Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Anatomy of a Design - Part I

Recently, on an internet jewelry forum, there was a lot of discussion on how designs evolve from concept to finished piece. Some people start with a sketch and then edit it until they have something they like and then they select the materials to match the sketch. Others pick a focal bead or color scheme and go from there. Sometimes a completed design “vision” will just flash into someone’s head! And, of course, there’s all the influence from fashion, entertainment, nature, etc. that can all contribute to the creation of a specific design. Anyway, it was an interesting discussion so I decided it might be fun to figure out just how I come up with my designs.

When it comes to the creative process, I think there are several things going on. The first is that our brains are constantly taking in input from the world around us: colors, scents, sounds, sensations, etc. Everything we read or hear, pictures we see – they all go into our brains and get processed behind the scenes. We’re not consciously aware of the process, but somewhere in the gray matter, things are percolating and melding in strange and wonderful ways.

Remember the movie “Weird Science” where the two boys use a computer to create the “ultimate woman?” As part of the creation process, they scan photos and articles from various books and magazines. They take hair from one picture, lips from another, add in an article about Einstein, etc. and eventually the computer processes this all together to create Kelly LeBrock ;-) This is sort of how I visualize the creation of a particular design happening.

Sometimes the input I work from is provided by a particular focal bead. Usually, large stones or lampwork beads make the best focal inspirations. I take the focal bead and look at it under sunlight as well as indoor light and ask myself what colors I see in it and what those colors remind me of. I usually get sounds and sensations as well as the actual color. For example, cool blues and greens always make me think of water. I might picture a fountain which has sort of a light silvery feel and splashy sound. So, for a “fountain” design, I should look at blues from icy to aqua with silver or white accents. Once I focus in on a color group, I start rummaging through my bead stash to see what I have that matches. I play around with the focal beads and the accents beads I’ve pulled and they usually tell me where they want to go and how they want to be used.

Usually, however, the process happens in a different way…the “Weird Science” way. Lots of disparate elements come together from various experiences and combine to create something new and unique. That’s how “Mermaid’s Treasure” came about.

Recently, I attended a bead and gem show in Costa Mesa, CA. I wrote about it a few blog posts ago and shared some pictures of what I bought there. One of my most exciting finds was a new silver vendor who had some really unusual pieces. Oddly, I almost passed him by because his prices were on the high side and I have other tried-and-true vendors I shop from at this show who can do better on price. But, I was shopping with my mother and she (not being up on the current price per gram of silver) insisted I stop and take a look at his merchandise.


It’s tough to find something new and different at these shows where it often seems like vendor after vendor is selling the exact same stuff so I love it when I come across something I haven’t seen before like these hammered silver disks.

As soon as I saw them, I immediately had a flash of the treasure cavern at Disneyland’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride. That’s always been my very favorite ride and I used to try to figure out how I could jump off the boat in the treasure cavern and just roll around in all that shiny stuff. See, it’s not my fault I’m a bead addict…I just got exposed to too much loot too early in life ;-)

The more I handled (okay, fondled) those disks, the more I kept thinking about the treasure cavern and then I started remembering this documentary I watched years ago (probably on the Discovery channel) about divers searching for sunken Spanish galleons and their lost treasures. They found a lot of silver coins that the disks reminded me of and also lots of crosses on heavy chains of gold and silver. Now, I’m picturing these disks all jumbled together on chain like ancient coins. Then I realized they came in two different sizes and that the smaller size would either make great accents on the necklace or be okay for matching earrings. I bought some of both sizes and put them in my bag and the whole pirate’s treasure thing went outta my head as I got distracted by whatever neato thing was at the next booth I went to.

See next post for Part II.


1 comment:

Jenie said...

lol; me *too* on the pirates of the caribbean - so good to know it's not my fault, it was that indoctrination during my formative years! :) i love those silver disks and have been looking for them for *ages*. excellent score.