The Ugly Necklace Jewelry Design Contest

The Ugly Necklace Jewelry Design Contest
Jewelry Design Contest: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Do you have a strong opinion about what makes good jewelry design? Ever want to be a judge in a design contest? Can you think in opposites? If you can answer yes to all of these questions, then I have an opportunity for you.

For the seventh consecutive year, voting is open to the public for selecting the winner of The Ugly Necklace Contest 2009. The Ugly Necklace Contest is a jewelry design contest with a twist. An artist who usually uses all of his or her skill and talents toward creating beautiful jewelry must enter an alternative universe to come up with an ugly design to enter in this contest. That challenge is easier said than done, when an artist’s brain is pre-wired to think only of beauty.

The human brain is born with a fear response already set into it. You instinctively know to avoid danger and fear threatening situations. An artist has a similar intuitive brain function that actively prevents them from creating disturbing, ugly designs. They avoid and reject ugly. It is because of this that an artist would have a very difficult time closing off their instincts toward beauty when creating an ugly necklace.

The Center for Beadwork & Jewelry Arts in Nashville, Tennessee, created The Ugly Necklace Contest to encourage beadwork and jewelry makers to test their design skills, have fun, and learn some fundamentals about jewelry design in the process.

Don't be fooled into thinking the contest is all fun and games. Notwithstanding their ugliness, successful designs must demonstrate each artist's mastery of jewelry design theory (including wear-ability and functionality) by their ability to break from it, and each design must be accompanied by a creatively descriptive poem to challenge its students in a unique new way. According to Warren Feld of Land of Odds, "The Contest was conceived as a fun way to break students out of the traditional craft mold, and get them to think, ponder, and translate their feelings and perceptions of what is 'Ugly' into an organized and functional necklace design."

A panel of four judges from The Center for Beadwork & Jewelry Arts and Land of Odds has selected the 6 semi-finalists from the entries that came in from around the world. The judges evaluated these creatively-designed pieces in terms of hideousness, use of materials and clasp, the number of jewelry design principles violated, and the designer’s artistic control. Extra points were awarded for artists’ use of smaller beads, because it’s much more difficult to do Ugly with these.

Public voting is now open on the Land of Odds website through July 15. If you are in the Nashville, Tennessee area you can see the 6 semi-finalists’ Ugly Necklaces on display through September 15, 2009 at The Open Windows Gallery (fine art jewelry) at Be Dazzled Beads, 718 Thompson Lane, Ste 123, Nashville, TN 37204

If you would like to try your hand at creating an ugly necklace to enter into next year’s contest, you can find more information about it here -

I found it interesting while researching this article that a new children's book Kit Feeny: The Ugly Necklace
will be released soon.

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