning or Tying, using cords, knots, chain or wire, and hooks, loops, swivels, jump rings, split rings, soldered rings, head pins, eye pins, bails, separator bars and boxes, and the like. These are pieces that can come together and connect, link or position things, without having to manipulate the structural integrity of any piece used.

2. Pressure Systems, such as ear clips, pin backs, slip knots, clamps, crimps, snaps. These are pieces that can be tighted or loosened. They allow jewelry to be adjustable in pressure to accomodate individual or situational differences.

3. Clasp Systems. These consist of 2 or more complimentary parts that fit together to make a unit clasp. Clasp systems must have methods of releasing the hold of the clasp to allow for opening and closing.

4. Piercing and Stud Systems. These use long prongs, pin stems or stick pins and clutches. Friction and surface area connections determine success.

5. Sewing Systems. These include the many types of systematic bead stitches which hold the parts together. Different sewing systems can result in different visual and functional outcomes, given the same set of parts.

6. Adapter Systems. These include 2 or more complimentary parts that fit together in order to adapt something so that it may be used within a piece of jewelry. These include things like screw eyes, mounts, bezel and other settings, end caps and bead caps.

 

 


SOME SUMMARY NOTES FROM DISCUSSION ABOUT
BASICS OF BEAD STRINGING AND ATTACHING CLASPS

Stringing beads on a cord is not difficult, but it does require a thorough understanding of the pros and cons of the various parts and stringing materials that you will use.

The bead stringer has several goals to achieve:

a. An appealing piece
b. Durability
c. Anticipation of how a piece is to be worn
d. How the piece feels when worn
e. Anticipation of the effects of movement on the piece, how it is seen (no matter the position), and how it holds up to forces any movement imposes on the piece
f. Anticipation of the context in which the piece is to be worn

The two most important steps in creating a wearable art-piece that will be around and wearable for future generations are:

1. Choice of Clasp
2. Choice of Stringing Material

The "Clasp Assembly" usually consists of several parts -- it includes all the things that have to come together in order to attach the clasp to the beadwork. Besides the Clasp itself, there are probably jump rings and connectors, crimp beads, clamps or other jewelry findings, and the stringing material.

The "Clasp Assembly" is also known as a support system, and it is the most important support system in any piece of jewelry. In any one piece, there are usually 2 or more support systems. The support systems through a necklace or bracelet are similar to the joints in your body or the hinges on a doorframe. They aid movement. They prevent any one piece from being adversely affected by the forces "movement" brings to the piece. They make the piece look and feel better, when worn.

The best clasp is one that has no moving parts. These include toggles, buttons, slides, S-clasps, hook and eye clasps and friction clasps.

The clasp should be proportional to the beads used in the piece. The full Clasp Assembly should be proportional to the piece as a whole. If half your bracelet is taken up by the Clasp Assembly, then there is a problem here.

In better pieces, the clasp seems as if it is an organic and integral part of the rest of the piece. It does not feel as if it were an add-on or after-thought.



There are many different types of stringing materials. The best outcomes are usually achieved using needle and thread. Your stringing will be the strongest, it will last the longest, it will feel supple and soft, and it will drape and wear the best.

However, it adds a lot of time to the creation of a piece. If you are selling your pieces, very often you won't be able to recoup your labor, when using needle and thread.

One alternative is to use a flexible cable wire. This goes very quickly and is easy to do. The better cable wires are very strong. There is a stiffness to them that makes the pieces not feel as good or drape as well when worn, in comparison to thread. You also have to use a crimp bead to hold the cable wires in place, and this is a weak design component in the Clasp Assembly.

Another alternative is to use a hybrid cable thread, such as FireLine or PowerPro. You use needles with these, but only have to go through the piece one or two times, instead of 3, as you would with nylon thread. The pieces are stiffer than the threads, but drape better than the cable wires.

As a designer, then, as long as you know what the ideal stringing materials and clasps are, you can more easily step back from those ideals, and use alternative materials and clasps, and still achieve a great outcome.

 


 











































 













































































































































 






























































 




















 












































































































































 

 

 


LAND OF ODDS -  Jewelry Design Center

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COPYRIGHT 2007  Warren S. Feld