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by Rose Marion, Wire-Sculpture.com

3 Tools to Help You Pick Color Schemes in Your Jewelry-Making

Why does a jewelry artist need to pick out colors? You may say, well, I just pull out my bead tray and I go with what goes together, I trust my eye. That’s great, and that works for many of us some days, when the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and we have a calm, quiet house to ourselves.

However, when you’re under pressure, or designing a new collection of jewelry – several pieces that go together to create a cohesive “look” – you may need to do some planning, based on your materials that are available, the look for that collection (bridal? floral? autumn? children? fantasy?), and the people who will wear it (can they afford the gold-filled wire? will they feel they overpaid if the plated wire chips?).

Whether you’re designing your business logo, your craft table color scheme, your new collection of jewelry, or even a single set of jewelry based around a stone – say, a colorful opal or tigerseye – it helps to plan. Here are 3 tools you can use to plan your color schemes so you’ll create wire jewelry with confidence and joy, without a look back!

Kuler, by Adobe

You may recognize Adobe as the software company behind creative programs such as Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, and InDesign. But those aren’t the only things Adobe has developed to help creative professionals (you’re a creative professional – just like photographers, graphic designers, fashion designers, and interior designers the world over).

Kuler is a free web-based program from Adobe that allows you to create color palettes using up to 5 colors. You can choose to relate the colors based on Analogous, Complementary, Triadic, Monochromatic, and other color relationships, or freestyle. Simply use the color wheel to select a color; advanced users can specify certain RGB, CMYK, Hexadecimal, or other color values to perfectly match logos or images.

You can save these color palettes if you create an account (it’s free), and if you’re an advanced user, you can export the swatch and import it into a program like Illustrator, so you don’t have to write the color codes down. This has helped me match just what beads would go with my copper jewelry, and I can even guess how the colors will look as the copper patinas!

ColourLovers.com, Color and Patterns

ColourLovers is much like Kuler, with a few additions. First, you can upload a photo, which allows you to use colors from that photo without touching Photoshop or any image software.

It seems a lot like Kuler at this point. However, now that you have a palette, you can now create a pattern with it (might be useful when choosing your company’s logo color – you can make a website background)

ColourLovers also seems more social than Kuler. While you can share palettes with others and comment on them in Kuler, ColourLovers allows you to join groups; you’ll meet a great community that loves color. Paid products on ColourLovers include fabric made from the palettes and patterns you choose, posters, and a color-matching software program.

Polyvore, for Fashion Ensembles

Have you seen the pages of the fashion magazines that have pictures of pieces of an ensemble, with information on each piece, its price, and where you can find it? Polyvore is a site that will allow you to create your own fashion spreads online. If you’ve mastered ColourLovers, Polyvore is next on your must-explore list.

This site has a bit of a learning curve to use, but it’s a fun way to piece together outfits and see what others have made – a bit like Pinterest. But the very cool thing is that you can add your own images and jewelry to Polyvore using its Clipper tool. Due to legal & copyright business, Etsy doesn’t allow Polyvore to use images that are on Etsy, but you can still clip pieces from your blog, Artfire, or Flickr. Then you can add your own jewelry to outfits!

After you publish, you can choose to get the code to place the fashion collage on your website; the images will automatically link to their respective sources (including your Artfire listing or website).

Bonus Resource:  Using a Color Fan or Color Swatches

If these online resources for organizing color and looks are a bit too much, don’t worry, you can do practically the same thing without a computer. For a totally off-line method of choosing colors, you can take advantage of color fans, which you can buy from Pantone (if you have a suitcase of cash) – thrifty options include visiting graphic design firms and printing companies to see if they have old Pantone color fans and paint shops.

Can’t find color fans, or are you bootstrapping along? Head to your big box home retailer and pick up some paint chips. This requires more effort in the long run, if you have to rush in every time you’re planning a piece – but it’s free, and it’s an okay substitute until you can find a color fan or be comfortable with online options. And I do recommend being professional here. Most of the folks that work in the paint departments are pretty friendly; I don’t recommend hiding what you’re doing. They would probably be interested to hear what kind of unique jewelry you make. And of course, when you do need to buy paint, patronize the shop that’s been kindest.

As far as imitating Polyvore: there’s the old standard of clipping clothes and accessories from magazines and taping or gluing them to a piece of paper for a “mood board” or “inspiration board.” You can even add a picture or sketch of your jewelry to that paper for a complete ensemble. That may make a fun photo backdrop, catalog addition, or sample sheet to show your customers – the possibilities are endless!

Happy Jewelry Making!

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