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J.Grahl Design (Jewelry Illustrations)


For me…
there is the vision before the piece. There are moments where it all flows out of some part of my brain, no sketch, no real thought, just some other nook in my head that directs my hands.

Then there in the drawing, from thoughts on napkins & doodles on scratch paper, to the need to clearly share my view with a client.
There will be a bunch of these showing up, The ones below are pencil on velum, others will be done with computer drafting techniques. All are just a way to share a thought.
…Think pearls…

I’ve revised the first drawings to increase the size and resolution. so basically this is a new post.
Thanks, Jim


So, clearly there is a trend of pearl designs here.
For context, I have worked in the Tahitian Black (cultured) Pearl industry from it’s inception. I was included in a meeting with Mikimoto and Robert Wan in 1968. The Tahitian culturing process had yet to be perfected, yet the indictors were there, it was going to be big.
Fast forward about 10 years and I was approached by several growers looking to bring the pearls to market, They requested design applications rendered and that is a good part of these first posted drawings.
MANY more to come.


adding a few more to the mix, more pearl for a bit.


Pearl not…
Still playing with pencil over velum.
Here are a few more thoughts .


Why do you like velum? Do you trace part of a design from saved sketches?

Do you use loose sheets or bound in a sketch book? Tracing seems limited when working in a sketch book, but loose sheets are easy to misplace.


Hi Betty,
I like the texture of velum as well as the semi-transparency.
When I set it up on the drafting board, I have grab paper underneath,
(I need all the help I can get to keep things straight…). I use a drafting machine for angle checks and templates for certain geometric shapes. Velum erases very well so mistakes are easy to deal with.
All the velum drawings you will see are drawn to scale, essentially blueprints for the piece…
I dont trace, and they are loose sheets, they’re coated with clear sealer when completed.
Happy to answer any questions.


These illustrations are done on a computer drafting program called “Graphic”.
They’re still hand drawn in the sense that there are only basic geometric options and a modifiable color palate. I do these with either a mouse or a “Wacom” board.
The advantage is that they’re scaleable vector illustrations, so I can work larger and scale the back to actual size. Graphic is sort of a simplified Adobe Illustrator.
The other difference between these and the velum work is in the client (velum leans more to the clients in the trade, no flash, just data) while the “Graphic” work is better suited to private commissions.
They both have merit, it’s just time and application that differs.
The following were done for a private client,


Please describe the “grab paper” you use on your drawing board under the velum.

I use vellum in order to quickly reproduce part of a drawing for design variations, but manipulating the velum sheets and lightbox is clumsy.

Then the vellum is bent and refuses to conform neatly in a folder.


Jim- I do so love a nice heavy velum for renderings. I do my rough sketches
on graph paper and then trace onto velum as well.
When I do a watercolor/ gouache rendering on say a grey or darkish colored
paper I still use Velum for a “reveal”. I carefully tape a piece of velum
at the top of the rendering and when showing it to the client I do the old
"Ta Da!" Routine by gently and slowly lifting the velum up from the bottom
to reveal the rendering underneath.
My late father who was a successful illustrator used to say in getting an
art gig…“Presentation is half the battle”. So true that.
-Jo Haemer


So sorry , that was Graph Paper… I tape the two together at the top & bottom (white graphic, or white erase tape) so they won’t slip. I just buy 8 1/2 x 11 reams for my needs so they’re easy to file.

I agree about the reveal and presentation. That is still one of the most exciting aspects of doing this work. I love the client’s reaction when they get the picture . I also find that by the time I’ve finished the rendering, I’ve effectively built the piece in my head. It’s sort of a Zen moment (probably a bit overused cliche’) but drawing is like meditating, I don’t have room for anything else in my normally noisy head.
I so love seeing your work,
Can you post some new pieces?


The “Napkin” sketch.
The most common & useful. When I’m dealing with a client that is good at visualizing & conceptualizing I can make do with this quick drew style.
These are not accurate, somewhat misaligned, but get the idea across.


It would be very interesting to see a book put out of pictures of
some of the artists sketches done on napkins over the years. From painters
to jewelers. Only problem is most have probably been thrown away but it
would be fun to see how many can be turned up.

Again your jewelry is always outstanding and inspirational.



Hi Sharron,
I agree. I grew up with a mother that was an Art Center Graduate, grand parents who were architects and I’m a horrible sketch artist. I’ve really had to force myself to illustrate in a manner that others can interpret…I’m also a pack rat, I probably have 5 or 6000 saved drawings.
Fortunately for you (all) I’m not about to post them all.
I really would love to see other’s work show up here.
Thank you for your notes.


These are really the norm for communication in my shop.
a basic drawing, a breakdown of parts and notes pertinent to the piece, and the final piece shot this time.
This one is platinum, 18K yellow gold, titanium. The plat is hand pierced and engraved / carved to the pattern. It all stacks together and the titanium core is flared over the outer bands to hold it all together.


Is titanium the texture that is seen behind the platinum carving?

Was it used for maintaining strong flares?

Was the assembly mechanical?


Hi Betty,
& Yes…
This is a big finger size,
So strength was paramount. Big hands can excerpt a tremendous amount of pressure in grip force.
The titanium keeps this from happening.


Here is another couple,
These are pencil on velum, I generally use a .3 mm mechanical pencil, sharpened on a block that sits next to me. No tracing,
I have a miniature drafting machine that helps keep things straight (ish…) and a gazillion templates to help with curves, circles etc…
Fun but soo time consuming.


Here are a few more, Kinda’ stock & trade style.
Just pencil on a nice stationery I have made up. a bit of tooth, erases nice. Clients get it easily.
Drawings are done to scale as much as possible.



I absolutely love the look of those drawings. I wish I had the time to sit and draw more detailed images like that, but I think I’d spend 30% of my fabrication time just on that level of drawing. That has definitely got to elicit a great response from clients to see that level of detail in the drawings. Beautiful stuff! Thanks for sharing!


Hi Erich.
Thanks for the note,
These things go all over the place. A lot (following) are just my thoughts on paper. I might have a vision… then throw it out the window because I know the end product will not work.
Mostly it’s fun… Then there are those pull your hair out moments when nothing gels…