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Due to the Corona virus, the Surface Design workshop has been postponed until this summer. The new date for it will be announced when the Art House re-opens.


I'll be teaching this one-day workshop on March 14, 2020 at the Art House! Learn to design your own unique papers and other materials for collage, card making, scrap booking, journal making etc. I supply all the materials. All you need to bring is a sack lunch and a beverage. Hours are 10-4; fee is $90 per person. Register online at or call 678-543-5777. Act now! Seating is limited!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Designing Handmade Jewelry Q & A

Many people are curious about the design process when it comes to making handmade, one of a kind pieces of jewelry. Designing handmade jewelry calls for a series of carefully considered decisions on the part of the artist along with a dose of imagination and a finely tuned aesthetic sense. Recently I was asked a series of questions about how I design my necklace and pendant sets. I share the discussion with you to give you a glimpse into the thought processes and techniques I use to make my handmade jewelry pieces.

Q: Which design comes first -- the necklace or the pendant?
A: Sometimes the necklace is designed around the pendant. Other times the pendant is created after the necklace is designed. No matter which sequence is used, I always try to unite them using elements such as color, shape, texture, theme and so on.

Q: Where do you get your inspiration? Can you give an example?
A: This winter's extremely cold weather has had me dreaming of summer. I wanted to make a jewelry set that would help chase away the winter blues. To me sunflowers are the very symbol of summer and all the good things that come with it like warmth, long days, wearing flip-flops, growing a garden... With those things in mind I decided to pull out some sunflower-themed fabric beads I'd made and got to work.

The sunflower necklace and pendant on my work table

Q: So in this case the beads were made first?
A: Yes. Actually I had made them last year but didn't have anything specific in mind for them at the time, so I stored them away until the right project came along. In this case I let their design and colors guide the subsequent design of the pendant.

Q: What did the beads look like?
A: Each bead has yellow-gold petals on a rich cobalt blue background, with warm brown in the flowers' centers. To repeat those three colors in the construction of the necklace I used brown glass pearls, golden yellow glass pearl ovals, and cobalt blue glass tubes. Also pale gold seed beads for spacers. The fabric beads had a bit of green and light purple in them, too, but I chose not to repeat those colors anywhere else in the necklace.

Q: Why not pick up the green and light purple?
A:  Designing a piece of jewelry is a lot like painting a canvas. Both benefit from a cohesive color scheme. Limiting my colors to golden yellow, warm brown and cobalt blue gives the piece a unified appearance. I love green and purple, but in this case I felt limiting the palette to just three colors would result in a better looking piece. The bold designs on the beads didn't need competition from additional colors. I tend to believe "less is more."

Q:What about the clasp? What color is the metal?
A: That was an easy decision. It couldn't be anything but gold!

Q: And what about the pendant? What does it look like and what process did you use to make it?
A: Naturally I wanted a sunflower design on the pendant to echo the sunflowers on the fabric beads. In my paper stash there was a vintage botanical illustration that was perfect. Originally it had been a floral motif on a paper napkin. After separating out the paper layers, I had encased the layer with the illustration in clear acrylic medium. That strengthened it and gave it an interesting, slightly pebbly texture. The acrylic medium had really brought out the flower's colors so it was a good partner for the design on the beads.

The design on the pendant originally was a paper napkin.

Q: How did you turn a piece of paper napkin into a pendant?
A: I decoupaged it onto a piece of Stampbord. Stampbord is a really cool product made by Ampersand. It can be stamped, painted, decoupaged, collaged, drawn on...the techniques and media you can use on it are almost unlimited. For the necklace, I started by painting the edges and back of the Stampbord with two coats of metallic gold acrylic paint. When the paint was completely dry, I cut out and decoupaged the botanical illustration to the front. Then I let it dry overnight. The next day I brushed on a clear acrylic sealer and let that dry several more hours. The last step was varnishing it and attaching the bail.

Q:What kind of bail did you use?
A: I used a simple but elegant gold plated bail. I centered the bail on the top edge of the pendant, and used E6000 jewelry glue to attach it. I let the pendant sit undisturbed for 24 hours to make sure the glue was completely cured, then inserted it into the focal positionas I strung the beads.

Q: Do most designers follow a similar process when creating pieces of jewelry?
A: I imagine there are as many different approaches to design as there are designers. This is just the way I tend to do things. My way is not the only way by any means.

Q: Do you think you accomplished what you set out to do -- make a piece of jewelry that reminds you of summertime?
A: I do. Whenever I look at this piece, it brings to mind gardens in bloom and afternoons on the porch drinking ice tea. I just love sunflowers! I'm thinking I might plant some this year in front of my studio.

Text and images ©2014 Lynn Edwards

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