Jewelry Design Challenge: Modern

metal flower chokerThis week’s challenge on the Self-Representing Artists in Jewelry Design blog was to design “modern” jewelry.  I had no idea what that style encompassed. As usual, I tried to look it up on the internet. (Does anyone visit the library for this sort of thing anymore?)

Modern art is defined as works produced during the 1860s to the 1970s and characterized as a movement away from traditional arts and more toward abstraction. That was easy. There’s even an entry on Wikipedia. Modern jewelry, on the other hand, has no Wikipedia entry and no definitive characteristics. Which happens to be frustratingly true of most jewelry styles. 

Modern jewelry is not to be confused with “mod” jewelry. The term “mod” is short for modernist, which was defined by the fashion style of a British youth subculture of the mid-1960s. It was inspired by the modern jazz movement of that period.

And modern as a jewelry style term is also not synonymous with contemporary, meaning belonging to or occurring in the present. To make things more confusing (for me), contemporary art and design can be considered post-modern.

On the other hand, “modern jewelry style” can also be defined as what is trending in the fashion scene. Since I’ve already done abstract modern art-inspired jewelry designs, I decided to go with the “a la mode” or “en vogue” interpretation for this challenge.

If you search for “winter 2015 jewelry style” you will likely find articles and photos about what’s been seen on the clothing fashion runways for that season. Of course, the winter clothing fashion shows happened long before it got cold outside. Which conveniently gives all the manufacturers and retailers time to produce and stock what they decide is going to be trending.

What did I see when I looked at these runway reports? Humongous jewelry. Giant chains. Leather and fur. Chokers, collars, and torc style necklaces. Crystal flowers. The leather and fur was off the table for me. My jewelry designs are cruelty-free. And unless I was going to make the giant chains link by link, there was no design challenge in that trend.

I tried to make really big jewelry once, as a joke for a friend who had moved to Texas. I promised/threatened to make her a Texas-sized necklace. I couldn’t.  Jewelry that big just isn’t in me. My muse refuses. Which left crystal flowers and necklaces that hug the neck.

metal flower choker side view

Autumn flowers collar style memory wire necklace with metal and resin flower sliders, foiled and Czech glass beads.

I had a set of three metal and resin flower sliders in my stash. They were sparkly and caught my eye months ago. They are paired with white glass ovals with copper foiled flecks, copper Czeck glass beads, and large bronze glass seed beads.

metal flower choker on display

If I’d had a neck model for this collar you would be able to see that the three flowers are all sitting at the front when worn.

The beads are strung on memory wire, which is carbon steel that’s been hard tempered to retain, or remember, its coiled shape. As a result, the necklace requires no clasp. It hugs the neck, like a collar. I really needed a neck model to properly show this one off. But the cats’ necks are too small, and I thought it might seem creepy if I ran outside and asked the person walking her dog if she’d wear my necklace while I take pictures.

That’s it for my interpretation of modern jewelry. I still don’t know what “modern jewelry” means. The theme for next week is “rustic” which is much closer to my comfort zone. At least, I think I have a fair idea what the term means as it applies to jewelry design. I hope you’ll stop by next week to see what I create. You can subscribe to this blog by email or feed servers — just look for the links in the right sidebar. You can also stay connected with Paisley Lizard on Facebook to get updates about my latest designs. Or you can follow me on Twitter for even briefer news bites.