When creating a new piece of jewelry I always make a 'map' of my design in order to figure out how different parts will be connected. I consider movement, part of the body the work is worn on, weight of the piece, and the clasp/ear hook/pin stem. If I'm re making an existing design I've usually worked out all of the kinks. It's the new designs that need some working through, figuring out, and engineering. It's not unusual for me to complete a piece and if I don't like something I'll 'sit on it' until a better idea emerges, then I might take it apart and add something new.
In my most recent work, Glimmering Sunshine, this necklace gave me plenty of Tsuris I set out the pieces, made my map, fabricated and soldered the forms together and then just held it in my hands and looked at it on my desk for many months. I didn't know which direction I wanted it to go, up or down. Then I decided I needed more movement so I unsoldered some sections and added hinges. Yes, that's right, nice movement on the upper body...good move. I'm happy with that change.
My next step was to lay out the stones and build all of the settings. I had envisioned how the chain would be connected and that I'd use a 'key' clasp in back. I knew that all of the stones were going to be tangerine garnets, a bright orange very hot stone, emitting the vibrancy and sparkle that I was looking for. While building the settings, It's not unusual for me to move some stones around and hone in on exactly what I want. After making the settings and soldering them on to the forms that make up the main necklace, I added the chain. It was moving along nicely after many months of mentally laboring over my vision. Then I decided I didn't like how the necklace was hanging and the chain just didn't seem right. I had an idea of a thicker chain that I had, I was using the thicker stainless steel chain to hang my banners at craft shows. I took some out and put it up against the necklace and it looked much better, it seemed right. I decided it needed hinges instead of just swinging on tubing so I removed the tubing that was soldered on, soldered on hinges and added the chain. I came up with a tension clasp that kept the roundish look that I like with this stainless neck wire and added a safety latch. Finally, after over a year I was crossing the finish line. Once I cleaned up the necklace, buffed it and refined the movements I got back to setting the stones.
Glimmering Sunshine Necklace is one of several examples or 'case studies' that I"ll be discussing in my Engineering Your Way Out Workshop. I'm teaching this workshop on January 24 & 25 out of my Berkeley Studio. I'll also be teaching it as a 5-day workshop at The Ranch Center for Arts & Crafts, where the class is filled, and at Metalwerx in Waltham, MA. June 17 through 20th (please visit class descriptions on my website and also register for my Berkeley Studio class at https://alison-antelman.squarespace.com/config#/pages/class-schedule|/class-schedule/2014/12/6/alisons-studio-workshops). The longer workshops depicts a more in depth case study discussion showing my process from beginning through all of the steps to completion, with the idea that pushing through to carry out your vision can be frustrating, but it's worth it considering the end results and all that is learned during the process. You come out of it just a little smarter and then it's on to the next project!