Friday, December 9, 2011

Designing a Bracelet

I breathed a sigh of relief this weekend, when I finally handed in all my final projects. I wrote about 80 pages of new creative material this semester. It's a nice feeling. Hopefully over the holidays I can get lots of jewellery done.

But here is my topic for the blog today - designing a bracelet. This bracelet, specifically:

It looks pretty simple, but a fair bit of thought will go into a bracelet like this. I have more elaborate bracelets of course, but this won't be a post on how to make a bracelet (I'm not a good teacher and there are plenty of other websites that will show you). It's a post on colour and design.

1) selecting wire and 'findings'

Selecting the wire is important because it will determine what kind of links you will make, and what beads you will choose. I tend to pick wire first because its thickness, softness, and colour will influence what beads I will pick.

I picked a copper wire in 26 gauge. It's a nice coppery orange and bright, which means I have to pick beads that will either be in  warm tones (red, orange, yellow, brown) to blend in, OR beads that won't be overwhelmed by the unusual colour.

Of course, there has to be 'findings' (jump rings, end caps, clasps, etc). I will be using both a bright copper and a darker, antique copper. It may seem weird to mix shades, but I think it looks quite nice, and over time, the wire will darken to match the darker components anyway.

2) selecting the beads: material, colour, shape, shine, and translucency.

Now I have to pick beads to match the wire. Usually when I start designing something I think about its style. Do I want it to be elegant, or fun? Fancy, or simple? What outfits will the colours coordinate with?

As you can see above, I picked strong colours or textures: dark emerald green, pumpkin-coloured pearls, and a faceted glass bead that though white, is a very solid white. It's translucent enough to be very sparkly in the sunlight, but is not see-through enough to lose the whiteness. I picked it to balance out the strong colours. Sometimes you need one weaker, or more neutral colour, to bring all the other colours together.

The pearls looked nice in the pile but after I lined the beads up I ended up taking them out of the design. The copper wire was flashy enough without adding more orange. And I wanted the bracelet to be worn at all times of the year, not just fall.

3) putting the beads together

Cue the indie music and montage:

4) selecting the clasp

Okay, so now I have a length of wire-worked beads. Time to pick a clasp!  Claps are picked for design and functionality.

Toggle Clasp(flower)-
Pros: easier to put the bracelet on, prettier, matches the wire
Cons: it's heavier than the delicate bracelet, the bracelet is not stiff or heavy so the clasp may come loose due to its own weight

Normal Clasp -
Pros: allows an extension chain, more secure, matches the endcaps, matches the delicacy and weight of the bracelet itself
Cons: harder to put bracelet on, plainer

I picked the normal clasp because the dark colour will go well with the darker endcaps, AND (most importantly), it's a more secure clasp, and allows for an extension chain. It's nice knowing that someone can buy this and adjust it perfectly to their wrist.


5) last touches

The chain looks a bit lonely and unfinished, so I added a finishing bead to the end:

ta-da! (I'll be quiet now.)

6) Voila! The last thing you need is a good photo to showcase your piece. It helps to have good lighing (I use natural sunlight), to show the colours accurately, and to have a good macro setting on your camera, to show all the details.

Available for sale here:

I try to make a range of colours in my jewellery. Some pieces are more bold and unexpected in their colour combinations, and some, like this one, tend to be more classic. Sometimes it's the simpler piece that lends itself to everyday wear and matches more outfits.

Hmmm. Now designing the matching necklace and earrings shall begin....

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