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JEWELERY DESIGN:
A MANAGED PROCESS

Klimt02, 2/5/18

Abstract: Jewelry artisans rely on their creative skills to conceptualize, construct, and present their pieces. But it makes more sense, and leads to better success on all levels, when jewelry artisans redefine jewelry design, not merely as a creative endeavor, but as a managed process, as well. First, this means understanding what they do as a system of integrated and interrelated choices. Second, this means understanding the implications for these choices at the boundary between jewelry and person.


JEWELRY DESIGN COMPOSITION:
Playing With Building Blocks Called Design Elements

Art Jewelry Forum, 2018

Abstract: Jewelry making is a constructive process of expression. The language of expression begins with the idea of Design Elements. Design Elements are the smallest, meaningful units of design. Design Elements function in a similar way as vowels and consonants in a language. They have form. They have meaning. They have expression. Some can stand alone, and others are dependent and must be clustered together. Better jewelry designers are aware of and can decode these expressive aspects of design elements and how they are included within any piece. This is one part of learning a disciplinary literacy in design. This literacy begins with a process of decoding and builds to an intuitive fluency in design. This article focuses on this process of decoding.


CONTEMPORARY JEWELRY IS NOT A LOOK...
IT'S A WAY OF THINKING

Art Jewelry Forum, 2018


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 in the anticipation of the influence and constraints of a set of shared understandings. Shared understandings relate to composition, construction, manipulation 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 PRINCIPLES:
COMPOSING, CONSTRUCTING, MANIPULATION

Art Jewelry Forum, 2018


Abstract: It is not happenstance that some pieces of jewelry draw your attention, and others do not. It is the result of an artist fluent in design. That fluency begins with selecting Design Elements, but it comes to full fruition with the application of Principles of Composition, Construction and Manipulation. This is where the artist flourishes, shows a recognition of shared understandings about good design, and makes that cluster of jewelry design choices resulting in a piece that is seen as both finished and successful. These Principles represent different organizing schemes the artist might resort to. Jewelry artists translate these Principles a little differently than painters or sculptors, in that jewelry presents different demands and expectations on the artist. The better artist/designer achieves a level of disciplinary literacy – selecting Design Elements and applying Principles -- where fluency becomes automatic, accurate, and rapidly applied.


THE GOAL-ORIENTED DESIGNER:
THE PATH TO RESONANCE

Art Jewelry Forum, 2018

Abstract: Jewelry Designers want to be successful. But things can get a little muddled when thinking about how to get there. Our teachers, our friends, our colleagues often disagree on this point, and tell us to look for conflicting measures of success. We can often lose sight of what we want to end up with. The Proficient Jewelry Designer has but one guiding star: To achieve Resonance. Everything else is secondary. We achieve Resonance by gaining a comfort in and proficiency with communicating about design. This comfort, or disciplinary fluency, translates into all our composing, constructing and manipulating choices. This is empowering. Our pieces resonate. We achieve success. A rubric for proficiency self-assessment follows.


RE-THINKING THE TEACHING OF COLOR TO JEWELRY DESIGNERS
2018

Abstract Color is the single most important Design Element, whether used alone, or in combination with other Design Elements. Yet, the bead, and its use in jewelry, – its very being – creates a series of dilemmas for the colorist. And each dilemma is only overcome through strategically making choices about color and design. This article reviews the basic concepts in color theory and suggests how to adapt each of these to the special requirements of beads and jewelry. This paper seeks to answer how the bead (and its use in jewelry) asserts its need for color. Special attention is paid to differentiating those aspects of color use we can consider as objective and universal from those which are more subjective. The fluent designer is one who can maneuver between universality and individuality when selecting and implementing colors, color combinations and color blends.


POINT, LINE, PLANE, SHAPE, FORM, THEME:
Creating Something Out Of Nothing

Art Jewelry Forum, 2018

Abstract The artist creates something out of nothing. And the jewelry artist does the same, but also imposes this act on the person who wears the result, who in turn, decides whether to display or demonstrate its desirability and wearability, and all within a particular context or situation. So, we start with nothing into something. That something takes up space. That space might be filled with objects we call points, lines, planes, shapes, forms and themes. With whatever that space is filled, and however these objects are organized, the space and its composition convey meaning and value, communicated not merely to the artist, but as importantly, to the wearer and viewer, as well. As Design Elements, it is important to differentiate among the power of each of these objects to focus, anchor, direct, balance, move, expand, layer, synergize, coordinate, conform, bound, connect, and violate. The jewelry designer’s ability to fill, manage and control space is a critical aspect of fluency in design.


ARCHITECTURAL BASICS OF JEWELRY DESIGN
Building In The Necessary Support and Structure

Art Jewelry Forum, 2018

Abstract Whenever you create a piece of jewelry, it is important to try to anticipate how your choice of materials, techniques and technologies might positively or negatively affect how the piece moves and feels (called Support) when worn and how its components maintain shape and integrity (called Structure). Towards this end, it is important to redefine your techniques and materials in architectural terms. Every jewelry making technique is an applied process (called a Design System) with the end goal of trying to reach some type of equilibrium. That is, steps taken to balance off all the external and internal forces impacting the piece. Achieving this balance means that the piece of jewelry is at its point of least vulnerability. This is where all the materials, techniques and technologies have been leveraged to optimize the four S’s: Strength, Suppleness, Stability and Synergy. I find that most jewelry designers do not learn their techniques with architectural principles in mind. They arrange a set of materials into a composition, and assume its success is solely based on the visual grammar they applied. But if the piece of jewelry doesn’t wear well, feels uncomfortable, gets in a weird position making the wearer look clownish, or breaks or comes apart too easily, the jewelry designer has failed in their mission.


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FLUENCY IN DESIGN:
Do You Speak Jewelry

Book under development

A Book About How To Become The Best and Most Successful Jewelry Designer You Can Be… That is my hope
By Warren Feld

I am a Jewelry Designer.

I teach classes in jewelry design and applications.

I own a bead store.

In the 1990s, my partner and I decided we wanted to set up a training program, but something different than what already existed. It was obvious to us that what already existed wasn’t working.

It came down to this: our bead store customers and our jewelry making students were not challenging us. They were not pushing us to seek out new materials. They were not demanding that we more critically evaluate various stringing materials and jewelry findings options. They were not wondering why some things broke or didn’t come together well. They were not encouraging us to explore the craft and see where we could take it.

The typical customer, at that time, would learn one technique, apply it to one pattern, and do this pattern over and over again, perhaps only varying the colors. They would make at least 10 or 12 of the exact same pieces, and carry them around in zip lock plastic bags secured in their purses. They rarely deviated from using the same materials, the same clasps, the same jewelry findings. They never asked questions about what else they could do. They never challenged themselves.

Students wanted us to tell them, step-by-step, how to do it. They didn’t want to think about it. They just wanted to make something quickly and that they could wear home. Uninterested in whether there were better stringing materials for the project. Or a more clever way to construct the clasp assembly. Or better choices of colors, patterns, textures or materials. Or things they could do to make the piece move better, drape better and be more comfortable to wear. Or even take the time to consider the appropriateness of the piece, given where and when the piece was intended to be worn.

We began to see that this was not a customer or student problem. It was not any personal characteristics. Or motivations. Or experiences. Or skill level. This was a problem about what they learned and how they were taught.

Jewelry design, at the time, was considered more an avocation than an occupation or a profession. There was the assumption that no special knowledge was required. You were either creative or you were not. And all it took was to reduce a project to a series of steps where jewelry making was basically paint-by-numbers. Art and Design concepts were dumbed down for jewelry makers, rather than elaborated and reinforced.

Around this time, the art world seemed to want to make a big push to encompass jewelry, as well. Jewelry was defined as a subset of painting or sculpture. And this lent an air of professionalization to the field. Jewelry making here became a beauty contest. But jewelry design was divorced from the materials it was made from, the constructive choices necessary for it to function, and the person who was to wear it.

Before designing jewelry, I had been a painter. For several years when I began designing jewelry, I approached jewelry projects as if I were painting them. This was very frustrating. I couldn’t get the color effects I wanted to achieve. Or the sense of line and shape and dimension. To compensate for my repeated feelings of failure, I actually pulled out my acrylic paints and canvas and painted my creations as I had visualized them in my mind. I could paint jewelry well. But, stuck as I was in this painter-as-designer-rut, I could not satisfactorily translate my vision into a satisfying piece of jewelry.

It finally began to dawn on me the things which needed to be learned and needed to be taught. My partner and I began organizing these ideas and values into something we called The Design Perspective.

These ideas and values form a sort of Design Manifesto. These were, and continue to be, as follows, and it is my hope, as you read through the book, that these become yours, as well.

First (and foremost):
Jewelry is art only as it is worn.

Second:
Jewelry should reflect the artist’s intent. Creativity is not merely Doing. It’s Thinking, as well.

Third:
Jewelry is not designed in a vacuum; rather, it results from the interaction of the artist and his or her various audiences.

Fourth:
Jewelry design should be seen as a constructive process; jewelry should be seen as more architectural than craft or art.

Fifth:
Design choices are best made and strategically managed at the boundary between jewelry and person, where the artist can best determine when enough is enough.

Sixth:
Jewelry must succeed aesthetically, functionally, and contexturally, and, as such, jewelry design choices must reflect the full scope of all this, if jewelry is to be judged as finished, successful and, most importantly, resonant.

Seventh:
Everyone has a level of creativity within them, and they can be taught how to be better jewelry designers.

Eighth:
Successful teaching of jewelry design requires strategies leading students to be literate in how they select, combine and arrange design elements, and to be fluent in how they manipulate, construct, and reveal their compositions.

Ninth:
Successful jewelry designing can only be taught within an agreed upon disciplinary literacy.

Tenth (and final):
Disciplinary literacy should be taught developmentally.

Our curriculum emerged from our understandings about disciplinary literacy and our attempts to implement what we learned from it. This curriculum evolved into this book.

PEARL KNOTTING WARREN'S WAY

Book under development
Pearl Knotting Warren's Way

“Over the years, I have found it very difficult for most students (and even my instructors) to get good knots and good hand-knotted construction using tools. It is difficult to maneuver the knot close to the bead, and it is difficult to keep sufficient tension on your bead cords, as you make the knot. After much trial and experimentation, I developed this set of non-traditional steps without using tools. My students usually master this approach on their very first try!” – Warren

Pearl knotting is a relatively easy technique. There are many variations in how to implement the technique. Here we present the steps for a non-traditional approach to pearl knotting. We feel that, for most people, the traditional approach, without a lot of practice, can be a bit awkward, and result in a less-than-desired functional outcome. The non-traditional approach we present here is easier to achieve a better outcome. There are 4 different ways for starting and finishing off your pearl-knotted piece. How-to steps for each way are presented. In this approach, we do NOT use any tools -- like tweezers, awls, or tri-cord knotters -- to make our knots. We do, however, pull two thicknesses of bead cord through each bead, as does the classical version of the traditional methodology. We minimize the use of glue.






HOW TO BEAD A ROGUE ELEPHANT

Book under development


HOW TO BEAD A ROGUE ELEPHANT
…A Guide For The Aspiring Bead Artist

by Warren Feld


I don’t mean to drag a poor Elephant by its tail, kicking and screaming, into our bead world against its wishes. Nor do I perceive the elephant to be a threat, like you might see an Elephant in the boudoir, or the fine china store. And I don’t want you to shut your eyes and pretend not to notice that this Elephant is here, standing shoulder to shoulder with every beader and jewelry maker around.

The Elephant is not a joke. And the fact that it is “Rogue” makes it more important than ever to figure out why it’s here, among size #10 English beading needles, and Czech size 11/0 seed beads, and Austrian crystal beads. It seems so worldly, yet other-worldly, our Elephant. It’s not our muse. It’s not our Cassandra. It has no secret plan or strategy. It does not depend on its size to make its point. It does not hesitate to stomp and chomp and clomp because the beads before it are raku or glass or gemstone or crystal or metal or plastic. But a Rogue Elephant in the middle of our craft room forces upon us a completely different logic, so that we can make sense of it all.

Only the beader or jewelry artist who is willing to submerge her- or him-self completely in this wonderfully off-centered picture – Rogue Elephant, beads, stringing materials, clasps and all – will really get the fullness of this humor, this wisdom, and the splendor of beading and jewelry making as a form of art that is worn.


How do you stop an elephant from passing through the eye of a needle?

Tie a knot in its tail.


The issues and inspirations that drive the artist

How to Bead a Rogue Elephant is a collection of personal perspectives and experiences on the issues and inspirations that drive the bead and jewelry-making artist in their designs. “Design” is the operative word here. A Rogue Elephant does not present an obstacle, nor create any opportunities, for the artist, unless that artist understands, follows through and is committed to Jewelry as an Art Form, and realizes that jewelry is art only as it is worn. Jewelry as art isn’t a happenstance. It is made up of a lot of different kinds of parts. These must be strategically and thoughtfully brought together. They are brought together as a kind of construction project. The results of this project must be beautiful and appealing. They must be functional and wearable. And this all comes about through design. Jewelry must be designed. And designed it is.

Rogue Elephants are big, and jewelry design is a big task. Rogue Elephants move in unpredictable, yet forceful ways. And jewelry must be designed with movement in mind. Rogue Elephants come with a surface scape, texture and environment, against which the jewelry must look good. And again, good jewelry emerges primarily from the design perspective and control of the bead and/or jewelry artist.

Most beaders and jewelry makers don’t get to the point where they can fully answer Why do some pieces of their jewelry get good attention, and others do not.? They have fun making things. They match outfits. They give gifts. They sell a few pieces. They use pretty beads and other components. And sometimes they get compliments. Othertimes they do not.

Thus, they don’t necessarily know what to do with the pieces they are playing with. They don’t control these pieces, or the process of combining them. They follow patterns and instructions. And do these again. And again and again. Their artistic goals are to complete the steps and end up with something. They might stick to one or a few techniques they feel comfortable with. There is an unfamiliarity with the “bead” – what is it? where did it come from? what makes it special as a medium of art and light and shadow? how does it relate to other beads or clasps or stringing materials or jewelry findings? What happens to the bead over time? When they look at the bead, what do they see?

But luckily, beading for many artists is an evolving obsession. This obsession leads them to contemplate the bead and its use. The bead and its use in art. The bead and its use in jewelry. The bead and its relationship to the artist’s studio. Beads are addictive. Their addictiveness leads the beader or jewelry maker to seek out that Rogue Elephant that haunts them along the distant horizon. They know they want to bead it. They’re not sure how. But they steer themselves along the pathway to find out. This pathway isn’t particularly straight, level or passable. But it’s a pathway nonetheless. And the ensuing possibilities for learning and growing as an artist and designer along the way reap many worthwhile and satisfying rewards. I call this CONTEMPLATION.

The first step in this pathway is to figure out how to get started with beads and jewelry making. You need supplies. You need work spaces and storage strategies and understanding how to get everything organized. You need to anticipate bead spills and many unfinished projects. You need to learn to plan your pieces. You need to get a handle on the beads (and all the other pieces), and how to use them. I call this PLAY.

Whatever the reason, most beaders and jewelry makers don’t get past PLAY. They are content following patterns and making lots of pieces, according to the step-by-step instructions in these patterns. They might fear testing themselves against broader rules of artistic expression. They might not want to expend the mental and physical energy it takes to get into design. They just want to have fun. And if they never notice that Rogue Elephant hugging the horizon, that’s fine with them.

But for those beaders and jewelry makers for whom the Rogue Elephant is very disturbing, no matter how far away he may be, there are these wonderfully exciting, sensually terrific, incredibly fulfilling things that you find as you try to bead your Rogue Elephant, ear, trunk, feet, bodice and all. You learn to play with and dabble with and control the interplay of light and shadow, texture and pattern, dimensionality and perspective, strategy and technique, form and function, structure and purpose. You begin sharing your designs with friends and strangers, perhaps even teaching classes about how to make your favorite project, or do your preferred technique. You might also create a small business for yourself and sell your pieces. Your sense of artistry, your business acumen, your developing design perspective -- you need all this, if you are to have any chance of catching up with your Rogue Elephant, let alone beading him. As you begin to evolve beyond the simple craft perspective to one of artistry and then design, you enter the stage I call DABBLING.

As your jewelry pieces become more the result of your design intuition and acuity, you begin to wonder how other artists capture, be-jewel, and release their own Rogue Elephants. How did they get started? What was their inspiration? What motivated them to delve into beading, stick with it, and take it to the next level? You begin to recognize how some pieces of beadwork and jewelry are merely “craft”, and others are “art”. You get frustrated with beautiful pieces that are unwearable and fashionable pieces that lack durability and pieces that sell that are poorly constructed. You see many good ideas, some well-executed, but many not. I call this SAFARI.

Part of this SAFARI is historical. And the more recent socio-cultural-artistic history of beading in America is a fantastic tale of curiosity, grit, creative expression, ambition and technological advances in materials. Beading exploded across America in the late 1980s and 1990s and owes much to its many fore-mothers and a few fore-fathers that began their beadwork careers at this time, as well as those who founded the many beadwork magazines so prominent today. The other part of the SAFARI is learning life’s lessons, and incorporating these into beadwork and jewelry making approaches and designs.

As you begin to articulate what works and does not work in various pieces in terms of form, structure, art theory, relationships to the body, relationships to psychological and cultural and sociological constructs, you complete your evolution as a jewelry designer. You add a body of design theory and practice to your already honed skills in art, color, bead-stringing, bead-weaving and wire working. You find and bead your Rogue Elephant. I call this GALLERY HOPPING.

GALLERY HOPPING is partly a personal adventure as you self-experience your intellectual growth as an artist. And it is partly an adventure of evaluating how well others artists have succeeded in this same quest, as well. One very revealing pathway is following how artists contemporize traditional designs. Another is to look at multimedia beadwork, and how artists seek to maintain the integrity of each medium within the same piece. Yet another pathway is through collaboration. And still another is how to dress and present yourself for success, including strategies for self-promotion.

Your adventure along this pathway towards design – your success at beading your Rogue Elephant – is very fulfilling. Whether you walk, run, skip or crawl or some mix of the above, it’s a pathway worth following. You’ve learned to transcend the physicality and limitations of your workpace, tools and supplies. You’ve learned to multi-task and organize and construct your project as if you were engineering a bridge. You’re a designer. You’ve evolved as a beader and jewelry-designer and are feeling a true SATISFACTION.