Monday, June 10, 2013

Developing a Design Vocabulary - Leaves

Part of the value of working in a series is that a personal design vocabulary develops over time. With many iterations of an idea, it's impossible not to repeat certain elements. With enough repetition, those repeated elements become your own personal vocabulary.

leaf sketchbook designs
©2013 Vickie Hallmark
I think many people would associate birds with my work, as I've used them so much in my jewelry over the last few years. But leaves actually predate the birds, going back to a series of quilts based on leaves. To me, leaves impart a sense of time, the seasons, and the cycle of life.

leaf vine texture
©2013 Vickie Hallmark
I have quite a collection of leaves that I use and reuse in my work. My very favorite texture for metal clay or polymer is a vine of tiny leaves, hand drawn in my sketchbook one summer while watching my son play Ultimate frisbee. The design was scanned, cleaned up and printed as a rubber stamp. I've used it so much the rubber has deformed and curled. I had to reorder this nice, pristine new stamp to continue.
leaf vine rolling pattern
©2013 Vickie Hallmark
While I can use the rubber stamp for metal clay, I wanted similar results on sheet metal. When I added a rolling mill to my studio tool collection, I ordered custom lasercut paper pattern to imprint the same design onto silver, copper, brass or bimetal sheet. The look is different than what I get with metal clay, with lower relief.

I use a similar leaf pattern everywhere, such as to fill in behind a bird journal drawing...

or underneath the banner on my website, business card, or postcards.

The three dimensional branches with leaves in my treetop jewelry design are just a repeat of this motif executed in metal.

But sometimes I add more leaves, as drops on earrings or pendants.

Recently, I've stacked the leaf texture on top of the leaf shape, with nary a bird in sight. One thing leads to another.