Almost every day, I’m called upon to help a client design a piece of jewelry. Generally the conversation goes something like this:
Client: “What beads go with this bead?”
Bead Worlder: “There are hundreds of beads that could go with that bead. It just depends on the look you are going for…”
Client: “How many of which kind of beads do I have to buy?”
Bead Worlder: “You don’t have to buy a specific number of any bead. Just find beads that you like together, and then build a pattern around what you have…”
Client: “I just want you to tell me what to do!”
Okay, I get it. Designing can be stressful and overwhelming, especially if you are new. So, here’s how I do it. I gather a group of beads that I like together. There are no rules at this point. If I like them, I put them in the pile. (Here’s a fabulous pile photo from the fabulous Nancy Linderman.)
Once I have my bead grouping, I lay the beads out in a way that feels right. This is when I add in items like chain, leather and findings. I do NOT follow any serious design rules. I do, however, give a bit of attention to the following design concepts:
1) Odd numbers: I tend to group beads, dangles, etc in odd numbers. (3, 5, 7, etc) It just seems to look better.
2) Contrast: I like to have a bit of contrast in my pieces, either in color, texture or size.
3) Balance: I like my pieces to feel balanced. This is a “feel” thing. If something feels off about your piece, it’s probably a balance issue. Try moving things around a bit and see if you can find a better balance.
Here we have a wonderful island inspired necklace by designer Nancy Linderman. You can find examples of all three design concepts in this necklace. It’s gorgeously designed, just like your next piece will be!