Surface Lines in Jewelry Design

While lines in jewelry design are often used to create movement or to guide a viewer’s eye around a piece, lines can do more. Artists can use lines to enhance or emphasis a surface.

Lines can create visual texture when they are repeated next to each other, scribbled, or crosshatched in a way that does not incise or raise the surface, like the fine lines of hair used by Melanie Bilenker in her work. Inclusions in stones or stripes of color—in stones or metalwork such as mokume gane—also produce lines of visual texture.

Lines create physical texture when graved, folded, etched, or raised in metal. They can be wires soldered to a surface, edges created by uneven surfaces. Rows of granulation, or lines of reticulation create physical texture.

Most of us have doodled crosshatched lines during a dull lecture or while on the phone. As you vary the weight (thickness) of those lines from thin to thick, or place them progressively closer to each other, you create value—a shift from light to dark or vice versa. You can do the same thing with graved lines—adding a patina will make the value darker, a sharp graver enhances the reflections of light and makes the surface lighter.

If you add lines to a curved surface that follow that surface, you can accentuate the curves. It’s a way to emphasize the shape of a highly polished surface. Or, like contour lines on a topographic map that show the ups and downs, twists and turns of a land formation, adding curved lines to a flat surface can create a sense of depth and form.

Make a surface, enhance a surface, imply a surface—how do you use line?


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