Every jewellery designer has their own style. They may develop this style consciously, or it may grow organically. So, what is my style?
How do I define my style?
I have a small confession to make: I hate it when I’m being interviewed and the interviewer asks me what is my style? I think I’m the last person in the world to be able to describe my own style. In fact, I’m really tempted to just stop writing this page here and now and hand it over to you… How about a big comment box that asks you the question, ‘what is my style?’
Well, I will invite you to add your comments below if you wish, but I will also make some attempt to tell you my thoughts on my style. After all, I did have to think about this as I was putting this website together and making decisions about style, content and branding.
The First Point About My Style
I think the first, and most important thing to say, is my style isn’t something I have consciously thought out. I find myself with images in my head and I try to use beads to recreate those images. So, I have never sat down and decided I want to make ‘modern’ or ‘classic’ or any other generally applied term of style. Maybe this is a mistake, I don’t know.
The point is, what you see is rather like looking at a snapshot inside my mind. Maybe it reflects something of the way in which I see the world. Perhaps my style evolves, perhaps it doesn’t. Certainly, I think ‘eclectic’ is a good word to describe it, or perhaps ‘whimsical’, ‘colourful’ and ‘fun’. I’m sure you can apply other adjectives, but I find it really difficult to answer these questions about my own work. So, how about another question…
How Does My Style Differ from Others’ Style?
Would you be surprised if I confess that I’m not sure I can answer this question either? I believe there is something distinctive about my work: other people can often guess that a piece of jewellery has been made by me. However, I find it a lot harder to put that distinction into words. So, how about I let you take a look at the style of some other bead jewellery designers and let you make up your own mind to that question?
I’m just going to give you a list of links to the websites of some of my beading friends whose work I love. See if you can do a better job at spotting and ‘classifying’ all these styles!
My list could go on and on! I may also be shooting myself in the foot as I let you see a variety of styles and maybe you feel that my style isn’t the one for you. Well, that’s ok – it makes me happy to make my beaded jewellery, so I want you to be happy wearing it!
My Design Process
This is something about which I can write. I don’t have a consistent ‘process’ as such. Most of the designing takes place in my head, although I do occasionally jot down ideas and (bad!) sketches. The ideas comes from anywhere – literally. It could be standing in the supermarket in the cakes aisle and seeing a box of fondant fancies and thinking, ‘I want to make those in beads!’ I might find inspiration from colours or shapes in nature. Sometimes the designs also come from the beads themselves. I talked a little about the different types of beads I use. Well, the ‘shaped seed beads’ and multi-holed beads often provide inspiration as I am simply experimenting to see what they are capable of doing.
Having come up with the idea, I may have spent several hours revolving it in my head to refine elements. Of course, when I take out the beads, anything can happen. Frequently, I find that the beads don’t sit together quite as I had anticipated. Sometimes colours don’t work as I hope. On other occasions, my thought process simply evolves as I am working, so the design ends up evolving. The initial idea in my head very rarely matches the finished beadwork (unless it is that fondant fancy!). This is a long and laborious process as sometimes I spend hours stitching beads together, then feel unhappy with the result. So, I then spend more hours unpicking the piece and starting over. On other occasions, the beads seem to just speak to me and the jewellery flows from start to finish.
One Theme to Look For
I will give you one theme that is my own: clasps that integrate with the design. I am fascinated with the role that clasps and fastenings play in a piece of jewellery. Sometimes I want them to make a statement. Other times I want them to blend in. I wrote a whole book about beaded clasps. I just love exploring this idea.
This means I put a lot of thought into the clasp I use. I think about functionality as well as style. The clasp has to be strong, but also easy to use. Sometimes I use ready-made metal clasps. Often I make beaded clasps. Creating my own clasp is, for me, the ultimate way to incorporate this essential component into the jewellery design. So, if you really push me for something that defines my style, maybe my clasps are that thing.
I have tried to include some sort of design story with each of my pieces. Hopefully you are detecting a theme running through this website. I named it Katie Dean Jewellery for a reason. All my jewellery is about me. I don’t mean it to be, but I create what I feel like creating, so inevitably I am making a part of me. Not everybody will like my jewellery, just as I don’t imagine that everybody ‘likes’ me. Sometimes, I don’t like my jewellery!
I have a confession to make here. I find it a little scary and confronting to put the things I have created out into the public realm. All my pieces are personal to me. They are a part of me, so I find it hard to separate criticism of the jewellery from criticism of me as a person. I mention this because I want to emphasise, if you buy a piece of Katie Dean Jewellery, you are buying a piece of me. You may or may not regard this as a good thing, but that is the way it is, so I will leave you with that thought!