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Is making jewelry glow a no-no?


#1

Hi,

It has been a while, I know. I’ve been very much gainfully employed
as a software designer, and because of yet another move I’ve had to
keep my jewelry hobby inactive until at least springtime next year.

That’s not to say that your help last year will ever be wasted. In
fact, a few of the tools did help me make chain that helped me
impressed the head of the company, who was a silversmith him. I
intend to use them again as soon as I can get my life organized once
more.

As part of my reorganizing I had been unpacking my junk box (I’m also
am an electronics experimenter and ham operator), and I noticed I had
a fair number of light emitting diode solderable dice… "flip chips"
in the marketing parlance. Which gave me an idea.

Assuming I used silver and copper for my conducting elements, and
either free space or stone as my insulators, I was wondering whether
the artists here would consider the judicious incorporation of
extremely small light emitters in a design involving precious or
semiprecious materials would render it unacceptable for exhibition.

Opinions?
Andrew Jonathan Fine


#2

Andrew,

I was an Electronic Technician in the U,S, Navy and I understand the
idea of LEDs. As far as using them in jewelry, I say why not? Art is
in the eye of the artist. If you want to find out if it is plausible
then make something up and then get the opinions of potential
customers. Always survey you market for what they want and if that
fits into you artistic designs then go for it. Good luck,

Ken Moore
www.kenworx.com


#3

Andrew,

I am not replying as an artist. My opinion is that if you are
inspired by going in that direction, play, experiment and if that is
how your passion is expressed, enjoy it and see where it leads.

Not quite sure what your concept of exhibition is. Probably like
everything else, acceptable for some, not acceptable for others. You
will find your way.

Richard Hart G.G.
Denver, Co.


#4
I was wondering whether the artists here would consider the
judicious incorporation of extremely small light emitters in a
design involving precious or semiprecious materials would render it
unacceptable for exhibition. 

The incorporation of electronics into jewelry is no different in
acceptability than the incorporation of any other design element.
It’s all about the intent and aesthetics of the work. If it
contributes positively to the piece, then it can be a good thing. If
it’s just glitz for glitz sake, then it runs the risk of dragging
the work down to the territory of Kitsch instead of art. However even
that does not negate it’s potential validity. For that matter, there
is no compulsion to use jewelry metals to do this. Electronic
devices can be designed using traditional electronics technologies
and materials, as art, or as jewelry. The design and aesthetics
again, is what matters, not which specific materials, precious or
otherwise, you choose to use.

One comment, however. Don’t work under the assumption that this is a
new idea. It’s not. Jewelry with LED lights, incandescent lights,
electric motors, speakers, radios, LCD graphic displays, (In the
case of at least one artist, LCD displays custom made by the artist
to display patterns designed by the artist, an effort that goes well
beyond merely using existing componants…)… All these have been
done numerous times, and done long before anyone started calling some
such efforts “steampunk” or other such names… That doesn’t mean you
shouldn’t do it too, if you have a good creative idea. Just be aware
you’re not the first by any means (unless perhaps you come up with
some new way to do it that has NOT been done before. Always
possible…)

Peter Rowe


#5

Andrew,

Nice to hear from you. Several years ago, a friend gave me an
airplane pin made of copper about three inches across; it was painted
a light gray and it had a tiny blinking red light on the tip of the
left wing. I loved it and wore it often. It was appropriate for all
kinds of fun events.

Now, if you are talking about 18K gold classic styles that might be
displayed in a museum, I don’t think it would be appropriate.

Look on-line at the category of bling jewelry. What is acceptable
bling has a range that allows not only glowing areas but water
filled snow-globe type styles.

Whatever you do, have fun and learn something. And, please send a
photo of the final product.

Blessings,
MA


#6

Joathan- It’s been done. Back in the 70s-80s by David Frank. He did
a bunch of pieces that had light emitters behind the stones. They
were sound activated and would come on when someone in the gallery
would speak when near the pieces. His work was exhibited with no
problem. His pieces were larger because the technology back in those
days was much cruder and larger than it is now. I’m betting with the
newer smaller technology you can make some very interesting things.

You can use what ever metals you want. If it’s a cool thing, nobody
cares if you use non precious metals for conductors. Well at least I
don’t.

I say go for it. Have big fun and come up with some great art. Have
fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer
timothywgreen.com


#7

One of my friends has used little batteries to make optic fibre glow
tips on a way out exhibition necklace, and inside a ring to light up
the wording pierced into it.

Can’t see why it wouldn’t not only work but be very popular with the
trendies!

Jane Walker


#8
The incorporation of electronics into jewelry is no different in
acceptability than the incorporation of any other design element. 

I am curios. If everybody who thinks that it is ok, would be equally
predisposed to “innovation” when they would order a painted portrait,
but get a photograph instead.

Every artistic medium has it’s own vocabulary and it’s own methods of
expressing ideas. Painters using color, sculptors using form,
goldsmiths are all about reflections. We take a gemstone and make it
look it’s best. There are another movement in goldsmithing, where we
try to express natural forms, using language of abstraction. Contrast
between metal and gemstones are primary tools, but we still practice
self-imposed limits on use of only precious alloys and To
do otherwise is to admit one’s own impotence of ability to express in
language of goldsmithing.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#9

Andrew,

Why not? This begs the question on a broader sense, what is jewelry?
Does “jewelry” need to contain precious metal? Combining two mediums
of electronic wizardry and classical fabrication for a jewerly
application sounds pretty cool. The question then is how to you
instruct your wearer in maintaining their jewelry with some sort of
small batter maintaining their blinking decoration.

Take a look at Electroluminescent Wire, or EL wire as it is called.
It’s copper wire coated in phosphor, with two tiny angel hair (40 ga)
wires that surround the main core whose purpose is connecting it to
an inverter. The inverter allows for three speeds of blinking, steady
on, slow blink and rapid. The phosphor wire and angel hair wires are
surrounded by either clear or a myriad of colored plastic sheathing
and comes in various widths. It’s very bright at night, and barely
visible in daylight.

The wire, can be sewn, glued, woven, etc. It comes in panels, wire
and all kinds of colors. I have a huge colorful display on the wall
of my studio. For a metals conference, I took the entire thing down,
wound it around my neck and turned it into an impromptu necklace. My
husband wound one around his neck with one of my resin inlay fish
pins. The “wire” articulated the rings of water in a pond when a fish
breaks the surface.

What this process has in common is your hand. Soldering with a
soldeirng iron can be just as challenging as soldering with a torch.
Both require an understanding of heat and materials. Nothing to lose
here. Look at a company called CooLight. Lytech is the brand that
comes from Israel and has has the best quality light and wire
construction.

Karen Christians
www.cleverwerx.com


#10
I am curios. If everybody who thinks that it is ok, would be
equally predisposed to "innovation" when they would order a painted
portrait, but get a photograph instead. 

Leonid, I know where you’re coming from, and it’s OK to prefer
traditional precious materials if you personally feel this way. But
in your above statement, you infer that presenting a photograph as
though it were a painting would be the same as incorporating some
new or unconventional material or method into jewelry. That’s a false
comparison. A painting defines not just the medium, but the method.
Calling a photograph a painting isn’t accomodating innovation. It’s
fraud. “jewelry”, on the other hand, deserves a broader definition.
The word jewelry itself does not define only specific materials and
methods to the exclusion of all others. It more defines an end use,
a general class of personal adornment, and often a set of aesthetic
preferences that make jewelry function well in it’s traditional
roles as adornment, fashion statement, or display of wealth, and
others. But there’s nothing in these common uses and meanings of the
word that excludes other options. While traditionally, the use of
precious materials and fine hand craftsmanship characterize fine
jewelry, to limit the term jewelry, or even the value judgement of
"fine jewelry" to only these specific materials and methods is
unfortunate and smacks of undeserved elitism. There sometimes tends
to be a practice among those who’ve attained mastery of a field (many
fields, not just jewelry making) to define mastery of their field as
it most closely resembles their own practice, with a resistance to
allowing others who differ in opinion, as they might try to redefine
the field and thus perhaps devalue the perception of mastery and
authority, (and don’t forget all the time and money spent to get
there) People who act this way serve only to mark themselves as
symbols of the past, unmovingly unwilling to adapt, examine, and
embrace new thoughts and ideas if they seem to have potential merit,
even if they conflict with prior, older thinking. Examples abound,
especially in science, where there were any number of well known
physicists who refused to accept the changes in understandings
brought by Einsteins equations. others who refused to accept the
validity of Hubbles discovery of an expanding univers and it’s
implied Big Bang. Early 20th century painters and art critics who
refused to accept the Fauvists or Cubists (or you can name almost
any other period or developement in art history as having the same
doubters and resistance) as having anything useful to contribute to
painting and art. Thoughout history jewelers have also often been
innovators, both with new materials and methods, as well as new
looks, aesthetics, and norms of what’s considered in fashion and high
quality. This includes new explorations in aesthetics, looks,
fashions, as well as new innovations in technology. If this were not
true, none of us would have ever tried a torch, and left the methods
of soldering over a “hearth” or with a mouth blowpipe and an oil or
alcohol lamp. None of use would accept the use of flex shafts,
electric buffing motors. ultrasonic cleaners, or even good bright
bench lamps over our benches. "Machine made files and sawblades
instead of those we cut ourselves? Perish the thought, that cannot
be the “right” way, the “real” way… Jewelry made with such tools
cannot be as good as that made with the old versions… " Does that
statment make any real sense? I think not. And implying that real
jewelry, fine jewelry, cannot experiment with new materials and
methods, even if unconventional such as electronics, is equally
archaic.

Peter


#11

Leonid:

I am curios. If everybody who thinks that it is ok, would be
equally predisposed to "innovation" when they would order a
painted portrait, but get a photograph instead. 

I think INCORPORATING SOMETHING INTO something else (in this case
electronics into jewelry) is definitely different than REPLACING ONE
THING FOR ANOTHER as you are suggesting. I wouldn’t call that
innovation. In this instance I might consider it to be innovation IF
a photograph were incorporated INTO the painted portrait.

And generally if you are ordering things, you either order from the
description of the item or from a picture of the item, so in either
case, you would expect to get what you ordered.

Just my 2 cents worth.
K


#12

Leonid,

I am curios. If everybody who thinks that it is ok, would be
equally predisposed to "innovation" when they would order a painted
portrait, but get a photograph instead. 

I usually understand and agree with most of your posts, considering
your background and training. Since no one is ordering anything, and
there is nothing being substituted, wrong analogy.

To me this about someone being creative and expressing themselves
with a different set of materials than what are normally used.

I can understand being serious about traditional metal smithing
materials and techniques. I can also understand playing, having fun,
and exploring creative ideas with non traditional materials. There are
people who make jewelry out of paper. We all know how fragile this
jewelry would be, and how transitory it will be. And yet…

Sometimes it is not about the destination, it is about the journey.

Richard Hart G.G.
Denver, Co.


#13
I am curios. If everybody who thinks that it is ok, would be
equally predisposed to "innovation" when they would order a painted
portrait, but get a photograph instead. 

I would agree if I ordered a ring with a natural ruby and got one
with a neon blinking red light. However, experimenting with new
technology and using it in ways not foreseen by those that invented
it is what brought us to where we are, not only in jewelry but with
virtually everything else. Does the name Steve Jobs ring a bell?.

I say go for it Andrew! Use the naysayer as a motivator. I’ve always
done my best (and most satisfying) work with things people told me
were not possible or the “right way”. If you get it to work, and you
will if you’re persistent, please post it. I would love to see what
you come up with.

Dave Phelps


#14

I’ve been looking into this off and on for years now have talked to
electronics people etc. with no luck on how to go about it I was
however using led’s not fiber optics. If anyone out there knows of a
source I too would be interested in it. i remember an article in LJ
about 10 years ago about a guy doing it. dave Owen


#15

Leonid,

Your second sentence said it all. “When they order”, is based on an
pre-arranged agreement before the work is done. What do you find the
genre of conceptual jewelry to be in? Sculpture? Goldsmithing?
Photography? What if the major portion of the jewelry component is
wood? Is it woodworking? Look at high end furniture marquetry with a
major portion of the wood furniture is “stone.” Is this now lapidary?
If I insert diamonds into my teeth which reside next to my gold
crowns or one gold tooth, is my mouth now the proud owner of jewerly?

Finally, our local museum, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts has created
a room for FINE Jewelry. Yay, about time. In the history of
goldsmithing and jewelry, I cite the excellent book, "Bejeweled"
which is a wonderful history jewelry’s progress of abstraction and
innovation.

The point is, I think there is a place for all of this. Traditional
goldsmithing techniques must be learned before being able to break
the rules. Like good writing, if you don’t have an understanding of
grammar,then how can you spin words into abstract poetry. If not, it
falls flat. I also cite the amazing strides in metaphoric jewelry
with excellent goldsmithing fabrication techniques, in the world of
Alan Revere’s, American Jewelry Design Council http://www.ajdc.org/.
This is goldsmithing fabrcation at its finest. It works because these
people understand their craft. Although no bits of modern technology
have made it here, but who knows? A younger generation, fluent in
engineering and computerese just might begin working a diode or two
in their work.

Imagine the first person who actaully thought of combining a slice
of shell from a shimmering mother of pearl, instead of the actual
precious pearl with goldsmithing. Or using a raw and unpolished
opaque diamond instead of a gleaming, clear faceted one. Radical.

My final argument; it’s not just material that makes great work. It
is imagination/intent combined with a thorough knowledge of
fabrication techniques and materials that make work sing. Any falter
in this trifecta will make your work sloppy and trite.

Karen Christians
www.cleverwerx.com


#16
However, experimenting with new technology and using it in ways not
foreseen by those that invented it is what brought us to where we
are, not only in jewelry but with virtually everything else 

Experimenting is perfectly fine, but before, one has to know the
subject. It is one thing to search for something new, because all the
traditional methods were exhausted; and it is something else to look
for different ways, because one is ignorant of basics.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#17

I’ve been fascinated by this concept for several years, and have
been following this thread with interest.

And Andrew, you’re brilliant and will find a way to power the LEDs
using the electrolytes in human sweat. Seriously.

Best regards,
Lorraine


#18
If anyone out there knows of a source I too would be interested in
it. 

I don’t know specific sources, Dave, but you might start with model
railroad hobby shop supplies. The folks who build detailed HO scale
or N scale railroad layouts often light up their landscapes with
really tiny light sources. Grain of wheat bulbs, fiber optics, and
more. And usually the same places that sell this sort of lights, also
offer suitable power sources that you could adapt to jewelry use, or
at least, copy on a smaller scale if needed.

Hope that helps
Peter


#19
What do you find the genre of conceptual jewelry to be in?
Sculpture? Goldsmithing? Photography? 

I rejected it. Conceptual jewellery is face saving terminology to
describe work which is not good enough to be called jewellery.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#20

Peter,

The model railroad hobby stores, at least around here are becoming
extinct. I suggest looking at Make Magazine or on the web,
http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/1fd

Karen Christians
www.cleverwerx.com