15 May 2010

The evolution of a design

I talked in my last blog about how designs come about and that I see the design process rather like a tree – ideas branch out and grow and sometimes overlap other ideas and merge with them.

The design process for me is one of evolution, one thought often cannonballs into another and takes you in another direction – often without any conscious intention or control whatsoever – in fact, for me, this process is sometimes so energetic that keeping it under some modicum of control is the tricky part.

The spiral links I’d been working with previously, in a smaller gauge of wire and size, hammered smooth and highly polished. Here worked in Sterling silver for earrings.

It would seem very unlikely for me to ever be heard uttering the words that ‘I’m stuck for inspiration’ or ideas or ‘don’t know what to work on’. I must have hundreds of sketches yet to take form and variations of pieces already made waiting for realisation, that my biggest problem is deciding how to prioritise on what I give my time. I spend much of my life in perpetual frustration where I have ideas I want to work on and are spilling out of my mind, but other things I just have to do first.

A single spiral link in an intermediate size, used as a connector in these leaf themed earrings. I adjusted the wire gauge to give rise to a leaf spiral around the same size as the glass leaves I wanted to use. Antiqued smoothly hammered copper.

I don’t think, perhaps beyond the age of about 12, I have ever uttered the words “I’m bored”. The concept is totally alien to me. I must have about a million things on my ‘to do’ list – things I want to work on, things I want to try, things I want to learn, books I want to read, places I want to visit – that life is way, way too short to squander any of it in being bored.

That’s how it has been this week design-wise – one idea morphing into another and some ideas I had on the back burner, bubbling away in my subconscious, suddenly gained momentum when brought into contact with some new thought.

I’m still not entirely done with the spiral links I’ve done a lot of lately. It’s such a versatile unit to work with that they take on different guises depending on the size you make them and the finish you give them. This week I went much smaller with them than the links I’d used in bracelets and they come out lovely and delicate and deliciously fluid when worked together and finished and polished to a high degree.

Hammering them smooth and then polishing them gives a reflective, tactile chain that you just want to stroke. They can be used singly as connectors with interest, or collectively as a chain. See photos above.

This was meant to be an experiment to see if the idea I’d sketched would actually work, but I quite like how it turned out as a finished piece in itself, so I finished it off by antiquing. The beads are unakite.

I’d seen some fabulous work in copper this week using lots of wire wrapping – this is something I admire, but perhaps don’t have the patience or technique yet to work on anything extensive, but I had some ideas I wanted to work through too – my initial idea was to make a large spiral link, as above, but wrap the bottom open section with beads.

I was trying to ascertain a methodology for attaching beads around the outside of the shape with wire wrapping and wanted to work with balled head pins and came up with this technique, which I worked out on paper first and seeing that there were flaws in my original ideas, they needed working out. The pendant above was the result of that process – the pins needed anchoring in some way to prevent them from being too easily bent away from the master shape they were wrapped around.

This pendant was the next incarnation along my ideas branch. It was made initially as a leaf (soldered and hammered into shape), that I was going to wrap with small green aventurine beads like the round pendant above, but I decided it was going to come out too large with beads as well, so wrapped it with just the ball ended pins and connected the fine chain in the wrapping as I went.

Having suspended it on the chain the way that I have and without the green beads I was intending, it now looks rather more like a heart than a leaf. I’d made the ball pins as a rosy colour and deliberately allowed this to remain as I antiqued and polished the piece.

Continuing along my branch of ideas, these earrings came about after working the heart/leaf without beads, I sketched some shapes that would work well with that particular wrapping technique – it needed smooth round outer curves or straight lines ideally and this shape allowed me to get a ‘circle’ without soldering, as I wanted to only part wrap the shape and this balanced the bottom detail and intense texture with further interest at the top.

I decided that to balance the round earring, the earwires needed to either be round in shape, which didn’t work as nicely as I hoped, or in some other way reflect the details. So I went with a long straight drop earwire, to drop the wide earrings well below the ear and mirrored the wrapping with a wrapped loop rather than an eye to connect the earrings.

After oxidising, I decided to only polish back the wrapped details and leave this highlighted against the darker gunmetal finish of the scroll and I also highlighted the wraps on the earwires too. I think, having taken that particular evolutionary journey this week through these designs, this is the one I like best.

4 thoughts on “The evolution of a design

  1. In the vernacular, “I feel you”. Your post title had me jumping to read after perusing your archives and I very much empathize with how you feel about designs and how they can come in a ceaseless flow and how so often we are pulled in other directions much to our chagrin at times!

    I loved hearing about your process and seeing your lovely work 😀

  2. Sorry, just realised that I never replied – I’d had trouble publishing the comments originally and forgot to return.

    @ Fiona – I get things more even these days as I’ve become much more particular about measuring and taking notes etc. I record how I do things, which tool I use etc. so that I can repeat them more consistently.

    Thanks Maisy, you’re a sweetheart!

  3. i sound like a broken record when i say how lovely your jewellery is! but i love the organic shapes and the attention to detail in the finish of everything you do. these are all class designs but the last pair of [mehndi style] earrings are my favourites; you’ve achieved a stunning design using the simplest of materials and they totally work!

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