Jewelry Design Process – Photo to Sketch to Design

One of my favorite things is designing new jewelry. I have different jewelry design processes for different types of work. Sometimes I just work freely, arranging separate components on a background. Other times, I need to plan the design as a single piece. In that case, I work from sketches in a series.

sparrow ogee design

sparrow ogee design – ©2015 Vickie Hallmark

I thought I’d share my latest sketch process to illustrate how it works. I’m taking a workshop next week where I need a design that will accommodate pierced areas as well as detailed carving. Not knowing exactly what the constraints of the work will be, I’ve just gone with my gut. I’ve tried to draw up a plan that reflects many of my design motifs, but allows for these new explorations.

sparrow photo from online

sparrow photo from online

I started with a Google search for a bird photo that I could work with. I chose this simple sparrow.

simplified sparrow sketch

simplified sparrow sketch

I quickly freehand sketched the sparrow in ink in my journal – about 4″ in size, and then scanned it into my computer and reduced the size to about 2″. After printing it out, I started to experiment with additions to the bird, my usual branch with leaves and maybe a flower.

adding branch to sparrow

adding branch to sparrow

At each step, I traced the original sketch and simplified as I went. The repeated tracing gives me a feel for the main elements of the design, and it gets crisper, more essential, with fewer difficult to realize details.

a longer, curved branch with flower

a longer, curved branch with flower

Eventually, I started to consider the overall edge of the piece and how I could incorporate the design into that edge. First I tried a simple square border, but that felt awkward. I also realized that I needed to remove excess leaves.

sparrow with square frome

sparrow with square frome

Then I had the idea to use my common ogee shape. I started to draw it in on top of the square frame above, but then I pulled out some paper and cut several size templates to audition. Because the design seemed wider than tall, I ran the ogee horizontally. Then I filled in the breadth of the frame.

sparrow with ogee frame

sparrow with ogee frame – ©2015 Vickie Hallmark

As of now, this is the final design. I will sleep on it overnight and inspect again tomorrow, as I often notice details later that escape me at the beginning. For example, the leaf that has no support from the frame seems like a problem waiting, so it will probably get redesigned. But for now, I feel like my work has been successful – I have something to take to class, where I’m sure modifications will ensue. I derived my design from a photo, which might have originally been copyrighted by the photographer, but by the time I’d done the rest of the design, it clearly only an inspiration. As it should be.

If you are interested in a custom design to celebrate a special moment, pleas contact me to discuss the process.

2 thoughts on “Jewelry Design Process – Photo to Sketch to Design

  1. John Billows

    I think that is really cool you can take a photo or sketch and turn it into a piece of jewelry. I love how you turned a simple picture of a bird into a small locket that could be put on the end of a necklace. I’d love to have a picture of my dog turned into a charm on a bracelet or a necklace much like this someday.

    Reply
    1. vichall Post author

      I do take custom orders, John, so just contact me via my website if you decide to make that dog jewelry a reality.

      Reply

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