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JEWELRY DESIGN COMPOSITION: Playing With Building Blocks Called Design Elements

Posted by learntobead on March 17, 2018

JEWELRY DESIGN COMPOSITION:
PLAYING WITH BUILDING BLOCKS
CALLED DESIGN ELEMENTS

by Warren Feld, Designer

image002.jpg


Abstract:
Jewelry making is a constructive process of expression.   The language of expression begins with the idea of Design Elements.   Design Elements are the smallest, meaningful units of design.  Design Elements
function in a similar way as vowels and consonants in a language.   They have form.  They have meaning.   They have expression.   Some can stand alone, and others are dependent and must be clustered together.  Better jewelry designers are aware of and can decode these expressive aspects of design elements and how they are included within any piece.  This is one part of learning a disciplinary
literacy in design. This literacy begins with a process of decoding and builds to an intuitive fluency in design.   This article focuses on this process of decoding.

Jewelry making is a constructive process of expression.
   

The language of expression begins with the idea of Design Elements.    Design Elements are like building blocks and function a bit like the vowel and consonant letters of the alphabet.   They have form.  They have meaning.   They can be assembled into different arrangements which extend their meaning and usefulness in expression.

There is an underlying logic to this process – a vocabulary and grammar, so to speak.    Recognizing how this vocabulary and grammar is structured and applied enables the jewelry designer to learn how to be fluent in design.    Such recognition is critical in developing a coherent, consistent disciplinary literacy in jewelry design.   Such disciplinary literacy is at the heart
of a professional identity for jewelry design artisans.  
This literacy structure in design has four  main components to it:

1) Vocabulary: Design Elements As The Basis Of Composition

2) Grammar:  Principles of Construction

3) Strategy:  Project Management[1]

4) Context/Culture:  Shared Understandings[2]

 

 

This article focuses on the first component – Design Elements.

It makes sense for the designer to begin with something like building blocks, which I call Design Elements.   Design Elements, like building blocks, are tangible things.   They can be visualized.   They can be touched and moved around.   They can be combined in different arrangements.   They can be used to create many types of expressions.  Design Elements include things like color, shape, movement, dimensionality, materials, use of space, and the like.   Design Elements are the smallest, meaningful units of design.

Not every Design Element is alike.    Color is different than Shape
is different than Texture.     Movement is different than Balance is
different than Dimensionality.    Learning about and understanding the
differentiation among Design Elements becomes very important if the jewelry designer is to have sufficient power and insight over consistency, variation, coherence and unity in their designs.    This power and insight is called decoding. Every jewelry designer needs to learn how to decode, if they are to be successful in design.

Some Design Elements are syllabic meaning they are independent
and can stand alone.   Others are non-syllabic, meaning they are dependent and cannot stand alone.

INDEPENDENT DESIGN ELEMENTS

DEPENDENT DESIGN ELEMENTS

Function like vowels in alphabet

Many expressive variations

Syllabic

Can stand alone and be expressive

Expressions sensitive to placement or context

Function like consonants in alphabet

Limited expressive variations if used alone and not in combination

Non-syllabic

Do not often stand alone and more usually require an assist from
an independent design element to extend their expression

Expressions consistent, somewhat insensitive to placement or
context


Design Elements have graphic representations.   Graphic representations allow these elements to be recognized symbolically as a sort of short-hand.

Each Design Element also encompasses a range of acceptable meanings, which I call expressive variations.    These expressive variations, while different among themselves, are still reflective of that Design Element.      They have universal qualities in that people tend to share understandings about what these expressive variations mean and how they are to be used.
Color Schemes, for example, are objective, agreed-upon combinations of colors seen as coherent and unifying.   Thus, any color scheme is an expressive variation on the element of Color.

The universal, expressive variations associated with each Design Element are, in effect, attributes of that Design Element.     These attributes have an
objective quality to them in that there is general agreement among designer,
viewer, wearer, buyer and seller as to what they express and how they might be used.     There is an expectation that whatever role a person plays relative to the piece of jewelry, the Design Elements and their attributes will be decoded in a similar way. 

At this stage in the jewelry design process, the focus is on a simple vocabulary.   The vocabulary is made up of Design Elements
and their expressive attributes.   The vocabulary encapsulates a generally shared understanding of its meaning and how it is to be used.    It is
at the point of grammar, thus manipulation and construction, that individual artists get to show their artistic hand in selecting and placing these elements into a finished piece of jewelry.

These Design Elements and their attributes can be arranged in different configurations I call clusters.     Clusters may consist of independent Design
Elements alone, dependent Design Elements alone, or a mix of both.    For example, we may use an arrangement of glossy and matte Color beads to
project Dimensionality.    We may use different Colors of beads, rhythmically arranged, to project Movement.

Combinations of Design Elements into clusters can have different effects, from synergyantagonism, blending, bounding, freeing and inflection.

Selecting Design Elements and clustering them does not occur in a vacuum.
The designer selects and arranges Design Elements in anticipation of how
these choices will be understood by others in a universal or objective sense.    

This is a process which I call “Backwards Designing”.[3]   The building blocks and their attributes are first selected in anticipation of these shared understandings.   For instance, the designer might choose colors by anticipating how others will recognize the legitimacy and appeal of
certain clusters of colors – color schemes.

If the viewer, wearer, buyer or seller of a piece of jewelry cannot understand and relate to its Design Elements and how they are clustered within the piece, they will not understand it.   They will not appreciate it.   They will not see it as a legitimate piece of artistic expression.    It will not
feel authentic.   To others, if the piece lacks evidence of shared understandings, this will result in that jewelry (and by implication, the jewelry artisan) getting labeled, for example, as unsatisfying or boring or ugly or monotonous.

 

DESIGN ELEMENTS COMPRISE A VOCABULARY
OF BASIC ARTISTIC EXPRESSION

Working with Design Elements is not much different than working with an alphabet.

An alphabet is made up of different letters.   Each letter has different
attributes – how it is written, how it sounds, how it is used.    Configurations of letters result in more sounds and more meanings and more ways to be used.    

A person working with an alphabet has to be able to decode the letters, sounds and meanings, as letters are used individually as well as in combination.   As the speaker becomes better at decoding, she or he begins to build in understanding of implications for how any letter is used, again, individually or in combination.

This is exactly what the jewelry designer does with Design Elements.  The
designer has to decode, that is, make sense of a series of elements and their attributes in light of our shared understandings about which Design Elements are appropriate, and how they should be legitimately expressed.   

Let’s examine a set of jewelry Design Elements in more detail and elaboration.

DESIGN ELEMENT

Independent

GRAPHIC

REPRESENTATION

EXPRESSIVE VARIATIONS

EXPRESSIVE VARIATIONS

EXPRESSIVE VARIATIONS

Color


image004.jpg

 

Schemes

Hue and Saturation

Simultaneity Effects

Values and Intensity

Temperature

Receding or Projecting

Shape


image006.jpg

 

Recognizable

Focused

Distinct

Blended

Abstract

Filled or Empty

Delimited, fixed, geometric

Infinite, extending

Distorted or overlapped

Masculine or feminine

Organic or mechanical

Background, foreground, middle ground

Texture and
Pattern


image008.jpg

Regular, Predictable, Statistical

Repeated or singular

Random, Non-Statistical

Feel or look

Layered or Non-layered

Smooth or Rough

Point, Line,
Plane


image010.jpg

 

2-Dimensional

3-Dimensional

Conform or violate

Connected or Unconnected

Span and distance

Actual or implied

Thickness

Silhouette

Focused or unfocused

Bounded or unbounded

geometric or curved

 

Material


image012.jpg

 

Natural or Man-Made

Soft or solid

Heavy or light

Single or mixed media

Light refraction, reflection, absorption

Technique and
Technology


image014.jpg

Bead Weaving, Bead Stringing, Wire Working,
Fiber, Clay, etc.

With or without application of heat and/or
pressure

Fabricated or Machine Made

Pattern or freeform



DESIGN ELEMENT

Dependent

GRAPHIC
REPRESENTATION

EXPRESSIVE VARIATIONS

EXPRESSIVE VARIATIONS

EXPRESSIVE VARIATIONS

Dimensionality


image016.jpg

 

2-dimensional
(volume and mass; weight; density)

3-dimensional (relief, low relief, high relief)

 

Interior and Exterior Contours

Frontal or in-the-round

 

Open or closed forms

 

Static or dynamic forms

 

Movement


image018.jpg

 

Passive
(ex: use of color guides the eye)

 

Direction

 

Linear or wave

Physical
(ex: pieces, like fringe or spinners, actually move)

 

Stable or erratic

Mechanical
(ex: structure of piece allows piece to
drape and flow)

Color Blending


image020.jpg

Simultaneity effects

Value and intensity

 

Saturation and vibrance

Distinct or blurred

 

Dominant or recessive

Theme, Symbols


image022.jpg

Surface or interpreted meaning(s) or
inflected

 

Power, position, protection, identification

Clear or abstract referents

 

Object as whole, or parts of object

Repetition or not

 

Individual, group, cultural, societal,
universal

Beauty and
Appeal


image024.jpg

 

Sensually pleasing: visual, touch, auditory,
taste, smell

 

 

Objective or emotional

 

 

Coherence, harmony and unity

 

Fashion, style, timeliness, timelessness

Structure and
Support


image026.jpg

 

Stiff or flexible

 

Flow and drape

 

Linkage, connectivity

Wearability

 

Display

 

Organization

Articulation

 

Autonomy vs. Temporariness

 

Interactive with wearer, or not

Craftsmanship


image028.jpg

 

Inspiration

 

Skill and dexterity

 

With tools, or not

 

 

Design acumen

Personality and preferences

Form, Segmentation,
Components


image030.png

 

Shape with Volume

 

Whole or divided

 

Organized or chaotic

Perspective

 

2-dimensional or 3-dimensional

 

Alignment

Shading

 

Positioning or spacing

 

Simple or Complex

Balance and
Distribution


image032.jpg

Symmetrical (By size, color, or shape)

 

Visual weight

 

Visual size

Asymmetrical (By size, color, or shape)

 


Radial
(By size, color or shape)

 

Visual placement

Random
(By size, color, or shape)

 

Stable or unstable

 

Directed or undirected

Referents to specific
idea or style


image034.jpg

 

Vintage Revival

 

Direct or implied

Contemporary

 

Literal or figurative

Symbolic

Context,
Situation, Culture


image036.jpg

Economic, social, psychological, cultural,
situational values

Complicit artist, or not

Derived meaning, or objective meaning

Negative and
Positive Space


image038.png

Figure or ground

 

Form or no form

 

Shading

 

Perspective

Depth

 

Use of space around an object

Interpenetration of space

 

Illusion or reality

 

Placement

Light and
Shadow


image040.jpg

 

Suggestive

 

Gradient

 

Perspective

Shading

 

Illumination

 

Solid or Cast

 

Dimensionality

 

Moon

The Japanese Fragrance Garden Bracelet

image042.jpg

image044.jpg  image046.jpg

“Japanese Fragrance Garden Bracelet”, by Warren Feld, March 2018, photography by Warren Feld

For example, this is the kind of building blocks thinking I did when designing my Japanese Fragrance Garden Bracelet.   

This bracelet has a foundation base.  The finishes of these beads in the
base are either a luster finish or a dichroic finish.   Off the base, I created flower stalks that were 4-6 seed beads tall, and topped with a slightly
larger and more brightly colored seed bead. The colors of the beads in the stalks vary from dark (near the base) to light (near the flower tip).   Between
each bed of flowers is a “moon bridge” – the kind you might expect when
meandering through a Japanese garden.

See how I clustered independent and dependent Design Elements to achieve a particular expression.

What I Wanted To Achieve   

Design Elements I Thought About              


Movement
with flower stalks where they would retain their verticality
(thus not flop over) after the piece was worn.

Technique:   Fringing technique
Technology:  Use of One-G beading thread which, unlike
all other beading threads, has a springy quality to it.   When the fringe is pulled out during
wearing, the thread helps spring it back into place

Color:  To mimic how moving
colors will be perceived, I varied color in flower stalks from dark at the
bottom to medium to light at the top, just under the flower, and then used
bright colors for the flowers topping off each stalk
Point, Line:  Easy for viewer to perceive and follow
movement of points and lines, which are key elements in the piece


Dimensionality

where the piece would not be seen as flat

Point, Line: Visually, the flower stalks lead the eye from the foundation
base, up the stalks, and to the bright flower colors on top of the
stalks.   

Color: I use a reflective foundation base of two types of bead
finishes, (a) luster, and (b) dichroic.
Both have a mirroring effect, making it difficult for the eye to see
the “bottom”, and at the same time reflecting the colors sitting above them.


Color Blending
where as the eye moves up and down any flower stalk, or moves
across the piece from end to end, everything feels coherent and unified

Color: I make a wide use of simultaneity effects, where the placement
of one color affects the perception of the color next to it.    This fools the brain into blending colors, which in reality, you cannot do easily with
beads (as opposed to paints).

Shape/Points/Line/Pattern:   There is a consistent repetition of shapes, points and lines, and pattern, leading the viewer to be able to predict what should happen next along the bracelet, and again, fooling the brain into doing some color blending perceptual tricks of its own.

 

How Do You Teach Designers A Vocabulary of Design?

Most designers most likely start theirjewelry making careers taking craft-oriented classes and following instructions in how-to books or online in how-to videos.  They learn to repeat a set of steps and end up with something like what is pictured.    The whole jewelry making approach assumes that jewelry making is a natural process.    Surround the budding artist with patterns, books and videos, and they will somehow become great jewelry designers.

Yet, although the artisans follow a set of steps over and over again, they never learn how to make choices or evaluate implications or get any experience making judgement calls and tradeoffs when designing something that must look good and wear well at the same time.   Jewelry making is not a natural skill that is learned automatically.    Jewelry designers need to be taught to design.

Towards this end, I think it is much more useful to build an educational curriculum and program around the idea of disciplinary literacy.   We need to teach designers to explicitly and systematically think design.   Designers need to be able to recognize the elements that make up a piece, how they were used, and how this leads to more or less success in evoking an expression or an emotional response.

Disciplinary Literacy, means, in part, that the designer is aware of the “codes” which were selected for a piece of jewelry.  The designer is able to segment the piece and identify its Design Elements.    The designer is also able to put Design Elements together and blend them to achieve a desired expression.    The better designer is very aware of all the codes, or Design Elements.     The better designer is very aware of how the codes, or Design Elements, were selected, combined, blended and expressed.    And the designer is very aware of how and why clusters of Design Elements may sometimes get bounded; that is, may be unfortunately stuck within some
indeterminant meaning or expression.

Towards this end, this means first teaching designers how to decode.   It means figuring out what universally accepted Design Elements should be used in a piece.   It also means recognizing how these elements can vary, and how such variation can change the artistic or design expression
of the piece.     Designers need to learn how Design Elements get clustered and constructed to convey certain expressions, and which cannot.

At this stage, we are training the designer to have some comfort recognizing and applying objective, shared understandings about what certain Design Elements mean, and the variations in how they might get expressed within a piece.

As the designer’s education progresses, we would gradually reduce the student’s involvement with decoding, and increase the involvement with tasks involving fluency.   This involves more in-depth learning about
manipulation and construction.   Here the designer is taught how to define a personal style and approach, and implement it.    The designer is guided from creating the merely appealing, to the more resounding resonant.    The designer is also taught to look for, anticipate and incorporate context clues.     All this gets into the areas of grammar and process management, which I discuss in other articles.[1,2]

_________________________________________________________

warrenFeld1.jpg

WARREN FELD, Jewelry Designer
warren@warrenfeldjewelry.com
615-292-0610

For Warren Feld, Jewelry Designer, (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com), beading and jewelry making have been wonderful adventures. These adventures have taken Warren from the basics of bead stringing and bead weaving, to wire working and silver smithing, and onward to more complex jewelry designs which build on the strengths of a full range of technical skills and experiences.

Warren leads a group of instructors at Be Dazzled Beads (www.bedazzledbeads.com). He teaches many of the bead-weaving, bead-stringing, jewelry design and business-oriented courses. He works with people just getting started with beading and jewelry making, as well as those with more experience.

His pieces have appeared in beading and jewelry magazines and books. One piece is in the Swarovski museum in Innsbruck, Austria.

He is probably best known for creating the international The Ugly Necklace Contest, where good jewelry designers attempt to overcome our pre-wired brains’ fear response for resisting anything Ugly.



Footnotes

[1] Read my article Jewelry Design: A Managed Process, Klimt02.net Forum, https://klimt02.net/forum/articles/jewelry-design-managed-process-warren-feld

[2] I discuss a little about shared understandings in a yet unpublished article I wrote about Contemporary Design.    From that article…

“Shared understandings should be enduring, transferable, big ideas at the heart of what we think of as contemporary jewelry.   These shared understandings are things which spark meaningful connections between designer and materials, designer and techniques, and designer and client. We need, however, to recognize that the idea of understanding is very multidimensional and complicated.

Understanding is not one achievement, but more the result of several loosely organized choices.    Understanding is revealed through performance and evidence.    Jewelry designers must perform effectively with knowledge, insight, wisdom and skill to convince us – the world at large and the client in particular — that they really understand what design, and with our case here, contemporary design, is all about.     This involves a big interpersonal component where the artist introduces their jewelry to a wider audience and subjects it to psychological, social, cultural, and economic assessment.

Understanding is more than knowledge.  The designer may be able to
articulate what needs to be done to achieve something labeled contemporary, but
may not know how to apply it.

Understanding is more than interpretation.   The designer may be able to explain how a piece was constructed and conformed to ideas about contemporary, but this does not necessarily account for the significance of the results.

Understanding is more than applying principles of construction.    It is more
than simply organizing a set of Design Elements into an arrangement.     The designer must match knowledge and interpretation about contemporary to
the context.   Application is a context-dependent skill.

Understanding is more than perspective.   The designer works within
a myriad of expectations and points of view about contemporary jewelry.   The designer must dispassionately anticipate these various perspectives about contemporary design, and, bring some constructed point of view and knowledge of implications to bear within the design and design process.

We do not design in a vacuum.    The designer must have the ability to
empathize with individuals and grasp their individual and group cultures.    If selling their jewelry, the designer must have the ability to empathize with small and larger markets, as well.   Empathy is not sympathy.  Empathy is where we can feel what others feel, and see what others see.

Last, understanding is self-knowledge, as well.   The designer should have the
self-knowledge, wisdom and insights to know how their own patterns of thought
may inform, as well as prejudice, their understandings of contemporary
design.

How the jewelry designer begins the process of creating a contemporary piece of jewelry is very revealing about the potential for success.    The designer
should always begin the process by articulating the essential shared understandings against which their work will be evaluated and judged.    For now, let’s refer to this as Backwards Design[4].    The designer starts with questions about assessment, and then allows this understanding to influence all other choices going forward.”

[3] Backwards Design.  I had taken two graduate education courses in Literacy and one in Planning that were very influential in
my approach to disciplinary literacy.   One of the big take-aways from
Understanding by Design 
by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe,
2nd Edition, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development,
2005,  was 
the idea they introduced of “backwards design”.   Their point is that you can better teach understanding if you anticipate the evidence others will use in their assessments of what you are trying to do.
When coupled with ideas about teaching literacy and fluency (see
Literacy:Helping Students Construct Meaning
by J. David Cooper, M. Robinson, J.A. Slansky and N. Kiger, 9th Edition, Cengage Learning, 2015)
, you can begin to introduce ideas about managing the design process in a coherent and alignable way.

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

Posted by learntobead on February 15, 2018

CONTEMPORARY JEWELRY IS NOT A “LOOK” —
IT’S A WAY OF “THINKING”

by Warren Feld, Jewelry Artisan
warren@warrenfeldjewelry.com
718 Thompson Lane, Ste 123, Nashville, TN 37204
615-292-0610


“Canyon Sunrise”, Warren Feld, designer, 2004, Austrian crystal, glass seed beads, 14KT gold chain and constructed clasp, fireline cable thread, photographer Warren Feld

Abstract:
Contemporary Jewelry represents a specific approach for thinking through design. Making jewelry is, in essence, an authentic performance task. The jewelry artisan applies knowledge, skill and awareness within the anticipation of the influence and constraints of a set of shared understandings. Shared understandings relate to composition, construction and performance. These understandings are enduring, transferable, big ideas at the heart of what we think of as “contemporary jewelry”. They are things which spark meaningful connections between designer and materials, designer and techniques, and designer and client. Managing these connections is what we call “fluency in design”.

Jewelry Design is a professional discipline. Every legitimately defined profession has at its core a discipline-specific way of thinking. This includes core concepts, core rules, and core beliefs. And it includes professional routines and strategies for applying, manipulating and managing these. The good designer is fluent in how to think through design, and the good contemporary designer is fluent in how to think through design which earns the label “contemporary”.

But, the jewelry designer can only wonder at this with crossed eyes and bewilderment. As a profession, jewelry design balances a series of contradictions, most notably to what extent the practice is craft, art or design. This works against professional legitimacy.

Jewelry Design, as a discipline, is not always clear and consistent about its own literacy – that is, what it means to be fluent in design. Its core concepts, rules and beliefs are not well-defined, and often break down by medium, by operational location – (visualize museum, gallery, studio, store, factory, workshop, class, home), and by the degree of involvement and commitment to the profession of the jewelry designer him- or herself. The diversity of materials, approaches, styles and the like make it difficult to delineate any unifying principles or professional image.

As designers, we see, feel and experience the evolving dynamics of an occupation in search of a profession. But our profession is still in search of a coherent identify. Perhaps we see this most often in debates over how we come to recognize what jewelry we think should be labeled “contemporary” and what jewelry should not.

On the one hand, the idea of contemporary can be very elucidating. On the other, however, we are not sure what contemporary involves, how the label should be applied, and what the label represents. Yet, our sense-making search for its meaning is at the forefront of the professionalization of jewelry design. Our persistent questioning about “What is contemporary jewelry?” opens up thinking and possibilities for every jewelry designer, working across many styles and with many materials, both experienced and novice alike.

The term “contemporary” is defined as something occurring in our time, and that can be very confusing for the jewelry designer. We get caught in a major Identity Crisis for lack of a clear, agreed-upon definition of contemporary. How we resolve this Identity Crisis around a common understanding of “contemporary jewelry” can go a long way, I believe, towards developing a coherent disciplinary literacy and professional identity for all jewelry designers. Resolution can be very unifying.

Many conceptual questions about contemporary jewelry arise. We need to be very cognizant of how we think through our responses.

Does the label apply to every piece of jewelry made today? We see all kinds of styles, shapes, silhouettes, materials, techniques, fashions all around us. There appears to be no common denominator except that they all have been created in our time.

Should the label be applied to all this variation?

Could it?

Why would we want it to?

Does the label apply to a certain timeframe, with the expectation that it will be supplanted by another label sometime in the future?

What is contemporary jewelry?

“Contemporary” Is A Specific Approach For Thinking Through Design

I suggest that contemporary jewelry is not a specific thing. But rather it is a way of thinking through the design process. It is a type of thinking routine[1] which underlays the universal core of contemporary jewelry design.
Contemporary jewelry is not every piece of jewelry made in our time. It is, instead, jewelry designed and crafted with certain shared understandings in mind – understandings about composition, construction and performance.

Contemporary jewelry is not associated with any particular color or pattern or texture. It is, instead, a strategy for selecting colors, patterns and textures.

Contemporary jewelry is not something that only a few people would make or wear, whether boring or outlandish. It is, instead, something most people recognize as wearable with some level of appeal.

Contemporary jewelry is not restricted to the use of unusual or unexpected materials or techniques. It is, instead, something which leverages the strengths or minimizes the weaknesses of any and all materials and/or techniques used in a project.

Contemporary jewelry is not a specific silhouette, or line, or shape, or form, or theme, but, instead, something which shows the artist’s control over how these can be manipulated, used, played off of, and, even, violated.

Contemporary jewelry is an integral part of our culture. We wear jewelry to tell ourselves and to tell others we are OK. It is reflective of the sum of all our choices about how we think through our place among others, our relative value among others, our behaviors among others, our preferred ways to interact, challenge, conform, question, organize and arrange.

The contemporary jewelry designer is especially positioned to serve at the nexus of all this culture. The designer’s ability to think through and define what contemporary means becomes instrumental for everyone wearing their jewelry to successfully negotiate the day-to-day cultural demands of the community they live in. Designers have a unique ability to dignify and make people feel valued, respected, honored and seen.

Think of all that power!

Each person stands at that precipice of acceptance or not, relevance or not. The jewelry designer has the power to push someone in one direction, or another.
If only we had the established profession and a disciplinary literacy to help us be smart about this.

FLUENCY[2] IN DESIGN: Managing The Contemporary Design Process

Jewelry design is, in effect, an authentic performance task.

The jewelry designer demonstrates their knowledge, awareness and abilities to:

1. Work within our shared understandings about contemporary jewelry.

2. Apply key knowledge and skills to achieve the desired result – a contemporary piece of jewelry.

3. Anticipate how their work will be reviewed, judged and evaluated by criteria reflective of these same shared understandings.

4. Step back, reflect, and validate all their thinking to reject any misunderstandings, and make adjustments accordingly.

The better designer is able to bring a high level of coherence and consistency to the process of managing all this – shared understandings, knowledge and skills, evaluative review, and reflection and adjustment.
This is called “fluency in design”.

Shared Understandings[3]

Shared understandings should be enduring, transferable, big ideas at the heart of what we think of as contemporary jewelry. These shared understandings are things which spark meaningful connections between designer and materials, designer and techniques, and designer and client. We need, however, to recognize that the idea of understanding is very multidimensional and complicated.

Understanding is not one achievement, but more the result of several loosely organized choices. Understanding is revealed through performance and evidence. Jewelry designers must perform effectively with knowledge, insight, wisdom and skill to convince us – the world at large and the client in particular — that they really understand what design, and with our case here, contemporary design, is all about. This involves a big interpersonal component where the artist introduces their jewelry to a wider audience and subjects it to psychological, social, cultural, and economic assessment.
Understanding is more than knowledge. The designer may be able to articulate what needs to be done to achieve something labeled contemporary, but may not know how to apply it.

Understanding is more than interpretation. The designer may be able to explain how a piece was constructed and conformed to ideas about contemporary, but this does not necessarily account for the significance of the results.
Understanding is more than applying principles of construction. It is more than simply organizing a set of design elements into an arrangement. The designer must match knowledge and interpretation about contemporary to the context. Application is a context-dependent skill.

Understanding is more than perspective. The designer works within a myriad of expectations and points of view about contemporary jewelry. The designer must dispassionately anticipate these various perspectives about contemporary design, and, bring some constructed point of view and knowledge of implications to bear within the design and design process.

We do not design in a vacuum. The designer must have the ability to empathize with individuals and grasp their individual and group cultures. If selling their jewelry, the designer must have the ability to empathize with small and larger markets, as well. Empathy is not sympathy. Empathy is where we can feel what others feel, and see what others see.

Last, understanding is self-knowledge, as well. The designer should have the self-knowledge, wisdom and insights to know how their own patterns of thought may inform, as well as prejudice, their understandings of contemporary design.

How the jewelry designer begins the process of creating a contemporary piece of jewelry is very revealing about the potential for success. The designer should always begin the process by articulating the essential shared understandings against which their work will be evaluated and judged. For now, let’s refer to this as Backwards Design[4]. The designer starts with questions about assessment, and then allows this understanding to influence all other choices going forward.

When designing contemporary jewelry, the designer will push for shared understandings about what it means to be worthy of the label “contemporary.” I propose the following five shared understandings as a place to start, and hopefully, to generate more discussion and debate.

These are,

1. Fixed Frameworks and Rules should not pre-determine what designers do.

Rules do exist, such as color schemes or rules for achieving balance or rhythm. But rules may be challenged or serve as guidelines for the designer. In fact, the designer may develop and implement rules of their own.

Designers do not learn understanding if they are only able to answer a question if framed in one particular way. How the designer invents and applies rules for managing design as a process become of primary importance because they reveal design fluency and thinking. And this allows for a variety of approaches as well as an escape from any dominant definitions. Nothing is sacred.

2. Jewelry should extend, rework, and play with, or even push, the boundaries of materials, techniques and technologies.

Contemporary designers are meant to ask questions, evaluate different options and experiment widely. They do this in order to leverage the strengths and minimize the weaknesses of materials, techniques and technologies used. Their jewelry should reflect this.

3. Jewelry should evoke emotions.

The audience is an integral part of the success of contemporary jewelry. The viewer/wearer recognizes things in the piece and is allowed to, (in fact, expected to), react and interpret. The designer’s goal is to achieve a level of resonance.

4. Jewelry should connect people with culture.

Contemporary jewelry is not made for art’s sake alone. Contemporary jewelry is made to connect to the world around us. It is meant to assist a person in recognizing how they want to live their lives, and how they want to introduce their view of themselves into the broader community or communities they live in.

5. Successful jewelry designs should only be judged as the jewelry is worn.

Jewelry is not designed in isolation from the human body. Its design should anticipate requirements for movement, drape and flow. Its design should anticipate the implications of the context in which the jewelry is worn. The implications for all jewelry design choices are most apparent at the boundary between jewelry and person.

Given that the designer “backward-designs [4],” he or she begins the process by anticipating those understandings about how their work will be assessed. The designer then is equipped to make three types of informed choices:

A. Choices about composition
B. Choices about construction
C. Choices about performance

The designer determines (a) what design elements to include in the piece, and then (b) rules for manipulating them. The contemporary designer (c) measures these against our shared understandings about contemporary design. These measures are a continuum – degrees of contemporary, not either/or’s or absolutes. In any given piece of jewelry, some design elements may be very contemporary, and others might not.

GOOD COMPOSITION:
Selecting and Articulating Upon Design Elements and Their Attributes

Jewelry making is a constructive process. It makes sense for the designer to begin with something like building blocks, which I call design elements. Design elements include things like color, movement, dimensionality, materials, use of space, and the like.

Each design element, in turn, encompasses a range of acceptable meanings, yet still reflective of that design element, and which are called attributes.
These design elements can be arranged in different configurations.

The combination of any two or more design elements can have synergistic effects.
Working with design elements is not much different than working with an alphabet. An alphabet is made up of different letters. Each letter has different attributes – how it is written, how it sounds, how it is used. Configurations of letters result in more sounds and more meanings and more ways to be used.

A person working with an alphabet has to be able to decode the letters, sounds and meanings, as letters are used individually as well as in combination. As the speaker becomes better at decoding, she or he begins to build in understanding of implications for how any letter is used, again, individually or in combination.

This is exactly what the jewelry designer does with design elements. The designer has to decode, that is, make sense of a series of elements and their attributes in light of our shared understandings about jewelry design. The contemporary designer decodes in light of our further shared understandings about contemporary jewelry design.

The designer might, for example, want to select from this list of design elements I have generated below. I have arranged these design elements into what is called a thinking routine[1]. The designer uses the routine to determine how each element might be incorporated into the piece, and how the desired attributes of each element relate to contemporary design. They might also use the routine to look for issues of true and false. They might use the routine to rate each element as to importance and uncertainty.

DESIGN ELEMENT LESS CONTEMPORARY MORE CONTEMPORARY
Dimensionality Flat; Width/Length focus Not Flat; Noticeable Width/Length/Height focus
Movement, Moving Elements Little or no movement, either from the movement of actual components, or from how colors or patterns are used Great sense of movement, either from the movement of components, or from how colors or patterns are used
Color, Color Blending Follows color rules, resistant to violate them Pushes color rules to the edge, or violates them
Light and Shadow Little sense artist attempted to control light and shadow in a strategic sense Great sense artist attempted to control light and shadow, strategically
Negative and Positive Spaces Little sense artist attempted to control negative and positive spaces in a strategic sense Great sense artist attempted to control negative and positive spaces strategically
Point, Line, Plane, Shape, Form Conforms to expectations; comfortable working within basic parameters Violates expectations; challenges basic parameters
Theme, Symbols If used, themes and symbols are simplistic and readily identified If used, themes and symbols have a complex relationship to form and structure, and stimulate debate and discussion to fully make sense of them
Beauty and Appeal Primary goal of piece Synergistic relationship between beauty and function to achieve designer’s ends
Structure and Support Little concern with movement, drape and flow; unwilling to sacrifice appeal for function Considerable concern with movement, drape and flow, and a willingness to make tradeoffs between appeal and function
Materials Materials are selected for how they look Materials are selected for how they function; designer leverages strengths and minimizes weaknesses
Craftsmanship Disconnect from Artist as if Artist was anonymous Shows Artist’s Hand
Context, Situation, Culture Pieces created for the sake of making something, or for the sake of beauty and appeal only Pieces created in anticipation of shared understandings about contemporary jewelry
Balance, Distribution Conforms to expectations; comfortable working within basic parameters Violates expectations; challenges basic parameters
Technique(s) Selected without questioning implications of how technique affects boundary between jewelry and person Selected after questioning implications of how technique affects boundary between jewelry and person
Texture, Pattern Conforms to expectations; comfortable working within basic parameters Violates expectations; challenges basic parameters
Reference and Reinforce an Idea, Style May or may not reference and/or reinforce symbolic meanings; if so, usually does so in a linear fashion, such as mimicking or repeating them May or may not reference and/or reinforce symbolic meanings; if so, learns from them, and then, based on this learning, takes the references to another level

Example of some choices I made using the routine when creating my piece Canyon Sunrise:
Canyon Sunrise, Warren Feld, 2004

What are some things which make this piece “Contemporary”?

Dimensionality Two layers of beadwork. The top layer overlapping the bottom layer, where the first row of the bottom layer is attached to the 2nd row of the top layer, forcing a curvature along the top. The pendant sits on top of bottom layer and in line with top layer.
Moving Elements The two layers are only connected at their tops. As the wearer moves, each layer can move somewhat independently of the other.
Color, Color Blending The piece uses a 5-color scheme, but increases the natural proportions of one color relative to the others. There are many gaps of light between all the beads which calls for a color blending strategy(ies). The piece relies heavily on simultaneity effects, as well as the overlapping effects of transparent and translucent beads.
Technique(s) The bead woven strips are allowed to fan out from the top, thus better accommodating the wearer’s body.

GOOD CONSTRUCTION:
Applying Knowledge, Skills, Competencies for Manipulating Design Elements

Design elements need to be selected, organized and implemented in some kind of satisfying design. Towards this end, the artist, consciously or not, anticipates our shared understandings in order to make these kinds of choices.

These are the most visible choices the artist makes. We can see the finished piece of jewelry. We interact with it. We question it. We get a sense of whether we want to emotionally respond to it. We either feel its resonance, or we don’t.

Most artists manage intuitively, learning to make good choices as they receive feedback and assessment, and adjust their decisions accordingly. The better jewelry designers, however, show “metacognitive awareness” of all the things they have thought of, anticipated, structured, and accomplished during the design process as these relate to larger shared understandings about contemporary jewelry.

Let’s return, for a minute, to the analogy with building blocks and the alphabet. The design elements are building blocks. I compared them to the letters of the alphabet. Building blocks have attributes, and letters have attributes. Attributes further define them and give them purpose.

The novice designer learns to decode these building blocks and their attributes. With more experience, the blocks, just like letters, get combined and constructed into words and phrases and larger, meaningful ideas and expressions.

In essence, the finished piece of jewelry is an exemplar of the jewelry artisan’s vocabulary and grammar of design. The fluency in how the artist uses this vocabulary and grammar in designing their piece should be, I would think, especially correlated with the success and resonance of the piece.

Often, artists implement their design element choices with attention and recognition to Principles of Construction. Principles of Construction are the rules or grammar for using design elements in a piece. Given the artist’s goals for beauty and function, the artist is free to apply the rules in any way she or he sees fit. However, we expect to find this grammar underlaying all pieces of jewelry, whether the piece is contemporary or otherwise.

When we want to apply the label “contemporary,” however, we search for the choices and logic the artist has used for constructing design elements into a contemporary whole, and in anticipation of our shared understandings.

I suggest these 10 Principles of Construction. All Principles need to be applied, yet each is different from and somewhat independent of the others. For example, the colors may be well chosen, but proportions or placement not right.

Principle of Construction What the Principle is About
Rhythm How the piece engages the viewer and directs their eye
Pointers How the piece directs the viewer to a certain place or focal point
Planar Relationships The degree the piece is not disorienting; obvious what is “up” and what is “down”
Interest The degree the artist has made the ordinary…”noteworthy”
Statistical Distribution How satisfying the numbers and sizes of objects within the piece are
Balance How satisfying the placement of objects (and their attributes) is
Dimensionality The degree to which the piece is flat or 3-dimensional, how satisfying this dimensionality is to the piece
Temporal Extension How well the parts are integrated into the whole in anticipation of how, where and when the jewelry is to be worn; the whole should be more than the sum of its parts
Physical Extension/Finishing The degree the piece is designed so that it accommodates physical stresses when the piece is worn
Parsimony There should be no nonessential elements; the addition or subtraction of one element or its attribute will make the piece less satisfying

GOOD PERFORMANCE:
Seeking Continual Feedback and Evaluation About Choices and Results

The jewelry designer brings perspective. The designer shows they can rise above the passions, inclinations and dominant opinions of the moment to do what their feelings, thoughts and reflections reveal to be best. And, at the same time, the designer shows that they can strive for a rapport, a sharing of values, an empathetic response, a type of respect deemed contemporary.

If we return to our alphabet metaphor, it is necessary, but not sufficient, for the artist to assemble a palette of building blocks, thus, design elements. It is necessary, but not sufficient, for the artist to apply a vocabulary and grammar for arranging these building blocks, thus for constructing a piece of jewelry.

Most importantly, however, it is both necessary and sufficient for the artist to anticipate how the piece of jewelry will be assessed prior to making any choice about design element or construction. The more coherent and aligned each aspect of this process is, the better managed. To the extent the artist can strategically manage this whole “backwards” design process, the more fluent in design that artist is. The more fluent in design, the more the finished piece reveals the artist’s hand and resonates.

So, there is a very dynamic performance component to design. The contemporary jewelry designer needs to think about what criteria their client and the general culture and market will use as acceptable evidence of “contemporary” and “good contemporary design”, when the piece is introduced. The artist needs to think about things like connection, emotion, resonance, integrity, market.

The designer needs answers to several questions at this point.

What is the designer’s process and routine for thinking about shared understandings and evidence of authentic performance?

How well have they anticipated these criteria of evaluation?

Has the designer created a continual feedback loop so that acceptable evidence is introduced throughout the full process of design?

To what extent will the eventual evaluation of the contemporary jewelry designer and their work be fair, valid, reliable, and a sufficient measure of their results?

_________________________________________________________


WARREN FELD, Jewelry Designer
warren@warrenfeldjewelry.com
615-292-0610

For Warren Feld, Jewelry Designer, (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com), beading and jewelry making have been wonderful adventures. These adventures have taken Warren from the basics of bead stringing and bead weaving, to wire working and silver smithing, and onward to more complex jewelry designs which build on the strengths of a full range of technical skills and experiences.

Warren leads a group of instructors at Be Dazzled Beads (www.bedazzledbeads.com). He teaches many of the bead-weaving, bead-stringing, jewelry design and business-oriented courses. He works with people just getting started with beading and jewelry making, as well as those with more experience.

His pieces have appeared in beading and jewelry magazines and books. One piece is in the Swarovski museum in Innsbruck, Austria.

He is probably best known for creating the international The Ugly Necklace Contest, where good jewelry designers attempt to overcome our pre-wired brains’ fear response for resisting anything Ugly.

_________________________________________________________

FOOTNOTES

1 Thinking Routines. I teach jewelry design. I find it useful to engage students with various ways of thinking out loud. They need to hear me think out loud about what choices I am making and what things I am considering when making those choices. They need to hear themselves think out loud so that they can develop strategies for getting more organized and strategic in dealing with information and making decisions. My inspiration here was based on the work done by Visible Thinking by Project Zero at Harvard Graduate School of Education .

2 Fluency. I took two graduate education courses in Literacy. The primary text we used was Literacy: Helping Students Construct Meaning by J. David Cooper, M. Robinson, J.A. Slansky and N. Kiger, 9th Edition, Cengage Learning, 2015. Even though the text was not about jewelry designing per se, it provides an excellent framework for understanding what fluency is all about, and how fluency with language develops over a period of years. I have relied on many of the ideas in the text to develop my own ideas about a disciplinary literacy for jewelry design.

3 Shared Understandings. In another graduate education class, the major text reviewed the differences between understanding and knowledge. The question was how to teach understanding. Worth the read to gain many insights about how to structure teaching to get sufficient understanding to enrich learning. Understanding by Design by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, 2nd Edition, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2005.

4 Backwards Design. One of the big take-aways from Understanding by Design (see footnote 2) was the idea they introduced of “backwards design”. Their point is that you can better teach understanding if you anticipate the evidence others will use in their assessments of what you are trying to do. When coupled with ideas about teaching literacy and fluency (see footnote 1), you can begin to introduce ideas about managing the design process in a coherent and alignable way.

Posted in design management, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

JEWELRY DESIGN: A Managed Process

Posted by learntobead on January 4, 2018

 

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

That’s a powerful idea, — “as it is worn” — but, when making jewelry, we somewhat ignore it.    We bury it somewhere in the back of our brains, so it doesn’t get in the way of what we are trying to do.   We relegate it to a phrase on the last page of a book we have promised ourselves to read sometime, so it doesn’t put any road blocks in front of our process of creation.

We like to follow steps, and are thrilled when a lot of the thinking has been done for us.  We like to make beautiful things.   But, we do not want to have to make a lot of choices.    We don’t want anything to disrupt our creative process.

We do not want to worry about and think about and agonize over jewelry “as it is to be worn.”    Let’s not deal with those movement, architectural, engineering, context, interpersonal and behavioral stuff.    We just want to make things.

To most artisans, making jewelry should never be work.   It should always be fun.

Making jewelry should be putting a lot of things on a table in front of you, and going for it.

Making jewelry just is.   It is not something we have to worry about managing.

It is easy to make, copy or mimic jewelry someone else has designed, either through kits or through imitation.

Making jewelry is doing.   Not thinking.

Creating.  Not managing.

We prefer to make jewelry distinct from any context in which it might be worn or sold.    We don’t want someone looking over our shoulder, while we create.   We don’t want to adjust any design choice we make because the client won’t like it, or, perhaps, it is out of fashion or color-shaded with colors not everyone likes.    Perhaps our design choices at-the-moment do not fit with the necessities associated with how we need to market our wares to sell them.  Our pieces might somehow be off-brand.

All too often, we avoid having to think about the difficult choices and tradeoffs we need to make, when searching for balance.  That is balance among aesthetics, functionality, context, materials and technique.    And balance between our needs as designers and the wearer’s needs, as well.   So, too, we shy aware from making any extra effort to please “others” or “them”. Even though this hardly makes sense if we want these “others” or “them” to wear our jewelry or buy our jewelry creations.

Everything comes down to a series of difficult choices.   We are resistant to making many of them.   So we ignore them.   We pretend they are choices better left to other people, though never fully sure who those other people are.     We yearn to be artists, but resign ourselves to be craftspersons.    We dabble with art, but avoid design.

We hate to make trade-offs between art and function; that is, allow something to be a little less beautiful so that it won’t break or not drape and move well when worn.    We hate to make things in colors or silhouettes we don’t like.    We hate to make the same design over and over again, even though it might be popular or sell well.

But make these kinds of choices we must!    Your jewelry is a reflection of the sum of these choices.    It is a reflection of you.    You as an artist.  You as a crafter.   You as architect and engineer.   You as social scientist.   You as a business person.   You as a designer.

So, the more we can anticipate what kinds of choices we need to make, and the more experience we have to successfully manage and maneuver within these choices, the more enjoyable and successful our jewelry designs become … and the more satisfying for the people for whom we make them.

 

JEWELRY DESIGN IS A MANAGEMENT PROCESS

Designers who are able to re-interpret the steps she or he go through and see them in “process” terms, that is, with organization and purpose, have the advantage.

There are many different kinds of choices to be made, but they are interdependent and connected.    Recognizing interdependency and connectedness makes it easier to learn about, visualize and execute these choices as part of an organized, deliberate and managed jewelry design process.

I am going to get on my soap box here.    We tend to teach students to very mechanically follow a series of steps.    We need, instead, to teach them “Process”.   Strategy.   Insight.   Connectedness.    Contingency.   Dependency.    Construction.    Context.    Problem-Solving.   Consequences.

Good jewelry design must answer questions and teach practitioners about managing the processes of anticipating the audience, selecting materials, implementing techniques, and constructing the piece from one end to the other.     Again, this is not a mechanical process.    Often, it is not a linear step-by-step pathway.    There is a lot of iteration – that is, the next choice made will limit some things and make more relevant other things which are to happen next.

A “process” is something to be managed, from beginning to end, as the designer’s knowledge, techniques and skills are put to the test.   That test could be very small-scale and simple, such as creating a piece of jewelry to give to someone as a gift.    Or creating a visual for a customer.    Or when you need to know the costs.   Or, that test could be very large-scale and more complex, such as convincing a sales agent to represent your jewelry in their showroom.

Better Jewelry Designers smartly manage their design processes at the boundary between jewelry and person.    It is at this boundary where all the interdependencies of all the various types of choices we designers make are clearest and have the most consequence.

 

WELL-DESIGNED JEWELRY MUST BE MANAGED
AT THE BOUNDARY BETWEEN JEWELRY AND PERSON

What exactly does it mean to “manage design at the boundary between jewelry and person?”  What kinds of things happen at that boundary?

A person breathes.   She moves.    She sits at a desk, perhaps fidgeting with her jewelry.     She might make sudden turns.    She gracefully transitions from one space to another.    She has shape, actually many shapes.

Her jewelry serves many purposes.    It signifies her as someone or something.     It expresses her feelings.   Or status.   Or future intentions.   Or past history.   It ties her to people and places, events and times.    It suggests power, or lack thereof.    It hides faults, and amplifies strengths.    It implies whether she fits with the situation.

Jewelry attracts.     It attracts seekers of the wearer’s attention.    It wards off denigrators.   It orients people to the world around them.    It tells them a story with enough symbol, clue and information to allow people to decide whether to flee or approach, run away or walk toward, hide or shine.

Jewelry has a feel and sparkle to it.    It reminds us that we are real.    It empowers a sensuality and a sexuality.    It elevates our esteem.     Sometimes uncomfortable or scratchy.   Sometimes not.    Sometimes reflective of our moods.  Othertimes not.

Jewelry is a shared experience.      It helps similar people find one another.   It signals what level of respect will be demanded.    It entices.   It repels.    It offers themes both desirable and otherwise.

Jewelry has shape, form and mechanics.    All the components must self-adjust to forces of movement, yet at the same time, not lose shape or form or maneuverability.    If a piece is designed to visually display in a particular way, forces cannot be allowed to disrupt its presentation.    Jewelry should take the shape of the body and move with the body.    It should not make a mockery of the body, or resist the body as it wants to express itself.

Jewelry defines a silhouette.    It draws a line on the body, often demarcating what to look at and what to look away from.    What to touch, and what to avoid.    What is important, and what is less so.

 

Managing here at the boundary between jewelry and person means understanding what wearing jewelry involves and is all about.     There is an especially high level of clarity at this boundary because it is here where the implications of any choice matters.

The choice of stringing material anticipates durability, movement, drape.    The choices of color and shape and silhouette anticipate aesthetics, tensions between light and shadow, context, the viewer’s needs or personality or preferences at the moment.    The choice of technique anticipates how best to coordinate choices about materials with purpose and objective.    The choice of price determines marketability, and where it’s out there, and whether it’s out there.

You choose Fireline cable thread and this choice means your piece will be stiffer, might hold a shape better, might resist the abrasion of beads, but also might mean less comfort or adaptability.

You choose cable wire and this choice means that your piece might not lay right or comfortably.    A necklace will be more likely to turn around on the neck.      It might make the wearer look clownish.    At the same time, it might make the stringing process go more quickly.  Efficiency translates into less money charged, and perhaps more sales.

You choose to mix opaque glass with gemstone beads, mixing media which do not necessarily interact with the eye and brain in the same way.   This may make interacting with the piece seem more like work or annoying.

The ends of your wirework will not keep from bending or unraveling, so you solder them.     Visually this disrupts the dance you achieve with wire bending and cheapens it.

You choose gray-toned beads to intersperse among your brightly colored ones.    The grays pick up the colors around them, adding vibrancy and resonance to your piece.    The gaps of light between each bead more easily fade away as the brain is tricked into filling them in with color.

You mix metalized plastic beads in with your Austrian crystal beads.    In a fortnight, the finish has chipped off all the plastic beads.

You construct a loom bracelet, flat, lacking depth or a sense of movement.    Your piece may be seen as pretty, but out of step with contemporary ideas of fashion, style, and design.

If we pretend our management choices here do not matter, we fool ourselves into thinking we are greater artists and designers than we really are.

 

JEWELRY DESIGN MANAGEMENT:
BUILDING A STRUCTURE AND ORGANIZATION FOR THINKING THROUGH DESIGN

Design management is multi-faceted.   We intuitively know that proper preparation prevents piss poor performance.     So let’s properly prepare.   This means…

  • PROJECT
    Defining what I do as a “Project To Be Managed” — My Project is seen as a “system”, not merely a set of steps. The “system” encompasses everything it takes that enables creativity and leads it to success.   These include things related to art, architecture, engineering, management, behavioral and context analysis, problem-solving, and innovation.    For some designers, these also include things related to business, marketing, branding, selling and cost-accounting.
  • INSPIRATION
    Documenting, through image, writing or both, the kinds of things that are inspiring me and influencing my design
  • PURPOSE
    Elaborating on the purpose or mission of my Project – why am I doing this Project as it applies to me, and as it applies to others?
  • SITUATION
    Measuring the context and situation as these will/might/could impact my Project
  • STRATEGY
    Developing a strategy for designing my piece — outlining everything that needs to come together to successfully work through my Project from beginning to end
  • SKILLS
    Verifying, Learning or Re-Learning the necessary techniques and skills
  • SUPPLIES
    Securing my supply chain to get all our materials, tools and supplies needed when I need them
  • CONSTRUCTION
    Applying design principles of composition, form and structure. Paying careful attention to building in architectural pre-requisites, particularly those involved with support, jointedness and movement.
  • SHOWCASE
    Introducing my Jewelry Design to a wider audience. This might involve sharing, show-casing, or marketing and selling
  • REPLICATION
    Anticipating all that it will take to replicate the piece, if it is not a one-off, especially if I am developing kits or selling my pieces
  • REFLECTION
    Evaluating whether I could repeat this or a similar Project with any greater efficiency or effectiveness – The better jewelry artist is one who is more reflective.

 

 

DESIGN THINKING

Designing jewelry demands that we both do and think.    Create and manage.    Experience and reflect.

The better Jewelry Designer sees any Project as a system of things, activities and outcomes.     These are interconnected and mutually dependent.    Things are sometimes linear, but most often iterative – a lot of back and forth and readjustments.

The better Jewelry Designer is very reflective.     She or he thinks about every detail, plays mental exercises of what-if analyses, monitors and evaluates all throughout the Project’s management.     She or he thinks through the implications of each choice made.    The Designer does not blindly follow a set of instructions without questioning them.

At the end of the day, your jewelry is the result of the decisions you made.

Something to think about.

 

 

HOW DO WE TEACH JEWELRY DESIGN THINKING
AS A MANAGEMENT PROCESS

We should teach students to design jewelry, not craft it.    Rather than have students merely follow a set of steps, we need to do what is called “Guided Thinking”.

For example, we might encourage students to construct and feel and touch similar pieces made with different materials, beads and techniques, and have them tell us what differences they perceive.   We should guide them in thinking through the implications for these differences.     When teaching a stitch, I typically have students make samples using two different beads – say a cylinder bead and a seed bead, and try two different stringing materials, say Fireline and Nymo threads.

We also should guide them in thinking through all the management and control issues they were experiencing.    Very often beginning students have difficulty finding a comfortable way to hold their pieces while working them.    I let them work a little on a project, stop them, and then ask them to explain what was difficult and what was not.     I suggest some alternative solutions – but do not impose a one-best-way – and have them try these solutions.    Then we discuss them, fine-tuning our thinking.

I link our developing discussions to some goals.    We want good thread management for a bead woven piece.    We want the beads to lay correctly within the piece.    We want the piece to feel fluid.    We return to Guided Thinking.     I summarize all the choices we have made in order to begin the project:   type of bead, size of bead, shape of bead, type of thread, strategy for holding the piece while working it, strategy for bringing the new bead to the work in progress.    I ask the students what ideas are emerging in their minds about how to bring all they have done so far together.

At this point, I usually would interject a Mini-Lesson, where I demonstrate, given the discussions, the smarter way to begin the Project.     In the Mini-Lesson, I “Think Aloud” so that my students can see and hear how I am approaching our Project.

And then I continue with Guided Thinking as we work through various sections of the Project towards completion.      Whatever we do – select materials, select and apply techniques, set goals, anticipate how we want the Project to end up – is shown as resulting from a managed process of thinking through our design.

In “Guided Thinking”, I would prompt my students to try to explain what is/is not going on, what is/is not working as desired, where the student hopes to end up, what seems to be enhancing/impeding getting there.

With guidance, demonstration and repetition, it is my hope that such thinking becomes a series of Thinking Routines my students resort to when starting a new project.    As students develop and internalize more Thinking Routines, they develop greater Fluency with design.

And that should be our primary goal as teachers:   developing our students’ Fluency with design.

 

Posted in Art or Craft?, bead weaving, beads, beadwork, business of craft, design management, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

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

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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.

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NEW FASHION JEWELRY – Understand “Quality” Issues Of These New Collectibles

Posted by learntobead on March 25, 2014

NEW FASHION JEWELRY

Now at Be Dazzled Beads
781 Thompson Lane, Ste 123 Nashville, TN 37204

At a recent Jewelry Show in Atlanta, Jayden and Warren discovered a rapidly evolving fashion trend towards reproduction vintage looks using new more recently available materials.   These particular new fashion trends were the looks and styles of the pieces everyone there was selling there.     A great selection and variety of these looks is now on display and for sale at Be Dazzled Beads.

necklace2-blog

It is important to understand, however, that, when purchasing fashion jewelry, there is more to consider than how a piece looks.   You need to understand something about the materials used and the overall construction.   Only in this way can you be sure that you are purchasing what we would call “collectible costume jewelry.”

The reproduction vintage looks are obvious — a reference to the stylish pieces of the 1930s, 40s, 50s and 60s, using modern materials and construction technologies.    Great colors.   Strong and soft colors.   Lots of faceting and sparkle.

The use of new materials includes higher end acrylics, new metallic composites, specialized glass and Chinese crystal.

These green components, in the piece shown above, are made out of Chinese crystal, not plastic.     To the naked eye, you might see a similar piece where the components are plastic, looking like but definitely not crystal.   The eye can deceive itself.   Simple test: click bead against a stiff surface or front teeth.   If crystal or glass, you will hear a sharp click; if plastic, you will hear a dull click.

These green components, in the piece shown above, are made out of Chinese crystal, not plastic. To the naked eye, you might see a similar piece where the components are plastic, looking like but definitely not crystal. The eye can deceive itself. Simple test: click bead against a stiff surface or front teeth. If crystal or glass, you will hear a sharp click; if plastic, you will hear a dull click.

 

 
These new fashion pieces should be considered “collectable” costume jewelry. But, again, it is important to understand what you are buying.   There are many lower quality copies – what we’d call “disposable jewelry” — you’ll find at discount stores and online. You want to be sure you are buying the quality we would call “collectible”.   The price will reflect whether the jewelry is “collectible” or “disposable.”

 

So, You Want Your Fashion Jewelry To Be Made With…

 

* Glass, Crystal and/or Advanced Plastics

Typically, you will find a mix of materials within you piece.   Materials you do not want would include enameled or colored ceramics or regular plastic or metalized plastic or plastic pearls.

 

* Advanced Plastics, if any components are plastic

Just like with things like wood or metal, there are many grades of quality among plastics.   The differences between advanced plastics and regular plastics can be as widely divergent as between metals like gold and aluminum.

The higher end plastics, even when up close, look very similar to the gemstones or crystals they are meant to resemble.   Jade plastic looks like real jade.   Plastic opals look like real opal. And so forth.

For high end costume jewelry, the “point-hardness” of these advanced plastics, that is, how easily the material can be scratched, will be much higher, thus less easily scratched, than cheaper plastics.

 

 

* Better metal composites and finishes, with more substance and realistic finishes

In these lines of jewelry, whether higher end or lower end, very little is real 100% metal these days.   The chains are composites.   The settings for the stones are composites.

In the metal-composite chains and settings used in the lower quality jewelry, at close inspection, you will find them to be cheap, flimsy and light-weight.   Moreover, the metallic finish-colors are off the mark and look somewhat fake. For example, the actual color that may be representing gold, when compared to other quality pieces, may not look like gold at all.

There may be rough spots that can get caught on clothing or scratch the skin.   In higher end pieces, manufacturers check their quality, to make sure there are no rough spots.

But always inspect your jewelry before you leave the store.   When purchasing any piece of costume jewelry, you should feel all over the piece to be sure there are no rough spots

 

* Better set stones

Stones are typically glued in.   If the setting does not have much surface area, the glue will not hold for very long.

In some pieces, the designs give the illusion of “prong-set” stones.   In the lower end, the prongs have very sharp points.   In the higher end, the prongs have smooth or balled-up tips.

necklace5

Things To Do To Increase Longevity Of Your New Fashion Jewelry

After purchasing your new pieces of Fashion Jewelry, you will have the option to do two things to make them more durable and lasting:

  1. If the piece has stones which have been glued in, and have open settings on the backs, apply some more glue to the backs of the settings, all along the edges.   Use a glue like E6000 or Beacon 527.   This will keep the stones from ever popping out.     Reason: The glue manufacturers typically use dries hard, with no flexibility.   If the pieces are accidently dropped or hit against something, the shock can make the stone pop away from the hard glue.

 

By reinforcing them with the E6000 or Beacon 527, these bonds dry like rubber and act like a shock absorber. Thus the stones are less likely to pop off.

Necklace with stones set in settings with open backs

Necklace with stones set in settings with open backs

 

Open back on set stones in necklace

Open back on set stones in necklace

 

2.  On all areas which have metal plated finishes and which will be touching the skin, apply two coats of clear nail polish to these surfaces.   This will preserve the plated finishes for a very long time, yet doesn’t affect the shine or sheen of the metal underneath it.

 

 

NOTE: This is very generalized advice.     Every person’s body oils and chemistry have different effects on the metal finishes.   A person may be able to wear a piece of costume jewelry for months and years and it may not disintegrate on them; another person might wear it for a few months, and the metal finishes deteriorate.

 

 

 
necklace3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cleaning

All jewelry has to be maintained and kept clean.   Follow this simple advice for keeping your new jewelry pieces clean and sparkling.

Periodically, give your jewelry a quick bath.   In a bowl, mix a very-little-amount of baby shampoo and cold water.   Immerse the whole piece of jewelry in this bath, just long enough to loosen any dirt.   Take it out.

Under cold water, rinse it off.   Take a paper towel or cloth, and dry the piece off.   NOTE: “Pat Dry” with the towel. Don’t “Rub”.

Then, you might take a hair dryer, setting it on the lowest setting, and keeping it 6-8” away from your piece, and blow dry.   DON’T LET YOUR PIECES GET TOO HOT.   An alternative strategy is to put your piece of jewelry in front of a small fan.

Dry both sides.   Leave your piece out in the open air over night, to be sure there is no moisture trapped in closed crevices.

Always remember that the side laying against the towel or cloth may still be more damp than the side facing up.     So, before storing your piece, check and be sure it is dry.

Store your piece flat in a zip lock plastic bag. Be sure to push the air out of bag before sealing bag. One simple way to do this is to insert a straw into the bag, and seal the top as close to the straw as you can get.   Suck out the air, remove the straw, and finish sealing the zip-lock bag closed.

Then lay your bagged up piece on flat surface. You do not want your piece to be jumbled into a pile.   You do not want to hang your jewelry on a stand.   The weight of the beads will stretch out the stringing material.

Put your pieces in a cool, dry place out of sunlight. Never store two pieces on top of each other without something to separate them.   Don’t pile up jewelry on top of other jewelry.

At a restaurant, if you drip gravy on your necklace, how do you clean it off? If it is something that has caked or dried on it, you may have to soak it in a solution of a very-little-amount of baby shampoo and cold water.   Use a q-tip to clean away the spotted areas.

 

Your Reproduction Vintage Pieces Should Be Around For 30, 40, even 50 years

Your goal is to have your reproduction vintage to be around 30, 40, 50 years from now.   It will keep its value.   These pieces should not be disposable.

Go to your antique stores, ask to see their vintage jewelry from the 1930s, 40s to 60s, and look and see at the availability, quantity and cost of high-end costume jewelry. This will give you an idea of what you’re getting with your investment.

In these older pieces, some were made from Lucite or other high-end plastics of the time.   And other pieces were copies crafted in regular plastic.   Lucite is a glass-like acrylic resin.   It has a resilience, a hardness, and a malleability which made it perfect for costume jewelry.   Regular plastic lacks the clarity and sparkle, yellows with age, and scratches much more easily.

 

 

Your new higher-end fashion jewelry – better made, more attractive, more appealing — will increase in value over the decades instead of ending up in the trash.

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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COST OF BEING AN ARTIST

Posted by learntobead on November 8, 2013

 

THE COST OF BEING AN ARTIST

The New York Times today published an opinion/discussion column asking whether the costs of being an artist today have become so high, as to make it prohibitive from becoming an artist.
http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2013/11/07/the-cost-of-being-an-artist?gwh=4DC5618F6E6E85FBEF04A494BD2A041B

What are your views?

Some headings of some of the responses:
“Don’t quit your day job”
“For Millenials, it’s not practical”
“Being a lawyer is easier”
“You need a support system”
“Cheap rent and side gigs minimize risk”
“Instead of exploiting artists, pay them”

It has gotten very expensive. For me, that often means trying to leverage the same product in many formats — finished jewelry, kits/instructions, workshops and classes, similar pieces at different skill levels.

It means doing more networking to find opportunities. Unfortunately, the time used to network is less time used to create.

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KEEPING YOUR FINGERS, HANDS, ARMS, EYES AND MIND IN GOOD WORKING ORDER

Posted by learntobead on September 26, 2013

KEEPING YOUR FINGERS, HANDS, ARMS, EYES AND MIND
IN GOOD WORKING ORDER

QUESTION:
What kinds of things do you do to keep your fingers, hands, arms, eyes and mind focused, nimble and in good working order?

finger-exercises2

Beading and Jewelry Making require lots of mind-body coordination. This takes work. It is work.

You have to control your stringing material. With needle and thread, 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.

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 adapted some of their techniques into a workshop I do on Beading Calisthenics. Here is Exercise # 1.

finger-exercises3

BEADING CALISTHENICS #1: 5-Finger Stretchies

This exercise is used to prevent your fingers from cramping. Often, when beading, you are holding your hand and fingers in a very tight, controlled, sometimes unnatural or uncomfortable position. You should stop periodically, and do 5-Finger Stretchies. This is a wonderful exercise which relaxes the muscles in your hands.
Take one hand and hold it arm out, palm forward. Your arm is parallel to the floor. Your palm, fingers up, is perpendicular to the floor. Tighten every muscle in every finger, and pull each finger inward and downwards towards the point they meet the palm, but don’t touch the palm. Picture making a claw with your pulled back fingers.
Squeeze the tension, release. Squeeze, release. Squeeze, release. Do this rapidly, perhaps 4 squeeze/releases a second. Do this for 10 seconds.
Now do this with the other hand. 10 seconds.
Do this a couple times with each hand.
Then return to your beading.

finger-exercises

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Learn An Easy, Anyone-Can-Do-It, Pearl Knotting Technique

Posted by learntobead on September 25, 2013

PEARL KNOTTING WITH WARREN FELD
Our class now a video tutorial online at CraftArtEdu.com .

http://www.craftartedu.com/warren-feld-pearl-knotting-with-warren-feld

Pearl40-8mm

 

 

Classic Elegance! Learn a simple Pearl Knotting technique anyone can do. No special tools. Beautiful. Durable. Wearable.

 

Everything you need to know for successfully designing with pearls, including knotting – traditional vs non traditional methods, attaching clasps, finishing, care of your pearls, repair and types of pearls, the nature of the pearl. Jewelry designer Warren Feld will lead you through this comprehensive CraftArtEdu class that is all about pearls. 6 Broadcasts.  Downloadable handout.

 

Price: $40

Level: All Levels

Duration: 106:17 minutes

 

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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

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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

 

 

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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?

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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?

 

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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)

 

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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?

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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

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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….”.

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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?

 

 

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HOW DO YOU STAY FOCUSED?

Posted by learntobead on July 13, 2013

 

HOW DO YOU STAY FOCUSED?

It is easy to get distracted.   Dagmar sent me an email with a link to a picture of a bead woven piece she liked.    At first, I reacted with some resistance, to click the link.   I needed to finish up several projects, and didn’t want to cloud my thinking, or add one more image or one more pattern I liked, or color I liked, or technique I liked, to that mix of ideas and tasks and things swirling around and around in my head.

earring1

But, you guessed it, I clicked.   The piece was beautiful, intriguing, and l discovered many more of this artist’s work on display online.    I spent time with each piece.   I read the artist’s statement because I wanted to learn more about her inspiration.    She had many embedded links in her statement.  Which led me to many other websites.   One concept was discussed, and I did a Google search on that.     And then an images.google.com search on it as well.    Which somehow got me over to Amazon, then Wikipedia, and over to some other bead artist’s website.

 

Three hours later – how does time pass away so quickly?    A simple click three hours earlier had led me through the looking glass and down the rabbit hole, through, what must have looked like to others, some torturous pathways, meeting all kinds of strangers.

I am always working on several projects at a time.     So in my head, are several sets of instructions, several color palettes, several understandings of inspiration.    And I want to keep some focus.   And I want to finish all of these projects.    And I want to be able to conceptualize and invent my next projects, which involves lots of trial and error experimentation.    I want to have the time and clear head space for all this.

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And yet, there are so many easily accessible distractions.

I know I’m not alone, so the question I put forward to you:

How do you stay focused?

 

And perhaps, I should phrase the question differently:   Can you stay focused?

Or, in the face of so many great examples of jewelry and bead art, so many evolving changes in styles and fashions, the introduction of many new colors and new bead shapes and new techniques – in the face of so much wonderfully inspiring, so many things to learn and educate yourself about – how do you keep in touch with your inner designer self, and find the time and energy for self-expression?

 

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HOW NOT TO SHOP IN A BEAD STORE

Posted by learntobead on June 9, 2013

HOW NOT TO SHOP IN A BEAD STORE

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Shopping in a bead store presents many overwhelming challenges — all the parts, all the colors, all the sizes, all the project possibilities. Many customers, when confronted with all these options, freeze up and get frustrated.

So, how SHOULD you shop, and how SHOULD YOU NOT shop in a bead store?

Any interesting stories out there?

What was your first trip to a bead store like.

beads4

From an article I wrote….
— Warren

HOW NOT TO SHOP

To the consternation of staff, many a Bead Warrior, as they prepare to arrive at the field of bead-selection-battle, have not properly armed themselves.

They arrive by car. They arrive by taxi. They arrive on foot. But rarely do they arrive with a design plan in hand.

They arrive with ideas swimming in their heads, from magazine articles they’ve recently read, or advertisements they’ve seen, or dreams they’ve had. And it’s all in their heads.

And when they arrive at the door, then cross the threshold, there are too many intimidating choices confronting them, attacking them from the right and the left and forward and behind, and off to the side, and down the aisle, and over and around the corner.

The knitted scarf lady ready to conquer the bead world and find that blue bead for her fringe. But no yarn in hand. And there are so many blue beads. No sense of which blue will match. No sense of hole size. No idea what needle to use. Or how to get the beads on. Which “blue?” I asked, pointing to the 37 choices. Without a word, without any response to my question, she grabbed her purse and walked out.

A woman had a list of 17 items she needed for a project. We had 16 of these items in stock. The one thing we didn’t have was one color of a delica bead. I suggested some good substitutions. After all, there are almost 2000 colors of delica beads to choose from. She put all 16 items back, and walked out.

The fashion icon determined to turn a brief visit to the bead store into ultimate world conquest, withOUT her recently perused copy of the latest of the latest from the best of the best style magazine. But no picture in hand. And there are so many beads and chains to choose from. No remembrance of what she had seen. No idea of how to attach things. No clue about finishing off the piece.

The bead-weaver, knowing full well that success is just over that hill, a straight march, and that her right-angle-weave necklace will hup-two appear without much of a scuffle. Or tussle. Or hassle. Or, whatever else might get in her way. Yet no instructions. No supply list. No knowledge of stringing materials or tools.

The woman in need of jewelry repairs. No jewelry with her. Wants that bead or rhinestone or clasp to make her jewelry complete. Which is at home. And she can’t remember. Doesn’t know sizes. Vague on colors. Forgets materials. Clueless on attachments.

The woman who returns everything she doesn’t use – and then buys the same items for the next project which happens to use the same pieces. She frequently makes the 25-mile round trip to return even 1 bead not used. And then re-buys this very same bead on her very next trip on the very next week.

The student who wants a bail for a pendant, has left that pendant at home, and doesn’t remember which direction the hole is drilled.

The knowledge is all to be won – at the bead store. The field of battle. Shock and awe. Little preparation. Few soldiers. Few weapons. A daunting walk across the entrance, and that’s all it will take. To win. To accomplish. To finish. To conquer.

The lesson, not to be lost here, is that you need to come prepared. Sufficiently armed. Some forethought. Some planning. Some thought-through concept. Some willingness to make compromises.

The field of battle is very large. The opposing forces are onerous. Over 6,000 specifically named colors. Thousands of styles and sizes and shapes of beads. Nearly 20,000 individually named metal parts. Fifteen different kinds of metals. Forty-two possibilities of metal finishes. Nearly 500 choices of stringing materials. Sixteen separate types of needles. Too numerous to count issues of quality and pricing.

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