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Dearest Metalsmith Friends,

Thank you very much for taking the time to complete the mini survey. I received a terrific response and have learnt so much from you.

I will address your questions over several newsletters, videos and tutorials.

The most mentioned problem was designing jewelry.
This is of course a very emotive subject, as what one person thinks is pretty, another thinks not so.
So I will only speak from my own experience.

Firstly, one thing to remember is that nothing is really new when it comes to design.

Somewhere, sometime, over the ages, someone has already done something similar.

This then allows one to incorporate sections of other designs into your own.

Here is an extreme example where I have done just that.

Fishpond by Mosaic Artist Gary Drostle
Fishpond by Gary Drostle

Here I used the mosaic artist Gary Drostle's original design and married my own techniques into it.
( I did contact the artist and he was quite happy for me to do so.) Interestingly, Gary Drostle writes about the process of design and what leads to more variations on that design.
The point is that I used a partial idea from him and modified it to my own ends.

Fishpond Pendant
Fishpond Pendant

This Fishpond Pendant is my translation into metal.
My Blog Story : Fishpond Pendant - these are my thoughts on tackling such a complicated project and delves into design and the making process. Notice my really rough bench drawings.

Blatant copying of someone else's work is frowned upon, BUT if you are doing it to learn a new technique and not for commercial gain, to me there is nothing wrong with that.

But lets say you have a completely new design that you want to make. ( as I often do)....

Then I have what I call the two times mindset.

Namely, I anticipate to make the piece twice. The first time it to get the feel of the techniques needed and the second is to polish those techniques.
Often, if the work is complicated, as the above mentioned pendant was, I did the work four times over, until I mastered all the techniques required to complete the piece..
“Twice times” is a good mindset to have because the second piece is ALWAYS better than the first piece and because you have done the techniques twice, the skill set is increased and is more likely to be remembered.

One thing to remember is that design and technique go hand in hand.

Often young designers come out of design school and have no practical experience in the real world of jewelry.
So while the design might be amazing on paper or in a rendering, it cannot be easily worn in practice or it is structurally weak and will fail in day to day wear.

Finally KISS.

Keep it straight and simple.

Often, designers design something on paper that is so complicated that the manufacturing of the piece become very difficult.

It is easy to add a dozen circles/stones/squiggles with a pencil on a piece of paper.

It is quite another thing to translate that into a three dimensional piece.

That is not to say that everything must be simple, but rather a marriage between what is practically possible and balance of design.

And as mentioned before, this will include sections of previously made designs.

I was asked to give examples of small changes in the making process to alter the design.

This Modern Pearl Ring Tutorial is a good example of changing a design where the shank splits into two sides or the variation of one centre bar.

This Wire Basket Coin Ring with a flat coin setting looks totally different as opposed to using a bulbous cabochon for the setting.  

And then most important - Expand technical skill sets to become more competent in design.

Here are some of new tutorials.

Convex Banded Ring Tutorial

This is a modern ring design with convex side bands. These bands are inverse domed bands. A cone shaped bezel compliments the ring design.

Convex Banded Ring Tutorial - US$27

Split Shank Solitaire Ring Lesson

This jewelry making lesson shows how to make a classic mid-century half split shank band set with an eight prong collet. Soldering sequence is important.

Split Shank Solitaire Ring - US$27

I've also received questions on fusing metals and on fusing gold to silver. These are all covered in the fusing metal tutorial. The left ring is 14k fused onto silver and the right ring is 18k fused gold.

In the next edition I will talk more about tools such as doming beads, drilling and sawing intricate work, setting up torches and nozzles to solders and the sequence of soldering several pieces together.

Now it's time to enjoy the outdoors to refuel the inspiration meter, as I'm about to do.

Best wishes and warm regards,

Hans Meevis

Previous Metalsmith Newsletter Editions

- Workbench - Efficient work flow and optimum tool arrangements in jewelers workshop
- Antique - Inspiration from antique designs, plique-à-jour enameling and workshop wisdom
- Circles - Design jewelry with circle motif such as decorative circle collet
- Nature - Flower, Owl, Dragonfly Brooches and Insect Casting
- Gems - Gem Carving and Making Halo Ring Tutorial
- Wallace Chan Exhibition and the making of a Celtic Style Ring
- Masonic Unfurling Ball Pendant and "Ring in a Ring" jewelry tutorial