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Archive for November, 2010

Edges, Fringes, Straps, Surface Embellishment

Posted by learntobead on November 19, 2010

Edges, Fringes, Straps, Surface Embellishments
Should these be Critical to the piece,
or, merely Supplemental?

In our Bead Study group, (full discussion notes posted here) we began a unit on learning what I call “turns of the needle” techniques.   These are small, bead-woven  shapes and forms that you make with seed beads and needle and thread.   You can adapt these shapes and forms to use as edging, surface embellishment, straps and fringes.

Classical art theory would say that these kinds of elements in jewelry should be supplemental to the core piece, such as a pendant.    The pendant is “art”, and any fringe, strap, edging or extraneous surface embellishment would merely supplement this.

In painting, these kinds of components would equate with the “frame.”   In sculpture, these kinds of components would equate with the “pedestal base.”  Neither the frame nor the pedestal should be required to appreciate the painting or sculpture as art.    Nor should these detract.  Or compete.   Or take center stage.  Or overwhelm.

If our goal is to elevate beadwork and jewelry to the realm of art, rather than craft, we need somehow to accommodate, confront or revise this concept which is central in art theory, if we don’t agree that edges, fringes, straps, and extra surface embellishment are as important to the jewelry as it’s core.

Should these be supplemental, or complimental, or incidental, or critical to jewelry?

Is adornment and embellishment “art”?

What makes a piece of jewelry an “art” piece?

Is there a design element to creating fringes, edges, straps and surface embellishment?     That is, are there a set of principles that we can follow and share, so that we don’t over-do, or don’t compete with the central part of any piece of jewelry?    Are there a set of rules of construction that we can learn and adapt?

What is the value of decoration?     What principles regulate this?

Ornament Magazine , one of my favorites, uses the image below in their promotional materials.    I love this piece as is, but, based on our bead group discussions, the piece begs the question whether the fringing and straps are helpful or hurtful to the core piece.   Appropriate or inappropriate?   Dragging jewelry back to a craft-base, or elevating jewelry into an art-form?

What do you think?

The discussion continues here.

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Beads Display No Powers Here

Posted by learntobead on November 17, 2010

Beads Display No Powers Here

I visited Vietnam this fall for about 3 weeks.    Somewhat to my surprise, I didn’t get the eyes-wide-open response to the Czech cut glass beads I had brought with me.

Outside Da Nang, we visited a farming village.    We went to a school.   I had brought some loose Czech cut glass beads to give away.    I handed some of the children some beads, and they were clueless.    They at first thought they were food.   I put one in each child’s hand, and held their hands up to the light.    But nothing.    No sense of excitement about the colors.    No sense of the bead.

I met a grandmother with 2 grandchildren, and tried to give the grandmother a bead.    Same thing – blank stare.   Put the bead in her hand, and held her hand up to the light.   Nothing.   She tried to give it to her grandchild, but I told her it was for her.    Such a different reaction to beads that I’ve found most other places.

I knew ahead of time that Vietnamese do not have a jewelry culture.   They don’t wear jewelry, and haven’t in their past.   They have few beads historically, and what beads have been found, were found in the Champa culture, which had originally settled the central part of the country.

But it is interesting that the Vietnamese sell strands of pearls and gemstones, as well as some beaded necklaces, to tourists.     At two stores in Saigon, one in a market, and one more established boutique, both of which sold jewelry made with beads, I tried to have a conversation about beads.    I drew pictures.  I explained how stringing beads creates a necklace or bracelet.    Blank looks.   I showed them the beaded strands of pearls and gemstones they sell, and they see these as “necklaces”, not “strands of beads”.    I showed one of them a bead-embellished scarf.     This made the concept of “beads” a little clearer for her, but she still saw the piece holistically as decoratively embellished, rather than something made up of individual beads.

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Posted by learntobead on November 10, 2010

Read the current issue of:

Fall, 2010


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