Friday, May 25, 2012

Engineering in Jewelry Design - Really!

I'm embarrassed to admit that my former self-- the geeky Latin major turned bookkeeper turned programmer-- never spent much time thinking about art. When I did, I assumed that it required the opposite set of skills from mine, topped off with a large dose of "creativity," a nebulous term I was not creative enough to even define.

Fast forward 15 years after Greg retired & I quit my last geeky job. A well-hidden artsy side of me emerged when I decided to make jewelry. What surprises me 6 years into my learning curve as an aspiring jewelry artist is just how much engineering is involved! Some of my old geekiness PLUS a lot of bull-headed determination have helped me solve technical problems getting the designs I envisioned to succeed. Here are 2 of the most challenging examples of the marriage of engineering & art:

The challenges were many, but this was the biggest: How to create a 3D skyline that was securely attached to the background panel without bending or scratching any precious metal?

This elegant, deceptively simple-looking design was full of major challenges: How to hand-bend the twisted precious metal into a consistant-looking sine wave pattern ... fit it exactly between 2 parallel wires that were a precise distance apart so the wave made contact with the 2 parallel wires ... assure that each end of the sine wave strip would meet exactly at the top of its wave when soldered to the 2 parallel wires ... torch-solder the hills & valleys of each sine wave to the 2 parallel, straight wires ... and finally solder the rounded ring without melting the solder joints elsewhere?

All the technical issues which I continue to discover in jewelry design have given me a great respect for talented artists AND the prices they charge for their technical skills combined with artistry. I'm crawling up a steep hill toward that goal.