Thursday, June 11, 2015

Making Mechanics Part of the Design

by Staci Louise Smith

Design is by far my favorite part about making jewelry.  I get excited when I have a bunch of items I'd like to see together, and the challenge is to put them together in the most appealing and eye pleasing manner.

The possibilities of this mess excite me!!!!

Sometimes during this process we are thrown curve balls- there are connections and mechanics that have to happen to make things solid, and hold items together, and the challenge is to make them look like an intended part of the design instead of a connection or an afterthought.  

I could probably find a million great examples, but I will focus on a couple, since this is what I was doing in the wee hours of last night as I prepared for my upcoming show.

I really wanted to use up some of my extensive bead stash on the pendants and focal arrangements I had laying out on my desk.  However, I did NOT want to use the dreaded Beadalon and crimp beads.  So, I once again grabbed my irish waxed linen.  One of the reasons I have not stuck with using the cording is because I have no idea how to finish it and make it look nice.  I would always tie small knots or add one or two beads at the end and tie it, and it never looked right enough to me.  So, I thought I would try to incorporate the ends into the design itself, the way the Kristin Oppold of Yay Jewelry does so effortlessly.  

Here are some samples of Kristin's work!!!!  She has really created a signature style for herself using cording!

I love how she has taken those ends and made them into the design itself.  So I tried it out too, and I love the results.

First up, I had two of my choker style focals laid out and wired together.  I wanted to do gemstones instead of chain, so I got out my linen cord and went to town.  On the first one I even added extra dangles on one side, to accentuate the asymmetry of the piece.

One this one I just left the single dangles on each side. (plus the chain dangle I added)

Then I came to the next two pieces I had to string up.  They were trilobite polymer pieces that I had riveted to a copper backing, and were awaiting completion.

The two on the left

These were a little more challenging to use the cording on, but I really wanted to use my new sea urchin spines with them, and I they way they stuck out the sides, it definitely needed more dangles around the focal for balance.  I was starting to get the hang of this cording stuff, and, I was really enjoying the little details and textures it adds, since I usually work in bulking wire.

When these were all said and done, I was thrilled with them.  They have such a nice feel to them.  It was a lot of work though, I had no idea all these tiny details took so long!  (Hats off to you Kristin!  that's a lot of knots and tiny composition to work out)

Then I got to thinking about my trilobite focal pieces...........and I realized that the rivets that hold those together became part of the design as well.  I started using ball rivets on my polymer pieces for a few reasons, the first is decorative.  When I rivet my pieces together, I try to use an arrangement of rivets that compliment the design as well.  And so this blog post was born, we do it all the time, incorporate the mechanics of a piece into the design itself.....and I bet we don't even realize it.

So, it can be challenging, but really fun,  to find ways to make every part of your jewelry flow into the design of the piece.  It's what creates continuity, it's what makes people just want to look at it over and over, finding new details............and I don't know about you, but I love the challenge of it.

I don't plan to give up my wire work anytime soon (or  But I do love the option this gives me as well.  Thank you again to Kristin for the inspiration to embrace cording!!!!

Is there anything you have worked into your design out of necessity???  


Gaia Copia said...

These are absolutely gorgeous!!!
I love the organic feel of the cording. I've always been afraid of it myself because I don't know knotting or finishing either. I just bought a ribbon tying board, thinking that it will propel me into a wealth of knowledge... but it sits there mocking me still.
Well, the colors and rustic, tribal feel of the pendants surrounded by those little knotty cords is just totally inspiring. Nice work!!

Alice said...

I love all your pieces. I have not mastered using any kind of cording or silk etc. It just turns out in a nasty mess.

Deb Fortin said...

There should be a group to help us fibre phobics . Oh wait there is , Love my art jewellery blog .
Your creations are so organic and complete. I too don't love seeing fibres just hanging there at the end of my connections. these dangly bits are a great inspiration to me and so suit the compositions you put them in. I think I will have to get some Irish waxed linen cording.

Kristin Oppold said...

Sorry I'm late I love your blogs and jewelry. Lovely pieces. You work well under pressure!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. I love your work, so any nuggets of wisdom about how you get to the end result is welcome. But I especially love posts about the mechanics of things because that is where I need knowledge. I often struggle with making my connections look like something other than what I had to do to get stuff to hold together!

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