Thursday, December 12, 2013

Contrasts Make the World Go Round . . .

Where Would We Be without Contrasts?

Adjust the contrast too much on your computer photos 
and they either fade into a cloud of whiteness 
or are gobbled up by the darkness. 

Finding the right amount of contrast, somewhere between too dark and too light is perfect! So it is with more than photographs, too.

One element that makes jewelry look pleasing is the use of contrasts. But it is more complex in a three-dimensional world than in a photograph! Colors can contrast with each other, the bright and the dim, the bold and the reticent. In jewelry, shapes can play into this concept in many ways: large and small, smooth and rough, natural and manmade, round and square, etc. Too much of one characteristic without a balance is unpleasant — yes, this also applies to politics!

Here's the story behind one particular necklace. 


It started with this beautiful paintbrush jasper stone that caught my eye. (There are more and better images at the link above the image.) The light and dark colors that make up this gemstone are so evenly divided that there is no way to think of it as light on dark or dark on light — both are equally prominent and yet earthy in a random sort of way. I found that fascinating. At 1.5 inches in diameter it was destined to be a large pendant. 

At first a plain cord necklace seemed right. It would not distract from the beauty of the stone. But the result was too stark and made the stone seem like an abandoned creature, plunked on string. What kind of beads would show off this pendant and work with it? Nothing seemed right. So it sat for a few months.

Quite by chance I ordered a supply of various beads and discovered Czech glass faceted beads in a color called mossy green with cream and brown highlights. These man-made beads are all different shades and color combinations and remind me of labradorite with its interesting glow. I love these beads! The lights and darks of the beads match the paintbrush jasper colors. So it was back to creating again.

Placing the Czech beads side by side was overpowering and didn't display the variety of their colors well. What happened, in terms of contrast, was that the dark shades were too much and the light too few. Balance was askew. Adding light was needed. One tiny gold bead between larger beads was a step in the right direction, but not enough. Adding two tiny beads put enough bright color in the necklace to balance the darks — and the pendant. 

A few dabs of gold, in the large, tooled, bail and the toggle clasp make this earthy pendant seem like a treasure rather than an orphan. In November this item was the most viewed of any in my shop. It is still looking for a good home.