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Charles Lewton Brain

15 Exercises in Jewelry Design - Some Hints on Rendering

by Charles Lewton-Brain - © Brain Press Publications
These pages contain a list of recommended tools to jewelry rendering, as well as a series of projects that I have used in classes. You could construct your own 'self-study' course using them. A suggested supply list: (Partly derived from George McLean's workshop list)
  1. Three ring binder for presentation drawings
  2. Toolbox or carry case for all drawing and rendering supplies
  3. Matt board and mylar for presentation covers for drawings (store in three ring binder).
  4. Plastic page sleeves for drawings. (Grand and Toy work well)
  5. 8 x 10 " or large black bound sketch book , use for all jewelry classes, fill in this term.
  6. Selection of black felt tip pens
  7. Black and gray matt board for grisaille work. (cut to about 8 1/2x11" is good)
  8. Bamboo brush (small, medium), conte crayons.
  9. Pencil with leads, 2H, H, HB, 2B, 4B (2H and HB are most important)
  10. fine line lead holder
  11. Prismacolor 24 art pencils
  12. selection of gouache colors (Chinese sources are inexpensive and acceptable quality) 2 #1 gold sable brush series 700 (or a selection of very thin good quality brushes) (take good care of brush-wash gently in soapy water leaving a small amount of soap in the brush to stiffen it during storage. Keep tube over bristles.)
  13. 2 triangles with the same angles
  14. ruler
  15. pencil sharpener and razor blade or x-acto type cutting tool
  16. sharpener for pencil lead (sometimes comes as part of the lead holder)
  17. Windsor-Newton permanent white designer's gouache or equivalent
  18. (Rio Grande) rendering templates, circle and oval templates-best source is SAIT bookstore.
  19. compass with lead (optional)
  20. eraser shield and selection of small pieces of acetate and tracing paper
  21. erasers: pink pearl-good for removing guide lines
    1. kneaded-good for removing small marks, blotting, smudging
    2. vinyl pearl-no smudging, can be cut with razor blade to use in small areas
    3. gum-varied uses
  22. 2 or more water containers (film cans-see Kurt), watercolor palette.
  23. fine ink pen, superfine felt tip or Mars type pen for fine line work.
  24. calligraphy pen and selection of nibs, C6 or so is good to start with.
  25. black ink
  26. opapers plain copy paper, white neutral toned colored paper, greys and browns, smooth finish best (see selection of writing papers at stationary store) Mylar or tracing paper pad
  27. Film for photography (Kodak Tungsten Ektachrome EPY 64), a group purchase is cheapest

Drawing Assignments These are examples of drawing assignments I give in a rendering course. Feel free to try them out yourself.

#1) Do seven self portraits of your face, one each night (or day) until the next class. Use a felt tip pen and draw for a maximum of 15 minutes on each drawing. Try not to lift the pen off the paper much. Aim for clear, decisive contour drawing, try not to scribble at all. Place the mirror about 1-2 feet away from your face. Use your 8x10" black sketch book.

#2) Make one orthographic projection sketch of an object around your house. Do a second one carefully using ruled lines, reflection lines and measurements so that one could duplicate the object in outside form from your projection. Do one oblique projection of one of these objects and one exploded drawing of the parts in one of the objects (four drawings, each should be one half hour or more). Mount on matt board, use mylar cover or plastic sleeve, (Grand and Toy type sleeve allows easy insertion into three ring binder).

#3) One perspective drawing of a giant household object with two point perspective and accurately cast shadow. One perspective drawing of a ring. (two drawings) Mount on matt board with mylar covers. Punch holes in to keep it in your 3 ring binder.

#4) 1 complete set of drawings of two different objects or jewelry pieces you want to make. Each set is to include:

  1. A ruled orthographic projection
  2. A ruled 3 point perspective drawing
  3. A freehand perspective sketch, felt tip or pencil. Mount on matt board with mylar covers. Punch holes in to keep it in your 3 ring binder.
#5) Four well finished drawings of a jewelry object using:
  1. volumes rendered with scribbles.
  2. volumes rendered with 'string'.
  3. volumes rendered with dots.
  4. volumes rendered with cross hatching.

Mount on matt board with mylar covers. Punch holes in to keep it in your 3 ring binder. (Can mount on same board).

#6) 3 grisaille renderings of:

  1. a highly reflective object.
  2. a household object.
  3. a piece of jewelry. (all drawings larger than 4x4cm.) Mount each separately on matt board with mylar covers. Punch holes in to keep it in your 3 ring binder.

#7) 3 Drawings of natural objects with a jewelry design derived from it next to the drawing. Mount on matt board with mylar covers. Punch holes in to keep them in your 3 ring binder.

#8) Gemstone renderings to include:

  1. 6 stones rendered in black pencil on white paper.
  2. 6 stones rendered in grisaille technique on dark paper.
  3. 6 stones rendered in color.
  4. Mount on matt board with mylar covers. Punch holes in to keep it in your 3 ring binder.

#9) 3 jewelry pieces rendered in gouache, colored pencil, china white and pencil.on tan paper. Mount on matt board with mylar covers. Punch holes in to keep it in your 3 ring binder. Avoid muddy renderings.

#10) 2 renderings of jewelry objects using dark washes built up over white paper. The drawing size should be over 5x5 cm. Mount on matt board with mylar covers. Punch holes in to keep it in your 3 ring binder.

#11) A jewelry design or object done on a computer drawing program, to include some shading and views of top side and end of the object.

#12) For this project the Final Renderings are due. These are to be 2 competition ready, carefully presented renderings of jewelry or jewelry designs. These are to be done as perfectly as possible, as carefully as you can do, with protective covers, matt board, everything. Use Letraset, calligraphy or computer print out for any text in the renderings. Use any mode of rendering you feel strong in.

Design Exercises

Exercise 1

  • Choose 4 objects from magazines (Gold und Silber, European Jeweller, Metalsmith) that are interesting to one. Make two-three photocopies of each image.
  • By collage or using drawing media alter or change one of the photocopies of each work to be more like something one might want to make.
  • Discuss you results with one or more other jewelers

Exercise 2

  • Create two different jewelry or object sketch ideas on 8x10 paper, use pens or markers, litho crayons, pen and ink, thick dark graphite or cont?. Draw loosely with the object about 6-7 inches (15+cm) high. 30-45 minutes. You may wish to mount the sketch onto mat board to make it easier to put together and use. Do not think about metal working technique or how you would make the object-this would limit your thinking, instead just go for the design. You might want to work out some ideas in very loose sketches before making and choosing the two drawings. Almost never draw over an existing drawing, start another one, the first one might be the right solution at the end and if its gone it is gone. If you wanted to make a design we could find a way to make anything that would be close to your design vision.Feel some freedom in designing, if geometries interest you deal with geometries or the machine, if nature inspires then draw from nature, if ideas then deal with ways of communicating them to audience through object making, with personal or cultural systems of metaphor, context and reference.
  • Place 6 layers of tracing paper over the sketch, tape or fix in place making a series of attached overlay pages of tracing paper on top of your drawing.
  • On the first layer quickly vary the design, then repeat by dropping the next layer of tracing paper and drawing again to vary the design again from the second version on the tracing paper over the original, repeating until all layers of tracing paper are used. Use quick drying media like those mentioned above.
  • Work fairly quickly and smoothly, concentrating on what you are doing, observing where your previous decisions and repeated decisions take you. Work for quality and conscious decsion making with every step of your drawing. Be aware. Make written notes on your observations about your decisions. Documentation as a habit is a good one for prospering as an artist or craftsperson.
  • Discuss you results with one or more other jewelers. Have one positive observation of your own results, something you noticed you improved or understood in the course of the project to report to the group. Attendance is part of grading.
  • two original drawings, six layers of tracing paper on top, drawings on each layer varying the designs

Exercise 3

  • Choose a picture of a piece of jewelry or an object that you like and admire, photocopy it to about 8x10".

  • List on paper ten attributes the image has that attract you. (ie formal design using rectilinear elements, references to girder or scaffold, contrast to body is exciting and so on). Then list ten things the maker must have thought about while they were designing or making the piece. Try and see out of their eyes. What were the choices they were faced with? What were the decisions they made?
  • By using traced layers or collage re-composition make 6 designs derived from the original. Make the last design you do into a piece that you think the original maker might have made, see if you can get into their head to design like them, a piece 'in the manner of': what kinds of decisions are you making as you do this?
  • Mount the last design carefully on Matt board or equivalent. Attach your lists, name and date to the back of the matt board. Have the starting image and all work you did ready for display.
  • Discuss you results with one or more other jewelers
  • one original, 6 designs derived from it, last design is mounted and a piece the originator could have designed.

Exercise 4

  • Choose 4 images of people from magazines or books, photocopy them to an approximate 8x10" size.

  • By collage and re-photocopying as well as using drawing media create jewelry or wearable objects on top of the people. This is about playing with scale so if possible play with scale juxtapositions and alterations to create the works on the people, try enlarging something very small to make a large work linked with the body. Try and have the finished work or wearable piece on the body seem intentional and in harmony, not obviously something stuck onto a picture of a person. Juxtaposition often involves elements of humour and surprise. Remember color.
  • Mount the finished drawings cleanly on matt board or equivalent, name, date on the back.
  • Discuss you results with one or more other jewelers
  • 4 pictures of people
  • Create wearable art over them by photocopy work, collage and drawing.
  • Work with scale, work to make a seamless composition.
  • Mount on board.

Exercise 5

  • Choose a picture of a piece of jewelry or an object that you like and admire, photocopy it to about 8x10".

  • List on paper ten attributes the image has that attract you. (ie formal design using rectilinear elements, references to girder or scaffold, contrast to body is exciting and so on). Then list ten things the maker must have thought about while they were designing or making the piece. Try and see out of their eyes. What were the choices they were faced with? What were the decisions they made?
  • By using traced layers or collage re-composition make 6 designs derived from the original. Make the last design you do into a piece that you think the original maker might have made, see if you can get into their head to design like them, a piece 'in the manner of': what kinds of decisions are you making as you do this?
  • Mount the last design carefully on Matt board or equivalent. Attach your lists, name and date to the back of the matt board. Have the starting image and all work you did ready for display.
  • Discuss you results with one or more other jewelers.
  • one original, 6 designs derived from it, last design is mounted and a piece the originator could have designed.

Exercise 6

  • This one is about using repeated elements and limitations.

  • Create three designs for jewelry or objects using colored paper, glue, scissors, matt knife etc. Make one with primarily straight cuts, one with primarily curving cuts, one any mixture you like. Remember the option of making many cuts and pulling out to create volumetric surfaces, or that of folding and cutting. Think about repeated units, registers, rhythms. Restrict your color choices to one or two.
  • Deriving from your research design and draw a jewelry piece or object in your strongest drawing style. Mount it on board and use a protective cover.
  • Discuss you results with one or more other jewelers.
  • three designs in paper collage, 1 drawing/design, design/drawing is mounted and protected

Exercise 7

  • The project consists of two parts, research and application. Plan your time to accommodate both activities.

  • Record seven shadows that interest you by drawing, tracing onto paper or instant photography. Choose shapes that intrigue you. Constructed shadows are acceptable but choose at least some naturally occuring ones. Be aware of positive and negative space, implied line, form and mass, symmetry and assymetry.
  • List on paper five or more attributes the chosen shadows possess that attracted you.
  • In any manner you like design and then draw a piece of jewelry or an object deriving from your shadow research. Use a strong drawing style for you. Mount the completed design on matt board with a protective cover. Approximately 8x10 is good. Do a whiz-bang job.
  • Discuss you results with one or more other jewelers
  • seven shadow records, 1 design/drawing derived from research, design/drawing is mounted and protected

Exercise 8

  • Collect natural materials, plants, etc and create a maquette of a piece using them (hot glue, quick assembly, fiber etc can be used for joining).
  • Deriving from your natural materials research design and draw a jewelry piece or an object you might make in your strongest drawing style. Mount it on board and use a protective cover.
  • Discuss you results with one or more other jewelers
  • one maquette using natural materials. 1 design/drawing derived from it, design/drawing is mounted and protected

Exercise 9

  • Design a jewelry piece or an object. Draw it out well, include orthographic sketches, surface finish decisions, texture decisions, material choices.
  • Make a model of it as realistically as you can using rapid techniques, hot glue, auto or plastic model paint, anything but come up with a model that one might confuse with the real thing (at least from a small distance).
  • Discuss you results with one or more other jewelers
  • one design/drawing of jewelry or object.
  • 1 realistic model

Exercise 10

  • Choose a story, myth or legend that is meaningful for you, write down the main points so you can describe the gist of it in the group critique. Narrative, mystery, implied story are all important.

  • Design a piece of jewelry or an object that is narrative in nature, an illustration, a derivation, referential, an image concerning the story. Be prepared to show and explain 4 or more sketch ideas for the final idea that you choose. Each on a separate piece of paper, each at least 10x10 cm in size.
  • Draw the final object or jewelry in a drawing style that you are strong in.
  • Mount on matt board with protective cover.
  • Discuss you results with one or more other jewelers
  • written main points on story chosen.
  • a design or drawing mounted on matt board
  • mount on matt board with cover

Exercise 11

  • Choose a category from the following to work in: Political, Confrontational, Gender Issues.

  • Write down in point form the specific ideas you want to work with (2-5) and the specific message you want to communicate.
  • Do 4 or more idea drawings, each on a separate page, each over about 10x10 in size.
  • Draw the final object or jewelry in a drawing style that you are strong in.
  • Mount on matt board in Grand and Toy type sheet protector.
  • Discuss you results with one or more other jewelers.
  • choose category, write point form ideas and message you want to communicate
  • 4+ idea drawings.
  • final drawing mounted and protected

Exercise 12

  • Consider; think about; define for oneself the following terms: armor, protection, shell, defense, warrior, self definition. Use a maximum of 1/2 hour for this. Time it if necessary. This is just thinking time.

  • Personal armor. What is yours? Give four attributes of your personal armor: list the four attributes..
  • Design an object or a piece of jewelry that addresses issues of personal armor.
  • Draw the final object or jewelry in a drawing style that you are strong in.
  • Mount on matt board in Grand and Toy type sheet protector.
  • Discuss you results with one or more other jewelers
  • consider the terms given.
  • list four attributes of your personal armor
  • Design a piece reflective of these attributes
  • draw and mount the piece.

Exercise 13

  • Choose an event to commemorate. This event can be anything, tragic, happy, public, private, enlightening, something of meaning to you. To whom might this piece be directed? Design a piece with your target audience in mind. What is the intent of the work? (write it down).

  • Draw and design at least three different ideas for the work.
  • Draw one out very well in a drawing style you are strong in.
  • Write a 50 word or more artist's statement about the intent, resolution and personal position on the issues raised by the work.
  • Discuss you results with one or more other jewelers.
  • consider the event chosen, Write stuff down, do three idea drawaings
  • draw and mount the piece. Write a solid statement on the work.

Exercise 14

  • Choose four limitations: aesthetic, contextual, formal, whatever is of most interest to you. List the four limitations in point form. Design a piece dealing with your chosen limitations.

  • Draw and design at least four different ideas for the work.
  • Draw one out very well in a drawing style you are strong in.
  • consider the terms chosen - list four limitations for the work, draw four ideas out
  • Design a piece reflective of these limitations, draw and mount the piece.

Exercise 15

  • This project deals with text and incorporating text into the fabric of your work. Choose a text passage to use. Consider the lettering, how type can be worked, text as visual texture, as form.

  • Draw and design at least four different ideas for the work.
  • Draw one out very well in a drawing style you are strong in.
  • consider the text chosen
  • Design a piece reflective of your choice
  • draw and mount the piece.

Resources:

  1. Sylvia Wicks Jewelry Making Manual
  2. McCreight, Tim Practical Jewelry Rendering

  3. Designing Jewelry, M. Galli, D. Riviere, Fanfan Li
  4. The Art of Jewelry Design M. Galli, D. Riviere, Fanfan Li
  5. Folk Jewelry of the World, Ger Daniels, Rizzoli, New York, 1989
  6. Objets d'Usage & de Gout, Mus?e des Art Decoratifs, 1993
  7. Techniques of Jewelry iIlustration and Color Rendering, Adolfo Mattiello


All rights reserved internationally. Copyright © Charles Lewton-Brain. Users have permission to download the information and share it as long as no money is made-no commercial use of this information is allowed without permission in writing from Charles Lewton-Brain.
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