One-a-Week: Material Considerations

Continuing on the mental work for the one-a-week challenge from Annie over at Imogene:

One of my favorite things about Project Runway is watching the designers go through their process, even if an exciting idea ends up not working. This grocery store challenge really appealed to me because it forces me think about materials in a fresh way, discarding old limitations and accepting new ones. For me, that’s an essential part of craft: love of wrestling with the materials. So in the spirit of that, here’s some things I was thinking about in my brainstorming at the grocery store:

  • visual appeal: what catches my eye? interesting shapes? colors? what about visual texture? opaque or translucent?
  • physical qualities: does it already have an interesting shape? can it be strung on thread as is? can it’s shape be manipulated: cut? sawed? pierced? drilled? bent? carved? is it brittle or flexible? hard or soft? dry or moist? sticky?
  • ephemerality: how will it’s qualities change over time? will it dry out? fade? become brittle? will it’s color change? will it rot? mold? smell? dissolve?
  • structure: how can I create a jewelry structure given it’s physical properties? can it be worked like metal? paper? fabric? rubber? will I need wire, thread, or any other jewelry findings to allow it to be worn? Are there other items I can buy here which could replace those findings?
  • evaluation of concept: how wearable will this piece be? will it change over time? how long will it last? will it cause the wearer some discomfort? how easy will it be to put on? what trade-offs am I will to accept on these points for the sake of an exciting idea or compelling material?

I have to run to work, but if I have time tonight or tomorrow, maybe I’ll share some of my prototype experiments (like the PR designers doing a ‘muslin’) and some of the materials that I rejected and why. Thanks for the challenge Annie, this is fun!!

Leave a comment


  1. I always enjoy stopping by here since you present the most thoughtful approach to jewelry design that I’ve seen in a blog. I really appreciated this post today. Thanks for all you put into it.

  2. i love this post!
    it makes me want to go back to the drawing board with my materials. maybe over the weekend? . . .
    i haven’t felt such creative frustration in SO LONG!
    just a few hours ago, i popped in the dvd of this project runway episode and my heart went out to the designers-the pressure! so it turns out that austin wins with his dress made of corn husks!- even though they shriveled up overnight! i love that.
    can’t wait to see your results kait! i’m so happy you are playing too 🙂

  3. Thank you both for stopping by! It’s so nice to finally know a few folks around the internet who share my passion for making jewelry!

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