Past Jewelry Making Techniques:
We maintain a techniques web page that provides links to the discussion of techniques in our prior newsletters. You can visit this web page here. Follow the links on that page to the discussion of the technique in that newsletter.
Current Jewelry Making Technique:
This month's jewelry making technique is our discussion on how to make up a new jewelry design. Developing a new jewelry design can be one of the more trying jewelry making tasks. Here is some discussion on how we come up with a new design.
The first step in coming up with a new design is getting the inspiration. This is frequently the most difficult part. What we do to get inspiration is to look at jewelry wherever we find it. When in the mall, we look at jewelry in the windows of jewelry stores, and we look at the jewelry that people are wearing as we walk the mall. One of the best places to get inspiration is from museums and books that show ancient jewelry. The techniques we use to make jewelry are techniques that have existed since at least Roman times and probably further back. Many of the ancient jewelry designs can be made with modern techniques. Some can even be improved with modern techniques.
Generally, we don't try to copy any other piece of jewelry, we try to find a design that we can modify to make using our techniques. A good example of inspiration is that we were inspired to make the Comma Jewelry Wire Earrings discussed above by the Harry Mason web site. We were directed to that site by an e-mail from a visitor to our web site. We viewed a pair of earrings there and asked ourselves can we make that? Can we make it better? Can we make it different? For the earrings in our new project for this newsletter, our inspiration was to make a variation of the earrings that we viewed on the Harry Mason web site.
The second step in developing a new design is to begin trying to recreate that shape in wire using your jig. This step requires you to understand the geometry of your jigs and accessories. Consider the pattern you are trying to recreate. Would it be easier to recreate that pattern on a jig with a square peg pattern? Would a jig with a round peg pattern be easier. Are there rounded portions of the design that will require Super Pegs? For the Comma earrings, we initially thought that the earrings could be made with two Super Pegs, one 1.5" and one 1/2". We tried this and found out that using the round portion of our WigJig Centaur, or our WigJig Cyclops would work better. Initially when we tried this pattern on the Centaur, we used only 7 regular metal pegs and the 1/2" Super Peg. Our first attempt at making the Comma Earrings used this pattern and we made a wire component using that pattern with practice wire.
While you are performing the trial and error portion of your new design, use inexpensive practice wire and use only 18 or 20 gauge wire. In general, it will be easier to develop a new design in 20 gauge wire because 20 gauge wire is easier to work with.
Continue to consider alternatives. The questions you need to ask yourself are will it work better if I add a peg, if I move a peg, or if I change the size? Try making a wire component with several different variations of your pattern. For this weeks jewelry making project, the Comma Earrings, it only took us thee alternatives before we got the design the way we wanted it. By contrast when we were trying to develop our angular alternative to the Comma Earrings, it took us about 4-5 alternatives before we were satisfied with the design. This is the trial and error part. Try several alternatives and figure out which one works best. Remember that making jewelry is a combination of bending wire on our jig and bending wire by hand off the jig. Your finished wire project will require both.
Once you have settled on a pattern and approach to making your wire component then consider what size wire would be best to use. For rings, 14 and 16 gauge are good sizes of wire. For necklaces, 16, and 18 gauge are good sizes. For earrings, 18 and 20 gauge are good sizes of wire. After you have selected a gauge of wire, you will need to consider which hardness of wire will work best. For rounded shapes like the Comma Earrings, soft wire works better. For angular shapes like the angular alternative to the Comma Earrings, shown above-right, half-hard wire tends to work better.
The third step in the design process is decorating the earrings. After you have the design of the wire component completed you can start thinking about how to add beads to decorate the earrings. Consider the size of the beads and the shape of the beads. In the earrings shown left and right you can see how we used just one 4mm bead at right and a 4mm bead and a 6mm bead at left. You can also consider a series of beads. In the earrings shown in the Nostalgia Corner paragraph below, you can view a couple of instances where we used a combination of beads for our earrings.
The final step is to document your finished design. The best way to document a design is to use one of our templates for our jigs and use a colored pen to color in the locations of the pegs you used. You can find a web page with all the templates for our jigs. Please select here to visit that web page of templates.
Here are some things to remember when you are making your own new design.
Making new designs is a trial and error process. Normally when we are doing a new design, we try between two and seven different alternatives before we settle on a peg pattern and approach to make a jewelry wire component.
Use practice wire when you are making your trial wire components. Start with 20 gauge. Once you have a design, consider heavier gauges.
Remember that using the jig is only one step in making a wire component. You can shape the wire before you put it on the jig and you can continue shaping the wire after you remove it from the jig. The final step in almost all jewelry projects is called "hand finishing". Hand finishing is the process of bending the wire component using your fingers and adjusting the shape visually.
Document your successful designs by marking the peg pattern on a paper templat.
In summary, we see roughly four steps in our design process. The steps are 1. Inspiration, 2. Trial and Error, 3. Decorate, and 4. Document. We hope these thoughts will help you, the reader, to understand the design process as we practice it.
Nostalgia Corner -- Some of our favorite jewelry making projects:
This week's featured design in our Nostalgia Corner is the design for our Interchangeable Beads Earrings jewelry making project. The feature that makes these ear wires unique is that the beads can be removed and exchanged on these earrings. See the two pictures below to see how the beads can be removed and exchanged.
Please select here, or select either picture above to view our free instructions for making our Interchangeable Beads Earrings made out of jewelry wire, beads and jewelry supplies on our WigJig jewelry tools.
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Last modified: 03/16/2010