Monday, July 4, 2011

Questions About Creating Charm Bracelets

The first question I am usually asked when people see my charm bracelets is  "Where do you get the ideas for the bracelets?"  This is usually followed closely by, "How do you decide what charms to use?"  The answer to both of these is usually the text. Much of my jewelry is created in reference to works of fiction that have captured my interest and imagination.  Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Firefly and currently Across the Universe.  While I never took classes in jewelry making, I did earn both a BA and MFA in costume design.  My seven years of training in theatre always focused on how a costume designer can best serve the production.  Being able to design pretty dresses is all very well, but only if it is helping to serve the best interests of the story, and the story always starts somewhere.  In theatre we focus on any and all references within a script.  I approach designing jewelry the same way.  I start with the story, be it script or novel.  I read it purely for fun.  I let it soak in.  I let myself be in that world, and usually spend a few days after I've finished reading, longing to return.  Frequently I reread the book, because I'm just not ready to let it go.

At that point, I try to think about the moments in the text that stuck with me.  The characters I connected to.  The places I wanted to go with them.  The objects, symbols or themes that the author was trying to convey.  I start to list my ideas, letting myself go wild before I begin to edit down my choices.  By the time I've completed my list, I usually find I have more than one reference to some things, while I might not have a charm in mind to represent a theme or emotion.  I frequently chat with friends about stories that I love, and pick their brains for ideas.  I check out author's websites and wikipedia.  Mostly I try to immerse myself in that world.  I start to cross things off the list that do not help to tell the story so that my list of charms is a distillation of the very best parts of the book.
The final charm selections for Across the Universe
The other question I get is "Where do you get all your charms?"  The simple answer is, everywhere.  I spend a great deal of time on the internet searching for just the right charms.  Let's say I need a flower to represent an important moment.  There are thousands of choices in flower charms out on the web!  Whatever I choose has to balance with the other charms and it must be the right type of flower.  Was it daisies picked by a first love?  Or were they roses left on a friend's grave?  Is the bracelet shaping up to be bright and happy, or somber and serious?

I do have a few spots that I frequent on the web. has a good selection and fair prices, but rather slow shipping speeds. offers pewter charms made in the USA, and has a rather eclectic mix.  They also have an Etsy store where they offer some of the same charms, in bundles.  I also search numerous sellers on Ebay and Etsy.  Far too many to list here, but a wealth of choices to explore for yourself.

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