Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Design Dilemma and Ethics

While working on my first piece (of hopefully several pieces)  for the January "use your stash" component of the month challenge (which is open to everyone who has an component created by one of the AJE team sitting in their stash), I decided on a weaving theme. I can't reveal WHY I selected a weaving theme, but I promise it will all become clear on the day of the reveal on January 31st. 

While trying to figure out how I would convey weaving in my piece, I remembered the class I took way back in 2008? 2009? with Sara Sally LaGrand and the neckpiece I created during that class. 

Basically on day 1 of the class, we created a bunch of lampwork pieces to make into a neckpiece and a "corsage". Day 2 we created the armature for both pieces and wired it all together. So I grabbed this out of my jewelry chest and looked at it. I love this piece, but this wasn't exactly what I wanted. However, I didn't know what I wanted. 

So I started exploring my way too expansive library for something that might work when I came across the gem of a book by Mary Hettmansperger called Wrap, Stitch, Fold, and Rivet

I don't think I ever truly explored this book. Mostly I glanced through it and made a mental note to look at it more closely later. Which I never did. I've been missing out! 

Several projects would have worked for what I had in mind, but strangely it was the project titled Wire-Wrapped Hands Bracelet, which wasn't very appealing to me, that ended up being what I needed. You can see a photo of a single hand in the photo below. 

Basically I wanted the spokes of the hands, loved the balled ends on the spokes, but wanted it to look more like a woven cloth than part of the anatomy. So I adapted the instructions to fit my needs. 

One the Hettmansperger does brilliantly is use a ring clamp to hold the fiddly bits of wire in place so you can start weaving. That was HUGE in helping me accomplish what I wanted to do. You can see the ring clamp in action below. 

And here's a finished woven component. I have made more, in different sizes. I haven't completely worked out how I'm going to attach everything together yet, but it's on the to do list for this weekend. 

Below is another project I want to tinker with to fit my needs. I already have an idea for how to take her component and make it into something completely different, but still paying homage to her design and skill.

That is the real purpose of tutorials, books, and magazines devoted to teaching the art and craft of jewelry take what you learn and tinker with it to make it your own. Use the instructions to learn a skill or technique, but then make it your own and see how far you can push the technique and design process. 

Have you ever taken instructions and while using the same technique, completely changed the design? How did you feel about the design afterwards? 

If you have components created by someone on the AJE staff and would like to participate in the Use Your Stash component of the month design challenge, comment below. 


  1. I love Hettmanspeger's books..sounds like this one is a great read too

  2. Beautiful work! I am amazed at the weaving. I have only done one weaving project and it was a blast although a bit hard on in the tiny areas and on my eyes, great job!

  3. Gorgeous work, Jen.

    I am one of those people who has never followed a pattern in my life, except maybe in sewing. I am always branching out the very first time I use instructions.

    Some of my polymer experiments go awry. Maybe that is why I have mailed off 24 pounds of Beads of Courage for very sick kids, my "experiments" will always find a grateful home.

    I love studying someone else's work and taking one tiny shred of it, one tiny idea, and bringing it to my work where it fits naturally.

  4. Yes I too use instructions from books and magazines and make something my own.I believe that the rules are if a component is changed by 10% it is then your own. As long as you don't make a direct copy of someone else's work it is fine. I am participating in the use your stash challenge.

  5. I am participating in your stash challenge and I can't wait to see what everyone has created.

  6. I do that all the time Jen. I love learning and then making it my own.


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