Every designer has their favourite method of designing. Some may have struggled for years and not found a method that allows them to easily envision the finished product and make quick tweaks as needed. Often designers try to design the entire piece while standing at the booth of a Sterling Silver Component supplier at a noisy and congested trade show. For even the most seasoned designer, this can be a difficult feat. Aside from the noise and time pressure, it’s difficult to envision the final work because, as designers, we are generally more visual and tactile, we actually need to feel and move the pieces around. From years of experience, and trying different methods to enhance efficiency and design satisfaction, I’ve learned a few shortcuts that I hope you’ll find useful.
When buying at trade shows, stay focused, but don’t spend too much time trying to design all of the fine details of a finished piece. Look at it the component you’re considering, how many possible ways you can use it, how many connection possibilities might exist, or is it symmetrical; can it be turned upside down? The more opporunties you see, the higher the chance you’ll be able to use the component. Don’t worry about colours and details. The longer you take at this point to make a decision, the less time you have to see other components and booths, and the more rushed you’ll feel. It’s usually not advisable to buy under pressure, but there are those who do well this way because they give up control and start to move out of their usual boundaries of taste. This can be good, but if consistency is what your clients are looking for in your jewelry designs, it’s not always ideal. I prefer to see some of the potential, but I don’t have to find it all right there and then. Always try to invest in a few new components; be daring. You never know what happy surprises await, and you’ll be much more creative when you get back to your studio and start playing with the components you’ve chosen rather than trying to think amongst the heat and noise.
If the components you’re considering aren’t prohibitively expensive, buy more than 5. The minimum you want should make a necklace and a pair of earrings, given that sometimes you might want more than just a pendant in the necklace. Odd numbers are better than even especially for accent pieces, as you’ll need one in the middle and symmetry on either side.
When designing the finished piece in the comfort of my own studio, I’ve found that using white paper with painter’s tape sticky side up to be the best and cheapest method. Some beading designers like to use a bead tray. However, the angle and roundness of the tray may not fit the shape you’re trying to achieve. Furthermore, if you’re using unusual components that don’t fit into the groove of the tray, it can create frustration during your design process and makes it harder to visualize the finished design accurately. Some designers design while doing the handwork. I don’t recommend this method because you would like the flexibility of changing your mind without the distraction of having to put things together and taking them apart. Also, consider the fact that if you using sterling silver sire for wire wrapping you have a limited number of times you can work the wire before it becomes too brittle. It’s far easier to use sticky tape, laid down in a circular format, or a shape similar to the way you would like the necklace to drape. This is the best aid for visualizing!