Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Spaghetti Chains

When I first began designing, way back in what seems like the Dark Ages, I often wanted to create certain shapes and wasn't sure about how to do it. One of my early attempts was this bunny. It looks like a bunny. OK, if it doesn't look like a bunny cross your eyes and squint. The design, such as it is, was made up of mostly overly long unsupported chains. Since I wanted to use this design as a pin, I tatted it over nylon fishing line, which gave it the support it was so sadly lacking.

I have seen designs done by other people over the years, one that springs to mind is an utterly enchanting design of a teddy bear that I fell in love with when I first saw it. Then my inner designer screeched in horror. Absolutely adorable, but totally lacking in support.

Now, don't get me wrong, there is a time and place for the simple outlines created by chains. They are perfectly fine if you plan to attach the finished piece to fabric or if you intend to seal it inside an acrylic coaster or key fob or in some other way, give it the support that it needs.

However, if the finished product is going to stand on it's own, those extra long unsupported sloppy, floppy chains are going to be a problem. They have no more backbone than a wet noodle and I call them spaghetti chains. In a doily, you will spend more time rearranging the chains and pushing then into shape, than you will enjoying your handiwork. In a snowflake, the arms will sag and droop without serious stiffening. In earrings and pendants the design will fold into a sad little blob. In all of these instances your effort and ingenuity will not elicit praise, but sad commiseration, which, if you are like most designers, is not the response you're looking for.

After numerous design attempts I have learned to test my designs for droopiness by holding things like motifs by one corner or edge and see if it will stand straight. If it will I know I have a nice tight design, if it won't, I take another look at it's construction. If I have spaghetti chains going on, I look for ways to add in a ring or two at key areas to give the added framework. Sometimes adding these rings detract from the design. At that point I have to step back, look at the design and do one of two things; scrap it, or decide that the overall design is just too pretty to scrap. In that case, spaghetti chains or not, it's a keeper.


Ladytats said...

cute bunny,
spaghetti chains is a perfect name for long chains.

Margarets designer cards said...

Lovely bunny, spaghetti chains is a good name for long chains, I have found that a little join somewhere in the chain makes them stronger, I join between the two chains just somewhere where it would not be noticed.
I would love to try your bunny pattern