Be Dazzled Beads and
information, Click Here:
Posted by learntobead on August 20, 2014
Be Dazzled Beads and
information, Click Here:
Posted by learntobead on August 1, 2014
Question: How do you go about figuring how to price your jewelry?
I teach a class on how to best price your jewelry, and I have posted a video tutorial on the CraftArtEdu.com website.
There are different kinds of pricing strategies.
(1) One type of pricing strategy is called “Keystoning”.
Keystoning is where you multiply your costs by 2, to arrive at your price.
If your costs were $10.00, then your price would be $20.00.
In the Jewelry Industry, you will hear a lot about Triple Keystoning.
Here you multiply your costs by 3. To arrive at your price.
So, if your costs were $10.00, then your price would be $30.00.
Keystoning works well if you are a boutique or gift store buying finished jewelry. You would double (keystone) or triple (triple keystone) the costs of each finished piece. Keystoning, as a pricing strategy, works well when you are dealing with finished goods. The price is simply a multiple of the cost of the Parts. Keystoning assumes that Labor and Overhead costs have already been factored into the cost of the jewelry.
Keystoning is a little more awkward to use, when dealing with manufacturing goods, like most jewelry designers do. Keystoning tends to over-account for the cost of the Parts, but under-account for the costs of your Labor.
Keystoning works well for jewelry stores. Keystoning does not work as well for jewelry designers.
(2) A second type of pricing strategy is called “What The Market Will Bear”
Here, based on your gut feelings, you would set the price at the highest price you think someone might pay for your piece.
You will see this strategy employed in a lot of tourist areas. Businesses in tourist areas usually pay very high rental rates. They are often dependent on making their money in a very defined seasonal timeframe. They assume they will they will never see these customers again.
What happens with a What-The-Market-Will-Bear strategy…
At the point of sale, the customer goes away happy and the business goes away happy. However, when the customer goes home, and they show their purchase to their friends or family, or shop around, they begin to realize they overpaid. So, over the medium and long term, the customer is no longer happy. An unhappy customer can spread bad word of mouth. While that particular customer may never revisit that tourist area. They might convince their friends and families, who may plan a visit, to avoid that particular shop.
(3) The third type of strategy is called “Fair Value”.
This is what I teach in my class, and is detailed in my video tutorial. ‘.
A Fair Price is set, using a formula. This formula requires that the artist manage all the types of costs she or he confronts, when setting a price. These costs include,
COST OF PARTS (P)
Overhead costs include things like rent, electricity, wear and tear on tools and equipment, telephone, travel – basically everything else associated with making and selling your jewelry.
The basic formula:
MINIMUM FAIR PRICE = (2 times P) + L + O
MAXIMUM FAIR PRICE = 1.5 times the Minimum Fair Price
You gather cost information on your Parts and your Labor. You estimate the Overhead costs based on percentage of your Labor and Parts costs.
This gives you a range of fair prices from which to choose.
With a Fair Price, you may not get the highest amount you possibly can get, but you will get an amount that more than covers your costs, and leaves some money left over to spend on yourself, or re-invest in your business.
With a Fair Price, when you sell that piece of jewelry, both you and your customer go away happy.
And both of you stay happy.
Posted by learntobead on April 25, 2014
Two Business of Craft Tutorials
Thurs 4/24 and Fri 4/25 only
I enjoy teaching about the business of craft. Over the past 25 years, I’ve learned many insights about creating, marketing and selling jewelry. Two of my video tutorials – “SO YOU WANT TO DO CRAFT SHOWS” and “PRICING AND SELLING YOUR JEWELRY” are available on the http://www.CraftArtEdu.com website.
CraftArtEdu.com is running a two-day – THURS, 4/24 and FRI, 4/25 only — special discount on these video tutorials, which you might take advantage of. I’ve appended their promotional announcement below.
Ah, summer. It’s a time for county fairs, music and craft festivals! If you’ve ever considered selling your jewelry or other handmade items in local shows and venues, you know it’s a significant investment of both your time and money. In this email, you’ll find two classes from Warren Feld that can help you avoid some costly mistakes and find success! Warren has over 20 years of selling experience – and he shares his hard-won lessons with you. We’re also featuring a few classes with projects that just might be fun to make and sell! All classes are at Super Deals (through Friday!) Enjoy! Donna Kato Founder, CraftArtEdu.com
So You Want to Do Craft Shows with Warren Feld
You can make good money… IF you know what you’re doing. Warren shares his years of valuable experience and business expertise in the form of sixteen in-depth, approachable lessons so you can maximize your chances of success! Jam-packed with practical, actionable information, Warren’s lessons cover everything involved in running a successful and profitable show including how to:
Warren includes lots of advice and helpful resource links, too. All you need to provide is a pencil, some paper, a calculator and your enthusiasm for running a successful, profitable craft show! Preview and Purchase Warren’s Class All Levels | $30 | $24 through Friday!
Pricing and Selling Your Jewelry with Warren Feld
Can you make money by selling your jewelry? Yes, you can! Warren has years of experience selling jewelry at craft fairs, flea markets, on consignment, in galleries and eventually in his own store and online. In this class, he shares words of advice and everything he knows about the essential key to success: Smart Pricing! Preview and Purchase Warren’s Class! All Levels | $15 | $12 through Friday!“This class is worth its weight in gold. The information is presented in a clear and thorough manner. Warren shares his extensive knowledge in a very easy to understand format.” ~ Mary C
Add To Cart! These Bargains End Friday!Special Prices on These Classes Expire Midnight CT, Friday, April 25, 2014
Posted by learntobead on April 12, 2014
“Knowing what to know”
There were always beaders. There were always jewelry makers. But if you wanted to gain an understanding of the beads and jewelry findings and stringing materials and tools, their qualities, and what happens to them when they age, you would need to start with a little bit of the history of beads and jewelry making. And then progress into some more in-depth information about these materials, how you choose which ones to use, and what happens to all this stuff over time.
Only in this way, would you be able to prepare yourself for the judgments and trade-offs and choices you will need to make as a jewelry designer. Choices about How? And When? And What? to use and not to use, given your particular project, your design goals, …(and if you’re selling your pieces, your marketing goals, as well). Moreover, how do you know how to assemble and link everything up into a finished piece?
But often in this world, you don’t know where to start. You don’t necessarily know where to find answers, or whose answers to trust.
QUESTION FOR GROUP:
When you began to make jewelry and bead, how did you know what to know?
How did you initially get an Orientation?
More on Orientation….
I’ve posted an extensive series (18 videos, 5 ½ hours worth of materials) of Orientation information on the Land of Odds website for you to take advantage of.
These are also posted on YouTube.
Continuing from an article I wrote….
You need to prepare yourself for the multi-faceted world of beading and jewelry. It’s all about choices. You need an Orientation to what you need to know, and to the kinds of choices you will need to make. The world of beads can often be a jungle, dense with colors, shapes, and styles, intermingled irrationally, spilled relentlessly, collapsing around you with dumps and crashes and screeches and rings. Your eyes become useless in this heart of darkness. The presence of so many beads and so many strangely shaped and curiously articulated metal pieces may make the idea of creating jewelry and beadwork utterly meaningless. At least for the moment.
But you can sense something more. It’s tactile. It’s visual. It has some kind of taste and smell which steers you. It’s orienting. It seems full of significance. And in this dark silence – so noisy with details, so hushed with confusion – you realize why it’s important that you need to know a lot of things.
- You need to know how to step around quality differences among glass beads made in the Czech Republic, in Japan, in China and in India. How long will these beads last? Will they break? If they chip, what color will they be on the inside? Is the patterning in the glass a coating, a decal or some artistic placement of shards and stringers of glass? How sharp are the holes? How consistent are the beads from bead to bead on the strand?
- You need to know when to demand 14KT gold fused to brass (gold-filled), or 14KT gold plate over silver (vermeil), or Hamilton Gold Plate over brass. How long does the shine and color last? Do these beads and pieces break or crumble or bend or dent?
- You need to know how what came before you will be an important influence on you today. How have the Oglala Sioux, the Pope, Zulu tribes, the French, Italian, Czech, Dutch, African, the shoe and upholstery industries, and North American Indians affected beads and jewelry today?
Most people don’t orient themselves when they get started. They either don’t see the need, or don’t think they have the time, or think there’s not that much to learn about. Anyone can put some beads on a string and make themselves a bracelet, they assume. They take any class that they can find, often taking more advanced classes, before having taken beginner classes. All they want to do is make a pretty piece to wear. The learning to design is secondary – or non-existent. They buy any book, try to reproduce any pattern, try to copy any picture they see in a magazine, and try to figure things out by themselves without any outside feedback, evaluation and validation. They overly-rely on the advice of the first people they talk with, and don’t question it.
What happens is often very sad, indeed. You end up using inappropriate stringing materials and supplies. You end up finishing off your pieces incorrectly. You never learn how to best attach a clasp. You never learn how to control the tension of beads within your pieces. You mix pieces which are dysfunctional when used together. You end up taking the wrong classes, not questioning the advice of friends or instructors, and buying the wrong parts, given what you are trying to do. You end up making ill-informed choices.
You need an Orientation, and you need to be sure you get one.
In an Orientation, you’ll discover the order of things. There’s an arrangement to beading and jewelry design. Pieces have purposes and functions. They have a history of use and wear. They have an underlying vocabulary and grammar of construction – that is, they have rules for how things should get combined and assembled, and how they should not.
An Orientation grounds you. It shows you the map, the pathways, the bi-ways, the highways along which you can travel in your development as a fine craftsperson, artist and jewelry designer. It gives you a sense of your surroundings, your context, and a lot of substance and meaning.
At first, when you get oriented, you marvel at the details and the possibilities – the myriad types of beads and findings and stringing materials, the wide variations in how they work and function, the multitude of choices which seem overwhelming. Pinks become fuchsias become reds become oxbloods become garnets. Peridots become mints become olivines, both green and brown, become green lusters become jades become dark kellys and smaragds. Metalized Plastics become nickels become brasses become pewters become sterlings and argentiums and fine silvers and platinums. Threads become bead cords become cable threads become cable wires become hard wires. Jewelry is clasped or clasp-less, strung or woven, wire-worked or wire-wrapped, singular or multiplexed, fixed or adjustable, singular- or multi-media.
But then, something else strikes you. You come to know that, while there’s always been a fundamental sense of design across time and cultures, this sense has often been understated. You find indifference, not indignation. You find an absence, a void, a vacuum of intellectual introspection about jewelry and its design. It’s all around you. That something missing. You feel the lacking. And when you begin to have this sense, you should feel a little superior, in that you are now on your way towards understanding design. You’ve got the hunger. You’ve got the passion. You want to know the place of design in jewelry, and your place in the design world with that jewelry you create. That jewelry you construct. That jewelry that you put forth into the world. That jewelry which reflects who you are as an artist, to your inner most thoughts.
I never had an orientation. I was never oriented. I sank or swam.
There was no real internet, when I started. Nor any beading magazines. Never met people in Nashville who made jewelry. Except for my partner, James, who made beautiful things with whatever parts and beads and stones he could find. But he couldn’t articulate exactly what he was doing. He was “Creating”.
The act of “creating,” did not result in unbreakable pieces, or a mix of pieces which endured the ravages of wear equally, or clasp assemblies which never came undone. The act of “Creating” gave few clues about hole sizes and hole sharpness and stringing material flexibility, and what led to good drape. The act of “Creating” merely resulted in beautiful things – wearable, drape-able, moveable, durable, or not.
During the first two years I made jewelry, things broke. The finishes of beads rubbed off. The beads did not necessarily lay right. Many pieces were too stiff – lacked good ease. The pieces kept selling, so what did I care?
But at some point, I did begin to care. I was irritated by the number of repairs I had to do on my own pieces.
At one point, I began taking in repairs of other jewelry artists’ work. This was my education. I saw where things broke. I saw the choices other people made in determining how to construct their pieces from end to end. I could talk to the customers and find out a lot of the things leading up to their jewelry breaking.
I began to ask more questions of my suppliers. I began to ask more questions about myself and my choices. I began formulating hypotheses about why some things worked or endured better than others. And I had many opportunities, now that I was doing a lot of repairs, to test out these hypotheses.
But it would have been much better had I had a more formalized, organized, intelligent orientation when I first got started.
Posted by learntobead on March 25, 2014
NEW FASHION JEWELRY
Now at Be Dazzled Beads
781 Thompson Lane, Ste 123 Nashville, TN 37204
At a recent Jewelry Show in Atlanta, Jayden and Warren discovered a rapidly evolving fashion trend towards reproduction vintage looks using new more recently available materials. These particular new fashion trends were the looks and styles of the pieces everyone there was selling there. A great selection and variety of these looks is now on display and for sale at Be Dazzled Beads.
It is important to understand, however, that, when purchasing fashion jewelry, there is more to consider than how a piece looks. You need to understand something about the materials used and the overall construction. Only in this way can you be sure that you are purchasing what we would call “collectible costume jewelry.”
The reproduction vintage looks are obvious — a reference to the stylish pieces of the 1930s, 40s, 50s and 60s, using modern materials and construction technologies. Great colors. Strong and soft colors. Lots of faceting and sparkle.
The use of new materials includes higher end acrylics, new metallic composites, specialized glass and Chinese crystal.
These new fashion pieces should be considered “collectable” costume jewelry. But, again, it is important to understand what you are buying. There are many lower quality copies – what we’d call “disposable jewelry” — you’ll find at discount stores and online. You want to be sure you are buying the quality we would call “collectible”. The price will reflect whether the jewelry is “collectible” or “disposable.”
So, You Want Your Fashion Jewelry To Be Made With…
* Glass, Crystal and/or Advanced Plastics
Typically, you will find a mix of materials within you piece. Materials you do not want would include enameled or colored ceramics or regular plastic or metalized plastic or plastic pearls.
* Advanced Plastics, if any components are plastic
Just like with things like wood or metal, there are many grades of quality among plastics. The differences between advanced plastics and regular plastics can be as widely divergent as between metals like gold and aluminum.
The higher end plastics, even when up close, look very similar to the gemstones or crystals they are meant to resemble. Jade plastic looks like real jade. Plastic opals look like real opal. And so forth.
For high end costume jewelry, the “point-hardness” of these advanced plastics, that is, how easily the material can be scratched, will be much higher, thus less easily scratched, than cheaper plastics.
* Better metal composites and finishes, with more substance and realistic finishes
In these lines of jewelry, whether higher end or lower end, very little is real 100% metal these days. The chains are composites. The settings for the stones are composites.
In the metal-composite chains and settings used in the lower quality jewelry, at close inspection, you will find them to be cheap, flimsy and light-weight. Moreover, the metallic finish-colors are off the mark and look somewhat fake. For example, the actual color that may be representing gold, when compared to other quality pieces, may not look like gold at all.
There may be rough spots that can get caught on clothing or scratch the skin. In higher end pieces, manufacturers check their quality, to make sure there are no rough spots.
But always inspect your jewelry before you leave the store. When purchasing any piece of costume jewelry, you should feel all over the piece to be sure there are no rough spots
* Better set stones
Stones are typically glued in. If the setting does not have much surface area, the glue will not hold for very long.
In some pieces, the designs give the illusion of “prong-set” stones. In the lower end, the prongs have very sharp points. In the higher end, the prongs have smooth or balled-up tips.
Things To Do To Increase Longevity Of Your New Fashion Jewelry
After purchasing your new pieces of Fashion Jewelry, you will have the option to do two things to make them more durable and lasting:
By reinforcing them with the E6000 or Beacon 527, these bonds dry like rubber and act like a shock absorber. Thus the stones are less likely to pop off.
2. On all areas which have metal plated finishes and which will be touching the skin, apply two coats of clear nail polish to these surfaces. This will preserve the plated finishes for a very long time, yet doesn’t affect the shine or sheen of the metal underneath it.
NOTE: This is very generalized advice. Every person’s body oils and chemistry have different effects on the metal finishes. A person may be able to wear a piece of costume jewelry for months and years and it may not disintegrate on them; another person might wear it for a few months, and the metal finishes deteriorate.
All jewelry has to be maintained and kept clean. Follow this simple advice for keeping your new jewelry pieces clean and sparkling.
Periodically, give your jewelry a quick bath. In a bowl, mix a very-little-amount of baby shampoo and cold water. Immerse the whole piece of jewelry in this bath, just long enough to loosen any dirt. Take it out.
Under cold water, rinse it off. Take a paper towel or cloth, and dry the piece off. NOTE: “Pat Dry” with the towel. Don’t “Rub”.
Then, you might take a hair dryer, setting it on the lowest setting, and keeping it 6-8” away from your piece, and blow dry. DON’T LET YOUR PIECES GET TOO HOT. An alternative strategy is to put your piece of jewelry in front of a small fan.
Dry both sides. Leave your piece out in the open air over night, to be sure there is no moisture trapped in closed crevices.
Always remember that the side laying against the towel or cloth may still be more damp than the side facing up. So, before storing your piece, check and be sure it is dry.
Store your piece flat in a zip lock plastic bag. Be sure to push the air out of bag before sealing bag. One simple way to do this is to insert a straw into the bag, and seal the top as close to the straw as you can get. Suck out the air, remove the straw, and finish sealing the zip-lock bag closed.
Then lay your bagged up piece on flat surface. You do not want your piece to be jumbled into a pile. You do not want to hang your jewelry on a stand. The weight of the beads will stretch out the stringing material.
Put your pieces in a cool, dry place out of sunlight. Never store two pieces on top of each other without something to separate them. Don’t pile up jewelry on top of other jewelry.
At a restaurant, if you drip gravy on your necklace, how do you clean it off? If it is something that has caked or dried on it, you may have to soak it in a solution of a very-little-amount of baby shampoo and cold water. Use a q-tip to clean away the spotted areas.
Your Reproduction Vintage Pieces Should Be Around For 30, 40, even 50 years
Your goal is to have your reproduction vintage to be around 30, 40, 50 years from now. It will keep its value. These pieces should not be disposable.
Go to your antique stores, ask to see their vintage jewelry from the 1930s, 40s to 60s, and look and see at the availability, quantity and cost of high-end costume jewelry. This will give you an idea of what you’re getting with your investment.
In these older pieces, some were made from Lucite or other high-end plastics of the time. And other pieces were copies crafted in regular plastic. Lucite is a glass-like acrylic resin. It has a resilience, a hardness, and a malleability which made it perfect for costume jewelry. Regular plastic lacks the clarity and sparkle, yellows with age, and scratches much more easily.
Your new higher-end fashion jewelry – better made, more attractive, more appealing — will increase in value over the decades instead of ending up in the trash.
Posted by learntobead on February 25, 2014
DIMENSIONALITY: One Principle of Composition
Jewelry Design is the application of basic principles of artistic expression. One set of principles involves COMPOSITION. In an article online – Good Jewelry Design (http://www.landofodds.com/store/goodjewelrydesign.htm ) – I describe 10 Principles of Composition. Principles of Composition define what types of goals the good jewelry designer should achieve. Discussion on these principles and their application focus on what elements in our pieces we , as jewelry designers, manipulate in order to achieve a principled, satisfactory outcome.
In this post, I focus on one in particular: Dimensionality.
What kinds of things have you manipulated within your piece(s) that helps you achieve a satisfying sense of dimensionality?
Conversely, where do you see failures in attempts to achieve “dimensionality”, and what kinds of wrong-way choices do you think the jewelry designer made, that might have led to this failure? What better choices could the designer have made?
Share images, if you have them.
Good Dimensionality refers to the degree to which, whether the piece is flat or 3-dimensional, the placement of objects (and their attributes) is satisfying, and does not compete or conflict with the dimensionality of the piece as a whole.
Sometimes dimensionality is achieved through the positioning of masses of objects or planes of interconnected pieces, such as varying sizes/heights/lengths or layering or cut-aways, or varying positive and negative spaces.
Othertimes, dimensionality is achieved through color/texture optical effects, such as the use of glossy and matte beads in the same piece, or mixing darker/more intense colors with light/less intense colors.
How often have you seen something like a flat loomed bracelet and a button clasp, that sits so high on the bracelet, that it detracts from the 2-dimensional reason-for-being of the piece. Would a clasp, and a flatter clasp, at the end of the piece have worked better?
Glossy surfaces move toward the viewer, and matte ones recede. Can you point to successful examples of this?
Achieving Good Dimensionality is considered, not only a desirable design goal, but a critical and important characteristic of contemporary jewelry.
This doesn’t mean we want to pile up bead up bead and layer upon layer. It means we want to show how creative we can be to achieve something more satisfying than flat and more satisfying than one-dimensional.
We want to demonstrate more artistic control over line and plane.
Posted by learntobead on February 15, 2014
What was your initiation into that phenomenon called “Bead Spill”?
Share with our group your favorite BEAD SPILL story. I’m sure you have many.
From an article I wrote…
“Yikes!” she screamed, shaking the ground, the store, the parking lot, in fact, the whole wide world, and I was, to everyone’s regret, caught in that earth-shattering scream. I was carefully balancing twelve trays of loose beads, moving them to their new shelves when, behind my back, I heard that cry for help, that screech of fear, that siren of bead hell.
I instinctively turned. It wasn’t something I thought out and planned rationally. It wasn’t something that arose intuitively from my gut. It was pure animal instinct. Stimulus-Response. Lust. Fear. Gluttony. Raw Emotion. I tried to juggle the twelve trays as they fled my nurturing hands and arms. And I urgently called to the beads. Which had been in the trays. Which were now flying out of my hands. As if to calm them, I said, “Beads, you won’t fall.” You won’t get hurt. You won’t leave the safety and sanctity of these trays. Good beads. Good, good beads.
And, for a brief moment, I thought I had saved all these little, little, beautiful, beautiful, very round, very round beads from a fate almost worse than death. The trays were juggling and for a moment, I believed they had started to restack themselves. They were home free. One back on top of another on top of another….
If it weren’t for that scream and that deep primal instinct ripping my fear and anxiety from the depths of my soul, and the fact that it is hard to pivot wearing sneakers on a hard wood floor, juggle twelve trays of ever-more terrified loose glass beads, and respond to a lady in distress, the situation would have come to a pleasant end.
But alas, that was not to be.
With some shame, some guilt, much surprise and yes, a lot of embarrassment, this was to be my grand initiation into the phenomenon commonly known as The Bead Spill. What a mess!
I know a lot of people have a fantasy where they are bathing in a tub of beads. It’s sensuous. Caressing. You’re at one with the God of the Beads.
This wasn’t like that. This was thousands of round objects falling and running and spreading every which way. Along the walls, behind the legs of chairs and tables, under people’s feet. In with the dust, the dog hairs, and previously spilled beads or beads that had mysteriously escaped their trays.
She should have said, “Shoo Fly!” Not “Yikes!”.
I’ve never carried twelve trays of loose beads at once again.
Bead spills are not rare occurrences. In fact, some people spill beads like other people drink water.
There are the people who like to carry big purses in small places. These people are prone to sudden turns and distractions. Guaranteed spills!
These people need to understand the interrelationships between space, lack of space and time. Simple physics. Bead spills have physics, and I’m sure could easily be considered a science. Like, if you drop a bead, in what direction does it go? How far does it go? How fast does it travel? Do red beads behave similarly as blue beads? If someone dropped you from the top of a building, would you end up going in the same direction, and as far? Probably not. So what is it about beads that makes things happen like dropping them off to the right, and finding them off to the left? Bead spills do not have the same physics as pick-up-sticks. That is for sure. They have laws of gravity and mass and energy all of their own.
Then there are the people who are torn between their love of beads and their love for their pets. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cat, a dog, a parrot or a fish. Beads spill. It could be a monkey or a ferret or even a Rogue Elephant. Beads spill. Sometimes it’s a dog AND a cat or a parrot AND a ferret. Beads spill.
People need to understand that animals understand the situation. Animals do not want to share their love – especially with beads. Beads are beautiful, but don’t need water or food. Beads are comforting to touch, but don’t need grooming. Beads are glorious in their splendor, but will not bite. It should come, then, as no surprise, that animals, when near any pile of beads, will instinctively have the urge to make them spill in ways you never thought of. Animals spill beads, but for more selfish reasons than humans.
The strategies of animals are legend, and have been written down in a secret book – Bead Spill Techniques for Dogs and Cats. You’ve seen these techniques in practice. Your cat angling for attention, moves toward you to sit in your lap – of course, moves toward you over your tray of beads. Your dog taking the pose to beg for treats while you’re moving your tray of beads from one end of the table to the other. Your pet actually eating those particular beads you’re working with right now. You catch them, but suddenly their tail goes swoof, and you are down on your hands and knees again picking up millions and millions of tiny, very small, eye-straining beads. These animal-based-skills are very practiced and endless. Animals do not like playing second fiddle to beads. And if the pile of beads has been organized to accommodate the needs of a particular project, well, so much the better. They score more bead spill points.
Picking up spilled beads is a familiar routine. There’s nothing like dropping 14KT gold delica seed beads onto a gold shag carpet, getting on your hands and knees, and delving into product reclamation. Picking up bead spills works better when set to jazzercise music, but no music will suffice as well. Some people get crafty, and stretch a nylon stocking across the intake collection valve of a vacuum cleaner. Other people, however, are just plain tired of picking up beads. They let them stay where they fall. On the floors. In the couches. In clothing, in boxes, in food, in pots and pans.
New beaders seem especially concerned and anal-compulsive about spilled beads. They spot an errant bead, and rush to pick it up and place it in a container somewhere. Seasoned beaders have learned to live with such minor nuisances as combing beads out of their hair. They see a bead on the floor, and let it lay.
Posted by learntobead on February 7, 2014
Center for Beadwork & Jewelry Arts: Workshops
Posted by learntobead on January 29, 2014
COLORS: BLURRED TRANSITIONS or SHARP TRANSITIONS
Do you prefer the transitions between colors in your composition to be blurred, or to have sharp delineations?
The jewelry designer must be strategic in the placement of color within the piece. The designer achieves balance and harmony, partly through the placement of colors. The designer determines how colors are distributed within the piece, and what movement and rhythm and effect result. And the designer determines what proportions of each color are used, where in the piece, and how.
Those of us who teach color theory try to come up with scientific and objective rules for choosing and using colors. However, a lot of those choices, in reality, can be very subjective.
One subjective choice has to do with the transition from one color to the next. Some people, like myself, prefer a blurring of colors at their boundaries. Think: Impressionism.
Other people prefer a sharp, clear, obvious boundary of colors at their boundaries. Think: Realism.
Which do you prefer – Blurred or Sharp?
Posted by learntobead on January 23, 2014
ADDICTED TO BEADS
At what point did you realize you were addicted to beads?
People are always saying how addicting beads are. They expressed surprise that the pull of beads was so strong. They couldn’t stop buying and accumulating beads. They couldn’t go anywhere without stopping at the local bead store for a bead fix. They found themselves intentionally fooling or deceiving themselves about how many beads they actually had, or how much money they had spent on them.
Yes, beads are very addicting. Even though your drawers are full, you never have enough.
We asked our students, customers and colleagues to complete this sentence:
I never knew how addicting this was until….
…My car automatically turned into the parking lot in front of the bead store.
…I was laying in bed looking at my ceiling tiles and realized they were done in a “Peyote” stitch pattern!
…I made my beaded fish in progress into a screen-saver. It is all about the process, when will I finish? who cares… I have this beautiful thing to handle and see as I work. Such a pleasure!
… I began hiding a stash of money to buy beads: “It’s not like I’m sleeping around….I’m just buying beads.”
… I went shopping for clothes, but came back with only one bag – a bag of mixed beads.
…. I used 3 checks to pay for my order – one from a joint account with my husband, a second from an account in my name only, and a 3rd from my son’s account – luckily I had his checkbook in my purse. So now, my husband will think that I’m only spending a little bit, I can fool myself, and my son doesn’t care one way or the other.
… I converted my dining room to a bead room, and made my family eat in the den on TV trays.
… I found that despite my long and mostly constant love of fabric – I am after all a lifetime seamstress, having been comforted by the smell and color of fabric stores and the chush, chush, chushing of my mom’s Kenmore machine since first memories – could not resist the magnetic pull into the unknown. There, standing at the front door of my local craft store with nothing on my mind or agenda but 2 yards of multi-colored backing fabric for a client’s project, I saw the front of my wobbly plastic basket steering to the Northwest (Fabric is definitely to the Southwest) with such abandon that the lovely glass shelves in the center front of the store were in danger!
…I turned to beads for solace and a quiet focus. I have been going through a very hard time trying to keep a very ailing relationship together and when I could have been stressed out and worrying, I spent the time quietly beading. When I just wanted to go to bed and stay there for days, I was able to sit in my living room with my son and do bead work. To him, I was being with him and calm; to me, I was hiding in my beadwork and being near him. Beads have been my refuge. I have even read where hand needle work is a stress reliever, I am a living testament to that!
…I saw seed beads in what I scooped out of my cat box! I took my bead work and worked in the car on vacation. Every time I vacuum the sound of beads is heard. It seems every purse I clean out has some beads in it. I find beads on the back porch, when I sweep. It is a really tough decision, when I come to the off ramp which leads to the bead store and I really need to get home! I have more beads than projects for them!
…I gave up a Shoe Addiction for this…it better be worth it!
Posted by learntobead on January 4, 2014
WHEN INSTRUCTIONS ARE BAD…
I again find myself writing a set of instructions for a piece to appear in a bead magazine later this year. It can be such a frustrating process for ME – the writer. And that’s because I don’t want it to be a frustrating process for anyone else. This is not easy to do.
Because this is for a magazine, I have to considerably stream-line my instructions and diagrams. Often that means assuming the reader has some experience and understanding with certain techniques or certain materials. Sometimes this means leaving out some things which are thought to be “obvious”. And it means leaving out a lot of the “Why.” With this particular project, I don’t have space to explain why I chose FireLine rather than regular beading thread, though this was a critical choice to the success of the piece. I don’t have space to explain why I use peanut beads the way I do, though this too is critical for success. You could not substitute another bead for the peanut beads because this particular shape plays an important structural role in the piece. But no one reading the instructions will know this. There is no room allowed for explaining why I changed the right angle weave thread-path from the traditional approach. And I don’t have any space to detail all the inspirational factors and color theory choices which influenced my design. If someone knew these, they probably could do more than merely re-make my piece. They could make my piece their own.
Diagrams are often critical for understanding how to proceed. Hopefully not in this case, but with other magazine articles, the editors have taken five or more separate diagrams and combined them into one. Try following the thread paths and you get vertigo. You get a searing headache. You get Jackson Pollock’s version of bead weaving on a page.
It is difficult enough to write instructions without them getting edited down to 2 or 3 magazine pages. Some pointers I’ve learned for writing, at least, better instructions:
1) People learn in different ways. Some can read the text. Some need to look at a series of progressive images. Others are great at following diagrams. You need to be good at all three.
2) Include a picture of the finished piece.
3) Know how to begin the process. Include more details, images and diagrams related to beginning the process.
4) Write the steps logically and in order.
5) Keep each Step “short and simple”, and manageable.
6) Do not over-assume about your reader’s ability.
7) More problems occur for the reader when moving from one step to another, than accomplishing the particular step itself.
8) Provide encouragement along the way.
9) Show milestones and ways for people to track their progress.
10) Anticipate problems that might occur, or where your reader might get lost.
11) Pretest your instructions.
12) Clearly list all materials and tools needed. If some materials might be difficult or too pricey for someone to acquire, list substitutes.
13) If there are more than 7-10 steps to do, then categorize and group the steps into sets that are no longer than 7-10 steps.
14) Provide informational warnings so that people will be able to figure out if they have done something incorrectly or have started down the wrong track.
Instructions are often some of the worst-written documents you can find. Like me, you have probably had many infuriating experiences with badly written instructions.
The piece pictured was supposed to be a straight line of beadwork, to be connected into a consistently-sized tube. Our local bead group was making this piece, and 10 of 11 of us did it wrong. All our tubes started to look snake-like and crooked. These instructions jumped from Step 1 to Step 4, back to Step 2, then over to Step 9. They were full of contingencies – do Step 1 if such and such is happening, but Step 5 if something else is happening. Almost each step had its own set of footnotes. There were 25 Steps and only 2 diagrams summarizing all the steps, each illustrating about 15 separate thread paths.
PLEASE RESPOND AND POST:
A description of a bad experience you have had with a set of instructions. If you can, identify where the writer went wrong. Speculate what you think the writer could have done to improve your experience.
Posted by learntobead on December 19, 2013
Sales and Promotions at Land of Odds – Jewelry Design CenterLand of Odds/Be Dazzled Beads-
What’s On Sale
|Land of Odds – Be Dazzled Beads|
Posted by learntobead on December 15, 2013
ALL DOLLED UP: BEADED ART DOLL COMPETITION
This year, we did not receive many entries. The Judges felt that there were not enough entries which met their criteria to hold a contest.
Two of the entries, however, were awarded Judges Honors with a $200.00 prize.
These two doll artists’ works are presented here. (http://www.landofodds.com/store/alldolledup2013contest.htm )
It was interesting that both artists – one from California and the other from Texas – both chose the “mermaid” to illustrate this year’s theme of Transformations. Both artists, however, created their dolls using different technical methods and artistic goals.
If you were a judge, which one of these entries would you have scored higher?
Visit the webpages and review their images, materials lists, and written stories.
from Lomita, California
Yvette M. Lowry
from Dickinson, Texas
Our ALL DOLLED UP Competition is structured , not as a “beauty contest”, but more of a “design competition.” The artist is asked, not only to design a doll, but to create a story – fictional, non-fictional or a mix of both – which illustrates the kinds of thinking and choices the artist made while creating the doll, its structure, its colors, and its artistic embellishment.
The judges evaluated all the entries in terms of:
1. INSIGHT: The Bead Artist’s inner awareness and powers of self-expression through sculptural beadwork
2. TECHNIQUE(S):Creativity of the artist in using various beading stitches, as well as creating the doll’s form.
3. VISUAL APPEAL: The overall visual appeal of the doll.
4. QUALITY OF WRITTEN STORY: How well the written short story enhances an appreciation of the Beaded Art Doll.
This year’s theme was: Transformations. The written story had to begin with this sentence:
“As she turns towards me, her hands no longer seem familiar; her face, once recognizable, now unexpected; her aura, a palette of changed colors, I want to share, but can’t all at once. She is transforming, before my eyes, as if I wished it to happen, for whatever reason — fun, mundane or sinister — I’m not sure. But as she moves and evolves, a special insight occurs to me, so I name her… “
Posted by learntobead on December 5, 2013
Land of Odds/Be Dazzled Beads- What’s
of Odds – Be Dazzled Beads
Posted by learntobead on December 4, 2013
SETTING UP YOUR BUSINESS
AT CRAFT MARKETPLACES ONLINE
I recently posted an article I had read about selling on Etsy (http://www.today.com/money/etsy-nomics-lets-sellers-stitch-together-living-new-pattern-2D11591368) . There was a big response, so I thought I’d do a little more research. I have been selling online with my own websites for almost 20 years now, but have not had much experience with selling through these online marketplaces.
I have found that many people get frustrated with these sites, in that sales can be minimal, or the numbers of people they are competing with seems daunting. But I have found these same people not doing all the necessary “good business” tasks, such as some intensive and persistent marketing of their wares, and smart photo and text detail for their pieces.
Question: WHAT KINDS OF EXPERIENCES HAVE YOU HAD, and WHAT KINDS OF TIPS CAN YOU OFFER?
Here’s some of the things I have found.
First, there are many, many online marketplaces to choose from. Some let you set up your own website, and others show your merchandise as part of a larger marketplace. Each has pros and cons. Perhaps one lesson is:
“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”
My list of these sites include:
tophatter (an auction site)
Ebay (an auction site)
The PROS for any site:
- low commission on sales
- good traffic
- ease of setting up your shop
- having a lot of control over how your shop looks; how customizable it is
- no monthly fees
- web host does a lot of promotion
- site has a good search function
- site has good statistics, and lets you easily track traffic and what has sold, at what price point, and when, for both of your specific merchandise, as well as for all merchants with similar merchandise
The CONS for any site:
- high commissions and/or fees
- when site is too big, may be difficult to get noticed
- host limits how you list and present your items
- host restricts your contact with your customers
Other types of questions to ask:
- Does site handle the billing and payments for you?
- What kind of marketing does the site do?
- Is it relatively easy to set up your site and keep it updated?
- Are there are limitations on the numbers of items you might list at one time?
- Are there any limitations on the number or size of photos you can include on your site?
- How and where will your items appear in a search listing on the host’s site?
- What payment methods/options are allowed?
- Does the site restrict items to “Handmade” only, and how is “Handmade” defined? You do not want to compete with cheap, imported, machine made jewelry.
- How easy is it to contact customer service? Do they provide a lot of easy-to-follow tutorials for setting up and managing your site?
Different types of fees that might be assessed:
1. Listing fee
2. Sales commissions, usually as a percent of sale
3. Renewal fees (when listings are time limited)
4. Monthly site maintenance fees
Some Tips and Advice:
(1) Your items should be different enough from others to set you apart, and get you remembered
(2) If your items are similar to others, you might consider competing on price
(3) Do NOT depend on the host to promote your site; you must actively – that means, almost every day – do things to promote your site.
(4) Don’t just list your items and let them sit there
(5) Excellent photos are a must
(6) Treat your online shop as a business, not a hobby
(7) Categorize and label your jewelry and jewelry lines; picture the words someone might type into a search bar in order to find this jewelry, and use those as key words in your labeling
(8) Let your passion shine
Many, many people you will be competing with do not necessarily have good business sense, particularly when it comes to pricing their jewelry. People, in general, tend to underprice their pieces. They go out of business quickly. But while they’re in business, you are competing with them, and often you find it hard to compete on price.
This is a given. That means you have to spend more energy on marketing your competitive advantages, in order to justify the prices you need to charge, in order to stay in business. Some of this will come down to better presentation – more facts and great detailed images about your jewelry, and more details about the how your jewelry will benefit your customer. Better presentation equals more trust; more trust should translate into more sales. Some more competitive advantages: your jewelry is better made; it uses better materials; your line of jewelry is broader; you have better customer care policies; your style is more unique; your jewelry supports as “cause”.
And many, many more people you will be competing with have very good business sense. There are over 6 million items of jewelry on sale on Etsy at any one time – many by sharp, savvy artists. To get seen, heard and responded to takes emphasizing your competitive advantages, as well as persistent, broadly targeted marketing.
Posted by learntobead on November 29, 2013
Sales and Promotions at Land of Odds – Jewelry Design CenterLand of Odds/Be Dazzled Beads- What’s On Sale
|Land of Odds
- Be Dazzled Beads
Posted by learntobead on November 25, 2013
Land of Odds – What’s On Sale
Posted by learntobead on November 8, 2013
THE COST OF BEING AN ARTIST
The New York Times today published an opinion/discussion column asking whether the costs of being an artist today have become so high, as to make it prohibitive from becoming an artist.
What are your views?
Some headings of some of the responses:
“Don’t quit your day job”
“For Millenials, it’s not practical”
“Being a lawyer is easier”
“You need a support system”
“Cheap rent and side gigs minimize risk”
“Instead of exploiting artists, pay them”
It has gotten very expensive. For me, that often means trying to leverage the same product in many formats — finished jewelry, kits/instructions, workshops and classes, similar pieces at different skill levels.
It means doing more networking to find opportunities. Unfortunately, the time used to network is less time used to create.
Posted by learntobead on October 27, 2013
THE CHALLENGES OF CUSTOM WORK
How do you handle the challenges of doing custom work?
What lessons have you learned, that you might share with others?
When I began my jewelry making career, one of the smartest things I did was take on repairs. I learned so much. With each repair, I was able to re-construct in my mind the steps the jewelry designer made when creating this piece of jewelry – choices about stringing materials, clasps, beads, and how to connect everything up. And at the same time, I could see where these choices were inadequate. I could see where the piece broke or wore down. I could question the customer about how the piece was worn, and what happened when it broke.
And with each repair, I gained more knowledge from yet another jewelry designer’s attempt to fashion a piece of jewelry.
All these repairs resulted in more self-confidence about designing jewelry and designing jewelry for others. And it led to more custom work.
When you do custom work, I think you need an especially steeled personality to deal with everything that can go awry.
First comes the fitting. You take some initial measurements, but after the piece is made, the perspective changes, and so do the desired measurements.
Then comes a lot of customer indecision – colors, lengths, beads, silhouettes, overall design.
Or they want to use several gemstones, but want them all to have the exact same markings and coloration.
Not to mention the sometimes questionable taste.
Or the possibilities of infringement of other jeweler’s designs, when the customer wants you to re-produce something they saw in a magazine or on-line. Identically.
And then time-frame. Can I finish the piece by the time the customer wants it done?
We discuss pricing, where many customers seem resistant to paying anything for my time.
And last, payment. It’s not so easy to get some people to pay.
I still do a lot of custom work. But I delay a bit, sitting down and actually constructing the piece. I have a lot of discussions with the client. If there are color or materials questions, I usually present the client for 3 colors or materials at a time, and ask them to choose which they prefer. Then another 3-at-a-time forced-choice exercise, until things get narrowed down.
I photo-shop a lot of images – different colors, designs, beads – with the client, and get a lot of feedback. As I assemble all the information, I sketch/photo-shop what a final piece might look like. I superimpose this image on a mannequin to show the customer what it might look like. I have the customer formally sign-off on a final design. And only then, do I begin to construct the piece.
I require a 50% deposit up front.
I agree to make some adjustments for 6 months after the customer has the piece in hand.
Posted by learntobead on October 16, 2013
Friday, October 18, 2013 is Flat Cathy Day!
Sponsored by Bead & Button and Kalmbach Press
Come Visit Be Dazzled Beads to take your pictures!
It’s your opportunity to share Flat Cathy’s adventures at your favorite bead shop, and reveal exciting tips you’ve learned with the beading community. Plus, you’ll have a
chance to win prizes!
Cathy Jakicic is the author of the new book Jewelry Projects from a Beading Insider. Cathy knows firsthand what stumps beaders, what they’re curious about, and what excites them. She generously shares 200+ tips, tricks, and secrets to creating fun and wearable jewelry in this all-new collection of 30 original designs. She offers beaders lots of options with project alternatives, matching accessories, and budget-friendly choices.
Print out a copy of Flat Cathy (there are 2 versions) and take her to your favorite bead shop on October 18th to help celebrate Visit Your Local Bead Shop Month.
GO HERE: http://links.mkt746.com/servlet/MailView?ms=MTc5NjE4MjkS1&r=NjY2MDQ5NjkzNDcS1&j=MjMzNjE1MjU1S0&mt=1&rt=0
Snap a photo of Flat Cathy with your favorite bead shop employee, your favorite section of beads, attending a class, or just enjoying the store, and we will post it on our Facebook page and our Pinterest page!
We would like to post images of Flat Cathy’s fun travels to bead shops across the U.S., so make sure that your favorite bead shop is represented! Flat Cathy is also a fun way to share fun tips from the “Beading Insider.”
Creative photos along with a fun tip and the bead shop name should be emailed to
Along with submitting your pictures comes a drawing for a chance to win prizes!
COME VISIT BE DAZZLED BEADS
in Nashville, TN
to take your pictures
for this contest!
Posted by learntobead on October 13, 2013
DOES TODAY’s WORLD AFFECT YOUR DESIGNS IN ANY WAY?
I recently read an article about Paul Klee, a prominent modern artist in the early 1900’s. In 1914, in an interview, Klee noted that as the world became a scarier, less organized place, art became more and more abstract.
That got me thinking. To what extent does the outside world affect my jewelry design decisions? Has it changed my choice of materials? Colors? Patterns? Silhouettes?
My initial thought, frankly, was not that much.
Except that I began to think of the image I had of the “woman” wearing my jewelry and I definitely have a very feminist view of that “woman”. She’s empowered and self-assured. She plays both gender-specific as well as gender-neutral roles.
And when I picture the contexts in which this “woman” will be wearing my piece, I picture the kinds of places an assured business woman would be, and how that woman would present herself.
I also want most of my pieces to transition well between formal and informal settings, and with the woman wearing informal and more formal attire.
I have difficulty designing for the traditional Southern woman. Or the woman who only wants something blue for a blue dress. Or the woman for whom jewelry plays a supplemental function, rather than a supporting role.
My jewelry tends to be very architectural, yet my color palette and its application is very impressionistic. An urban vs. rural Or modern vs. vintage tension always resonant in my pieces. I feel this thrust towards modernity that needs to be tempered by some kind of emotion, the roots of which I often find in vintage and ancient designs.
So, there might be some of this outside world influence seeping into my design process. But I think for me, this jewelry design process is more often an escape from the realities of our world today. My pieces need to be powerful enough to allow my “woman” to escape these realities, as well.
How about you? Does today’s world affect your designs in any way?
Posted by learntobead on September 26, 2013
KEEPING YOUR FINGERS, HANDS, ARMS, EYES AND MIND
IN GOOD WORKING ORDER
What kinds of things do you do to keep your fingers, hands, arms, eyes and mind focused, nimble and in good working order?
Beading and Jewelry Making require lots of mind-body coordination. This takes work. It is work.
You have to control your stringing material. With needle and thread, you have to be able to get from your fingers to the needle to the beads, back along the thread to the needle to the fingers, hands, arms, eyes, mind. And then again. And again. Over and over, one more time. You need to get into a rhythm. All these working parts need to be working. No time for cramping. No time to get tired. No time to lose concentration.
A rhythm. Needle, pick up bead, pull down along thread, check the tension, pick up a bead, pull down along thread, check the tension, pick up a bead….
I noticed that different instructors had various techniques and strategies for maintaining this rhythm. Yes, music was involved sometimes. Othertimes simple meditation or creative reading and discourse. Some people had some stretching exercises that they did. Others tested themselves before proceeding with their big project. Still others did small things to reconfirm their learning.
I adapted some of their techniques into a workshop I do on Beading Calisthenics. Here is Exercise # 1.
BEADING CALISTHENICS #1: 5-Finger Stretchies
This exercise is used to prevent your fingers from cramping. Often, when beading, you are holding your hand and fingers in a very tight, controlled, sometimes unnatural or uncomfortable position. You should stop periodically, and do 5-Finger Stretchies. This is a wonderful exercise which relaxes the muscles in your hands.
Take one hand and hold it arm out, palm forward. Your arm is parallel to the floor. Your palm, fingers up, is perpendicular to the floor. Tighten every muscle in every finger, and pull each finger inward and downwards towards the point they meet the palm, but don’t touch the palm. Picture making a claw with your pulled back fingers.
Squeeze the tension, release. Squeeze, release. Squeeze, release. Do this rapidly, perhaps 4 squeeze/releases a second. Do this for 10 seconds.
Now do this with the other hand. 10 seconds.
Do this a couple times with each hand.
Then return to your beading.
Posted by learntobead on September 25, 2013
PEARL KNOTTING WITH WARREN FELD
Our class now a video tutorial online at CraftArtEdu.com .
Classic Elegance! Learn a simple Pearl Knotting technique anyone can do. No special tools. Beautiful. Durable. Wearable.
Everything you need to know for successfully designing with pearls, including knotting – traditional vs non traditional methods, attaching clasps, finishing, care of your pearls, repair and types of pearls, the nature of the pearl. Jewelry designer Warren Feld will lead you through this comprehensive CraftArtEdu class that is all about pearls. 6 Broadcasts. Downloadable handout.
Level: All Levels
Duration: 106:17 minutes
Posted by learntobead on September 16, 2013
Bead Weaving Curriculum
Bead Weaving Curriculum
Petersburg Chain, Ndebele
Bead Weaving Curriculum
Lower Manhattan! Learn how much shaping, interest and
dimensionality you can achieve with the simple, basic Brick Stitch.
Learn to Use Cable Wire and the Crimping Technique
show-case your jewelry-making talents. Learn Bead Stringing using cable wire
Bead Weaving Curriculum
Right Angle Weave Stitch
Construct your own colony of barnacles using right angle weave and peyote
Learn to Use Needle and Thread
picked up along the dunes and water’s edge, strung on thread.
Learn to Bead String using needle and thread.
– one side using size 8/0 seed beads and the other all glass daggers.
Posted by learntobead on September 12, 2013
QUESTION: Can choices about jewelry design ever be truly objective? Or are they primarily subjective?
Is good jewelry design more a matter of “taste”, or is there some scientific basis which underlies it?
What do you think?
Do you think there are “universal” rules and understandings that good jewelry designers would be wise to adopt, or is each and every designer on their own?
I think, that if we observed and measured the jewelry design process, that much of it is very subjective, that is a matter of personal taste. Much appreciation of design and color and color combinations seems very subjective.
People have certain social and cultural preset notions about what they prefer. Some people have a personal preference for browns, others for purples, and so forth. So people like a lot of fringe; others are minimalists.
Psychologists have found that some people will like a color or combination of colors or design elements if arranged vertically. If arranged horizontally, they then don’t like them. And vice versa. Some people like things, when horizontally arranged, but dislike these same things when vertically arranged.
People respond in very different ways to how design elements and colors, as well as shading, highlighting and tinting, are distributed throughout the piece. They might like the components, when distributed in a certain way, but dislike the piece, when the components are re-arranged and re-distributed.
Some people get very excited when the colors or elements in their jewelry have very sharp boundaries and clear demarcations. Others hate this. They prefer a blurring or blending or smudging up of things.
When confronted with a very monochromatic piece, or one with little rhythm, some people feel relieved, and others bored or anxious.
Some people prefer pieces that exude a lot of power; others prefer their pieces subdued.
As a designer, if things are mostly a matter of personal taste, style, and perspective, it gets more confusing about how to design things. What kinds of things should be included and which excluded? What strategies can you employ for choosing and combining colors and design elements? What things should you learn, if anything at all?
Without proven, universal, objective, grammatical set of rules for using and combining things, how do we design things? How do we know which things are better, smarter and more satisfying, and which are not?
Yet, as we page through the bead magazines, and click through the various jewelry-themed web-pages, I find that a lot of people agree on what is good, and what isn’t. On what is satisfying, and what isn’t. On what works, and what doesn’t. When there is a lot of agreement, perhaps, there are some universal understandings – OBJECTIVE rules – operating here. What might these be?
Is Design purely subjective, or can you see some objective framework that may be at play, as well?
What do you think?
Land of Odds (www.landofodds.com)
Warren Feld Jewelry
Posted by learntobead on September 11, 2013
~ HELP US WIN BIG! ~
BE DAZZLED BEADS, NASHVILLE, TN
During September and October 2013, Bead & Button is selecting one store to win a $5000.00 shopping spree at CJS SALES in New York City, a source of lots of unusual stuff for us to sell.
Posted by learntobead on August 26, 2013
HOW HAS TECHNOLOGY IMPACTED YOU AS A JEWELRY DESIGNER?
The impact of technology on work and jobs was the focus of a recent opinion piece in the New York Times by David H. Autor and David Dorn. And, as jewelry designers, we are living through and with all the positives and negatives that arise through this technological change.
How has technology affected what we do as designers?
How has it affected what we do to survive and thrive as designers?
Have we mechanized and computerized the jewelry design business into obsolescence?
How have you had to organize your jewelry designer lives differently?
given the rise of
-Ebay, Etsy and Amazon.com
-blogs, facebook, twitter, pinterest, instagram
-new technologies and materials like precious metal clay, polymer clay, crystal clay, 3-D printing
What has happened to your local bead stores?
What has happened to bead magazines?
If you teach classes for pay, or sell kits and instructions, how do you compete against the literally millions of online tutorials, classes, instructions and kits offered for free? How does this affect what you teach or design to sell as kits?
If you sell jewelry, how do you compete against the 60,000,000 other people who sell jewelry online? How does this affect your marketing, your pricing, your designs?
If you make part of your living doing a arts and crafts show circuit, will there still be a need for this in the future?
The authors in this NYT article pose the questions raised by several prominent authors and scholars:
Are we becoming enslaved to our “robot overlords,?” (journalist Kevin Drum warned in Mother Jones)
Do “smart machines” threaten us with “long-term misery?” (economists Jeffrey D. Sachs and Laurence J. Kotlikoff)
Have we reached “the end of labor?” (Noah Smith in The Atlantic)
Let me paraphrase these a bit in terms more specific to jewelry design and beadwork.
Does the reach of technology, through such vehicles as the Internet, make things so productive and efficient, that we no longer need so many people making jewelry, or teaching jewelry making, or marketing businesses / products or selling the parts to make jewelry?
If we do not need so many people to design / teach / market / or sell, and there happen to be a lot of people doing this anyway, does this necessarily make the relative worth and price for any of these activities “$zero”?
Does all this technological efficiency diminish the act of “creativity”? Now so many things can be standardized that everything – even the manufacture of complex pieces of jewelry through 3-D technology – can be reduced to a set of how-to instructions – mere recipes?
Has this technology reduced the need for bead magazines, and bead stores, and traditional classes?
On the other hand, technology has made jewelry design, and good jewelry design, more and more accessible to more and more people.
It has opened up a myriad of possibilities for people to explore their creative selves.
It has let jewelry designers reach a broader audience with their wares, their knowledge and their endeavors.
With new materials and technologies have come many new possibilities for creating jewelry.
It has made it easier for more people to get into the various jewelry design-related businesses.
It has made it easier to stay current and learn.
It has made it easier to meet and learn with fellow jewelry designers.
It has made it easier to mine big data, identify the most relevant target customers, and to market to them in very specific, cost-effective ways.
It has made it easier for retail outlets to find the merchandise they need to sell.
Some quick observations from my own professional life:
- We have an elaborate curriculum of classes that we teach. However, many of the beginning classes are becoming obsolete, in the sense that students can find similar classes on YouTube, in bead magazines, and throughout the internet, now for free. The issue for us is how to adapt, given that one of our goals is still to charge money for these classes, and make money. And a concurrent goal is to offer the student a learning opportunity worth the price paid.
- Each year, we used to have 1 or 2 national level instructors do workshops at our store. But it has become difficult to attract students. There are so many projects easily available – including from these national-level instructors – that students started to indicate that their interests in these workshops had diminished. They could do these same or similar projects on their own.
- When we opened our store in 1991, there were few places for people to acquire what we sell. Now there are almost 100 million places for people to go. It is obvious that most of our in-store customers purchase more of their supplies online or through catalogs than they do in the store.
- We used to do craft shows a long time ago. But the cost of travel got very expensive, and, with the internet, people had more opportunity to find what we sold without going to the craft shows.
- It used to be that the crux of our advertising dollars were spent with bead magazines. No longer. Bead magazines get a very small part of our advertising dollars. I can remember when all our customers read the bead magazines to get all their information. Now very few do. Most have organized themselves into small groups in various social media sites. To get your marketing message across, you have to spend a lot of time doing this online, and you can no longer market with a “broad brush”. That is, it has become ever-more-difficult to reach people.
- Our online business – Land of Odds – has been in existence since 1995. It has gone through 6 technology upgrades/re-designs since then. The e-commerce and website design technology moves and evolves so incredibly fast. Personally this constant updating has been grueling. The site needs more re-design, but my motivation to learn and cope with yet another computer language and new sets of tasks has diminished. Land of Odds was a pioneering online business. But the very large bead companies have gotten their acts together online, and are much better capitalized to expand their operations.
Technology has been a dauntingly mixed bag for us. On the negative side, the rapid advance and spread of technology has overwhelmed the various activities we do. On the positive side, it has forced us to become ever more creative and ever more efficient in what we do. It forces us to constantly re-define who we are and what we want to do. And it forces us to constantly re-define how we do things.
What do you think?
Posted in bead weaving, beadwork, business of craft, jewelry design, jewelry making, Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: 3-d jewelry making, 3-d printing, crystal clay, impact of technology on jewelry design, internet and jewelry, jewelry design, technology | Leave a Comment »
Posted by learntobead on August 21, 2013
THE IMPORTANCE OF SELF-PROMOTION
If you are a jewelry designer who has ambitions to have your work publicized in books or magazines, or to be accepted into a juried show or exhibit, or to sell your things in a store or gallery, you need to be able to promote your work. Often, I have found, creative-types can be shy when it comes to self-promotion and marketing.
What insights, from your own experiences, can you offer your fellow jewelry designers about self-promotion?
What kinds of things help you to overcome any fears about marketing your work?
How do you handle criticism and other rejection like getting the dreaded “No”?
From an article I wrote….
Jewelry designers often find a self-satisfaction in working intensely on a project, often in isolation or solitude. But when it comes to tooting their own horns – this is not as easy or satisfying for them. There is a discomfort here. You might want to show your pieces to others, perhaps submitting them for review or a juried competition, or perhaps wanting a store or gallery to accept your pieces for sale.
Then humility kicks in. Or perhaps a lack of confidence in yourself. Or a fear of criticism. Or a rejection. Hearing: No, we don’t want your pieces.
We don’t want to appear desperate for a sale, or too eager for acceptance.
But, if you don’t believe in yourself and your products, no one will. Your fantasy of striking out on your own will never materialize, if you don’t find it within yourself to do some self-promotion.
And the first step is understanding and recognizing that to promote yourself means promoting your value.
Your jewelry has VALUE to them, why….? If something has value to someone, then they typically want to know about it. Your jewelry has value to them because it solves a problem for them. It might make them happier, more beautiful, more enriched, more satisfied, more powerful, more socially accepted, more understanding of construction or technique or art and aesthetics. It might be better than other jewelry they see or wear or think about buying.
For a store or gallery, your jewelry might be more saleable, more attractive as displayed, better constructed, more artistic, more stylish or fashionable, a better fit with their customer base, with good price points.
You promote the value of your jewelry to your audience. You do not have to brag. You do not have to be shameless. You do not have to do or say anything embarrassing. Just speak the truth about value. Share examples of your work and what you have done, not your ego.
And that brings up the second point – speaking. People who are more comfortable speaking about themselves and their products tend to be more successful in their careers.
Products don’t sell themselves. People need to be nudged.
This “speaking-about-themselves and their products” is a basic communication process. This communication process is a process of sharing information. You want to educate the right people, in the right way at the right time. You want to speak about who you are, and what you make. The values your jewelry has to offer them. And how you would like to develop your relationship – whether designer/client or designer/retailer or designer/jury – so that you may both benefit.
Fundamentally self-promotion is about communication. Communicators frame the narrative. Communicators start the conversation. They begin on favorable terms. They would not say: Would you like to see my jewelry? Instead, they would say: I have jewelry you are going to love.
And this brings up the third point – be relevant.
Know your audience, what their needs are, what their problems are that need solving. You may have created the original piece to satisfying some personal yearning and desire. But if you want someone to buy the piece, wear the piece or sell the piece, you need to anticipate why. Why would they want to buy, wear, review or sell your piece of jewelry?
Do not assume they will figure all this out on their own. You will need to help them along in this process. You will need to communicate about the value your jewelry will have for them. You will need to do some self-promotion.
The last point – inspire people to spread your message.
Your best marketing and promotion will be what is called “word-of-mouth”. So you want to create supporters and fans and collaborators and colleagues. And you want them to be inspired enough about you, your creativity and your jewelry, so that they tell others about you. You inspire your current network of family and friends. You might make a presentation or teach a class. You might share images of your work on social media like FaceBook or Instagram or Twitter or Pinterest. You want to regularly connect with people, so that you and your work are frequently in their thoughts.
There are many self-promotion strategies that you can do. You don’t need to do everything at once. You might try one or two ideas first, and do those, then pick a third, and so on.
Some Self-Promotion Strategies That Have Worked Well For Others
Posted by learntobead on August 9, 2013
ODDS or EVENS…
What’s Your Preference?
Sometimes, jewelry must conform to a type of numerology – odds or evens or multiples of some number, like the number 3 – related to the numbers of beads or the numbers of strands or the numbers of drops.
Do you have a personal preference for ODDS or EVENS? Such as,
– The number of strands in a necklace or bracelet?
– Or the number of bangle bracelets you wear on one arm?
– Or the number of beads you use to begin a peyote stitch project?
– Or the number of drops you include in your piece, or dangles you include in an earring?
– Or the number of colors or elements repeated in a pattern or jewelry segment?
Is this ODDS/EVENS preference consistent all the time?
Or is it situational? That is, in certain circumstances you prefer ODDS, and in others, EVENS.
Is there any experiential, aesthetic or hypothetical basis for your preferences?
If you have a preference for one over the other, has does that affect your design process?
Do you get more compliments, when you are wearing one- or three-strand necklaces, than when you are wearing a two-strand necklace?
Historically in Europe, it was considered bad luck and inappropriate to have an EVEN number of strands in a necklace. If you had a very long necklace that you would occasionally wrap around your neck multiple times, then it had to be long enough so that you could wrap it around an ODD number of times – such as tripled, never doubled. Even today, in etiquette books, such as “Miss Manners”, the rule is “Always Wear Odd Numbers of Strands of Pearls.” No explanation is given.
Russians even believe that you should never give an even number of flowers to your wife or girlfriend!
In ancient Babylon, even numbers were believed to be unlucky and somewhat demonic. To them, something should never be repeated an even number of times.
An ODD number of beads lets you define a specific center and focus. Cognitively we prefer things with clear pointers and with clear symmetry.
But we also like balance and harmony and things to be distributed EVENLY.
Where do you come down in this ODDS vs. EVENS debate?
Posted by learntobead on August 3, 2013
BEADING CALISTHENICS #10: Daisy Stitch Expansion
I do a day-long workshop called Beading Calisthenics. There are 10 of these exercises. This is the 10th one.
Beading requires a lot of mind-body coordination. That takes work. It is work.
You have to be able to get from your fingers to the needle to the beads, back along the thread to the needle to the fingers, hands, arms, eyes, mind. And then again. And again. Over and over, one more time. You need to get into a rhythm. All these working parts need to be working. No time for cramping. No time to get tired. No time to lose concentration.
I noticed that different instructors had various techniques and strategies for maintaining this rhythm. Yes, music was involved sometimes. Othertimes simple meditation or creative reading and discourse. Some people had some stretching exercises that they did. Others tested themselves before proceeding with their big project. Still others did small things to reconfirm their learning.
I distilled what I saw others do effectively into 10 fun yet challenging beading calisthenics.
BEADING CALISTHENICS #10: Daisy Stitch Expansion
The challenge here is to see how many variations you can construct using the simple daisy chain stitch.
This is a very simple stitch. Try it out. Experiment. And share your results with the group.
Simplest daisy chain: A stem and a flower with a center bead, then a stem and flower w/center, and so forth.
Start with a line of 5 beads.
Add 5 more beads to your thread. Make the 5th bead a different color. This is your “flower set”. The 5th bead is your center point.
Make a loop by going back through the first of these 5 beads in the set.
Add two more beads to the flower set, and bring the needle through 4th bead in that original set of 5.
So the daisy pattern goes: BEAD 1 to 2 to 3 to 4 to 5 (flower center point bead marked by X) back to 1 to 6 to 7 back to 4 and out.
Add another line of 5 beads. Continue.
Try the daisy chain above without the stem, so that each flower set is interconnected by one bead — # 4 (which becomes #1 in the next flower). Make your 5th bead a different color.
Next, look at the modified daisy chain pattern below. Try another interconnected daisy pattern, where we would connect each subsequent flower by two beads, instead of one. Here we would make the first daisy’s 3 and 4 become the next daisy’s 1 and 6.
This would go: 1 to 2 to 3 to 4 to 5 (flower center) to 1 to 6 to 7 to 4 up through 3 and out. Then 3 becomes 1 in the next daisy link. The pattern continues in the second link as 1 to 2 to 3 to 4 to 5 (flower center) to 1 to 6 to 7 to 4 up through 3 and out. Then 3 becomes 1 again.
Try the same pattern, this time making the 2nd, 5th and 7th bead the same color, but different than the others.
Try again, making the 1st, 5th and 4th beads the same color, but different than the others.
Try again with any of the patterns, this time using a different size/shape/style of bead for the 5th one.
In Horace Goodhue’s Native American Beadwork book, he details many, many variations, including several that do not result in “flowers”, but rather patterns of lines.
The daisy chain is indicative of a “traditional” design. What kinds of things can you do to make the daisy chain have a more “contemporary” feel? Such as newer metallic colors? Or somehow increasing the dimensionality of each flower so it doesn’t feel so flat? Or creating a color pattern with beads 1 thru 7, so that the pattern is very op-art or contemporary graphic in feel?
Posted by learntobead on July 26, 2013
MAKING THE ORDINARY NOTEWORTHY
I want to continue the discussion about Jewelry Design Principles of Composition with the principle I call “INTEREST”.
“Interest” means the degree to which the artist makes the ordinary…noteworthy.
Better designed and more satisfying jewelry has more Interest.
The WHOLE will be GREATER THAN the SUM OF THE PARTS.
Towards this end, the jewelry artist might do something of INTEREST when
- selecting materials or a mix of materials
- selecting color combinations
- varying the sizes of things
- pushing the envelope on interrelating lines, curves and planes
- playing with the rhythm
- using a focal point, or using it in a clever way
THE QUESTIONS FOR YOU….
Among the pieces you have made, can you think of examples you can share with the group, in which you made the ordinary…noteworthy?
Can you think of examples, and share with the group, times where trying to make the ordinary…noteworthy did not work out well? Why do you think that was?
In this same vein, can jewelry artists often try too hard to make the ordinary…noteworthy?
Or not try hard enough? Have you visited stores – boutiques, department stores, galleries – in which everything seems too plain, uninteresting, boring? Too much like blue jewelry for a blue dress, without any distinction?
What kinds of things can teachers do to encourage students to make the ordinary…noteworthy?
One example of the successful application of this principle…
There’s a company called Firefly, and I have always been intrigued by their jewelry. It is made up of mosaic components they fashion themselves from things you might use every day. I’ve included some pictures of their pieces with this post.
Their creativity is infinite. In one component, they take a Swarovski square donut and glue a back on it, typically a piece of metal which has been stamped or otherwise decorated, and has two holes or two rings near the top corners. In the center of the donut, they might inlay some seed beads, some crystal beads, some colorful metal shards.
In another piece, they do the same thing with a Swarovski ring donut.
On the back of some bezel settings for drops they etch in words, like Spirit or Hope.
They have beautiful and often unexpected combinations of colors in their pieces.
Often a simple bead drop has that extra, “interesting” touch; it is not only a bead on a head pin, with a loop on one end. This bead would be set off by two small 15/0 seed beads, often of a contrasting color and finish.
Their website is: http://www.fireflyjewelrydesigns.net/
You can read up on all the principles of composition on this webpage:
Posted by learntobead on July 18, 2013
AT THE BOUNDARY BETWEEN
JEWELRY AND PERSON
Jewelry is art, but only art as it is worn.
That’s a powerful idea, but we somewhat ignore it, when thinking about making jewelry. We like to follow steps. We like to make beautiful things. But too often, we avoid having to think about the difficult choices and tradeoffs we need to make, when searching for that balance among aesthetics, functionality, context, materials and technique.
I am going to get on my soap box here.
Good jewelry design must answer questions and teach practitioners about managing the processes of selecting materials, implementing techniques, and constructing the piece from one end to the other.
We tend to teach students to very mechanically follow a series of steps.
What we should be doing, instead, at least from the Design Perspective which is so influential in my approach for creating jewelry, is teach students how to make choices when managing at the boundary between jewelry and person.
I recently put together a video tutorial for a brick-stitched project I call Tuxedo Park Bangle Bracelet, where I tried to write and present the instructions, from this Design Perspective. I first discuss the jewelry design process as a series of choices and tradeoffs. And only then do I list the steps the student needs to follow for completing the project. But each step is presented as the result of a particular analytical or problem-solving process, something to the effect, “I confronted this situation, I weighed these options, and, for these reasons, I decided to execute the next step this way….”.
This bangle bracelet has to stretch wide to get over the hand, and then shrink back to its original dimensions, all the while keeping its shape and integrity. It will have to do this many times. That means, the beads within the piece, as well as each bead woven component of the piece, will need to be able to bend in more than one direction, yet remain somewhat stiff enough for maintaining each component’s shape as well as the bangle’s aesthetic and functionality over all. If we redefine the brick stitch architecturally, we can see its versatility and flexibility, making it is the perfect stitch to achieve these goals.
You can find this tutorial at CraftArtEdu.com, or
The preview is free, and introduces some of my ideas.
Discussion Questions for you…
1. Re-look at one of your favorite pieces. Review the questions posed in the article below. Now, describe your piece for the group, in design and architectural terms, using the questions posed below to guide your thoughts. And post your description for the group along with an image of your piece.
2. Think about your favorite technique – whether bead stringing, bead weaving or wire working or some other jewelry-making interest area. How does this technique help your pieces, which are made using it, keep their shape? How does the technique help your pieces withstand the forces that come from wearing and movement?
From an article I’m writing about the architectural approach to defining bead weaving, bead stringing and wire working….
In addition to teaching students “steps”, we need to teach students about making good design choices. The “steps” should be presented as the results of these choices. The thinking and reasoning processes should be the focus. How we arrived at these choices, and how we have made tradeoffs, should be at the forefront of what we teach. The steps should not be presented as fait accompli. But rather, the steps should be overtly understood as the logical outcomes from our thought and design process.
This is the architectural manifesto and challenge for re-thinking and re-defining jewelry design. We need to teach students to think this way and answer these 10 core questions at the heart of this manifesto:
(1) Why or how does a particular bead stringing technique, wire work technique or bead weaving stitch suggest a particular form of representation?
(2) How does my work relate to the complex factors at play in design, including philosophy, science, religion, ecology, politics, cyberspace, gender, literature, aesthetics, economics, history, culture, and technology?
(3) What kinds of things characterize contemporary design, and its aesthetics and functionality?
(4) What about the materials you are using helps you transform them into a pleasing, satisfying piece?
(5) What about the particular techniques you are using helps you transform materials into a pleasing, satisfying piece?
(6) What should the design process look like? What are the design elements which need to be managed? What are the rules for their manipulation?
(7) How do you best define, create and use components, forms and structures?
(8) What is the structure (or, you might visualize the anatomy) of your piece of jewelry, and how is that structure construed and constructed? What specifically about the structures or building blocks of your piece contributes to a successful and satisfying design?
(9) How does your jewelry, given its structure and the techniques you used to assemble it, withstand forces? What, in the designing, the selecting of materials or techniques, or the strategizing about the overall construction help you better manage things like movement, drape, flexibility, strength, comfort, and interplay of light, shadow and color?
(10) How do you best manage your visual presentation in terms of color, light, shadow, dimensionality, pattern, texture, and perspective?
Posted by learntobead on July 13, 2013
TUXEDO PARK BANGLE BRACELET
New Video Tutorial at CraftArtEdu.com
Purchase kits at:
Land Of Odds online
IN THIS CLASS, LEARN HOW MUCH SHAPING, INTEREST, AND DIMENSIONALITY YOU CAN ACHIEVE WITH THE SIMPLE, BASIC BRICK STITCH. BY CREATING MY TUXEDO PARK BANGLE BRACELET. THE BRICK STITCH IS EASY TO LEARN. FUN TO DO. AND OFFERS MANY DESIGN POSSIBILITIES FOR THE BEAD WEAVING ARTIST.
BRICK STITCH IS OFTEN OVER-SHADOWED BY ITS VERY CLOSE, BUT MORE POPULAR COUSIN – THE PEYOTE STITCH. I OFTEN THINK THAT ONE OF THE REASONS FOR THIS, IS THAT INTRODUCTORY BRICK STITCH PROJECTS LACK SOME OF THAT “WOW” FACTOR. THE BASIC BRICK STITCH TYPICALLY IS TAUGHT BY HAVING THE STUDENT MAKE A SIMPLE PYRAMID, PERHAPS SOME LONG DANGLING FRINGE IS WORKED OFF THE BASE OF THE PYRAMID TO MAKE NATIVE AMERICAN EARRINGS. OR, PERHAPS LINKING SEVERAL PYRAMIDS TOGETHER TO MAKE A BRACELET. WHEN THE INTRODUCTORY PROJECT IS “BORING”, STUDENTS LOSE INTEREST IN THE STITCH.
HOWEVER, TOO OFTEN IGNORED IN THESE INTRODUCTORY BRICK STITCH PROJECTS ARE THE POWERFUL, STRUCTURAL PROPERTIES OF THE STITCH ITSELF.
THE STITCH IS VERY VERSATILE.
THE BRICK STITCH CAN BE USED TO CREATE A BROAD CANVAS, AND GIVE THIS CANVAS A GREAT DEAL OF FLEXIBILITY, WHERE MANY STITCHES WOULD LEAVE IT TOO STIFF.
AT THE SAME TIME, THE BRICK STITCH CAN ALLOW THE CANVAS TO HOLD AND MAINTAIN ITS SHAPE, WHERE MANY OTHER STITCHES MIGHT GET FLOPPY AND TOO LOOSE.
BRICK STITCH CAN ALSO EASILY GIVE THIS CANVAS VERY VARIED SHAPES, EDGES AND OPEN SPACES, AND ALLOW A GREAT DEAL OF CONTROL OF THREAD PATH AND BEAD PLACEMENT WHERE OTHER STITCHES COULD NOT.
THE TUXEDO PARK BANGLE BRACELET IS AN INTRODUCTORY PROJECT THAT INTRODUCES THE STITCH AND SEVERAL VARIATIONS TO PEAK YOUR INTEREST.
AND TURN YOU INTO A BRICK STITCH FAN.
THIS VIDEO TUTORIAL IS PRESENTED FROM WHAT IS CALLED THE DESIGN PERSPECTIVE. THE DESIGN PERSPECTIVE FOCUSES ON HOW THE JEWELRY DESIGNER AND BEAD WORKER MAKE CHOICES
ABOUT WHAT TO DO, AND NOT TO DO,
ABOUT WHAT TO INCLUDE, AND NOT INCLUDE,
AND ABOUT HOW TO BALANCE OFF CONFLICTING DEMANDS
BETWEEN BEAUTY AND FUNCTIONALITY.
IN THIS VIDEO TUTORIAL, I FIRST GUIDE YOU THROUGH THE PROJECT PLANNING PROCESS. THAT IS, I DISCUSS THE TYPES OF CHOICES I MADE, WHEN CREATING THIS PIECE. THESE CHOICES INCLUDE THINGS ABOUT TECHNIQUE. THEY INCLUDE THINGS ABOUT COLOR AND MATERIALS. THEY INCLUDE THINGS ABOUT FORM, STRUCTURE AND FUNCTION.
THEN, I GO OVER, IN DETAIL, STEP-BY-STEP, EASY-TO-FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMPLETING THE PROJECT.
Posted by learntobead on July 13, 2013
HOW DO YOU STAY FOCUSED?
It is easy to get distracted. Dagmar sent me an email with a link to a picture of a bead woven piece she liked. At first, I reacted with some resistance, to click the link. I needed to finish up several projects, and didn’t want to cloud my thinking, or add one more image or one more pattern I liked, or color I liked, or technique I liked, to that mix of ideas and tasks and things swirling around and around in my head.
But, you guessed it, I clicked. The piece was beautiful, intriguing, and l discovered many more of this artist’s work on display online. I spent time with each piece. I read the artist’s statement because I wanted to learn more about her inspiration. She had many embedded links in her statement. Which led me to many other websites. One concept was discussed, and I did a Google search on that. And then an images.google.com search on it as well. Which somehow got me over to Amazon, then Wikipedia, and over to some other bead artist’s website.
Three hours later – how does time pass away so quickly? A simple click three hours earlier had led me through the looking glass and down the rabbit hole, through, what must have looked like to others, some torturous pathways, meeting all kinds of strangers.
I am always working on several projects at a time. So in my head, are several sets of instructions, several color palettes, several understandings of inspiration. And I want to keep some focus. And I want to finish all of these projects. And I want to be able to conceptualize and invent my next projects, which involves lots of trial and error experimentation. I want to have the time and clear head space for all this.
And yet, there are so many easily accessible distractions.
I know I’m not alone, so the question I put forward to you:
How do you stay focused?
And perhaps, I should phrase the question differently: Can you stay focused?
Or, in the face of so many great examples of jewelry and bead art, so many evolving changes in styles and fashions, the introduction of many new colors and new bead shapes and new techniques – in the face of so much wonderfully inspiring, so many things to learn and educate yourself about – how do you keep in touch with your inner designer self, and find the time and energy for self-expression?
Posted by learntobead on July 7, 2013
HOW DO YOU MAKE “ASYMMETRY” WORK FOR YOU?
Another Principle of Jewelry Design Composition is called “PLANAR RELATIONSHIPS”. This primarily has to do with the placement of lines and planar surfaces within your piece, and how satisfying all this placement is, so that the lines and/or planes interrelate.
It turns out it is relatively easy to have lines and planes relate symmetrically. That is, it is easy to get people to be more satisfied with your pieces, if you makes things line up evenly to the right and to the left of your center point or line.
Conversely, it is not so easy when you try to create something asymmetrical. In fact, based on the art theory and cognitive psychology theory underlying this principle of planar relationships, I would say that, if your piece is asymmetrical, there must be something else on the person wearing the piece to create the illusion of symmetry. This might be the way the hair is styled, the pattern on a dress, the neckline silhouette of the dress, the shape and positioning of the person’s ears, and the like.
So, for those of you who have tried and succeeded, or tried and failed, to create asymmetrical pieces, how would you describe your design process? And people’s reactions to your piece? Or how it looked on the wearer? If successful, what kinds of things did you do in the design process, that worked in your favor?
Off-centered piece or someone wearing just one earring, can be disorienting and disturbing. How do you feel about asymmetrical pieces, or people wearing only one earring?
Excerpts from some of my writings about this principle of planar relationships…
(also read: Principles of Good Jewelry Design Composition online at http://www.landofodds.com/store/goodjewelrydesign.htm
This is the degree the piece is not disorienting to the viewer, or particularly confusing in terms of what is up and what is down.
People always need to orient themselves to their surroundings, so that they know what is up and what is down. They usually do this by recognizing the horizontal planes of the floor and the ceiling of a room (ground and sky outside), and the vertical planes of the walls of a room (buildings, trees and the like outside).
Jewelry must assist, or at least not get in the way of, this natural orienting process. It accomplishes this in how its “lines” are arranged and organized. If a piece is very 3-dimensional, then how its “planes” are arranged and organized becomes important, as well.
The goal here is to “see” the piece of jewelry, especially when worn, as something that is coherent, organized, controlled, and orienting.
Design elements we might use to achieve a satisfactory planar relationship within our piece:
- a strategic use of lines and planes
- or, more difficult to achieve, a satisfying asymmetry
- a planar pattern in how each section of the piece relates to the other sections
- how sections of the piece interlock
- how we “draw and interrelate” parallel lines, perpendicular lines and curved lines within the piece
How can a person truly pull off wearing only one earring? After all, visually, it pulls the person off to one side, thus violating the basic orienting planar relationships. What about the composition of the earring, allows this to work; what about the composition doesn’t?
When wearing a necklace, where the clasp is worn on the side, instead of the back, sometimes this works, and sometimes it does not. Again, what about the composition of the necklace, allows this to work; what about the composition doesn’t?
Posted by learntobead on June 30, 2013
WHEN IS ENOUGH ENOUGH?
Beading and jewelry making can be so much fun, and you have so many choices of so many beautiful pieces to play with, that sometimes, from a design sense, it’s easy to go overboard.
Too many strands. Too many different kinds of beads. Too many colors. Too much embellishment. Too much fringe. Too much repetition of themes and design elements.
There is a tendency too often to over-do.
How do you answer this question for yourself – when is enough enough?
Do you tend to over-do (or under-do) your pieces?
How do you edit? Do you make a piece, and get the judgment of others? Is this based on some kind of intuition?
How do you work with students or friends who have difficulty answering this question?
Let me know what you think.
From an article I’ve posted online…
I had discussed in an article – 10 Principles of Jewelry Design Composition (http://www.landofodds.com/store/goodjewelrydesign.htm) – what is in effect a type of grammar and vocabulary for good jewelry design. The last principle was called Parsimony. And this one is really difficult to achieve. The jewelry artist who is good at Parsimony has a great deal of control over the design process.
Parsimony means that there should be no nonessential elements.
The designer should achieve the maximal effect with the least effort or excess.
Many jewelry designers, when they like a particular bead, or a particular design, often over-do their pieces. The thinking here is that, if they have a beautiful part, adding many of these parts will make the whole even more beautiful. Often, it results in the finished product that is boring or uninteresting. The finished product loses a type of tension, power and energy.
The artist has made a good point with their choices, but then beats a dead horse to death by trying to make the point over and over again, too many times.
Good Parsimony shows that the designer has a good sense of the relationship of the parts to the whole.
There should be no nonessential elements.
The designer should achieve the maximal effect with the least effort or excess.
There is a tendency of beaders and jewelry makers to over-do:
- over-embellish the surface
- add too much fringe
- repeat themes and design elements too often
- use too many colors
More often than not, people over-do, rather than under-do.
Posted by learntobead on June 22, 2013
COMING OUT AS A JEWELRY ARTIST
Coming out as a jewelry artist — what does that mean? For those of you who see jewelry making and beading as something more than a hobby — something more defined by art and design — actually calling yourself a jewelry artist or designer, instead of merely alluding to it, is a big step. A very big step.
It’s fraught with fear and dread. It means very visibly presenting yourself with a new public identity. It means preparing your ego to receive some negative comments, perhaps doubt or disbelief, and in some rarer instances, rejection or denial. It means asking others to accept and support you in your new role as Jewelry Artist and Designer.
Please share what this process was all about for you. How you felt. How you managed things.
Continuing with an article I had written….
There is a betwixt and between aspect to this coming out process – a rite of passage. And the unknown time and feelings and situations, between the before and afterwards, is often a span of uncertainty too great for many an artist to transcend. Many who want to be jewelry designers, are somewhat afraid to present themselves as such. These “closet artists” tell their family and friends such things as, “I dabble in this and that, including jewelry-making.” Or, “I consider myself a ‘bank teller slash jewelry artist’” (and you can substitute whatever profession you are in for the words ‘bank teller’). Or, “I’m making some things for fun or gifts, but not selling things.”
There is some hesitation. “I am a jewelry designer.” Can’t quite get the words out. “I am a jewelry designer.” Keep wanting to say “but” or add some qualification, so other people don’t say, with mocking and astonishment, “You’re a what!#@?” “I am a jewelry designer.” You whisper to yourself over and over, but don’t tell anyone else.
When you step out of the closet, however, you show others you want respect. As a jewelry designer. You demand from others an understanding. As a jewelry designer. As an artist. You present yourself as someone with self-esteem and confidence. As a jewelry designer. And as an artist.
So what does it take to manage the transition before and after? What does it take to show that you can confront your passions for designing jewelry, not only privately, but publicly as well?
Posted by learntobead on June 22, 2013
WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH BEADS?
A BEAD is anything that has a hole in it. And you can do a lot of things with things that have holes.
Below is a list we generated here in the shop. Can you think of anything else to add to the list?
Have you done anything out-of-the-ordinary with your beads?
You can put these things on string.
You can sew these things onto fabric.
You can weave these things together with threads.
You can knot or braid or knit or crochet these things together.
You can combine and wrap and en-cage these things with metal wires and metal sheets.
You can work these things into projects with clay, polymer clay and metal clay.
You can embellish whatever you can think of – dolls, tapestries, clothes, shoes, scrapbooks, pillows, containers, and vases.
You can use these things in scientific experiments.
You can fuse these things together.
You can incorporate these things into projects involving stained glass, mosaics, or multi-media art.
You can decorate your house and your household things with these things.
You can texture surfaces with these things, using glues, cements or resins.
You can buy these pre-made, or make your own.
You can do a lot of things with beads. Most people begin by Stringing beads, and graduate to things like Weaving beads, Embellishing with beads on Fiber, Knotting and Braiding with beads, and Wire Working with beads. A few people learn to hand-make Lampwork glass beads, or learn to sculpt with Polymer Clay or Precious Metal Clay, or learn to solder using Silver-Smithing techniques.
And you can feel self-satisfied and secure in the knowledge that, should everything else in the world around you go to pot, we will all be back to bartering with beads.
And you will have them.
So, beads are good.
Posted by learntobead on June 16, 2013
Anatomy of a Necklace: The Yoke
A necklace, or any type of jewelry, has a structure and anatomy. Each part has its own set of purposes, functions and aesthetics. Understanding each type of structure or physical part is important to the designer.
Let’s focus on one part today – The Yoke. The Yoke is one section of the Strap which is the part around the back of the neck, including the Clasp Assembly.
To what extent, during your design process, do you divide your necklace into its anatomical parts, in order to have more strategic control over its design?
In an average necklace, how long should the Yoke be? What proportional length relative to the rest of the strap should this be?
How do you determine the design and placement of beads or connectors along the Yoke, given that most of it would either not be particularly visible, or not often-visible when worn?
The Yoke continues into the section of the Strap called the Frame. There are always transitional issues here? Do you have any strategies for managing these transitions? When your piece moves from Yoke to Frame, do you find yourself doing anything special at this point?
Do you prefer your Yoke to be visually distinct from the Frame? Or more organically connected, perhaps not distinguished at all?
Do you use any special visual cues to signal to the viewer that the piece is moving from Yoke to Frame – placement of special connector? Or change in bead size? Or change in Color? Or Pattern? How do you know where to place these visual cues?
To what extent should the Yoke be integral to the design of the whole piece, or, on the other hand, be supplemental to the whole piece?
Too often, when the designer does not recognize the Yoke as distinct from the Frame – even if the transition is to be very subtle – less-than-satisfying things happen. Proportions may be off. The piece may not lay or sit as envisioned. The strap may have too much embellishment going to high up the strap. Sometimes the balance between Yoke and Frame is off – too much Yoke and not enough Frame.
So, what do you think? What do you do? What things can be done?
To summarize the anatomy of a necklace:
We can envision the Anatomy of the Necklace to include these parts:
Yoke: Part around the neck. Typically 6-7”, including the clasp assembly
Clasp Assembly: Part of the Yoke. This includes all the pieces it takes, including a clasp, in order to attach your beadwork to your clasp.
Break: Transition from Yoke to Frame, usually at the collar bone on either side of the neck.
Frame: The “line” seen on the front of the wearer, demarcating a “silhouette,” and connecting to the Yoke on each side, at the Break. On a 16” necklace, this would typically be around 9-10” long.
Bi-Furcated Frame: A Frame visually split in half, usually at the center and in two equal parts, with a centerpiece focal bead or pendant drop in the center.
Focal Point: While not every necklace has a focal point, most do. The Focal Point gives the viewer’s eye a place to rest or focus. Sometimes this is done with a centerpiece pendant. Can also be created by graduating the sizes of beads or playing with color or playing with fringe.
Centerpiece: A part that extends beyond the line of the Frame, usually below it. Forces transitional concerns between it and the Frame.
Centerpiece with Bail: A part that drops the Centerpiece below the Frame, forcing additional transitional concerns among Centerpiece, Bail and Frame.
Strap: A word summarizing the full connectivity of the Clasp Assembly, Yoke and Frame.
Canvas: Typically refers to the stringing materials. However, in a layered piece, may refer to any created “background” off of which or around which the main composition is built.
Embellishment: Things like fringe, edging, surface decoration.
Each part of the body of a necklace poses its own special design challenges for the jewelry artist. These involved strategies for resolving such issues as:
- making connections
- determining angularity, curvature, and roundedness
- transitioning color, pattern and texture
- placing objects
- extending lengths
- adding extensions
- creating balance and coherency
- keeping things organic, so nothing looks like an afterthought, or an outlier, or something designed by a committee
- determining which parts or critical to understanding the piece of jewelry as art, and which parts are merely supplemental to the piece.
Posted by learntobead on June 9, 2013
HOW NOT TO SHOP IN A BEAD STORE
Shopping in a bead store presents many overwhelming challenges — all the parts, all the colors, all the sizes, all the project possibilities. Many customers, when confronted with all these options, freeze up and get frustrated.
So, how SHOULD you shop, and how SHOULD YOU NOT shop in a bead store?
Any interesting stories out there?
What was your first trip to a bead store like.
From an article I wrote….
HOW NOT TO SHOP
To the consternation of staff, many a Bead Warrior, as they prepare to arrive at the field of bead-selection-battle, have not properly armed themselves.
They arrive by car. They arrive by taxi. They arrive on foot. But rarely do they arrive with a design plan in hand.
They arrive with ideas swimming in their heads, from magazine articles they’ve recently read, or advertisements they’ve seen, or dreams they’ve had. And it’s all in their heads.
And when they arrive at the door, then cross the threshold, there are too many intimidating choices confronting them, attacking them from the right and the left and forward and behind, and off to the side, and down the aisle, and over and around the corner.
The knitted scarf lady ready to conquer the bead world and find that blue bead for her fringe. But no yarn in hand. And there are so many blue beads. No sense of which blue will match. No sense of hole size. No idea what needle to use. Or how to get the beads on. Which “blue?” I asked, pointing to the 37 choices. Without a word, without any response to my question, she grabbed her purse and walked out.
A woman had a list of 17 items she needed for a project. We had 16 of these items in stock. The one thing we didn’t have was one color of a delica bead. I suggested some good substitutions. After all, there are almost 2000 colors of delica beads to choose from. She put all 16 items back, and walked out.
The fashion icon determined to turn a brief visit to the bead store into ultimate world conquest, withOUT her recently perused copy of the latest of the latest from the best of the best style magazine. But no picture in hand. And there are so many beads and chains to choose from. No remembrance of what she had seen. No idea of how to attach things. No clue about finishing off the piece.
The bead-weaver, knowing full well that success is just over that hill, a straight march, and that her right-angle-weave necklace will hup-two appear without much of a scuffle. Or tussle. Or hassle. Or, whatever else might get in her way. Yet no instructions. No supply list. No knowledge of stringing materials or tools.
The woman in need of jewelry repairs. No jewelry with her. Wants that bead or rhinestone or clasp to make her jewelry complete. Which is at home. And she can’t remember. Doesn’t know sizes. Vague on colors. Forgets materials. Clueless on attachments.
The woman who returns everything she doesn’t use – and then buys the same items for the next project which happens to use the same pieces. She frequently makes the 25-mile round trip to return even 1 bead not used. And then re-buys this very same bead on her very next trip on the very next week.
The student who wants a bail for a pendant, has left that pendant at home, and doesn’t remember which direction the hole is drilled.
The knowledge is all to be won – at the bead store. The field of battle. Shock and awe. Little preparation. Few soldiers. Few weapons. A daunting walk across the entrance, and that’s all it will take. To win. To accomplish. To finish. To conquer.
The lesson, not to be lost here, is that you need to come prepared. Sufficiently armed. Some forethought. Some planning. Some thought-through concept. Some willingness to make compromises.
The field of battle is very large. The opposing forces are onerous. Over 6,000 specifically named colors. Thousands of styles and sizes and shapes of beads. Nearly 20,000 individually named metal parts. Fifteen different kinds of metals. Forty-two possibilities of metal finishes. Nearly 500 choices of stringing materials. Sixteen separate types of needles. Too numerous to count issues of quality and pricing.
Posted by learntobead on June 4, 2013
WAX YOUR THREAD, CONDITION IT, OR DON’T
We are always debating here whether to wax your thread or not, and if so, what wax or thread conditioner to use.
I have some strong opinions about this.
How about you?
Some people never wax.
Some people think it makes no difference as to whether the thread breaks.
Some people think it ruins the beads.
By the way, my opinions:
With beading thread, like Nymo or C-Lon, always wax.
Always use microcrystalline wax
Never use Thread Heaven.
With cable threads, like FireLine, sometimes wax.
I wax when the stitch I am doing is a loose one, like Ndebele or Right Angle Weave. The stickiness of the wax helps me maintain a tight thread tension.
Never use pre-waxed thread like Silamide.
Silamide is not abrasion-resistant, so it breaks too easily with beads. The holes of most beads are pretty sharp.
Waxing keeps the beading thread from fraying.
It’s stickiness allows greater control over managing thread tension.
The process of waxing stretches the thread a bit before you use it.
The waxy buildup helps fill in the jagged rim of the holes of your beads, making them a little less likely to cut into your stringing material.
Posted by learntobead on June 4, 2013
BAILS POSE MANAGEMENT ISSUES
In our Jewelry Design Camp (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com/jewelrydesigncamp/), one of the topics we cover is the Bail. From a Design standpoint, it is not necessarily a simple jewelry finding to incorporate into our pieces.
There are many types of bails, some off-the-shelf and some hand-made, and there are different ways of attaching them.
A bail changes the visual and artistic relationship between the strap and the center piece. How might this be helpful, and how not? The bail poses similar design challenges as the strap — size, proportion, placement and attachment. However, it has to succeed at one additional task — it has to control the visual, aesthetic and functional transitioning between the center piece and the strap. It is the management of this transitioning which poses the most difficult design design dilemmas for the jewelry artist.
Too often, I see people use a bail because it adds another pretty component to the piece. But it doesn’t necessarily fit. Sometimes it competes with the center piece or strap. Sometimes it creates a series of functioning or wearing or movement issues.
So the questions for this discussion include:
(1) Do you use bails, and if so, do you have any favorite — either machine-made or hand-made?
(2) Do you have good or bad design-experiences with bails that you would like to share with the group?
Posted by learntobead on May 28, 2013
HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT CHOOSING CLASPS?
The Jewelry Designer makes many choices when creating a piece of jewelry. Lots of things to manage and accomplish.
Probably the two most important choices, right up front, in creating a wearable art-piece that will be around for future generations are your:
(1) Stringing Material, and
When you work with so many customers in a store, and so many students in classes, you begin to see that people are not necessarily that great in selecting clasps. Many are in a clasps-rut — they use the same clasp over and over again. Others pick out clasps they find appealing, whether or not they would visually or functionally work with the piece they have made. Few people anticipate how they are going to attach the clasp to their beadwork, often resulting in an overly long, awkwardly connected clasp assembly. So, how to you go about choosing clasps?
From an article I had written…
Clasps always seem like they’ve been someone’s last thought. They should be the first thought. But many people get so excited creating their beadwork, that they forget about the clasp – until the last moment. You can tell when the jewelry maker hasn’t put much thought into their choice of clasp in many ways. Often, the clasp doesn’t look like it was meant to go with the bead work or general design. It might be out of proportion. It might be a different texture or sensibility. Its function – how you open and close it, while wearing your jewelry — might seem odd, perhaps unnatural. And not only does the choice of clasp seem as an after-thought, but how to attach to the bead work to that clasp seems un-thought out, as well.
So it’s not surprising, that when we were repairing jewelry on a regular basis, about 80% of the pieces to be fixed had broken at the clasp.
It is best to, in part, build your design around your clasp. If your piece has a centerpiece or focal point, then how does this link up to or coordinate with the clasp. At the least, when visualizing your beadwork, include an image of the clasp and how it is attached at both ends. The world is full of clasps. Not every clasp is a jeweler’s best friend. But it depends.
The clasp needs to visually fit with the beadwork. It needs to function as the artist intended. It needs to function in a way the wearer can relate to, use and handle. It needs to be appropriate for the piece and the context in which it is too be worn. It should not compete with the beadwork. It should complement it. Ideally, at least from a design perspective, your clasp should look and feel as if it were an integral part of the entire piece.
In a Gallery setting, if you are selling your jewelry there, you usually want a very functional, but not overwhelming, clasp. You are selling your beadwork, and you don’t want your clasp to compete with this.
In a Department Store, setting, however, often the clasp sells the piece. In this setting, choosing a clasp requires a different kind of logic, thinking and anticipation. Some clasp-types are “expected” to be a part of the piece – even if the particular choice of type would not be the best choice in the world.
The former owner of a local Tennessee pearl company was very frustrated with clasps. She sold a lot of finished pearl jewelry at very high prices, and had been using 14KT gold pearl and safety clasps. Her customers sent a lot of their pearl necklaces and bracelets back for repairs, because their clasps broke. And this company felt, because the prices of these pieces were very high, that they were obligated to replace the clasps and re-string these pearl-knotted pieces at no additional charge. 14KT clasps – particularly the pearl, safety and filigree box clasps — do not hold up well, because gold is a very soft metal.
Replacing clasps on a pearl-knotted piece is quite some job. You have to cut up the piece to free up each bead, and then you begin the knotting and finishing off processes again. It turns out, the 14KT clasps were not the only expensive part of the bracelets – making the knots between each pearl was the time-consuming and costly part. She desperately wanted to reduce the number of repairs. Her first idea was to replace the pearl and safety clasps with other styles which were sturdier. However, these pieces didn’t sell. People wanted the pearl and filigree clasps. The designs of these clasps were so traditional and so locked into their expectations for what pearl-knotted jewelry should look like, that they would not compromise.
Her second effort, she tried replacing the 14KT pearl and filigree clasps with gold-filled ones which were stronger, but this made her customers very angry – they wanted 14KT gold.
So, her final strategy, she returned to using 14KT gold, and doubled her prices. She built in the cost of one repair into the prices she charged. And only then could she present her happy face to her customers, and her somewhat-happy face to herself when she was in private.
Posted by learntobead on May 14, 2013
WHAT “SHAPE” ARE YOU?
— Spiral, Cross, Triangle, Round or Square?
Signs of Life: The Five Universal Shapes and How to Use Them, by Angelese Arrien
Diane Fitzgerald had pointed this out as an interesting book about shapes, I think in her book SHAPED BEADWORK. I read the book. Fascinating and goes into a lot of interesting detail.
In this book, the author, who is a cultural anthropologist, studied shapes, and searched for universals. She found that cross-culturally, people use 5 particular shapes to describe and understand themselves in relationship to others within their culture.
These shapes were:
Circle, Square, Triangle, Cross and Spiral
She developed what she calls the Preferential Shapes Test.
Take this test, and use Arrien’s book to interpret the results.
I’m going to oversimplify this test and paraphrase her words, so you can try it, if you haven’t already. However, to read more details about interpretations and to read stories about people who fit various patterns, I’d suggest you visit this book.
On a piece of paper, write the numbers 1 thru 5 across the page.
Here are the shapes to play with:
SPIRAL, CROSS, TRIANGLE, ROUND, or SQUARE.
Under the first position number, put your favorite shape.
Under the 2nd position number, put your second favorite shape.
Under the 3rd position, your third favorite shape
Under the 4th position, your fourth favorite
Under the 5th position, your least favorite.
Use the information below to interpret the results:
POSITION 1: Where you Think You Are
This is where you think you are today or want to go in the future, but not necessarily the most accurate indicator of where you actually are right now.
POSITION 2: Your Strengths
An inherent strength predominant in you at this time, whether you know it or not. Often, this is how other people see you.
POSITION 3: Where You Are
This is the most significant shape.
This shape shows your true current self.
Think of the goldilocks story – the porridge is too hot, the next too cold, the third just right.
POSITION 4: Your Motivation
This shape points to past events or things which motivated or provoked you to get to Position 3.
POSITION 5: Old, Unfinished Business
A process you have outgrown, dislike, resist, or are judging. Unresolved issues you want to put aside.
Position 1: desire to be independent and self-sufficient
Position 2: strengths are self-reliance and resourcefulness
Position 3: process of achieving independence is at core of your nature
Position 4: something in your past motivated you to become responsible and self-reliant
Position 5: you may be resisting or denying this process of individuation
Position 1: forming relationships is most important to you
Position 2: you rely on good people skills
Position 3: forming relationships is something deep within your nature
Position 4: a past shared journey inspired you to become who you are today
Position 5: you may want to ignore or dismiss relationships
SPIRAL: growth and change
Position 1: change holds great importance to you
Position 2: easy for you to handle change
Position 3: you are profoundly engaged in process of change
Position 4: your were challenged in your past to make significant changes in your life
Position 5:you are unlikely to show interest in process of change and growth
TRIANGLE: goals, dreams, visions
Position 1:process of envisioning seems especially important to you now
Position 2:you carry the gift of vision naturally, whether you are fully aware of this or not
Position 3:the process of envisioning is central to your current development
Position 4:your process of following dreams in your past motivated you to change your life
Position 5:you are resisting the process of honoring your dreams and establishing goals
Position 1:stability and authenticity are inspirational to you
Position 2:you are responsible, authentic, and fully committed when you give your word
Position 3:it is vitally important to you to stabilize and implement your creative endeavors
Position 4:past issues of responsibility and accountability led you to make changes in your life
Position 5:you may be denying process of stability and responsibility
Posted by learntobead on May 14, 2013
SHAPES — HOW DO YOU PLAY WITH SHAPES?
How has “shape” entered into your design thinking, your design work, and your design frameworks?
Over the past few months, I’ve been intrigued with all the new shapes of seed beads coming out on the market. I’ve been trying, really struggling, with ideas for using them in compositions — pieces that have a lot of dimensionality to them, great interest, some levels of complexity. And I’ve been trying to mix the shapes within the same composition, things like long magatamas, superduos, mini fringe drops, peanuts, tila beads. … And of course, it’s always fun to think about ways to bead-weave beads into larger shapes.
The shape of the bead and the orientation of its hole or holes is critical to the success of a piece. These are the “building blocks”. Connecting the blocks affects what the piece looks like, how light and shadow impact the aesthetic, how it moves, how it drapes and feels, and how it holds up in its entirety as a composition.
Around 2010, the various bead companies in Japan and The Czech Republic began introducing many new shapes of seed beads. I began experimenting with how to push these new shapes to their limits.
Then there are the shapes created by assembling beads into ever greater shapes.
Shape differs from the use of “line” or the use of “point”. Shapes serve to provide positioning, direction and orientation to the pieces, often better than lines and points.
Shapes are often the basis of many strategies for adding more dimensionality to your pieces. And you can embellish these shapes with other beads, or overlap shapes, to achieve even greater dimensional effects. You can combine different kinds of shapes.
The Designer must ask these kinds of questions, when using shapes:
How do we position each bead?
How do we link them?
How do we stack them or layer them?
When visual impact does each have, given which side or “face” is seen?
How do we use shape to create appealing textures and patterns?
How do we create “forms” and “themes” with them.
Playing with shapes can be both an encumbrance, as well as an opportunity for the designer.
How has the playing with shapes affected your work?
Posted by learntobead on May 8, 2013
SO YOU WANT TO DO CRAFT SHOWS…
New CraftArtEdu.com Video Tutorial By Warren Feld
In this class, presented in 6 parts with 16 lessons, artist and businessman, Warren Feld, will fill you in on the ins and outs, the dos and the don’ts of selling at craft shows and fairs. Which are best for you, which may be a waste of your time. How to compute the revenue you must earn to justify participating in an event. This is a must see class for anyone thinking of entering the art and craft show world and will maximize your chances of success in these venues. 6 Broadcasts.
Level: All Levels
Posted by learntobead on May 6, 2013
TO WHAT DEGREE DOES/SHOULD “FASHION” INFLUENCE OUR JEWELRY DESIGN DECISIONS?
reposted from my Jewelry Design Discussion Group on FaceBook
In our store, I am asked repeatedly about what the current fashion colors are? Did I see what so-and-so was wearing on TV or at an awards show? But usually, at least in Nashville, TN, a sense of fashion plays a small part in the day-to-day decisions most people make about the jewelry they want to wear.
What are your feelings and views? What are your experiences? What role should “Fashion” play? How important is Fashion to jewelry design? Should we take our design “cues” from New York and Los Angeles? To what extent do you think Fashion influences the average woman’s choices she makes, when purchasing or wearing a piece of jewelry?
From an article I wrote… APPLIED FASHION Women don’t just wear pieces of jewelry – they inhabit them.
Buying a piece of jewelry for yourself – a necklace, a bracelet, earrings, a brooch, something else – isn’t a task easily given to someone else. It’s often not a spur of the moment thing either. You just don’t rush off to the local boutique or the local Wal-Mart, grab whatever you see, and go home. I’m not talking about that impulse buy during your leisurely visit to the mall. I’m referring to purchasing those pieces of jewelry you know will have to do a lot of the hard work to accessorize your wardrobe and help you get the compliments and notice of your family, friends and co-workers you comport with and compete with each and every day.
No, buying a piece of jewelry for yourself is a multi-purposed moment, one which must be thought through carefully and one which must be savored. Lest you buy the wrong piece. That doesn’t really go with what you intend to wear. Or is over-priced. Or poorly made. Or conveys the wrong impression about status. Or is out of fashion. Or something one of your friends already has.
The jewelry you buy has to conform to quite a long list of essential criteria before you could ever think of buying it. It is something you will wear more than once. As such, it is your companion. Your necklace is not merely lying around your neck. Or your bracelet around your wrist. Or your earrings dangling from your ears. Jewelry can cause you to lose face with others. It can irritate or scratch your skin, or get caught up in your hair. It might weigh you down or stretch or tear your ear lobes. Jewelry can break without warning in the most unexpected and embarrassing of places. It can get caught on things, sometimes hurting you in the process.
Jewelry conveys to the world something about who you really are, or think you are. As such, jewelry is very personal. Your private, innermost, most soul searching choices made very public for all to see. As you caress it, as you touch the smooth or faceted or crevice’d beads and metal parts or the clasp or the material the beads are strung on, when you twist and move the piece within your hand, you are confirming to yourself the extent to which your jewelry is doing its job.
When you buy new jewelry, the dilemmas multiply. How will the new compare to the old? Will it be able to handle all these responsibilities – looking good, representing you, fitting in with your wardrobe, meeting the expectations of others? Like divorcing, then remarrying, changing your jewelry can take some time for readjustment. And you do not want to be seen as noncommittal to your jewelry. This would sort of be like going to a hotel, but not unpacking your suitcase while staying in the room.
Conveying some sort of social or psychological distance from your jewelry can be very unsettling for others. So you need to inhabit it. You need to inhabit your jewelry, wear it with conviction, pride and satisfaction. Be one with it. Inhabiting jewelry often comes with a price. There becomes so much pressure to buy the “right” pieces, given all the roles we demand our jewelry to play, that we too often stick with the same brands, the same colors, the same styles, the same silhouettes.
We get stuck in this rut and are afraid to step out of it. Or we wear too many pieces of jewelry. The long earrings, plus the cuff bracelets on both arms, plus the head band, plus the hair ornament, plus the 7-strand necklace, plus the 5 rings. We are ever uncertain which piece or pieces will succeed at what, so hopefully, at least some combination or subset of what we wear will work out.
In a similar way, we wear over-embellished pieces – lots of charms, lots of dangles, lots of fringe, lots of strands. Something will surely be the right color, the right fit and proportion, the right fashion, the right power statement, the right reflection of me.
And our need to inhabit our jewelry comes with one more price. We are too willing to overpay for poorly made pieces in our desperation to have that right look. The $100.00 of beads strung on elastic string. The poorly dyed stones which fade in the light. The poorly crimped and overly stiff pieces with little ease for accommodating movement and frequent wear. It is OK to inhabit our jewelry. In fact, it is necessary, given all we want jewelry to do for us. But we need to be smart about it. We need to learn to recognize better designs and better designers.
This need not be expensive at all.
Posted by learntobead on April 30, 2013
A MANAGEMENT PROCESS
Color blending with beads is always challenging. It is not like paints, where you can merge and blend colors with ease. Beads are physical objects with set colors. You can’t mush them together, The transition from bead to bead in any piece, requires the eye/brain, when interacting and interpreting colors, to literally jump a cliff between the inevitable gaps of light between each bead. You want the viewer to have a satisfying, pleasurable journey as their eye/brain moves along that line of color-transitioning beads.
It is this transition from color to color that must be managed.
The Monet’s Garden Bracelet by Kathleen Lynam
One Example of a Color Blending Strategy
The Monet’s Garden Bracelet is a fun project that students love. It is for students who have some familiarity with bead weaving. Kathleen had been experimenting with various strategies for blending colors along the length of a bracelet. At about the same time, Beadwork issued a call for project proposals to be used in a book about what to do with your Bead Stash — all those small quantities of lots of different colors you have left over. This was the perfect type of project for color blending.
This bracelet teaches a mathematical approach for organizing several colors within a color blending scheme. Also presented is a simple math formula for personalizing your bracelet — that is, varying the width and length to suit your needs. The techniques here are Square Stitch and Fringing.
In her pieces, Kathleen loves to draw on nature’s inspiration. She gathers flowers and plants and bring them into the bead shop to match their colors as closely as she can. For her Monet’s Garden Bracelet, she developed instructions for both a Spring Palette, as well as a Fall Palette. However, the instructions would be as useful for a monochromatic palette, such as whites to grays to black, or a Southwest palette, such as turquoise to corals to reds. Use your imagination — and use up your bead stash, in the process!
Your goal is to move from one color to the next, in a satisfying way. You have many different kinds of choices to make, when managing a transition like this.
After you have chosen which colors you want to use, you need to decide what the color will look like as a “base” color, and what the color might look like as a “blend” color. With paints, this task is much, much easier, than with beads. It is not easy to blend beads, not least of which is because it is difficult to find the right colors needed to merge a color from base to blend and back to the base of the next color.
In this project, our strategy is to change the proportions of the base color as we move from one row to the next, until the proportions of the base to the blend in the first row are in reverse to the proportions to the blend to the base in the last transitional row. [And then, the blend becomes the new base, etc. along the bracelet.]
Besides varying the proportions, other options of blending that you have as a jewelry artist:
- Varying the brightness and dullness as you move from base to blend, such as finding colors with either more black, more gray, or more white in them
- Graduating the length of your fringes from row to row to create a sense of layering
- Varying the lightness and darkness as you move from base to blend, such as going from red to maroon or from red to pink
When choosing a set of colors, these do not have to match perfectly, but they do need to be coordinated. It is difficult if you vary the finishes of the beads too much. For example, transparent and transparent AB would not work well together in our scheme. Nor would transparent AB and luster finishes. Yet transparent AB, silver-lined and metallic colors do work well together, but only when you allow one of the finishes to be predominant.
Kathleen:”This Monet’s Garden Bracelet project is about color blending, so I went all out in selecting 14 colors. I could have easily used fewer colors or more colors.
Using the color blending strategy presented for this project, with 14 colors, each color would require 4 rows. So, in a bracelet, the base of which consists of 58 rows, the maximum number of colors we could use would be 14 (that is, 58 divided by 4, with 2 extra rows). I decided that when I got to the end with my 14th color, I would blend it with the 1st color, and color an extra row at the beginning and at the end (thus, my two extra rows), both done in the 1st color. [An alternative for treating the end of the bracelet would be to transition back from color 14 to color 13, and finish off the rows.]
I use a formula discussed below in allocating the proportion of each color, row by row. I played with combinations of different finishes. I was not satisfied with plain transparent beads — not enough brightness or dimensionality. Using all one finish, such as an AB finish or luster finish, was interesting, but too monotonous. It didn’t look like “nature”. I settled on using primarily transparent luster-finish colors, with some transparent AB, transparent silver-lined and a couple of metallic and metallic iris finish colors. This mixing of finishes seemed better. These captured and reflected light in different ways, and drew the eye into the bead differently, thus adding considerable interest. Lastly, I used more matte finishes in my Fall palette, than in my Spring.
My transitions from color to color are relatively quick. Each transition from one color to the next takes up 2 rows. With 14 colors, thus 4 rows allocated for each, you would have 2 full color rows and 2 transitional color rows. However, I could have easily come up with a formula-strategy to make the transitions much slower. And I could have come up with a formula-strategy to transition 3 colors at a time, instead of 2.
For this project, I graduated my colors in a way that seeming pleasing to me. The main transition is from reds to purples to golds and topaz’s.
My flower stalks are two sizes. For the first and last stalks, four 11/0 seed beads long and then topped with an 8/0 and a 15/0 seed bead as the flower tips, about 3/8”. For the 2nd through 7th stalks, six 11/0 seed beads long and then topped with an 8/0 and a 15/0 seed bead as the flower tips, about 1/2″. Because I have used Japanese seed beads, the 2nd thru 7th stalks/tips are the same lengths. I tried a sample going longer (8 11/0 seed beads plus the 8/0 and 15/0 tip), but this wasn’t appealing to me. Also, I would not have gone much longer, because the stalks could more likely bend in half, instead of standing more firmly upright. It was important to use 3 color gradations in my flower stalk, rather than a single color. A sense of “movement” is one of the key beauties of this bracelet. As the bracelet is worn, and the fringe move, I want the viewer to have a sense of watching flowers blowing in the wind. To maximize this effect, I vary the colors from darkest near the base to lightest near the flower tip.
For the Fall Palette, I also vary the finishes from luster to color lined, to silver lined, to AB, so that they eye’s interaction with any glass bead will also vary. I want things to feel like that changing of nature during Fall.
I coordinated the colors of the 8/0 and 15/0 seed beads forming the flower and its tip. In many cases, I found colors that were very similar. In a couple of cases, to add a bit of variety and surprise, and I used colors with a little more contrast, yet in the same general color family. “
The pattern underlying Kathleen’s color blending formula:
Determine the color patterns for the non-transitional and the transitional rows of flower stalk tips (the fringe in her bracelet). This pattern is based on playing with the proportions of the two colors, as we transition between them.
In our instructions today, we use the following patterns:
S=Same or current color
N=Next new color
S | S | S | S | S | S | S
First of two Transitional Rows:
S | N | S | N | S | N | S
Second of two Transitional Rows:
N | N | N | S | N | N | N
It is difficult to blend colors, when using beads. Some people like to make a bead mix of all the beads and colors they want to blend. This “Random” approach to blending works sometimes, but in a random way. Similarly, “Alternating” colors or “Graduating Colors from light to dark, or bright to dull” along your piece, also do not work well.
Usually, to get a great color-blending design, you need to plan, pre-test, plan again, pre-test again, until you work out a more involved, complex patterning.
One way to choreograph things, is to play with color proportions. Go line by line, and begin with the ideal proportionate relationship between two colors. Gradually manipulate this down the line by anticipating the next ideal proportionate relationship between the next two colors that need to follow.
Posted by learntobead on September 16, 2014
|Be Dazzled Beads and The Center for Beadwork & Jewelry Arts in Nashvile, Tennessee
welcomes Warren Feld
Hapua Reef Bracelet Workshop
In the Hapua Reef Bracelet project…
— Preparing a brass cuff form, finishing the inner and outer surfaces with ultra-suede and Lacy’s Stiff Stuff foundation
— Adding an edging around your piece
Bead Embroidery has been used to embellish and decorate clothing since the dawn of civilization. In both Russia and China, remains have been found of bead embroidery dating back thousands of years. In more recent history, bead embroidery has been used to decorate religious items, formal attire, and household objects.
Bead Embroidery is such a versatile stitch that all beads are game! If you were working on a large wall-hanging, larger beads would be appropriate.
Conversely, if you were working on a necklace or bracelet, you would want to use beads that are proportionate to your project. Within those guidelines, any type of bead (bugle, seed, delica, drop, etc.) would enhance the dimensionality and texture of your piece.
We create a canvas, decide how to give form to this canvas, plan a design, and embroider that design onto our formed-canvas. The challenge is always to achieve a contemporary, artistic look to your piece — one that has a sense of movement, dimensionality, a use of materials that makes the ordinary ‘noteworthy’, and good technique.
In this piece, I wanted to re-create the colors, patterns and lines of the beautiful forms, waves and materials along the shoreline of a tropical lagoon and the underlying reef in the Caribbean. I especially liked looking through the shallow water where it met the beach at a particularly secluded part of the lagoon.
I also wanted to create an embroidery plan that allows the student to learn several different embroidery-patterning techniques within the composition as a whole.
Hapua Reef Laguna
What Techniques Students Need To Know Before The Workshop
The skill level required: Advanced Beginner. The student must be comfortable with using needle and thread.
Posted by learntobead on March 13, 2014
Sales and Promotions at Land of Odds – Jewelry Design CenterLand of Odds/Be Dazzled Beads- What’s On Sale
|Land of Odds – Be Dazzled Beads|
Posted by learntobead on December 26, 2013
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO “BEAD-WEAVE”?
(reposted from earlier this year)
The answers to this question anticipate our strategies for how best to train and educate people. The answers imply our goals and preferences for how people learn, what they learn, in what order they learn things, and how they apply what they learn, and how we should measure success and accomplishment.
Over the 24 years I have been doing this, and I’m going to generalize here, all too often, I see people learning techniques, but not skills. I see people wed themselves to one or a limited set of techniques, to the exclusions of others. I see people who avoid learning higher level concepts which would assist them in coming up with new ideas for manipulating beads within a composition. Or they insist or pretend that there are no higher learnings — no theories, no concepts, no structures — beyond the simple step-by-step techniques they rehearse over and over again.
So obviously, part of the answer to me, of “What Does It Mean To Bead Weave”, goes beyond technique. I would want to switch the emphasis in our training programs, our magazines, our how-to-books, our online tutorials from a focus on specific techniques to a focus on specific skills that might span all or most techniques.
Such as, – managing thread tension – starting a stitch off anywhere – increasing and decreasing – coming to a point – making a curve line – making ruffles – creating and filling negative spaces – layering – evoking emotional responses – achieving symmetry and balance – making rapid and slow transitions – managing components and transitions from one to the next – connectivity and linkage – anticipating requirements for movement and drape – contemplating the bead and how it asserts its needs – color, light and shadow – managing function vs. aethetics
…among other skills.
To me, “bead-weaving” means to manage a process using beads as the medium, thread or other stringing material as canvas, within a particular composition such as a piece of jewelry.
What does “bead weaving” mean to you?