Learn To Bead

At Land of Odds / Be Dazzled Beads – Beads, Jewelry Findings, and More

Archive for April, 2010

Finnish Jewelry Retrospective Exhibit

Posted by learntobead on April 28, 2010

All That Glitters: Finnish Jewelry
traveling exhibit now at the Fitchburg Art Museum, Massachusetts

Organized by the Helsinki Design Museum, this exhibition of Finnish jewelry from the 1930s to contemporary conceptual art pieces follows changes in the meanings and design of jewelry over the decades. The exhibition includes uncluttered Jewelry design from the 1950s by Elis Kauppi, Bertel Gardberg, Börje Rajalin and Paula Häiväoja, Björn Weckströms forceful Lapponia jewelry of the 1960s, and the most interesting achievements of the jewelry industry and designers from recent decades.

It gets frustrating going online, finding out about important jewelry exhibits, and trying to see images of what will be in these exhibits.      Museums and Galleries seem to operate on the hide-and-seek business model.    They hide any images of the pieces to be exhibited, hoping to entice you to come into the exhibit personally.

Alas and alack, this isn’t feasible for most people.    These Museums and Galleries need to evolve from the pre-internet, pre-globalization eras, and look at what Museums like the Smithsonian or the Hermitage or even the Vatican are doing, to make their collections and exhibits more accessible to the masses.      They might be surprised how providing images and information might have positive impacts on local attendance, regional and national recognition, and card, poster and gift sales.

So, here are some things I think you might see at this exhibit.

Eva Gylden, Cameo, 1929


Bjorn Weckstrom/Lapponia Jewelry, 1969


Reino Saastamoinen, late 1960s

Posted in jewelry design, Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Carla Reiter Jewelry

Posted by learntobead on April 28, 2010

Carla Reiter Jewelry

I came across an article describing Carla Reiter’s metal-knit jewelry, and I had to take a look for myself.

I was impressed, so I thought I’d share some images with you.

Her jewelry looks soft, looks like it drapes well, comfortably and would move well as the wearer moved.   It’s very earthlike, rich, organic.  

Posted in jewelry design, Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »


Posted by learntobead on April 27, 2010

Business and Jewelry Art

To what extent do (and should) business concerns influence the artistic choices bead and jewelry artists make?

I’d say “A Lot!”  But this isn’t what a lot of artists like to hear.

You have to market to audiences.   You may have to standardize things to be able to make the same thing over and over again.   You may have to work in a production mode and repeat making certain designs, rather than freely create and design anew each time.   You have to price things so that they will sell, and you have to price things so that you can make a sufficient profit.    You can’t undersell yourself, like offering discounts to family, friends and co-workers.

You have to conform to prevalent styles and colors and forms.    You have to make things that will photograph well for sale online.     You have to make things that local stores want and are willing to buy or put on consignment.    You may end up with a lot of “one size fits all.”

You find that if you want to make your jewelry design into a successful business, you may have to compromise with yourself, your artistic drives and sensibilities.    You may have to limit what you offer.    In order to make that sale.   In order to make a profit.   And stay in business.

Business involves:
– Putting your artwork on a sound cost/revenue footing
– Developing market-driven strategies (as opposed to product-driven ones)
– Pricing your pieces for sale
– Implementing various selling strategies
– Compromising artistic and design choices, in the interest of the business

Over and over again, I have seen one jewelry artist after another fail as a business.    The reasons repeat themselves as well.

1. A reluctance to learn how to conduct oneself as a business.    

Many jewelry artists get so excited after selling their first piece, that they think they don’t have to get too involved with business principles.      They understand their “business” as a “necklace-by-necklace” endeavor.   Make something, sell it.   Doesn’t matter what the price.   Doesn’t matter to whom.  Doesn’t matter if making the piece in the first place is in line with the resources you currently have to make the piece, or will drive you in debt in order to get those resources.

Artists need to focus on what’s called “Velocity”.   You need to have in place sufficient strategies for keeping the money turning over at a constant rate.   If you can’t maintain this rate, you  go in the hole.    You make something.  You sell it.  You reallocate the money you just made to reinvesting in more inventory, replacing the inventory you sold, evaluating the pros and cons of the sale that just happened, adjusting accordingly, and strategizing how to keep this velocity going at a constant, or ever-increasing, velocity.

And artists need to keep good records, and implement good accounting principles.

2.   Gets Bored.

People who get started are very excited.   They’ve made a lot of pretty pieces, and someone has bought some of them.    But then you need to leave your creative mode, and enter a production mode.   You need to discipline yourself to make the same things over and over again.   Many artists quickly lose interest.

3.  A fear of marketing your own things

You won’t succeed without marketing.   Marketing is more than advertising.  It includes all forms of self-promotion.  It includes doing research on your markets and market niches, how to reach them, how to get their attention, how to get them to translate this attention into needs and wants and desires, and how to get them to part with some money.    

Many artists are shy about self-promotion.    Time to train yourself, if this is you, to get over it.

4.  Trying to please all audiences

When people get started, they are reluctant to use the “No” word.    They want to please everyone.     But when you get started, you can’t.    It will put you out of business.

Let’s say you have some jewelry that is predominantly purple.   Someone at work loves the jewelry, but asks if you can make it in red.     If you don’t have an inventory of red beads, and will have to go out and buy them, it may make this sale foolish, from a business standpoint.   You can’t buy just one bead at a time; you need to buy strands or packages of these beads.   

When you start, you need to pursue a strategy of depth, rather than breadth.   You want to buy a limited number of pieces in large quantities to get adequate price breaks.   So, initially, your designs will be limited, as well.     You need to be able to say No.    No  to your family.  No to your friends.  No to the people you work with.

In my experience, such as the situation with red vs purple beads above, when you say No, the potential customer tends to make a face.     Pitiful.   Angry.   Frustrated.    Sad.   Pleading.      If you can wait 60 seconds, in almost every case, the customer stops making this face, and says, “OK, I’ll take what you have in purple.”      But so many jewelry artists can’t wait that 60 seconds.

And don’t give these people discounts.    They’re already getting it cheaper, than if they bought the same piece in a store.    One major way your business will get built up is word-of-mouth.   You don’t want some of that information to include extremely low price expecations that will never be self-supporting in your business.

5.  Doesn’t do homework on the competition

You need to understand how other jewelry artists you compete with function as a business.

How do they define their markets?
How do they price things?
What kinds of inventory do they carry?     What kinds do they NOT carry?
Where do they advertise?   How do they promote themselves?
How do they define their competitive advantage — that is, all the reasons people should buy from them, rather than from anyone else, like you?
Where do they sell things — stores, shows, fairs, online, etc?      What seems to work better for them?

You can find a lot of this out by Googling.     You can look for jewelry designers.  Directories of jewelry designers.    You can plug in a jewelry designer’s website, and see where they are listed, and who lists them.

Posted in business of craft, Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Semi-Finalists Announced — Ugly Necklaces

Posted by learntobead on April 27, 2010

8th International The Ugly Necklace Contest, 2010
A Jewelry Design Contest with a Twist!

Semi-Finalists Announced

OnLine Voting will begin June 1, 2010
on the
Land of Odds website

It’s that time of year again.    Time to put aside all your desires for beauty, art and taste, and put on your jewelry design skills cap.      Because here they are.  The 2010 Semi-Finalists of The Ugly Necklace Contest.    Each will be waiting for you to judge and evaluate them online.   So one can go home with the prize of $992.93 shopping spree on the Land of Odds website.

It’s Not Easy To Do Ugly!

Your mind and eye won’t let you go there. As research into color and design has shown, your eye and brain compensate for imbalances in color or in the positioning of pieces and objects – they try to correct and harmonize them. You are pre-wired to subconsciously avoid anything that is disorienting, disturbing or distracting.

Because of this, any jewelry designer who attempts to achieve “Ugly,” has to have enough control and discipline to override, perhaps overcome, intuitive, internally integrated principles of good design. Thus, the best jewelry designers will be those artists who can design the Ugliest Necklaces.

Our Special Rules for 2010 required that the color ‘purple’ be predominant in each necklace submission.

OnLine Voting will begin 6/1/10.

Here’s the line-up, with apologies to anyone who might be offended.    Let see how well these jewelry designers did to create something that is Ugly:

(1) Kimberly Allison
Escondido, California
“The Ugliest Necklace.  Period.”

(2) Alesia DiFederico
Southbury, Connecticut
“Super Duper Purple Pooper Scooper”

(3) Sandy Borglum
Chicago, Illinois
“The Purple Eyesore of Texas”

(4) Sharon Wagner
Sterling Heights, Michigan
“Round and Round”

(5) Deborah Eve Rubin
Rockville, Maryland
“The Colors of Purple”

(6) Bonnie J. Scherer
Palmer, Alaska
“Drinking Girl’s Necklace: The Grapes of Wrath”

(7) Lynn Margaret Davy
Wimborne, Dorset, United Kingdom

(8) Jane W. West
Pelham, Alabama
“What Can I Make Today?”

How well do you think you can do?    You might consider starting now on your submission to our next contest.   Deadline is 3/15/2012.

Posted in Contests | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Using Beads/Jewelry As Economic Development Tool

Posted by learntobead on April 15, 2010

Using Beads and Jewelry
As Tools For Community and Economic Development

Recently, I read a column by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times entitled Partying to Change the World.

I wanted to share this link with you.

In the article Kristof discusses the work of BeadforLife.

Here two women created an economic support system based on the talents of African women who make beads from trash, and the profit-motive — selling the beads in finished jewelry at home parties in America, and reinvesting this money back in the local enterprises in Africa.  

Moreover, they developed an educational program about Africa for American schools.    The motivation was marketing, but the outcomes far exceed that.

Fascinating story and case study.    I meet many people each year who work with local villagers around the world, to help them find markets for their jewelry, better beading supplies for their craft, and strategies for improving productivity in their efforts.     Here’s a very full and flushed out operation to learn from.

Posted in beads, business of craft | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »


Posted by learntobead on April 15, 2010

Poor Jewelry Design

Here’s an article about Poor Jewelry Design, with many images of examples of such design.    The author makes the point that jewelry must have some kind of personal or cultural meaning, so its value can be measured.     Much contemporary jewelry has an ephemeral, temporary personal or cultural resonance, and ways to value these pieces is difficult or no longer makes sense.

Click HERE.

Posted in jewelry design | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

More Ideation – Jewelry

Posted by learntobead on April 15, 2010

More Ideation – Jewelry

Stefano Marchetti is another metal artist who has spent a lot of time thinking about and discussing ways to think through jewelry design.    In his personal process, he likes to take classical pieces and forms, cut them up or break them into different pieces, and reassemble them into something that meets the contemporary sensibility.

Posted in jewelry design | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Giovanni Corvaja

Posted by learntobead on April 15, 2010

Giovanni Corvaja

Inspired by looking at fibers and sponges through a microscope, Italian goldsmith Giovanni Corvaja pushes finely spun precious metal to its limits.
The jewelry is intricate.   Seems gossamer floss thin.    Otherworldly.    He uses a variety of techniques, including knitting, micro welding and granulation to form wisps of gold into sculptural jewelry.

I think part of the successes of these pieces is that he creates this chaotic micro-world, but locks in tightly within a very clear, concise, geometric form or series of lines.

I think this piece below is less satisfying because it lacks that juxtaposition of clear and chaotic forms.

Posted in jewelry design | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Ideation – Jewelry

Posted by learntobead on April 15, 2010


How do you begin to create the idea of a piece of jewelry in your mind?   What do you start with?   How does the drawing or sketch of the piece begin to emerge?

Noam Elyashiv is a metalsmith and jewelry artist.   Her reputation is based on focusing intently and intellectually on the process of this “jewelry ideation”, and seeing what kinds of pieces of jewelry emerge.   

Her ideation process begins with the exploration of correlations and interactions between line, plane and volume through the composition of her form-related jewelry. 

pair of earrings

She is graduated of the Bezalel Academy of Art & Design, Jerusalem, Israel, Elyashiv’s work is regularly exhibited and published internationally. She has won several awards — among them the America Israel Cultural Foundation Award, the Absolute Vodka Emerging Artists Award and a Rhode Island State Council for the Arts Artist Fellowship in Crafts. Most recently her work was honored by the Art Jewelry Forum.


Her current exhibition is  at:

Gallery Loupe for Contemporary Art Jewelry



I’m not sure that if you begin your ideation process with lines and geometric shapes, that your jewelry has to be tightly bound to these ideas.      But here Noam is making a scholarly and academic point.

And I personally think that the good jewelry designer is one who has a personally elaborated and developed ideation process of her or his own.


Posted in jewelry design | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »


Posted by learntobead on April 13, 2010

at Land of Odds
Sale ends Mon, 4/19/2010


Usually when we order gemstones and pearls, and sometimes when we order Czech glass and jewelry findings, we have to order by containers. We have a general idea of what we will be getting, but not a full idea. That’s because when we order this way, all we do is provide the suppliers with a wish list, and we get what we get. This usually means we also get a lot more of some items than we can move in a short time. We have to prepare the merchandise for resale and we have to store much of it. These kinds of things add to our “cost”, and get reflected in the final prices. So here’s your chance to get a jump start on the merchandise before it gets priced.

CLICK HERE to receive notices about future First Dibs Sales.

Posted in Resources | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »