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Discipline and using method in designing jewelry


#1

I want to get some feedback on the idea that there can be rules in
creating jewelry designs.

I will be honest and say right up front that when i hear people say "
i have to be inn the mood " to design anything i am confident that
statement is a big excuse for people who have very little experience
or character of work ethic. OK now that that is said and i have the
attention of a few and the ire of many lets get down to the
discussion. How many set goals for themselves before starting a new
design ? or how many have others set the goals for you ? if you are
like me and you have a custom jewelry storefront every time a
customer approaches you and says " i have all these diamonds and i
want to put them into one ring " that is a goal ! it is also a
challenge and an opportunity. You must produce a piece of work that
is going to speak of several things, it will please or not please
your client, it will send a message to your community that you are a
can do designer and it is a personal challenge to yourself that you
practiced you art craft trade with respect to yourself.

Some of my rules are to always design within my clients lifestyle,
dont design outside of your skillset level, dont put poky settings
on rings for clients who work with their hands alot.

I like my designs to be seen at a distance which means i use alot of
motion in the piece i refer back to basics of geometry with concepts
of ratio like the golden rectangle or 2:1 ratios for fancy cuts on
pear shapes. so… anyone willing to participate with this ?

best regards,
Goo


#2

Hi Goo,

I want to get some feedback on the idea that there can be rules in
creating jewelry designs. I will be honest and say right up front
that when i hear people say " i have to be inn the mood " to design
anything i am confident that statement is a big excuse for people
who have very little experience or character of work ethic. 

Lol, well you just insulted 100% of the world’s artists.

I appreciate your candor, but that’s not a fair thing to say,
creativity cannot be equated to inexperience, lack of character or a
lack of work ethic.

I deal with some very talented artists, and sometimes they just
don’t have the inspiration, it’s not something you can force, or call
upon demand, and if you do it’s actually harmful to the creative
process. Creativity is a wild beast full of passion and energy. You
can’t expect good results if you fetter it.

My main concern with this is that as soon as you put rules on it you
kill the beast.

Personally, if I have a creative block, I jump in a nice warm bath,
and it all starts working for me again.

For our third year projects we have to work to a theme (I’m second
year at the moment, so they have given us a reasonable amount of time
to think about it). I was having a hell of a time, and really only
had a firm idea for the dress ring. Jumped in the bath, and now I
have the brooch pendant, hinged bracelet and earrings finalised also.

OK now that that is said and i have the attention of a few and the
ire of many lets get down to the discussion. How many set goals for
themselves before starting a new design ? or how many have others
set the goals for you ? if you are like me and you have a custom
jewelry storefront every time a customer approaches you and says "
i have all these diamonds and i want to put them into one ring "
that is a goal ! it is also a challenge and an opportunity. You
must produce a piece of work that is going to speak of several
things, it will please or not please your client, it will send a
message to your community that you are a can do designer and it is
a personal challenge to yourself that you practiced you art craft
trade with respect to yourself. 

When dealing with a client that brings you stones, make sure they
are what they say they are i.e. “I handed you 10 carats of diamonds
and you gave back paste!”.

The client must be happy, you can submit some colour or graphite
renders with your flair, but at the end of the day the customer
tells you what they want, and in general they have a pretty good idea
in mind of what they want.

Some of my rules are to always design within my clients lifestyle,
dont design outside of your skillset level, dont put poky settings
on rings for clients who work with their hands alot. 

This is common sense, it shouldn’t be classed as rules. Jewellery
isn’t always about common sense, I was told the other day about an
opal supplier that wears a huge solid opal set in a ring, everywhere,
gardening, rock climbing… everywhere. It’s not practical, but
that’s her thing.

I like my designs to be seen at a distance which means i use alot
of motion in the piece i refer back to basics of geometry with
concepts of ratio like the golden rectangle or 2:1 ratios for fancy
cuts on pear shapes. so... anyone willing to participate with this

Happy to discuss further. My main issue is to “not” kill the
creative beast.

Regards Charles A.


#3
You must produce a piece of work that is going to speak of several
things, it will please or not please your client, it will send a
message to your community that you are a can do designer and it is
a personal challenge to yourself that you practiced you art craft
trade with respect to yourself. 

This whole thing “you must.”, “send a message…”, “personal
challenge.” is totally counter-productive, and unrealistic.

Nobody can consistently output designs. Designs are not bagels.
Designer who can provide with steady stream of creation is not a
designer, but a hack.

Incidentally, clientele who, can actually afford designer jewellery
and not just talk about it, understands it very well and would not
have it any other way.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#4

VERY well written… my sentiments for many years, Goo. You should
blog this! If you/we/ I are blessed with design talents then do we
dare say that we’re not in the mood to design?" When I stand before
God at the end of my life I want to be able to say " I used
everything you gave to me "Of course I do love a challenge, being an
Aries. My students should rememberour inspiration and identity
lessons on this one!

Margie
mmwaxmodels.com


#5
Nobody can consistently output designs. Designs are not bagels.
Designer who can provide with steady stream of creation is not a
designer, but a hack. 

A common misconception of non-designers.

Related is Charles’

sometimes they just don't have the inspiration, it's not something
you can force, or call upon demand, and if you do it's actually
harmful to the creative process 

It’s a designer’s job to design. Day in, day out, that’s the job.
Now, sure, I’ll sleep on things, I’ll roll things around in my mind
for a week, sometimes. But that’s pondering, not struggling. If
someone needs some “flash of inspiration” then they’re probably just
no very experienced.

That’s the job - designing. Jewelry, lamps, clothing, cars. Makes no
difference, you should (if you are a “real” designer) be able to
perform, now. Pull out the sketchbook, let’s see some ideas. Again,
that doesn’t mean it’s going to be instantaneous. But designers
don’t sit there waiting for lightning to strike, either.


#6

Goo

I find the conversation interesting. A couple points of
clarification: The golden ratio for a golden rectangle is
1:1.6180339887… And Sometimes not in the mood is simply
code for I need more or I need to do more home work. Why
not challenge your skills, how do you expect to improve? I did look
at your web-site, when you first made vintage reproductions didn’t
you go beyond your skill set? Do you hand forge the platinum shanks?
Do you azure your pieces ( and I mean with a saw blade not a burr) ?
Are your rings fabricated or cast?

Is a “work ethic” working hard or smart? And if you try some thing
new, will you have to do it more than once? I know I do.

I find the challenge of learning and discovery the most rewarding
part of the Job!

I do admire your work, You appear to be a well accomplished Jeweler.

Thanks for the conversations,
Michael Bair


#7

HI Charles

Lol, well you just insulted 100% of the world’s artists.

well actually you are incorrect i did not insult 100% of the worlds
artists because i am one of the worlds artists and i did not insult
myself or M. Mersky who has extended her agreements and compliments
on my viewpoint.

You have gone to great lengths to defend the creative process as
being something of incomprehensible mystery, which can lead to
nothing more than the creation of a colossal ego which produces
ephemera sought after by the weak minded. what you have not done is
offer me anything that helps an artist understand the creative
process.

This is common sense, it shouldn’t be classed as rules.

All rules are common sense because they help avoid mistakes. My main
issue is to make the creative beast do some morning push ups and
chin ups and get physically fit

goo


#8
It's a designer's job to design. Day in, day out, that's the job.
Now, sure, I'll sleep on things, I'll roll things around in my
mind for a week, sometimes. But that's pondering, not struggling.
If someone needs some "flash of inspiration" then they're probably
just no very experienced. 

You’ll sleep on things… that means you do have a dry spell here
and there, although you are fortunate in that it’s not a big problem
for you.

Creative blocks do happen. People that are creative have this on
occasion. Some are fortunate, as you seem to be and are not faced
with a creative block, or it’s so minimal that it doesn’t bother
them. People have strategies to help them remove that block, for me
it’s a warm bath, for you it’s to sleep on it, and roll things
around.

Not everyone is the same. The artists I mentioned earlier are not
spring chickens and have been producing quality art for many years,
so again inexperience is not the issue. Inspiration is very important
when you want to “feel” the work, and communicate that feeling.

I mentioned that we are working on themes where I’m studying at the
moment. I chose a theme, and trying to think too much about the
theme actually stopped any ideas at all, I had one, but that was it.
The worry that I had about what to do for the other pieces was
eluding me. Jumped in a bath, relaxed, let go of the worries, and the
designs simply popped into my head.

That's the job - designing. Jewelry, lamps, clothing, cars. Makes
no difference, you should (if you are a "real" designer) be able to
perform, now. Pull out the sketchbook, let's see some ideas.
Again, that doesn't mean it's going to be instantaneous. But
designers don't sit there waiting for lightning to strike, either. 

A commercial designer who creates designs, day in, day out, is
employed because they “can” produce on demand. It’s not a matter of
experience, it’s a matter of aptitude.

You are lucky is that you can do this. Another type of artist I come
into contact with have a machine gun approach to art, they paint in
bulk, but one in ten of their works are good the rest are "fluff"
pieces.

I would argue that good quality art requires inspiration.

I just realised something, I’m equating art to design… maybe I’m
on the wrong track. Do you see design as art, or do you see them as
separate?

This got me thinking, and my problem is that I have a misconception
of design and art.

From what I understand of the meanings of the words.

Design “can” be art, but this is not always true. Art is just art.
Design does not have to inspire feelings and emotions, whereas
feelings and emotions are required by art.

I think, because I’m a sculptor, I look at jewellery more as art and
not so much design.

Regards Charles A.


#9
If someone needs some "flash of inspiration" then they're probably
just no very experienced. 

I think it will be very educational to construct a list of so called
"no very experienced"

Michelangelo comes to mind right away. After all when he started
work on Sisteen Chapel, he was so frustrated of not been able “to
see”, that he was considering to run away. He was persuaded to stay
and work, but with 1/4 done, he destroyed everything and run away.
Than inspiration did come, so he totally reworked everything and
returned to paint. I guess it was all due to lack of experience.

Another artist on this list could be Alexander Ivanov. It took him
so long to get in the right mood, that he needed 20 years to complete
Appearance of Christ Before The People.

Karl Briullov is another amateur. He got the idea of painting The
Last Day of Pompeii in 1828, but took whole two years to get in the
mood for actually painting it.

We should not overlook Vincent Van Gogh. The man was so inexperienced
that he had to cut off his own ear, just to make himself paint.

This can be a very long list indeed, but the above should be
sufficient to put a face on so called “no very experienced”.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#10
Designer who can provide with steady stream of creation is not a
designer, but a hack. 

My late father Alan Haemer was a professional painter and book cover
illustrator. He did first editions of "The Ugly American, Citizen
Tom Paine, 1984,( the first paper back edition), Robert Frost’s The
Witness Tree, and hundreds of others. He always told me “Creativity
is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.” An old adage that turns out
to be true. He was a constant doodler and very keen observer. My
siblings and I spent a lot of time growing up just looking at things
with our father that most folks don’t even bother to see. Tim and I
spend a good bit of our waking hours thinking,drawing and discussing
ideas and designs. We can’t go for a simple hike in the woods or work
in the garden without looking for ideas and designs in nature. Being
able to draw well is a huge plus too.

My late father Alan, Tim and I have produced a lot of original work
and do it consistently. We have had to, to make our living.

Does that make us hacks?

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
Jo Haemer
www.timothywgreen.com


#11

The creative process is pretty simply broken down - no matter if you
are a designer, a writer, a painter etc. First is the research and
prep work. This can be studying, going to museums, etc. Some of this
can be interesting and some can be downright boring but it all falls
into the “you gotta do it” category. A lot of people get weeded out
from their intended profession in this stage because “it’s too much
work!” Next is what I like to call the stew pot. Everything that you
have researched etc is now in your mind and it bubbles away producing
the “stew” which is produced in the next stage. This is what I like
to call the “aha!” moment. ANd when it hits, everything that is going
on around you can be blocked out. Now your mind is in focus and you
are ready to produce- some of the liquid has jelled - the painting,
the ring, the story. But unfortunately or fortunately, these four
steps are sometimes sort of like a round in music. One starts and
another starts behind it and you have several of these processes and
pieces going on in your mind at once. Now, the interesting thing
about all of this is that it is all work. It takes energy and
persistence. And not all of the pieces that are prepared in the final
stage are what I would call high art. Not everyone is a Rembrandt -
but I believe each and every one of us has creative talent that lies
within. It is the inner divine in us in a way, that wishes to leave
something of value behind.

Ok so for what’s its worth - that is my summary of the creative
process by a person who paints. What can pay the bills are the myriad
8 by 10 paintings that can fit in a tourist’s suitcase. The sad
realization comes when we realize that most of us will never be on
the walls of a major gallery. But then Van Gogh only sold one
painting in his life. Of course he cut off his ear but that’s another
story.


#12

Leonid - it is also interesting to note that Michelangelo signed the
ceiling painting as Michelangelo Buonarroti, Sculptor! He wasn’t a
painter and didn’t want to be a painter but he did the best he could.
To put it mildly.

Find the unique people, the ones who can change the world.

Barbara


#13

I have to agree with the Donivan’s statement that if you are a
designer, you “design.” There actually is a great deal of research
and science behind good design, and the designer has to know all that
in order to do the job. And yes, you have good days and
bad days, just like any other job. It is not as woo-woo as the
artist’s statements like to make it out to be. Mostly, good design is
just study, research, hard work, and hope. I think what distinguishes
a true “designer” or “artist” is that you cannot actually stop doing
it. I read somewhere that a truly creative person has great creative
ideas because they just have more ideas in general. The odds are that
eventually you will hit on a gem in the midst of all that gravel.

Mary Ferrulli Barker


#14

Michael Bair

sorry for the delay in reply i only just saw your post in the archive
not all of the messages come through to my inbox. You are correct in
calling me out on the golden rectangle ratio. But i do find that most
pear shapes are 2:1 although i did have a design in the past couple
of years that required a pear shape with a 3:1 to give me the look i
saw in my imaginat ion Is a “work ethic” working hard or smart? And
if you try some thing new, will you have to do it more than once? I
know I do.

I think a work ethic is both working hard and smart, One of my own
rules about working smart would be cleanliness i have found this to
be much more achieveable goal if I had stainless steel countertops
in my shop. working hard can seem like you are taking a long time to
do something but maybe you are just being carefull.

when you first made vintage reproductions didn’t you go beyond your
skill set?

you are correct i did go beyond my skill set at that time with a
caveat, which i should give a further explanation to that i do
experimental work to push myself when i can or have time. some of the
vitage style pieces that are pierced from flat sheet then folded and
seams soldered took me about 7 years to figure out the technique and
then several more years to develop some of the rudimentary skills. I
did not do it for a customer for money I did the designs for myself
it took a long time and quite a number of attempts to get something
presentable.

goo


#15
Design "can" be art, but this is not always true. Art is just art.
Design does not have to inspire feelings and emotions, whereas
feelings and emotions are required by art. 

The difference between a designer and an artist, is the difference
between a chemist and a scientist. While not every artist is a
designer, every designer must be an artist. But even this statement
does not truly reflect the nature of relationship. Painting can be
thought of as design with colour. Poetry can be defined as design
with words. Music can be described as design with sounds. Looking at
things from this point of view, a designer and a composer become
synonymous.

Whether one is a designer or not, does not depends on education,
professional certification, and etc. One can wash cars as a designer,
while another can design as a car washer. It is a state of mind that
people born with. Education is important, but in the final analysis
natural ability to arrange things harmoniously overrides everything
else. Whether particular arrangement have an emotional impact or not,
is simply a matter of intentions.

I matriculated in Monumental Sculpture. But in order to graduate, a
competency in Graphic Arts and Industrial Design were required. There
was a guy in my class, who could not design to save his life. But
with a pencil or a brush, all of us could not even touch him. He
flanked from the school, transferred to Moscow School of Painting and
Sculpture, which is the most esteemed Art School, where he graduated
with honors.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#16
but the above should be sufficient to put a face on so called "no
very experienced". 

Earth to Leonid, Earth to Leonid.

that means you do have a dry spell here and there, although you are
fortunate in that it's not a big problem for you. 

No, Charles, not ever, and that’s the whole point of this thread.
The thing can be summed up pretty well by going to another medium -
music. Everything comes out of (from) context. It’s the most common
question asked in interviews with musician/songwriters. Where do you
get your ideas? How do you write a song? The question itself betrays
a lack of understanding of music itself, and what musicians are
about, just like this thread. Nothing wrong with a lack of
understanding - that can be changed into understanding anytime. I’m
not a songwriter at all, but I can tell youjust how it works, still.
It’s just like a jewelry designer works.

I (the musician) am a musician. That means I understand music theory
to the degree I do, and I have experience - I have some hundreds of
little snippets of ideas and threads in my head, not to mention the
3,000 songs I actually know. I’m a musician.

I had a conversation with my niece yesterday - her parents are
divorcing (and yadda yadda - no need here to go so deep). She’s sad
and she said something that stuck in my mind. There’s our hook, and
it’s a ballad (as opposed to “the blues”). It’s a sad ballad so
we’ll tend towards the minor key. I like to write in D, and we’ll
also used the augmented 5th, so let’s go: tinkle, tinkle tinkle on
the piano. Sounds good, now to the bridge - “I wish life wasn’t so
cruel - lalalalala”. And so it goes… No lightning, no clouds
in the sky. It’s just work, it’s business, it’s what musicians do.

We are investing (hypothetically) $150k in this new line - colored
stones in casual designs tailored for the tween and teen crowd.
$50-$100 wholesale per, fun, bright, contemporary, hip. Sales are
projected at a million/year and up, with pre-orders of 10,000 units
right now. First we need concept and after that we’ll get into
production design. Let’s meet in the morning with some of your
drafts, and we’ll go from there. Or there’s always Fred over there -
he’s done good work for us in the past…Bang, bang, bang,
bang. This isn’t your house. Are you a jewelry designer or are you
not?


#17

This isn’t your house. Are you a jewelry designer or are you not?
So… this being the whole point do you have any methods or ideas on
the me chanics of designing you would like to mention - goo


#18
Find the unique people, the ones who can change the world. 

You forgot the rest of that phrase :-

“Find the unique people, the ones who can change the world… and
find a way to motivate them.”

Regards Charles A.


#19
No, Charles, not ever, and that's the whole point of this thread. 

You are very fortunate to never have a block. It’s very frustrating
what you do. Chances are you’re very talented and don’t realise it.
Things come easy to you where the rest of us have to sweat.

I see you as being lucky.

We are investing (hypothetically) $150k in this new line - colored
stones in casual designs tailored for the tween and teen crowd.
$50-$100 wholesale per, fun, bright, contemporary, hip. Sales are
projected at a million/year and up, with pre-orders of 10,000
units right now. First we need concept and after that we'll get
into production design. Let's meet in the morning with some of your
drafts, and we'll go from there. Or there's always Fred over there
- he's done good work for us in the past.........Bang, bang, bang,
bang. This isn't your house. Are you a jewelry designer or are you
not? 

Okay hypothetically. This isn’t art, that’s probably the point isn’t
it?

Regards Charles A.

P.S. I’ll post you some stuff off list about my exposure to a brilliant
musician, my Dad.


#20

What an interesting thread! As far as experience/aptitude vs.
creative inspiration is concerned, I believe they are 2 sides of the
same page. As a person with custom design experience for retail
customers, I find that many customers are thrilled with the personal
attention and the idea of having something made especially for them.
I am “designing” something with their assortment of stones that will
be a unique piece of jewelry, and have meaning for them. Sometimes I
don’t even have to go to the trouble of actually making something
new from scratch, they are happy with some basic piece of jewelry,
commercially manufactured, that will be modified to fit their needs.
Other times, I will have to carve a wax or fabricate something, but
I have a basic set of ideas that are pretty simple, and I can fall
back on these and walk away with a happy customer time and again. Is
this design? Not to my idea of creative work, but it does pay the
bills, and can be interesting work sometimes.

Now to sit down and be really creative, new ideas, novel approaches
to make those ideas happen, that is the true essence of creativity.
It is much more difficult because I don’t find these come “on
demand.” As John said, sometimes you have to hold the thought in the
back of your mind, and give it some time to come together. For me
personally, the best results come from making some time to daydream,
sketch, and play with things on my bench. In the day to day work
load, it can be frustrating to allow myself to make that time, with
deadlines and deliveries awaiting my attentions as well. I believe
that Daniel Brush, a remarkable artist in iron and gold, is very
committed to a routine that never varies, and starts out his day by
sweeping out his studio. It sets his mood and mind to that open,
non-thinking space where creativity arises. Some people find
creative thoughts while driving, (or bathing), or other activities
that take up the thinking parts of our brains, and allow the creative
thoughts to pop through. I get creative ideas while working on
routine repairs or polishing, the busier my hands are with the
routine, the more my brain thinks up newer and more interesting stuff
to do. I try to keep a notebook handy to capture these thoughts as
they come. I would love to be so disciplined that I would spend an
hour or two every morning dedicated to some meditation and sketchbook
time. That would be my creative chin-ups and pushups. As it is, I
have to grab those thoughts as they come. Going back through the
sketchbook is often a great place to start, there are always little
nuggets waiting to be expanded and developed.

Melissa Veres, Engraver
melissaveres.com