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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

My Design Process

A lot of my customers ask me where I get my ideas and how I go about designing pieces.  Everyone who is in this business, or any other creative field, has their own approach but I thought I would try to explain my own processes.  The best example of this is when I 'm working on pieces for my wife, Kathy, because she wants no part of the process, except to give me general guidelines (I need a new bracelet, I need a pair of earrings, etc.).  This is the kind of designing I prefer doing because it allows me to have the most fun doing what I love to do best.

So this year Kathy asked me for some blue sapphire earrings.  She has a pair of diamond earrings I made for her that are similar to these tourmaline earrings. She liked the size and the feel of them but wanted something with blue, and obviously I wasn't going to make up the same shape with different stones.

The first step is to find some stones.  So I called my primary gemstone suppliers and told them to send me some pairs of sapphires to look at.  I got in three pairs, all of which were beautiful, but after some time with them I selected the somewhat lighter toned pair.  I chose these because 1) lighter tones in sapphires tend to sparkle more, 2) they were going into earrings which meant that they wouldn't have as much light on them when worn on the ears so a lighter tone will show up better and 3) because they were the prettiest pair (of course).

So now I had a pair of stones in my hands that I liked but, honestly, I had absolutely no idea of what to do with them.  I couldn't do circles again.  So I kind of let the look of the stones and the feelings of what I wanted gestate for awhile (actually about a week).  This usually involves looking at the stones repeatedly and a lot of sighing when nothing actually occurs to me.  But if I wait long enough something usually comes along.  I often do rough sketches on the walls of my workshop and the
picture here is where I started, finally, in the process of a design for the stones.  So now I knew I wanted to do something that was somewhat triangular in shape.  But unlike my sketches I really didn't feel like just doing a triangle so I mucked around a bit and finally drew up a shape I liked a bit better. I'd show you that sketch but I have a bad habit of tossing out stuff like that once I get the shape cut out in metal.

Once I had the shape cut out and the bezel soldered in place I kind of reverted back to some of the usual design elements I use in much of my work. Some of the elements show up all the time, some I pull in from older pieces.  The wire looping in and out on the side of the earrings is something I've done a lot of for my wife but only occasionally shows up in my work.  The graduated stone and bead sizes actually came into the piece because of the work I had just done on her new pendant pictured above.  Stuff tends to float through my head as I'm working and often moves from piece to piece when I'm working on multiple things at one time.  This is what finally came out:

I try to put a little bit of me into all of the pieces I make up but those for my wife have a little bit more of me than the others.  But if you would like a little bit more of me in your pieces, just ask me to make up something I want to with stones I pick out and you can get it too!

Of course, if you have something specific in mind that you want me to make up, I do that all the time too. 

The pendant pictured above is another piece I made up for Kathy (I was a little behind on presents this  year so she got two for her birthday!).  It has a piece of carved walrus tusk that was carved by an extremely talented jeweler friend of mine who's name is Lisa Bialac-Jehle.  Lisa does extraordinary work, somewhat similar to mine actually, and is a great human being as well.  I have already talked to her about getting more of these carvings for some future pieces for the cases so if  you're interested in something like this, let me know and I'll reserve one for you.

Please make sure you look at my prior post as well as there are  new pictures up of some new pieces.  

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