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Archive for January, 2014

COLORS: BLURRED TRANSITIONS or SHARP TRANSITIONS

Posted by learntobead on January 29, 2014

COLORS:  BLURRED TRANSITIONS  or SHARP TRANSITIONS

 

QUESTION:
Do you prefer the transitions between colors in your composition to be blurred, or to have sharp delineations?

 

 

 

The jewelry designer must be strategic in the placement of color within the piece.     The designer achieves balance and harmony, partly through the placement of colors.    The designer determines how colors are distributed within the piece, and what movement and rhythm and effect result.    And the designer determines what proportions of each color are used, where in the piece, and how.

 

Those of us who teach color theory try to come up with scientific and objective rules for choosing and using colors.    However, a lot of those choices, in reality, can be very subjective.

 

One subjective choice has to do with the transition from one color to the next.   Some people, like myself, prefer a blurring of colors at their boundaries.   Think: Impressionism.

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Other people prefer a sharp, clear, obvious boundary of colors at their boundaries.   Think: Realism.

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Which do you prefer – Blurred or Sharp?

 

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ADDICTED TO BEADS

Posted by learntobead on January 23, 2014

ADDICTED TO BEADS

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QUESTION:
At what point did you realize you were addicted to beads?

 

People are always saying how addicting beads are.    They expressed surprise that the pull of beads was so strong.    They couldn’t stop buying and accumulating beads.    They couldn’t go anywhere without stopping at the local bead store for a bead fix.    They found themselves intentionally fooling or deceiving themselves about how many beads they actually had, or how much money they had spent on them.

 

Yes, beads are very addicting.   Even though your drawers are full, you never have enough.

 

We asked our students, customers and colleagues to complete this sentence:

 

I never knew how addicting this was until….

 

…My car automatically turned into the parking lot in front of the bead store.

 

…I was laying in bed looking at my ceiling tiles and realized they were done in a “Peyote” stitch pattern!

 

…I made my beaded fish in progress into a screen-saver.  It is all about the process, when will I finish?  who cares… I have this beautiful thing to handle and see as I work.  Such a pleasure! 

 

… I began hiding a stash of money to buy beads:   “It’s not like I’m sleeping around….I’m just buying beads.”

 

… I went shopping for clothes, but came back with only one bag – a bag of mixed beads.

 

…. I used 3 checks to pay for my order – one from a joint account with my husband, a second from an account in my name only, and a 3rd from my son’s account – luckily I had his checkbook in my purse.   So now, my husband will think that I’m only spending a little bit, I can fool myself, and my son doesn’t care one way or the other.

 

… I  converted my dining room to a bead room, and made my family eat in the den on TV trays.

 

… I found that despite my long and mostly constant love of fabric – I am after all a lifetime seamstress, having been comforted by the smell and color of fabric stores and the chush, chush, chushing of my mom’s Kenmore machine since first memories – could not resist the magnetic pull into the unknown.  There, standing at the front door of my local craft store with nothing on my mind or agenda but 2 yards of multi-colored backing fabric for a client’s project, I saw the front of my wobbly plastic basket steering to the Northwest (Fabric is definitely to the Southwest) with such abandon that the lovely glass shelves in the center front of the store were in danger!

 

…I turned to beads for solace and a quiet focus. I have been going through a very hard time trying to keep a very ailing relationship together and when I could have been stressed out and worrying, I spent the time quietly beading.  When I just wanted to go to bed and stay there for days, I was able to sit in my living room with my son and do bead work.  To him, I was being with him and calm; to me, I was hiding in my beadwork and being near him.  Beads have been my refuge.  I have even read where hand needle work is a stress reliever, I am a living testament to that!

 

…I saw seed beads in what I scooped out of my cat box!  I took my bead work and worked in the car on vacation. Every time I vacuum the sound of beads is heard. It seems every purse I clean out has some beads in it. I find beads on the back porch, when I sweep. It is a really tough decision, when I come to the off ramp which leads to the bead store and I really need to get home! I have more beads than projects for them!

 

…I gave up a Shoe Addiction for this…it better be worth it!

 

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WHEN INSTRUCTIONS ARE BAD…

Posted by learntobead on January 4, 2014

WHEN INSTRUCTIONS ARE BAD…

I again find myself writing a set of instructions for a piece to appear in a bead magazine later this year.   It can be such a frustrating process for ME – the writer.    And that’s because I don’t want it to be a frustrating process for anyone else.   This is not easy to do.

Because this is for a magazine, I have to considerably stream-line my instructions and diagrams.    Often that means assuming the reader has some experience and understanding with certain techniques or certain materials.   Sometimes this means leaving out some things which are thought to be “obvious”.   And it means leaving out a lot of the “Why.”   With this particular project, I don’t have space to explain why I chose FireLine rather than regular beading thread, though this was a critical choice to the success of the piece.   I don’t have space to explain why I use peanut beads the way I do, though this too is critical for success.    You could not substitute another bead for the peanut beads because this particular shape plays an important structural role in the piece.   But no one reading the instructions will know this.   There is no room allowed for explaining why I changed the right angle weave thread-path from the traditional approach.    And I don’t have any space to detail all the inspirational factors and color theory choices which influenced my design.    If someone knew these, they probably could do more than merely re-make my piece.   They could make my piece their own.

Diagrams are often critical for understanding how to proceed.    Hopefully not in this case, but with other magazine articles, the editors have taken five or more separate diagrams and combined them into one.     Try following the thread paths and you get vertigo.     You get a searing headache.   You get Jackson Pollock’s version of bead weaving on a page.

 

It is difficult enough to write instructions without them getting edited down to 2 or 3 magazine pages.    Some pointers I’ve learned for writing, at least, better instructions:

1)      People learn in different ways.  Some can read the text.  Some need to look at a series of progressive images.   Others are great at following diagrams.   You need to be good at all three.

2)      Include a picture of the finished piece.

3)      Know how to begin the process.   Include more details, images and diagrams related to beginning the process.

4)      Write the steps logically and in order.

5)      Keep each Step “short and simple”, and manageable.

6)      Do not over-assume about your reader’s ability.

7)      More problems occur for the reader when moving from one step to another, than accomplishing the particular step itself.

8)      Provide encouragement along the way.

9)      Show milestones and ways for people to track their progress.

10)   Anticipate problems that might occur, or where your reader might get lost.

11)   Pretest your instructions.

12)   Clearly list all materials and tools needed.   If some materials might be difficult or too pricey for someone to acquire, list substitutes.

13)   If there are more than 7-10 steps to do, then categorize and group the steps into sets that are no longer than 7-10 steps.

14)   Provide informational warnings so that people will be able to figure out if they have done something incorrectly or have started down the wrong track.

 

 

Instructions are often some of the worst-written documents you can find.   Like me, you have probably had many infuriating experiences with badly written instructions.

The piece pictured was supposed to be a straight line of beadwork, to be connected into a consistently-sized tube.    Our local bead group was making this piece, and 10 of 11 of us did it wrong.    All our tubes started to look snake-like and crooked.       These instructions jumped from Step 1 to Step 4, back to Step 2, then over to Step 9.    They were full of contingencies – do Step 1 if such and such is happening, but Step 5 if something else is happening.    Almost each step had its own set of footnotes.    There were 25 Steps and only 2 diagrams summarizing all the steps, each illustrating about 15 separate thread paths.

 

 

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PLEASE RESPOND AND POST:
A description of a bad experience you have had with a set of instructions.   If you can, identify where the writer went wrong.   Speculate what you think the writer could have done to improve your experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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