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Archive for April 18th, 2020


Posted by learntobead on April 18, 2020

“Tibetan Dreams”, Feld, 2010

Abstract: We create and wear jewelry because we do not want to feel alone. But “not wanting to feel alone” can mean different things to different people. The jewelry artist must have insight here. The artist needs to understand what jewelry really is in order to make the kinds of successful choices about forms, materials, design elements, inspirations, techniques, arrangements, public presentations and exhibitions and the like. There are different frameworks from which the artist might draw such understanding, including the sensation of jewelry as OBJECT, CONTENT, INTENT or DIALECTIC. All these lenses share one thing in common — communication. Although jewelry can be described in the absence of communicative interaction, the artist can never begin to truly understand what jewelry really is without some knowledge about its creation and without somehow referencing the artist, the wearer, the viewer and the context.


Simply put, we create and wear jewelry because we do not want to feel alone.

But “not wanting to feel alone” can mean different things to different people. The jewelry designer, in order to make the best choices and the most strategic choices throughout the process of designing a piece of jewelry, requires some detail and clarity here. What does it mean to say that we create and wear jewelry so we do not want to feel alone?

We might want to reaffirm that we are similar (or different) than someone else or some other group or culture. We might want to signal some connection (or disconnection or mal-connection) with a higher power or mystical source or sense of well-being or with some idea, concept or meaning. We might want to express an intent or feeling or emotion.

We might want to differentiate what it means to be yourself relative to something else, whether animate or inanimate, functional or artistic, part of a dialectic conversation with self or other. We might want to signal or differentiate status, intelligence, awareness, and resolution. We might want to separate ourselves from that which is sacred and that which is profane.

Whatever the situation, jewelry becomes something more than simple decoration or adornment. It becomes more than an object which is worn merely because this is something that we do. It becomes more than a functional object used to hold things together. It is communicative. It is connective. It is intentional. And concurrently, it must be functional and appealing and be seen as the result of an artist’s application of technique and technology.

The word jewelry derives from the Latin “jocale” meaning plaything. It is traditionally defined as a personal adornment or decoration. It is usually assumed to be constructed from durable items, though exceptions are often made for the use of real flowers. It is usually made up of materials that have some perceived value. It can be used to adorn nearly every part of the body.

Prehistoric Necklaces 40000 B.C

One of the earliest evidences of jewelry was that of a Neanderthal man some 115,000 years ago. What was it — and we really need to think about this and think this through — which made him craft the piece of jewelry and want to wear it? Mere decoration? Did it represent some kind of status? Or religious belief? Or position or role? Or sexuality and sensuality? Or was it symbolic of something else? Was this a simplified form or representation of something else?

Did this Neanderthal have concerns about craft and technique? Did the making of it require some special or innovative technology? Did the cost of materials come into play? Was this an expression of art? Self? Power? A show of intelligence and prowess? A confirmation of shared beliefs, experiences and values? Was it something he made himself, or was it something given to him as a gift or token of recognition?

Picture yourself there at this very moment. What happened at the point this Neanderthal man put this piece of jewelry on? Did this reduce or increase social and cultural barriers between himself and others? Did this define a new way of expression or a new way of defining the self? Did this impact or change any kind of outcome? Did this represent a divergence between craft and art? Was this piece of jewelry something that had to be worn all the time? Were the purposes and experiences of this Neanderthal man similar to why and how we design and adorn ourselves with jewelry today?

We know that this Neanderthal man was not the last person to wear a piece of jewelry. Jewelry continued in importance over time. Jewelry mattered. It was an object we touched. And it was an object we allowed to touch our bodies. The object had form. The form encapsulated meaning. We allowed others to view the jewelry as we wore it, and when we did not.

Making and wearing jewelry became very widespread about 5,000 years ago, especially in India and Mesopotamia, but worldwide as well. While some cultures banned jewelry or limited its forms and uses (see medieval Japan or ancient Rome, for example), they could not maintain these restrictions over time. People want to support the making of jewelry, the wearing of it, the exhibiting of it in public, and the accumulating of it. People want to touch it. Display it. Comment about it. Talk about it with others. Collect it, trade it, buy it, sell it.

As jewelry designers, we need to understand the why’s … Why make jewelry at all? Why develop different techniques and use different materials and come up with different arrangements? Why do people want to wear jewelry and buy jewelry?

We observe that jewelry is everywhere, worn by all types of people, on various parts of the body, in many different kinds of situations. Jewelry must possess a kind of inherent value for the artist, the wearer, the viewer and the society as a whole.

So we have to continue to wonder, Why is jewelry so coveted universally? Why is it important? How is understanding ‘what jewelry is really’ necessary for making the kinds of successful choices about forms, materials, design elements, inspirations, techniques, arrangements, public presentations and exhibitions and the like?

Let us review the range of definitions and justifications for jewelry before fine-tuning any ideas and conclusions. Each understanding leads us in different directions when filling in the blanks of this constructive phrasing:

Jewelry means to me …..… therefore, 
 These are the types of choices I need to make as a designer 
 to know my pieces are finished and successful, 
 including things like ……… .

These different definitional frameworks about jewelry are things characterized by sensations the jewelry evokes in designer, wearer and viewer.

These frameworks for defining what jewelry really is include,


1. ROUTINE: Something that we do with little or no reflection

2. MATERIAL: Objects that we use as materials characterized or sorted by design elements, such as color, pattern, texture, volume, weight, reflective and refractive properties

3. ARRANGEMENT AND FORMS: Materials are sorted by various Principles of Composition into arrangements and forms, expressing things like rhythm, focus, and juxtaposition of lines and planes

4. TECHNIQUE: Steps or routines we use to assemble and construct

5. FUNCTIONALITY: Things which have a useful purpose and practicality


6. MEANING: Things to which we assign meaning(s), especially where such meaning(s) transcends materials, functions and techniques

7. VALUE: Things to which we assign monetary and economic value, particularly materials


8. ORDER OUT OF CHAOS: A sense-making attempt to control and order the world

9. SELF-IDENTITY: An agent of personality


10. INTERACTION AND SHARED UNDERSTANDINGS: A way to create, confirm and retain connections through interaction, desires, and shared understandings

Yet, no matter what the framework we use to try to make sense about what jewelry really is, all these lenses share one thing in common — jewelry is more than ornament and decoration; it is sensation and communication, as well. Although we can describe jewelry in the absence of knowledge about its creation, we cannot begin to understand what jewelry really is without somehow referencing the artist, the wearer, the viewer and the context.


“Tibetan Dreams”, detail, FELD, 2010

Too often, ideas about communication and meaning and intent get too messy and complicated. We seek a simpler framework within which to understand what jewelry is all about. We try to fit the idea of jewelry into the confines of a box we call “object”. It is decoration. Sculptural adornment. Jewelry succeeds as “object” to the extent that everyone everywhere universally agrees to what it is, how it is made, what it is made from, why it was made, and in what ways it is used.

This universality in defining and evaluating jewelry helps us not to feel alone.

Jewelry As Something That We Do. Wearing jewelry might simply be something that we do. We put on earrings. We slip a ring onto a finger. We clasp a necklace around our neck or a bracelet around our wrist. It is habit. Routine. Not something to stop and ask why. A necklace is a necklace. An earring is an earring. We mechanically interact with decorative objects we call jewelry.

Jewelry As A Material. Sometimes we want to get a little more specific and describe what this object or ‘box’ is made of. It is some kind of material. Jewelry encompasses all types of stones and metals, in various shades and colors, and light-impacting properties, which the artist has taken tools to them to shape and sharpen. Sometimes we want to further delineate the character of materials within and around this box. We refer to this as selecting various design elements such as color, pattern, texture.

Jewelry As Arrangements and Forms. Sometimes we want to even further elaborate on our placement of materials within our pieces in terms of Principles of Composition. These Principles refer to arrangements and organized forms to create movement, rhythm, focal point, balance, distribution. We apply this framework in a static way. Jewelry is reduced to an object, somehow apart from its creator and disconnected from any wearer or viewer.

Jewelry As The Application of Technique(s). We can also understand jewelry as object in a more dynamic sense. It is something which is created by the application of one or more techniques. The techniques are applications of ideas often corralled into routines. The object is seen to evolve from a starting point to a finishing point. As object, it is reduced to a series of organized steps. These steps are disconnected from insight, inspiration, aspiration or desire. There is no human governance or interference.

Jewelry As Function and Practicality. In a similar dynamic way, the object may be seen to have function. It may hold up something, or keep something closed. It may, in a decorative sense, embellish a piece of clothing. It may assist in the movement of something else. It is not understood to have any meaning beyond its function. As it coordinates the requirements of form to the requirements of function, it plays a supportive, practical role, not a substantive role. As such, it is unimportant. It might allow the wearer to change position of the necklace on the neck. It might better enable the piece to move with the body. But it should not demand much insight or reflection by creator, wearer, or viewer.


“Tibetan Dreams”, detail, FELD, 2010

However, as we get closer to defining the object as one that is sensed and experienced and which evokes an emotional response, it becomes more difficult to maintain that the object does not reflect meaning, does not result from some kind of thought process and intent, and does not communicate quite a lot about the designer, the wearer, the viewer and the situation. Jewelry when worn and which succeeds becomes a sort of identifier or locator, which can inform the wearer and the viewer about particular qualities or content, such as where you belong, or what you are about, or what your needs are.

Jewelry without content, after all, can skew to the superficial, boring, monotonous, and unsatisfying. Without meaning and value, jewelry has little to offer.

These shared recognitions and valuing of meanings helps us not to feel alone.

Jewelry As Meaning. Jewelry when worn signals, signifies or symbolizes something else. It is a type of recognizable short-hand. It is a powerful language of definition and expression. By representing meaning, it takes responsibility for instigating shared understandings, such as membership in a group or delineating the good from the bad. It might summarize difficult to express concepts or emotions, such as God, love, loyalty, fidelity. It might be a stand-in marker for status, power, wealth, connection and commitment. It might visually represent the completion or fulfillment of a rite of passage — puberty, adulthood, marriage, birthing, and death.

Sometimes, the sensation of jewelry as meaning derives from energy and powers we believe can transfer from the meaning of the materials the jewelry is made of to ourselves. These might be good luck, or good fortune, or good health, or good love, or good faith or protection from harm. Various gemstones, metals and other materials are seen to have mystical, magical and supernatural qualities that, when touching the body, allow us to incorporate these powers with our own.

Jewelry As Value. When we refer to meaning as having power, sacredness, respect, significance, we are beginning to assign a value to it. A sensation of value may emerge from how rare the item is — its material rarity or the rarity of how it was constructed or where it came from or who made it or who was allowed to wear it. It may emerge from how bright it is or the noteworthy arrangement of its elements. Its value may emerge from how pliable or workable the material is. Its value might be set from how tradable it is for other materials, objects, access or activities.

By assigning value, we determine things like importance, uniqueness, appeal, status, need, want, and demand. We establish control over how and how often a piece of jewelry will change hands. We establish some regulation over how individuals in a group, culture or society interact and transact with one another.


“Tibetan Dreams”, detail, FELD, 2010

Someone has to infuse the object with all this content, and this proactive act leads us to the idea of intent. Often this imposition of meaning begins with the jewelry artist. Jewelry becomes a means of self-expression. The artist, in effect, tells the world who the artist is, and what the artist wants to happen next.

The artist might be subdued or bold, colorful or monochromatic, simple or complex, extravagant or economical, logical or romantic, deliberate or spontaneous. The artist might be direct or indirect in how meanings get communicated. It is important, in order to understand the meaning of an object, to begin by delineating the artist’s inspiration, aspiration and intent.

The jewelry artist begins with nothing and creates something. The unknown, the unknowable, the nothingness is made more accessible.

The artist fills in a negative space with points, lines, planes, shapes, forms and themes. Color, pattern and texture are added. Things get organized and arranged.

Though often unstated, it becomes obvious that of all the possible choices the artist could have made in design, that some choices were ignored and excluded, while others were not. Some negative space is left so. Some positive space has direction, motion, weightiness. Somethings are abstract; other things realistic. These and related choices have implications and consequences.

The question becomes, what influences that artist’s selections? Successful jewelry reveals the artist’s hand.

Our perceptions of the coherence in the artist’s inspiration and intent, as reflected in our interpretations of that artist’s jewelry, helps us not to feel alone. We may see coherence as a subjective thing or a universally understoodthing. It doesn’t matter which. If we believe we can make sense of things, if the jewelry feels and seems coherent in some way, we feel safe, and that we have reduced the risks in life. We do not feel so left alone.

Jewelry As Creating Order Out Of Chaos. Partly, what the artist does is attempt to order the world. The artist looks for clues within him- or herself (inspiration and intent). The artist formulates concepts and a plan for translating inspiration and intent into a design. The artist determines whether to take into account the expectations of others (shared understandings) about what would be judged as finished and successful.

Jewelry is an object created out of chaos and which has an order to it. The order has content, meaning and value. It has coherency based on color and texture and arrangement.

Jewelry as an organized, ordered, coherent object reflects the hypotheses the artist comes up with about how to translate inspiration into aspiration, and do this in such a way that the derived jewelry is judged positively. The artist anticipates how others might experience and sense the object on an emotional level.

It reflects the shared understandings among artist, wearer and viewer about emotions, desires, inherent tensions and yearnings and how these play out in everyday life.

The artist makes the ordered chaos more coherent, and this coherence becomes contagious through the artist’s choices about creative production and design. The artist lets this contagion spread. To the extent that others share the artist’s ideas about coherence, the more likely the work will be judged finished and successful. And no one — not the artist, not the wearer, not the viewer — will feel alone.

The process of bringing order to chaos continues with the wearer. The wearer introduces the piece of jewelry into a larger context. We have more contagion. The jewelry as worn causes more, ever-expanding tension and efforts at balance and resolution. There is an effort to figure out the original artist intent and ideas about coherence as reflected in design.

Unsuccessful efforts at design, where the artist’s intent becomes obscured, reverse the process, and the object — our piece of jewelry — then brings about decoherence. Decoherence may come in the forms of bad feedback, inappropriate feedback, less than satisfying feedback, or no feedback at all.

Decoherence means the wearer may not get that sense of self s/he seeks. S/he may feel less motivated to wear the piece. S/he may store the piece or give the piece away. As this decoherence filters down to the level of the artist, any necessary support in design may be lost. There will be fewer clients, fewer opportunities to display the works publicly, and fewer sales. The artist’s motivation may diminish.

Jewelry As An Agent of Personality. People wear jewelry because they like it. It becomes an extension of themselves. It is self-confirming, self-identifying and self-reconfirming. Liking a piece of jewelry gets equated with liking oneself, or as a strategy for getting others to express their like for you. Jewelry makes us feel more like ourselves. We might use jewelry to help us feel emotionally independent, or we might come to rely on jewelry for emotional support and feedback, leading us down the path to emotional dependency.

Jewelry may have personal significance, linking one to their past, or one to their family, or one to their group. It may be a way to integrate history with the present. It is a tool to help us satisfy our need to affiliate.

Jewelry may help us differentiate ourselves from others. It may assist us in standing out from the crowds. Conversely, we may use it to blend into those multitudes, as well.

Jewelry fulfills our needs. If we look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, after meeting our basic physiological needs such as for food and water, and our safety needs, such as for shelter, we can turn to jewelry to meet our additional social needs for love and belonging and self-esteem. Designing and creating jewelry can form an additional basis for our needs for self-actualization.

We may derive our personality and sense of soul and spirit from the qualities we assign the jewelry we wear. We do not merely wear jewelry as some object; more specifically, we inhabit jewelry. If ruby jewelry symbolizes passion, we may feel passion when wearing it. We may use jewelry as an expressive display of who we feel we are and want to be seen as in order to attract mates and sexual partners. We use jewelry in a narcissistic way to influence the alignment of the interests and desires among artist, weaver, viewer, collector, exhibiter, and seller.

In similar ways, we may derive our sense of belief, devotion and faith to a higher power or spiritual being or God from wearing jewelry. It may help us feel more connected to that religious, spiritual something within ourselves. It may remind us to stay on our religious path.

As an agent of our psychological selves, jewelry is used to resolve those core conflicts — Who are we? Why do we exist? How should we relate to other people around us? Jewelry orients us in coming to grips with our self-perceived place within critical contradictions around us. Trust and mistrust. Living and dying. Good and evil. Pleasure and pain. Permission and denial. Love and hate. Experience and expectation. Traditional and contemporary. Rational and reasonable.

Jewelry As Interaction and Shared Understandings

“Tibetan Dreams”, FELD, 2010

Jewelry is a two-way street. It is a way to create, confirm and retain connections. At its very core, it is interactive and communicative. It is more an action than an object. Jewelry can start a conversation. Jewelry encapsulates a very public, ongoing matrix of choices and interactions among artist, wearer and viewer, with the purpose of getting responses. It is a dialectic.

The optimum position to view jewelry is on a person’s body, where and when its dialectical power is greatest. Again, it is very public, yet concurrently, very intimate. We exhibit jewelry. It forces reaction, response and reciprocity. Jewelry helps us negotiate, in relatively non-threatening ways, those critical tensions and contradictions in life, not merely define them.

It very publicly forces us to reveal our values, delineate tensions and contradictions which might result, and resolve all those betwixt and between qualities which occur as the artist, wearer, viewer, marketer, seller, exhibitor and collector try to make sense of it all. Conversely, jewelry, as worn, may signal that any negotiation would be futile, but this is a dialectic, communicative act, as well.

Jewelry expresses or implies things, the relevance of which emerges through interactions. There is an exchange of meaning. There is some reciprocity between the artist expressing an inspiration with the desire for a reaction, and the wearer evaluating the success of the piece and impacting the artist, in return. We have those coherence-contagion-decoherence behavioral patterns discussed above.

Jewelry is persuasive. It allows for the negotiation of influence and power in subtle, often soft-pedalled ways. It helps smooth the way for support or control. Compliance or challenge. Wealth and success or poverty and failure. High or low status. Social recognition. An expression of who you know, and who might know you. Jewelry is a tool for managing the dynamics between any two people.

Jewelry is emotional and feeling, with attempts by the artist to direct these, and with opportunities for others to experience these. It is not that we react emotionally to the beauty of an object. It is not mechanical or fleeting. It is more of a dialectic. The jewelry is an expression of an artist’s inspiration and intent. We react emotionally to what we sense as that expression as it resonates from the object itself. This resonance ebbs and flows, waxes and wanes, over time as the object is worn in many different situations.

Jewelry draws attention. It becomes a virtual contract between artist and wearer. The artist agrees to design something that will call attention to the wearer and that wearer’s preferred sense of self. The wearer agrees to wear something that reaffirms the artist’s insights for all to witness and experience and draw support.

Jewelry may cue the rules for sexual and sensual interactions. Nurturing and desire. Necklaces draw attention to the breasts. Earrings to the ear and neck. Rings to the hands. Jewelry, such as a wedding band, may confirm a relationship, and signal permission for various forms of touching that otherwise would not be appropriate. The silhouettes and placements of jewelry on the body indicate where it may be appropriate for the viewer to place his gaze, and where it would not.

We don’t feel alone because we have opportunities to have a dialectic experience — a dialogue between self and artist, self and others, self and self — all catalyzed by the piece of jewelry, and our sensation of all the choices that had to be made in order for it to exist, in order for it to feel coherent, in order for it for fulfill desire, and in order for all of this to somehow feel contagious and resonant. We don’t feel alone because the jewelry taps into something inside us that makes us want to wear it, buy it and share it.

Jewelry Ages In Place With Us

Jewelry comforts us as we age in place. The bracelet we got for graduation still worn on an occasion when we are 65. The ring he bought her when she was in her 20’s still worn on the day she passed away.

With jewelry, we will never feel alone as we grow older. As our body changes in pallor and texture. As we gain weight or lose weight. As we change our styles of clothing or hair or activity.

This constellation of material objects, distributed across the human body, reflects transformation, movement, growth, and behavior. These reflect the life we live, and how we lived it. These are a story of how we performed our lives over time. They reveal an otherwise unseen perspective on life as the body ages, and we live through time. They show that not all lived lives have been ad libbed.

The jewelry will also show its age over time. Changes in color, perhaps fading, perhaps becoming duller or spotty. A clasp may have been replaced. The piece may have been restrung. It may have been shortened or lengthened. It may have been worn a lot. Or lost for a while. Or given away. Its associative or symbolic value may have changed.

Jewelry is life performed. Both are observable. Both indicative of our place — our aura — in the world around us as time goes on. Both an experience — often changing — of a point of view from the hand that crafted the piece in the first place, and the desires of the person who wore the piece over time. We possess it and wear it so it reminds us that we are not alone.

Knowing What Jewelry Really Is
 Translates Into Artistic and Design Choices

Knowing what jewelry really is better connects the artist to the various audiences the artist seeks to reach. It results in better outcomes. More exhibits. More sales. More collections. Better self-esteem. Better representation of self in various contexts and situations.

Jewelry asks the artist, the wearer and the viewer to participate in its existence. In a somewhat subtle way, by allowing communication, dialog, evaluation, and emotion, jewelry allows each one not to feel alone. It allows each one to express intent, establish a sense of self, and introduce these intents and self-expressions into a larger social context.

Jewelry judged as finished and successful results from these shared understandings and desires among artist, viewer and wearer, and how these influence their subsequent choices. These choices extend to materials and arrangements. They extend to how the artist determines what is to be achieved, and how the work is talked about and presented to others. These anticipate the reactions of others, beliefs about saleability, assumptions about possible inclusions in exhibitions, knowing what is appealing or collectible.

The artist is always omnipresent in the jewelry s/he creates. The artist, through the jewelry, and how it is worn on the body, to some extent, arbitrates how other sets of relationships interact, transfer feelings, ideas and emotions, reduce ambiguity, influence one another, and make sense of the world around them.

These sets of relationships, through which jewelry serves as a conduit, include:

artist and wearer
 wearer and viewer
 artist and self
 artist and seller
 seller and client
 artist and exhibiter
 artist and collector
 exhibiter and collector

In the abstract, jewelry is a simple object. We make it. We wear it. We sell it. We buy it. We exhibit it. We collect it. But in reality, jewelry channels all the artist’s and wearer’s and viewer’s energy — the creative sparks, the tensions, the worries, the aspirations, the representations, the assessments of risks and rewards, the anticipations of influence and affect. Jewelry becomes the touchstone for all these relationships. It is transformational. It is a manifestation of their internal worlds. An essence resonant in context. A comforting togetherness, inclusion, reaffirmation.

The better jewelry designer is one who anticipates these shared understandings about what makes a piece of jewelry finished and successful, and can incorporate these understandings within the jewelry design process s/he undertakes. Knowing what jewelry really is forms a critical aspect of what sets jewelry design as a discipline apart from that of art or craft. Knowing what jewelry really is and how it helps us not feel alone forms the basis of the professional identity and disciplinary literacy of the jewelry designer.



(1) Grosz, Stephen, The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves, NY: 
 W.W.Norton & Company, 2014.

(2) Pravu Mazumdar, Jewellery as Performance: on Gisbert Stach’s Experiments with 
 Jewellery and Life
, Klimt02, 11/22/2019

As referenced:

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

I hope you found this article useful.

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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Turning Silver and Copper Metals Black: Some Oxidizing Techniques

Posted by learntobead on April 18, 2020

(Use bare wire, if you intend to oxidize it; this means it has no protective lacquer finish on it to prevent it from tarnishing)

Liver of Sulfur solid form


Step 1 Preferably work outside when using Liver of Sulfur (LOS). Make sure you wear gloves and designate glass or ceramic containers that will be used solely for this purpose.

Step 2 Clean the silver before you begin. Any polishing residues, wax or fingerprints could affect the consistency of the oxidation. Hot soapy water and an old toothbrush work well.

Step 3 Make a neutralizing bath. You will use this later to neutralize the silver once you have finished oxidizing.

Step 4 To make the neutralizing bath: Using one Mason jar, mix two teaspoons of baking soda in one cup of cold water.

Step 5 Stir solution until the baking soda is dissolved. Set aside for later.

Step 6 Prepare your workstation. You need two mason jars with one cup of hot water in the LOS solution, the neutralizing bath you just made, Liver of Sulfur, the silver you wish to oxidize, a pair of gloves, a plastic spoon and some paper towels. (Hot water (not boiling): 30 seconds in microwave) (Use glass jars, not plastic)

In the one with the piece you wish to oxidize, if you use hot water, oxidation will occur very quickly. If you use room temperature or even ice water, the oxidation will take longer to occur. With silver, this will give you an opportunity to control what color tone the final piece will have. But with copper, the metal darkens extremely fast.

Step 7 Drop the silver into the water (hot, room temp or cold) of one Mason jar.

Step 8 In the other Mason jar add 1 pea sized lump of LOS to the hot water.
 The hotter the solution, the faster the oxidation. Alternative: Room temperature LOS solution, and put silver in ice-cold water. A greater temperature difference slows patina process, and can get more variation in colors with blues and golds, not just blacks.

Liver of Sulfur gel form

Liver of Sulfur gel can be brushed on using a small paint brush, or you can make a solution. To make a solution, coat half a teaspoon with the gel and allow the excess to drip off. Then dip the spoon in a container of hot water and allow to dissolve.

Step 9 Mix thoroughly.

Step 10 Remove the silver from the water and carefully place the silver into the LOS solution trying not to splash.

Step 11 Leave the silver in the LOS solution until it reaches the desired color, stirring occasionally to get an even finish. [This can happen within seconds, within 5 minutes, within 15 minutes, or within 1 hour, depending on the piece and how dark you want it, and the differences in solution temperatures.]

Step 12 Remove the silver from the LOS solution and place the silver in the neutralizing bath. This will stop any further oxidation of the silver.

Step 13 Remove the silver form the neutralizing bath and dry slightly with the paper towel.

Step 14 You can either tumble the silver to polish and seal the oxidized finish or you can use a polishing cloth. You can try rough paper towels. You can try 0000 steel wool. Be careful not to completely rub off the oxidation.

Step 15 Put two teaspoons of baking soda into the LOS solution to neutralize it.

Step 16 Loosely seal the Mason jar that contains the LOS solution and leave the jar out doors, out of the reach of children or animals. The LOS will degrade and eventually turn clear. Once it is clear it is no longer toxic and you can dispose of it by diluting the solution and flushing it down the drain.

Black Max (liquid)

2. USING BLACK MAX (Contains hydrochloric acid and tellurium)

The result from Black Max is a bit shinier black finish than Liver of Sulphur, which is more matte. With liver of Sulphur, oxidation does not wear off as fast. Can’t get the range of oxidations colors with Black Max, as you can with LOS.

For silver, immerse in or apply Black Max with a cloth or applicator until the desired finish is obtained (20–30 seconds is the norm). Enough solution in jar to cover your piece.

Do not heat solution or piece.

Otherwise, you will follow similar steps as with LOS, including the baking soda solution to neutralize the reaction.

3. USING HARD BOILED EGG (using Sulphur to oxidize silver or copper)

Boil the egg, and peel the shell.
 Put the peeled egg inside a zip lock bag.
 Use your fingers to crush the peeled egg inside the bag.
 Put your piece of silver inside the bag and into the crushed egg pieces.
 Check every 15 minutes to see if it is sufficiently oxidized for you. Can easily take 1 hour.
 Rinse with warm water and some dish detergent.
 Use paper towel or 0000 steel wool to brush off any excess oxidation.

Antiquing Solution


Another thing you can do is to buy an antiquing solution, or use a dark color varnish.

You paint this on, and then rub it off with a soft cloth. Let it dry for about 20 minutes, and repeat, if you need the antiquing to be darker.

This leaves a glossy black finish. Here, again, you usually want to leave some gradations of color on the metal, so that the top surfaces are shinier than the crevices.

Anything with ammonia in it


If you want to speed up the tarnishing process, but do not want to turn your product black, spray your metal with Windex with Ammonia.

The ammonia will turn the silver black, and the low amount of ammonia in this product will make the process very gradual. With more ammonia concentration, the faster and the blacker it will turn.


You will find online a wide range of patina’s. These typically are in liquid form. Different patinas work with different metals. Different patinas have different final coloration results. You can get ones that do blues or purples or golds or rainbow effects.

Steel Wool


After you have oxidized and patina’d your piece, you probably want to let some of the higher areas get a little shinier again, leaving the recessed areas dark.

Easy to do.

Take some steel wool (#0000) or a rougher paper towel, or a soft bristle toothbrush, and gently rub over the surface. Like an artist, you will control where you want highlights and where you want lowlights.

Think you went to far? Then oxidize again. Not a problem.

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?

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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The Martha Stewart Beaded Wreath Project

Posted by learntobead on April 18, 2020

Supplies needed:
8″ — 10″ floral wreath styrofoam form
3 or 4 sizes of round druk beads (6mm, 8mm, 10mm and 12mm)
Straight pins like you would use when sewing
Red nail polish (to paint over the pin heads)
Red wrapping tape or ribbon for wrapping the styrofoam form
Wide ribbon or cloth for a bow

The Martha Stewart Wreath

In 1999, Martha Stewart, on her TV show, demonstrated how to make a Christmas Wreath, using round druk beads. (“Druk” means plain, smooth, roundish beads.) And she started an avalanche of orders. Her powers to send millions of women to their bead stores was, and still is, enormous. So big, in fact, that it is difficult to visualize. With this project, there were not enough red druk beads in the entire world to fill the demand in 1999 and several years afterward.

This first year saw over 2800 orders to our Land of Odds website. We were able to fill about 1700 of them before the beads started running out. In both 1999 and 2000, (and now, by this time, the instructions also had been published in a Martha Stewart Christmas Projects book), our suppliers ran out of the 10mm size druks around October, and we were unable to fill orders past the first few days of December. The 10mm beads started coming back in stock in February or March. The 12mm size ran out soon after, but wasn’t available again until much later. (NOTE: There are 25mm in an inch.)

Traditionally, there has never been a large supply of larger beads — 10mm and 12mm — in any color, because the main purpose of beads is to be used in jewelry, and these larger sizes tend to be heavy, and usually not in style. When a particular bead in size and color runs out, it usually takes 3 or more months before it is back in stock.

This is because these beads come from the Czech Republic and must be imported, and also because every color, type and size of bead is not always in production all the time. Beads are usually produced from lightest to darkest. That is, they try to make clear and light colors first in the kiln, and gradually over the course of a few months make darker and darker beads. In this way, they can use the kiln for the longest period of time before having to clean it out.

Martha Stewart provided one set of directions in 1999, and a new set of directions in 2000. In both, we believe she underestimated the number of beads needed, so with some interpretation, your two design choices are:

Design Option A. 300 each of 6mm, 8mm and 10mm for a 10-inch wreath (the original 1999 version)
 Design Option B. 200 each of 6mm, 8mm, 10mm and 12mm for an 8-inch wreath (the new 2000 version)

We have a personal preference for choice “A”.

Colors: Ruby (also called Siam) is the color of choice. A slightly lighter Light Siam works well also. For a contrast, either Red Opal or Garnet will work.

Red is one of the most expensive colors to make, so there are few color choices in this area for the druk line of round beads. Many of the reds that exist are very close in color in this particular bead, so do not provide much if any contrast. We offer ruby (also called siam), and suggest either garnet (very dark, almost black), and/or red opal (a translucent red), as workable contrasting or complimentary colors. There is a cherry red, but this doesn’t have the same effect as the transparent and translucent colors. There is also a dark ruby (or dark siam, sometimes called light garnet) which we do not offer.

Using the smaller 4mm beads, such as in a 4–6–8mm configuration, doesn’t work very well. It doesn’t look realistic enough.

NOTE: It is also important to get your styrofoam wreath form. Stores run out of these as well. Try these types of places: Wal-Mart, K-Mart, craft stores, floral shops and floral supply places. We prefer the 10-inch wreath that is a half dome in shape. On this wreath, you only cover the domed part, not the back of the wreath. You can also use a completely round (tube) wreath, which you would cover entirely with beads.

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 Martha Stewart Christmas Wreath, as well as other 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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A Very Abbreviated, But Not Totally Fractured, History of Beads

Posted by learntobead on April 18, 2020

How many people throughout time have heard the sound of a dropped bead on the floor?

Or the sharp whoosh of air that comes from the cutting of a cord?

Or the dull oomph you hear when you crush a metal clasp into place?

Or the feel of the tug and pull of the thread as the needle is pulled through the cloth?

Or the resistance of the tensile strength of the wire as it is bent into a shape?

Did they see a sudden flash of light, a sudden recognition of artistic achievement? Probably not.

But it meant something to them. Subtle. Unconscious. The exercise of the hand in craft often taps into some sense of self-expression or –awareness. Creativity rewards you. It reaffirms who you are. Your worth, your value, your artistry. It is fulfilling, fun, happy, reassuring, exciting, introspective.

The exercise of your hand in craft, art and design often reconfirms that you are part of some larger group or culture, as well. You have a shared sense of what expression and awareness mean. You repeat the same steps in creation. You choose similar parts or design compatible patterns. People recognize your creative efforts when they see or wear your pieces.

Hand Craft. The feel on the fingertips and on the palm of your hand. The pattern of light that registers on your eye and then gets translated by your brain. The anticipated weight and movement of the piece as it’s worn.

The shared implications of all this, and the full range of possibilities are understood by everyone. This mutual understanding helps you cement relationships with other groups or individuals. Relationships and meanings are extensions of your hand in craft.

Hand Crafts. Beads and Jewelry. Beads and Jewelry. Beads and Jewelry. Beads and Jewelry as Hand Crafts. Beads and Jewelry have been used all throughout time. They appear in every culture in the world. Although they are not always used in the same ways or for the same reasons.



Sometimes beads are used instead of Money. When people look at beads, they have an intrinsic value that people seem to recognize and share. In many cultures, people place more confidence in using their beads as their Money, instead of their own coins and currency.

And in our own world, this is often true as well, as we go to bead swaps, or swap one piece of jewelry for something else of value. We barter with beads. We do this all the time. Beads and beaded jewelry have a monetary life all their own. “I’ll give you this______ , if I can have the beaded bracelet you are wearing.”

And so many times, people will come in the shop and ask to work for beads. And we have plenty for them to do.

Trade Beads


In a similar way, beads were used in Trade. This is more true historically than today, but a little bit today. When two groups want to trade with each other, it’s hard to come to terms. Because people, for whatever reasons, seem to be able to come to agreement on the value of beads, beads were used in various ways during the negotiation process.

Global Trade Routes

About 300, and 400 and 500 years ago, explorers set out from various European countries, and visited far-away places like China and India and Africa, and North and South America. When they set off on their explorations, they brought with them what we call Trade Beads. These were glass beads that were made in Venice, Bohemia and the Netherlands.

In Europe at this time, the folks looked down on glass beads. They used them in projects involving bead embroidery and mimicking tapestries where they could get a more 3-dimensional look with the beads than they could with the fibers.

But they shied away from glass beads in jewelry. Too cheap. Too low class. Glass was trash. For jewelry, they preferred the high test octane beads made from gemstones and precious metals. But those darn glassmakers in Venice and Bohemia and The Netherlands kept churning glass beads out. I think there were some technological improvements that occurred at this time, that made it easier/cheaper/ more efficient to make glass beads, but I don’t know this for a fact. Still, no one really wanted them.

The explorers took these glass beads with them, and at first gave them away as gifts. They assumed that people from other, “less sophisticated” cultures, would dismiss these glass beads as well. But alas and alack, these other “less worldly” men and women did not. They liked the glass beads. They liked them a lot. Some cultures even saw spiritual qualities in these glass beads.

It wasn’t long before the explorers started trading these beads, instead of giving them away. Some of the trade beads made in Europe were very generic; others were more specialized designs, colorations or etchings specific to certain countries or regions, like Africa or Persia.

When these explorers came to North America, the Indians here, at first, wanted blue beads. You see, they couldn’t easily make a blue color with the natural materials they were using — stones, shells, antler and wood. The explorers were thrilled about this. Blue was the cheapest color to make. So, the explorers found this trade to be very profitable. It wasn’t too long, however, before the Indians met their needs for blue, and started asking for yellow and red. You see, it takes real gold to make the colors yellow and red. And the trading became nearer and dearer for the explorers.

These French Traders continued their explorations down the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. They discovered the freshwater pearl cultures of the Mississippi Indians in the area around Tennessee, and traded beads for these pearls which they sent back to Europe. These freshwater pearls soon earned the name “Royal Pearls”, and were restricted for use and wear by the royalty across Europe.

Even today, royal families continue to import Tennessee freshwater pearls. They have these sewn into their undergarments. After all, it’s widely believed that wearing a pearl against your skin ensures your future wealth.

And, I always wondered if you could speculate why the Indians sided with the French in the French and Indian Wars, against the British. Could it have been that the French supplied them with beads, and the British did not?

People With The More Beads Have The More Power!


Another way people use beads is for reasons of Power. People with the more beads have the more power. When you get into beading, you learn this very quickly. Who has the most beads? The most Reds? The most Purples? The most delicas? Beads, in this sense, define social relationships, who’s more important than whom, and pathways of success.

Ogalala Sioux Indian Reservation Lands

About 400 years ago, among the Oglala Sioux Indians in the Dakotas, there was a big women’s movement. The women of this tribe wanted greater say and control over tribal matters, they saw an opportunity to assert themselves, which they did, and they won. This whole incident was oriented around beads.

So what happened four hundred years ago? You had French traders traveling through Canada, and coming down into the Dakotas. They brought with them these glass Trade Beads, and traded them for pelts. One of the major roles of women in Indian tribes was to make beads. They would spend all day, every day, making beads out of stones and wood and antlers and shells. When these French traders came with these pre-made beads, it freed up a lot of time. And in this one tribal group, the women took advantage of this free time, asserted themselves, and won.

Sioux bead embroidery

One of the things the women did to mark their success was to change the costuming of the men. Before the movement, men wore beaded embroidery strips tacked down linearly along their sleeves. After the movement, the women tacked down only part of the embroidery strips — the rest allowed to flow out like ribbons. So when the men went off hunting or fighting or whatever they did, they wore the mark of the women — their ribbons would flow.



Sometimes, beads are used for Spiritual and Religious Reasons. You can picture a rosary in the Catholic Church. By touching and moving your hand along this bead chain, it helps you feel closer to God. It helps you feel more spiritual. It helps you remember the rituals. In Buddhism, they use something like a rosary. In Confucianism in China they use something like a rosary called Immortal Beads.

The threatened Pope

During the Middle Ages in Europe, only priests were allowed to wear rosaries and have beaded adornments. Priests had their parishioners make them rosaries and beaded this and beaded that. After awhile, the priests with the more rosaries and the more elaborate rosaries, gained higher status. So they kept accumulating, and accumulating, and accumulating, until, at one point, one of the Popes felt very threatened. Many priests were becoming as adorned as he was. So the Pope issued an edict that said everyone could wear rosaries and have beaded adornments.

The fact that you can wear beaded jewelry today, instead of making them for your priest or minister or rabbi or imam or whatever, goes back to the insecurity of one of those Popes.

Zulu Beadwork


Last, beads are sometimes used for Communication. They are used symbolically. Different colors have different meanings. Different patterns have different meanings. Different shapes have different meanings.

Among the Zulu Tribes in South Africa during Apartheid, you had some Zulu tribes who adopted Christianity and identified with the colonialists. And you had other tribes that did not. Among the tribes that did not, they developed a very elaborate communication system using beads. Besides what colors were next to each other, they used a lot of triangles in their patterns. It was important if the triangle faced down, or up, and again what the colors were.

SPEAKING WITH BEADS. Zulu Arts from Southern Africa. 
 by J. (photographs), E. Whyte. Morris 
 New York , 1994

These folks might bead a necklace, or a loin-cloth. They might do a beaded doll, or a hat, or a blanket or tapestry. Something beaded. They would come out during the day, and flash the results of their secrecy, plotting and chicanery. They might say something very general with their beadwork, like “I’m mad at the world today”. Or they might get very specific, such as “I’d like to get together with you tomorrow night at 8:00, but not before I’ve met with your brother.”

These Zulu tribes kept up this communication system for about 70–80 years — all during Colonialism and Apartheid. When Apartheid ended, no one carried on the tradition. Not a complete surprise.

Today Zulu beadwork is very fashionable, particularly in Europe. But no one knows what they are saying. They are just doing pretty patterns.

Beading in the United States Today

A Social Movement Dating Back to the 1960s

Today, beading in the United States has been part of an ever-growing social movement that began in the 1960s, and, whether you know it or not, you are caught up in it, even unto today.

In the early 1960s, two new stringing materials were developed and introduced to beading. The first — NYMO Thread — was a nylon thread created by the shoe industry to attach the bottom of the shoe to the top of the shoe. This is widely used in upholstery. The second was called Tiger Tail. This was a flexible, nylon-coated cable wire. Cable wires are wires that are braided together and encased in nylon.

Before the 1960s, there really wasn’t a durable stringing material. People mostly used either cotton or silk thread, or nylon fishing line. Cotton and silk thread naturally deteriorate in about 3–5 years, so anything done on these has to be re-done every 3–5 years. Fishing line dries out and cracks when exposed to ultraviolet light and heat, that is, sunshine.

Because there was not a durable stringing material, beading, for the most part historically, was viewed as just a home craft. It did not attract artists. It did not attract fine craftspersons. It did not attract academics. It did not encourage people to experiment and push the envelop with the craft.

While occasionally in history, if you look back, you do see elaborate bead work, such as Russian bead embroidery during the 1800s and French beaded purses in the 1920’s, — this intricate beadwork was most often done by people who were slaves, or serfs or indentured servants. When they were freed, their beadwork stopped or diminished. So, when the Czar was deposed at the turn of the century, there began a major decline in Russian bead embroidery. Or when France passed labor laws in the late 1930’s, there were no more beaded purses. A rational person doesn’t want to spend all that money on beads, and take all that time making something, if it is going to fall apart.

With the introduction of Nymo and Tiger Tail in the 1960s — materials that do not break down easily — beading began to attract academics and artists and fine craftspersons. This movement began in Southern California, and gradually spread across the country. The first bead society was founded in Los Angeles in the 1960s. Today there are over 200 bead societies across the United States. The explosion in the availability of bead magazines didn’t begin until the latter part of the 1990s. The fact that you can get very excited about beads today, even thinking about selling jewelry made with them — 40 to 50 years ago, you wouldn’t have had those thoughts.

Beading has a very different energy and dynamic than a lot of other crafts, because it is only very recently begun to be thought of as an art form.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry: What Works!

What Glue Should I Use When Making Jewelry?

Why Am I So Addicted To Beads?

A Very Abbreviated, But Not Totally Fractured, History of Beads

The Martha Stewart Beaded Wreath Project

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

The Use of Armature In Jewelry: Legitimate or Not?

Pearl Knotting Warren’s Way

Organizing Your Craft Workspace…Some Smart Pointers

You Don’t Choose Clasps, You Choose Clasp Assemblies

Know Your Anatomy Of A Necklace

Mini Lesson: Making Stretchy Bracelets

Mini Lesson: Making Adjustable Slip Knots With Thicker Cords

Mini Lesson: How To Crimp

Mini Lesson: Attaching End Caps, Cones, Crimp Ends

Mini Lesson: Brick Stitch

Mini Lesson: Flat Even Count Peyote

Mini Lesson: Ndebele Stitch

Mini Lesson: Petersburg Chain

Mini Lesson: Right Angle Weave

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Everyone Has A Getting Started Story

The Nature-Inspired Creations of Kathleen

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Glass Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Lampwork Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Crystal Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Seed and Cylinder Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Choosing and Using Clasps

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 »

Watch Out! Or You’ll Catch The Bead-Bug!

Posted by learntobead on April 18, 2020

Getting Started Beading and Making Jewelry
Channeling your excitement”


As someone once told me, “I bought some beads, dumped them all out on the table, and I was hooked!”

She began making simple bracelets and necklaces, and was hooked some more.

And then she learned wire working, and made wire bezels and bails, wire clasps and ear-wires, and wire-constructed bracelets, and yes, she was hooked some more.

She sold several pieces, and now, even her husband started getting hooked.

And she learned bead weaving and some silversmithing, some polymer clay and metal clay, some kumihimo and micro-macrame, and now, not just herself and her husband, but her three children and her mother and her next-door neighbor were hooked.

She spent hours and hours organizing her beads. And organizing some more, as her beads and her ongoing projects took up more and more room in her house.

She was overwhelmed by choices. And was very hooked. And, although she kept buying up bead after bead, and learning technique after technique, and organizing workspace after workspace, she allowed very little time for “design.”

Yet, we need to give her a chance to get started. To catch her breath. To learn how to learn. To learn how to organize and work. To learn how to manage all the emotions and anxieties which come with so many choices, and so many colors, and so many parts, and so many different ways to go about making jewelry and beadwork. Before she is ready to wander that path. And bump into her Inner Designer.

What Can You Do With Beads?

A BEAD is anything that has a hole in it. And you can do a lot of things with things that have holes.

You can put these things on string.

You can sew these things onto fabric.

You can weave these things together with threads.

You can knot or braid or knit or crochet these things together.

You can combine and wrap and en-cage these things with metal wires and metal sheets.

You can work these things into projects with clay, polymer clay and metal clay.

You can embellish whatever you can think of — dolls, tapestries, clothes, shoes, scrapbooks, pillows, containers, and vases.

You can use these things in scientific experiments.

You can fuse these things together.

You can incorporate these things into projects involving stained glass, mosaics, or multi-media art.

You can decorate your house and your household things with these things.

You can texture surfaces with these things, using glues, cements or resins.
 You can buy these pre-made, or make your own.

You can do a lot of things with beads.

Most people begin by Stringing beads, and graduate to things like Weaving beads, Embellishing with beads on Fiber, Knotting and Braiding with beads, and Wire Working with beads. A few people learn to hand-make Lampwork glass beads, or learn to sculpt with Polymer Clay or Precious Metal Clay, or learn to solder using Silver-Smithing techniques.

And you can feel self-satisfied and secure in the knowledge that, should everything else in the world around you go to pot, we will all be back to bartering with beads.

And you will have them.

So, beads are good.

Getting Started

Everyone has a Getting-Started story. Some people were always crafty, and beading was a natural extension to what they were doing. Others were driven by the allure of beads and jewelry. They saw fabulous earrings and necklaces and bracelets in magazines, department stores and boutiques at prices out of reach, and they said to themselves: I can do this — and for less. And still others were drawn by the beads themselves — beautiful objects to be adorned. And played with. And fondled.

Vanessa told me how she got started. She had bought a strand of beads. She possessed them. They possessed her. She kept them with her at all times. In her pocket. In her purse. Between her hands. Inside a zip-lock bag. Then outside the zip-lock bag. And back into the zip-lock bag. After weeks of taking them out, putting them away, and then taking them out again, she sat herself down at her kitchen table. She lay the strand of beads on the table, ever-so-gently. She reached for the sharpened scissors. And cut the strand.

The beads rolled all over the table. Vaness’s eyes got wide. She told me she couldn’t stop looking at them and touching them and playing with them. The look on her face was sinful, almost pornographic.

Vanessa returned to the local bead store. And bought some more beads.

Terry had been crafty her whole life, ever since she was a little girl. She didn’t remember when she first started making jewelry. But she did remember when she was lucky enough to get paid for it. She made more jewelry. She sold more jewelry. And made more. And sold more.

Hessie loved to watch the jewelry home shopping network. She imagined herself modeling the jewelry on TV, and telling her audience how wonderful the beads and the colors and the stones and the designers all were. She began watching the craft shows on cable, and studying the instructors and every little thing they said and did. She started bead stringing jewelry and learning some wirework.

If you had walked into Renee’s bedroom, you would have seen boxes and boxes of jewelry — all in need of repair. She kept meaning to fix each piece, but the cost and inconvenience were too high. Finally, she convinced herself, “I can do this myself.”

Darita was a fiber artist. She had become frustrated, a bit, because she wanted more life in her projects. By a happy accident — a shattered car window and shards of glass sticking into several fiber projects on the front seat of her car — she discovered she could add beads. These beads added light and interplays on light. Darita was very happy with the results.

I always find myself asking our customers and students how they got started. Here’s how some of them finished the sentence, 
When I started beading…

“… I needed jewelry for my prom.”

“… My neighbor made me do it.”

“… A friend wanted a pair of earrings.”

“… I visited my first bead shop.”

“… I needed someone to repair a necklace, and couldn’t find anyone to do it.”

“… I needed to make some extra money.”

“… I was thinking about what to do after I retired.”

“… I ordered a kit on-line.”

“… I dreamed about beads and designed in my sleep.”

“… My dad brought me a beaded Indian doll, and I had to learn how to make something so similar.”

“… I was recuperating in the hospital from some surgery, and the volunteer brought me some beadwork to keep me busy.”

“… I begged a friend of mine to make me a bracelet like hers, but she never did. So I made one for myself.”

“… I decorated a scrapbook with some beads, and suddenly found myself switching craft careers.”

“… I needed an escape, something relaxing, something meditative.”

“… I was a baby in diapers learning to walk by following my mother holding some big beads dangling from a string.”

When I started beading in the late 1980’s, there were no major bead magazines — like Bead & Button or Beadwork. There were very few stringing material options, and in fact, many people used dental floss or sewing thread or fishing line. There were few choices of clasps and other findings — especially for stringing on thicker cords like leather or waxed cotton. I had to go to hardware stores and sewing notion stores and antique stores and flea markets to find things, and make them work. I cannibalized a lot of old jewelry for their parts.

I was in Nashville, Tennessee, at the time. There wasn’t much of a beading culture here. It was difficult to find advice and direction. This was pre-Internet. I mostly strung beads, and got hooked early on. Probably because I sold so much of what I made. Selling your stuff gets you addicted very fast.

Life Has A Way of Linking You Up To Beads

I grew up in a semi-rural part of New Jersey, where every year they published the Farms Report. The Report indicated how many farms were left in each county in New Jersey. There were 300 farms left in Somerset County when I left for college in Massachusetts. The year was 1971. My parents owned a small independent pharmacy. Their business could be traced back to before the Civil War, though it moved up and down the street several times on what was called The Old York Road. I worked in the store from when I was very young, and always loved the retail setting. Healthcare, my professional occupation, not so much.

As most upwardly mobile young adolescents do in the New Jersey/New York corridor, I pursued a professional track. I studied anthropology and psychology at Brandeis. I pursed a masters degree in City and Regional Planning at Rutgers. Got a job as a city health planner in New Brunswick, NJ. And eventually went on to get my doctorate in Public Health at the University of North Carolina.

I held a series of progressively more responsible jobs in healthcare. Initially, I was an assistant professor at Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi. I taught graduate students health law, medical anthropology, epidemiology, and health planning. Loved Ole Miss. Loved Oxford. Loved Mississippi. At the time, however, I wasn’t so keen on teaching, and was never a big fan of working in the healthcare field.

I went on to become a health policy planner for the State of Tennessee. That’s how I got to Nashville. And then director of the Tennessee Primary Care Association. But, at that point, I could push myself to stay in healthcare no more. In spite of the great pay. In spite of the prestige. In spite of the power base I had created for myself. In spite of wanting to help people get access to care. I finally reached a point where I no longer cared as much about the money. And I cared much more about bringing back some more authenticity in my life. Some other “Fool” could step in and take over all these professional responsibilities. I had paid my dues to society.

So, I took the plunge.

With my partner Jayden, we opened a bead shop. We sold all the parts, as well as finished pieces we made. We repaired jewelry. Jayden did some teaching and instruction. We were in the right place with the right products at the right time. Business sky-rocketed. I had assumed that I would have had to continue doing some healthcare consulting, mostly with HCA, and some teaching at the graduate program with Meharry Medical College and Tennessee State University.

But I never had to. And, over the next 30+ years, never had to again.

I caught the bead-bug.

And it never left me.

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.

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

Add your name to my email list.

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The Greatest Lover Of Beads Ever

Posted by learntobead on April 18, 2020

Connie Welch

The Greatest Bead Lover Ever!

Connie Welch was the greatest bead lover you could ever meet. She was one of our first store customers. She was instrumental in our success — on many levels. In 2009, she passed away.

It seems like only yesterday morning, Connie Welch and I were chatting about our very successful and exciting Laura McCabe workshops over the weekend before Connie’s death. We had all been together with our closest friends and bead-mates, and had met several more we immediately included with our group.

Connie had been very excited about the workshops. She loved the projects. They were fun, challenging and appealing. She learned many new things. She couldn’t wait to ask Laura to come back to Nashville again. Connie and I remarked how the workshop reflected the results of so many years she, I and others had spent creating and developing and fostering and participating in The Center for Beadwork & Jewelry Arts — the name we gave our educational program at Be Dazzled Beads.

Connie was instrumental in bringing a professional bent to beadwork in Nashville. She played very key roles in helping Jayden and I grow our business and raise all our dogs, especially Rosie.

So you can imagine how shocked and saddened Jayden and I were to learn that Connie had passed away. We miss her deeply.

Connie was part of our original advisory groups which researched beading education around the world, distilled this information into sets of critical ideas, and then wove these ideas into our educational program at CBJA and Be Dazzled Beads. The first things Connie worked on were identifying critical bead-weaving skills, like managing thread tension. She worked with the group to developmentally order these skills, and then link them to specific courses. But her proudest moment and claim to fame was her development of our Advanced Bead Studies program. Connie took the leadership role in organizing these Bead Studies over 9 years.

Connie had shopped in our stores since our beginnings. She took it upon herself to make sure that we were always in the know about major things happening in the bead world. She was our “deputized” market researcher. She followed bead trends, bead magazines, bead websites and bead artists. She brought her knowledge of color and graphics to the fore. She made us aware of the local bead scene in Nashville, the major players, the stores, the groups and opportunities.

And Connie made sure that all our store dogs — Rosie, Dottie, Stormy, Lily and Daisy — were treated like royalty. Connie loved all our dogs, but had a special place in her heart for Rosie. And Rosie had a special series of sounds to announce each time that Connie was arriving at our store’s front door.

Connie loved to bead. She loved beads, beaders and anything beading related.

Connie’s enthusiasm affected all around her — almost as if she imbued them with all the visual and textural and sensual and emotional powers of the beads she so lovingly contemplated herself. Connie made everyone want to bead. And she made everyone want to share in the addiction.

I received this note about Connie after her death:

“I knew Connie from the AOL boards from years ago. I live in the Phoenix area and when she’d come in Sept, or then Aug, for the fiber convention, my job was to, on Fridays, drive to Walgreens, buy coke for her, hit the hotel, and she would yell at Jim (her husband) and I all afternoon as we tore up the hotel room, reinvented the furniture, and set up the displays to her satisfaction.

“She took us to dinner at a place called Sam’s every time, for working for her. Saturdays I would return and spend all day with her, beading, showing our stuff to each other, and she often shared stories of the Land of Odds, and the folks she met and the classes she took there.

“She told me some great stuff over the few years we did this. I’d return on Sundays and we’d visit again, but then Jim and I had to tear down and repack all of the show supplies to Connie’s barked orders.

“One time she sent me to another vendor to identify some stone beads. As it turned out, the woman was new to beading so I ended up giving her all sorts of information, and leads on other local stores besides where she had obtained said beads. The other vendor and her daughter spent much of that show buying the beads and buttons I had just learned to make along with things I had hauled in from Tucson, and ended up trading some beads for some silk ribbons I had. I’d had no idea what they were worth. I just showed them to her, and her eyes got big as saucers.

“While sitting in Connie’s showroom, we used to laugh hard and bead, and this drew in the “bead curious” who would have otherwise walked past her salesroom.

“Sometimes it would result in a sale, sometimes potential customers for either one of us as one time she let me display some beads in there — I just recalled that. But always Connie ramped up that person’s enthusiasm for beads, or learning to incorporate beads into their fiber work. When there was no one around, she loved to tell stories of beads and beading and however Cleo (her cat) got involved.

“Connie was generous with information and she was also really curious about how I figured things out. I was a self-taught beader and to date have still only ever taken 2 classes, maybe 3. Admiring her beautiful work inspired me to go further with my freeform work. She taught me now to make the little “boats” to start a freeform peyote pouch, and I have had some good success with that project.”

— — Caryn

Connie, we sure do miss you!

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Do You Know Where Your Beading Needles Are?

Consignment Selling: A Last Resort

Odds or Evens? What’s Your Preference?

My Clasp, My Clasp, My Kingdom For A Clasp

Why Am I So Addicted To Beads?

The Bead Spill: My Horrifying Initiation

The Artists At The Party

How To Bead A Rogue Elephant

You Can Never Have Enough Containers For Your Stuff

Beading While Traveling On A Plane

Contemplative Ode To A Bead

How To Bead In A Car

My Aunt Gert: Illustrating Some Lessons In Business Smarts

A Jewelry Designer’s Day Dream

A Dog’s Life by Lily

I Make All The Mistakes In The Book

How Sparkle Enters People’s Lives

Upstairs, Downstairs At The Bead Store

Beads and Race

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

Women and Their Husbands When Shopping For Beads

Women Making Choices In The Pursuit Of Fashion

Existing As A Jewelry Designer: What Befuddlement!

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 »