Friday, December 4, 2015

8 Tips to Improve Your Jewelry Making Skills

by Sherri Stokey

Perhaps I should clarify:  even though I've titled this piece 8 Tips to Improve Your Jewelry Making Skills, please don't stop reading if you don't make jewelry.  Most of these tips (if not all) can apply to other crafts as well.  Either way, I've put a lot of thought into this article and since you're already here anyway, you might as well finish reading it.  Plus it's good manners.  If you get to the end and feel I've wasted your time or you don't agree with me on one point or another, you can always leave a comment and give me a piece of your mind.  With that out of the way, let's get to the list.  


1.  Practice!  Although we all like to think we are the 1% who can pick up something and do it perfectly the first time, it just doesn't work that way.  If you ask your most admired artists, they will tell you that they've come a long way and devoted a lot of hours to perfecting their craft.  Which leads us to #2...


2.  Strive for perfection.   This one might not apply to every art equally, but in some mediums, like micro macrame, neatness counts.  It's all about keeping the knots even with the same tension, crisp corners and straight lines.  In other mediums it might be a matter of getting a smooth solder or a perfectly coiled wire.  Mediocre isn't good enough - strive to do the best work you can.  You won't get this one without #1 (practice).  Fact.


3.  Play!  #1 and #2 make it sound like making jewelry is drudgery and it couldn't be further from the truth.  Allow yourself time to play around in whatever way is fun for you.  Sometimes I like to goof around with random knotting just to see what develops and sometimes I like to try the strangest color combination I can dream up.  Just for fun.


4.  Take a class.  I had never been able to take a class until last year, and I thought I'd done okay for myself with the self-teaching bit.  And I had.  But when I had a chance to take a class I was really excited by the whole experience.  There's just no substitute for learning from someone who really knows what he or she is doing.  I picked up some great tips and got a fresh infusion of enthusiasm for possibilities I hadn't considered.  


Even if you live in the middle of nowhere like me, with no access to local bead shops or experts, there are online classes available. Although a live class is nice so you can interact with the instructor and other students, online classes have some strong points of their own: you can pause them, replay portions and tailor the experience to your own schedule without disrupting other students.  Whether live or recorded, classes offer you an opportunity to grow and develop your skills.


5.  Network.  Find a local group of like-minded enthusiasts or join an online community.  It's fun!  I belong to several groups on Facebook and I really enjoy them.  I love to see the different styles of  artists from all over the world. Plus, having a group of friends who have the same interests can be helpful if you get stuck.  Usually there's someone  who has faced the same issue you're experiencing , or at least someone who can offer some creative solutions.  It's also a great way to find inspiration, which leads to #6...


6.  Look for inspiration.  Whether you find inspiration by taking a stroll through the park or a hike in the mountains or a trip to the zoo, or something more sedentary like scouring the Internet, inspiration is there and free for the taking.  Clear your mind and take a fresh look at everyday objects.  Think in terms of texture or color or lines, then try to replicate even one part of that in the medium of your choice.


7.  Experiment.  Don't be afraid to fail.  Try something different - if you usually work with polymer clay, try your hand at micro macrame.  If you are a knotter, pick up a bead weaving tutorial and give it a go.  Try torch fired enameling (make sure the blinds are out of the way first and don't ask me how I know that).  The point is to step outside your comfort zone, color outside the lines.  Sometimes when you do that, it blurs where you thought your boundaries were and opens the door to some amazing things!

 
 

8.  Find your style.   It has taken me a long time to put my finger on what makes one piece fantastic and another mediocre, even when the two are very similar and I've finally boiled it down to one thing:  authenticity.  The whole point of art is to express yourself.  It's great to learn from a class or follow someone's pattern, but in the end, you need to find a way to make it yours if you want to take your art to the next level.  Find your voice and then sing like nobody's listening (cliche, cliche, cliche - but accurate).  Do you like no one else can!



13 comments:

mairedodd said...

excellent - the tips are accurate and really emphasize that as much as people think that artistic endeavors are at the mercy of the muse, solid craftsmanship is necessary. this was great. i know that i tend to let slide the 'play' part. which is so very necessary and as you state, can ignite something you hadn't thought about before.

your work is beautiful - complex while unified - i look at the number of choices you make in each one and am staggered that you can get started! i admire that.

Francine Grenier said...

Very good article. My experience is like your. I have learn a long time ago a lot of craft related to thread: macrame, crochet, knitting, brodery, waving, crossstitch,etc.. Sewing, quilting, landscape. I had to rely to book to learn. It was an other time then! Recently I learn chainmail, kumihimo and renew with macrame; again by myself but with the help of all those Youtube video that the people like you take the time to make. And look the work done on Pinterest. And refine or refresh the technique or concept with the article the artist share with us.
your article help me this morning. Confirm certain things, refresh other and stop feeling guilty to reproduce in part or in full the work of people who share it with us.
Thank you to have took the time to write this article

Norbel Marolla said...

Wonderful! Thank you for pointing out so many of the things I forget about. I just wrote a post the other day talking about the play part. For me it is essential! AND it's the funnest part of jewelry design for me. Inspiration; Experiment; Don't be afraid to fail. All necessary things. I have a tendency to get focused on "the shop" and all the things that go along with that and don't take the time to step outside the box often enough. Thank you for the reminder! Very well thought out.

Janet Bocciardi said...

Yes! These are all important and how I work. I started working with my hands in needlework and taking classes back in the day. Having the back of the work look as neat as the front with no knots (no glue is where I take it on the jewelry side) was stressed and fit my personality to a T. You have to be willing to take something apart if it's not up to your standard.

I only take classes now that help me with a technique that I'm struggling with. I feel this keeps me focused on my style, muse, heart, etc.

Your work is exquisite! As Marie said I don't know how you even know where to start since I know you'd have to have a good idea or you'd be starting over and over again due to this particular process.

Great article for those starting out or needing to reevaluate where they are.

Chris said...

I can relate to every tip you have shared and really appreciate reviewing all the ways I can continue to grow. Some I am really good at and some I realize I need to focus more on. We are never too accomplished to grow and develop more and that is the true challenge and excitement of being an artist.

I really enjoy your blog posts Sheri. Thanks for your time and effort on behalf of all your fellow artists!

Linda - Earthshine.co.uk said...

Fantastic article and so true for me. Thanks for writing it.

Carla H said...

Very well said. Great article and beautiful work.

Robin Reed said...

Well Sherri , you did not waste my time and I really agree with all of your points!!! Just like your work this article was/is AWESOME!!!

Donna Geurin said...

Sherri, you have written a great article. I have even reread it three times. I have been learning from you about 2-3 years now and I have found myself applying a lot of tips that you have shared and working really hard with being neat. Thank you so much. Please keep up the good work, teaching and sharing. Thank you. Awesome.

Donetta said...

Really excellent article...I'm so happy you took the time to write it out for us! I agree with every point you made, and this served as a great reminder to enjoy the process while striving for perfection!

Shaiha said...

What a great article!

Julie Wong Sontag said...

All excellent points. You have to love it enough to be willing to do all those things, or it doesn't work. I so admire the intricacy and meticulously crafted details that go into your work. Really beautiful. xo - julie

Navneet Gems said...

Hey! We share similar experience! Your way of sharing and making this process was a beautiful process that was very very easy to understand. I had people write for me blogs about gemstones etc, which we are into. But, just recently some of the posts I have made are about gemstones and my OWN experience about the trade. I've gotten good responses and a few, well actually very less comments as I intend to build audience now who respects what we write and have readers and lots of eye balls. I've actually seen that coil cutting technology, coincidently, on Bededucation. What a co incidence! Hoping you will follow us back and interact and we get some real followers :) have a good day, Love my Art Jewelry.

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