My Turn: From the Editor of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, August 2017
Ask a Question
IS THAT MICA? Who would think to make a ring look like an airport control tower? How did they get it to be so lightweight? Unless there’s writing in or on it or it’s equipped with audio, a piece of jewelry really can’t ask a question, and yet some designs manage to engage us so well we carry on entire conversations about the work with ourselves.
AT TOP: Featured in “High Wire Acts” in Trends this issue, Seung Jeon Paik uses wire as an important design feature in her fabricated jewelry. Union #02 pin, sterling silver, 18K gold, keum boo. Photo: courtesy Seung Jeon Paik
If you want to push a design from okay to compelling, pare down an elaborate design so it’s easier to reproduce, or simply explore where your next design could go, there are some basics you can think about to help get you there. That’s why we always ask artists what drives their design development: you never know which turn is going to spark an idea for you, too.
The designers in Trends are constantly balancing the distinct styles and price points of their brands with the fluctuations of fashion. Profiled artists may be drawn to certain materials or techniques, influenced by other art forms or historic movements, need to sell work, or want to stand out from the crowd. Project contributors may want to share a new idea or be focused on helping you develop classic skills.
When we ask project writers about the pieces they’re demonstrating, we pose three broad questions. We start at the beginning point for the design, follow up with a request for a quick analysis of the finished work, and then get into what happened along the way.
Design Start. What made them go off on this track in the first place? If they had a goal for this design, what was it?
- #1 Design Features. What do they see as the one or two aspects of this design that make it stand out?
- #1 Challenges. How did they make sure the finished piece would be comfortable to wear and look right when worn? Could they build it with their existing skills and tools, and if not, what did they change to make it work? Could they afford to make it, or did they need to swap out materials, scale the piece down, or otherwise reduce costs?
In this issue, we also went a little further. In the section Design & Streamline/CZ starting on page 50, we asked designer Erica Stice to vary a design by complexity. Then we asked writer and metalsmith Rene Agredano to talk with Erica and other jewelry artists about what they want to accomplish when they modify their designs and how they do it.
The answers can be instructive and inspiring, too, but the beauty of these questions is in the conversations and explorations they launch. Ask yourself a question — maybe you’ll find the answer, or maybe you’ll find an even better question that sets you off in a brand-new direction to try out.
Merle White is Editor-in-Chief of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist and Editorial Director for the Interweave Jewelry Group. My Turn appears in each issue of the magazine.
Find the August 2017 Issue
. . . and all that’s in it including Trends, Erica Stice’s bangle projects, and more. The August 2017 digital issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist is available now. Print to follow soon at https://www.interweave.com/store/lapidary-journal-jewelry-artist-august-2017-print-edition.
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