On Beading and Jewelry Making
The DESIGN PERSPECTIVE is very focused on
teaching beaders and jewelry makers how to make
choices. Choices about what materials to include,
and not to include. Choices about strategies and
techniques of construction. Choices about mechanics.
Choices about aesthetics. Choices about how best
to evoke emotions.
choices must also reflect an understanding of the
bead and its related components. How do all these
pieces, in conjunction with stringing materials,
assert their needs? Their needs for color, light
and shadow. Their needs for durability, flexibility,
drape, movement and wearability. Their needs for
social or psychological or cultural or contextual
appropriateness -- an appropriateness that has to
do with satisfaction, beauty, fashion and style,
as well as power and influence.
This DESIGN PERSPECTIVE contrasts with the more
predominant Craft Approach, where the beader
or jewelry maker merely follows a set of steps and
ends up with something. Here, in this step-by-step
approach, all the choices have been made for them.
this DESIGN PERSPECTIVE also contrasts with another
widespread approach to beading and jewelry making
– the Art Tradition – which
focuses on achieving ideals of beauty, whether the
jewelry is worn or not. Here the beader or jewelry
maker learns to apply art theories learned by painters
and sculptors, and assumed to apply equally to beads
and jewelry, as well.
Craft Approach and the Art Tradition
ignore too much of the functional essence of jewelry.
Because of this, they often steer the beader and
jewelry maker in the wrong directions. Making the
wrong choices. Exercising the wrong judgments. Applying
the wrong tradeoffs between aesthetics and functionality.
The focus of the DESIGN PERSPECTIVE is strategic
thinking. At the core of this thinking are a series
of design principles and their skillful applications.
These principles go beyond a set of techniques.
These principles and the strategies for applying
them provide the beader and jewelry maker with some
clarity in a muddled world.
belief here is that, since there are so many different
kinds of information to be learned and applied,
it is impossible to clearly integrate this information
all at once. When learned haphazardly or randomly,
it becomes more difficult or too confusing to successfully
bring to bear all these kinds of things the beader
or jewelry maker needs to do when designing and
constructing a piece of jewelry. Thus, the beader
and jewelry maker best learn all this related yet
disparate information in a developmental order,
based on some coherent grammer or set of rules of
design. By learning within this organized structure
and informational hierarchy, the jewelry artist
best sees how everything interrelates and comes
together. This is the DESIGN PERSPECTIVE.
we begin with a Core set of skills and concepts,
and how these are interrelated and applied. Then
we move on to a Second Set of skills and concepts,
their interrelationships and applications, and identifying
how they are related to the Core. And onward again
to a Third Set of skills and concepts, their interrelationships
and applications and relationship to the Second
Set and the Core, and so forth.
In the DESIGN PERSPECTIVE, “Jewelry”
is understood as Art, but is only Art as it is worn.
It is not considered Art when sitting on a mannequin
or easel. Because of this, the principles learned
through Craft or Art are important, but not sufficient
for learning good jewelry design and fashioning
good jewelry design creates its own challenges.
All jewelry functions in a 3-dimensional space,
particularly sensitive to position, volume and scale.
Jewelry must stand on its own as an object of art.
But it must also exist as an object of art which
interacts with people (and a person’s body),
movement, personality, and quirks of the wearer,
and of the viewer, as well as the environment and
context. Jewelry serves many purposes, some aesthetic,
some functional, some social and cultural, some
The focus of the DESIGN PERSPECTIVE is on the parts.
How do you choose them? How should they be used,
and not be used? How do you assemble them and combine
them in such a way that the whole is greater than
the sum of the parts? How do you create and build
in support systems within your jewelry to enable
that greater movement, more flexibility, better
draping, longer durability? How do you best use
all these parts, making them resonate and evoking
that emotional response from your audience to your
style, vision and creative hand that you so desire?
The beader and jewelry maker is seen as a multi-functional
professional, similar to an architect who builds
houses and an engineer who builds bridges. In all
these cases, the professional must bring a lot of
very different kinds of skills and abilities to
bear, when constructing, whether house or bridge
or jewelry. The professional has to be able to manage
artistic design, functionality, and the interaction
of the object with the person and that person’s
GOOD JEWELRY DESIGN: Principles of Composition