Jewelry Design Challenge: Pablo Picasso

Resin encased collage pendant necklace
The theme for July’s challenges on the Self Representing Artists in Jewelry Design blog is “iconic painters,” starting with Pablo Picasso this week.

This was the toughest theme for me thus far. Partly because I struggle with being overly literal in interpreting a theme, and had no idea how to do cubism or abstract art with beads and wire. And also because I have never studied art – formally or otherwise – or spent much time in art galleries. So, getting into the theme took a lot more research than usual.

Femme en pleurs

Femme en Pleurs painting by Picasso.

I began with an image search for the artist’s paintings. I had some vague recollection of his cubist paintings. They are famous, after all. The only thing I could really remember about the Picasso paintings I have seen was that I was not a fan of the oddly disjointed geometrically abstract-ish portrayals. Shows you how little I knew.

This painting (Femme en pleurs), for example, is not strictly cubist. Or so I read. It looks pretty abstract-y to me. And it does seem to show the subject from multiple perspectives, which is the essential nature of cubism.  I still don’t “get” cubism. As in, I still prefer realism in my art. And guess what:  Picasso painted more than just cubist and abstract works.

For instance, he had a “blue period” in which his paintings were somber, mostly monochromatic portraits in shades of blue, with no hint of cubism. My initial idea was to design jewelry in similar shades of blues.

screenshot of image search for Picasso

Paintings from Pablo Picasso’s “Blue Period” (Google image search).

I have lots of blue beads. Lots. I pulled a bunch that closely approximated the hues in Picasso’s paintings. And waited for inspiration for a jewelry design. And waited and waited and waited. Then I ate some chocolate. Finally, I just started wiring beads together, hoping something would work itself free from my creative block.

The first design I tried was a pair of earrings where I wire-wrapped a bead in three different ways, to show three different perspectives or angles. (Apparently, the cubism concept was still stuck in my head).

Blue rondelle beaded dangle earrings

Dangle earrings using blue glass rondelles wire-wrapped to show different perspectives.

My wire wraps were largely experimental (= messy) as I don’t normally use rondelles as connectors.  I do like the idea of the wraps and will work on them more for future designs.

My next design was combining blue beads in a basic linear dangle. I wasn’t initially planning to add the round beads at the bottom. But I couldn’t stop myself. The earrings seemed unfinished without them, and needed movement.

Blue blown glass beaded earrings

Dangle earrings with blown glass ovals, faceted rondelles, and satin rounds, all in shades of blue.

The large striped oval glass beads have rather large holes. It causes them to tilt on the wires just a bit. I read somewhere about putting seed beads on the wire to fill the space. I may take them apart and try that.

For my final beaded design, I reverted to my earring comfort zone, which is wire-wrapping beads on chain.  I think adding a dark patina to the chain and wire would make it better fit the sombre tones of Picasso’s blue period works. Alas, I only had silver-plated chain which wouldn’t darken in liver of sulphur because it’s got an anti-tarnish finish. This pair ended up being my submission for the challenge.

Mixed blue glass beaded dangle earrings

Beaded dangle earrings using a mix of bead shapes and sizes, all in shades of blue.

Somewhat less than satisfied with my interpretation of the blue period works, I returned to the internet to read more about Picasso’s works. Did you know that in addition to being the co-founder of the cubist movement, he is also credited with being among the first to use the collage technique in fine art? I made collages when I was a child, cutting up magazines and gluing pieces of images onto paper to tell a story. Why didn’t any of my elementary school art lessons include mention of Picasso?  [sigh]

Okay. Collage. Jewelry. How would that work? Well, if I had some sheets of metal, a saw, and a torch (or some rivets) I could whip up a metal collage focal. Sadly, the closest thing I have to sheets of metal is a roll of tin foil. I do have lots of paper, however. Magazines, catalogs, scrapbook paper.  And glue. I’ve got glue. I also have small metal pendant blanks and resin. I decided to make a collage pendant.

Vintage inspired brass collage necklace

A collage pendant under resin, on antiqued brass chain with beaded accents.

It’s a very simple collage, with only two elements glued together. I had a very small canvas on which to work.  I briefly thought about piecing the bird together from multiple images of birds. A beak here, a wing there. But, like I said, small canvas. That rectangle is less than two inches long and not as wide as a first class postage stamp. Steadier hands than mine were needed for anything more than what’s there.

I encased the collage in resin (does that make it decoupage?), strung it on some chain, and it felt blah. So I dressed up the plain chain with a short length of leaves and some glass beaded dangles.  Overall, I am happy with the final necklace, even if it does look more vintage-inspired than Picasso-inspired. I don’t think anyone would look at it and know it was inspired by my brief study of the work of Pablo Picasso.  But you and I know it was. It can be our secret.

The artist for next week’s theme is Piet Mondrian, who took the cubist concept linear and even more abstract. I’m going to need a lot more chocolate. I hope you’ll check back to see whether I can overcome my creative block for this theme. To make sure you don’t miss it, subscribe to this blog by RSS feed, email subscription, or feed servers linked in the right column under my photo. You can also follow me on Facebookjoin me on Google+, and tune in to my Twitter feed to get updates on my newest jewelry designs, new listings in my Etsy shop, and other design challenges and adventures from Paisley Lizard.

2 thoughts on “Jewelry Design Challenge: Pablo Picasso

  1. Beth Petricoin

    Wow! I love reading about your thought process, and can see how all of these fit in with the theme. Your diligence with creating is so inspiring. I wish I were half as productive as you are! And all your items are just such lovely, lovely pieces!

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