Designer’s Sketchbook is back from a very long hiatus with jewelry designer Amy Holton. Amy very generously shares some lovely pictures of her sketches and finished designs, as well as answers some questions about her designing process and work.
Turquoise and Carnelian Necklace & Sketch. Necklace features an 18″ handmade chain.
1. What’s your creative process like?
All over the place! I’m so systematic about most things in my life. With my jewelry, only recently I find myself working on one design for a bit, then picking up another. Very unusual for me. Normally I’ll lay everything out and work on one piece until it’s finished…or I can’t take it anymore and have to step away for the day!
Ideas come to me at the strangest times and can be influenced by any random thing, so I keep my little sketchbook in my handbag for doodling ideas. Sometimes I actually sit and sketch out a design in detail beforehand and work from a plan. I’ll also make notes in my sketchbook as I go so I can refer back to know exactly how I’ve constructed a piece. I’ve been working on a very elaborate multi-colored sapphire necklace of layers and layers of chain, which I’ve posted the progress of on my blog. While it looks similar to the mental picture, it’s one of those designs that just can’t be drawn out and planned, so it evolves as I go.
Amethyst Flower Briolette Necklace. Inspired by Amy’s sister, whose birthstone is amethyst.
2.How long until an idea comes to fruition?
It can be from a matter of hours, to weeks and even years for some. There’s one particular design that I’ve been working on sporadically for several years. It’s quite intricate and will definitely be a statement/showpiece design, I’m still mentally working out the engineering of the whole thing. I really love intricate, labor intensive projects.
Other times, once I have an idea I can’t wait to see a piece finished. It’s punishment waiting for materials to come in and I stalk my postman. By the time my materials arrive, I’ll have a definite idea of how I want to work on a piece and work start to finish if I can.
Emerald Hammered Hoop Earrings. A design Amy carried around in her head and mentally redesigned several times before creating this version.
3. Do you come up with a design 1st and then source materials or source materials and then get inspired by your raw materials?
Both, actually. I can become very distracted by shiny things and the Internet can be a dangerous place! Obviously this isn’t the most cost-effective way of working, but if a stone’s cut or color is particularly breathtaking, I just have to have it. High quality, micro-faceted gems are a bit of an addiction. The emeralds I used in the earrings were one such purchase. At least these “I have to have” purchases do always find their way into a design and I do go through my stash often looking for inspiration if I’m in a lull.
Other times, I have very specific ideas and buy materials accordingly. I’ve recently purchased some prasiolite (green amethyst) and tunduru sapphires for specific pieces that I’ll soon be ready to add to the site. These earrings are one such piece and were just completed last night.