Design Techniques

    I am also encouraged by the number of 40ish and aboves that
write in.  I was talking to an older gentleman a few months back
and mentioned how I wanted to go back to school and get a degree in
fine arts (I was in the Natural Sciences in another life) when he
told me 'it was too late'. (I am in my mid 40's) I thought to
myself it is never too late to learn or go back to school.  Maybe
someday I can. 

DON’T WAIT!!! You CAN do it!

I went back to school a couple of years ago to pursue a fine arts
degree (I have a Bachelor’s in English from many years ago). I was
scared spitless before the first day of class – I had never had a
“studio arts” class in my life, always had the perception that I
couldn’t draw worth anything (even my stick figures were laughable).
But I wanted to try. I had been laid off from a corporate job I’d
had for over 20 years, and was trying to figure out what I wanted to
do for the second half of my career.

While I had been making jewelry on the side, I was completely
self-taught. I wanted to learn the “right” way to do it and to see
what I could do to take it to the next level.

Walking into that classroom (drawing principles, of all things) on
the first day was one of the hardest things I’ve done. Here were all
these “hot shot” kids, fresh out of high school where they had all
excelled in the arts. They’re all full of energy, enthusiasm, and
optimism. And then there was me. 40, hadn’t picked up a sketching
pencil or charcoal probably since I graduated from high school.
Plenty of energy and enthusiasm, not a lot of optimism and not a lot
of confidence that this would be anything other than a humiliating
experience. BUT I was determined to try. And I realized that there
were a smattering of other folks just like me, all trying out this
new experience from the perspective of maturity.

I walked out of the classroom with a feeling that I COULD do it… I
could at least try and see what came of it. Walked into my next
class (sculpture) feeling a little better, a little more confident.
And so it goes.

By the time I got to my jewelry class, I was totally psyched. I
realized that my life experience had prepared me to be ready for this
learning experience. My design sense (for jewelry, sculpture, etc.)
had been refined by years of observation and informal research. I
had used enough tools in the course of many years as a home owner,
auto owner, and mother that things like torches and power saws didn’t
faze me.

And… I really think this was important. I went into each one of
those classes with a completely receptive attitude. I knew I was out
of my realm of knowledge and that the way to learn was to absorb. I
brought no ego or expectation into the classroom and asked lots of
questions. I accepted critique without anger, asked questions for
clarification, and placed a lot of trust in the professors.

A funny side effect is that I’ve developed all these new friends –
all ages, all backgrounds, all styles. My kids look a bit askance
when we’re in Home Depot and this completely gothed-out young woman
with bright fuschia hair and enough body piercings to set off metal
detectors 3 miles away runs up and hugs me. Or when the guy with the
mohawk a foot high greets me by name and is friendly. I feel very
luck to have them as friends – they have broadened my world.

As a result, I feel that the last 2 years have completely
re-energized my creative mind. I’m still taking classes (tackling
Rhino/Flamingo and 3D modeling this semester) and have helped manage
the student lab for jewelry for over a year. My designs have
“exploded” into new directions and I’ve been consistently getting
accepted into mainline juried shows. Sales have steadily increased,
and I’m feeling hopeful that I will at some point be able to
completely support my family on this line of work. I’m not there
yet, but scrabbling along with persistence.

I share this story to try to encourage you to “just do it.” Find a
community college or a design school near you. Start with a couple
of classes – you don’t have to go the whole degree program at first!
Get yourself into it and get involved. As the energy starts to
build, take advantage of it. But don’t let yourself find excuses not
to do it. You will never regret trying!

Best wishes,
Karen Goeller
Eternal student :slight_smile:
Handcrafted and Unique Artisan Jewelry

Dear Orchidians,

Thinking about design issues and bridal wreaths and education
inspired me to do a Google search for merry renk (some of you may
have seen her bridal “crown” at the Oakland Museum, during this
year’s SNAG conference). I found the following interview with her,
conducted by Arline Fisch, in which she talks about Paris and spirals
and even about paper folding! If you love this kind of thing, check
it out:

Lisa Orlando
Aphrodite’s Ormaments

My sister started medical school at forty and finished in the top of
her class. I am 56 and after raising 3 kids running a store and
teaching school I am doing jewelry full time. It was what I loved in
collage and I always wanted to get back to it. I finally realized it
was now or never and I have never been so happy! You can do anything
you want to do. Remember that there are many ways to get from point
A to point B, not just the straight line. There is no downside. Lori

I don’t really know how to explain what it is like to design with
the technique of CAD , but if you can imagine speed-drawing on
transparent 3-dimensional graph paper floating in free open space
while driving a big old forklift with sunglasses on at night (and at
the same time remembering that you’re making jewelry), it’s sort of
like that! Sometimes it’s magic and does the impossible, and
sometimes it’s tedious and cumbersome and you bump into things that

I’m not of the opinion that CAD limits one to drawing mechanistic
looking shapes. With experience, an digital artisan’s jewelry can
become less “CAD driven” and more based on the designer’s artistic
intention. For practice or play, I’ll start out with simple shapes,
curves, circles, polygons or just a few abstract lines, and then
offset or array them in a circle or copy along a curve, or arrange
them into some other formation and then move, split, trim, join, or
scale them according to the ideas that come to mind as I work. It’s
fast and doesn’t use up any erasers or paper! With the curve tools
of the program, I can blend and match lines and curves for
“tangency” or “curvature”, creating forms that have mathematical
relationships, which imparts a grace, symmetry and flow that would be
hard to duplicate from my own sensibilities with a pen and paper.
Sometimes I just play with patterns until I make something that
becomes an element in a piece of jewelry, and sometimes I just save
the patterns because I like them. It’s not unusual to do several
variations in one design session and create something different than
what you imagined when you first began. There’s a ring on my website
that seems to look out at you and say, “I didn’t start out like
this, it was really just a series of playful experiments that made me
so wild and goofy looking” :slight_smile:

The fluidity and spontaneity of drawing on a computer can really be
something when it works. Of course, you can come up with a fantastic
idea, but sometimes, just trying to make it into a viable CAD model
is enough to drive you nuts. But the fun is in the challenge, and I’m
always happy with the accomplishment when it works.

Jesse Kaufman

CAD/CAM Technology
Handcrafted Originality

yea, i screwed those first sentances up, sorry about that, but it
was originally going to be just on wax, then i decided to include
harder substances, so i could go into knife strokes. For WAX, a dull
knife(butterknife dull) is best; 1. you can’t cut yourself, 2 cuts
better when roughing out. 3 razor edge blades catch and dig too
much,I find that a dull pairing knife works best that has a straight
edge at the end,or flat edged carving knife. In any case it should
not be just a curved penknife, it must have some straightness on the
end(modification), for roughing detail, even when you go in for the
finer details there really is not much need for a sharp knife, but
you can use one, and if you do use a SHARP KNIFE, no matter what
the material, the rest of the original letter applies. Yes the
INCOMING stroke is an advanced stroke and important, but only needs
to be done properly, to be safe, and it should be done as i
explained, by never letting the knife FOLLOW THROUGH on the stroke
coming towards you, or away for that matter, (unless you’re making a
point on the end of a stick or something). The thumb must be behind,
or far back on the on the piece that you are holding, and the cutting
stroke always SHORT, don’t forget leather thumbs if you like.
Whittling isn’t chiseling and of course have the piece held down if
you chisel, or engrave, but coming from a long line of whittlers, I
have been carving wax and wood for 25 years, damn serious about
it, we all use the pull cut, with control, thank you.dp

Hello all, I must be the freak in the crowd when it comes to design
and getting it into metal. I have a sketch book that I always have
with me or in the car. I forget my wallet, my cell phone or my wife
but I never forget my sketch book. On those super rare occations I do
for get will draw on anything. I stick them in a pocket in the back
of my sketch book. I can draw and I have been dreaming and drawing
rocket ships and cars since I was 10. Then I got interested in
jewelry. When I am doing a piece I almost never do things other
people want I make what I want and people like it… I am a freak for
symmetry and adhearing to the design. So I pick the design out of
the book or come up with something new and I lay it out in AutoCad
(really Auto Sketch, a striped version of AutoCad for $85). I print
it out and glue it to the metal or wax. Just cut outside the line and
I come back and file. I am a man with a mechanial mind so most of my
designs are very geometric. This does not work so well with organic
designs. The Cad is a great tool to mess around with verities of the
same design. You can print the pcs out, cut them out and glue them

My design ideals come from everywhere. I have access to all sorts of
the monthly jewelry and art magazines so I look at all the new
designs that are coming out and all the juried show stuff. I get
ideal that spring board off these thing that evolve into something
completely different. It is like seeing a certain shape unlocks a
hallway in my mind and out comes new things. Sometimes a shape or a
pattern will get in my head and I work from that. Then I go to the
shows looking for stones and that is when I get lots of ideals. I
have a group of friend that get together to play show and tell and
get ideals and constructive criticism from each other.

I’ll shut now.
RC Gems

 The Cad is a great tool to mess around with verities of the same
design. You can print the pcs out, cut them out and glue them

could you explain verities(truths?) of the same design? Amongst my
ideas for CAD are to roughout ideas out for me to do the final
forming by hand, on, You do 10 of the same piece, very rough, in
carving wax, and the rougher it is the more the final works can be
different from each other, but in the same motif, thus series’, and
also to apply the same motif to different shapes, and carve to

   I look at all the new designs that are coming out and all the
juried show stuff. I get ideal that spring board off these thing
that evolve into something completely different. It is like seeing
a certain shape unlocks a hallway in my mind and out comes new
things. Sometimes a shape or a pattern will get in my head and I
work from that. 

I would rather feel and look at the material, only, as i am carving
it, and getting with some hendrix, and not have anything in mind to
start out, that gives the real originals that are one of a kind
carvings, and designs(ideas), and really suprise the hell out of me
sometimes, but i do like drawing out ideas also, and finally am
doing the doodles that i have made for years, in 3d form! .

  I  have a group of friend that get together to play show and
tell and get ideals and constructive criticism from each other. 

I pray for this every day, i can’t find a “hands on” “jewelry
support group” “to save my life”.dp