Learn To Bead

At Land of Odds / Be Dazzled Beads – Beads, Jewelry Findings, and More

Archive for the ‘bead weaving’ Category

Promotional Discount – 4/24 and 4/25 only – Business of Craft Video Tutorials

Posted by learntobead on April 25, 2014

PROMOTIONAL DISCOUNT
Two Business of Craft Tutorials
Thurs 4/24 and Fri 4/25 only

I enjoy teaching about the business of craft.     Over the past 25 years, I’ve learned many insights about creating, marketing and selling jewelry.     Two of my video tutorials – “SO YOU WANT TO DO CRAFT SHOWS” and “PRICING AND SELLING YOUR JEWELRY” are available on the http://www.CraftArtEdu.com website.

 

CraftArtEdu.com is running a two-day – THURS, 4/24 and FRI, 4/25 only — special discount on these video tutorials, which you might take advantage of.  I’ve appended their promotional announcement below.

 

Warren

 

 

 

Ah, summer. It’s a time for county fairs, music and craft festivals! If you’ve ever considered selling your jewelry or other handmade items in local shows and venues, you know it’s a significant investment of both your time and money.  In this email, you’ll find two classes from Warren Feld that can help you avoid some costly mistakes and find success! Warren has over 20 years of selling experience – and he shares his hard-won lessons with you. We’re also featuring a few classes with projects that just might be fun to make and sell! All classes are at Super Deals (through Friday!) Enjoy! Donna Kato Founder, CraftArtEdu.com

So You Want to Do Craft Shows  with Warren Feld

You can make good money… IF you know what you’re doing. Warren shares his years of valuable experience and business expertise in the form of sixteen in-depth, approachable lessons so you can maximize your chances of success!  Jam-packed with practical, actionable information, Warren’s lessons cover everything involved in running a successful and profitable show including how to:

  • find, evaluate and select craft shows that are right for your work
  • set realistic goals, build a budget and calculate your break-even point
  • determine the amount and type of inventory you should bring
  • price your work and deal with “hagglers”
  • set up your booth for success, including design, layout and merchandising tips
  • handle cash, credit cards and deter shoplifters
  • and so much more.. this class is almost two hours long!

Warren includes lots of advice and helpful resource links, too. All you need to provide is a pencil, some paper, a calculator and your enthusiasm for running a successful, profitable craft show! Preview and Purchase Warren’s Class All Levels | $30 | $24 through Friday!

Pricing and Selling Your Jewelry  with Warren Feld

Can you make money by selling your jewelry? Yes, you can! Warren has years of experience selling jewelry at craft fairs, flea markets, on consignment, in galleries and eventually in his own store and online. In this class, he shares words of advice and everything he knows about the essential key to success: Smart Pricing! Preview and Purchase Warren’s Class! All Levels | $15 | $12 through Friday!“This class is worth its weight in gold. The information is presented in a clear and thorough manner. Warren shares his extensive knowledge in a very easy to understand format.” ~ Mary C

Add To Cart! These Bargains End Friday!Special Prices on These Classes Expire Midnight CT, Friday, April 25, 2014

Advertisements

Posted in bead weaving, beadwork, business of craft, jewelry making | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Knowing What To Know

Posted by learntobead on April 12, 2014

 

ORIENTATION
“Knowing what to know”
http://www.landofodds.com/store/kitsorientation.htm

There were always beaders. There were always jewelry makers. But if you wanted to gain an understanding of the beads and jewelry findings and stringing materials and tools, their qualities, and what happens to them when they age, you would need to start with a little bit of the history of beads and jewelry making. And then progress into some more in-depth information about these materials, how you choose which ones to use, and what happens to all this stuff over time.

Only in this way, would you be able to prepare yourself for the judgments and trade-offs and choices you will need to make as a jewelry designer. Choices about How? And When? And What? to use and not to use, given your particular project, your design goals, …(and if you’re selling your pieces, your marketing goals, as well). Moreover, how do you know how to assemble and link everything up into a finished piece?

But often in this world, you don’t know where to start. You don’t necessarily know where to find answers, or whose answers to trust.

QUESTION FOR GROUP:
When you began to make jewelry and bead, how did you know what to know?
How did you initially get an Orientation?

 

beads4

 

More on Orientation….

I’ve posted an extensive series (18 videos, 5 ½ hours worth of materials) of Orientation information on the Land of Odds website for you to take advantage of.
http://www.landofodds.com/store/kitsorientation.htm

These are also posted on YouTube.

 

 

Continuing from an article I wrote….

You need to prepare yourself for the multi-faceted world of beading and jewelry. It’s all about choices. You need an Orientation to what you need to know, and to the kinds of choices you will need to make. The world of beads can often be a jungle, dense with colors, shapes, and styles, intermingled irrationally, spilled relentlessly, collapsing around you with dumps and crashes and screeches and rings. Your eyes become useless in this heart of darkness. The presence of so many beads and so many strangely shaped and curiously articulated metal pieces may make the idea of creating jewelry and beadwork utterly meaningless. At least for the moment.

But you can sense something more. It’s tactile. It’s visual. It has some kind of taste and smell which steers you. It’s orienting. It seems full of significance. And in this dark silence – so noisy with details, so hushed with confusion – you realize why it’s important that you need to know a lot of things.

– You need to know how to step around quality differences among glass beads made in the Czech Republic, in Japan, in China and in India. How long will these beads last? Will they break? If they chip, what color will they be on the inside? Is the patterning in the glass a coating, a decal or some artistic placement of shards and stringers of glass? How sharp are the holes? How consistent are the beads from bead to bead on the strand?

– You need to know when to demand 14KT gold fused to brass (gold-filled), or 14KT gold plate over silver (vermeil), or Hamilton Gold Plate over brass. How long does the shine and color last? Do these beads and pieces break or crumble or bend or dent?

– You need to know how what came before you will be an important influence on you today. How have the Oglala Sioux, the Pope, Zulu tribes, the French, Italian, Czech, Dutch, African, the shoe and upholstery industries, and North American Indians affected beads and jewelry today?

Most people don’t orient themselves when they get started. They either don’t see the need, or don’t think they have the time, or think there’s not that much to learn about. Anyone can put some beads on a string and make themselves a bracelet, they assume. They take any class that they can find, often taking more advanced classes, before having taken beginner classes. All they want to do is make a pretty piece to wear. The learning to design is secondary – or non-existent. They buy any book, try to reproduce any pattern, try to copy any picture they see in a magazine, and try to figure things out by themselves without any outside feedback, evaluation and validation. They overly-rely on the advice of the first people they talk with, and don’t question it.

What happens is often very sad, indeed. You end up using inappropriate stringing materials and supplies. You end up finishing off your pieces incorrectly. You never learn how to best attach a clasp. You never learn how to control the tension of beads within your pieces. You mix pieces which are dysfunctional when used together. You end up taking the wrong classes, not questioning the advice of friends or instructors, and buying the wrong parts, given what you are trying to do. You end up making ill-informed choices.

You need an Orientation, and you need to be sure you get one.

In an Orientation, you’ll discover the order of things. There’s an arrangement to beading and jewelry design. Pieces have purposes and functions. They have a history of use and wear. They have an underlying vocabulary and grammar of construction – that is, they have rules for how things should get combined and assembled, and how they should not.

An Orientation grounds you. It shows you the map, the pathways, the bi-ways, the highways along which you can travel in your development as a fine craftsperson, artist and jewelry designer. It gives you a sense of your surroundings, your context, and a lot of substance and meaning.

At first, when you get oriented, you marvel at the details and the possibilities – the myriad types of beads and findings and stringing materials, the wide variations in how they work and function, the multitude of choices which seem overwhelming. Pinks become fuchsias become reds become oxbloods become garnets. Peridots become mints become olivines, both green and brown, become green lusters become jades become dark kellys and smaragds. Metalized Plastics become nickels become brasses become pewters become sterlings and argentiums and fine silvers and platinums. Threads become bead cords become cable threads become cable wires become hard wires. Jewelry is clasped or clasp-less, strung or woven, wire-worked or wire-wrapped, singular or multiplexed, fixed or adjustable, singular- or multi-media.

But then, something else strikes you. You come to know that, while there’s always been a fundamental sense of design across time and cultures, this sense has often been understated. You find indifference, not indignation. You find an absence, a void, a vacuum of intellectual introspection about jewelry and its design. It’s all around you. That something missing. You feel the lacking. And when you begin to have this sense, you should feel a little superior, in that you are now on your way towards understanding design. You’ve got the hunger. You’ve got the passion. You want to know the place of design in jewelry, and your place in the design world with that jewelry you create. That jewelry you construct. That jewelry that you put forth into the world. That jewelry which reflects who you are as an artist, to your inner most thoughts.

 

 

 

Orienting Myself

I never had an orientation. I was never oriented. I sank or swam.

There was no real internet, when I started. Nor any beading magazines. Never met people in Nashville who made jewelry. Except for my partner, James, who made beautiful things with whatever parts and beads and stones he could find. But he couldn’t articulate exactly what he was doing. He was “Creating”.

The act of “creating,” did not result in unbreakable pieces, or a mix of pieces which endured the ravages of wear equally, or clasp assemblies which never came undone. The act of “Creating” gave few clues about hole sizes and hole sharpness and stringing material flexibility, and what led to good drape. The act of “Creating” merely resulted in beautiful things – wearable, drape-able, moveable, durable, or not.

During the first two years I made jewelry, things broke. The finishes of beads rubbed off. The beads did not necessarily lay right. Many pieces were too stiff – lacked good ease. The pieces kept selling, so what did I care?

But at some point, I did begin to care. I was irritated by the number of repairs I had to do on my own pieces.

At one point, I began taking in repairs of other jewelry artists’ work. This was my education. I saw where things broke. I saw the choices other people made in determining how to construct their pieces from end to end. I could talk to the customers and find out a lot of the things leading up to their jewelry breaking.

I began to ask more questions of my suppliers. I began to ask more questions about myself and my choices. I began formulating hypotheses about why some things worked or endured better than others. And I had many opportunities, now that I was doing a lot of repairs, to test out these hypotheses.
But it would have been much better had I had a more formalized, organized, intelligent orientation when I first got started.

Posted in bead weaving, beadwork, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, Resources | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

BEAD SPILLS

Posted by learntobead on February 15, 2014

BEAD SPILLS

 QUESTION:
What was your initiation into that phenomenon called “Bead Spill”?

Share with our group your favorite BEAD SPILL story.    I’m sure you have many.

beadspill2

From an article I wrote…

“Yikes!” she screamed, shaking the ground, the store, the parking lot, in fact, the whole wide world, and I was, to everyone’s regret, caught in that earth-shattering scream.   I was carefully balancing twelve trays of loose beads, moving them to their new shelves when, behind my back, I heard that cry for help, that screech of fear, that siren of bead hell.

I instinctively turned.   It wasn’t something I thought out and planned rationally.   It wasn’t something that arose intuitively from my gut.   It was pure animal instinct.  Stimulus-Response.  Lust.  Fear.  Gluttony.  Raw Emotion.   I tried to juggle the twelve trays as they fled my nurturing hands and arms.   And I urgently called to the beads.   Which had been in the trays.   Which were now flying out of my hands.   As if to calm them, I said, “Beads, you won’t fall.”   You won’t get hurt.  You won’t leave the safety and sanctity of these trays.  Good beads.   Good, good beads.

And, for a brief moment, I thought I had saved all these little, little, beautiful, beautiful, very round, very round beads from a fate almost worse than death.   The trays were juggling and for a moment, I believed they had started to restack themselves.   They were home free.  One back on top of another on top of another….

If it weren’t for that scream and that deep primal instinct ripping my fear and anxiety from the depths of my soul, and the fact that it is hard to pivot wearing sneakers on a hard wood floor, juggle twelve trays of ever-more terrified loose glass beads, and respond to a lady in distress, the situation would have come to a pleasant end.

But alas, that was not to be.

With some shame, some guilt, much surprise and yes, a lot of embarrassment, this was to be my grand initiation into the phenomenon commonly known as The Bead Spill.   What a mess!

I know a lot of people have a fantasy where they are bathing in a tub of beads.   It’s sensuous.   Caressing.   You’re at one with the God of the Beads.

This wasn’t like that.   This was thousands of round objects falling and running and spreading every which way.    Along the walls, behind the legs of chairs and tables, under people’s feet.   In with the dust, the dog hairs, and previously spilled beads or beads that had mysteriously escaped their trays.

She should have said, “Shoo Fly!”   Not “Yikes!”.

I’ve never carried twelve trays of loose beads at once again.

Bead spills are not rare occurrences.   In fact, some people spill beads like other people drink water.

There are the people who like to carry big purses in small places.   These people are prone to sudden turns and distractions.  Guaranteed spills!

These people need to understand the interrelationships between space, lack of space and time.   Simple physics.   Bead spills have physics, and I’m sure could easily be considered a science.   Like, if you drop a bead, in what direction does it go?  How far does it go?  How fast does it travel?  Do red beads behave similarly as blue beads?   If someone dropped you from the top of a building, would you end up going in the same direction, and as far?   Probably not.  So what is it about beads that  makes things happen like dropping them off to the right, and finding them off to the left?  Bead spills do not have the same physics as pick-up-sticks.  That is for sure.  They have laws of gravity and mass and energy all of their own.

Then there are the people who are torn between their love of beads and their love for their pets.   It doesn’t matter if it’s a cat, a dog, a parrot or a fish.   Beads spill.  It could be a monkey or a ferret or even a Rogue Elephant.  Beads spill.  Sometimes it’s a dog AND a cat or a parrot AND a ferret.  Beads spill.

People need to understand that animals understand the situation.   Animals do not want to share their love – especially with beads.   Beads are beautiful, but don’t need water or food.   Beads are comforting to touch, but don’t need grooming.   Beads are glorious in their splendor, but will not bite.   It should come, then, as no surprise, that animals, when near any pile of beads, will instinctively have the urge to make them spill in ways you never thought of.    Animals spill beads, but for more selfish reasons than humans.

The strategies of animals are legend, and have been written down in a secret book – Bead Spill Techniques for Dogs and Cats.   You’ve seen these techniques in practice.   Your cat angling for attention, moves toward you to sit in your lap – of course, moves toward you over your tray of beads.   Your dog taking the pose to beg for treats while you’re moving your tray of beads from one end of the table to the other.  Your pet actually eating those particular beads you’re working with right now.   You catch them, but suddenly their tail goes swoof, and you are down on your hands and knees again picking up millions and millions of tiny, very small, eye-straining beads.    These animal-based-skills are very practiced and endless.   Animals do not like playing second fiddle to beads.    And if the pile of beads has been organized to accommodate the needs of a particular project, well, so much the better.    They score more bead spill points.

Picking up spilled beads is a familiar routine.   There’s nothing like dropping 14KT gold delica seed beads onto a gold shag carpet, getting on your hands and knees, and delving into product reclamation.   Picking up bead spills works better when set to jazzercise music, but no music will suffice as well.     Some people get crafty, and stretch a nylon stocking across the intake collection valve of a vacuum cleaner.   Other people, however, are just plain tired of picking up beads.   They let them stay where they fall.  On the floors.  In the couches.  In clothing, in boxes, in food, in pots and pans.

New beaders seem especially concerned and anal-compulsive about spilled beads.   They spot an errant bead, and rush to pick it up and place it in a container somewhere.   Seasoned beaders have learned to live with such minor nuisances as combing beads out of their hair.    They see a bead on the floor, and let it lay.

Posted in bead weaving, beads, beadwork | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

WHEN INSTRUCTIONS ARE BAD…

Posted by learntobead on January 4, 2014

WHEN INSTRUCTIONS ARE BAD…

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

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

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

 

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

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

2)      Include a picture of the finished piece.

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

4)      Write the steps logically and in order.

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

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

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

8)      Provide encouragement along the way.

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

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

11)   Pretest your instructions.

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

bad-instructions-example

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in bead weaving, jewelry making | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

New KITS available at Land of Odds

Posted by learntobead on September 16, 2013

Now at Land of Odds – Beading and Jewelry
Making Kits For Sale

Land of Odds

KITS: Project
Gallery

For Fun! To Learn! As Gifts!

NOTE: Regular retail
and wholesale store discounts do not apply to kits.

Click
on kit name to find

descriptions and ordering information:

MORE KITS

 


 

NEW KITS!


DAFFODIL CUFF BRACELET

Bead Weaving Curriculum

Bead Embroidery

Intermediate Level

A spring
time garden cuff! A simple bead embroidered base highlights delicate daffodils
woven with brick and ladder stitches.

daffodil-cuff


AUTUMN’S
END BRACELET

Bead Weaving Curriculum

Petersburg Chain, Ndebele

Advanced Level

The
last flower of the season! The blooms will explode as they burst open
with Ndebele, Petersburg, peyote and brick stitches.

autumnsend


ETRUSCAN
VINE NECKLACE

Bead Weaving Curriculum

Netting

Intermediate Level

Impress
with this Tuscany-inspired necklace! Combine Bead Stringing and Netting
techniques to make this fun, classy piece.

etruscan-vine


PRICING
AND SELLING YOUR JEWELRY

pricing

Our class is now available online at CraftArtEdu.com

Learn how to achieve “fair pricing” for your art with
businessman/ artist, Warren Feld. Understand your role in the world
of jewelry commerce and how to make money by doing what you love,
through fair pricing of your work. No handout is included in this
class.

“TODAY’S LESSON IS ABOUT ONE KEY TO SUCCESS: SMART PRICING.
WE DISCUSS WHY JEWELRY SELLS. WE GO OVER DIFFERENT KINDS OF PRICING
STRATEGIES USED BY JEWELRY DESIGNERS AND THE JEWELRY INDUSTRY. I
PRESENT A SIMPLE MATHEMATICAL PRICING FORMULA. I EXPLAIN THE FORMULA,
AND BREAK THIS DOWN INTO LITTLE STEPS. THEN WE PRACTICE APPLYING
THE FORMULA AND PRICING SOME PIECES OF JEWELRY.

AT THE END OF THE LESSON, I DISCUSS THE DIFFERENCES AMONG RETAIL,
WHOLESALE AND CONSIGNMENT. I BRIEFLY DISCUSS SOME KEY BUSINESS STRATEGIES
WHICH ARE VERY RELATED TO PRICING. AND I OFFER SOME FINAL WORDS
OF ADVICE.”

Media: Jewelry

Level: Beginner

Duration: 51:09


TUXEDO
PARK BANGLE BRACELET

Bead
Weaving Curriculum

Brick Stitch

Advanced Beginner

Strut
your stuff through Tuxedo Park on the East Side of

Lower Manhattan! Learn how much shaping, interest and

dimensionality you can achieve with the simple, basic Brick Stitch.

tuxedopark

Now, also available
as a video
tutorial

on CraftArtEdu.com


CRYSTAL
EXCITEMENT BRACELET


Bead Stringing Curriculum

Learn to Use Cable Wire and the Crimping Technique

Beginner Level

Strut
your bling with crystals! Elegant and exciting, this bracelet will

show-case your jewelry-making talents. Learn Bead Stringing using cable wire
and the crimping technique.

crystal-excitement


BLAZING
BARNACLES NECKLACE

Bead Weaving Curriculum

Right Angle Weave Stitch

Intermediate Level

No
need to scrape off these barnacles!

Construct your own colony of barnacles using right angle weave and peyote
stitches.

blazing-barnacles


BY
THE SEA BRACELET


Bead Stringing Curriculum

Learn to Use Needle and Thread

Beginner Level

A remembrance
of that beautiful day at the beach! Mementos

picked up along the dunes and water’s edge, strung on thread.

Learn to Bead String using needle and thread.

bythesea


SO YOU WANT TO DO CRAFT SHOWS…

Business of Craft

CraftArtEdu.com Video Tutorial

By Warren Feld

http://www.craftartedu.com/warren-feld-so-you-want-to-do-craft-shows

craftshows

In this class,
presented in 6 parts with 16 lessons, artist and businessman, Warren Feld,
will fill you in on the ins and outs, the dos and the don’ts of
selling at craft shows and fairs. Which are best for you, which may be
a waste of your time. How to compute the revenue you must earn to justify
participating in an event. This is a must see class for anyone thinking
of entering the art and craft show world and will maximize your chances
of success in these venues. 6 Broadcasts.

Level: All Levels

Duration: 113:58


DRAGON BACK BRACELET

Bead
Weaving Curriculum

Bead Crochet

Intermediate Level

Daggers
are for wearing! Bead crochet a stunning two-sided bracelet

– one side using size 8/0 seed beads and the other all glass daggers.

dragonback

 

 


THE
UGLY NECKLACE CONTEST

– A Jewelry
Design Competition With A Twist


Grand Prize: $992.93 shopping spree on Land of Odds web-site (www.landofodds.com)

Runner Up Prize: $399.07 shopping spree on Land of Odds web-site.

Consider
entering our

2012 9th International The Ugly Necklace Contest

Deadline: 8/31/2014

Official Rules

http://www.landofodds.com/store/uglynecklace.htm

ugly3t2frn

 


MORE KITS

 

 

Posted in bead weaving, jewelry making | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

HOW HAS TECHNOLOGY IMPACTED YOU AS A JEWELRY DESIGNER?

Posted by learntobead on August 26, 2013

 

HOW HAS TECHNOLOGY IMPACTED YOU AS A JEWELRY DESIGNER?

tech-3-d-print

The impact of technology on work and jobs was the focus of a recent opinion piece in the New York Times by David H. Autor and David Dorn.     And, as jewelry designers, we are living through and with all the positives and negatives that arise through this technological change.

How has technology affected what we do as designers?

How has it affected what we do to survive and thrive as designers?

Have we mechanized and computerized the jewelry design business into obsolescence?

How have you had to organize your jewelry designer lives differently?
given the rise of
-the internet,
-Ebay, Etsy and Amazon.com
-blogs, facebook, twitter, pinterest, instagram
-new technologies and materials like precious metal clay, polymer clay, crystal clay, 3-D printing

What has happened to your local bead stores?

What has happened to bead magazines?

If you teach classes for pay, or sell kits and instructions, how do you compete against the literally millions of online tutorials, classes, instructions and kits offered for free?    How does this affect what you teach or design to sell as kits?

If you sell jewelry, how do you compete against the 60,000,000 other people who sell jewelry online?   How does this affect your marketing, your pricing, your designs?

If you make part of your living doing a arts and crafts show circuit, will there still be a need for this in the future?

 

tech-3-d-print2

 

The authors in this NYT article pose the questions raised by several prominent authors and scholars:

Are we in danger of losing the “race against the machine?” (M.I.T. scholars Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee)

Are we becoming enslaved to our “robot overlords,?” (journalist Kevin Drum warned in Mother Jones)

Do “smart machines” threaten us with “long-term misery?” (economists Jeffrey D. Sachs and Laurence J. Kotlikoff)

Have we reached “the end of labor?” (Noah Smith in The Atlantic)

 

tech-crystal-clay

 

 

Let me paraphrase these a bit in terms more specific to jewelry design and beadwork.

Does the reach of technology, through such vehicles as the Internet, make things so productive and efficient, that we no longer need so many people making jewelry, or teaching jewelry  making, or marketing businesses / products or selling the parts to make jewelry?

If we do not need so many people to design / teach / market / or sell, and there happen to be a lot of people doing this anyway, does this necessarily make the relative worth and price for any of these activities “$zero”?

Does all this technological efficiency diminish the act of “creativity”?   Now so many things can be standardized that everything – even the manufacture of complex pieces of jewelry through 3-D technology – can be reduced to a set of how-to instructions – mere recipes?

Has this technology reduced the need for bead magazines, and bead stores, and traditional classes?

 

 

 

 

On the other hand, technology has made jewelry design, and good jewelry design, more and more accessible to more and more people.

It has opened up a myriad of possibilities for people to explore their creative selves.

It has let jewelry designers reach a broader audience with their wares, their knowledge and their endeavors.

With new materials and technologies have come many new possibilities for creating jewelry.

It has made it easier for more people to get into the various jewelry design-related businesses.

It has made it easier to stay current and learn.

It has made it easier to meet and learn with fellow jewelry designers.

It has made it easier to mine big data, identify the most relevant target customers, and to market to them in very specific, cost-effective ways.

It has made it easier for retail outlets to find the merchandise they need to sell.

 

tech-internet

 

 

Some quick observations from my own professional life:

–          We have an elaborate curriculum of classes that we teach.   However, many of the beginning classes are becoming obsolete, in the sense that students can find similar classes on YouTube, in bead magazines, and throughout the internet, now for free.    The issue for us is how to adapt, given that one of our goals is still to charge money for these classes, and make money.   And a concurrent goal is to offer the student a learning opportunity worth the price paid.

–          Each year, we used to have 1 or 2 national level instructors do workshops at our store.    But it has become difficult to attract students.    There are so many projects easily available – including from these national-level instructors – that students started to indicate that their interests in these workshops had diminished.   They could do these same or similar projects on their own.

–          When we opened our store in 1991, there were few places for people to acquire what we sell.    Now there are almost 100 million places for people to go.    It is obvious that most of our in-store customers purchase more of their supplies online or through catalogs than they do in the store.

–          We used to do craft shows a long time ago.    But the cost of travel got very expensive, and, with the internet, people had more opportunity to find what we sold without going to the craft shows.

–          It used to be that the crux of our advertising dollars were spent with bead magazines.   No longer.   Bead magazines get a very small part of our advertising dollars.    I can remember when all our customers read the bead magazines to get all their information.   Now very few do.   Most have organized themselves into small groups in various social media sites.   To get your marketing message across, you have to spend a lot of time doing this online, and you can no longer market with a “broad brush”.   That is, it has become ever-more-difficult to reach people.

–          Our online business – Land of Odds – has been in existence since 1995.   It has gone through 6 technology upgrades/re-designs since then.    The e-commerce and website design technology moves and evolves so incredibly fast.   Personally this constant updating has been grueling. The site needs more re-design, but my motivation to learn and cope with yet another computer language and new sets of tasks has diminished.   Land of Odds was a pioneering online business.  But the very large bead companies have gotten their acts together online, and are much better capitalized to expand their operations.

Technology has been a dauntingly mixed bag for us.   On the negative side, the rapid advance and spread of technology has overwhelmed the various activities we do.   On the positive side, it has forced us to become ever more creative and ever more efficient in what we do.    It forces us to constantly re-define who we are and what we want to do.   And it forces us to constantly re-define how we do things.

What do you think?

Posted in bead weaving, beadwork, business of craft, jewelry design, jewelry making, Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

BEADING CALISTHENICS #10: Daisy Stitch Expansion

Posted by learntobead on August 3, 2013

BEADING CALISTHENICS #10: Daisy Stitch Expansion

daisychain1

I do a day-long workshop called Beading Calisthenics. There are 10 of these exercises. This is the 10th one.

Beading requires a lot of mind-body coordination. That takes work. It is work.

You have to be able to get from your fingers to the needle to the beads, back along the thread to the needle to the fingers, hands, arms, eyes, mind. And then again. And again. Over and over, one more time. You need to get into a rhythm. All these working parts need to be working. No time for cramping. No time to get tired. No time to lose concentration.

daisychain2
A rhythm. Needle, pick up bead, pull down along thread, check the tension, pick up a bead, pull down along thread, check the tension, pick up a bead….

I noticed that different instructors had various techniques and strategies for maintaining this rhythm. Yes, music was involved sometimes. Othertimes simple meditation or creative reading and discourse. Some people had some stretching exercises that they did. Others tested themselves before proceeding with their big project. Still others did small things to reconfirm their learning.

I distilled what I saw others do effectively into 10 fun yet challenging beading calisthenics.

BEADING CALISTHENICS #10: Daisy Stitch Expansion

The challenge here is to see how many variations you can construct using the simple daisy chain stitch.

This is a very simple stitch. Try it out. Experiment. And share your results with the group.

Simplest daisy chain: A stem and a flower with a center bead, then a stem and flower w/center, and so forth.

Start with a line of 5 beads.

Add 5 more beads to your thread. Make the 5th bead a different color. This is your “flower set”. The 5th bead is your center point.

Make a loop by going back through the first of these 5 beads in the set.

Add two more beads to the flower set, and bring the needle through 4th bead in that original set of 5.

So the daisy pattern goes: BEAD 1 to 2 to 3 to 4 to 5 (flower center point bead marked by X) back to 1 to 6 to 7 back to 4 and out.

Pull tight.

Add another line of 5 beads. Continue.

Try the daisy chain above without the stem, so that each flower set is interconnected by one bead — # 4 (which becomes #1 in the next flower). Make your 5th bead a different color.

Next, look at the modified daisy chain pattern below. Try another interconnected daisy pattern, where we would connect each subsequent flower by two beads, instead of one. Here we would make the first daisy’s 3 and 4 become the next daisy’s 1 and 6.

daisychaina

This would go: 1 to 2 to 3 to 4 to 5 (flower center) to 1 to 6 to 7 to 4 up through 3 and out. Then 3 becomes 1 in the next daisy link. The pattern continues in the second link as 1 to 2 to 3 to 4 to 5 (flower center) to 1 to 6 to 7 to 4 up through 3 and out. Then 3 becomes 1 again.

Try the same pattern, this time making the 2nd, 5th and 7th bead the same color, but different than the others.

Try again, making the 1st, 5th and 4th beads the same color, but different than the others.

Try again with any of the patterns, this time using a different size/shape/style of bead for the 5th one.

daisychain4

In Horace Goodhue’s Native American Beadwork book, he details many, many variations, including several that do not result in “flowers”, but rather patterns of lines.

daisychain3

The daisy chain is indicative of a “traditional” design. What kinds of things can you do to make the daisy chain have a more “contemporary” feel? Such as newer metallic colors? Or somehow increasing the dimensionality of each flower so it doesn’t feel so flat? Or creating a color pattern with beads 1 thru 7, so that the pattern is very op-art or contemporary graphic in feel?

Posted in bead weaving | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

MANAGING DESIGN AT THE BOUNDARY BETWEEN JEWELRY AND PERSON

Posted by learntobead on July 18, 2013

MANAGING DESIGN
AT THE BOUNDARY BETWEEN
JEWELRY AND PERSON

abw1som6-bw-moneyshot1-hires-full

Jewelry is art, but only art as it is worn.

That’s a powerful idea, but we somewhat ignore it, when thinking about making jewelry.    We like to follow steps.  We like to make beautiful things.   But too often, we avoid having to think about the difficult choices and tradeoffs we need to make, when searching for that balance among aesthetics, functionality, context, materials and technique.

I am going to get on my soap box here.

Good jewelry design must answer questions and teach practitioners about managing the processes of selecting materials, implementing techniques, and constructing the piece from one end to the other.

We tend to teach students to very mechanically follow a series of steps.

What we should be doing, instead, at least from the Design Perspective which is so influential in my approach for creating jewelry, is teach students how to make choices when managing at the boundary between jewelry and person.

I recently put together a video tutorial for a brick-stitched project I call Tuxedo Park Bangle Bracelet, where I tried to write and present the instructions, from this Design Perspective.     I first discuss the jewelry design process as a series of choices and tradeoffs.   And only then do I list the steps the student needs to follow for completing the project.   But each step is presented as the result of a particular analytical or problem-solving process, something to the effect, “I confronted this situation, I weighed these options, and, for these reasons, I decided to execute the next step this way….”.

abw1som6-gl-moneyshot5

This bangle bracelet has to stretch wide to get over the hand, and then shrink back to its original dimensions, all the while keeping its shape and integrity.    It will have to do this many times.   That means, the beads within the piece, as well as each bead woven component of the piece, will need to be able to bend in more than one direction, yet remain somewhat stiff enough for maintaining each component’s shape as well as the bangle’s aesthetic and functionality over all.   If we redefine the brick stitch architecturally, we can see its versatility and flexibility, making it is the perfect stitch to achieve these goals.

abw1som6-supportsystem3

You can find this tutorial at CraftArtEdu.com, or
http://craftartedu.com/warren-feld-tuxedo-park-bangle-bracelet

The preview is free, and introduces some of my ideas.

 

Discussion Questions for you…

1.        Re-look at one of your favorite pieces.   Review the questions posed in the article below.   Now, describe your piece for the group, in design and architectural terms, using the questions posed below to guide your thoughts.    And post your description for the group along with an image of your piece.

2.       Think about your favorite technique – whether bead stringing, bead weaving or wire working or some other jewelry-making interest area.  How does this technique help your pieces, which are made using it, keep their shape?  How does the technique help your pieces withstand the forces that come from wearing and movement? 

 

 

From an article I’m writing about the architectural approach to defining bead weaving, bead stringing and wire working….

In addition to teaching students “steps”, we need to teach students about making good design choices.   The “steps” should be presented as the results of these choices.  The thinking and reasoning processes should be the focus.   How we arrived at these choices, and how we have made tradeoffs, should be at the forefront of what we teach.   The steps should not be presented as fait accompli.   But rather, the steps should be overtly understood as the logical outcomes from our thought and design process.

This is the architectural manifesto and challenge for re-thinking and re-defining jewelry design.   We need to teach students to think this way and answer these 10 core questions at the heart of this manifesto:

 

(1) Why or how does a particular bead stringing technique, wire work technique or bead weaving stitch suggest a particular form of representation?

 

(2) How does my work relate to the complex factors at play in design, including philosophy, science, religion, ecology, politics, cyberspace, gender, literature, aesthetics, economics, history, culture, and technology?

 

(3) What kinds of things characterize contemporary design, and its aesthetics and functionality?

 

(4) What about the materials you are using helps you transform them into a pleasing, satisfying piece?

 

(5) What about the particular techniques you are using helps you transform materials into a pleasing, satisfying piece?

 

(6) What should the design process look like?   What are the design elements which need to be managed?   What are the rules for their manipulation?

 

(7) How do you best define, create and use components, forms and structures?

 

(8) What is the structure (or, you might visualize the anatomy) of your piece of jewelry, and how is that structure construed and constructed?    What specifically about the structures or building blocks of your piece contributes to a successful and satisfying design?

 

(9) How does your jewelry, given its structure and the techniques you used to assemble it, withstand forces?    What, in the designing, the selecting of materials or techniques, or the strategizing about the overall construction help you better manage things like movement, drape, flexibility, strength, comfort, and interplay of light, shadow and color?

 

(10) How do you best manage your visual presentation in terms of color, light, shadow, dimensionality, pattern, texture, and perspective?

 

 

Posted in bead weaving, beadwork, jewelry design, jewelry making | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

TUXEDO PARK BANGLE BRACELET

Posted by learntobead on July 13, 2013

TUXEDO PARK BANGLE BRACELET
New Video Tutorial at CraftArtEdu.com

Purchase kits at:
Land Of Odds online

abw1som6-bw-moneyshot1-hires-full

IN THIS CLASS, LEARN HOW MUCH SHAPING, INTEREST, AND DIMENSIONALITY YOU CAN ACHIEVE WITH THE SIMPLE, BASIC BRICK STITCH. BY CREATING MY TUXEDO PARK BANGLE BRACELET.    THE BRICK STITCH IS EASY TO LEARN.  FUN TO DO.  AND OFFERS MANY DESIGN POSSIBILITIES FOR THE BEAD WEAVING ARTIST.

 

BRICK STITCH IS OFTEN OVER-SHADOWED BY ITS VERY CLOSE, BUT MORE POPULAR COUSIN – THE PEYOTE STITCH.  I OFTEN THINK THAT ONE OF THE REASONS FOR THIS, IS THAT INTRODUCTORY BRICK STITCH PROJECTS LACK SOME OF THAT “WOW” FACTOR.  THE BASIC BRICK STITCH TYPICALLY IS TAUGHT BY HAVING THE STUDENT MAKE A SIMPLE PYRAMID, PERHAPS SOME LONG DANGLING FRINGE IS WORKED OFF THE BASE OF THE PYRAMID TO MAKE NATIVE AMERICAN EARRINGS. OR, PERHAPS LINKING SEVERAL PYRAMIDS TOGETHER TO MAKE A BRACELET. WHEN THE INTRODUCTORY PROJECT IS “BORING”, STUDENTS LOSE INTEREST IN THE STITCH.

 

HOWEVER, TOO OFTEN IGNORED IN THESE INTRODUCTORY BRICK STITCH PROJECTS ARE THE POWERFUL, STRUCTURAL PROPERTIES OF THE STITCH ITSELF.
THE STITCH IS VERY VERSATILE.

THE BRICK STITCH CAN BE USED TO CREATE A BROAD CANVAS, AND GIVE THIS CANVAS A GREAT DEAL OF FLEXIBILITY, WHERE MANY STITCHES WOULD LEAVE IT TOO STIFF.

AT THE SAME TIME, THE BRICK STITCH CAN ALLOW THE CANVAS  TO HOLD AND MAINTAIN ITS SHAPE, WHERE MANY OTHER STITCHES MIGHT GET FLOPPY AND TOO LOOSE.

BRICK STITCH CAN ALSO EASILY GIVE THIS CANVAS VERY VARIED SHAPES, EDGES AND OPEN SPACES, AND ALLOW A GREAT DEAL OF CONTROL OF THREAD PATH AND BEAD PLACEMENT WHERE OTHER STITCHES COULD NOT.

THE TUXEDO PARK BANGLE BRACELET IS AN INTRODUCTORY PROJECT THAT INTRODUCES THE STITCH AND SEVERAL VARIATIONS TO PEAK YOUR INTEREST.
AND TURN YOU INTO A BRICK STITCH FAN.

 

THIS VIDEO TUTORIAL IS PRESENTED FROM WHAT IS CALLED THE DESIGN PERSPECTIVE. THE DESIGN PERSPECTIVE FOCUSES ON HOW THE JEWELRY DESIGNER AND BEAD WORKER MAKE CHOICES

ABOUT WHAT TO DO, AND NOT TO DO,

ABOUT WHAT TO INCLUDE, AND NOT INCLUDE,

AND ABOUT HOW TO BALANCE OFF CONFLICTING DEMANDS

BETWEEN BEAUTY AND FUNCTIONALITY.

abw1som6-gl-moneyshot7

IN THIS VIDEO TUTORIAL, I FIRST GUIDE YOU THROUGH THE PROJECT PLANNING PROCESS. THAT IS, I DISCUSS THE TYPES OF CHOICES I MADE, WHEN CREATING THIS PIECE. THESE CHOICES INCLUDE THINGS ABOUT TECHNIQUE. THEY INCLUDE THINGS ABOUT COLOR AND MATERIALS. THEY INCLUDE THINGS ABOUT FORM, STRUCTURE AND FUNCTION.

THEN, I GO OVER, IN DETAIL, STEP-BY-STEP, EASY-TO-FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMPLETING THE PROJECT.

Posted in bead weaving, beadwork | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT CHOOSING CLASPS?

Posted by learntobead on May 28, 2013

HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT CHOOSING CLASPS?

clasp7strand

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

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

 

When you work with so many customers in a store, and so many students in classes, you begin to see that people are not necessarily that great in selecting clasps. Many are in a clasps-rut — they use the same clasp over and over again. Others pick out clasps they find appealing, whether or not they would visually or functionally work with the piece they have made. Few people anticipate how they are going to attach the clasp to their beadwork, often resulting in an overly long, awkwardly connected clasp assembly. So, how to you go about choosing clasps?

 

From an article I had written…

 

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

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

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

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

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

In a Department Store, setting, however, often the clasp sells the piece. In this setting, choosing a clasp requires a different kind of logic, thinking and anticipation. Some clasp-types are “expected” to be a part of the piece – even if the particular choice of type would not be the best choice in the world.

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

Replacing clasps on a pearl-knotted piece is quite some job. You have to cut up the piece to free up each bead, and then you begin the knotting and finishing off processes again. It turns out, the 14KT clasps were not the only expensive part of the bracelets – making the knots between each pearl was the time-consuming and costly part. She desperately wanted to reduce the number of repairs. Her first idea was to replace the pearl and safety clasps with other styles which were sturdier. However, these pieces didn’t sell. People wanted the pearl and filigree clasps. The designs of these clasps were so traditional and so locked into their expectations for what pearl-knotted jewelry should look like, that they would not compromise.

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

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

 

 

Posted in bead weaving, jewelry making | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

So You Want To Do Craft Shows…

Posted by learntobead on May 8, 2013

SO YOU WANT TO DO CRAFT SHOWS…
New CraftArtEdu.com Video Tutorial By Warren Feld
http://www.craftartedu.com/warren-feld-so-you-want-to-do-craft-shows

cf-naples-fair2
In this class, presented in 6 parts with 16 lessons, artist and businessman, Warren Feld, will fill you in on the ins and outs, the dos and the don’ts of selling at craft shows and fairs. Which are best for you, which may be a waste of your time. How to compute the revenue you must earn to justify participating in an event. This is a must see class for anyone thinking of entering the art and craft show world and will maximize your chances of success in these venues. 6 Broadcasts.
Price:
$30
Level: All Levels
Duration: 113:58

Posted in bead weaving, beads, beadwork, business of craft, jewelry making, Resources | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

FASHION AND JEWELRY DESIGN

Posted by learntobead on May 6, 2013

TO WHAT DEGREE DOES/SHOULD “FASHION” INFLUENCE OUR JEWELRY DESIGN DECISIONS?

reposted from my Jewelry Design Discussion Group on FaceBook
https://www.facebook.com/groups/jewelrydesign/

pearl10-full-moneyshot-hi-res-medium

In our store, I am asked repeatedly about what the current fashion colors are? Did I see what so-and-so was wearing on TV or at an awards show? But usually, at least in Nashville, TN, a sense of fashion plays a small part in the day-to-day decisions most people make about the jewelry they want to wear.

What are your feelings and views? What are your experiences? What role should “Fashion” play? How important is Fashion to jewelry design? Should we take our design “cues” from New York and Los Angeles? To what extent do you think Fashion influences the average woman’s choices she makes, when purchasing or wearing a piece of jewelry?

Warren Feld

ctamayadetail1

From an article I wrote… APPLIED FASHION Women don’t just wear pieces of jewelry – they inhabit them.

Buying a piece of jewelry for yourself – a necklace, a bracelet, earrings, a brooch, something else – isn’t a task easily given to someone else. It’s often not a spur of the moment thing either. You just don’t rush off to the local boutique or the local Wal-Mart, grab whatever you see, and go home. I’m not talking about that impulse buy during your leisurely visit to the mall. I’m referring to purchasing those pieces of jewelry you know will have to do a lot of the hard work to accessorize your wardrobe and help you get the compliments and notice of your family, friends and   co-workers you comport with and compete with each and every day.

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

The jewelry you buy has to conform to quite a long list of essential criteria before you could ever think of buying it. It is something you will wear more than once. As such, it is your companion. Your necklace is not merely lying around your neck. Or your bracelet around your wrist. Or your earrings dangling from your ears. Jewelry can cause you to lose face with others. It can irritate or scratch your skin, or get caught up in your hair. It might weigh you down or stretch or tear your ear lobes. Jewelry can break without warning in the most unexpected and embarrassing of places. It can get caught on things, sometimes hurting you in the process.

Jewelry conveys to the world something about who you really are, or think you are. As such, jewelry is very personal. Your private, innermost, most soul searching choices made very public for all to see. As you caress it, as you touch the smooth or faceted or crevice’d beads and metal parts or the clasp or the material the beads are strung on, when you twist and move the piece within your hand, you are confirming to yourself the extent to which your jewelry is doing its job.

When you buy new jewelry, the dilemmas multiply. How will the new compare to the old? Will it be able to handle all these responsibilities – looking good, representing you, fitting in with your wardrobe, meeting the expectations of others? Like divorcing, then remarrying, changing your jewelry can take some time for readjustment. And you do not want to be seen as noncommittal to your jewelry. This would sort of be like going to a hotel, but not unpacking your suitcase while staying in the room.

Conveying some sort of social or psychological distance from your jewelry can be very unsettling for others. So you need to inhabit it. You need to inhabit your jewelry, wear it with conviction, pride and satisfaction. Be one with it. Inhabiting jewelry often comes with a price. There becomes so much pressure to buy the “right” pieces, given all the roles we demand our jewelry to play, that we too often stick with the same brands, the same colors, the same styles, the same silhouettes.

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

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

And our need to inhabit our jewelry comes with one more price. We are too willing to overpay for poorly made pieces in our desperation to have that right look. The $100.00 of beads strung on elastic string. The poorly dyed stones which fade in the light. The poorly crimped and overly stiff pieces with little ease for accommodating movement and frequent wear. It is OK to inhabit our jewelry. In fact, it is necessary, given all we want jewelry to do for us. But we need to be smart about it. We need to learn to recognize better designs and better designers.

This need not be expensive at all.

Just smarter.

Posted in bead weaving, beads, beadwork, jewelry design, jewelry making | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

COLOR BLENDING: A MANAGEMENT APPROACH

Posted by learntobead on April 30, 2013

COLOR BLENDING:
A MANAGEMENT PROCESS

bw2fr1-8-fall-palette-bracelet2 - Copy - Copy

Color blending with beads is always challenging. It is not like paints, where you can merge and blend colors with ease. Beads are physical objects with set colors. You can’t mush them together, The transition from bead to bead in any piece, requires the eye/brain, when interacting and interpreting colors, to literally jump a cliff between the inevitable gaps of light between each bead. You want the viewer to have a satisfying, pleasurable journey as their eye/brain moves along that line of color-transitioning beads.

It is this transition from color to color that must be managed.

bw2fr1-spring-begin-garden-border - Copy (2)

The Monet’s Garden Bracelet by Kathleen Lynam
One Example of a Color Blending Strategy

The Monet’s Garden Bracelet is a fun project that students love. It is for students who have some familiarity with bead weaving. Kathleen had been experimenting with various strategies for blending colors along the length of a bracelet. At about the same time, Beadwork issued a call for project proposals to be used in a book about what to do with your Bead Stash — all those small quantities of lots of different colors you have left over. This was the perfect type of project for color blending.

bw2fr1-spring-fringe-done-1

This bracelet teaches a mathematical approach for organizing several colors within a color blending scheme. Also presented is a simple math formula for personalizing your bracelet — that is, varying the width and length to suit your needs. The techniques here are Square Stitch and Fringing.

In her pieces, Kathleen loves to draw on nature’s inspiration. She gathers flowers and plants and bring them into the bead shop to match their colors as closely as she can. For her Monet’s Garden Bracelet, she developed instructions for both a Spring Palette, as well as a Fall Palette. However, the instructions would be as useful for a monochromatic palette, such as whites to grays to black, or a Southwest palette, such as turquoise to corals to reds. Use your imagination — and use up your bead stash, in the process!

Color Blending

Your goal is to move from one color to the next, in a satisfying way. You have many different kinds of choices to make, when managing a transition like this.

After you have chosen which colors you want to use, you need to decide what the color will look like as a “base” color, and what the color might look like as a “blend” color. With paints, this task is much, much easier, than with beads. It is not easy to blend beads, not least of which is because it is difficult to find the right colors needed to merge a color from base to blend and back to the base of the next color.
In this project, our strategy is to change the proportions of the base color as we move from one row to the next, until the proportions of the base to the blend in the first row are in reverse to the proportions to the blend to the base in the last transitional row. [And then, the blend becomes the new base, etc. along the bracelet.]

Besides varying the proportions, other options of blending that you have as a jewelry artist:

– Varying the brightness and dullness as you move from base to blend, such as finding colors with either more black, more gray, or more white in them

– Graduating the length of your fringes from row to row to create a sense of layering

– Varying the lightness and darkness as you move from base to blend, such as going from red to maroon or from red to pink

When choosing a set of colors, these do not have to match perfectly, but they do need to be coordinated. It is difficult if you vary the finishes of the beads too much. For example, transparent and transparent AB would not work well together in our scheme. Nor would transparent AB and luster finishes. Yet transparent AB, silver-lined and metallic colors do work well together, but only when you allow one of the finishes to be predominant.

Kathleen:”This Monet’s Garden Bracelet project is about color blending, so I went all out in selecting 14 colors. I could have easily used fewer colors or more colors.
Using the color blending strategy presented for this project, with 14 colors, each color would require 4 rows. So, in a bracelet, the base of which consists of 58 rows, the maximum number of colors we could use would be 14 (that is, 58 divided by 4, with 2 extra rows). I decided that when I got to the end with my 14th color, I would blend it with the 1st color, and color an extra row at the beginning and at the end (thus, my two extra rows), both done in the 1st color. [An alternative for treating the end of the bracelet would be to transition back from color 14 to color 13, and finish off the rows.]

I use a formula discussed below in allocating the proportion of each color, row by row. I played with combinations of different finishes. I was not satisfied with plain transparent beads — not enough brightness or dimensionality. Using all one finish, such as an AB finish or luster finish, was interesting, but too monotonous. It didn’t look like “nature”. I settled on using primarily transparent luster-finish colors, with some transparent AB, transparent silver-lined and a couple of metallic and metallic iris finish colors. This mixing of finishes seemed better. These captured and reflected light in different ways, and drew the eye into the bead differently, thus adding considerable interest. Lastly, I used more matte finishes in my Fall palette, than in my Spring.

My transitions from color to color are relatively quick. Each transition from one color to the next takes up 2 rows. With 14 colors, thus 4 rows allocated for each, you would have 2 full color rows and 2 transitional color rows. However, I could have easily come up with a formula-strategy to make the transitions much slower. And I could have come up with a formula-strategy to transition 3 colors at a time, instead of 2.

For this project, I graduated my colors in a way that seeming pleasing to me. The main transition is from reds to purples to golds and topaz’s.

My flower stalks are two sizes. For the first and last stalks, four 11/0 seed beads long and then topped with an 8/0 and a 15/0 seed bead as the flower tips, about 3/8”. For the 2nd through 7th stalks, six 11/0 seed beads long and then topped with an 8/0 and a 15/0 seed bead as the flower tips, about 1/2″. Because I have used Japanese seed beads, the 2nd thru 7th stalks/tips are the same lengths. I tried a sample going longer (8 11/0 seed beads plus the 8/0 and 15/0 tip), but this wasn’t appealing to me. Also, I would not have gone much longer, because the stalks could more likely bend in half, instead of standing more firmly upright. It was important to use 3 color gradations in my flower stalk, rather than a single color. A sense of “movement” is one of the key beauties of this bracelet. As the bracelet is worn, and the fringe move, I want the viewer to have a sense of watching flowers blowing in the wind. To maximize this effect, I vary the colors from darkest near the base to lightest near the flower tip.

For the Fall Palette, I also vary the finishes from luster to color lined, to silver lined, to AB, so that they eye’s interaction with any glass bead will also vary. I want things to feel like that changing of nature during Fall.

I coordinated the colors of the 8/0 and 15/0 seed beads forming the flower and its tip. In many cases, I found colors that were very similar. In a couple of cases, to add a bit of variety and surprise, and I used colors with a little more contrast, yet in the same general color family. “

The pattern underlying Kathleen’s color blending formula:
Determine the color patterns for the non-transitional and the transitional rows of flower stalk tips (the fringe in her bracelet). This pattern is based on playing with the proportions of the two colors, as we transition between them.

In our instructions today, we use the following patterns:
Where,
S=Same or current color
N=Next new color

Non-Transitional Row:
S | S | S | S | S | S | S
First of two Transitional Rows:
S | N | S | N | S | N | S
Second of two Transitional Rows:
N | N | N | S | N | N | N

Color Blending:

It is difficult to blend colors, when using beads. Some people like to make a bead mix of all the beads and colors they want to blend. This “Random” approach to blending works sometimes, but in a random way. Similarly, “Alternating” colors or “Graduating Colors from light to dark, or bright to dull” along your piece, also do not work well.

Usually, to get a great color-blending design, you need to plan, pre-test, plan again, pre-test again, until you work out a more involved, complex patterning.

One way to choreograph things, is to play with color proportions. Go line by line, and begin with the ideal proportionate relationship between two colors. Gradually manipulate this down the line by anticipating the next ideal proportionate relationship between the next two colors that need to follow.

Posted in bead weaving | Leave a Comment »

ALL DOLLED UP: Beaded Art Doll Competition

Posted by learntobead on January 30, 2013

ALL DOLLED UP:
BEADED ART DOLL COMPETITION
deadline: 8/31/2013

Create a BEADED ART DOLL by manipulating beads and forms into an imaginative
tactile and visual 3-dimensional representation. And then write a Short Story
about your Beaded Art Doll, what it represents, and how it was created.

ALL DOLLED UP: BEADED ART DOLL COMPETITION is offering a first prize of a $1000.00
shopping spree on the Land of Odds web-site (www.landofodds.com), and a Runner-Up
prize of a $400.00 shopping spree on the web-site. This is more than a beauty
pageant. It is a design competition. The Competition will take into account
the Artist’s intentions and how well these are incorporated into the design.
Enter to Win!

Beaded Art Dolls submitted as entries for this competition may be realistic,
surrealistic, whimsical or imaginary. They may be humanistic, animalistic, caricatures,
cartoons, impressions or abstractions. A Beaded Art Doll is a physical representation
in three dimensions, using human figural and expressive characteristics, through
the creative use and manipulation of beads. Beaded Art Dolls should be between
8” and 36” in size. They must be at least 80% composed of beads.

The Artist is given wide leeway in techniques for how the doll is to be beaded,
and may use one particular technique or several. Techniques, for example, may
include bead weaving stitches, bead embellishment, bead appliqué, bead
knitting, bead crochet, bead embroidery, lampworking.

Review the Official Rules on the website.

Sponsored by Land of Odds, Be Dazzled Beads, LearnToBead.net, and The Center
for Beadwork & Jewelry Arts

Posted in bead weaving, beadwork, Contests | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

The Artistry of Barbara Natoli Witt

Posted by learntobead on January 30, 2013

THE ARTISTRY OF BARBARA NATOLI WITT
http://necklaceart.com/NecklaceArt.com.html
witt1a

I wanted to share with you some of the beautiful, fascinating and romantic works of Barbara Natoli Witt.

witt1

Her pieces blend tapestry techniques with captivating webs of colored threads, beads, stones, artifacts and found objects.

witt2

I frequently advocate among my students that they learn to incorporate several types of techniques and materials within their pieces, and Witt is a perfect example of the result.

witt3

Her use of historical motifs, signs, symbols and materials imbued with meaning within necklace pieces with a contemporary flair add synergy and power to her pieces.    She marries “meaning” to “aesthetic” particularly well.

witt4

The historical referents  make you think of themes of classical beauty, the classical role of women and the classical role of jewelry, and how these relate to women and jewelry today.

witt5

A good background biography of the artist can be found here.

witt6

 

 

 

Posted in bead weaving, beadwork, jewelry design | Leave a Comment »