THE DESIGN PERSPECTIVE
On Beading and Jewelry Making
The DESIGN PERSPECTIVE is very focused on teaching
beaders and jewelry makers how to make choices. Choices
about what materials to include, and not to include. Choices
about strategies and techniques of construction. Choices
about mechanics. Choices about aesthetics. Choices about
how best to evoke emotions.
choices must, of necessity, reflect an understanding of
the bead and its related components. How do all these pieces,
in conjunction with stringing materials, assert their needs?
Their needs for color, light and shadow. Their needs for
durability, flexibility, drape, movement and wearability.
Their needs for social or psychological or cultural or contextual
appropriateness -- an appropriateness that has to do with
satisfaction, beauty, fashion and style, as well as power
This DESIGN PERSPECTIVE contrasts with the more predominant
Craft Approach, where the beader or jewelry maker
merely follows a set of steps and ends up with something.
Here, in this step-by-step approach, all the choices have
been made for them.
this DESIGN PERSPECTIVE also contrasts with another widespread
approach to beading and jewelry making – the Art
Tradition – which focuses on achieving ideals
of beauty, whether the jewelry is worn or not. Here the
beader or jewelry maker learns to apply art theories learned
by painters and sculptors, and assumed to apply equally
to beads and jewelry, as well.
Craft Approach and the Art Tradition ignore
too much of the functional essence of jewelry. Because of
this, they often steer the beader and jewelry maker in the
wrong directions. Making the wrong choices. Exercising the
wrong judgments. Applying the wrong tradeoffs between aesthetics
The focus of the DESIGN PERSPECTIVE is strategic thinking.
At the core of this thinking are a series of design principles
and their skillful applications. These principles go beyond
a set of techniques. These principles and the strategies
for applying them provide the beader and jewelry maker with
some clarity in a muddled world.
belief here is that there are many different kinds of information
that must come together and be applied. It is impossible
to clearly learn and integrate this information all at once.
When learned haphazardly or randomly, as most people do,
it becomes problematic. It becomes more difficult or too
confusing to successfully bring to bear all these kinds
of things the beader or jewelry maker needs to know when
designing and constructing a piece of jewelry in the moment.
Thus, the beader and jewelry maker best learn all this related
yet disparate information in a developmental order, based
on some coherent grammer or set of rules of design. By learning
within this organized structure and informational hierarchy,
the jewelry artist best sees how everything interrelates
and comes together. This is the DESIGN PERSPECTIVE.
we begin with a Core set of skills and concepts, and how
these are interrelated and applied. Then we move on to a
Second Set of skills and concepts, their interrelationships
and applications, and identifying how they are related to
the Core. And onward again to a Third Set of skills and
concepts, their interrelationships and applications and
relationship to the Second Set and the Core, and so forth.
In the DESIGN PERSPECTIVE, “Jewelry” is understood
as Art, but is only Art as it is worn. It is not considered
Art when sitting on a mannequin or easel. Because of this,
the principles learned through Craft or Art are important,
but not sufficient for learning good jewelry design and
fashioning good jewelry.
good jewelry design creates its own challenges. All jewelry
functions in a 3-dimensional space, particularly sensitive
to position, volume and scale. Jewelry must stand on its
own as an object of art. But it must also exist as an object
of art which interacts with people (and a person’s
body), movement, personality, and quirks of the wearer,
and of the viewer, as well as the environment and context.
Jewelry serves many purposes, some aesthetic, some functional,
some social and cultural, some psychological.
The focus of the DESIGN PERSPECTIVE is on the parts. How
do you choose them? How should they be used, and not be
used? How do you assemble them and combine them in such
a way that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts?
How do you create and build in support systems within your
jewelry to enable that greater movement, more flexibility,
better draping, longer durability? How do you best use all
these parts, making them resonate and evoking that emotional
response from your audience to your style, vision and creative
hand that you so desire?
The beader and jewelry maker are seen as multi-functional
professionals, similar to an architect who builds houses
and an engineer who builds bridges. In all these cases,
the professional must bring a lot of very different kinds
of skills and abilities to bear, when constructing, whether
house or bridge or jewelry. The professional has to be able
to manage artistic design, functionality, and the interaction
of the object with the person and that person’s environment.
GOOD JEWELRY DESIGN: Principles of Composition
question always comes up: Why a week-long workshop? Why not
a 1 or 2 day workshop?
believe that it is more useful to delve developmentally, intensively
and comprehensively into a concept, in order to best understand
get the opportunity to explore that concept in all its meanings,
aspects, histories, applications, boundaries and possibilities.
You get to see how this concept links up to others, and how
this concept is part of a larger system of concepts relevant
for good jewelry design. Best of all, you have the time to
deliberatively determine how to make that concept best work
for you and your creative process.
understanding is more than knowing how to define a concept.
It is knowing how to apply it. How to manipulate it and explore
its variations. It is learning how to integrate this knowledge
and experience so that these become more intuitive.
of course, lead to better jewelry design and construction.
accomplish all this, it takes an immersive, focused week-long
workshop, and a workshop which concurrently integrates the
learning of theories, applications and manipulations.
AM I PREPARED
TO TAKE THESE WORKSHOPS?
prospective students ask whether they are sufficiently prepared
for these workshops.
tell them that "preparation" is a Mind-Set, not
how many techniques you already know, or even, which particular
techniques you know. Preparation is an attitude about learning
something about making jewelry beyond some set of step-by-step
instructions. It is a concern with the WHY does something
work or not work, not just the HOW does something work. It
is a strong desire for Insights.
first aspect of our workshops is on design theories and concepts.
Most students, whether beginner, intermediate or advanced,
have had little or no training in design theory. So most students,
regardless of background, are starting at a similar place
second aspect of our workshops is on applying the theories.
Here, prior experience makes a difference. However, we provide
a tiered set of learning exercises and workshop projects,
so that students, as they learn new ideas and concepts each
day, have things which challenge them during the week at the
technical level in which they find themselves.
are many different types of jewelry making disciplines. The
focus here is on bead weaving and bead stringing, with some
simple wire working as well. We hold a strong belief in our
curriculum that the good jewelry designer needs to be somewhat
multi-disciplinary. No matter what type of jewelry making,
however, the same design theories apply, and similar strategies
for implementation are found throughout these disciplines.