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Archive for March 1st, 2023

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

Posted by learntobead on March 1, 2023

My academic advisor in my graduate Urban Planning program at Rutgers University was black. I probably should say happened to be black. Black has nothing to do with her working as a professor or as my advisor. The English language and our Culture and Society do not provide us with better words and phrases to distinguish someone’s characteristics and heritage without implied value judgments and stereotypes and assumptions. This is an article about racism, so her ethnicity is important, but has no relationship to the professorship or advisor-ship. The better words fail me.

In any case, I loved her dearly. She was so instrumental in guiding me through health planning theory and applications. She was a much-needed sounding board in my job as a health planner for a private revitalization agency in New Brunswick, NJ called New Brunswick Tomorrow. I could not have assisted the ushering in of a rehabilitation center, or designing a maternal-child health system, or leading a community board in developing a health plan, without her. I would not have left my job to pursue a doctorate degree in Public Health in Chapel Hill at the University of North Carolina without her encouragement and advice.

A few years later, while I was still in my doctoral program, she happened to be in Chapel Hill. Her husband was interviewing for a professorship at UNC, and as the wife, and a professional in her own right, the University set up job interviews for her in the Epidemiology Department at the School of Public Health. She told me what occurred.

She walked into a classroom in the Department. The chairs were arranged in a circle. She was directed to one chair. The rest of the chairs were filled by the faculty and the department chair and a few graduate students. The department chair stood up, and began to introduce himself and the program. And then he said, in a thoughtful way for him, and a condescending way for her: As an African-American and a woman, we would not expect to hold you to the same standards as everyone else.


Well, one thing we knew. He hadn’t read her resume (called a CV or curriculum vitae for academics). She had published articles and program development experiences out the wazoo. She had been a nurse practitioner before becoming a college professor. She had already met and exceeded all those standards everyone was expected to meet. But the chairman saw black and female gender. That’s all he felt he needed to know.

Is There Racism In Beading?

I asked my Advanced Bead Study group, “Is there racism in beading?”

“No,” yelled the white beader chick carefully stitching her beadwork to perfection.

“But I’m not sure about that. I don’t think there’s racism with a capital ‘R’, but maybe some things with a little ‘r’”.

Look around. Very, very, very few, virtually none, Black bead artists in America. Or Latino. Or Asian. Look at the major national instructors. We have Joyce Scott. Who else?

Look at the faces of the women and men who contribute articles to the various bead magazines. White, white, white.

Look at the complexion of the attendees at bead shows, or the customers, staff and owners of bead shops, or the members of the local bead societies. Or at the entrants to all our national and international contests sponsored by Land of Odds and The Center for Beadwork & Jewelry Arts — The Ugly Necklace Contest, All Dolled Up: Beaded Art Doll Competition or The Illustrative Beader: Beaded Tapestry Competition.

Does this mean, from a color palette sense, that beading is primarily monochromatic, with no color clash, contrast, coordination or complementarity — mostly of interest to white folks, and not black, brown, or yellow? I have my doubts. I imagine everyone loves jewelry, and the same proportions of people within any cultural group probably like to make jewelry as much as any other group, as well.

One of my friends told me that in New York and New Jersey, there is a diversity of culture and complexion, and one that is very natural. But this diversity doesn’t extend across the country. Certainly not in Nashville, Tennessee.

Is It Beauty Or Cultural Appropriation?

Personally, I love ethnic beads, trinkets and jewelry. They seem powerful. Obviously hand made. Artistic to the core. A sense of history and culture. Something different that most other people admire but do not wear. But some people define these ethnic pieces as stolen. Ethnically originated, and stolen. Ethnically flavored, and stolen.

We have all seen women (and men) wear jewelry that is culturally significant to another group without a proper understanding or appreciation of the cultural significance behind the jewelry. Disrespectful. Offensive. They dishonor. When you speak with them, it is obvious they made no effort to explore its original cultural purpose, tradition, value and history. They reduce meaningful objects to mere fashion accessories.

However, I can look at things from a different perspective. Some people define wearing jewelry made up of objects from a minority or less developed culture as freedom. When adopting and using cultural elements from other cultures, the person expresses their personal style, value and self-image. It is not about cultural appropriation. It’s about the expression of individual freedom and choice. Ethnic pieces are merely a means toward this end.

I’m not sure it is for me to judge. But I can get very judge’y. I believe that if you are going to wear ethnic beads, trinkets and jewelry, you should take the time to learn something about them. In a moral, ethical sense, wearing ethnic jewelry can perpetuate harmful power dynamics between dominant and marginalized cultures. It has been too easy historically for members of dominant cultures to exploit the cultural riches from marginalized cultures. These members from dominant cultures do not face the same kinds of discrimination and marginalization that members of those cultures do. There are some aspects of the sacred when these ethnic pieces are worn. Some reverence here, always.

On the other hand, I do not share the belief that any particular culture owns all its artifacts and is the only group entitled to wear them. There is obviously a power dynamic going on here. Unhealthy. Jewelry designers and people who wear and buy jewelry should acknowledge that they have a responsibility to others, and to minimize any negative consequences resulting from the impact of them wearing these pieces. But they should be able to wear them. They should be able to use these adornments as their own personal expression.

Should We Avoid Making Jewelry 
 Inspired By Other Cultures?

If all there was to Jewelry Design was following a set of instructions and mimicking someone else’s work, a concern about diversity would not be that important. You follow the steps. You get the job done. No socio-cultural issues influencing any of your choices.

But for people who design things, this isn’t the case. Design is about creative construction. Design is where you take ideas and you take emotions and you apply your hands. Segregating ideas by race weakens your own. Segregating ideas by race results in failed opportunities to interact with others who are not like yourself. Segregating ideas by race are failed opportunities to learn new designs. They are failed opportunities for manipulating design elements in ways you’ve never thought about.

As a designer, you want to have many and varied experiences all through life. These experiences influence your recognition of colors, your choices for linking beads and pieces to stringing materials, your ideas about styles and looks and lengths and fashions. You don’t want to close yourself off to any part of the world. If you did, you would short-change your creative spirit. That essence within you and from which your jewelry resonates.

Yes, I know, you often bead and make jewelry as a type of escape from the real world. A meditative, relaxing, no problemo means of production. But you can’t escape the real world entirely. And you shouldn’t want to.

Around the year 2000, I formed what we called an Advanced Bead Group. There were up to 20 of us. The purpose of the group was to delve deeper into bead weaving and jewelry design techniques. We began with Horace Goodhue’s book about Native American beadwork. He documented over 200 different bead weaving stitches developed by many different Native American tribes across America. We took them one by one. First, we tried to learn the stitch. We found, in order to understand what Goodhue tried to document, we had to re-write each of the patterns. Then, we explored the history of each tribe, particularly information about their crafts, their values, and the materials they chose to use.

When learning the Oglala Butterfly stitch, we discovered that there was a Oglala Women’s Movement that had a lot to do with beads. About 400 years ago, French traders traveled through Canada and then down into the Dakotas. They brought with them glass trade beads, which had been manufactured in the Czech Republic, Bohemia and the Netherlands, and traded them for pelts. One of the major roles of women in Indian tribes was to make beads. They spent all day, every day, making beads out of stones and wood and antlers and shells. When these French traders came with these premade beads, it freed up a lot of time. And the women took advantage of that time.

To show that they won, the women changed the costuming of the men. Before the movement, the men wore bead embroidery strips tacked down linearly along their sleeves. After the movement, the women stitched only part of the embroidery strip to the sleeve, and let the rest hang down like a ribbon. So when the men went off to war or hunting or whatever, they would wear the mark of the women because the ribbons would flow.

Our Advanced Bead Group also studied Zulu bead weaving stitches as documented by Diane Fitzgerald. As we learned each technique, we talked about how to make the pieces visually look more contemporary. For example, by twisting a Zulu-stitched square tube, it took on a more contemporary feel — greater sense of movement and dimension. We learned a lot about the symbolic, communicative information various Zulu tribes wove into their pieces during that 70–80 year period of colonialism and apartheid.

Jewelry Making And Beading 
 Shape Who We Are And How We Identify

Jewelry and beads are imbued with meaning, history and cultural significance. They influence our development as individuals with self-perspective, self-esteem, and an understanding how to live day by day and relate to other people. They are more than fashion. They are existence.

No one wants their ornaments and adornments misused or used against them. I can site many examples where the use of beads and jewelry has not always been positive. One thing, for instance, that saddened me, was the exploitation of Native American jewelry by factories in Asia.

Downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico, is a commercial square with wide side walks on every side. Positioned on the sidewalks are Native American artisans plying their wares. Earrings. Bracelets. Cuffs. Necklaces. Beaded. Silver-smithed. With Turquoise and shell and coral and jasper. In the 1970s and 1980s, when I would visit, I couldn’t get enough, I was so excited about what I saw. In the 1990s, however, Asian knock-offs had hit the markets all across the United States — at retail prices way below the actual costs of materials for these pieces in the United States.

The square in Santa Fe was no longer that designer’s dream. There were fewer artisans. You can see the choices — and I considered them poor choices — that these artisans made to try to make their products competitive. Several added Austrian crystal beads to their pieces. They incorporated non-Native fashion styles and silhouettes. They used synthetic materials. Much of the jewelry I saw for sale no longer had any cultural significance. Profit became the sole motive. Fashion became the vehicle. These strategies did not work.

Race Issues Are Not New Problems

Race issues aren’t new problems that suddenly appeared circa 2023. They have historical roots, and an unsettling lingering quality to them.

I remember when I was in high school, there were only 7 other Jewish-Americans and only 1 other Chinese-American in the entire school. Everyone else was white. All 9 of us were all called the N-word by our peers. They used the N-word because they didn’t know the K-word or the C-word. The N-word would do. It was uncomfortable and awkward to go to school, and, as a result, I learned, at least while I was in high school, to see an anti-Semite under every rock, whether there was one or not.

I wanted to apply to Cornell University and Princeton University. At a college day at my high school, recruiters from many universities and colleges came to meet with students one by one. Earlier in the morning, I met with the recruiter from Cornell. We exchanged some pleasantries, to start off the conversation, but then he immediately, starkly, with sincere concern that I not waste my time and energy, told me that Cornell doesn’t accept many Jewish students, and that I would be wasting my time to apply. Didn’t matter that I had a straight A average. Didn’t matter that I had many leadership experiences. My Jewish nose extended outside the lines of their facial template. Don’t apply. I did, but got rejected.

I already wasn’t having a good day, when not that much longer in the day afterwards, I met with the recruiter for Princeton. I did not want to hear it. I knew it was coming. I grew up near Princeton. I knew their reputation. I let the recruiter speak. Without much chit chat, and no questioning of me, my goals, my experiences, my motivations for wanting to attend Princeton, he could have just as easily worked for Cornell. Princeton, he pointed out, accepts very few Jewish students, and it would be a waste of my time to apply. I didn’t apply.

I can remember, also, and this was decades ago, when I was young and in junior high and high school, that my dad had to manage racial issues on a different level. It wasn’t discrimination against him. It was he discriminating against others — a perhaps necessary discrimination, from a business standpoint.

My dad owned a small pharmacy in a very small town called Raritan, New Jersey. Raritan was inhabited mostly by old world Italians, and was very insular. There were no black people in town. The people in town wouldn’t allow it. I remember once that a black family had bought a house there. A week later, before this family had moved in, it was suspiciously burnt to the ground. No one knew who did this, and everyone knew who did this. This family did not rebuild.

My father was not racist. Yet he would never hire a black person as a clerk or as a delivery driver. A black clerk, he feared, would keep his customers away. And a black driver, he feared, would be shot dead.

All these tensions in the air did not mean that we had no black customers. In fact, we had many black customers. They boarded the bus — during the day, not at night — and traveled the 2 miles from the next town over — Somerville. There were two drugstores in Somerville at the time. Blacks perceived that they were discriminated against at these stores, and not at ours. As I said, my father was not a racist.

[Just an aside: In the early 1900s, Italians in America were viewed as nonwhite. The Italian folks of Raritan, New Jersey, raised a lot of money for the WWI war effort. The US Navy benefited so much from the townsfolk efforts that they named a ship after the town. But because the money came from Italians, the US Government felt they could not name the ship The Raritan. Instead, they reversed the letters so no one would know the origin and history of the name. The ship was named The Natirar.]

Similar race issues still arise. And while not as emotionally charged as when I was young, they’re still a bit emotionally charged. Owning the bead store means I can’t run and hide and bury myself. I have to deal with uncomfortable situations involving race. And I do.

It wasn’t until around 2009–22 years after starting this business — that we seemed to have some regular, repeat customers who were black, and Latino, and Asian. But still very few. Definitely not enough. I can’t imagine that there are not many, many more minority beaders and jewelry makers in town.

Each time we advertise to fill a staff position, we try to go out of our way to attract qualified minority applicants. We talk to our minority customers. We contact newspapers and agencies that target various minority communities. We contact the state’s Job Service. We get very few minority applicants, and fewer qualified ones. We pay well. The job is very interesting and rarely boring. While I’ve offered jobs to minority applicants, I’ve only had one taker. Whether I project this onto the situation, or it’s real, I get a sense of ill-ease, some risk, some discomfort.

Minority customers seem to self-select where they shop, where they look for jobs, and where they take classes. They seem to go to the large craft stores and discount stores, rather than the small bead and craft shops. This is understandable. As a minority, you are more likely to get discriminated against in a mom-and-pop shop in the South, than you are in a large corporate retail setting. You more likely have to deviate from the major roads or what are safe neighborhoods for you in order to visit these mom-and-pop shops. The odds are against you of getting hired in these small shops, because, just like with my dad, even if the owners are not racist, they have to be realists.

It doesn’t take much to make someone feel uncomfortable and ill-at-ease. Perceived slights are everywhere. Not getting asked if you need some help. A too-abrupt explanation of classes. A question which reveals that assumptions have been made about you, because of your ethnicity. Often an expected level of service rises and falls with the energy-level of the staff, or how pressured they have been during the day, or other things going on in their personal lives. It rarely rises and falls because of race. But it’s not always perceived or understood that way.

I had one minority student who tried to register for one of my advanced jewelry design classes — a class with 3 other prerequisites — and I turned her down. She was furious. She explained that she had taken all these other classes at other bead stores. I told her that our classes are not the same as at other beads stores. They teach steps; we teach theory and applications. I asked her a couple of design-theory questions — things I cover in my other classes — and she was clueless. My first question is always “Do you know the difference between gold-filled and gold-plated?” Rarely does anyone know the answer, and she did not either. I explained to her that I make everyone start at the beginning of our curriculum, including experienced beaders and jewelry makers, because classes elsewhere are craft-oriented project classes, and our classes are skills-based and more academic. I told her she would be wasting her money starting with this advanced class. She took it to mean that, as a minority, I felt she was incapable of learning. I tried to reason with her, but to no avail. Lost a student, garnered more bad word of mouth, and felt I was not heard nor understood.

On another occasion, a minority customer walked into the store, and was not greeted by staff. She walked in at a moment where the staff member who would have greeted her, had gotten sick and was throwing up in the bathroom, two other staff working on internet orders had been dealing with a problem with a customer on the phone, and another staff was getting some inventory from the back room. She expected to be greeted. She assumed the lack of any attention — and she did not even have a staff member glance her way and smile — was because she was black. She complained vociferously to me. Barely stretching my voice over her anger, I explained in great detail what was happening around her. Eventually, she calmed down. She has remained a customer. But she could as easily have gone elsewhere. She did not have to complain to me, and in effect, challenge her first assumptions. But she did. And this was a subject I did not want to deal with — not at all. But glad we had that conversation.

People make assumptions about other people based on their race. This is an unfortunate, but rationale thing that people do. It can be both funny and tragic. Someone puts you into a box in terms of the types of beading or jewelry making they expect you to do, because of your skin color or the slant of your eyes. Someone assumes that your level of jewelry-making proficiency must be based on your cultural and social and biological history.

Time and again over the years, I’ve introduced minority students to one of our bead study groups or jewelry making classes. The groups and classes are very inviting. But how many times I’ve overheard them peppering the person with questions, assuming, for instance, a black person would automatically be interested in Zulu beadwork, tribal jewelry and motifs, or African Trade Beads. And they’re not. Or that an Asian student would only be interested in bead weaving or pearl knotting, and only with Japanese seed beads or Japanese pearls. And they’re not. Or that a Latino student would prefer to use very bright colors. When they’re not. Or a Native American student would only be interested in traditional Native American styles and never contemporary ones. When they’re not. And they get asked all these questions, including the Where are you from? question, implying they are from some other place than America, and which re-emphasizes that they are not necessarily among friends. And they don’t come back.

While these occurrences are the exception, rather than the rule, they happen often enough to make you think about the relationship of beads to race, beading to race, and bead stores to race. We don’t want to contribute to a hostile environment, even if this sense of hostility is very slight, often unintended. We want to contribute to a free flowing and overflowing multitudinous outpouring of ideas.

Racism Can Be Both Individualistic And Systemic

Beads have been used for centuries. They were symbols of life, expression and identity. We see this clearly across Native American tribal groups in the United States. Or, they were symbols of the afterlife, such as when they were used in burial ceremonies in ancient Egypt. Or, these were a form of currency in many cultures around the world. They were traded by Europeans for slaves in Africa. They can signify social status, with certain colors, like royal purple, and designs reserved for the upper classes or royalty themselves. They can be used to represent continuity across generations.

Beads are embedded within the culture. The same can be said for racism. Cornell and Princeton restricted where, as a Jew, I could go to school. Exclusionary, restrictive deeds in New Jersey limited where my parents could live. Exclusionary policies at country clubs and hotels and restaurants restricted where I could socialize, play, vacation and eat. I remember all of these. No Jews, No Blacks, No Catholics. This was the New Jersey way.

These limits and restrictions and exclusions, while many no longer set in law, still existed throughout my life. In many cases, it becomes obvious when you apply for a job, whether your race becomes an issue residing just below the surface. When I got my job with the state of Tennessee, one of the first things said to me over and over again was how unusual it was for the state to hire someone who wasn’t Southern Baptist or Church of Christ. Someone I worked with got all worked up every day, worried that I would go to hell unless I converted. I asked the powers that be to get her to stop trying to convert me, but they would not. When I was director of a primary care association representing health care clinics across Tennessee, one clinic director told me she liked me, but didn’t think she could work with me because I didn’t accept Christ. I was a talented, personable individual, but there were (are) all these barriers and boundaries and limitations imposed on me which I have to accept and live with. As one person, I can try, but, in truth, I cannot change these things alone.

There are two camps in America which want to impose their understanding of racism and how to deal with it on everyone else — the it’s systemic camp and the it’s individualistic camp.

One camp feels that racism is systemic — that is, it is embedded within the structural underpinnings of culture and society. Racism is not necessarily tied to intentional beliefs or actions of individuals, but rather is embedded within the very fabric of society and perpetuated through institutions and systems. It becomes impossible for anyone from a marginalized group to find freedom, equality and happiness without these structural underpinnings getting replaced. In fact, because of this, marginalized groups can become further alienated and disconnected from the larger society.

With jewelry, the fashion industry can continue to appropriate cultural elements in their designs without giving proper credit or compensation. Materials used in jewelry can be sourced from countries with a history of colonization and exploitation, perpetuating systemic inequalities. The lack of diversity in the jewelry industry can be perpetuated through its history, practices, assumptions, and lack of diverse representation. This lack of diversity and representation can lead to narrow and limited views of what is considered beautiful or desirable. It can result in the exclusion of certain designs, styles, and color combinations which might be significant or meaningful to minority communities. The marketing and advertising of jewelry can perpetuate harmful stereotypes, such as through the choice of models, their body types, facial characteristics and skin tone.

It would take many individuals and many companies and many industries to work together towards inclusivity and equity for all communities. Truly work. Not just lip service. This costs money, time, even reputations and the effort to preserve networks of businesses and customers, or allow them to disintegrate. It means giving credit where credit is due. It means giving reasonable compensation. It means publicly recognizing cultural and social meanings and purposes. It means open and continuing compensation and dialog.

From the systemic view, those who refuse to recognize and confront systemic racism are in fact racist themselves.

The other second camp in America believes that racism resides at the level of individual and individual interaction. Racism is only based in individual actions and beliefs. Everyone is free to make choices. Everyone faces barriers to implementing these choices. In a Darwinian sense, the stronger overcome these barriers. The weaker do not. There is nothing systemic about these barriers. It is obvious that some individuals from marginalized communities have been able to overcome these barriers, so, perhaps, racism is no longer widespread nor is it systemic.

In the late 1970s, I was a professor at Ole Miss. Loved my time there. It was a very special place. I had befriended one of my African American students, a guy who was a freshman and had taken one of my classes. We would have lunch together a few times a year. When he was a Junior, we were having lunch, and he began to talk about Louis Farrakhan, and how inspiring he was. And then how dangerous Jews were. I interrupted him. I told him that I was Jewish. Did he think I fit any of those stereotypes he had learned? He looked at me quizzically. You can’t be Jewish, he said. I told him most Jews were like me. I patted my head. I didn’t have any horns, because he had learned that Jews have horns. I hoped, through our one-on-one interaction, he would change his views.

For the fun of it, before I left New Jersey for North Carolina (mid 1970s), I took the required academic course track for police in New Jersey. It was part of their licensure requirements. The classes were offered at the local community college. Really good teacher. Learned a lot about how the law gets implemented in the community and some of the concerns and fears of police. Mid-semester in the first class, the topic turned to race. This teacher was very adept at opening up the discussion. Which was heated. Very heated. Between black officers and white officers. At one point, they were starting to rise up from their seats. The teacher calmed things down. Then he made several points. One important one: you have to talk to each other to overcome racism.

In this individualistic perspective on racism, beads and jewelry are seen more as distractions. Things to adorn. Things to play with. Things to which anyone, no matter their origin, can attach meaning and purpose to. If something is seen as racist or culturally appropriated in a bad way, these are understood as artificial constructs. Beads and jewelry in and of themselves cannot be racist. And people playing with beads and making jewelry cannot be understood as racist. These objects reflect beauty, and through beauty and its contrast with harsh reality, many might view racism in the world. But the objects themselves, and the people playing with them, cannot be racist.

Both camps accuse the other of falsehood. But both perspectives have truth to them. Giving up some ideology for practicality means giving up some power — that’s something a lot of people do not like to do.

I’m Sick Of Racist Stereotypes

The elementary school my sister attended hired its first black teacher. In fact, she was the first black teacher the whole school district had hired. My sister was assigned to her class. The parents of one third of my sister’s classmates pulled their children out of the class and out of the school. Obviously because the teacher was black. They knew nothing about her credentials. Or how she was as a teacher. All they knew was that she was black.

My sister liked her new teacher. My mother decided one day to invite the teacher to our house for dinner. And then my mother got nervous. What would the neighbors think? She visited each neighbor — eight in all — to tell them, forewarn them, that a black woman would be coming to dinner. Nothing to be scared about. Nothing to call the police about. Nothing to scorn our family about. I thought it odd that my mother felt this need to talk to the neighbors. I thank God she served a beautiful meal, and not fried chicken and watermelon.

I find, too often, that the fashion industry resorts to stereotypes. There are beadworks and talismans and cross-stitch patterns and advertising campaigns which caricature Native Americans or African Americans in a distasteful way. We can appreciate the beauty of the beads and the appeal of the jewelry, but have to question the consequences.

The Complexity Of The Human Experience 
 Reflected In Beads And Jewelry

Rogue Elephants know nothing about racism. It’s a human thing. It is one of those things which can prevent you from ever meeting up with your Rogue Elephant. Or find that passion within yourself to find him. Or discover meaning and purpose in your life.

Beads and jewelry play many roles within any culture and society. Sometimes these roles can be associated with racism. Their existence for many of us can raise questions about the meaning and purpose of life. They can affect our authenticity and what we want to recognize as authentic.

Too often beads and jewelry become tools with which to exploit or exoticize others. Others become those with less power, less wealth, less centrality within a culture or society. Beads and jewelry, somehow precious to these others, can be commodified for the benefit of the powerful, the wealthy, those central members to the detriment of others who are not. Cultural objects can be used to perpetuate harmful narratives and stereotypes.

The beader’s and jewelry maker’s job is not to solve the problems of the world. But in a quest for good design, the beader and jewelry maker have to let some of the world in — problems and all.


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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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 stringing, bead weaving, beads, beadwork, business of craft, color, craft shows, creativity, design management, design theory, design thinking, Entrepreneurship, jewelry collecting, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, pearl knotting, professional development, wire and metal | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »