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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.

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THE ARTISTS AT THE PARTY

Posted by learntobead on May 7, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

THE ARTISTS AT THE PARTY

yuppieparty

 

Jayden and I were invited to a party.   Not just any party.    A party at the renovated early 1900’s home in the Belmont section of town, a section of town somewhere squeezed from the West by Vanderbilt and from the East by Belmont universities.      A silversmithing student of his had invited us.    We had been to her home for dinner before, but it was just the two of us and she and her husband.

This was to be a party.    Perhaps a hundred people had been invited.    People associated with the universities.   People associated with the primary alternative newspaper in town – The Nashville Scene.    People in politics.   Professional people.    People with job titles who handed out business cards and spoke in that upwardly mobile dialect which made less-than-upwardly mobile people feel small and out of place.

When we arrived, the party was well underway.    The home was renovated in the way that people pay for to see in magazines that show page after page of inside and out.    Exquisite.   Creative.    Truly the home of someone very into the arts and very into home preservation.

I always head for the wine and cheese first.     I’m a cheese addict.     And I love rich, mellow red wines, not too sweet.

We walked around, trying to mingle.     We had conversations with some painters, one sculptor and one actor.     We tried to converse with others there, but when presented with that question of questions very early on after introductions — “What do you do?” — our answers were less than satisfying.   We were jewelry artists who owned a bead store.

We had no currency there.

We had no political ties to network off of.   No interesting gossip to trade.    No similar career paths.    We had nothing to say of value to the almost one hundred people frantically circulating room to room and hallway to hallway in this very beautiful but crowded house.

We were the decoration.

The entertainment.

The artists.

I stood in the corner of one room, watching the scene before me.    It was a madhouse of people playing some kind of speed dating game where the prize was upward mobility for the sake of mobilizing upwardly.      I realized I did have some currency.    My name and avocation.   All these people would be going back to their offices and social networks and political operations and news services, able to tell others that they met so-and-so the jewelry artist.

They knew they would never be questioned about what exactly I made.   Or be asked to evaluate anything I constructed.

They would only be asked my name and avocation – Warren Feld, Jewelry Artist.

 

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Learn Bead Embroidery Basics – Hapua Reef Bracelet Workshop, 10/25/14

Posted by learntobead on September 16, 2014

Be Dazzled Beads and The Center for Beadwork & Jewelry Arts in Nashvile, Tennessee

welcomes Warren Feld
October 25, 2014, 10am-5pm Sat

Hapua Reef Bracelet Workshop
Bead Embroidery
Advanced Beginner Level

full-moneyshot2

Amazonite Palette
For more information, Click Here: HAPUA REEF BRACELET WORKSHOP

1 Day
Saturday, October 25, 2014, 10am-5pm (with a break for lunch)
FEES: $45.00 plus Kit Fee
Kit available for purchase from instructor.
Palette: Amazonite ($95.00)
Registration Deposit: $45.00 + Kit Fee
registration by October 13th, 2014

Capture the romance of the shallow waters along a tropical lagoon beach!
Learn several simple bead embroidery techniques for expressing the artistry of it all.
hrstep10b

Amazonite Palette

In the Hapua Reef Bracelet project…

LearnToBead Goals:
– Basics of Bead Embroidery, including

— Preparing a brass cuff form, finishing the inner and outer surfaces with ultra-suede and Lacy’s Stiff Stuff foundation
— Drawing a template and setting up a design plan for your piece
— Attaching beads to the foundation, using various methods, including

~ back stitch
~ couching
~ bezeling a stone
~ placing beads linearly and curvalinearly
~ crowding
~ cross-hatch
~ fringe-style embellishment

— Adding an edging around your piece

Bead Embroidery has been used to embellish and decorate clothing since the dawn of civilization. In both Russia and China, remains have been found of bead embroidery dating back thousands of years. In more recent history, bead embroidery has been used to decorate religious items, formal attire, and household objects.

Bead Embroidery is such a versatile stitch that all beads are game! If you were working on a large wall-hanging, larger beads would be appropriate.

Conversely, if you were working on a necklace or bracelet, you would want to use beads that are proportionate to your project. Within those guidelines, any type of bead (bugle, seed, delica, drop, etc.) would enhance the dimensionality and texture of your piece.

We create a canvas, decide how to give form to this canvas, plan a design, and embroider that design onto our formed-canvas. The challenge is always to achieve a contemporary, artistic look to your piece — one that has a sense of movement, dimensionality, a use of materials that makes the ordinary ‘noteworthy’, and good technique.

In this piece, I wanted to re-create the colors, patterns and lines of the beautiful forms, waves and materials along the shoreline of a tropical lagoon and the underlying reef in the Caribbean. I especially liked looking through the shallow water where it met the beach at a particularly secluded part of the lagoon.

I also wanted to create an embroidery plan that allows the student to learn several different embroidery-patterning techniques within the composition as a whole.

hapua5

Hapua Reef Laguna

What Techniques Students Need To Know Before The Workshop

The skill level required: Advanced Beginner. The student must be comfortable with using needle and thread.

CENTER for BEADWORK & JEWELRY ARTS 718 Thompson Lane, Ste 123 Nashville, Tennessee 37204 PHONE:  615-292-0610 FAX:   615-292-0610 www.landofodds.com /beadschool/ beadschool@landofodds.com

Location, Lodging, Access by Car, Plane

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Check out the most recent special deals at Land of Odds/Be Dazzled Beads

Posted by learntobead on March 13, 2014

Sales and Promotions at Land of Odds – Jewelry Design CenterLand of Odds/Be Dazzled Beads- What’s On Sale

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THE JEWELRY DESIGN DISCUSSION GROUP

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http://www.facebook.com/groups/jewelrydesign/


**********************

 

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WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BEAD-WEAVE?

Posted by learntobead on December 26, 2013

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO “BEAD-WEAVE”?
(reposted from earlier this year)

gwynian-wine-detail2-medium

The answers to this question anticipate our strategies for how best to train and educate people. The answers imply our goals and preferences for how people learn, what they learn, in what order they learn things, and how they apply what they learn, and how we should measure success and accomplishment.

Over the 24 years I have been doing this, and I’m going to generalize here, all too often, I see people learning techniques, but not skills. I see people wed themselves to one or a limited set of techniques, to the exclusions of others. I see people who avoid learning higher level concepts which would assist them in coming up with new ideas for manipulating beads within a composition. Or they insist or pretend that there are no higher learnings — no theories, no concepts, no structures — beyond the simple step-by-step techniques they rehearse over and over again.

So obviously, part of the answer to me, of “What Does It Mean To Bead Weave”, goes beyond technique. I would want to switch the emphasis in our training programs, our magazines, our how-to-books, our online tutorials from a focus on specific techniques to a focus on specific skills that might span all or most techniques.

Such as, – managing thread tension – starting a stitch off anywhere – increasing and decreasing – coming to a point – making a curve line – making ruffles – creating and filling negative spaces – layering – evoking emotional responses – achieving symmetry and balance – making rapid and slow transitions – managing components and transitions from one to the next – connectivity and linkage – anticipating requirements for movement and drape – contemplating the bead and how it asserts its needs – color, light and shadow – managing function vs. aethetics

…among other skills.

To me, “bead-weaving” means to manage a process using beads as the medium, thread or other stringing material as canvas, within a particular composition such as a piece of jewelry.

What does “bead weaving” mean to you?

Warren

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USE OF ARMATURE

Posted by learntobead on December 26, 2013

USE OF ARMATURES IN BEADWORK
(reposted from earlier this year)

autumnsend

While I occasionally use armatures in my beadwork projects, I have a psychological aversion to them as somehow contaminating my beadwork, making it less pure, taking the sacred and making it profane. I think what I viscerally react to is how often, the way people use the armatures, makes the piece look more crafty or less finished.

Nevertheless, when you need your beadwork to hold a shape, what other things can you resort to?

What kinds of experiences do you have with armatures? What kinds of materials have you used, and which to you like to use best?

How do you marry the beadwork with the armature? Camouflage?

— Warren

About Armature

Armature is used to create and preserve shape within a piece. It is a type of “skeleton” or internal structure.

Your goals, as a bead artist and jewelry designer, are to select an appropriate material and size of the armature, so that it does not compete or detract from your finished piece. You do not want your piece to look or feel “crafty.” You want it to look and feel artistic and well-designed. You do not want your piece to feel weak, or somehow insufficient, given the wearer’s and the viewer’s expectations.

You do not want the essence of the armature’s materials in any way to work against the essence of the material(s) your beads are made of. Usually, but not always, this means hiding the armature inside the piece.

In making your selection of armature, you need to understand the design-relationships between those sections of the piece requiring armature, and why they require it.

One reason is to create or preserve a Shape. In Autumn’s End (pictured), Kathleen Lynam wanted to turn the somewhat soft, floppy and flimsy Ndebele tube into a solid, 3-dimensional, consistent tube.

A second reason to use an armature is to Pose. In Autumn’s End, she wanted the Ndebele tube to make a circle around a person’s wrist, and, once there, stay in form and place. Thus, our armature needs some degree of flexibility, but at the same time, it must be able to hold the pose, as well.

A third reason has to do with Action. She was concerned with Action, when a part of her piece had to be animated in some way. This is somewhat important with Autumn’s End, in that our wearer will have to pull open and push closed on the wristlet, to get it on and off, and to position it comfortably on the wrist..

There are many types of materials bead artists and jewelry designers use to make armatures. Sometimes this involves stuffing with cotton or fiber fill. It might involve using tin foil. Othertimes, we might use a toothpick, dowel, straw, tubing, wire, or metal rod. We can also create the armature using glue to create a solid or stiffened structure. We can also create our armature from sculpted clay, like polymer clay or metal clay or plastic wood.

Given the shape and pose requirements of Autumn’s End, her choices came down to plastic aquarium tubing, a thick-gauge wire, or plumber’s solder. The tubing would not have met her “pose” and “action” requirements anywhere near as well as the solder does. Nor would a thick gauge wire.

In this piece, she used the idea of “Armature” in a secondary way. She painted the flowers and leaves with acrylic floor wax. This stiffened the threads — what would be considered the canvas of the piece — so that these threads, too, turned into a type of armature preserving “shape” and “pose”.

We are in the process of turning Autumn’s End into a kit for sale at Land of Odds and LearnToBead.net — not ready yet — , but you can see some images on our website.

http://www.learntobead.net/kits/beadweave/stitch/autumnsend/bw3PC01/autumnsend-about.htm

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SAYING GOOD BYE TO YOUR PIECE

Posted by learntobead on December 26, 2013

SAYING GOODBYE TO YOUR PIECE
(re-posted from earlier this year)

cgswarovskifull

I remember one of the first times I had to say Good-Bye to my piece, and it hit me hard. I had one of my pieces accepted as a Semi-Finalist entry for Swarovski’s Be Naturally Inspired Design Contest 2008.

The week I had to ship my piece to Swarovski — a piece I had worked on over 100 hours to make, that from concept to fruition has been many, many months, and a lot of trial and error. And they were going to keep it. I would not see it again.

I have to tell you, I got a little separation anxiety. Which made me think that this raises a good discussion question.

How do you say Good-Bye to your pieces?

I’ve sold a lot of pieces. Each one is special. I always give a name to each piece. Each piece has its own story. It’s own inspiration. And all of a sudden, its gone. Someone else has it.

So how do you say Good-Bye to your pieces?

Please share your thoughts.

Warren

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New Specials This Week at Land of Odds/Be Dazzled Beads

Posted by learntobead on December 26, 2013

Sales and Promotions at Land of Odds – Jewelry Design CenterLand of Odds/Be Dazzled Beads- What’s
On Sale

Land
of Odds – Be Dazzled Beads
   

Land of Odds
– Be Dazzled Beads

Sales and Promotions

SALE HAS BEGUN

Ends: Tues, 2/4/14

While supplies last / No Rainchecks

Live in Nashville?

Order ONLINE and Checkout and Select “WILL PICK UP AT BE
DAZZLED BEADS”

SAFETY
PINS

75%
off

PIN
BACKS


75% off

Our
Land of Odds…LEARN
TO BEAD
program is based on

The
Design Approach
:

– Focused on teaching how to make smart choices

– Developmentally-based, where you learn skills in an orderly
way, and understand how skills build upon each other

– Easy to follow

BEGIN
WITH OUR

ORIENTATION
CLASS

over 5 1/2 hours

of introductory video tutorials

for the beader and jewelry maker


At LAND OF
ODDS – BE DAZZLED BEADS
,

you may also purchase

Kits and Instructions
at all skill levels



Visit
our LearnToBead Blog


THE JEWELRY DESIGN DISCUSSION GROUP

Please join our new group on facebook at:

http://www.facebook.com/groups/jewelrydesign/


**********************

 

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Stock up on Czech Seedbeads — Magnetic Clasps Closeouts

Posted by learntobead on December 19, 2013

Sales and Promotions at Land of Odds – Jewelry Design CenterLand of Odds/Be Dazzled Beads-
What’s On Sale

Land of Odds – Be Dazzled Beads    

Land of Odds
– Be Dazzled Beads

Sales and Promotions

SALE HAS BEGUN
Ends: Tues, 1/28/14

While supplies last / No Rainchecks

Live in Nashville?
Order ONLINE and Checkout and Select “WILL PICK UP AT BE
DAZZLED BEADS”

CZECH
SEED BEADS

50
% off

MAGNETIC
CLASPS

 75% off

Our
Land of Odds…LEARN
TO BEAD
program is based on

The
Design Approach
:

– Focused on teaching how to make smart choices

– Developmentally-based, where you learn skills in an orderly
way, and understand how skills build upon each other

– Easy to follow

BEGIN
WITH OUR

ORIENTATION
CLASS

over 5 1/2 hours

of introductory video tutorials

for the beader and jewelry maker


At LAND OF
ODDS – BE DAZZLED BEADS
,

you may also purchase

Kits and Instructions
at all skill levels



Visit
our LearnToBead Blog


THE JEWELRY DESIGN DISCUSSION GROUP

Please join our new group on facebook at:

http://www.facebook.com/groups/jewelrydesign/


**********************

 

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Another Land of Odds Deal on Spring Rings and Toggles!

Posted by learntobead on December 12, 2013

Land of Odds/Be Dazzled Beads- What’s
On Sale

Land
of Odds – Be Dazzled Beads
   

Land of Odds
– Be Dazzled Beads

Sales and Promotions

SALE HAS BEGUN
Ends: Tues, 1/21/14

While supplies last / No Rainchecks

Live in Nashville?
Order ONLINE and Checkout and Select “WILL PICK UP AT BE
DAZZLED BEADS”

SPRING RINGS

All styles, metal finishes

50
% off

PEWTER TOGGLE CLASPS

50% off

Our
Land of Odds…LEARN
TO BEAD
program is based on

The
Design Approach
:

– Focused on teaching how to make smart choices

– Developmentally-based, where you learn skills in an orderly
way, and understand how skills build upon each other

– Easy to follow

BEGIN
WITH OUR

ORIENTATION
CLASS

over 5 1/2 hours

of introductory video tutorials

for the beader and jewelry maker


At LAND OF
ODDS – BE DAZZLED BEADS
,

you may also purchase

Kits and Instructions
at all skill levels



Visit
our LearnToBead Blog


THE JEWELRY DESIGN DISCUSSION GROUP

Please join our new group on facebook at:

http://www.facebook.com/groups/jewelrydesign/


**********************

 

Posted in Stitch 'n Bitch | Leave a Comment »

Grand Sale Items at Land of Odds

Posted by learntobead on December 5, 2013

Land of Odds/Be Dazzled Beads- What’s
On Sale

Land
of Odds – Be Dazzled Beads
   

Land of Odds
– Be Dazzled Beads

Sales and Promotions

SALE HAS BEGUN
Ends: Tues, 1/14/14

While supplies last / No Rainchecks

Live in Nashville?
Order ONLINE and Checkout and Select “WILL PICK UP AT BE
DAZZLED BEADS”

Metalized
Plastic Beads

All styles, metal finishes

50
% off

Czech
Glass

HEARTS

50%
off

Our
Land of Odds…LEARN
TO BEAD
program is based on

The
Design Approach
:

– Focused on teaching how to make smart choices

– Developmentally-based, where you learn skills in an orderly
way, and understand how skills build upon each other

– Easy to follow

BEGIN
WITH OUR

ORIENTATION
CLASS

over 5 1/2 hours

of introductory video tutorials

for the beader and jewelry maker


At LAND OF
ODDS – BE DAZZLED BEADS
,

you may also purchase

Kits and Instructions
at all skill levels



Visit
our LearnToBead Blog


THE JEWELRY DESIGN DISCUSSION GROUP

Please join our new group on facebook at:

http://www.facebook.com/groups/jewelrydesign/


**********************

 

Posted in Stitch 'n Bitch | Leave a Comment »

Stock up on Czech Glass Druks and Rondelles – Inventory Reduction Sale

Posted by learntobead on November 29, 2013

Sales and Promotions at Land of Odds – Jewelry Design CenterLand of Odds/Be Dazzled Beads- What’s On Sale

Land of Odds
– Be Dazzled Beads
   

Land of Odds
– Be Dazzled Beads

Sales and Promotions
SALE

Begins: Fri, 11/29/13
Ends: Tues, 1/7/14

While supplies last / No Rainchecks

Live in Nashville?
Order ONLINE and Checkout and Select “WILL PICK UP AT BE
DAZZLED BEADS”

Czech
Glass

DRUK
ROUNDS

50
% off

newdruk1

Czech
Glass

DRUK
RONDELLES

50%
off

newdruk2
Our
Land of Odds…LEARN
TO BEAD
program is based on

The
Design Approach
:

– Focused on teaching how to make smart choices

– Developmentally-based, where you learn skills in an orderly
way, and understand how skills build upon each other

– Easy to follow

BEGIN
WITH OUR

ORIENTATION
CLASS

over 5 1/2 hours

of introductory video tutorials

for the beader and jewelry maker

 


At LAND OF
ODDS – BE DAZZLED BEADS
,

you may also purchase

Kits and Instructions
at all skill levels

 



Visit
our LearnToBead Blog


THE JEWELRY DESIGN DISCUSSION GROUP

Please join our new group on facebook at:

http://www.facebook.com/groups/jewelrydesign/


**********************

Posted in Stitch 'n Bitch | Leave a Comment »

Fri, Oct 18th is Flat Cathy Day – Win A Prize!

Posted by learntobead on October 16, 2013

 

 

Friday, October 18, 2013 is Flat Cathy Day! 
Sponsored by Bead & Button and Kalmbach Press
Come Visit Be Dazzled Beads to take your pictures!

It’s your opportunity to share Flat Cathy’s adventures at your favorite bead shop, and reveal exciting tips you’ve learned with the beading community. Plus, you’ll have a
chance to win prizes!

Cathy Jakicic is the author of the new book Jewelry Projects from a Beading Insider. Cathy knows firsthand what stumps beaders, what they’re curious about, and what excites them. She generously shares 200+ tips, tricks, and secrets to creating fun and wearable jewelry in this all-new collection of 30 original designs. She offers beaders lots of options with project alternatives, matching accessories, and budget-friendly choices.

Print out a copy of Flat Cathy (there are 2 versions) and take her to your favorite bead shop on October 18th to help celebrate Visit Your Local Bead Shop Month.
GO HERE: http://links.mkt746.com/servlet/MailView?ms=MTc5NjE4MjkS1&r=NjY2MDQ5NjkzNDcS1&j=MjMzNjE1MjU1S0&mt=1&rt=0

flat-cathy

Snap a photo of Flat Cathy with your favorite bead shop employee, your favorite section of beads, attending a class, or just enjoying the store, and we will post it on our Facebook page and our Pinterest page!

We would like to post images of Flat Cathy’s fun travels to bead shops across the U.S., so make sure that your favorite bead shop is represented! Flat Cathy is also a fun way to share fun tips from the “Beading Insider.”

Creative photos along with a fun tip and the bead shop name should be emailed to
jzimdars@kalmbach.com .

Along with submitting your pictures comes a drawing for a chance to win prizes!

flat-cathy-prizes

Deadline: 11/1/13

COME VISIT BE DAZZLED BEADS
in Nashville, TN
to take your pictures
for this contest!

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AUTUMN’S END BRACELET – New Kit at Land of Odds

Posted by learntobead on September 11, 2013

AUTUMN’S END BRACELET
http://www.landofodds.com/store/kitsautumnsabout.htm

 autumnsend-full1-displayres72

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.

 

Posted in Stitch 'n Bitch | Leave a Comment »

HELP US WIN BIG!

Posted by learntobead on September 11, 2013

~ HELP US WIN BIG! ~
Go to:
http://www.beadandbutton.com/cjs

Type in:
BE DAZZLED BEADS, NASHVILLE, TN

newbdfront4

10/31/2013 Deadline
During September and October 2013, Bead & Button is selecting one store to win a $5000.00 shopping spree at CJS SALES in New York City, a source of lots of unusual stuff for us to sell.

Posted in Stitch 'n Bitch | 1 Comment »