When I first started, a big revelation I had was that I could pull out all the pictures of jewelry that I liked, that I found inspiring and amazing, lay them out side-by-side and systematically discover what they all had in common. What I realized was that I loved the wabi-sabi of the imperfect, handmade element. The unexpected, no-before-seen (i.e. a new style of bead or bezel) as well as something so old it was made new in that presentation (i.e. a classic sacred heart). I looked hard- with a knit brow and sharply focused eyes- it isn't easy to look analytically at the things that strike you as beautiful. I used to do that to faces as a child- I'd search the face to try and uncover a harmony that harbored the secret to the intensity of the person's appeal, and sometimes it was disturbing. I'd feel an ache in my stomach, a nausea. I remember seeing posters of Marilyn Monroe and looking until I just couldn't look anymore.
|Keith Lo Bue|
OK, lets talk about overall design harmony. I just now went to etsy and typed "antique bracelet" , focusing at about the $70-$100 range, as that is where the most interesting designs are found in my experience. Right away I saw things I didn't like. Mostly it was too consistent- an array of charms and dangles that remained the same over the entire length of the bracelet. Basically, the eye figured it out too quickly, no more to examine or be mystified with, nothing to pull you in- the way trying to understand the beauty of faces pulled me in as a child. That means that to escape this design mistake, I have to change it up along the length. Being a bracelet (since these questions came up from bracelets I made), we're talking about a short length, so one area of focus works (although other things work too!). Since the clasp needs to be there like it or not, I've found it's a good area to place the focus. If I aim the focus opposite the clasp, then I have 2 competing points for the eye. Now that could work, as long as I have some underlying reason or something I'm "going with" in that design, but in the case of these, I don't, so clasp it is....
There should also be an underlying color scheme. The ones at work in the above 2 bracelets are "ivory" and "dark" (seeing as actual "black" and "white" are too clean for my archeologist's aesthetic). However, notice that while the 1st bracelet's scheme for the hanging charms is light, it has a dark rectangular piece to sort of subvert that scheme. That is, the pattern is only slightly there, keeping our eyes on their toes. And while the second one is mostly dark brown, it includes dark purple and blue as well as black for variation. The 2nd also has "long shit" as a principle (yeah, that's what I said) and that is subverted by 2 shoe buttons and a carved horn bead, again, keeping the eye interested. It's as if the eye has to go, "Ok, long things. Wait-that's not long. Was I right about the long things? Let me re-check..." at which point it has to look at the piece again to make sure there's enough long things to make up a design principle. All this is time your eye has been busy and entertained. So maybe the principle can be stated as: "Come up with a rule, then break it a little." I guess. In any case, that is what the title of this post refers to.
(Maybe you'll understand better if I use some more quotation marks? Yeah.)
Also, say you decide to make something similar to an inspiring piece you see on etsy- we all do it, it's how we learn. Carefully compare your results to the original piece. You might think yours sucks. But why? What about it isn't as good as the one that inspired you, what does the original have that yours doesn't? Often it consists of many little details or something that doesn't seem important enough to make such an impact. For me, I didn't think a bit of shine would be so important. But it was. So there. And you'll take that lesson into your next attempt which will suck a bit less.
|Boscaresque. Tea Tin Cuff.|
Your homework for today- look at antique bracelets in the $70-$100 range. Focus on color, shine, consistency of design. Make a pile you like and a pile you hate. Write in one or 2 sentences what it is you like about the items in your like pile (can be a sentence for each, but try to write at least one for several or all the items) and what you don't like about your hate pile (there might be more variety of reasons here, so more sentences).
Assignments due on Monday.