Friday, March 22, 2013

My design Process

As some of you know I teach jewellery making to beginners at a school in Sydney. 
Often I get comments from students that imply someone, as experienced as myself, design items really easily. They get a surprise when I tell them it takes me hours to make one earring, sometimes more, especially when experimenting.

So I decided I would share a design process with you.
Here we have two earrings I have been working with and this is their story. 

The one on the right
 I had a vision in my mind of an oval earring with diamantes at each end and twin beads down the sides so yesterday morning I set out to make it. This experiment took me 5 hours to make as there is a lot of doing and undoing when figuring out how to get your vision and how to make it.

Along the way I got distracted by the large drop sitting beside my bead mat - I had purchased the day before - and thought it would be nice to incorporate that in the earring.
So happily I sat making and figuring it all out and adding the drop. I was pretty thrilled with how it looked and was very keen to finish.

When I finish a piece I put it in my view and I regularly look at it. 
Viewing my work this way lets me see what I do/don't like about the design, what irritates me, 
what doesn't work, what catches the eye, what looks unbalanced etc etc.

Very shortly I disliked the earring.
 I wanted to remove the montees, I felt it was too large (weighing 8 grams and 64mm long), too 'busy' in the earring attachment and too bulky in the drop attachment. I did like the 'ovalness' of this design which was my vision. I resolved to have another go making the changes.

The one on the left
Here we have this morning's experiment. 
Because I knew what I wanted and how it was done this took me only two hours to make.
I took out what I didn't like, no montees, moved the drop up into the centrepiece making the attachment more simple, designed a better and prettier earring attachment. 
I feel this earring is more pleasing to the eye, less 'busy' and weighs in at 7 grams and is 53mm long.

Am I happy with the second experiment you may ask?
No I am not!!
The centrepiece is a rectangular Swarovski bead and in this second design the 'squareness' is more accentuated, not something I thought a problem as I was making it. 
As I sit and view it - I don't like it! 
Now I remember my vision was an oval bead and what I liked in the first one was its ovalness.
So I will attempt to make another and remove the squareness to get a more oval shape.

In summary, experimenting and coming up with new ideas is not simple to an experienced designer. There are many hours of working out how to make it, what works and looks good and what doesn't work.
Just take these two earrings - a total of 7 hours of work - and really there is nothing to show for it other than the learning.
I am back to making another and hopefully I will get it right this time - and guess what ? if I do like earring number three I have to make another one to match. 
So all in all making the third and then the fourth you are looking at about 11 hours of work to come up with a pair of earrings and fulfil an idea. 

Sheeesh!!!  designing is really easy for an experienced beader they say... NOT!
There actually is a lot of work however the work is one of love and passion. I create because I love to create,  I cannot get enough of it sometimes, it rules my life, it has taken over my home, my thought patterns, my social life has dwindled etc etc....and I have never been happier. 

Maybe you will say I am 'picky' - sure, I may be, but then that is my design ethic. 

I want it how I want it and I want it to be stunning !!


  1. Hi Patrick - I agree these do not look like your normal elegant style - Maybe the colours are a little flat - maybe look a little chunky - but they don't seem to work - that is they don't work for me - sorry - Sandy

  2. Such a familiar design process! Just like my own. I have even taken to photgraphing my work each night when I finish and putting it on the cover of my iPad so I have to look at it everytime I use it until the evening, when I can actually get back to it and make changes. I keep thinking I should be better at visualizing what I want, but when you are inventing the wheel every time, I think you have to expect two steps forward, one step back and many UFO's. Thank you for sharing and for the confirmation. You know I adore you, and your work!

    1. Hi Marsha, thanks for visiting and reading my post. Much appreciated. I like your expression "inventing the wheel very time" that describes the process well.
      I also tell myself a few things, visualise better, stick to the original idea and not stray etc etc. I do have a lot of UFOs and after another attempt with these I have decided to scrap the idea. C'est la vie. Who knows they may appear in another form in something else.
      Our mutual admiration shall continue.

  3. Thank you for sharing a piece of your world of creating. As I am new to beading (6mths) I have a lot of scrapped creations, so can understand what you are talking about. I have designed a few items but as yet, have not fully completed tutorials for the. I am nowhere near the class of your experience but still have the same troubles with designing. I don't think it gets any easier, the more experience you have, rather the opposite as you need to outdo what has been done before. You are and have been doing that. Well done! Carolyn Grimson

    1. Thank you Carolyn, I am glad to read you are experimenting already after only 6 months of beading. That is very adventurous. As I became more knowledgable in stitches I always had that "what if?" question in my head when designing, along with "what if I add this bead?" and "how will it look if I do....?" etc etc.
      That is the drive to design speaking and I am very grateful to have it. Keep up the work it gets better.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing your process, Patrick!! I have the same struggle with shapes sometimes, wanting an oval and ending with a round, or some such. And of course - the wish to make your vision a reality!! It can be hours and hours and hours and hours - and I love that you've shared that with us, as I think it's a very valuable thing for beginning beaders to hear. It means don't give up!! :) I can allllllllmost see what you're envisioning, and I can't wait to see the final earrings!!

    1. Hi Nancy and many thanks for taking the time to visit and read my post. Yes it is a message for those beginners who have this idea that we just pop them out one after another. Where they get the idea from goodness knows !!
      I have had another attempt with these earrings and have decided to scrap the idea. Who knows the learning may surface in something else and not an earring. All experimentation is worthwhile I believe, as we learn some new way of doing something or achieving something....hopefully.
      Once again,many thanks
      see you on BOTB13

  5. I keep thinking that I am slow, and I am, but that is only part of it. I am quite familiar with the "aw, that didn't work" pile.

    Which raises a few questions:
    1) What do you do with the discards? I used to cut them up and save the beads- that was when beads were much harder to come by. I will still tear apart finished works to recover large beads and stones. Now the finished bits and pieces they go into a container. I have no idea what will become of them.
    2) You have talked about selling your jewelry before, do you price in the design time? If so, how?

    1. Hello KJ, thanks for your comment.
      What do I do with the discards? Most of them get pulled apart and the beads returned to my stash. I do have some UFOs I keep as these can be inspiring in the future or your skills improve and suddenly are able to achieve what you couldn't achieve before.
      I have a small box full of these kind of bits and occasionally rummage through it and see if anything inspires me again. Lots of artists have these.
      Pricing in the design time. It is pretty hard to put that into your selling, especially the failed experiments. Some aspect of the time gets put into my successes, if the finished piece looks like it could sell with it included. Mostly design time is "research and development" and is done for the love of making something new and beautiful.
      BTW I also see myself as a slow beader. I sometimes see the items other beaders put out there and because I am following their designs and they are becoming friends I often think how the hell do they find the time to make as much as they do. I cannot pump it out as quickly!! LOL


  6. Thank you so much for this, Patrick. I'm a very inexperienced beader and it was really helpful to hear that designs to come easily even to the pro! Your work is so beautiful and I love knowing that it takes lots of trials before it comes out that way.

  7. I like your left and right concept, Patrick. It is obviously not normal style but a superior and unique piece of art. I like varieties and innovation so i appreciate your honest efforts in making earrings more wonderful.

  8. Thank you very much this post, it is so useful for me. I really appreciate your honesty.

  9. And for what this is worth, I like your earrings, especially theone of the left!!!

  10. Patrick has show courage and introduced a new concept to fashion market. I like the left and right quality balance. These superior piece of art must be admired and supported by fashion & jewellery designers like us and fashion designing colleges should include such concept too. I expect more innovation things from your end soon.