Monday, February 10, 2014

Boot Camp- Physical Balance in Asymmetry

by Staci Louise Smith

We are off to a great start for the asymmetry boot camp.

Barb b started us off with a great post last week with some beginner tips for asymmetry

One of the things she mentioned that really stuck with me is design how you would think of a bracelet 
"1) Stop thinking of necklaces as necklaces.It always seems natural to design necklaces symmetrically. Part of that has to do with the weight of the necklace being distributed in an even fashion so it wears correctly. Instead, try thinking of your piece not as a necklace, but perhaps as a bracelet. I regularly see more asymmetrical ideas in bracelets that could easily translate into interesting and compelling necklace designs." - Barb B.

Here are a couple necklace I have made that make me think of that- now that I look back, they are very similar to the look of bracelets.

I think the only difference between these and a bracelet design is the larger components in the front which ensure it hangs with them as the focus.  

However, you can design a piece that is weighted evenly all around, so that it doesn't matter how it hangs, then balance is not an issue, and every part of it is interesting as a focal.

I did a post last week on the Visual Balance in asymmetry, and compared it to other facets of art,

This Monday I wanted to talk to you about physical balance in asymmetrical jewelry.  this is the big one to me.  I think after you have let go, and allowed yourself to play with varying shapes and a variety of beads, and designs where the focus is not necessarily in the center- now it is time to introduce this.

I believe this is the most difficult part of asymmetrical design, and the most important. 

Physical balance, is making sure your piece hangs the way you designed it too.  You can make an asymmetrical design, where the focal is off to one side, and you have pretty beads repeated at the bottom, and smaller beads on the other side, and then when you put it on, the larger focal portion slides around to the front.  Though you clearly designed it to be on the side.

This is the part where you have to be willing to to try, and wear your creations to ensure they hang they way they were designed to.  AND, if they don't, you need to go back and re-work it. 

I re-work my pieces all the time.  I refuse to sell something, so that the person will go home and be un-happy that it keeps sliding to the side, or a loop keeps leaning forward, ect. 

Besides the quality, you had a great design in your mind, and you can make it just take that extra time and wear it.

This is one of my favorite chunky gemstone designs with an asymmetrical design. I wanted the large ceramic donut bead on the side along with the smaller garnet donut..  The problem is, that when you have a wider, larger piece on the side, you MUST have more weight on the bottom front or it will slide around, and you lose your asymmetrical design.

This was a challenging piece for me, and I had to rework it a couple of times until it hung just right.  I really wanted the donut to stand out, and use a lightweight chain above it.  The original design had the clasp on the side, but it just wasn't working.
I had to move it to the back, which also helps to balance the piece and keep what I want central, as central.

I will often lay out my design, and literally, hold the beads from one side in my hand and compare to the weight of the beads on the other side to make sure they match, so that it hangs properly.
This is where having a variety of beads really helps.  I like to add beads that are chunky but light to my collection, so I have options when I need something big, but it can't weight too much.  Polymer, wood and acrylic are good for this.

Another problem is using chain on one side, or beads, and sari silk or another light weight cord on the other.  If the weight on both sides is not even, it will slip around so the heavier side is down towards the front.

This is a good example of using lightweight sari silk on one side and chain on the other.

In order for this piece to work, I had to use the larger heavier black gemstone donut on the side which had the lightweight silk.  I also carried the chain across the front as a double layer, to add more central weight.  To ensure that it doesn't move and hang in a way that looks awkward, wear it around for a day to test it.  If you have to keep shifting it to make it hang right, then it should be re-worked.  

For my pieces, I usually go two ways, I create a heavy central focal, that will allow some variety in my necklace portion without tipping it to one side...these pieces are a good example of that.

I still made sure to weight it so the two sides weighed about the same, but when you have a heave central pendant, it helps to offset minor weight issues.

Or, I really work to weigh out the pieces so they hang right, using a variety across the front.

  I had to re-do this one a few times, to make it hang just right.  The loops are light, so I had to add a heavier bead on top, and use lightweight pearls on the other side.  again, using a heavier central focal helped.

I hope the examples helped.  I am no expert in asymmetry, I just have a lot of experience and learned a great deal through trial and error.  The absolute best advise I can give is to wear each piece to ensure it hangs right.  I have even had them hang right on a display, but when you wear it, it goes the wrong way.  It is worth it to take that extra time to balance it, or else you will have disappointed customers, and your design will not be the one you intended.

I leave you with some fun and artsy examples of physical balance in jewelry

Nat Art Jewelry


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