Saturday, August 31, 2013

Cathedral Spire Kits and Colorway Decisions

Its always a tough call making decisions about color when designing jewelry.  I so often find myself drawing on what I learned about color theory in my art classes many years ago when pulling beads together for a new project.  While I no longer get to mix my own custom colors, beads offer an extra dimension that I did not usually have to worry about in my days of painting with watercolors and acrylics.  This is the issue of the finish of beads - everything from matte to metallic to Aurora Borealis.  As Marcia DeCoster's recent blog entry on Color Decisions and the conversation it sparked illustrates, color choices have to go hand-in-hand with decisions about bead finish.  A matte finish bead can have such a different impact than a metallic or Ceylon finish, and these decisions can definitely impact the way the colors interact in the piece.  Too much of the same finish can even sometimes make variations in color hard to see.

Questions of color and finish are always an important part of my design process, but usually take place during the planning and design phase of the work.  Last week I took some time to come up with new colorways to create kits for my Cathedral Spire Earrings Tutorial.  Finding new ways to make the same pattern work with different colors is a different kind of challenge, and I found it both fun and instructive. 

As I was pulling materials together, I found that substituting certain components and seed bead finishes helped pull together a cohesive look for a given colorway.  Because some degree of contrast is needed to keep the exterior embellishments and details visible against the other bead, I had to think in terms of contrasts in either finish or color or in both. 

The original red version has a very bold, regal look:
I went with a white and silver version for my first variation.  The formality of the metallic finishes on the seed beads and the sparkle of the faceted crystal rondelles translated well to this colorway, creating a very dressy look.  I think this version would look lovely on a bride!
However, when I turned to a green and brown variation, I wanted something that worked better with casual fall fashions - these earthy tones are classics for this season.  I chose matte metallic and matte iris finishes for many of the seed beads to help with the shift to a casual look.  I decided that the crystal rondelles were a bit too sparkly in this context.  Then I remembered my stock of glass pearls.  These light green pearls really fit the look and feel I was going for with this colorway.  Luxurious but still appropriate for day-wear:
I wasn't sure if the switch from rondelles to round pearls would impact the seed bead counts in the embellishment stitches, but was pleasantly surprised at how well the switch worked - there was no need to alter the pattern and instructions!

Finally, I wanted to design a pair in shades of blues and purples.  Both my mom and sister love these colors and I often think of what they enjoy when I'm designing.  I chose to combine glass rondelles and pearls for this pair and again made a few substitutions to get the finished effect right.  Its always good to remember that size 8 seeds and 3mm rounds are pretty interchangeable - that knowledge certainly helped with this colorway:
I decided to stop here with the new colorways... for now.  What colors would you choose or like to see?  How do you make decisions about color - do you use tools like Color Scheme Designer or just grab a pile of beads and see what works?

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