Recently the subject came up about sketching; another jewelry artist asked in a forum whether any jewelry artists out there value drawing. It's a great subject. Some of us can draw, some of us can't. I have a background in the applied arts, having an architecture background -but before that studio art and art history were my subjects of study. So I can't help but draw. Drawing helps me think and work out problems. I can't imagine being able to design without the tool of a pen or pencil. But some artists have a general idea and then plan as they go. I work better if I have a specific plan.
Although I do sketch for myself first, if I'm doing custom work, I work more detail into my sketches- primarily color.
Below are some sketches for a client who sent me 3 pairs of stones and wanted me to make earrings for her. I did many designs, but then settled on the below ideas (2 ideas for the 3rd pair). I had many sketches of each, but once I pared them down to what 'felt right' to me, I drew a nicer version of my sketches for her, added color (colored pencil) and notes, and sent them off for her approval.
The above sketches were cut out from my sketches and grouped together for my client. She decided on the bottom right pair of earrings (but with the yellow stone) for the 3rd set. And below you can see how they turned out:
What's important to show to a client is a good representation of the stone(s) showing color, design, proportion, and some sense of depth and character. I want the final piece to look very similar to the sketch. I want the client to be surprised- but in a good way!!
Even though I have sketches that I closely follow, I also allow some changes based on the natural flow of creating a piece. I showed the bottom pieces star-shaped in the sketch, but when it came to fabrication, I had some different ideas, and I think it still kept with the character of the sketch.
These were originally planned as post earrings but my client decided she preferred the hanging lever backs, so luckily it was easy to encorporate into the design.
When I'm sketching for myself, I'm a lot messier!! It may look like these sketches repeat themselves unnecessarily, but in actuality I was working out the details by creating lots of options. This was a design for a piece utilizing nail stamp etching, a technique I wrote about in the May 2012 issue of Art Jewelry Magazine. It actually became a pendant:
You can see how the final product differed than the sketch a bit- the accent ball locations. Sometimes it's nice to go step by step, and then try some different options out as you go.
These sketches were for a piece I wanted to try some keum-boo on- which is a thin layer of gold fused to the surface. I started with some elements I knew I wanted to use- some small opals and open space for the gold patterning- and kept going until I found some design that resonated with me. I am a very intuitive designer, even though I have a design background. It's gotta feel right! You can see the finished earrings below based on the sketches above on the bottom right:
Once I had the final idea for the earrings, I actually used my ellipse template to cut out my shapes from the silver sheet. That way I just had to trace the sized-ellipse I wanted (that worked well in proportion to the small opals I had) and the 2 could be cut exactly the same. I usually use my plastic templates for shape-making, or I use my sketch to make a paper pattern, or I actually draw up the piece on the computer (Adobe Illustrator) to print out a template.
This was a sketch I did for a client who wanted to have a pendant made with red coral beads she supplied to me. She chose a couple of opals from my stash and gave me a rough sketch of a triangle with a foldover bail. I turned the triangle upside down, because I felt it would work better with the bead strand, and added the details.
Showing the sketch with the stones pictured on top is also a great way to show the client the character of the finished piece. This is the pic I sent for her approval.
After the sketch was approved, I went ahead and carefully measured and drew the stones and then the design on the computer. This gave me a chance to play with the curvature of the triangle to achieve a more workable shape.
If I don't use a computer-generated template, then I will hold onto any paper template I make- because you never know when you may want to use them again!! Having them on the computer means I can print them anytime I want. I may even scan my paper templates sometime so I don't have to hold onto on these pieces.
And this was the final pendant for my client, who was very happy with it. The best feeling and compliment is when a client is happier with the picture of the finished piece than the sketch, and even happier with the piece in person!
This was another pair of earrings designed for a client based on multiple sketches. Sometimes the smallest changes in shape or proportion can make a big difference.
This was a second sheet of sketches- she decided she liked the central pair the best out of all the sketches. You can see how coloring and shading the sketches really makes the pieces come to life.
And here are the final pair. I did do a measured drawing on the computer first, printed it out onto sticker paper from the office supply store, then placed that on my silver sheet to cut out pieces that were exact and exactly alike. I can also make small changes in proportion while on the computer which saves me time when I'm fine-tuning a design. When using a paper template, I simply trace it with a Sharpie pen.