Learn To Bead

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




…A Guide For The Aspiring Bead Artist

by Warren S. Feld

Excerpts From This Ever-Evolving Tale…..

I don’t mean to drag a poor Elephant by its tail, kicking and screaming, into our bead world against its wishes. Nor do I perceive the elephant to be a threat, like you might see an Elephant in the boudoir, or the fine china store. And I don’t want you to shut your eyes and pretend not to notice that this Elephant is here, standing shoulder to shoulder with every beader and jewelry maker around.

The Elephant is not a joke. And the fact that it is “Rogue” makes it more important than ever to figure out why it’s here, among size #10 English beading needles, and Czech size 11/0 seed beads, and Austrian crystal beads. It seems so worldly, yet other-worldly, our Elephant. It’s not our muse. It’s not our Cassandra. It has no secret plan or strategy. It does not depend on its size to make its point. It does not hesitate to stomp and chomp and clomp because the beads before it are raku or glass or gemstone or crystal or metal or plastic. But a Rogue Elephant in the middle of our craft room forces upon us a completely different logic, so that we can make sense of it all.


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. aesthetics

…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.

For example, I teach a unit on Managing Thread Tension.   In this class, we make a bracelet using Square Stitch.   First the student makes the bracelet using 4mm cube beads and Nymo thread.   Then they make the same bracelet with 4mm cubes and FireLine cable thread.    And yet again, they do the bracelet again using size 8/0 seed beads and their choice of either Nymo thread or FireLine.   And we discuss the differences, in terms of managing the thread tension, holding the piece while working it, achieving good drape and movement, achieving satisfactory bead-to-bead effects such as a pleasing color transition, attaching the clasp.

What does “bead weaving” mean to you?


Land of Odds(www.landofodds.com) – Beads, Jewelry Findings, Jewelry Making Supplies

Land of Odds provides bead and jewelry making artists with virtually all their beads, supplies,
books and jewelry findings needs, with over 30,000 products.
Home of The Ugly Necklace Contest-A Jewelry Design Competition With A Twist, The Illustrative Beader: Beaded TapestryCompetition, and of All Dolled Up: Beaded Art Doll Competition.

Warren Feld Jewelry (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com)

Jewelry Design Camp

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16 Responses to “ROGUE ELEPHANT”

  1. You must finish this book. I am intrigued.

    • Thanks for your comments.

      Eventually, this will all be pulled together into a book. I was thinking of first selling chapter by chapter online, in .pdf formats.

      In the meantime, I’ve been posting excerpts on this blog. You can go to the Archived section to read past ones.


  2. Ms. P said

    Wish I had known Aunt Gert or had one. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I agree with you about this creative person lacking business skills so will be attending one of your workshops on that subject. I desperately need to learn about thinking like a business person. Duh…thats why you have a bead school, to learn all beading skills including business. Thanks for all you do. V

  3. […] posting his point of view (along with a sense of humor). While there are dozens of articles in the archives, the one I found most interesting […]

  4. Seems I am a little late coming into this collection of anecdotes and life’s lessons learned, but I read this post with interest and a smile on my face . . .

  5. Connie Fogg-Bouchard said

    Having a childhood in the underclass followed by the shock of upper-middle class suburbia opened my eyes to many things but you used an excellent microscope. What can be said for the beading world is true for any of the arts – there are the ‘have’ and ‘have-not’s’ in each. The social disparity can be truly amazing but the love of the art remains.

  6. Wow.. Nice post.. very use full information. thank you.

  7. […] ROGUE ELEPHANT […]

  8. Very sensible question, comment and an answer from which, I have learned something today.

  9. […] ROGUE ELEPHANT […]

  10. chris murphyc said

    I have enjoyed reading rogue elephant and I have learned more about jewelry design and use of color from you than from any other source. I can’t wait to try and experiment with your examples to improve my skills. I just wish I lived closer so I could be a part of your group up there. I hope maybe I can attend a workshop someday.

  11. […] ROGUE ELEPHANT […]

  12. […] ROGUE ELEPHANT […]

  13. […] ROGUE ELEPHANT […]

  14. […] ROGUE ELEPHANT […]

  15. […] ROGUE ELEPHANT […]

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