Double Star Pendant

Continuing with the theme of working a bezel around a simple tumbled pebble, I created this design using wirewrap techniques. It's called a "double star" because it has a star burst shape in the front AND the back. The frontal star is worked with needlelace techniques using wire. "Double Star Pendant" - Tumbled Pebble, goldfilled wire, hessonite beads

Copyright 2014 Eni Oken

Pirate Aquamarine Ring

 

This ring was made with metal clay. Making an exact bezel for a stone is a real pain in metal clay, because it shrinks, and you have to calculate really carefully the size or it might turn too big or too small.

I like this one because of the "bottom of the sea, pirate treasure" look. I love metal clay pieces that are heavily distressed and organic, imperfect.

©Copyright 2013 Eni Oken

Sienna Pendant

This is a development of a pendant that was designed using the concepts taught in Lesson 15 The Window. It was inspired by the Duomo in Sienna, hence the name "Sienna Pendant". The original sketch is shown here: siennadevelop

 

The original piece was created in polymer clay (below in black). From that, a silicone mold was taken. When I pressed the mold with metal clay, I felt the result was too wide, so I chopped the sides off as seen in the sketch above. siennamold After the piece was fired, I filled up with a cluster of beads. I'm enjoying using this technique, mixing metal clay with clusters, and have already created two other pieces using it.

Shell-Raspberry pendant

liz_sept2013gThis long pendant is made of three different materials set over a base made of metal clay. The top bezel sets a rhodochrosite stone. The middle one sets a pretty shell. The last bottom one sets a cluster of pink topaz beads. Looks like a little raspberry, doesn't it? How it was made: The metal frame was made using metal clay. The top two, stone and shell, were attached using Net Bezel Technique, stitched on to the metal clay frame.

If you look at the picture showing the back, you'll notice that the clay frame is a simple BLOB with a few holes poked through. The thin wire was STITCHED on to the frame. Fun and easy!

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Copyright 2013 Eni Oken

Week #2 and #3 of the Think & Design Jewelry Workshop

week2_3_August_2013Things are very fun at the Think & Design Workshop. After tackling a couple of easy exercises, we now are working on a more involved exercise, called a "Simple Before and After". The objective of the exercise is to learn how to use the lessons as a reference and resource guide to improve a design, regardless of the stage of development it's in. To join the workshop, visit Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/thinkdesignjewelry.


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Lesson 10: The Butterfly

The exercise above uses Steps 4 and 5 of the Butterfly lesson to create "Morphs".  Read more...

 

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Six ways to find inspiration to create

One of the greatest challenges of an artist is: What is my motivation to create art? I was talking to my sister in law who has just remodeled her craft room. It's gorgeous, and now she has the time and space to create. So how does one find motivation to create art?

In my opinion, you need a reason, or a purpose to create. It's very romantic to think that artists face a blank canvas (or in her case, a blank craft room) and start creating, but in my own experience that does not give you the extra push you need to force yourself into new explorations.

Here are a few ways to find that initial purpose:

cancer-club-icon-6001) Reflect over an emotional or strong experience. Emotional experiences are one of the best ways to find motivation to create. What did you go through? How did it affect you or the ones you love? Can you express that joy or pain through your creative work? Can you create various interpretations of the same event? As an example, I created an entire series of drawing based on my experience battling cancer. You can see some of that work here: Muddyglasses.com  (Please note, graphics are a bit strong, viewer discretion).

2) Social awareness. If your life is so balanced and even that you have not gone through a strong emotional experience recently, then think of others. Is there a social or global event that can trigger an emotional response in you, which you can related to enough to find inspiration to create? Are you affiliated with any charities or causes which can help you to spark that initial push? The Muddyglasses site also has some drawings related to social awareness, other than battling cancer.

Person04cover3) Create art inspired by a specific person. If you have a special person in your life, such as a friend or loved one, can you find inspiration in their person to create a piece of art? Artists throughout the centuries found inspiration in their loved ones. Picasso was known to create entire new styles of art based on the woman he was with at any given time. If you need help creating a piece of jewelry inspired by a person, take a look at Think & Design Jewelry Lesson 4: The Person!

 

4) Join an online group or challenge. The internet is packed with social groups on every single type of artistic expression there is. Find a group which runs regular "challenges" and join their gallery. By having a specific assignment, not only you will push yourself to complete the exercise, but it will also give you extra motivation caused by the friendly competitive environment. Even if you are not an advanced user, you'll be pushing yourself to post the best results you can. The Think & Design Jewelry Workshop on Facebook is one of these groups, with weekly assignments posted by the group.

5) Participate in a juried competition. Find a competition online which has a specific deadline and prizes. This will really push you to create the best type of art possible, and will give you a solid, tangible date to finish your work. Even if you don't win anything, you'll learn so much just for pushing yourself so hard.

6) Teach something. When you create an exercise for a class or even for a single student, you need to think exactly how you are going to make it. You'll find yourself creating the best samples of your work to show students.

These are just some ways you can give yourself an initial push into finding motivation to create art. It doesn't matter what type of art it is -- jewelry making, painting, ceramics, etc.

 

Crossover method of designing and creating a signature style

Do you believe in synchronicity? Just a few short days after Lesson 12 The Book was released with the Crossover tip, other artist were endorsing it as a fabulous way to enhance your creative style. Tammy Powley from the fantastic blog JewelryMakingDaily.com wrote a short article on the benefits of crossover by combining jewelry styles with the knowledge you obtain from other crafts. lesson12sampleIf you are not familiar with this design method, then check out this page taken from Lesson 12 The Book. Of course there is a lot more to it, but essentially speaking, the Crossover BORROWS TRAITS FROM ENTIRELY DIFFERENT FIELDS.

This is probably the BEST tip I can give you from my entire arsenal on how to come up with good jewelry ideas.

An Example

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When using the Crossover method, you don't have to limit yourself to just to other crafts or arts. The Crossover can happen from any field you happen to like.  Look at the picture of the pendant above. If you only knew how it came about -- the source of inspiration is as crazy as it gets. But you'll have to get Lesson 12 The Book to find out more. :-)

(If you are already following the series, did you notice that it also uses layering and radial design?)


book12coverLesson 12: The Book

Find out how more about how to create a unique recognizable style, and how to apply the Crossover method.  Read more...

Price: $9.00 Add to Cart

Sketch to Real piece: it's like Magic!

greennecklace_eniokenSometimes I look through my journals when I'm creating the "Creative Journals" and I run into a picture of a piece that was actually constructed. I love when that happens -- I search for the photograph of the image and it's like I found two long lost friends. Here is one of those examples. When that happens, it just reinforces the importance of having a creative journal.

 

 

Why do you need to draw to stimulate creativity?

brainIf you read any of the lessons of the Think and Design Jewelry series,  you know by now how much I insist that you sketch and actually complete the exercises. There is a certain intuitive process that happens when you draw and sketch which cannot happen if you simply read the lessons. You see, when you READ, you are using the LEFT SIDE of your brain, which is the logical side. When you DRAW, you are using the RIGHT SIDE of your brain, which is typically in charge of expression and creativity.

When you use both sides (by first READING, then SKETCHING), you are forming a powerful connection between both sides of the brain, and stimulating those creative cells in conscious ways that are incredibly productive.

So you see, if you only read the lessons, you are actually not learning anything at all in terms of creativity -- or perhaps only using 30% of the full potential of these Lessons!

Get sketching!

 

 

What kind of jewelry designer are you?

It seems that most of the time, jewelry designers and artists fail to determine exactly what KIND OF JEWELRY DESIGNER they are or want to be. They worry about technique, about website, about social media, about CAD/CAM, but not enough about thinking who they want to design for. Think about it: Do you want to make one of a kind pieces, and sell them to exclusive buyers who will know you as a jewelry artist? Do you want to make inexpensive trend-fashion oriented piece which do not use precious materials and distribute through stores and boutiques? Do you want to become a fine jewelry designer and work as an in-house designer or even carry an ultra high end line of pieces?

Each one of these different types of artists is going to require a completely set of of skills in all areas: technique, illustration, business, and distribution.

If you are a jewelry artist creating one of a kind artistic pieces, then it might be easy to sell online, especially if you reach a clientele who knows how to make jewelry too (they can appreciate the work you've put into it).

If you follow fashion trends and want to distribute through stores, then you might do better by attending some of the store shows where boutiques and store buyers look for new and interesting designers to distribute. You'll also have to find out how to mass produce your goods in order to fulfill those larger orders.

If you want to work in-house as a designer, creating fine jewelry design, then you better brush up your resume and illustration skills, including some CAD (computer aided design). This could ultimately lead to a career as your own fine-jewelry design.

Those answers are going to determine everything you do --so find out who you are designing for first!

 

 

 

 

 

Where do Jewelry Design Ideas come from?

If you google jewelry design or jewelry sketching or jewelry making, you will literally get hundreds of thousands of hits. Tutorials, videos, online classes, live classes, graduate programs. They will teach you to construct jewelry, different techniques of modeling, casting, forming, silversmithing, beading, finishing, gem polishing, metal clay sculpting, you name it. In some of the higher end courses which usually cost tens of thousands of dollars, they'll even teach you how to render gorgeous illustrations of finished jewelry and to model the jewelry using CAD (computer aided design).

They will teach you color theory and teach you how to sketch an item on top and lateral views, or in perspective. Some of the most conscious designers will say: keep a journal or notebook of ideas, which I fully endorse.

However, I'm yet to find an online course that will teach you where those ideas for jewelry design ACTUALLY come from! I scouted the web and also Amazon, my local library. I couldn't find a good book that would teach a person how to THINK creatively in terms of jewelry design.

If you ask a jewelry artist where they get ideas, they'll say, "Oh, from nature, from italian renaissance, from historical sources, from my own surroundings". But they'll never explain how that process actually works!

I have taken a few jewelry workshops and also given quite a few live classes. Some classes I took have specific projects for the students; other teach only technique and the teacher let's the student go with their own design. In those types of classes, time and time again I see the same look on the beginner's face: now that I know this technique, what am I going to do with it? What shall I create? I see them looking around to their colleagues working industriously on sanding or finishing, and feeling bewildered and lost.

This is how the idea for the Think and Design Jewelry series came about. I know the basics of design, I know color theory, I know how to come up with designs. I attribute it largely to years of experience working in the art and design (not just jewelry, but also fantasy, costume, toys, arts and crafts, painting) and to my architectural background.

I also know how to teach someone how to come up with good ideas. When I was working in fantasy design and video games, I taught classes on how to come up with unusual fantasy designs, which involves a whole process of development.

I felt that it was such a shame to have all this knowledge on how to come up with great ideas, and not pass it on to others who did not have all this time of experience and background.

So there you have it: an series of lessons which teaches you how to COME UP WITH IDEAS for jewelry design, totally hands-on, with practical exercises, and which will remove for once and for all the old question: where do all these design ideas come from?

 

Emerald Encrusted Leaf

Developed by Denise Williams

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This is what Denise said about her project:

I absolutely love leaves and I was very excited about getting into this tutorial. I was traveling with my husband in our caravan down in the Snowy Mountains region when this tutorial arrived. As it is an alpine region there were many trees that were not familiar to me with leaves of different shapes, colours and sizes, there was inspiration everywhere! It is difficult to pinpoint how this design transpired, the prompting in the lesson proper definitely assists my thought process and drawing as instructed I find essential. I had already completed the first section of the lesson by drawing up the very basic leaf shapes I had collected and photographed, and I had chosen the leaf I was going to work with before having to leave the tutorial for several days. We were going mountain climbing!

Driving in the car I had hours to daydream about my leaf and I really loved the rounded shape and the indented or wavy edges. Idly keeping this in mind I tried to think of a way to recreate the leaf with a jewellery making technique that would give me the scalloped edges. I remember the idea of the scrolled pieces of wire meeting at the top and woven together came to me in the car a few days later and I quickly drew it down on a piece of paper. The construction eluded me at this stage. It was when I went back to the tutorial and drew the design in my journal while thinking methodically through the construction it all just came together.

I thought of a water drop on the leaf and drew the cabochon, then knew it would have to be attached with wire, this wire covered with what, yes, beads of different sizes, ok, drawing, drawing, it was looking a bit lumpy on top, more beads required to smooth this out hence moving out over the leaf, now looking good but not too many beads that they covered up  all the wirework,  yes, I loved the effect of the skeleton of the leaf showing through and the rich encrusted covering.  Oh! I loved everything about my brand new leaf design inspired by Eni’s tutorial!

As I was impatient to make the leaf and didn’t have a cabochon to suit, I used the crystal roundels and seed beads to basically shade in the colour of the leaf to enhance the design. The end result it is exactly as I imagined. I still have the option to use a cabochon and make the shape a little more stylized for a different look next project!

Take a look at these variations Denise created:

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About Denise Williams

Hello, my name is Denise Williams and I live in Alstonville, New South Wales on the east coast of Australia. I fell in love with jewellery making in 2005 while beading the bodice of my wedding dress. I first went through the stringing phase and the bead buying addiction and then knew that there was much more I wanted to achieve. I went on to do classes in Precious Metal Clay and Glass Fusing. I was a Tutor with The ArTTable for a time in 2006 where I learned some wire working techniques and to make French beaded flowers. Also during this time my sister Geraldine actively encouraged and supported me in reaching my goals in the jewellery making field. Up until 2009 I had been creating my own designs and teaching myself new techniques through buying and borrowing books but then I discovered ‘Jewelry Lessons’ after reading about Eni Oken in an article in a beading magazine. Joining ‘Jewelry Lessons’ and making jewellery through the tutorial process and learning many new techniques has really improved the quality of the jewellery I am making. Becoming a Premium member and participating in the ‘Think & Design Jewelry’ series has taken my ability to design and construct jewellery to an entirely new level. I am amazed each month at the fresh new designs I have been able to achieve through Eni’s well written, inspirational series. The amazing thing about my jewellery journey is that I have been doing all of this while travelling around Australia for the past 7 years accumulating thousands of photographs of my favourite inspirational source - nature. I now plan to settle down, utilise this inspiration and concentrate on selling my jewellery through my business Jewellery Artworks and here on JewelryLessons.com as Bower Bird.

 


Denise's fantastic work focuses on the the following Lesson of the Think & Design Jewelry series:

 

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Lesson 8: The Leaf

Learn how to explore a Leaf and Branch design beyond simple organics.  Read more...

 

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All images and text posted with permission. Copyrights belong to their respective owners.

 

 

Lesson 12 is here -- this means 1 year!

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Issue 12 is here, and it just dawned on me -- this means we completed 1 year of the series! Happy FIRST birthday to you, who have completed the exercises and sketches. I bet you have a TON of sketches by now.

This issue covers the subject that you've been waiting for so long to have answered: how does one create a signature style? It's a deeply personal and emotional journey, one that will bring tons of self-discovery.

Read more about the lesson...

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Zentangle-Inspired Postcards

My first ZIA (Zentangle® Inspirade Art) postcards, all created in May/June 2013. Ink and pencil over paper.

Copyright 2013 Eni Oken

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Copyright 2013 Eni Oken


 

 

Zentangle® is a teaching method of drawing images using structured patterns, developed by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas. Zentangle.com

 


 

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Best advice for a jewelry designer: creative journaling

Pile of old booksIf you are a budding jewelry designer, one of the best pieces of advice that I can give you is to keep a Creative Journal. In it you can draw, doodle, write, collage, anything you like -- hey, mine even have an occasional shopping list!

What does a creative journal do for you:

It takes all those lovely abstract ideas that are swirling in your mind and makes them concrete. By passing your ideas to a tangible, palpable form without spending materials and resources, you have the following advantages:

  1. You can see the design in concrete form instead of just in your mind's eye;
  2. You can fine-tune a design by re-sketching it over and over;
  3. You can create variations on a design to see which one works best for you;
  4. You create a valuable depository of ideas which can be used later when you're suffering from artists' block;
  5. You can create a historic account of your evolution as a designer;
  6. You can evaluable ideas without spending precious materials!

So how does one start? Here are two valuable tips:

Get a solid, good quality book-style journal:

Go out and buy a nice blank page journal. I like my journals to have hardcover, so that they can withstand wear and tear. I also like leather or fabric covers, for greater protection. Whatever you get, make sure you CANNOT RIP THE PAGES OFF, so get a saddle-stitched type journal (the kind where the journal looks like a book, the pages are stitched together).

Why? If you get a spiral journal or three-ring binder, the temptation of ripping off some of the "less than perfect" pages will be too great. And believe me, there will be NUMEROUS less than perfect pages. But that's alright! It's all part of your growing process.

Start to draw or write immediately

Right after purchase, open the journal up on the first page and write something down quickly, without thinking. Scribble a little and add a supermarket list to the front page.  Add an account of what you did today, in writing. Make sure the writing is messy and if possible, add a few pointless doodles.

Why? If you take too long to add something to the journal or try to make it too perfect, you'll get "journal block", that is, fear of messing up the pristine white pages of the journal. And that's the last thing you want -- the journal is supposed to be the one place where you can write, doodle or say anything you like, with no judgement.

I have completed dozens of journals over the years. For every new one I get, there is always the same feeling when I open the blank new pages: "This time I'll make it beautiful and perfect". And then I catch myself and correct it: "NO, this is not for show. This is for my development -- so go ahead and mess it up".

Happy journaling,

-Eni

 

 

Know (and choose) your Audience

audienceIf you really want to create a recognizable and unique style of jewelry, one of the first steps you can take is to KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. Let's work a little exercise here. Take out your creative journal or a blank sheet of paper, and answer the following questions:

 

 

 

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  1. Who buys your jewelry today? (Alternatively, if you are new, then "What type of of person do you want to sell jewelry to")
  2. Are they male or female?
  3. What is their income power? Do they have a lot of discretionary money?
  4. Important: what is their age group?
  5. Are they buying for themselves or for someone else as a gift?
  6. Is this an impulse buy, or is it something they are researching and planning?
  7. Does the jewelry celebrate a special event (such as wedding, birthday, anniversary, birth, etc)?
  8. Can I reach more than one type of person without diversifying too much?

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This is a hard exercise. You may not know the answers to all of them, and some questions will force you to choose between one type of group over the other. For example, you may specialize in creating jewelry for weddings and bride's maids. Or you may specialize in creating jewelry for children. Or even specialize on a specific theme.

If you are still deciding where your business should be heading, one thing is for sure: most likely you will have to give up on a LOT OF DIFFERENT COOL OPTIONS, and that's alright.

The hard part of this questionnaire is not choosing ONE OPTION, it's giving up on all the others.

I'll catch you later with more fun stuff on how to develop your style,

-Eni

 

Before you think of creating your own style...

walkoffameSo the great question is... How DOES a person create their own style? It's a process, and I hope to give you plenty of insight through the Think & Design Jewelry Series and also through this blog. But wait, before I start giving you any tips, let's back up a little and do a recap of your journey into the wonderful world of jewelry making:

 

 

 

  1. You've learned a few techniques, maybe stringing, a little wire-wrapping, perhaps through your local jewelry shop classes, or through a video online.
  2. You bravely made some pieces for your friends and family, and most of them seem happy to be the recipients of your gifts.
  3. You continue your progress and decide to take a few more workshops, to get better at a specific technique or two.
  4. You finally reach a point where you are confident about one or two techniques, and you consider opening a small business.
  5. Your friends and family encourage you, and you bravely enter the internet, carefully photographing your jewelry, posting on Etsy or Artfire, or even making your own website. You spend hours, no, days, no, weeks, carefully developing your online shop.
  6. You are fully aware of the need for marketing your website, so now you advertise on every single social page you know. "Come visit my website and tell me what you think".

SOUNDING FAMILIAR?

Next thing you know, you get some people to look at your website and receive some messages saying "your jewelry is very nice".

Ok!!! This is great! You breath a little better and you wait. Maybe a sale will come out of it.

And you wait. NOTHING. Maybe you need more time. And still nothing.

What's happening??? Why won't I sell?

After six months, maybe you had a couple of sales. Nowhere nearly enough to pay for the materials and all the work you invested, let alone support you as a business.


Alright, don't be discouraged. Help is on the way. While I don't have all the secrets about selling on the internet (and don't plan to focus on that either), I do know one thing:

The Internet is a gigantic "specialty" market.

People will buy something online mostly by two motivations: because it's unique, a specialty (meaning, they can't find it easily anywhere else) or because the price is much cheaper than their local shops.

So the FIRST THING to do before spending all that time assembling your site, social marketing, is to DO SOME THINKING. There are two options for making it on the web:

1) RE YOU WILLING TO DEVELOP A SPECIALTY STYLE?

OR, alternatively,

2) ARE  YOU WILLING TO SELL ITEMS FOR A RIDICULOUSLY LOW PRICE?

Be honest: if the answer to either question is NO, and you just want to make jewelry because it's fun and you love it, then that's alright. You can continue to sell one or two pieces per month, or even sell at the local street shows, and make jewelry for friends and family.

Just understand that Internet business is not for you. Create a portfolio online and go be happy.

However... If you answered YES to the first question and REALLY want to develop a jewelry making business which sells primarily on the web, then you NEED to develop a unique and recognizable style.

And that is what this site and the Think & Design Jewelry series of creativity tutorials are all about.

More insight coming your way soon,

-Eni

 

New Think & Design Website is almost ready!

The newest addition to the JewelryLessons and Eazy Communities group is almost ready: a little special corner for the Think & Design Jewelry series. Here you can download back issues of the series and take advantage of a good discount. Don't be fooled by the simplicity of the site: there is a lot of high technology behind it.

We decided to completely eliminate the login for users who download here. Enough logins and remembering passwords, too much trouble. While we can't make that kind of change for the main JL website, it was a little simpler to do with this one. So when you purchase a PDF here, the links are presented to you immediately after purchase AND they are also sent to you via email.

How is that possibly secure? We use state-of-the-art delivery services such as Mailchimp, Mandrill and Digioh to make sure that your email is confirmed delivered and opened.

We are currently in Beta, meaning that the site is brand new and still changing a bit. Let me know if you run into any trouble, or if you have any suggestions.

Thanks,

-Eni

Circular Pendant Silver & Garnet

Circular pendant with 1.5″ (4cm) diameter made in sterling silver with garnets, pearls, sterling silver seed beads and charlotte iridescent beads. All beads are threaded with sterling silver wire to a sterling silver back ring using handmade lace techniques, forming a rather heavy, solid piece.

Sorry, this item is not available at this time.

Image shown larger than actual piece.

A new site

Well, after more than 10 years serving me well, the old site enioken.com has finally started to fail. So it's time for a new site! Farewell dear old site, all handcoded in html by hand and welcome wordpress.