Design Process

Ideally my process for creating a new jewelry design starts with a hot cup of coffee or tea and a sketchbook. Especially when I can sit outside on the deck in the sunshine, flowers blooming, birds chirping. Yeah . . . but then that doesn’t happen all that frequently. More often than not, I’m mulling over construction methods in my head while navigating the morning commute. I might get to quickly doodle an idea on a sticky note while my computer boots up. I’ll suddenly figure out a construction step as I wait in line at the grocery store. I practice the steps in my mind and visualize the outcome at each stage over and over again before I ever get the metal out.

If precision is integral to a design, it often involves a sketch or template, or the measurements are scribed out onto the metal directly. Then I usually cut all of the component pieces of the design. I saw or drill them as needed. File, shape and form them. I then begin the soldering steps in the order I’ve determined in all my pondering. Between each step I am cleaning and polishing the pieces again so that the joins are clean and smooth.

Depending on the complexity of the piece, it can go through the solder-clean-solder-clean stage many times over. Hours slide by.

If the design has stones, the fully constructed piece is fully cleaned and finished, and then seats for the stones are cut. This is a process in itself — little bits are shaved out, the stone tested for fit, more metal removed, and the stone tested again. Over and over until I am satisfied with the fit. The the setting is cleaned and finished, too. Then I set the stones. And then the whole piece is cleaned, polished and finished again.

Sometimes things go wrong at various stages and I have to backtrack, undo portions, redesign, or even start over. It’s a dance of mind and metal, fire and burr. It’s a journey. And I love it!

Heidi KingmanComment