Sunday, March 22, 2009
The Method in the Madness
I was flipping through my workbook last night when I came across this. Although I didn't date this entry, as you can tell by the heading (if you can read my handwriting - my mother claims it hasn't improved since I was about seven), these were my preliminary sketches for entries in the first Bead Star contest held last year. I thought this was a pretty clear illustration of my design method, so I thought I'd share it with you. Now, sometimes, I just get out the bead board and start playing with shapes and colors of beads, without doing any preliminary sketching, but I often find this the most efficient way to design my pieces.
At the time I drew this, I owned a strand of center-drilled keishi pearls and a variety of loose freshwater pearls and that's about it. I had never made a medallion shaped-dragon heart pendant or related clasp at that point but thought it would be interesting to try. (This is kind of embarrassing, but I had also never wire-wrapped a horizontally drilled teardrop-shaped bead, either - I had been creating jewelry for less than a year at that point - but that's a different issue. I often find that my designs are more ambitious than my limited technical skills, but I feel that it keeps me on my toes. And you never know what you can do until you try, right?)
As you can see by my notes, I felt that a drop-shaped bead would work well dangling at the bottom of the focal, but I didn't have an idea at that time what kind of bead I might be able to use. With this draft in mind, I went shopping during a local bead show and found some nice faceted onyx drops. (And I opened my copy of Stringing to the basic skills section, and learned how to wire-wrap them. Ahem.) I also found a larger faceted round onyx bead to string immediately above the dragon heart pendant. In the end, the piece turned out like this:
As you can see, the over-sized drops I found didn't need any further embellishment (and I only needed three of them), and I changed the clasp from a toggle to a button (and fiddled with the scale of the pendant). However, overall, the design came out pretty similar to the initial concept, right? In this case, using a preliminary sketch helped me focus the design more quickly and streamlined the whole process.
Of course, it doesn't always turn out this smoothly - you can probably also see a partial sketch of one of my double koi pendants on that page. That necklace design didn't quite work out for me, and I never completed it. Still, putting the concept down on paper first helped me determine that I didn't want to take the process further with that particular piece.
Oh, and how did I do with my entry? Well, I did make the finals last year, but I didn't end up placing. This piece ultimately appeared in the Winter 2009 issue of Stringing, instead. However, if you are not already aware - Bead Star 2009 is underway! Go here for more details.
Thanks for visiting.