How to Use the 20 Questions to Ask Yourself When You’re Designing Jewelry

How to use the 20 questions

A few years ago I wrote a blogpost with 20 questions to ask yourself when you’re designing jewelry.

That post is super helpful when you’re making jewelry design decisions, whether you’re making jewelry for yourself, a gift or to sell.

If you’re making jewelry for someone else it’s especially important to think about the person wearing the final jewelry piece.  When you’re making jewelry for yourself a lot of these questions you’ll already instinctively know the answer to for the questions.

Today I wanted to go through the questions one-by-one and explain a little more about each one and how to incorporate it a little more into your design process.

1.  Are you making earrings, a bracelet, a necklace, a ring, or some other piece of jewelry?

This is a great place to start because most of us jewelry designers make jewelry because we love making jewelry, so we mostly want to make what we feel like making.

Perhaps you have a special request for a necklace or ring from a friend or customer or you just simply need a piece of jewelry to complete a certain outfit.

2.  Who are you designing it for?

  • Yourself?
  • On-the-go mom?
  • Business woman?
  • Teenager?
  • Bride?

If you don’t know who the actual jewelry piece is for, it’s difficult to design it.  Even if you’re making a piece of jewelry to sell and you don’t specifically know the final recipient of the jewelry piece, you need to know who your ideal customer is and a little bit about her and her life.

3.  Does she have any metal allergies?

This is important so you know the correct metal to choose for the piece.  If you’re making earrings for your mom and you know that anything but gold or sterling silver irritate her ears, certainly you want to use gold or sterling silver for the earring wires.

(If you’re making jewelry to sell, you want to make sure to state what kind of metal you’re using in all your pieces so that people with metal allergies know.)

4.  Where will she be wearing the piece?

  • Work? (And what is the work setting – office, retail, etc.?)
  • School?
  • Running errands?
  • PTO?
  • Wedding?
  • Out to dinner?
  • A party?

This question goes along with Question #2 about knowing the person you’re designing the piece for.  However, it goes a bit further to ask you wear will she be wearing the jewelry.

If you’re making your best friend a bracelet to wear to work, for example, it’s helpful to consider her job and how much wear and tear the bracelet will get so you know if you should make it more simple and dainty or if you can go big and bulky.

If you’re making the jewelry to sell, it’s good to have an idea of where you think the customer would wear the piece.  She will decide ultimately where she’s wearing the jewelry, of course, but it’s still helpful to consider it when you’re designing it.

5.  What are the needs of that person?  (i.e. the bracelet needs to stay out of the way when she’s typing, etc.)

Consider any special needs of the person when she’s wearing the jewelry piece.  If she has a difficult time getting bracelets on by herself and she lives alone, how can you make it easier for her to put on the bracelet and take it off herself, for example.

6.  What will she be doing while she’s wearing the piece?  (How durable does it need to be?  Is there anything to take into consideration about her activities while wearing the piece?)

Does she have an active lifestyle running from one activity to the next or a more serene lifestyle?  Think about the sturdiness of the piece, as well as anything that may dangle from the piece.

Now we’ll get more into the fun, design aspects of the jewelry.

7.  What will be the focal point of the piece?

Each jewelry piece should have an element that is the main focus of the entire piece.  Decide what that will be for your piece (considering all of the other previous questions.)

8.  Will be be symmetrical or asymmetrical?

Symmetrical is classic but asymmetrical adds more motion and whimsy to your piece.

9.  What colors will you use?

Choose your color scheme.  You may want to choose a favorite color or a birthstone if it’s a gift.

10.  How long will it be?

If it’s a necklace, how long will it be and where do you want it to lay?  If it’s a bracelet, do you have the recipient’s size or can you make it adjustable.  For earrings, will they be long or short?

11.  Will it be big and bold or small and dainty?

It could be bold with colors or bold with large chunky beads or smaller, more subdued beads and findings.

12.  Will it be colorful and vibrant or more subdued?

How bright and colorful do you want your jewelry piece to be, keeping in mind your recipient and where she might be wearing the jewelry.

13. Will it have dangley parts, and will this work with her lifestyle?

Considering the answers to the previous questions, think about any parts that may stick out or dangle and how that will work with her life.

14.  Will you do a wire wrapped piece, or will you use mixed media, adding in other techniques and materials or some other technique?

Think about the different techniques you know and decide how you will create the piece.  Will you mix the techniques to create an interesting, new piece or stick to the basics for a classic look?

15.  What materials will you use?  (i.e. what beads, etc.)

Also do you have the materials on hand already or what do you need to order or shop for?

16.  Will there be several parts that are all connected?  And how will they be connected?  Or will there be more longer pieces to connect?

This is to help you think about what findings you may need and how everything is going to be put together.

17.  What kind of wire will you use?

Think back to the metal allergies question from before.  Do you need to use any particular metal so that the recipient won’t be irritated?  Do you have the wire you need on hand?

18.  How does the recipient want to feel when she’s wearing it?

  • Sassy?
  • Pretty?
  • Free spirited?
  • Peppy?
  • Cheerful?
  • Thoughtful?
  • Quirky?
  • Adventurous?
  • Classy?
  • Elegant?

(or some other feeling…)

How can you convey that feeling in the jewelry you’re making for her?  Think about colors, the size and shape of the beads or stones, what metals and wires you’ll use and what other findings.

19.  Does she have any special needs getting the piece on?  

For example, some women have a difficult time putting on bracelets themselves.  Will she have someone to help her or can you make it easier for her?

Some people have difficulty getting rings over knuckles, so making an adjustable ring would be helpful.

20.  How heavy will the piece be?  

If you’re making earrings for someone else, err on the lighter side.  Necklaces and bracelets can be heavier, but make sure the recipient will be comfortable wearing the piece.

I hope that helps you think out your jewelry designs so you’re making meaningful and thoughtful jewelry, which is what the whole point of handcrafted jewelry is, isn’t it?

For more on Jewelry Design, check out this article on the 7 Basic Principles of Jewelry Design.

Get tons of inspiration for your jewelry designs in Inspired eCourse.

In Inspired eCourse, I give you creativity prompts and art journal prompts to create your own art journal pages and then take you step-by-step through the process of how to get inspiration from your art journal page and map out and sketch jewelry design ideas.

Inspired eCourse

In the class there is a jewelry project each week.  Students typically create their own jewelry designs and complete them each week, but I provide the jewelry tutorial as inspiration and instruction for perhaps new techniques that you don’t already know or to give you ideas for your own piece.

If you’re new to art journals, Inspired eCourse’s introduction is an introduction to art journaling.  And even if you’re not new, you may learn some fun new ideas and techniques.

After the intro there’s 4 weeks of class with each week having art journal and creativity prompts, creating art journal pages, pulling out inspiration from art journal pages and making jewelry.

Learn more and sign up for inspired eCourse here:  Inspired eCourse.

Inspired eCourse

 

Soar: Art Journal Inspiration to Inspired Jewelry Piece

Soar:  Art Journal Inspiration to Inspired Jewelry Piece

Last week I shared my art journal pages so far in my new art journal this year.

This page, “Soar,” is one of those pages.  In that blogpost I also shared my layering technique for each of the pages and what materials I used to create each page.

Soar:  Art Journal Inspiration to Inspired Jewelry Piece

Today I wanted to share a jewelry piece that was inspired by that art journal page.

Soar:  Art Journal Page to Inspired Jewelry Piece

How I went from art journal page to jewelry

When I use an art journal page as inspiration for a jewelry piece, I have a process that I call “mapping.”

I look at the page and look for themes, colors, shapes and textures that I can pull out of the page.  Then I think of techniques I can use to translate those ideas into jewelry pieces.

Then I sketch jewelry ideas and choose which idea I want to pursue.  (And, of course, save the other sketches for another time.)

Soar:  Art Journal Page to Inspired Jewelry Piece

For this piece, I choose blue because it was very prominent in the art journal page.

The quote that is the most important to me on the page is, “Not only could she fly, she could SOAR.”  And the page has a lot of birds on the page as well. So I choose feathers as a symbol of flying – and soaring.  I added a bird to the clasp that I made myself as well.

Materials I used for this piece:

  • Recycled sea glass beads in a gorgeous blue color that I made into wire wrapped bead links and connected with jump rings.
  • Feather charms.  The charms had a hole on each side and they actually came in a chain that I took apart so I could use my own jump rings
  • Jump rings that I made myself.
  • Chain.
  • Clasp that I made.  It’s a hook clasp and the other side is a wire wrapped bead link made with a little bird bead.

Soar:  Art Journal Page to Inspired Jewelry Piece

The result is this lovely necklace that isn’t just beautiful, but it’s really meaningful and inspiring to me.  When I wear it I remember to not only fly, but to soar.

I often take inspiration from my art journal pages to create jewelry pieces.  I love the process so much that I created an entire eCourse around it called Inspired eCourse.

In Inspired eCourse, I give you creativity prompts and art journal prompts to create your own art journal pages and then take you step-by-step through the process of how to get inspiration from your art journal page and map out and sketch jewelry design ideas.

Inspired eCourse

In the class there is a jewelry project each week.  Students typically create their own jewelry designs and complete them each week, but I provide the jewelry tutorial as inspiration and instruction for perhaps new techniques that you don’t already know or to give you ideas for your own piece.

If you’re new to art journals, Inspired eCourse’s introduction is an introduction to art journaling.  And even if you’re not new, you may learn some fun new ideas and techniques.

After the intro there’s 4 weeks of class with each week having art journal and creativity prompts, creating art journal pages, pulling out inspiration from art journal pages and making jewelry.

Learn more and sign up for inspired eCourse here:  Inspired eCourse.

Inspired eCourse

 

Jewelry Making Quick Tip: Covering Crimp Beads with Wire

Covering crimp beads with wire

I was finishing up a bracelet that I was making with the wire beads that I showed you how to make in ECT TV Episode 80 and I realized I only had silver crimp beads.

Instead of waiting to get the right color, I decided to finish the bracelet with the silver crimp beads and come up with a solution.

Here’s what I came up with:

Covering crimp beads with wire

Here’s the full bracelet:

Covering crimp beads with wire

Do you want to make beautiful wire jewelry, but you’re not sure where to start?  Not sure what wire to choose (which hardness or what gauge to use) and there are so many tools to pick from, where do you even start?

Not to mention how people get those perfect wraps and loops and make their wire jewelry look so nice.

What if you could spend days learning everything you needed to know to get started and make your first piece of wire jewelry?

With the FREE 10 Day Quick Start Guide to Wire Wrapped Jewelry, you’ll do just that!  Sign up below and get started right away!

Get the Quick Start Guide to Wire Wrapped Jewelry:

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Layering Technique for Art Journals

Art Journal Flip Through

I love art journals because there are so many options for creating pages.  I love using my art journal for experimenting different techniques. 

I also use my art journal as inspiration for jewelry pieces.  I love experimenting with paper and paint and then seeing how that page could inspire a jewelry piece.

This is exactly what I teach in Inspired eCourse.

Today I wanted to share my art journal so far for 2017.  I started with a brand new art journal.  When I bought this art journal the owner of the store asked me if I had worked with square art journals before.  I told her I had not.  She said, “You’re going to love it!”

She was so right.

My art journal is the Ranger Dylusions Creative Journal 8 x 8.

This year (so far) I have been somewhat obsessed with layering paper and collage to create my pages.  All of them are done with that technique.

I wanted to share my pages as inspiration for you.  I did a video flip through that you can watch and/or you can check out the pages below and I’ll explain how I created them.

Here’s the video flip through:

Part of the reason I’ve been so inspired by paper layering this year, I think, is because at the beginning of the year I went through all of my art supplies.  I donated a lot of things that I knew I wouldn’t use.  That left me with only things I really, really loved.

I have been hoarding lots of different vintage ephemera and lots of little pieces of scrapbook paper that I love.  When I was cleaning out stuff I got everything organized in the way I actually use them.

Also having less to look through and make decisions about is really helpful.  I highly recommend a clean up/purging of any kind of craft supplies every so often.

  1.  It helps you see and remember all the stuff you already have.  Sometimes you completely forget about things.  You’ll be re-inspired by all the stuff you decide to keep.
  2. Having less means having fewer decisions to make.  I don’t have to decide between as many different things anymore.  Having fewer choices is actually really helpful for creativity.

My Art Journal Pages so Far:

Art Journal Page - layering

You’ll see this technique throughout my art journal:  watercolor background and layered paper on top.  I also like making lists and adding that to my pages as well.  Sometimes the list will almost be poem-like, and sometimes it’s more of “what I’m doing right now” list.

Materials:

  • Watercolors
  • Stamps/stamping ink (dandelion and dragonfly)
  • Sheet music
  • Ripped scrapbook paper
  • List that I typed on a manual typewriter
  • World that I cut from a calendar or book (I don’t really remember)
  • On the right more scrapbook papers
  • An image from an old book.

Art Journal Page - layering

Materials:

  • Watercolors
  • Scrapbook paper
  • A vintage receipt
  • A tag from a Christmas gift I received this year
  • The green ad on the right side is actually a reproduction that I got in a scrapbook or art journal kit.
  • Mirror selfie.  It didn’t print properly because I was running out of ink, but I thought it looked cool on this page.

Art Journal Page - layering

Art Journal Page - layering

Here I started getting into more interactive pages.  The file folder opens up.  I actually used it because I wanted to keep the journaling more private (which is why some of it is blurred out in the photo.)

Materials:

  • Watercolor pencils
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Postage stamps
  • Rub ons (I believe they’re all from Tim Holtz)
  • The floral paper is by Rae Missigman
  • Pattern paper (patterns that you make clothes with!)
  • Tiny file is by 7 Gypsies
  • World paper is from an old book or calendar

Art Journal

This is a mini Word of the Year vision board I created for the Word of the Year Talisman Workshop.  (You can get that workshop here.)

On the left side I wrote in pen and then used matte medium to attach tissue paper over it.  Layered on top are a heart and the word love that I painted on watercolor paper and cut out.  On the right side it’s just a collage of mostly magazine images and words cut out and a photo I took.

Materials:

  • Pen
  • Tissue paper
  • Watercolor paper and watercolors
  • Magazine cut outs
  • Photograph (I took the sunflower photo in the upper right corner.)

Art Journal

This is another interactive page and is my favorite so far!  I have a collection of correspondence from the 1920s, which I’ve been holding on to for years.  I’ve used little bits of it here and there.  I don’t know the person and I don’t have any actual personal connection, but the letters are sweet and so fascinating.  I only have one side of the story, however.

The envelop on the right side actually contains the letter in it.  It’s ripped on the right side, so the letter can be pulled out.

Materials:

  • Watercolor
  • Gel pens for all the doodling, as well as a white colored pencil
  • Various little pieces of scrapbook paper
  • Part of the green receipt that I’ve used on other pages in this journal
  • Letter from the 1920s
  • The negative from punching out a butterfly
  • A cute little sticker from a vintage photo

Art Journal

On this page I have used fabric and I have a great technique for adding fabric to art journals (or for scrapbooking or for cards) that I teach in the introduction of Inspired eCourse.

Materials:

  • Watercolors
  • Old sheet music
  • Mirror selfie photo
  • Piece of a map from an old atlas
  • Cut out from an old art book (that’s what’s on top on the left side)
  • Fabric (with the birds and bird cages)
  • Part of my jeans that tore
  • Tag

Art Journal

This page is also interactive.  The left side has a pocket that holds a tag that you can pull out.  The tag has journaling on it.  On this particular day I wrote all the small miracles that happened.  (Once you start looking for them, they happen all the time!)

Materials:

  • Pattern paper (from a clothes pattern)
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Various pieces from cut apart scrapbook paper
  • Tag

I hope this was inspiring for you!

Inspired eCourse

Do you want to feel inspired and design your own jewelry based on art journal pages that you create with prompts?

Check out my Inspired eCourse!

The introduction is all about getting started art journaling and I also have some fun techniques for you.

Each week you’ll get a creativity activity and art journal prompt, create an art journal page and then I’ll show you a map to go from art journal page to inspired jewelry piece.  You’ll be designing your own jewelry, but I also have a jewelry project each week to inspire you, give you techniques or you can make it if you’re feeling stuck.

Learn more about Inspired eCourse here.

Disclosure:  Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning that if you make a purchase I get a small percentage – at no extra cost to you!  Anything I recommend I have actually used myself and love!

ECT TV Episode 80: How to Make a Wire Bead

ECT TV Episode 80 - Wire Bead

On today’s episode of Emerging Creatively Tutorials TV (ECT TV), I have a fun and simple wire bead tutorial.

You can use this bead in your jewelry creations to give your projects a little more personality and fun.

Here’s the video:

As I mention in the video, the inspiration for these wire beads started as an art journal layout.

Here’s that art journal page:

ECT TV Episode 80 - Wire Bead

I’ve been somewhat obsessed with layering paper over a watercolor background in my art journal this year.  (I’ll share more examples of different pages tomorrow here on the blog.)

For this page, I started out by using different colors of watercolors, including a metallic color.

Then I did some doodling using a silver pen as well as a white colored pencil.

Finally the paper layering came in.  I used pieces of scrapbook paper as well as an old letter from the 1920s and an old receipt.  (The actual letter is still in tact inside the envelop and the envelop has an opening on the right side to slide the letter out.)

Going from art journal page to jewelry:

ECT TV Episode 80 - Wire Bead

When I’m using an art journal page as inspiration for jewelry, I like to make a “map” of colors, themes and other things from the art journal page.

I might make the jewelry piece based on colors or on the general feel of the art journal page or symbolism that is in the art journal page.

In this case, I mostly used the colors as inspiration for my jewelry piece:  green and the brassy metallic colors from the page.  The veining on the gemstone chips, as well as the brass color of the wire beads also gives me the feeling of an older time, which I also get from the art journal page.

When I was thinking about making this bracelet, I knew I wanted to add the brass color and I had the wire.  I could have used the wire to make some sort of wire wrapped jewelry piece using the brass wire, but I wanted the brass to be more prominent.  I also thought the messy look of the wire beads would add more interest to the bracelet and fit well with the art journal page as well.

ECT TV Episode 80: Wire Bead

This bracelet is the final result.

Maybe you see something different and most likely you would come up with something completely different for your jewelry piece.

Inspired eCourse

In Inspired eCourse I go into detail about this process.  In fact, I give you creativity activities and art journal prompts, then show you my exact process for mapping out a jewelry piece inspired by your art journal page, we sketch jewelry design ideas and I give you a jewelry tutorial each week.

Most Inspired eCourse students are inspired to design their own jewelry pieces.  You can use the jewelry project tutorial each week however you like.  You may want to make the piece exactly as I show you.  You might use it for inspiration for your own design.  You might learn a new technique to incorporate into your own design.

Find out more about Inspired eCourse and sign up now!

Step-by-Step Photo Instructions for the wire bead:

ECT TV Episode 80: Wire Bead

Materials and Tools:

  • 22 gauge half-hard round wire *
  • Wire cutters
  • Chain nose pliers
  • Something small and cylindrical to wrap around.  Ideas include:  small knitting needle, small dowel rod, artist paintbrush, jump ring mandrel (that’s what I used.)

*Wire:  You really can use any wire you like.  I’ve used mostly 22 gauge wire for these beads and it works well.  You could use a thicker gauge such as 20 gauge wire, which would probably work well, but it will be more difficult to wrap.

Thinner gauges like 24 gauge will be easier to wrap, but won’t hold their shape as well.  You can experience with gauges and see how it works.  22 gauge half-hard round works well.

Step #1

ECT TV Episode 80: Wire Bead

Working off the spool (do not cut any wire), hold the wire against your cylindrical object leaving about a 1 inch tail of wire.

Use that wire tail to help hold the wire while you’re wrapping.

Step #2

ECT TV Episode 80: Wire Bead

Decide how long you’d like your bead.  Then wrap the wire down the mandrel to create a base of the size you’d like your bead to be.

Step #3

ECT TV Episode 80: Wire Bead

Now wrap up the other direction right on top of the wraps you just made.

ECT TV Episode 80: Wire Bead

Continue to wrap up and down on top of the previous wraps.  For this messy look, just wrap freestyle not trying to be neat.

Step #4

ECT TV Episode 80: Wire Bead

ECT TV Episode 80: Wire Bead

Once your bead is the size you want, pull it off and trim the excess wire making flush cuts.

Use chain nose pliers to make sure the ends are not poking out.

ECT TV Episode 80: Wire Bead

ECT TV Episode 80: Wire Bead

Use your wire beads just like you would any other bead.

ECT TV Episode 80: Wire Bead

Enjoy!

Want to get these ECT TV Episodes in your inbox, so you don’t have to remember to come looking for them?

Sign up for my newsletter!

You can also sign up for my Quick Start Guide to Wire Wrapped Jewelry as well, which is 10 days of lessons to give you a solid foundation for making wire wrapped jewelry.

Sign up here:

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Want a PDF of the wire bead tutorial to save and print easily?  Get it below:

(Note:  This PDF eBook is exactly what you see here on this post and in the video.  I’m offering it as an easy way for you to save and/or print the tutorial easily.)

ECT TV Episode 80:  Wire Bead PDF eBook
ECT TV Episode 80: Wire Bead PDF eBook
Get the PDF eBook version of the Wire Bead tutorial. Note: it is the same as what you see here, but in an easy to download, save and/or print version.
$3.00