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Archive for April 16th, 2020

Creativity: How Do You Get It, How Do You Enhance It?

Posted by learntobead on April 16, 2020

Caterpillar Espiritu, FELD, (2014)

Abstract: Creativity isn’t found, it is developed. Creativity is a phenomenon where both something new and, at the same time, somehow valuable is created. While some people come to creativity naturally, in fact, everyone can develop their creative ability. Thinking creatively involves the integration and leveraging of three different kinds of ideas — insight and inspiration, establishing value, and implementing something. We work through creative thinking through divergence (that is, generating many possibilities), and convergence (that is, reducing the number of these possibilities). There are ten attributes associated with creative problem solving: fluency, flexibility, elaboration, originality, complexity, risk-taking, imagination, curiosity, assessment, and implementation. Last, different strategies are discussed for enhancing creativity and overcoming creative blocks.


Kierkegaard — and I apologize for getting a little show-off-y with my reference — once described Creativity as “a passionate sense of the potential.” And I love this definition. Passion is very important. Passion and creativity can be summed up as some kind of intuitive sense made operational by bringing all your capabilities and wonderings and technical know-how to the fore. All your mechanical, imaginative and knowledge and skills grow over time, as do your abilities for creative thinking and applications. Creativity isn’t inherently natural. It is something that is developed over time as you get more and more experience designing jewelry.

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, or adding a different clasp.

Eventually, however, you will want to confront the Creativity issue head on. You will 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 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 others. 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. Exercising your creative abilities can sometimes be a bear.

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

What Is Creativity?

We create. Invent. Discover. Imagine. Suppose. Predict. Delve into unknown or unpredictable situations and figure out fix-it strategies for resolution and to move forward. All of these are examples of creativity. We synthesize. Generate new or novel ideas. Find new arrangements of things. Seek out challenging tasks. Broaden our knowledge. Surround ourselves with interesting objects and interesting people. Again, these are examples of creativity.

Yet, creativity scares people. They are afraid they don’t have it. Or not enough of it. Or not as much as those other people, whom they think are creative, have. They don’t know how to bring it to the fore, or apply it.

But creativity shouldn’t scare you. Everyone has some creative abilities within themselves. For most people, they need to develop it. Cultivate it. Nourish it. They need to learn various tools and skills and understandings for developing it, applying it and managing it. Creativity is a process. We think, we try, we explore, we fall down and pick ourselves up again. Creativity involves work and commitment. It requires a lot of self-awareness — what we call metacognition. It takes some knowledge, skill and understanding. It can overwhelm at times. It can be blocked at other times.

But it is nothing to be scared about. Creativity is something we want to embrace because it can bring so much self-fulfillment, as well as bring joy and fulfillment to others. Creativity is not some divine gift. It is actually the skilled application of knowledge in new and exciting ways to create something which is valued. Creativity can be acquired and honed at any age or any experience level.

For the jewelry designer, it’s all about how to think creatively. Thinking creatively involves the integration and leveraging of three different kinds of ideas — insight and inspiration, establishing value, and implementing something.

(1) Seeing something out of nothing (perception). Technically, we talk about this as controlling the relationship of space to mass. You begin with a negative space. Within this space, you add points, lines, planes and shapes. As you add and arrange more stuff, the mass takes on meaning and content. The designer has to apply creative thinking in finding inspiration, choosing design elements, arranging them, constructing them, and manipulating them.

(2) Valuing something (cognition). Connections are made. Meaning and content, when experienced by people, result in a sense of appeal and value. We refer to this as desire and expression. Value can relate to the worth or cost of the materials, the intuitive application of ideas and techniques by the artist, the usefulness or functionality of the piece, or something rare about the piece. Value can center on the power to leverage the strengths of materials or techniques, and minimize their weaknesses. The designer has to apply creative thinking to anticipate how various audiences will judge the piece.

(3) Implementing something (acceptance). Jewelry design occurs within a particular interactive context and dialog. The designer translates inspirations into aspirations. Aspirations are then translated into design ideas. Design ideas are implemented, refined, changed, and implemented again until the finished product is introduced publicly. The design process has to be managed. When problems or road-blocks arise, fix-it strategies and solutions need to be accessed and applied. All this occurs in anticipation of how various audiences will respond to the jewelry, and convey their reactions to the artist, their friends, family and acquaintances, and make choices about wearing it and buying it and displaying it publicly. The designer has to apply creative thinking in determining why anyone would like the piece, want the piece, buy the piece, wear the piece, wear it publicly, and wear it again and again, or give it as a gift to someone else.

Types of Creativity

Creativity has two primary components: (1) originality, and (2) functionality or value.

The idea of originality can be off-putting. It doesn’t have to be. The jewelry, so creatively designed, does not have to be a totally and completely new and original design. The included design elements and arrangements do not have to be solely unique and never been done before.

Originality can be seen in making something stimulating, interesting or unusual. It can represent an incremental change which makes something better or more personal or a fresh perspective. It can be something that is a clever or unexpected rearrangement, or a great idea, insight, meaningful interpretation or emotion which shines through. It can include the design of new patterns and textures. It can accomplish connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and generate solutions. It can be a variation on a technique or how material gets used. It can be something that enhances the functionality or value of the piece.

Creativity in jewelry design marries that which is original to that which is functional, valued, useful, worthwhile, desired. These things are co-dependent, if any creative project is to be seen as successful. For jewelry designers, creativity is not the sketch or computer aided drawing. It is not the inspiration. It is not the piece which never sees the light of day, because then it would represent a mere object, not jewelry. Creativity requires implementation. And for jewelry designers, implementation is a very public enterprise.

What Does It Take To Be Creative?

Creative people tend to possess a high level of energy, intuitiveness, and discipline. They are also comfortable spending a great deal of time quietly thinking and reflecting. They understand what it means to cultivate emotions, both within themselves, as well as relative to the various audiences they interact with. They are able to stay engaged with their piece for as long as it takes to bring it to completion. They fall in love with their work and their work process.

Creativity is not something that you can use up. To the contrary, the more you use your creativity, the more you have it. It is developmental, and for the better jewelry designer, development is a continual, life long process of learning, playing, experimenting and doing.

To be creative, one must have the ability to identify new problems, rather than depending on others to define them. The designer must be good at transferring knowledge gained in one context to another in order to solve a problem or overcome something that is unknown. I call this developing a designer tool box of fix-it strategies which the designer takes everywhere. The designer is very goal-oriented and determined in his or her pursuit. But, at the same time, the jewelry designer also understands and expects that the design process is very incremental with a lot of non-linear, back-and-forth thinking and application. There is an underlying confidence and belief, however, that eventually all of this effort will lead to success.

How Do We Create?

It’s not what we create, but how we create!

The creative process involves managing the interplay of two types of thinking — Convergence and Divergence. Both are necessary for thinking creatively.

Divergent thinking is defined as the ability to generate or expand upon options and alternatives, no matter the goal, situation or context.

Convergent thinking is the opposite. This is defined as the ability to narrow down all these options and alternatives.

The fluent jewelry designer is able to comfortably weave back and forth between divergence and convergence, and know when the final choices are parsimonious and the piece is finished, and when the final choices will be judged as resonant and successful.

Brainstorming is a great example of how creative thinking is used. We ask ourselves What If…? How about…? Could we try this or that idea…? The primary exercise here is to think of all the possibilities, then whittle these down to a small set of solutions.

Creative Thinking

Creative thinking first involves cultivating divergent thinking skills and exposing ourselves to the new, the different, the unknown, the unexpected. It is, in part, a learning process. Then next, through our set of convergent thinking skills, we criticize, and meld, and synthesize, and connect ideas, and blend, and analyze, and test practicality, as we steer our thinking towards a singular, realistic, do-able solution in design.

Partly, what we always need to remember, is that this process of creative thinking in jewelry design also assists us finding that potential audience or audiences — weaver, buyer, exhibitor, collector — for our creative work. Jewelry is one of those special art forms which require going beyond a set of ideas, to recognizing how these ideas will be used. Jewelry is only art only when it is worn. Otherwise, it is a sculptural object.

There are 10 aspects to creative thought. Each should be considered as a separate set of skills, both for divergent as well as convergent thinking, which the jewelry designer wants to develop within him- or herself. Initially, the designer wants to learn, experiment with and apply these skills. Over time, the designer wants to develop a level of comprehension and fluency to the point that the application of each of this skills is somewhat automatic.

Fluency: Having a basic vocabulary in jewelry design, and the ability to see how these concepts and design elements are present (decoding) and arranged (composition, construction and manipulation). 
 Divergence: to generate as many possible elements and combinations to increase number of possible designs.

Flexibility: Ability to adapt selections and arrangements, given new, unfamiliar or unknown situations. 
 Divergence: generate a range and variety of possible configurations leading to same solution.

Elaboration: Ability to add to, embellish or build upon ideas incorporated into any jewelry design. 
 Divergence: generate the widest variety of attributes of design elements and combinations which have value-added qualities, given a particular design.

Originality: Ability to create something new or different which has usefulness and value. 
 Divergence: to delineate many ideas and concepts which are both new and have value.

Complexity: Ability to conceptualize difficult, multi-faceted, intricate, many-layered ideas and designs. 
 Divergence: to take a solution and break it down or reinterpret it into as many multiple facets or multiple layers as possible.

Risk-Taking: Willingness to try new things or think of new possibilities in order to show the artist’s hand publicly and stand apart. 
 Divergence: to elaborate the widest possible scenarios for publicly introducing the piece, given various design options, as well as all the ways these potential audiences might interact and use the jewelry, and all the ways these audiences might influence others, as well.

Imagination: Ability to be inspired, and to translate that inspiration into an aspiration. 
 Divergence: to think of many ways an inspiration might be described, interpreted, or experienced physically and emotionally, and to identify the many different ways inspirations might be interpreted into a jewelry design.

Curiosity: Ability to probe, question, search, wanting to know more about something. 
 Divergence: questioning the situation from many angles and perspectives.

Assessment: Ability to anticipate shared understandings, values and desires of various audiences for any piece of jewelry. 
 Divergence: identifying all the possible audiences a piece of jewelry might have, and all the different ways they might judge the piece as finished (parsimonious) and successful (resonant).

Implementation: Ability to translate aspirations into a finished jewelry design and design process. 
 Divergence: delineating all the possibilities an aspiration might get translated into a design, evaluated against all the possibilities the design could be successfully, practically and realistically implemented.

Enhancing Creativity and Overcoming Creativity Block

So, what kinds of creative advice can I offer you about enhancing your creativity? How can you nurture your creative impulses? How can you overcome roadblocks that might impede you?

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 my 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. Always be prepared to make substitutions and adapt.

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 / Challenge yourself. 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.

Create An Imaginative Working Space / Manage Disruptions and Disruptors. You need comfortable seating, good lighting, smart organization of parts and tools and projects-in-process. Some people like music playing. If family or friends tend to interrupt you, explain to them you need some boundaries at certain times of the day or days of the week.

Evaluate / Be metacognitive. 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. Give yourself permission to be wrong. Build up your skills for self-awareness, self-management and self-assessment.

Take a break / Break your daily routine / Incubate it / Sleep on it. 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. Mull on things awhile. Put yourself in a different environment. Take a walk. Sleep. A period of interruption or rest from a problem may aid creative problem-solving in that it lets us let go of or forget some misleading cues, thoughts, feelings and ideas.

Network / Connect With Other Jewelry Designers and Artists / Collaborate on a Project. Here you want to tap into and absorb someone else’s energy, knowledge and insights. Surround yourself with interesting and creative people. Learn different ways of knowing and doing. Get encouragement. Find a mentor. The fastest way to become creative is to hang around with creative people.

Do something out of the ordinary. Something unexpected. Or something just not done. This will shock your system to think in different ways. To see things in a new light. To recognize contradictions. 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 and shout: Stick your hands into a bowl full of mud or jello.

These are all great advice.

Make creativity a habit. Make it routine in your daily life.

– Keep a journal. Write down your thoughts and experiences and insights.

– As you create a new piece, keep a running written log of all the choices you are making.

– Challenge yourself. Change colors, arrangements, sizes and shapes. Create forms and new components. Think of different silhouettes.

– Expand your knowledge base and skills. Look for connections with other disciplines.

-Surround yourself with interesting things and interesting people. Get together regularly. Collaborate. Take a field trip together.

What Should I Create?

The process of jewelry making begins with the question, What Should I Create?

You want to create something which results in an emotional engagement. That means, when you or someone else interacts with your piece, they should feel some kind of connection. They might see something as useful. It may have meaning. Or it may speak to a personal desire. It may increase a sense of self-esteem. It may persuade someone to buy it. It may feel especially powerful or beautiful or entertaining. They may want to share it with someone else.

You want to create something that you care about. It should not be about following trends. It should be about reflecting your inner artist and designer — what you like, how you see the world, what you want to do. Love what you are making. Otherwise, you run the risk of burning out.

It is easier to create work with someone specific in mind. This is called backwards design. You anticipate how someone else would like what you do, want to wear it, buy it, and then let this influence you in your selection about materials, techniques and composition. This might be a specific person, or a type of person, such as a potential class of buyers.

Keep things simple and parsimonious. Edit your ideas. You do not want to over-do or under-do your pieces. You do not have to include everything in one piece. You can do several pieces. Showing restraint allows for better communication with your audiences. Each piece you make should not look like you are frantically trying to prove yourself. They should look like you have given a lot of thought about how others should emotionally engage with your piece.

There is always a lot of pressure to brand yourself. That means sticking with certain themes, designs or materials. But this can be a little stifling, if you want to develop your creativity. Take the time to explore new avenues of work.

You want to give yourself some time to find inspirations. A walk in nature. A visit to a museum. Involvement with a social cause. Participation in a ritual or ceremony. Studying color samples at a paint store. A dream. A sense of spirituality or other feeling. A translation of something verbal into something visual. Inspirations are all around you.

Final Words of Wisdom

We don’t learn to be creative We become creative. We develop a host of creative thinking skills. We reflect and make ourselves aware of all the various choices we make, the connections we see, the reactions we get, and the implications which result.

We need to be open to possibility.

We need to have a comfort level in taking the unknown or unexpected, and bridging the differences. That is, connecting what we know and feel and project to ideas for integrating all the pieces before us into a completed jewelry design. We need to become good translators, managing our choices from inspiration to aspiration to completed design.

We need to be able to hold on to the paradoxes between mass and space, form and freedom, thought and feeling, long enough so that we can complete each jewelry making project. We need to be comfortable while designing during what often become long periods of solitude.

We need to know jewelry and jewelry making materials and techniques inside and out. We need to know how to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. We need to be able to discover new ways of designing with them. It is critical that we put ourselves on a path towards greater fluency, flexibility and originality.

We must be willing to give and receive criticism.

We must be aware, not only of our desires, goals and understandings, but those of our various audiences, as well.

Be motivated by the design process itself, and not its possible and potential external rewards.

We must be very reflective and metacognitive of how we think, speak and work as jewelry designers.

We need to give ourselves permission to make mistakes.

We must design things we care about.



Besemer, S.P. and D.J. Treffinger. Analysis of Creative Products: Review and Synthesis. Wiley Online 
 Library, (1981).

Black, Robert Alan. Blog: http://www.cre8ng.com/blog/

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention. Harper 
 Perennial; Reprint edition (August 6, 2013)

Guilford, J.P. Creativity. American Psychologist, 5, 444–454, 1950.

Koestler, Arthur. The Act of Creation. Last Century Media (April 1, 2014).

Lucy Lamp. “Inspiration in Visual Art Where Do Artists Get Their Ideas. As reference in: 

Maital, Shlomo. “How IBM’s Executive School Fostered Creativity,” Global Crisis Blog, April 7, 2014.
 Summarizes Louis R. Mobley’s writings on creativity, 1956.

March, Anna Craft. Creativity in Education. Report prepared for the Qualifications and Curriculum 
 Authority, March, 2001.

Seltzer, Kimberly and Tom Bentley. The Creative Age: Knowledge and Skills for the New Economy. 
 Demos, 1999.

Torrance, E. P. The Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking-Norms-Technical Manual Research Edition-
 Verbal Tests, Forms A and B-Figural Tests, Forms A and B. Princeton, NJ: Personnel Press, 1966.

Torrance, E. P. The Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking-Norms-Technical Manual Research Edition-
 Verbal Tests, Forms A and B- Figural Tests, Forms A and B. Princeton, NJ: Personnel Press, 1974.

Turak, August. “Can Creativity Be Taught,” Forbes, May 22, 2011.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Backward Design is Forward Thinking

How Creatives Can Successfully Survive In Business

Part I: The First Essential Question Every Designer Should Be Able To Answer: Is What I do Craft, Art or Design?

Part 2: The Second Essential Question Every Designer Should Be Able To Answer: What Should I Create?

Part 3: The Third Essential Question Every Designer Should Be Able To Answer: What Materials (and Techniques) Work Best?

Part 4: The Fourth Essential Question Every Designer Should Be Able To Answer: How Do I Evoke A Resonant Response To My Work?

Part 5: The Firth Essential Question Every Designer Should Be Able To Answer: How Do I Know My Design Is Finished?

Doubt / Self-Doubt: 8 Pitfalls Designers Fall Into…And What To Do About Them

Part 1: Your Passion For Design: Is It Necessary To Have A Passion?

Part 2: Your Passion For Design: Do You Have To Be Passionate To Be Creative?

Part 3: Your Passion For Design: How Does Being Passionate Make You A Better Designer?



Part 3: SHARED UNDERSTANDINGS: THE CONVERSATION CENTERED WITHIN A DESIGN How Assumptions, Perceptions, Expectations and Values Come Into Play?


I hope you found this article useful. Be sure to click the CLAP HANDS icon at the bottom of this article.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

Add your name to my email list.

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My Clasp, My Clasp, My Kingdom For A Clasp!

Posted by learntobead on April 16, 2020

The Jewelry Designer makes many choices when creating a piece of jewelry. Lots of things to manage and accomplish.

Probably the two most important choices, right up front, in creating a wearable art-piece that will be around for future generations are your:
(1) Stringing Material, and
(2) Clasp

When you work with so many customers in a store, and so many students in classes, you begin to see that people are not necessarily that great in selecting clasps. Many are in a clasps-rut — they use the same clasp over and over again.

Others pick out clasps they find appealing, whether or not they would visually or functionally work with the piece they have made.

Few people anticipate how they are going to attach the clasp to their beadwork, often resulting in an overly long, awkwardly connected clasp assembly.

So, how to you go about choosing clasps?

Clasps always seem like they’ve been someone’s last thought. They should be the first thought. Or at least thought about concurrently with the design of the piece. But they should never be the last thought.

As clasps should be thought of in their entirety — as clasp assemblies. Clasp assemblies include all the rings, loops and other hardware necessary to attach the clasp to the beadwork. The clasp itself may be beautiful, but the entire clasp assembly may not be.

But many people get so excited creating their beadwork, that they forget about the clasp — until the last moment. You can tell when the jewelry maker hasn’t put much thought into their choice of clasp in many ways. Often, the clasp doesn’t look like it was meant to go with the bead work or general design. It might be out of proportion. It might be a different texture or sensibility. Its function — how you open and close it, while wearing your jewelry — might seem odd, perhaps unnatural. And not only does the choice of clasp seem as an after-thought, but how to attach to the bead work to that clasp seems un-thought out, as well.

So it’s not surprising, that when we were repairing jewelry on a regular basis, about 80% of the pieces to be fixed had broken at the clasp.

It is best to, in part, build your design around your clasp. If your piece has a centerpiece or focal point, then how does this link up to or coordinate with the clasp. At the least, when visualizing your beadwork, include an image of the clasp and how it is attached at both ends. The world is full of clasps. Not every clasp is a jeweler’s best friend. But it depends.

The clasp needs to visually fit with the beadwork. It needs to function as the artist intended. It needs to function in a way the wearer can relate to, use and handle. It needs to be appropriate for the piece and the context in which it is too be worn. It should not compete with the beadwork. It should complement it. Ideally, at least from a design perspective, your clasp should look and feel as if it were an integral part of the entire piece.

In a Gallery setting, if you are selling your jewelry there, you usually want a very functional, but not overwhelming, clasp. You are selling your beadwork, and you don’t want your clasp to compete with this.

In a Department Store, setting, however, often the clasp sells the piece. In this setting, choosing a clasp requires a different kind of logic, thinking and anticipation.

Some clasp-types are “expected” to be a part of the piece — even if the particular choice of type would not be the best choice in the world. Traditions dictate clasp choices in some situations.

The former owner of a local Tennessee pearl company was very frustrated with clasps. She sold a lot of finished pearl jewelry at very high prices, and had been using 14KT gold pearl and safety clasps. Her customers sent a lot of their pearl necklaces and bracelets back for repairs, because their clasps broke. And this company felt, because the prices of these pieces were very high, that they were obligated to replace the clasps and re-string these pearl-knotted pieces at no additional charge. 14KT clasps — particularly the pearl, safety and filigree box clasps — do not hold up well, because gold is a very soft metal.

Replacing clasps on a pearl-knotted piece is quite some job. You have to cut up the piece to free up each bead, and then you begin the knotting and finishing off processes again. It turns out, the 14KT clasps were not the only expensive part of the bracelets — making the knots between each pearl was the time-consuming and costly part.

She desperately wanted to reduce the number of repairs. Her first idea was to replace the pearl and safety clasps with other styles which were sturdier. However, these pieces didn’t sell. People wanted the pearl and filigree clasps. The designs of these clasps were so traditional and so locked into their expectations for what pearl-knotted jewelry should look like, that they would not compromise.

Her second effort, she tried replacing the 14KT pearl and filigree clasps with gold-filled ones which were stronger, but this made her customers very angry — they wanted 14KT gold.

So, her final strategy, she returned to using 14KT gold pearl clasps, and doubled her prices. She built in the cost of one repair into the prices she charged. And only then could she present her happy face to her customers, and her somewhat-happy face to herself when she was in private.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Oy Ve! The Challenges of Custom Work

The Importance of Self-Promotion: Don’t Be Shy

Are You Prepared For When The Reporter Comes A-Calling?

Don’t Just Wear Your Jewelry…Inhabit It!

Two Insightful Psych Phenomena Every Jewelry Designer Needs To Know

A Dog’s Life by Lily

Copyrighting Your Pieces: Let’s Not Confuse The Moral With The Legal Issues

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Jewelry Design: An Occupation In Search Of A Profession

Teaching Discplinary Literacy: Strategic Thinking In Jewelry Design

Contemporary Jewelry Is Not A “Look” — It’s A Way Of Thinking

Beads and Race

Were The Ways of Women or of Men Better At Fostering How To Make Jewelry

The Bridesmaid Bracelets

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

I hope you found this article useful. Be sure to click the CLAP HANDS icon at the bottom of this article.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making clasps and other supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

Add your name to my email list.

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When Choosing Colors Has You Down, Check Out The Magic Of Simultaneity Effects!

Posted by learntobead on April 16, 2020

The Contemporized Etruscan Collar

Several years ago, I had been asked to do a week-long jewelry design workshop in Cortona, Italy. The topic I selected was on Contemporizing Traditional Etruscan Jewelry. One of the projects I developed for the workshop was this Contemporized Etruscan Collar. The challenge, here for me, was to create a sophisticated, wearable, and attractive piece that exemplified concepts about contemporizing traditional jewelry.

Contemporizing Traditional Jewelry has to do with how you take particular traditional forms and techniques, and both add your personal style to the pieces, as well as make them more relevant to today’s sense of fashion and style. The challenge for the designer is how to keep traditional ideas essential and alive for today’s audience.

Things clicked. I found a traditional Etruscan Collar that I immediately connected with.

The Contemporized Etruscan Collar

The contemporized piece basically consists of two staggered and overlapping bead-woven strips. The bead-woven technique used is the Ndebele Stitch (sometimes called Herringbone).

There are many design theory elements incorporated into this piece, including dimensionality, curvature, malleability, and movement. One of the more interesting theories I applied here has to do with color simultaneity effects.

Color Simultaneity Effects

Picking colors is about making strategic choices. Picking colors is very revealing about the jewelry artist’s understanding of how the bead asserts its needs for color. One set of color-theories employed to make these kinds of choices has to do with Simultaneity Effects. Colors in the presence of other colors get perceived differently, depending on the color combination.

For example, a White Square on a Black background looks bigger than a Black Square on a white background. White reaches out and overflows the boundary; black contracts.

Another example: Gray always picks up some of the color characteristics of other colors around it. Gray next to orange will appear to have an orange tone to it. Gray next to green will appear to have a green tone to it. A “Gray” bead is one, the color of which, has a strong gray or black tone to it.

Besides the obvious “gray”, these other colors function as a “gray”: montana blue, alexandrite, colorado topaz, prairie green. Many color-lined and silver-lined beads can function as a “gray”, particularly when the glass color is other than clear. Many metallic or otherwise reflective surface beads can function as a “gray”.

A final example of simultaneity effects has to do with how people sense whether colors are warm or cool. In one composition, depending on the color mix, a particular color might be felt as “warm”. In a second composition, with a different color mix, that same color might be felt as “cool”. You can picture a yellow square surrounded by white feels lighter, brighter and a different temperature than its counterpart surrounded by black. A red square surrounded by black feels darker, duller, and a different temperature than its counterpart surrounded by white.

Existence of these simultaneity effects is a great piece of information for the designer. There will be gaps of color and light between beads. Many bead colors are imperfect, particularly in combination. Playing with simultaneity effects gives the designer tools to overcome some of the color limitations associated with the bead and the gaps of light between beads. These allow you to “blend” and build “bridges” and create “transitions.”

Look back at the images of the Ndebele-stitched piece. When you work with beads, there are always gaps between them. In the Ndebele-stitch, there are many and very pronounced gaps of light between beads. This can be very threatening to a viewer. People are pre-wired to avoid things which might harm them, such as snakes and spiders. This is our fear- or anxiety-response.

We can summarize most color theories as a set of principles the brain uses — both in perception and cognition — to find a state of color or colors which are harmonious. That is, people like to see and feel comfortable and safe with colors which harmonize and go together. When we start to lose that harmonious state of color, this makes the brain edgy. When the brain starts to get edgy, we start to interpret pieces as boring, monotonous, scary, dangerous, will cause death. We innately reject, as part of our pre-wired fear response, that which does not follow good principles of color.

Any viewer’s brain will immediately try to interpret what it sees and make sense of it. This includes jewelry. The viewer’s brain needs to know immediately whether to approach or flee. Each time the eye/brain comes to the end of the bead and is confronted with a gap of light separating it from the next bead, it’s similar to a person approaching a cliff, and getting asked to jump off of that cliff.

No one wants to jump off a cliff. And no one’s eye/brain wants to jump over a gap of light between two beads. It’s risky. It’s work. Things don’t feel harmonious.

We have to fool ourselves, that is, our brain, in some way. Color theories offer us many possible ideas on how to do this. I find using simultaneity effects works especially well in jewelry compositions using beads. Certain colors, when juxtaposed, create their own meanings, and fool the brain into thinking it sees something in these gaps, or is somehow more motivated to fill in the gaps, and proceed from one bead to the next.

In this Etruscan Collar project, many of my color choices were based on an understanding of simultaneity effects.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Best Way To Thread Your Needle

Bead Stringing With Needle and Thread

Beading Threads vs. Bead Cord

Turning Silver and Copper Metals Black: Some Oxidizing Techniques

Color Blending; A Management Approach

Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry: What Works!

What Glue Should I Use When Making Jewelry?

When Choosing Colors Has You Down, Check Out The Magic Of Simultaneity Effects

The Color Effects of Threads

Wax, Wax, Wax

When You Attend A Bead Show…

When Your Cord Doesn’t Come With A Needle…What You Can Do

Duct Tape Your Pliers

What To Know About Gluing Rhinestones

Know Your Anatomy Of A Necklace

How Does The Jewelry Designer Make Asymmetry Work?

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

I hope you found this article useful. Be sure to click the CLAP HANDS icon at the bottom of this article.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

The ETRUSCAN COLLAR is available as a kit from Land of Odds.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.
Of special interest: My video tutorial THE JEWELRY DESIGNER’S APPROACH TO COLOR

Add your name to my email list.

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The Jewelry Design Philosophy: Not Art, Not Craft, But Design!

Posted by learntobead on April 16, 2020


The DESIGN PERSPECTIVE is very focused on teaching beaders and jewelry makers how to make choices. Choices about what materials to include, and not to include. Choices about strategies and techniques of construction. Choices about mechanics. Choices about aesthetics. Choices about how best to evoke emotions.

These choices must also reflect an understanding of the bead and its related components. How do all these pieces, in conjunction with stringing materials, assert their needs? Their needs for color, light and shadow. Their needs for durability, flexibility, drape, movement and wearability. Their needs for social or psychological or cultural or contextual appropriateness — an appropriateness that has to do with satisfaction, beauty, fashion and style, as well as power and influence.

This DESIGN PERSPECTIVE contrasts with the more predominant Craft Approach, where the beader or jewelry maker merely follows a set of steps and ends up with something. Here, in this step-by-step approach, all the choices have been made for them. They never learn the implications of using one bead vs. another, one stringing material vs. another or one clasp vs. another.

And this DESIGN PERSPECTIVE also contrasts with another widespread approach to beading and jewelry making — the Art Tradition — which focuses on achieving ideals of beauty, whether the jewelry is worn or not. Here the beader or jewelry maker learns to apply art theories learned by painters and sculptors, and assumed to apply equally to beads and jewelry, as well. Jewelry is judged as it sits on a mannequin or easel. Functionality is subsumed under Appeal. Things like the strap, clasp assembly and bail are merely seen as supplemental to the piece, as a frame is to a painting or a pedestal to sculpture.

The Craft Approach and the Art Tradition ignore too much of the functional and contextual essence of jewelry. Because of this, they often steer the beader and jewelry maker in the wrong directions. Making the wrong choices. Exercising the wrong judgments. Applying the wrong tradeoffs between aesthetics and functionality and context.

The focus of the DESIGN PERSPECTIVE is strategic thinking. At the core of this thinking are a series of design principles and their skillful applications. These principles go beyond a set of techniques. These principles and the strategies for applying them provide the beader and jewelry maker with some clarity in a muddled world.

Learning about Design begins with the belief that there are many different kinds of information that must come together and be applied to make a finished and successful piece of jewelry. Art. Architecture. Physical mechanics. Sociology, Anthropology and Psychology. Some Business. Even some Party Planning. It is impossible to clearly learn and integrate all this information all at once.

When all this knowledge which needs to come to bear in creating and constructing a piece of jewelry is learned haphazardly or randomly, as most people do, it becomes problematic. It becomes more difficult or too confusing to successfully bring into play all these kinds of things the beader or jewelry maker needs to know when designing and constructing a piece of jewelry in the moment.

Thus, the beader and jewelry maker best learn all this related yet disparate information in an developmental, hierarchical order, based on some coherent grammar or set of rules of design. Seemingly disparate skills are learned as interrelated, integrated clusters. By learning within this organized structure and informational hierarchy, the jewelry artist best sees how everything interrelates and comes together. The designer develops the ability to decode expressive information, and to fluently organize and arrange it. This is how disciplinary literacy is developed within the DESIGN PERSPECTIVE.

So, we begin with a Core set of skills and concepts, and how these are interrelated and applied. Then we move on to a Second Set of skills and concepts, their interrelationships and applications, and identifying how they are related to the Core. And onward again to a Third Set of skills and concepts, their interrelationships and applications and relationship to the Second Set and the Core, and so forth.

In the DESIGN PERSPECTIVE, “Jewelry” is understood as Art, but is only Art as it is worn. It is not considered Art when sitting on a mannequin or easel. Because of this, the principles learned through Craft or Art are important, but not sufficient for learning good jewelry design and fashioning good jewelry.

Learning good jewelry design creates its own challenges. All jewelry functions in a 3-dimensional space, particularly sensitive to position, volume and scale. Jewelry must stand on its own as an object of art. But it must also exist as an object of art which interacts with people (and a person’s body), movement, personality, and quirks of the wearer, and of the viewer, as well as the environment and context. Jewelry serves many purposes, some aesthetic, some functional, some social and cultural, some psychological.

The focus of the DESIGN PERSPECTIVE is on the parts and their construction. How do you choose parts? How should they be used, and not be used? How do you assemble them and combine them in such a way that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts? How do you create and build in support systems within your jewelry to enable that greater movement, more flexibility, better draping, longer durability? How do you anticipate stresses and strains? How do you parsimoniously use all these parts, making them resonate and evoking that emotional response from your audience to your style, vision and creative hand that you so desire?

The beader and jewelry maker are seen as multi-functional professionals, similar to an architect who builds houses and an engineer who builds bridges. In all these cases, the professional must bring a lot of very different kinds of skills and abilities to bear, when constructing, whether house or bridge or jewelry. The professional has to be able to manage artistic design, functionality, and the interaction of the object with the person and that person’s environment.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

The Jewelry Design Philosophy: Not Craft, Not Art, But Design

What Is Jewelry, Really?

The Jewelry Design Philosophy

Creativity: How Do You Get It? How Do You Enhance It?

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Becoming The Bead Artist and Jewelry Designer

5 Essential Questions Every Jewelry Designer Should Have An Answer For

Getting Started / Channeling Your Excitement

Getting Started / Developing Your Passion

Getting Started / Cultivating Your Practice

Becoming One With What Inspires You

Architectural Basics of Jewelry Design

Doubt / Self Doubt: Major Pitfalls For The Jewelry Designer

Techniques and Technologies: Knowing What To Do

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

Teaching Discplinary Literacy: Strategic Thinking In Jewelry Design

The Jewelry Designer’s Approach To Color

Point, Line, Plane, Shape, Form, Theme: Creating Something Out Of Nothing

The Jewelry Designer’s Path To Resonance

Jewelry Design Principles: Composing, Constructing, Manipulating

Jewelry Design Composition: Playing With Building Blocks Called Design Elements

Contemporary Jewelry Is Not A “Look” — It’s A Way Of Thinking

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

I hope you found this article useful. Be sure to click the CLAP HANDS icon at the bottom of this article.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

Add your name to my email list.

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

Don’t Just Wear Your Jewelry, Inhabit It!

Posted by learntobead on April 16, 2020


Women don’t just wear pieces of jewelry — they inhabit them.

Buying a piece of jewelry for yourself — a necklace, a bracelet, earrings, a brooch, something else — isn’t a task easily given to someone else. It’s often not a spur of the moment thing either. You just don’t rush off to the local boutique or the local Wal-Mart, grab whatever you see, and go home.

I’m not talking about that impulse buy during your leisurely visit to the mall. I’m referring to purchasing those pieces of jewelry you know will have to do a lot of the hard work to accessorize your wardrobe and help you get the compliments and notice of your family, friends and co-workers you comport with and compete with each and every day.

No, buying a piece of jewelry for yourself is a multi-purposed moment, one which must be thought through carefully and one which must be savored. Lest you buy the wrong piece. That doesn’t really go with what you intend to wear. Or is over-priced. Or poorly made. Or conveys the wrong impression about status. Or is out of fashion. Or something one of your friends already has.

The jewelry you buy has to conform to quite a long list of essential criteria before you could ever think of buying it. It is something you will wear more than once. As such, it is your companion. Your necklace is not merely lying around your neck. Or your bracelet around your wrist. Or your earrings dangling from your ears.

Jewelry can cause you to lose face with others. It can irritate or scratch your skin, or get caught up in your hair. It might weigh you down or stretch or tear your ear lobes. Jewelry can break without warning in the most unexpected and embarrassing of places. It can get caught on things, sometimes hurting you in the process.

Jewelry conveys to the world something about who you really are, or think you are. As such, jewelry is very personal. Your private, innermost, most soul searching choices made very public for all to see.

As you caress it, as you touch the smooth or faceted or creviced beads and metal parts or the clasp or the material the beads are strung on, when you twist and move the piece within your hand, you are confirming to yourself the extent to which your jewelry is doing its job.

When you buy new jewelry, the dilemmas multiply. How will the new compare to the old? Will it be able to handle all these responsibilities — looking good, representing you, fitting in with your wardrobe, meeting the expectations of others? Like divorcing, then remarrying, changing your jewelry can take some time for readjustment.

And you do not want to be seen as noncommittal to your jewelry. This would sort of be like going to a hotel, but not unpacking your suitcase while staying in the room. Conveying some sort of social or psychological distance from your jewelry can be very unsettling for others.

So you need to inhabit it. You need to inhabit your jewelry, wear it with conviction, pride and satisfaction. Be one with it.

Inhabiting jewelry often comes with a price. There becomes so much pressure to buy the “right” pieces, given all the roles we demand our jewelry to play, that we too often stick with the same brands, the same colors, the same styles, the same silhouettes. We get stuck in this rut and are afraid to step out of it.

Or we wear too many pieces of jewelry. The long earrings, plus the cuff bracelets on both arms, plus the head band, plus the hair ornament, plus the 7-strand necklace, plus the 5 rings. We are ever uncertain which piece or pieces will succeed at what, so hopefully, at least some combination or subset of what we wear will work out.

In a similar way, we wear over-embellished pieces — lots of charms, lots of dangles, lots of fringe, lots of strands. Something will surely be the right color, the right fit and proportion, the right fashion, the right power statement, the right reflection of me.

And our need to inhabit our jewelry comes with one more price. We are too willing to overpay for poorly made pieces in our desperation to have that right look. The $100.00 of beads strung on elastic string. The poorly dyed stones which fade in the light. The poorly crimped and overly stiff pieces with little ease for accommodating movement and frequent wear.

It is OK to inhabit our jewelry. In fact, it is necessary, given all we want jewelry to do for us. But we need to be smart about it. We need to learn to recognize better designs and better designers.

This need not be expensive at all.

Just smarter.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Oy Ve! The Challenges of Custom Work

The Importance of Self-Promotion: Don’t Be Shy

Are You Prepared For When The Reporter Comes A-Calling?

Don’t Just Wear Your Jewelry…Inhabit It!

Two Insightful Psych Phenomena Every Jewelry Designer Needs To Know

A Dog’s Life by Lily

Copyrighting Your Pieces: Let’s Not Confuse The Moral With The Legal Issues

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Jewelry Design: An Occupation In Search Of A Profession

Teaching Discplinary Literacy: Strategic Thinking In Jewelry Design

Contemporary Jewelry Is Not A “Look” — It’s A Way Of Thinking

Beads and Race

Were The Ways of Women or of Men Better At Fostering How To Make Jewelry

The Bridesmaid Bracelets

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

I hope you found this article useful. Be sure to click the CLAP HANDS icon at the bottom of this article.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

Add your name to my email list.

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

Why Jewelry Artists Fail At Business

Posted by learntobead on April 16, 2020


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 which 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
 — Understanding how the creative marketplace works

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” — the rate of sales, rather than the number of sales. 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. You will have a lot left over.

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 expectations 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.

6. Doesn’t Educate Self About The Business Marketplace

You already know that you want to sell your pieces. But why would someone else want to sell them for you?

What’s in it for that gallery or consignment shop or boutique? How do they make money? What’s their customer base? Why do they shop there? What are their preferences? What is the feel and flavor of what the businesses carry in their shops?

Most businesses spend years establishing a reputation and brand. They attract customers who, in turn, are attracted to that brand identify. So they are looking for certain similar things they already carry or fit with the theme or perspective of their business. But, at the same time, they don’t want the exact same things. They already have those things. They want things that coordinate and compliment. If your style is avant garde, and the business style is Victorian romantic, there is not going to be a fit. It won’t work out for you in this location.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Should I Set Up My Craft Business On A Marketplace Online?

The Importance of Self-Promotion: Don’t Be Shy

Are You Prepared For When The Reporter Comes A-Calling?

A Fool-Proof Formula For Pricing And Selling Your Jewelry

Designer Connect Profile: Tony Perrin, Jewelry Designer

My Aunt Gert: Illustrating Some Lessons In Business Smarts

Copyrighting Your Pieces: Let’s Not Confuse The Moral With The Legal Issues

Naming Your Business / Naming Your Jewelry

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

To What Extent Should Business Concerns Influence Artistic and Jewelry Design Choices

How Creatives Can Successfully Survive In Business

Getting Started In Business: What You Do First To Make It Official

I hope you found this article useful. Be sure to click the CLAP HANDS icon at the bottom of this article.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

Add your name to my email list.

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

Consigment Selling: A Last Resort!

Posted by learntobead on April 16, 2020

Consignment Selling — A Last Resort

Over At The Consignment Shop

“She’s CHEATING ME!” the woman from Rhode Island screamed into the phone. She could hardly catch her breath, the anger overtaking her ability to explain why she was calling.

“I read your article about Pricing and Selling, and I’m not getting my $70.00 for my piece.”

She didn’t have to say anymore. I knew right off the bat she was talking about CONSIGNMENT.

I recognize the anger. The frustration. The feeling that someone put something over on you, and you’re powerless to correct the situation. You don’t know what to do. You know the sweat, time and cost you put into all the pieces you let some stranger have, and now what do you do?

“I put 10 of my pieces of jewelry in her shop in Northern Rhode Island — not a big shop, no sales, except, this one piece sold, not in a major place,” she continued, taking breath after breath, to get it all out, in some way that made sense, and some way that kept her from losing it.

“What do I Do?” “She sold my piece for $70.00, and didn’t give me my money?” “Should she have given me my money right away?” “Should I take my jewelry out of her shop?” “Should I never do consignment again?” She peppered me with questions, not waiting for an answer.

She indicated that the store owner told her that she paid her artists 30 days after a sale. Her customers had 30 days to return something. If the store owner paid before that time, she would be out the money. Store owners can set whatever policies they want, and in this case, I told the woman it was reasonable to wait 30 days, given the policy.

Of course, it had already been 7 weeks.

“Should she call her?” Her husband told her not to call yet. He didn’t want her to make waves, or ruin this opportunity to sell her jewelry.

“Call her,” I said. If the store owner said 30 days, then 30 days it should be.

Consignment may be a necessary evil, especially when you are getting started in the jewelry making business. But consignment is not the best situation to be in. Most stores that accept consignment do not understand the consignment business. As a result, when the time comes to pay the artists, there’s no cash flow.

In Consignment, the store is at greater risk than the artist. The store has to make space available for the pieces, and forgo the opportunity to get something else in that retail-real-estate that might do better. The store has to display the pieces, and keep them clean and presentable. The store has to train its sales staff so that they have sufficient information and motivation to make the sale. And, of course, there’s the tracking and accounting that goes with every consignment piece on sale.

Your best clue to whether a particular consignment situation is a good or better one, is the percentage split between the store or gallery owner and the artist. Given the level of risk each party assumes, the optimum distribution is 60/40 with the store or gallery getting the larger amount. But if the split is 40/60 or 50/50, this would be a acceptable sign as well.

However, when the split is 70/30 or 30/70 or outside this 60 and 40 range, yellow flags should go up. This shows that the store or gallery owner is not aware of the level of risk in their business. You probably won’t get paid on time, and not get paid without a lot of time spent yelling on the phone. Your pieces won’t be maintained. They won’t be displayed in a prominent place. No one will be trained or motivated to sell your pieces.

Just because you confront a potentially bad consignment situation doesn’t necessarily mean that you should walk away. There are a few prominent boutiques in Nashville that offer a 70/30 split between the store and the artist. They rarely pay their artists when the pieces sell. It takes a lot of screaming, “Bloody Murder!” before you get paid. But these are very prominent shops. Letting other stores and galleries know that you have pieces in these shops will open many doors for you. You might view the delayed payments and the effort to get your money as “marketing expenses.”

Other reasons you might settle for a bad situation:
– You’re just getting started, and saying your pieces are in a shop anywhere has some marketing cache that goes with this
– You can direct customers to this shop. At least you have a place to send people. You might not have a central base from which to work. Your main business might be doing craft shows, and here you can direct people to your jewelry between shows.
– This might be the only game in town.

But otherwise, if consignment doesn’t have some added value for you, you want to minimize your consignment exposure.

When you negotiate consignment terms with a shop, try to:

  1. Get a feel for the amount of consignment they do (and how long they have been doing this), the range of artists, the range of types of merchandise on consignment, and the types of customers they have
  2. Get a 60/40, 50/50 or 40/60 split
  3. Work with store or gallery owner on final retail pricing of your pieces.
  4. Get a written contract
  5. Get in writing if possible, but an oral agreement would suffice, to convert the situation to “wholesale terms”, if you pieces sell well. (Be sure to define what “selling well” might mean.)
  6. Determine a specific date when to take your pieces out, or trade them out for new pieces. Usually it’s good to trade them out every 3–6 months.
  7. Determine exactly how and when you will get paid, after any one piece sells. A 30-day waiting period is reasonable.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Should I Set Up My Craft Business On A Marketplace Online?

The Importance of Self-Promotion: Don’t Be Shy

Are You Prepared For When The Reporter Comes A-Calling?

A Fool-Proof Formula For Pricing And Selling Your Jewelry

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