I wish jewellery designing and making was straight forward but, unfortunately, it's definitely not. Creating samples is an essential part of the process. Coming from a design background I'm always looking for a simple, fast solution but I very rarely find it.
Original sample making for the knot necklace
Making a new piece of jewellery typically begins with designing the piece. The design process involves considering the intended wearer (that's you), the occasion, and the desired look. In my case I often have a particular material or piece of rubber that I've discovered being thrown out somewhere so I'm looking for ways to upcycle it and make it into something exciting for you to wear. Once I have an idea, all the bits needed for the piece are gathered, and the actual experimentation begins.
Making samples is a constant process...some designs take years to get right
Ialways hope that I'll come up with a design straight away but my jewellery designs always evolve during the early stages so I tend to make endless prototypes. Various findings such as clasps, earring fittings, and hooks are tested to ensure they work properly and are comfortable to wear. The weight, size, and shape of the piece are also important factors to consider. A piece that is too heavy will be uncomfortable to wear, while a piece that is too small may not be noticeable. I'm always aiming for maximum impact for as little weight as possible.
Checking the weight and durability of leather for a ruffle necklace.
It's also essential to consider how the piece looks when worn, so I often work in front of a mirror. Does it sit well on the neck or ear? Is it the right length? Does it look modern or crafty? These are all the questions I ask myself when at the beginning stage of creating a new design. Testing different options is necessary to achieve the desired look. There is an art to handmade...and in my case it's never simple even though the end result might appear to be so.
Making samples involves testing: drilling, glue, durability, dyeing...an endless process
I'm always imagining how and where you will wear my designs. I assume you are as messy as I am and the piece will be tossed aside at the end of an event, to be tidied up at some later date, so it's important to consider the durability of the piece. Testing the glue and knots used in the construction process is crucial to ensure the piece does not fall apart over time. The weight of the piece also needs to be tested to ensure it can withstand daily wear and tear.
Creating samples is often the most important part of the jewellery making process as it allows me to experiment with different materials and techniques to achieve the desired look and functionality of the piece. It also allows me to test the durability of the piece and ensure it is comfortable to wear.
Dyeing rubber for necklaces
I often hand dye things which also needs lots of experimenting. Different materials absorb dye in different ways so it can take many, many samples and lots of trial and error to achieve the desired effect or intensity of colour.
Variations of the chaotic necklaces
There are certain designs which, over the years you have told me you love (for example the chaotic necklaces and the spaghetti necklaces) so I often recreate those using different thicknesses, types of rubber and new colours.
Each time I recreate a design I need to look at the proportion of the piece. I ask myself lots of questions:
- Does the length need to change?
- Should the weaving become more intricate?
- Is it going to be too heavy?
- Does it need the addition of beads (pearls, rubber, resin or wooden) or some other form of embellishment?
Working as a jewellery designer for you, my wonderful clients, who are invariably arty, creative, older women with years of experience and refined taste, women who know exactly what they love, can be particularly challenging...
You know what you want and you don't want to be shown the same boring stuff over and over. This means creating samples is particularly important as the pieces need to be unique and stand out while still being comfortable to wear. The samples allow me to test different designs and techniques to ensure each piece is a work of art.
In conclusion, jewellery making is a detailed and complex process that requires a mix of creativity, skill, and attention to detail. Creating samples is an essential part of the process as it allows me, the designer to experiment with different materials and techniques, test the durability of the piece, and ensure it is comfortable to wear. The aim is for the end result is to be high-quality, unique, and comfortable jewellery pieces.
Sorting designs for the Frank Ideas sample sale
The design process means, that at least once a year, I need to go through all those samples, sort out those I am still going to develop further and those that should be allowed to go to new homes where they will be loved. Often they are slightly imperfect. There might be a smudge of glue or imperfect patches of dye. They might be a little longer or shorter than the final design. They might be made in a colour that I couldn't repeat because of lack of the same beads or inability to repeat the same process over and over. They might have been on display at a trade show and therefore no longer absolutely new. They might be the last in a line or I might have decided I need a break from making them for a while.
The wonderful thing for me is knowing that once I set them free they will go on to be worn by someone who loves them and treasures their imperfections and the hours of time that went in to developing them.
I hope you get a chance to jump in quickly and find something wonderful that will make you smile each time you wear it!