Hi there!

I'm Eni Oken, artist and author of hundreds of articles, tutorials and books in print and online. For over 30 years I've explored art, color theory, fantasy and ornamental design.

Certified Zentangle® Teacher

Certified Zentangle® Teacher

JewelryMaking: Learn the Technique first

"I am person who also likes to create jewerly and clothes. I am writing this e-mail in hopes that you will be able to help me on something. I like to sketch and design clothing, with clothing you have to sketch befor you create; however with jewelry i am at a loss. Should one sketch before they create, or is sketching just a waste of time. Some other questions revolving around jewelry making and sketching is. If one does sketch do they sketch not knowing what materials they are going to use and just do a design, should you gather materials then sketch knowing the materials you have or.... "

I understand your question completely. Let me explain to you how it works, at least for me: there are two ways to go about designing jewelry and they are totally based on your experience and confidence in using specific TECHNIQUE and CONSTRUCTION:
1) If you are confident with a specific technique and have practiced it repeatedly, then it becomes easier to allow your mind to experiment WHILE you are working on the piece. You just KNOW how the materials are going to behave with that technique. For example, I had a bangles phase, when I created hundreds of coiled bangles strung on wire. I felt so comfortable with that particular technique/construction style that I allowed myself to play with it, adding changes here and there, until new designs appeared which didn’t seem at all like the previous bangles. Still, the underlying structure and construction was the same.
2) If you are trying to develop a new technique or construction: this is MUCH more difficult, because you need to be comfortable with the medium altogether (for example, in my case wire and beads) to know its potential and limitations. You need to EXTRAPOLATE and use the medium in a completely different way.

In both instances, you can sketch or not. In the first case, where you are comfortable with the technique and construction, you can just draft something since you KNOW it can be made. In the second case, sometimes drawing helps to develop a new design altogether.

I think the main problem here that it doesn’t seem like you know your preferred technique or construction – at no point you mentioned it in your message. What is your favorite medium? What materials do you like to use? How do you like to manipulate them? How are the materials joined together?

Jewelry Making has such a large variety of materials and techniques, it would be very difficult to just generalize. Get your TECHNIQUE and CONSTRUCTION down (and if that means working with other people’s tutorials over and over so you get the hang of it, then so be it), and when you are comfortable with it, the new designs will just come flowing out, on paper or not.

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