Friday, January 25, 2013

Designing Jewelry Using Design Principles

by Janet Alexander
Technical Advisor

Have you ever wondered why sometimes you look at a piece of jewelry and instantly don’t like it or you love it? Besides having your own personal tastes, there is more going on than you think!

Warren Feld, the Director at Jewelry Design Camp states, “When a viewer interacts with a piece of jewelry worn by someone else, the brain and eye perform two cognitive actions right off the bat. First the brain/eye try to visually inspect the piece from end to end. The brain/eye wants to make a complete circle around the piece. Anything that inhibits, impedes, or distracts the brain/eye from making this complete circle ends up evoking the fear and anxiety response.  If this is the case, the viewer begins to label the jewelry boring or ugly.”

This is why working with design principles and elements is so important when you start designing your jewelry. In fact, this is true with all art including graphics, industrial design, fine art, and architecture. So what are principles and elements? Principles are rules used to organize individual elements into an aesthetic design concept.

Principles of Design Include
  • Balance – the distribution of elements emphasizing a focal point.
  • Rhythm – a progression of how the eye moves throughout the piece.
  • Movement – how the elements relate and lead the viewer’s eye or attention or sometimes in jewelry how the piece moves or drape.
  • Contrast – how the elements relate to lead the viewer’s attention.
  • Harmony – the pleasurable arrangement of elements.
  • Variety – the assortment of elements that give the design interest.
  • Unity – the level of quality with the combined elements.

Elements of Design Include
  • Color – which can create emotions and moods. Red colors are hot while blues are cool. Using colors on the color wheel can create stunning combinations. The color wheel defines color schemes such as primary, analogous, complementary, contrast, monochromatic, split complement, and triadic.
  • Texture – there are two types of texture: physical texture is the texture you can actually feel and tonal texture is the kind of texture you seen in a polished stone.
  • Line – there are three types of lines.
    Linear mark - a drawn or engraved mark.
    Boundary line - is implied by the contrast between the two shapes and relies on the shapes for its subsistence.
    Implied lines – is implied by the direction of smaller lines in the piece.
  • Scale – the scale of shapes create activity and relationships of power between them. Equal size shapes create confusion, the eye jumps from one to the other not knowing where to rest. The eye is drawn to the larger dominant shape when shapes are slightly different sizes. Large shapes overpowering small shapes creates tension. The larger sized shape appears to threaten the smaller shape.
  • Space – the area between and around objects.
  • Shape – areas defined by edges within the piece. It can be geometric or organic. A single shape cannot exist without generating another (negative) shape.
  • Tone – Gradation can add interest and movement to a shape. A gradation from dark to light will cause the eye to move along a shape.
  • Direction – direction of movement that travels one of threes directions: horizontal, vertical, or oblique.
In my next post I will give examples of how these all work together and how you can create demanding designs in your work using principles of design. Not all elements and design principles are used in one creation.

For now, look at this photo and post on this blog what you think the elements are and what design elements are used.

Until next time have fun claying around.


KP Designs - Handcrafted Jewlery said...

Okay Janet! I think the design elements include scale, space, tone, and possibly direction.
Thanks soo much for challenging me!

Janet Alexander said...

Thanks Kathy! Here is another challenge! Now use the same layout of these elements and draw a design for jewelry!

Jen said...

I think that the use of direction, line, and scale create a very strong sense of movement in the photo. They also create rhythm in that ruler. I can practically hear her banging it on the desk!

Babette said...

Your article is exactly what I've been waiting for. I can hardly wait until you post the follow up. Keep it coming, Janet. This is goodness indeed.

Marilyn Davenport said...

Janet, Thanks for your great post. I enjoy all your posts.
Marilyn Davenport

Janet Alexander said...

Thank you Babette, Jen, and Marilyn. I have the next one written. I can't wait to post it!

Belinda said...

This was extremely well written and so helpful. Thanks