HOW TO BEAD A ROGUE ELEPHANT
…A Guide For The Aspiring Bead Artist
by Warren S. Feld
Excerpts From This Ever-Evolving Tale…..
I don’t mean to drag a poor Elephant by its tail, kicking and screaming, into our bead world against its wishes. Nor do I perceive the elephant to be a threat, like you might see an Elephant in the boudoir, or the fine china store. And I don’t want you to shut your eyes and pretend not to notice that this Elephant is here, standing shoulder to shoulder with every beader and jewelry maker around.
The Elephant is not a joke. And the fact that it is “Rogue” makes it more important than ever to figure out why it’s here, among size #10 English beading needles, and Czech size 11/0 seed beads, and Austrian crystal beads. It seems so worldly, yet other-worldly, our Elephant. It’s not our muse. It’s not our Cassandra. It has no secret plan or strategy. It does not depend on its size to make its point. It does not hesitate to stomp and chomp and clomp because the beads before it are raku or glass or gemstone or crystal or metal or plastic. But a Rogue Elephant in the middle of our craft room forces upon us a completely different logic, so that we can make sense of it all.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO “BEAD-WEAVE”?
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.
- 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
- 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. aesthetics
…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.
For example, I teach a unit on Managing Thread Tension. In this class, we make a bracelet using Square Stitch. First the student makes the bracelet using 4mm cube beads and Nymo thread. Then they make the same bracelet with 4mm cubes and FireLine cable thread. And yet again, they do the bracelet again using size 8/0 seed beads and their choice of either Nymo thread or FireLine. And we discuss the differences, in terms of managing the thread tension, holding the piece while working it, achieving good drape and movement, achieving satisfactory bead-to-bead effects such as a pleasing color transition, attaching the clasp.
What does “bead weaving” mean to you?
Land of Odds(www.landofodds.com) – Beads, Jewelry Findings, Jewelry Making Supplies
Land of Odds provides bead and jewelry making artists with virtually all their beads, supplies,
books and jewelry findings needs, with over 30,000 products.
Home of The Ugly Necklace Contest-A Jewelry Design Competition With A Twist, The Illustrative Beader: Beaded TapestryCompetition, and of All Dolled Up: Beaded Art Doll Competition.
Warren Feld Jewelry (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com)
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