At the Drawing Board: Turn Simple Geometric Shapes into a Jewelry Design Series

I've been blessed with lots of creative "talents" and have always enjoyed many creative, crafty pursuits, but drawing is one talent I've never felt that I had. I did well in art classes in school, but I still don't feel that I can draw very well. Just like I admire those people who can sing like angels or make a fantastic meal by Macguyver-style from a nearly bare pantry, I admire those who can draw well and transfer from mind's eye to blank page whatever they imagine. Sigh.  

Photo and designs by Mary Blum.

Fortunately I've found ways to improve my drawing, as I've discovered that a lot of jewelry design can be broken down into basic geometric shapes–squares, circles, triangles, and simple variations of them. Awhile back on Jewelry Making Daily, we shared the drawings and jewelry creations of five design students, and one of them in particular really stood out to me. Mary Blum used those basic geometric shapes in a variety of configurations to create an eye-catching series of wire compass rose designs.

Mary Blum in Her Own Words

"The Compass Rose series began with the juxtaposition of simple geometric shapes – circles and squares – arranged in ways to create units; these shapes take on more meaning as they form discrete components. The components can then be combined to create single design elements and repetitive patterns.

"First, I turned a number of jump rings and soldered them together. After fitting sets of four rings together in a clover pattern, I fabricated the squares from double sets of elbows with mitered corners. I bent the sides of each square in to create a more interesting and elegant quadrilateral shape. I then overlaid those elements on the clovers, and set a fifth ring in the center of each.

"The finished components can then be brought together in any manner of combination. From simple designs featuring a single component for earrings or a necklace, to more complicated arrangements of six components to form a free-linked bracelet, to 14 elements soldered together with additional rings forming a bridge for a torque–the possibilities are endless.

"Examples I have evolved for the finished pieces include metal alone, with briolettes wired to hang from the tips of the squares, with dapped discs substituted for the center rings, with bezel-set stones gracing the middles, with some rings of gold and others of silver. There are myriad ways to combine these repetitive elements into jewelry that comprise many unique pieces, which also cohere into a recognizable signature collection." (See more of Mary's work at

Photo and designs by Meagan Reelitz.

To improve your own drawing skills and master the art of moving all of those jewelry designs from your mind to the page–and then, hopefully, to your workbench–subscribe to Drawing magazine. You'll be inspired by masterful drawings and techniques in each issue while you learn to improve your own drawing skills. And you can see the work, design sketches, and comments from the four other student designers on Jewelry Making Daily.



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