Discovering Jewelry Design
Jewelry design was not something I ever went to school for. In fact, it was not even on my mind, until I discovered how to make lampwork glass beads.
The jewelry I make today, has design elements of the spiritual mandalas, and the colorful lampwork glass cabochons, and beads. To bring you truly well-designed jewelry, I needed to do something more. So I enrolled in a jewelry design and fabrication course through The Makery, a wonderful shop in Bulverde, TX that offers jewelry making, handcrafted jewelry, and original modern art. It is run by a Francesca Watson, an amazing jewelry instructor that teaches both in person and online. I have been in some of Francesca’s in person classes which included enthusiasts from, Colorado, New York, and Arizona.
The Makery offered a design course called “Heart of the Maker”. An online, 6-week intensive course, taught by Leslie Aime McKeown, of “Lesley Aime McKeown Jewelry”, a 35-year veteran of jewelry design and fabrication. Her jewelry is amazing and if you have a chance, take a look!
Anyway! My goal in taking this course was to take my jewelry design and fabrication to a new level. Giving it more dimension and style.
In our first meeting Leslie took us through the elements of style, talking about the balance, open spaces, quiet spaces, and the rhythm of jewelry and how the parts play together. It was fascinating.
Then it was the students turn to try. As I let on before, my drawing skills are not great, so my first attempts were…well…poor!
I just couldn’t see the mandalas in the designs, and they are a big part of my work, so I went to cutting and pasteing! Which I though worked rather well!
Leslie was encouraging but wanted me to work on the design a bit. Which I tried, finally came up with my final design, by moving things around just a little. She also did not want me using the mandala cut outs! Ugg!
However, she was right, the rhythm of the piece was better.
Then, it was on to the fabrication of this newly design piece.
Jewelry design is one thing, but then, can you take that design and make it reality?
Feeling relatively confident in my ability to put this new design together, though I knew there would be some challenges ahead!
As part of “Heart of the Maker”, Leslie provides demonstrations on how to do certain fabrication techniques. This was extremely helpful and just plain fun for a jewelry maker!!
To help with my confidence level in soldering so many small pieces together, I thought I would start with the smallest element at the bottom of my design. All went together better than expected, as a matter of fact. Feeling ready to take on the rest of the piece, it was time to put on my big girl panties and trudge on!
The first two attempts at the center piece of my design were failures! Things did not work well. I wanted to saw out the small leaves in the mandala and raise them a bit. Finally with the second attempt of drilling starter holes and having my drill bit get stuck in the silver, I know I had to…breath…pivot…and try something different. My third attempt was a success, after deciding to put the leaves on top of the piece instead of cutting them out. Problem solved!
Now on to all those small mandalas, single leaves, dots, and bezels, oh my!
Let’s just say that some of it worked well, some, not so much, in the end, I created a piece of jewelry, designed on paper, and made into silver, that I would never have attempted before. It really was a wonderful experience, pushing myself to new limits.
I must thank Leslie Aime Mckeown and Francesca Watson for offering this fun, entertaining, educational, and well-done course. I also learn so much from the other wonderful women in the class. Their designs were all fantastic, and exciting to watch come together.
My mind is whirling with new designs to bring to you, using the elements I have in my pieces now, but in beautiful new ways. Stay tuned!!