Learn To Bead

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

Archive for December 26th, 2013


Posted by learntobead on December 26, 2013

(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?


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Posted by learntobead on December 26, 2013

(reposted from earlier this year)


While I occasionally use armatures in my beadwork projects, I have a psychological aversion to them as somehow contaminating my beadwork, making it less pure, taking the sacred and making it profane. I think what I viscerally react to is how often, the way people use the armatures, makes the piece look more crafty or less finished.

Nevertheless, when you need your beadwork to hold a shape, what other things can you resort to?

What kinds of experiences do you have with armatures? What kinds of materials have you used, and which to you like to use best?

How do you marry the beadwork with the armature? Camouflage?

— Warren

About Armature

Armature is used to create and preserve shape within a piece. It is a type of “skeleton” or internal structure.

Your goals, as a bead artist and jewelry designer, are to select an appropriate material and size of the armature, so that it does not compete or detract from your finished piece. You do not want your piece to look or feel “crafty.” You want it to look and feel artistic and well-designed. You do not want your piece to feel weak, or somehow insufficient, given the wearer’s and the viewer’s expectations.

You do not want the essence of the armature’s materials in any way to work against the essence of the material(s) your beads are made of. Usually, but not always, this means hiding the armature inside the piece.

In making your selection of armature, you need to understand the design-relationships between those sections of the piece requiring armature, and why they require it.

One reason is to create or preserve a Shape. In Autumn’s End (pictured), Kathleen Lynam wanted to turn the somewhat soft, floppy and flimsy Ndebele tube into a solid, 3-dimensional, consistent tube.

A second reason to use an armature is to Pose. In Autumn’s End, she wanted the Ndebele tube to make a circle around a person’s wrist, and, once there, stay in form and place. Thus, our armature needs some degree of flexibility, but at the same time, it must be able to hold the pose, as well.

A third reason has to do with Action. She was concerned with Action, when a part of her piece had to be animated in some way. This is somewhat important with Autumn’s End, in that our wearer will have to pull open and push closed on the wristlet, to get it on and off, and to position it comfortably on the wrist..

There are many types of materials bead artists and jewelry designers use to make armatures. Sometimes this involves stuffing with cotton or fiber fill. It might involve using tin foil. Othertimes, we might use a toothpick, dowel, straw, tubing, wire, or metal rod. We can also create the armature using glue to create a solid or stiffened structure. We can also create our armature from sculpted clay, like polymer clay or metal clay or plastic wood.

Given the shape and pose requirements of Autumn’s End, her choices came down to plastic aquarium tubing, a thick-gauge wire, or plumber’s solder. The tubing would not have met her “pose” and “action” requirements anywhere near as well as the solder does. Nor would a thick gauge wire.

In this piece, she used the idea of “Armature” in a secondary way. She painted the flowers and leaves with acrylic floor wax. This stiffened the threads — what would be considered the canvas of the piece — so that these threads, too, turned into a type of armature preserving “shape” and “pose”.

We are in the process of turning Autumn’s End into a kit for sale at Land of Odds and LearnToBead.net — not ready yet — , but you can see some images on our website.


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Posted by learntobead on December 26, 2013

(re-posted from earlier this year)


I remember one of the first times I had to say Good-Bye to my piece, and it hit me hard. I had one of my pieces accepted as a Semi-Finalist entry for Swarovski’s Be Naturally Inspired Design Contest 2008.

The week I had to ship my piece to Swarovski — a piece I had worked on over 100 hours to make, that from concept to fruition has been many, many months, and a lot of trial and error. And they were going to keep it. I would not see it again.

I have to tell you, I got a little separation anxiety. Which made me think that this raises a good discussion question.

How do you say Good-Bye to your pieces?

I’ve sold a lot of pieces. Each one is special. I always give a name to each piece. Each piece has its own story. It’s own inspiration. And all of a sudden, its gone. Someone else has it.

So how do you say Good-Bye to your pieces?

Please share your thoughts.


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New Specials This Week at Land of Odds/Be Dazzled Beads

Posted by learntobead on December 26, 2013

Sales and Promotions at Land of Odds – Jewelry Design CenterLand of Odds/Be Dazzled Beads- What’s
On Sale

of Odds – Be Dazzled Beads

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Ends: Tues, 2/4/14

While supplies last / No Rainchecks

Live in Nashville?

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Land of Odds…LEARN
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Design Approach

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over 5 1/2 hours

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