As I have already said I wish I could draw better. I really do. BUT (and it is a big But – no jokes intended) I absolutely love drawing my designs. Getting my ideas down on paper gives me an easy way to play with; change and improve my designs until they are the best they could possibly be. If I had to make my first idea and then, when I had thought of a way that the design could be improved, I had to make it again … and then again … not only would I be exhausted but I would also be broke, as metal and materials are very costly. Paper and graphite are CHEAP. Designs can be drawn on paper and changed as many times as necessary. I have learnt over the years not to start making a piece until I am 100% satisfied with my design. Of course, there might be some changes during the making process – but these are usually because I haven’t anticipated some making problem that has occurred. Being a designer/maker means that whilst I am designing my piece I am also thinking about how I am going to construct it. The making process, ie the techniques that we use in silversmithing, do need to be considered when designing jewellery. For example, if I designed a gold ring which had a diamond stone set into it, I would have to think about exactly HOW the stone was going to be held onto the gold ring band. The way that the stone was set onto the ring would, of course, be drawn on my design. If you looked at the illustration of my gold ring, you too would be able to see how I wanted to hold the diamond onto the gold band. You will have seen “claw settings” that hold a precious stone onto a ring. If I wanted a “claw setting” to hold my diamond, I would have to draw a “claw setting”. So design and making techniques both need to be thought about as I am designing and illustrating my ideas.
I was told by Hannah Martin, the wonderful jewellery designer, illustrator and maker, that the best pencils to use for jewellery design work are propelling pencils. I find these brilliant because you can get ones that take 0.3 mm lead, which are marvellous for delicate and detailed illustrations and then 0.5 mm lead for other stuff. Hannah Martin did recommend using 0.3 mm pencil for all jewellery design, but it is up to you. I did not take to these propelling pencils at first. I have a heavy hand and kept on snapping the lead. But I have got used to them now and would not be without them. The 0.3 mm pencil is great when I am drawing life-sized illustrations of a piece. I am constantly amazed at how small a life-sized drawing of a ring actually is!