Learn To Bead

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


Posted by learntobead on April 15, 2013


reposted from my Jewelry Design Discussion Group on FaceBook
Kierkegaard – and I apologize for getting a little show-off-y with my referents – once described “Creativity” as “a passionate sense of the potential.” And I love this definition. Passion is very important. Some kind of intuitive sense made operational by bringing all your capabilities and wonderings and technical know-how to the fore – creativity is the sum of a whole set of thinking and mechanical and imaginative activities.

You sit down, and you ask, what should I create? For most people, especially those getting started, they look for patterns and instructions in bead magazines or how-to books or websites online. They let someone else make all the creative choices for them. The singular creative choice here is picking what you want to make. And, when you’re starting, this is OK.

When you feel more comfortable with the materials and the techniques, you can begin to make additional choices. You can choose your own colors. You can make simple adaptations, such as changing out the bead, or changing the dimensions, or changing out a row.

Eventually, however, you will want to confront the Creativity issue head on. You want to decide that pursuing your innermost “jewelry designer”, no matter what pathway this takes you along, is the next thing, and right thing, to do. That means, at first, you want your jewelry and your beadwork to reflect your artistic hand. You want to develop a personal style. You want to come up with your own projects.

But applying yourself creatively is also work. It can be fun at times, but scary at other times. There is an element of risk. You might not like what you end up doing. Your friends might not like it. Nor your family. You might not finish it. Or you might do it wrong. It always will seem easier to go with someone else’s project, already proven to be liked and tested – because it’s been published, and passed around, and done over and over again by many different people. Sometimes it seems insurmountable, after finishing one project, to decide what to do next.

But it’s important to keep pushing on. Challenging yourself. Developing yourself. Turning yourself into a bead artist or jewelry artist. And pursuing opportunities to exercise your talents even more, as you enter the world of design.

So, what kinds of creative advice can you offer others about enhancing their creativity?

Here is some of my advice:

Success Stories. While you are fiddling with beads and wire and clasps and everything else, try to be as aware as you can of why your successes are successful. What are all the things you did to succeed? On what points does everyone agree the project succeeds?

Un-Block. Don’t set up any road blocks. Many people, rather than venture onto an unknown highway of creativity, put up walls to delay their path. If they just had the right beads. Or the right colors. Or sufficient time. Or had learned one more technique. Or had taken one more class. Or could find a better clasp. These are excuses. Excuses to avoid getting creative.

Adapt. Anticipate contingencies. It amazes me how many people come into the shop with a picture out of a magazine. We probably can find over half the components, but for the remaining components pictured which we don’t have in stock, we suggest substitutes. But, NO, the customer has to have it exactly like the picture, or not at all. Not every store has every bead and component. Many beads and components are not made all the time. Many colors vary from batch to batch. Many established companies have components especially made up for them – and not available to the general public. The supplies of many beads and components are very limited – not unlimited.

Play. Be a kid again. Let your imagination run wild. Try things. Try anything. If the world says your color combination is ugly, don’t listen to them. Do it anyway. Ignore all restrictions. Forget about social and art conventions.

Be Curious. Play “What If…” games. What if a different color? What if a different technique? What if a different width or length? What if a different style of clasp. Re-arrange things. Tweak. Take out a bead board, and lay out beads and findings on the board, and re-order everything — Ask yourself: More or less satisfying?

Embrace the New. Don’t do the same project over and over again, simply because you have proven to yourself that you can make it. While you might want to repeat a project, with some variations, to learn more things, too much doing of the same-ole, same-ole, can be very stifling.

Evaluate. Learn from failures. You have invested time, money and effort into making these pieces. And not everything works out, or works out well. Figure out why, and turn these failed pieces into lessons and insights.

And if you suddenly find your productivity interrupted by Bead-Block and Artist-Block and Jeweler’s-Block, put your project down. Take a break. Robert Alan Black gives great advice. He shouts at the blocked: Break A Crayon. He shouts again: Draw Outside The Lines. And I would add: Stick your hands into a bowl full of mud. These are all great advice.

Do something out of the ordinary. Something unexpected. Or socially taboo. Or something not just done. This will shock your system to think in different ways. To see things in a new light. To recognize contradictions.

And unblock you.

4 Responses to “WHAT SHOULD I CREATE”

  1. As one who could never follow instructions, all my projects are one of a kind. I always let the beads tell me what they want to do. Even if I begin with an idea in mind, it always morphs into something completely different. As you say, no one ever has exactly the same components for a project so beading has to be flexible and imaginative. I am always amazed at the current level of beading excellence I see on line. As a long time beader who could never find supplies locally, the internet has opened up a new world for me. It is wonderful to receive a parcel of supplies in the mail and it always inspires me to create something new. I have a huge stash of beads, but until the right beads are found to combine with others, some projects just have to wait. And then the process is as easy as breathing!

    • debandtoby said

      Sometimes i follow a pattern just to learn a new technique. i’ll substitute whatever i have one hand. Then there’s one more technique in my bag of tricks. I do a wide variety of crafts and am always combining aspects of one craft with another. So very few of my projects exactly follow a pattern, even if it’s just changing colors or clasps or whatever.

  2. Jennifer said

    Love this. It is so true. Essentially that is where we start from, patterns and pictures from books. As we grow comfortable with our skill set we can then stretch our thoughts and move forward. I have never really followed patterns but more looked at the design overall and the bead- component combination and then re made them with my influence. Never the same.

  3. Good post. I absolutely appreciate this website. Keep it up!

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