People say to me all the time, “You must dream of making jewelry. How do you come up with all these designs? How do you know how everything will fit together?”
Can I let you in on a little secret? You might think that I just have an eye for design and that somehow I know by instinct how to fit beads together in winning combinations, but that’s just because you only see my finished necklaces. What you don’t see is the pile of samples, test braids, and almost-but-not-quite-right-yet prototypes.
The truth is that I’m actually an ever-curious inventor. When it comes to creating jewelry designs that combine beads in new ways, I think of it as a game with three parts.
The Designer’s Playbook Part One: Ask a Lot of Questions
Let me show you some beads I was working with as part of a design challenge. I had 4mm tiger eye, 6mm smoky quartz, 8mm freshwater pearls, and 12mm opals. As part of the challenge I could make any style of jewelry using any technique, but of course I wanted to make a kumihimo necklace.
The first thing I notice is how small the holes are, especially in the pearls. I’ll probably need Superlon micro if I want to string those up.
I know from past experience that I’ll run into some braid stability issues using such large beads on thin thread. I’ll definitely need a core if I go that route.
I wish these beads had bigger holes. How can I give these beads bigger holes? I could ream them. Uhg… I really don’t like reaming beads.
Too bad these beads aren’t top drilled. I think I’d really like to see the pearls and opals dangling from the braid like a teardrop. What else is possible?
What if I wire wrapped the beads? Would a basic loop be ok? I don’t want it to pull open. How about wrapped loops then? Sure that would be ok, but that’s really time consuming. Also, will the wrapped stem be too long? I don’t want the beads to sit too far from the braid. What if I make coiled loops instead? Oooo! That might work. Let’s find out!
So after that back and forth internal dialog I got to work on my braid idea. Here’s how it turned out.
Not a blue ribbon winner, but an excellent proof of concept. My idea of using coiled loops to braid with larger beads works.
Asking questions led me to a new technique for incorporating beads in kumihimo, but it’s just the first step to making a great new design. Tune in next time for part two of the Designer’s Playbook.