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Archive for February 16th, 2023

HOW TO BEAD A ROGUE ELEPHANT The Musings Of A Jewelry Designer: Inward

Posted by learntobead on February 16, 2023

I could see through the panes in the door this tall man heading towards me. I waited anxiously, obviously her father, to greet me and let me in to wait for his daughter and our date. Excited. Nervous. Eager to see her and lead her to our transportation, some dinner, a movie, perhaps something else. I had prepared for this moment. Though one can never fully prepare. And I heard him turn the knob and begin to open the door.

He opened the door violently. Violently. As if it were very heavy. Or difficult to open, you know, when you add that extra pull or push. His face was stern. Angry. Full of frustration. He was winding up. Something I wasn’t prepared for, and hoped would never happen.

“Get out of here!” “Stay away from my daughter!”

And the door slammed in my face.

This had happened too many times before with other planned-for dates that never materialized. In junior high. In high school.

Arlene, that was her name, had accepted my invitation for a date, I thought, because she wanted to go out with me. I liked her. I thought she liked me. We shared high school classes. We talked often. I felt an attraction. But Arlene, like Anne, and Sue, and Mary, and Ginny before her, had one objective. To get back at her parents by bringing a Jewish boy into their lives.

That Jewish boy. Walking up the front walkway. Up the 3 stairs. Ringing the doorbell. Unsuspecting — the parents that is, not caring whether the boy suspected or not.

Slap. Bang. Slam.

The outcome was always the same.

I crawled back to my car. My mother the driver prepared to take us wherever we wanted to go. She sat there speechless. Quiet. Blinders on. “Let’s go back home,” I said quietly with rejection.

My parents never reacted. They never confronted. Never stood up for me in a very public way. “We live in a Christian society, and have to accept that fact.” That was the rule they lived by. That was the rule they wanted me to live by.

The rule was cruel. I rued it. I resented my parents for it. Yes, they loved me, but never enough to protect me.

Arlene, over the next three years, never spoke to me at school again.

We would all bury this encounter deep within our memories. Hoping it would be forgotten.

Outward Or Inward

Someone once told me, that at the point we are ready to enter the world of life and things, we have to make a choice. A choice between heading outward or inward. We might head for a job in the corporate world. Or do something very singular and private. We might surround ourselves with networks of friends. Or find ourself to be our best, perhaps only friend. We might organize group activities likes sports or shopping or travel with many friends, eager to make new friends and acquaintances, and feeling very comfortable at it. Or we might explore the world on our own, hike the Appalachian Trail, set up a small business, exercise at home, a bit uncomfortable, even fearful, should we have to interact with any human encountered.

In the summer after my 18th birthday, I turned very inward. Inward was an escape. An escape from a world that told me over and over again that, as a Jew, I was ugly. Less than. Dangerous. To be kept at a distance. Not worthy of reward. Not worthy of attention. Uncomfortable to be around. I was tired of trying to fit in. Exhausted competing and defending myself. Wary of getting hurt. Punished for something to which I did not know how to relate.

Left alone, leaving myself alone, I thought about becoming an artist, or at least to explore that side of me. In my freshman year in high school, I took an art class. I needed to see whether what I felt inside of me could actually be channeled into some creative expression. I was sure I had talent, but I never tested this. I knew my parents would disapprove. Because they disapproved.

I remember when one adult — Risa — whom I met through a community program in the next town befriended me. She saw a lot of talent in me. She asked to meet with my parents. She had many connections in the creative community in New York City. She asked their permission to take me to New York and introduce me. My parents said, “No.” That ended that.

Over the next several months, my parents would ask me over and over again, to reaffirm that I believed their decision was right. I succumbed. They told me I couldn’t make a living at art, and I shouldn’t try. I was insecure. I felt unsupported in every other aspect of life, and this would be another one. Art was not to be given a chance. I would not give it a chance. Not then.

Inward. More inward. Ever inward. There had to be something in me that I would discover by turning inward. I was a kid. A young adult. This was too tall a task at the time. To go inward. All that was there were a bunch of emotions. Not well managed. Fear. Anger. Doubt. Disappointment. Rejection. Uselessness. But, as I saw it, turning inward, I had no other choice.

That art class in high school, well, that didn’t help. My art teacher was obsessed with noses — Jewish noses, to be exact. Every figure I drew and every figure I sculpted was never acceptable to him. While I was creating these works of art, he kept asking me why my figures did not have Jewish noses. On the finished works of art, he down-graded me because my figures did not have Jewish noses.

I had a Jewish nose, at least at the time before I thought rhinoplasty would solve all my problems. By the way, it did not. I remember the doctor probing to make sure that the nose job was for cosmetic reasons, not deeply concerning psychological ones. I never let on. Nose job done. I was still Jewish. Same problems. It wasn’t the nose.

In any event, I did not want to draw or sculpt figures with Jewish noses. My Jewish nose was a testament to all my Jewish problems of fitting in, being accepted, getting along with others, finding respect, getting any kind of positive attention. I did not want any of these things reflected in the figures I drew or sculpted.

High school was like that. I suffered what we call micro-aggressions, again and again, from most of my teachers. My guidance counselor. The principal of the school. Other students. Their families. Businesses in town. School was not a safe space. Nor was the town I lived in. Neither was my family.

I never took another art class again. Even in college, I would try to visualize taking some studio art classes, but was always too intimidated, too fretful, too fearful, too angry to register for them.

Inward. I could never find a direction where I felt safe. With meaning. With purpose.

I thought Archaeology would be a good profession. I pictured myself working alone. Spending hours carefully brushing away dirt and sand, hoping to uncover that special object. Out somewhere in a location not close to any other. Inward meant alone. Control. Not in the public eye or sphere. An easy specifiable task with a beginning, middle and rewarding end which no one could refute.

My parents supported Archaeology, but I never really knew why. I guess it sounded important to them. It had to have been, because their plan was doctor or lawyer, perhaps pharmacist. And there was no resistance to Archaeology. But secretly, I wanted Architecture. But I feared it. It seemed so public and outward. It smacked of Art, and I couldn’t bring myself, I had no internal energy, to confront every thing that I imagined I would have to confront if I ever brought my very being close to Art. I couldn’t do it. A choice I’ve always regretted.

I made it through college. Took an Archaeology class, and hated it, and said Goodbye to Archaeology. A good choice, one I have never regretted.

Out into the real world and my own apartment. I was in my early 20’s. I wanted to decorate my apartment. This was the right time, a safer time, less threatening, I thought, to see if I had any artistic talent at all. I wanted to try doing some paintings. Would they have that special appeal, and sufficient appeal, that I would take the risk of hanging them up. Exposing my apartment to something I created. Where other people might see what I created. And react to them. Then react to me. Relate the artworks to me. Relate me to the artworks.

I didn’t think, I just did. I purchased some acrylic paints, some brushes, an easel, some sketch paper and a set of colored pencils and a soft drawing pencil. I set the easel up in front of my couch, to where I could still see the TV.

The inspiration for my very first painting was a deteriorating black power poster that had been stapled to a telephone pole. I sketched what I saw directly onto the canvas with a soft pencil. I painted within the lines. Some areas white, others black. An exact replica. But lacking. There was no anger in the painting. Or a sense of defeat, because I felt their cause was defeated. I was angry. My cause was defeated. Intellectually I was set on making the connection, but it wasn’t coming across.

I propped the painting up against the wall, next to the TV. I pondered. I fretted. I started letting some self-doubt rise within my core. This wasn’t working for me. Failure. I was a Jew and I couldn’t paint. Yes, I could draw. I could illustrate. I could copy. But not enough. Not enough to want to hang this on the wall. To let others see it. They’d reject the painting. They’d reject me. Because I was a Jew, talentless, ugly, awful, unacceptable. It was no good. I was no good.

There it sat. Propped up. For months. I had to see it every time I sat down on my couch. My uncomfortable couch.

I brought the painting back up to my easel. I brushed in, with thickly applied, yet narrow, thin strokes, up and down the sides of the areas which were black. In dark red. Mustard. Black. More texture. More dimension. More randomness. More power. I had added something suggestive of blood and vomit and sweat. My painting was saying something to the world. There was no longer a sense that movement, that effort to sway society toward something else, was defeated. It was a work in progress, and with a sensibility of blood, and vomit and sweat, and with dimension, texture and, yes, direction and purpose, there was a chance. A chance that things could change. For what that poster stood for. For what I wanted for myself.

Inward. But a different inward. Nothing I could articulate about or draw boundaries around it. But a different inward, nonetheless.

I painted the tension between country and city folks because I had to find my way both within the country and within the city. I painted my Aunt Gert, a frenetic, conniving individual, sitting serenely on a city park bench. I painted an abstract rendering of chaos behind two skew lines representing measurement. I painted a furious Greek god against the ravages of AIDS. A pregnant woman within a environment marred by human revenge. A woman’s gloved hand grasping binoculars, staring out in the distance at some romantic encounter, thinking about the fun they would have.

I had lots of paintings with which to decorate the walls of my apartment. Expressive. Appealing. Meaningful. Of which I was happy to share publicly.

And many years later, however, through a confluence of seemingly fateful events, I began making jewelry. Not yet designing, but making. Making jewelry had a special fascination for me, moreso than painting. More real, authentic, touchable, something residing on the body, connected to my inner soul. More expressive and meaningful — what I wanted those drawn and sculpted figures I had created in that high school class to have been. I found myself on a pathway towards finding my Rogue Elephant, inwards or outwards, not sure, and beading him.


Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.

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

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft Video Tutorials online. Begin with my ORIENTATION TO BEADS & JEWELRY FINDINGS COURSE.

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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.

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Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

What You Need To Know When Preparing A Portfolio

Smart Advice When Preparing Your Artist Statement

Design Debt: How Much Do You Have?

An Advertising Primer For Jewelry Designers

Selling Your Jewelry In Galleries: Some Strategic Pointers

Building Your Brand: What Every Jewelry Designer Needs To Know

Social Media Marketing For The Jewelry Designer

Often Unexpected, Always Exciting: Your First Jewelry Sale

Coming Out As A Jewelry Artist

Is Your Jewelry Fashion, Style, Taste, Art or Design?

Saying Goodbye To Your Jewelry: A Rite Of Passage

So You Want To Do Craft Shows: Lesson 7: Setting Up For Success

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Metals, Metal Beads, Oxidizing

The Jewelry Designer’s Approach To Color

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Stringing Materials

Shared Understandings: The Conversation Embedded Within Design

How Does Being Passionate Make You A Better Designer?

Doubt / Self-Doubt: 8 Major Pitfalls For Jewelry Designers

Essential Questions For Jewelry Designers: 1 — Is What I Do Craft, Art or Design?

The Bridesmaids’ Bracelets

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Choosing And Using Clasps

Beads and Race

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

Point, Line, Plane, Shape, Form and Theme

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

5 Tell-Tale Signs Your Pearls Need Re-Stringing

MiniLesson: How To Crimp

MiniLesson: Making Stretchy Bracelets

Architectural Basics Of Jewelry Design

Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry: What Works

What Glue Should I Use When Making Jewelry?


CONQUERING THE CREATIVE MARKETPLACE: Between the Fickleness of Business and the Pursuit of Design

How dreams are made 
 between the fickleness of business 
 and the pursuit of jewelry design

This guidebook is a must-have for anyone serious about making money selling jewelry. I focus on straightforward, workable strategies for integrating business practices with the creative design process. These strategies make balancing your creative self with your productive self easier and more fluid.

Based both on the creation and development of my own jewelry design business, as well as teaching countless students over the past 35+ years about business and craft, I address what should be some of your key concerns and uncertainties. I help you plan your road map.

Whether you are a hobbyist or a self-supporting business, success as a jewelry designer involves many things to think about, know and do. I share with you the kinds of things it takes to start your own jewelry business, run it, anticipate risks and rewards, and lead it to a level of success you feel is right for you, including

· Getting Started: Naming business, identifying resources, protecting intellectual property

· Financial Management: basic accounting, break even analysis, understanding risk-reward-return on investment, inventory management

· Product Development: identifying target market, specifying product attributes, developing jewelry line, production, distribution, pricing, launching

· Marketing, Promoting, Branding: competitor analysis, developing message, establishing emotional connections to your products, social media marketing

· Selling: linking product to buyer among many venues, such as store, department store, online, trunk show, home show, trade show, sales reps and showrooms, catalogs, TV shopping, galleries, advertising, cold calling, making the pitch

· Resiliency: building business, professional and psychological resiliency

· Professional Responsibilities: preparing artist statement, portfolio, look book, resume, biographical sketch, profile, FAQ, self-care


Kindle, Print, Epub

Merging Your Voice With Form

So You Want To Be A Jewelry Designer reinterprets how to apply techniques and modify art theories from the Jewelry Designer’s perspective. To go beyond craft, the jewelry designer needs to become literate in this discipline called Jewelry Design. Literacy means understanding how to answer the question: Why do some pieces of jewelry draw your attention, and others do not? How to develop the authentic, creative self, someone who is fluent, flexible and original. How to gain the necessary design skills and be able to apply them, whether the situation is familiar or not.

588pp, many images and diagrams Ebook , Kindle or Print formats

The Jewelry Journey Podcast
“Building Jewelry That Works: Why Jewelry Design Is Like Architecture”
Podcast, Part 1
Podcast, Part 2

Easy. Simple. No tools. Anyone Can Do!

I developed a nontraditional technique which does not use tools because I found tools get in the way of tying good and well-positioned knots. I decided to bring two cords through the bead to minimize any negative effects resulting from the pearl rotating around the cord. I only have you glue one knot in the piece. I use a simple overhand knot which is easily centered. I developed a rule for choosing the thickness of your bead cord. I lay out different steps for starting and ending a piece, based on how you want to attach the piece to your clasp assembly.

184pp, many images and diagrams Ebook, Kindle or Print

SO YOU WANT TO DO CRAFT SHOWS:16 Lessons I Learned Doing Craft Shows

In this book, I discuss 16 lessons I learned, Including How To (1) Find, Evaluate and Select Craft Shows Right for You, (2) Determine a Set of Realistic Goals, (3) Compute a Simple Break-Even Analysis, (4) Develop Your Applications and Apply in the Smartest Ways, (5) Understand How Much Inventory to Bring, (6) Set Up and Present Both Yourself and Your Wares, (7) Best Promote and Operate Your Craft Show Business before, during and after the show.

198pp, many images and diagrams, Ebook, Kindle or Print


Posted in architecture, Art or Craft?, art theory, bead weaving, beads, beadwork, business of craft, craft shows, creativity, design management, design theory, design thinking, jewelry collecting, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, pearl knotting, professional development, wire and metal | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »