Thursday, January 10, 2013

Inspired by the Necklaces of Clafoutine


While scanning Pinterest over the past week I discovered the cheerful work of Clafoutine, a polymer clay and wire artist from Rouen, France.



Initially, I was seduced by the color and the clean lines of Clafoutine's components. Perfect round circles of bright colors and clean design elements. Pop! Crisp. Le sigh! When rationality was finally reengaged in my color-crazy brain, the engineer in me became equally interested in the way her elements were connected. The images seem to show that she weaves a length of wire behind each piece, stringing a small spacer bead between each piece. But, at first glance, it appeared that she was using oblong jump rings with a spacer bead decoration. The idea of that kind of connection got me thinking both analytically and creatively about the way we connect elements in a piece of jewelry.



Her method is functional, simple, and looks pretty good. If you need to produce a lot of jewelry in a short period of time at a relatively low price point, it's perfect. There are, however, some downsides. The first is that by stringing the same wire through all of the pieces, the decorative components of the necklace won't drape well. If you use a thinner gauge wire, the necklace will drape better, but be more susceptible to breakage. If you use a thicker gauge wire, the necklace will be more sturdy and a lot more stiff. Second, as you wear a long length of wire, particularly wire suspending several objects, the wire will bend. Wire that has been worked, through the movement it receives while wearing it, becomes increasingly stiff and brittle. The increasing stiffness of the wire could damage the clay components. Eventually, even if the components aren't damaged, the wire will become brittle and break. So, in designing a piece of jewelry meant to provide the wearer comfort of wear, the clean line of a nice drape, and peace of mind about it's durability, different methods of connection should be used.



Like in the picture above, we know that the simplest way to achieve more flexibility in a piece of jewelry is to use jump rings to connect components. If you've done this, however, you know that it's not aesthetically exciting. That's why I was so excited by what I thought I saw when I was initially analyzing the piece - shape modified jump rings with embellishment. Changes in shape and decoration of connections can most definately make a piece of jewelry more visually appealing as well as functional and durable.



For me, these images inspired a week of playing with some new ideas beginning with embellished wire connections between components. Instead of polymer clay disks, I used some colorful, recycled plastic packaging that I've been meaning to repurpose. I then thought about how those connections translated to beaded projects.


Tomorrow, then, I'll post the bracelet I made with the embellished and modified jump rings. I'll include lots of photos of the step-by-step if you want to try decorating your jump rings. Later in the week I'll talk about how similar kinds of beaded connections impact a jewelry design and show you the necklace I made as an experiment. Talk to you then!


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