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RESILIENCY: DO YOU HAVE THE MOST IMPORTANT SKILL EVERY DESIGNER MUST HAVE?

Posted by learntobead on January 2, 2021

HOW RESILIENT ARE YOU AS AN INDIVIDUAL, A PROFESSIONAL, AND A BUSINESS?

Guiding Questions:
 (1) What does it mean and require for you to be resilient as a jewelry designer?
 (2) What does it mean and require for your jewelry design business to be resilient?
 (3) What does it mean and require for you as an individual to be resilient?
 (4) Why is it important to be resilient?
 (5) How do you manage resiliency?

Abstract:

Resiliency is a form of power. It describes our ability to bounce back from overwhelming challenges. It is necessary for survival. Organizationally. Business-wise. Professional-wise. Psychologically. It should be at the top of the To-Do list for every designer and for every design business to be resilient. There are always unexpected disruptions. Sometimes these disruptions are negative; othertimes, positive. All present challenges and opportunities. We want to be able to manage vulnerabilities, absorb stress, recover critical functionality, and continue to survive and thrive when our circumstances change. We want to be able to find, evaluate, negotiate and grab opportunities before they disappear or become unattainable.

Over The Course Of My Business

I have been in the jewelry design business for over four decades. There have been many ups and downs. For most, my business and my skills were resilient enough to keep things afloat until they found their footing again. But not always.

There’s the ever-present business cycle which fluctuates between prosperity and recession. There are changes in fads, fashions and styles, manytimes leaving me with some dead merchandise, a rush to design new styles of jewelry, and the need to change my inventory of parts. A few years, brooches are the hot item; then, all of a sudden, brooches are out and bracelets and rings are in; and, on and on. One color like blue is in, and then it is not. Occasionally, I needed some retraining in new techniques which became popularized. Then there was the slowly increasing shift from brick and mortar businesses to online ones. I had to develop the knowledge and skills to put part of my business online.

At one point, for eleven years, my business was located downtown Nashville in a historic district. It was full of mom-and-pop shops, from rock shops to junk stores to small boutiques and restaurants. It was an exciting place. Too exciting, it turned out. The large corporations decided to move in — Hard Rock Café, Planet Hollywood, Wild Horse Saloon. To accommodate them, the city renovated the district. Part of this renovation included removing over 6,000 parking spaces within an 18-month period. Parking costs skyrocketed from $2–3.00 to $15–20.00. People stopped coming there to shop. Things changed so fast, I had to maneuver out of my lease, and put my business into bankruptcy.

Nashville’s downtown was hit by a tornado. The tornado landed one block from my shop. I could see it from my doorway. It left an unbelievable amount of devastation and debris in the downtown.

The Nashville economy was booming for a while around 2005. Unemployment was below 2%, and I was unable to fill two staff positions.

After the 2008 financial crisis, my business spiraled downwards, at times dramatically, for the next 10 years, before I regained some level of control. When the 2020 COVID pandemic struck, there were 3 months where people had to quarantine themselves, and my business dropped to nothing. For the next year, I had to let all my staff go, and curtail my business hours. I had to maintain a level of inventory and a mix of products which customers wanted with little money coming in.

Then, there are always those moments when you need a good back-up strategy, such as when internet and wi-fi services fail, and you depend on these to process sales and credit cards.

When we think of ourselves as designers, and think about the design businesses we lead or participate in, we need to add resiliency as an important factor — and, I think, the most important factor, — among design sense, creativity, skill-set, marketing and selling, which support our success.

RESILIENCY: What Is It?

Resiliency is a form of power. It describes our ability to bounce back from overwhelming challenges. It is necessary for survival. Organizationally. Business-wise. Professional-wise. Psychologically. It should be at the top of the To-Do list for every designer and for every design business to be resilient.

There are always unexpected disruptions. Sometimes these disruptions are negative; othertimes, positive. All present challenges and opportunities. Changes in fashions, styles, fads and tastes. Changes in technology and equipment. Changes in competition. The world changes whether it is in a direction we want or not. We want to manage these disruptions gracefully. We want to recover nicely. We do not want to fail, but if we do, we want to be able to pull our life, our emotions, our businesses back together again.

Resiliency means doing enough things right. It requires some leadership and self-direction. It requires that we continually reflect on what we do and the positive and negative consequences which follow. We want to be able to manage vulnerabilities, absorb stress, recover critical functionality, and continue to survive and thrive when our circumstances change. We want to be able to find, evaluate, negotiate and grab opportunities before they disappear or become unattainable.

Types of Resiliency

Changes and disruptions affect us on many levels. It affects our businesses and organizations. It affects our professional development. If affects us emotionally and psychologically. As professional designers, we need to come to recognize how resiliency plays out and how it should be managed at each of these levels.

(1) Business and Organization

(2) Professional

(3) Psychological

Whatever level, resiliency should be understood as a process involving all aspects of the organization, the professional self and the individual self.

(1) Business and Organizational Resiliency

The business and organization must be structured in such a way as to anticipate, prepare for, respond to, and adapt to sudden disruptions so as to survive and prosper. They must protect the organization as a whole as well as the people who work within it from the overwhelming influence of risk factors.

This translates into every design business needing to have people and systems set in place so that the business can re-act to a disruption as it occurs, pro-act to prepare for any disruption before they cause a problem and create a solid systems foundation, and post-act to overcome any disruption.

From a business standpoint, re-act resilience (adaptive), pro-act resilience (anticipatory), and post-act resilience (robustness) should be built into the following business prerequisites:

1. Access to designer expertise and skill-sets, particularly if current staff may need to be furloughed or let go

2. Staying competitive by maintaining control over risk and costs, including a functioning accounting system, and efficient/effective management over risk assessment, costs and returns on investment

3. Compliance with client expectations and any government rules and regulations

4. Protecting any intellectual property and data

5. Readiness to respond to changing market conditions, which may involve increased research and development costs, developing new ways in response to new competitors and competitive pressures, and creating new ways of linking up your products with potential buyers

Business Continuity vs. Business Resiliency

When you are scouring the internet for ideas about how to make your business more resilient, you need to differentiate between business continuity and business resiliency. Both involve processes for creating systems of prevention and recovering, dealing with environmental threats to the company. Both deal with preparedness, protection, response and recovery.

Business Continuity focuses on what the organization needs to resist one-time crises. These are things put in place to maintain the capability of the business to continue to deliver products or services at acceptable levels following a disruption. These systems and skill-set foundations are able to continually define the market and market conditions, assess risks and impacts, implement controls, adjust training and awareness, act in accordance, and monitor the evolving situation. Continuity deals with crises one by one as they occur.

Business Resiliency is a more strategic approach for dealing with larger, perhaps more desperate in the moment, crises. Resiliency deals with what the organization needs to continuously anticipate and adjust.

(2) Professional Resiliency

As a professional designer, you also need to have re-act resiliency, pro-act resiliency and post-act resiliency. Your current skill-set may get out of realignment. Your client may have changed their thinking midway through a project. The company you work for may have had to let you go. Some major changes in technology or fashion or style may be occurring. Some of the colors, objects, computer code — you get what I mean — no longer exist, are outdated or sun-set’ed.

You may have hit a wall or some other unknown or unfamiliar situation with a project and are uncertain how to proceed. Your work may have been handed over to another designer, or you may have been required to work with another designer, and you do not share ideas, values and objectives. You need to cope with rejection and dismissal.

Designers depend on the responses and reactions of clients to determine the degree to which their projects are seen as finished and successful. There can be a lot of misunderstanding here. The things they design must be both functional and appealing, and this is not an easy task. Often the design process is one of fits and starts, evaluation and re-evaluation, some tweaking, some adaptation, and some trial-and-error. We design over a period of time, sometimes anticipating that the environment will change and the client may change, but oftentimes hoping these will not.

This is why building in a professional resiliency matters so much for designers. It reduces the uncertainty. It reduces the struggle. It enables us to maintain a positive outlook. It enables us to create, to push boundaries, and to get things done on time, acceptable to the client and the situation.

Buzzanell describes five different processes which professionals use when trying to maintain resiliency –

· Crafting normalcy

· Affirming professional identity and Can-Do attitude

· Securing communication networks

· Putting alternative logics to work

· Downplaying negative feelings and emotions, while reinforcing positive ones

Towards these ends, the resilient designer strives for a high level of literacy in all aspects of design. This involves becoming fluent with all the types of tasks and skills involved. This involves an expectation that learning is a continual, lifelong endeavor. This involves a level of comprehension about what goes together well, and what does not. This involves developing a high level of flexibility — what I call, having a Designers-Toolbox of fix-it strategies handy. And this involves getting very metacognitive — that is, fully aware — of your thinking and motivations.

(3) Psychological Resiliency

As a human being, a major crisis may shake you to the core. It may increase your level of self-doubt and self-esteem. It may make it difficult to cope emotionally or to quickly regain your composure and sense of self-worth. You may lose control or motivation over your design work.

Psychological resilience is when you use your perceptual, cognitive, behavioral and emotional resources to promote your personal worth and assets, and minimize negative emotions and stressors. Psychological resilience allows you to maintain calm, to reflect clearly, and to develop a plan of action, minimizing any future negative consequences. While some individuals can handle greater stress than others, everyone needs to develop within themselves this ability to be resilient.

It is important for any individual to recognize when their psychological resiliency is threatened. People respond to adverse conditions in three ways. Can you recognize these reactions in yourself?

1. Erupting with anger (and it’s important to note that anger follows fear)

2. Imploding with negative emotions, perhaps becoming paralyzed to act

3. Simply becoming upset

Only the third response — simply becoming upset — will allow the individual to become more resilient and promote well-being. They are able to change their current pattern of behavior to better cope with the disruption. Otherwise, coping mechanisms tend to be rejected, ignored, or misunderstood. Psychological resiliency requires that coping mechanisms be intentional, not instinctual.

Resilient designers resort to these psychological resources:

1. Maintaining some emotional detachment from the project, and not taking things personally

2. Seeing critique as a positive resource, rather than a punishing one, and recognizing that you won’t have all the skills or all the answers at all times

3. Reframing things when the initial conceptions of problem or solution no longer serve their purpose, in realistic terms and practical follow-through

4. Recognizing that everything done is a learning experience and a developmental investment in yourself in some way, and never a waste of time and resources

5. Knowing when enough is enough, or, similarly, knowing when to say No!

6. Finding a passion for their work in design which is inspirational and motivational and keeps them engaged

7. Knowing productive things to do during “down-time”

8. Having a sense of self-esteem and self-worth, projecting a confidence in the work, even when that work is questioned or where it is difficult to measure its success

9. Having an ability to communicate and be heard and understood about how problems get defined, skills get applied, and solutions get developed and implemented

RESILIENCY: How Do You Manage It?

One way to visualize how best to manage your resiliency is to group all the activities which need to get done into these four categories:

1. PLAN

2. DO

3. MONITOR

4. ACT

1. PLAN

You create accessible databases, reports, lists and the like about equipment, inventory, supplies and suppliers, costs and revenues, location adaptability or alternative and feasible locations if you have to move things, and backup systems for documents, documentation and inventory supplies.

2. DO

You quantify in dollar terms the risk of loss in inventory, personnel, equipment, and the like. You define and measure

a. impacts
 b. threats
 c. impact scenarios
 d. recovery requirements

3. MONITOR

You put into place ways to monitor risks and responses. You create trigger systems which alert you, preferably with some good lead time, when disruptions are approaching, occurring, cascading out of control, and when responses are stumbling.

You maintain strong networks of communication with colleagues, suppliers, clients, and other related businesses.

4. ACT

Building resilient enterprises and professional lives is not a one-shot, one-time thing. It’s a continual process. It is something you always need to be acting on.

Strategic things to embrace:

Redundancy: some duplication
 Diversity: some variety
 Modularity: some insulation of each thing apart from all others
 Adaptability: some ability to evolve through trial and error
 Prudence: some sense that if anything plausible could happen, it probably will
 Embeddedness: some alignment of business, professional or personal goals with the systems and activities within which these get put into effect

Resiliencies strategies will require leadership and decisiveness in order to be put into place and managed day-to-day.

They may require taking an active, not merely a passive, response in shaping the future environment in order to create and exploit new opportunities to flourish.

They may require greater communication and collaboration with other businesses and professionals, in order to increase a broader, more collective resilience and a greater sharing of risks and rewards.

RESILIENCY: Why Is It Important?

Resiliency is a company’s, a professional’s and/or an individual’s capacity to absorb stress, recover critical functionality, and thrive as circumstances change.

Resiliency is especially important these days because of how rapidly global markets, distributional channels, technology, access to resources, and skill-set foundations change or develop, get disrupted, and redevelop.

Too often, designers and the businesses they work for focus on short term results — the number of designs sold, the number of current and new clients, the returns on investments. And too often, the paramount concern is stability and stasis. There is too much devoted to making things predictable. There is too much of a Have-Design-Will-Travel mentality.

Resilience requires a multi-timeframe outlook — short, medium and long. There most likely will need to be some inefficiencies in the short term so that the long term challenges are not too disruptive. It is highly unlikely that the design which worked today will still be workable tomorrow. Resiliency anticipates that things will be unpredictable, changeable, unknown, even unlikely. Significant consequences will present themselves, but you will not know it until you are faced with them, and you will have to adapt to them and recover, in order to survive.

Managing for resilience will require a mental model of business which embraces complexity and uncertainty and the here-to-fore unidentified. It must interrelate all the functional human and technical systems which come to bear during any design process.

On the personal and professional levels, resiliency can keep you from feeling helpless and paralyzed. It can motivate you to keep going, be decisive, and overcome obstacles. It can provide more clues to you, faster, more readily, more frequently about how to approach the unknown or unfamiliar, be flexible, and fix things.

A more resilient organization or individual can provide a competitive edge over other businesses or individuals unprepared to meet various contingencies. You can become better resistant to withstand any initial shock. You can be more agile in your responses. You can respond and recover smarter and more rapidly.

RESILIENCY: How Do You Become More Resilient?

There is no single strategy for making organizations, professionals or individuals more resilient. However, we can know those things which enhance resilience and to which you can work into your own business, professional or personal life.

To become more resilient, basically, you need to seek advantages in adversity. Towards this end, you will need to continually invest, in an integrated and coordinated manner, with concurrent attention to both management and creativity requirements, in these five things:

(1) Infrastructure (technology, inventory, accounting systems, displays, systems structure and analysis)

(2) Knowledge (technical skills, marketing and other business skills, risk assessment, criticality, reflection, metacognition, prediction, anticipation, leadership)

(3) Relationships (establishing trust, credibility, legitimacy, visibility, ways to communicate and dialog, collaboration, ways to sell)

(4) Assessment (measuring fluency, flexibility, adaptability, diversity, capability, cost/benefits, redundancy, modularity, embeddedness, prudence, and critical responses)

(5) Attitude (always designing with the end user in mind, and developing a change- and developmental-mentality and culture within your organization or professional network)

A continual series of incremental investments, implemented as a framework and as an integrated strategy, will usually be more cost-effective in the long run than any one-shot response to a sudden and overwhelming change or disruption.

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FOOTNOTES

Bergman, Megan Mayhew. “Why people in the US south stay put in the face of climate change,” The Guardian, 1/24/2019, 2019.

Bruce, Christina. “What does it mean to be a resilient designer?” 10/12/2019.
 As referenced: 
 https://uxdesign.cc/what-does-it-mean-to-be-a-resilient-designer-90bf81d110cf

Buzzanell, Patrice M. “Resilience: Talking, Resisting, and Imaginging New Normalcies Into Being,” Journal of Communication. 60 (1): 1–14, 2010.

Buzzanell, Patrice M. “Organizing resilience as adaptive-transformational tensions,” Journal of Applied Communication Research. 46(1): 14–18, 1–2–2018.

Fredrickson, B.L.; Branigan, C. “Positive emotions broaden the scope of attention and thought-action repertoires”. Cognition & Emotion. 19 (3): 313–332, 2005.

Cocchiara, Richard. Beyond disaster recovery:

becoming a resilient business. An object-oriented framework and methodology

IBM Global Services, October 2005.

Goodman, Milo. Adaptability as the key to success in design. 1/13/18.
 As referenced:
 https://medium.com/gymnasium/adaptability-as-the-key-to-success-in-design-ea64c1ed4044

Masten, A.S. “Resilience in individual development: Successful adaptation despite risk and adversity” pp. 3–25 in M. Wang & E. Gordon (eds.), Risk and resilience in inner city America: challenges and prospects. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1994.

Padesky, Christine A.; Mooney, Kathleen A. “Strengths-Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: A Four-Step Model To Build Resilience,” Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy. 19(4); 283–290, 6/1/2012.

Reeves, Martin; Whitaker, Kevin. “Strategy: A Guide to Building a More Resilient Business,” Harvard Business Review, 7/2/2020.

Reich, John W.; Alex J. Zautra; John Stuart Hall. Handbook of Adult Resilience. Guilford Press, 2012.

Siebert, A.I. The Resiliency Advantage. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, (2005).

Wagner, Mindy. Bounce Back: Become A More Resilient Designer. 1/30/2013.
 
 Zautra, A.J., Hall, J.S. & Murray, K.E. “Resilience: A new definition of health for people and communities”, pp. 3–34 in J.W.Reighc, A.J.Zautra & J.S.Hall (eds.), Handbook of adult resilience. NY: Guilford, 2010.

__________________

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Backward Design is Forward Thinking

How Creatives Can Successfully Survive In Business

Part I: The First Essential Question Every Designer Should Be Able To Answer: Is What I do Craft, Art or Design?

Part 2: The Second Essential Question Every Designer Should Be Able To Answer: What Should I Create?

Part 3: The Third Essential Question Every Designer Should Be Able To Answer: What Materials (and Techniques) Work Best?

Part 4: The Fourth Essential Question Every Designer Should Be Able To Answer: How Do I Evoke A Resonant Response To My Work?

Part 5: The Firth Essential Question Every Designer Should Be Able To Answer: How Do I Know My Design Is Finished?

Doubt / Self-Doubt: 8 Pitfalls Designers Fall Into…And What To Do About Them

Part 1: Your Passion For Design: Is It Necessary To Have A Passion?

Part 2: Your Passion For Design: Do You Have To Be Passionate To Be Creative?

Part 3: Your Passion For Design: How Does Being Passionate Make You A Better Designer?

______________________

I hope you found this article useful.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

Add your name to my email list.

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

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THE BRIDESMAID BRACELETS

Posted by learntobead on July 16, 2020

lMy niece Dara and her bridesmaids

For years, I fretted. I worried, and fretted, and paced up and down, and down and up. I rubbed my hands in the way that worried people rub their hands. I shouldn’t go. I would not go.

To my niece’s wedding.

My only niece.

Of my only sister.

My niece who I had hoped and prayed and prayed some more that she would never get married. Why couldn’t she just live with the guy? Why marry? Marriage is an encumbrance. It’s an outdated, middle ages kind of thing that denigrates women under the guise of “protecting them”. They sign a contract giving themselves over to the man, vowing to obey. Respect. Follow. Bear babies. Cook. Clean. Even earn a living, if he can’t.

Yet the man keeps the power. His voice to God. Her voice through his to God.

Marriage. Not for me.

And I didn’t want to go.

Too afraid I’d say something or do something to upset people.

Because they would be there.

Those cousins.

And their children.

And their children’s children.

Too many of them, and only one of me.

But my cousins had rejected me because I was gay.

And that hurt.

And then that rejection became an idea of rejection and a symbol of rejection, and I thought how often in life, from when I was very young, to when I was much, much older, — how often in life had I been rejected for some label or category or reason having nothing to do with me. Rejected as a Jew. Rejected as gay. Rejected by friends. Rejected by strangers. Rejected by family.

So toxic.

Didn’t want to deal with this.

Preferred avoidance.

Thought over and over again what excuses I could give my sister.

I thought about this when my niece was 13.

I thought about this when she was 18.

Then 20, and 23, and 24 and finally 28, when I had to make a choice.

My sister and her family were very close to these cousins, closer to them in most ways than to me. Years ago, my sister used to invite me for Thanksgiving and for Passover. And she invited all these cousins, as well. She liked to give a party.

Partying with these cousins was too toxic for me, so I made excuses. Too busy at work. Things too slow in business so couldn’t afford it. Had other things scheduled.

For me to feel comfortable, my sister’s choice would have to have been “ME”, not “THEM”. I felt bad. I felt guilty. I didn’t want to put my sister in this situation. It was easier to come up with an excuse.

But year after year, the situation took its toll. Rejection — a symbol, but painful nonetheless. Not because of the act itself, but the symbolic power of the act to affect me — Rejection — put a wedge between my sister and myself. I did not have the self-confidence, and I didn’t value myself enough, to prevent caving in before this symbolically powerful act of rejection because I was gay.

And I didn’t have to deal with this as long as I stayed hundreds of miles away from New Jersey and Maryland and Virginia and Florida. Tucked safely in middle Tennessee.

The wedding was in March.

The previous summer, I decided I would go. Not exactly sure what changed my mind, perhaps a feeling of familial obligation, perhaps putting my sense of self to the test, perhaps wanting to try out all that good food and cake and drink specially prepared for the occasion. My sister plans the best parties.

I offered to make bracelets for all the bridesmaids.

I wasn’t just being a good guy here. Jewelry and design are at the core of my identity. The jewelry I design is the result of my choices. Choices about colors. Choices about the placement of lines, shapes and forms. Choices about the clasp and how to attach it. Choices about materials and techniques.

My inner being. On display. Irrefutable.

My choices have little to nothing to do with the label “JEW”.

Nor do my choices have much to do with the label “GAY”.

They are about me. A Designer.

Reflected in my jewelry.

And would be on display.

Accept or reject my jewelry.

And you accept or reject me.

On my terms.

My own terms.

Me.

My essence.

My resonance.

My jewelry.

This was my chance to shine. I was going to create a special bead woven design for these bracelets. Something frilly and girly for a wedding, but something also indicative of my style. Something that would not take too much work, but would look very rich and substantial.

I designed what I thought would be the perfect bracelet. A mix of stitches. Great looking beads. Had movement and dimension. But I was struggling to find the perfect color palette. The bracelet was made up of 4 colors, and a 4-color color scheme is one of the most difficult to work with — especially when it comes to beads, which are not available in all colors, let alone 4 colors which could specifically work in a specific color scheme in this specific bracelet.

While I was struggling to pick colors, Dara, my niece, had been doing a little online research, as well. She found two bead-strung bracelets on Etsy that she particularly liked, and shared these with me.

No, No, No!!!

My first reaction was Horror! Oh No!, she wants something bead strung and so non-artisan looking. Making these up would not signify to my terrible cousins nor to my good cousins, who I was all about. As Jayden, my partner, said, buy all the parts and do it quick. You’re not close to your niece, so who cares. But to me, although the work involved would be minimal — it would not be enough of a gift for the wedding.

Don’t get me wrong. These two bracelets were very attractive. They were just so out of sync with everything I wanted to do, and everything I wanted to accomplish. And I had to ask myself: give Dara what she wants, or go off in a different direction?

The question was kind of rhetorical. Of course, I’d give Dara what she wanted. But what to do. How can I construe, mold, fashion, arrange the bracelet to be reflective of me? Jewelry designer Me. Bead artist Me. Worthy cousin to be awed and ooh’ed over Me.

The bracelet Dara wanted was 3 strands of 6mm round fire polish beads in two coordinating colors which matched the color of her bridesmaid dresses. The beads were staggered in a V-shape like bowling pins, each section separated by a diagonally placed 3-hole spacer bar.

Bead woven spacer bar, with right angle weave sides and flat peyote top and bottom, top embellished with Austrian crystal beads

I thought long and hard about how I could make this general design my own. A few weeks passed. And an idea came to me. I could bead weave the spacer bars. I could alternate right angle weave and flat peyote to create a stable, rectangular shape. The right angle weave sections would be the two sides, which would allow me to build in the “holes”. The flat peyote would be the top and the bottom, which would allow me to build in a shape-supporting structure. I would embellish the tops of the bars with 2mm round Austrian crystal beads, and I would create bead woven end caps on either side of the bar, to give the bars a finished and polished look. Then I would use needle and thread to string everything up.

That was my answer.

It was a good one.

So, first, I set about coming up with the bead woven pattern for my spacer bars. This did not take very long because I had a clear idea about what I wanted in my head. What was not in my head, however, was how long to make the bars and how many holes each should have. And would they work in the whole composition.

I ended up making 5 test bracelets, each requiring 11 spacer bars, and each with some variety in the design or placement of the spacer bars, and in the attachment strategy for the clasp.

Now I had three key tasks finished:
 (1) The design of the spacer bars
 (2) The construction plan for the bracelet
 (3) The construction plan for attaching the clasp

Next, selecting the right colors of beads.

First off, I wanted to use 6mm round Austrian crystal beads, instead of Czech glass.

There were images of the bridesmaid dresses on line, but the actual color skirted that area between blue teal and green teal, and not every computer screen showed the color exactly. It became critical to the choice of colors, given some limited choices available in the Swarovski line in this range, whether the dress was more on the green side or more on the blue side.

My sister said Blue.

My niece said Green.

My sister was supposed to send me a fabric sample, but she lost it.

I mocked up 3 bracelets, one all blue teal, one a mix of blue and green teal, and one more green teal.

My sister picked the green.

My niece picked the mix of blue and green.

And my gut, from looking at the computer images, was telling me it should be all blue.

Impasse.

I went with my gut, and settled on all blue, actually a mix of capri blue and Caribbean opal.

Dara’s Bracelet w/Austrian crystal beads

There were four bridesmaids. I asked my niece to get their wrist measurements. One the bridesmaids had a very, very thin wrist. Would my design work for her? I agonized over it. The sections were very rigidly organized, and I’d have to remove a whole section at a time. Luckily, this worked OK.

The only other hitch that came up had to do with the availability of the parts.

In another color palette using Czech glass

I designed the piece in September. The wedding was in March. In November, I tried to acquire enough clasps and end bars for the clasp assembly, and found out that both the clasp and end bar I had chosen were either out of stock until the following April, or no longer manufactured.

So began the desperate hunt for these parts. The end bars had to be 22mm wide, or very close to that, with 3 holes and 3 holes spaced out evenly across the bar. Most 3-hole end bars were around 15mm wide. Found some in Israel, which while no longer manufactured, the supplier had just the amount I needed left in stock. Easily found a substitute clasp.

Then there were the beads. Again, I’m in November. The capri beads were out of stock from my supplier, and 2 of my alternative suppliers, but due back by December. The Caribbean opal beads were out of stock, and not due back anytime soon. I found a supplier who charged a little bit more for these, but got enough for my needs.

Whew!

It was a few weeks before the wedding, and I was wondering if my choice to attend was the right one. Over and over and over again, I played out in my head what I would or would not say to my very prejudiced relatives. One part of me wanted me to be pleasant but distant. Another part of me wanted me to say something pointed and ugly.

I asked each of my friends, what they would do. I wanted so badly to be pointed and ugly. I was leaning in that direction. Of course, I didn’t want to upset my sister or my niece.

I thought back on the event that started it all. It was really so insignificant. An expected invitation never came. But I hadn’t planned on going. I expected to receive an invitation, however. Because everyone expected me to receive an invitation. We all had been planning vacations and things to do around this invitation. For well over a year at that point. We had been planning. All of us. When we were going to arrive, where we were going to stay, and what we were going to do. And while I didn’t plan on going, I expected the invitation.

I’m a firm believer that every few years, we each go through a life crisis. When we are babies, we have to resolve a crisis of finding out who to trust, and who not to. A few life crises later, we’re in puberty, having to resolve whether we’re still a kid, or some kind of adult. Several life crises after puberty, we go through a mother of all life crisis — what we call Mid-Life Crisis. This crisis is filled with anger, frustration, regret, disappointment, fear.

Eventually we come to terms with mid-life. That’s what I did. And then I had a sudden, almost primal, no, yes it was primal, urge to reconnect with my family. I had grown apart from my sister and father and brother. From my first cousins in Florida and those in New Jersey, New York and Maryland. And from their children, my new second cousins. And I was feeling the need to re-connect. Post mid-life I felt the need to re-connect.

And I did.

I slowly began to let everyone know I was gay. They kinda knew and suspected already. But I made it official. Pretty much everyone except my sister was supportive at some level. Eventually she got used to it.

I was invited to my cousin Michele’s oldest son’s wedding. And then, over the next few years, to some other weddings and bar and bat mitzvahs and special occasions. I re-connected. I was happy. Soon there were the occasional phone calls and emails. A few of my cousins sent out the periodic mass emails, and I was on their lists. I kept up with their newsy news and not-so-newsy news, their shared successes, their joys in life, and the every-so-often sadnesses. I felt included. Supported.

It was important to everyone, and you could tell, because they spent so much time doing it, to anticipate the next event we’d all attend. The next event was the marriage of my cousin Michele’s middle son.

It was to be a June wedding. I got a phone call sometime in April from my sister. “Did you get your invitation yet?” And a day later, from my cousin Leslie. “Did you get your invitation yet?” And obviously the answer was, No! Not yet. I kept checking the mail for several days, and then it began to dawn on me that I wasn’t invited. I wasn’t going to be invited. And if not getting invited to an event that I wasn’t planning on going to wasn’t enough of a jolt and shock, both my cousins Michele and Paulette dropped me from their almost daily mass email lists.

I was person non-grata. Why?

I asked myself, Why?

And I asked some cousins, Why?

And it became known that the Why was because I was gay.

And that was that.

Excluded again.

Of course, I wanted my sister to make the choice not to go.

She went.

And that put a wedge in our relationship that never really healed, because it was irreconcilable.

And I got very depressed for a few months afterwards.

And this what otherwise would have been a little incidental event, over the years, took on more and more negative meanings for me. I think of the event, and I also think of all times I struggled for acceptance and inclusion as a Jew. I think of my sister, and I also think of all the times I struggled for acceptance and inclusion as a Jew. I think of how my parents, in the face of all the times I struggled for acceptance and inclusion as a Jew and was physically or emotionally punished by the powers that be for trying to step outside this imposed boundary referred to as “Jew”, looking the other way. Pretending there were no issues. Telling me over and over again that I lived in a Christian world and had to accept that fact. Accept lower grades just because I was Jewish. Accept exclusion from student activities just because I was Jewish. Accept the fact that I couldn’t play with my friends who went to the local country club, accept the fact that I had difficulty getting dates with Christian girls, except when they wanted me to show up on their doorsteps and shove this “Jewish thing, monstrosity” into their parents face, even accept the fact that barely a day went by without someone accusing me of killing Christ.

And you can see where all this goes. Getting rejected as gay brought up deeper feelings of getting rejected as a Jew.

So I wasn’t invited to a wedding. So my relationship with my sister and her family never became close — at least for a long while. So I no longer kept up with my cousins and second cousins and all their offspring. So I had some issues with my parents and my school and the dominant Christian culture. That’s largely behind me. Not an obsession. But the oncoming wedding of my sister’s daughter forced me to focus on these things again.

Thank God the wedding only lasted a weekend.

True to form, my sister threw a grand event people are probably still talking about.

In the few months leading up to the wedding, I concentrated on designing the bridesmaids bracelets. As I determined how I would make the pieces my own, I got very excited. I developed a very clever and professional way to bead weave the 3-hole separator bars. I combined Right Angle Weave and Flat Peyote, using the structural and inherent properties of each in a strategic way. This allowed be to create holes in the sides through when to thread the strands, and structural support to allow the bars to keep their shape.

I kept thinking that, while the bridesmaids would find the bracelets appealing and desirable, they would never appreciate the amount of thought, work and insight involved in their construction. So, I decided I would later turn this piece into a kit and a workshop. This piece was a great example of my evolving ideas and writings about the architectural bases of bead weaving stitches.

Dara’s bracelet in Czech glass

The wedding itself was beautiful, and went off without a hitch. The food was terrific. The location romantic. The flowers and bridal gown beautiful. There were over 200 guests. And about 60 of those I was trying to avoid.

I arrived a day earlier. One of my cousins, whom I do speak with occasionally, arrived at the airport at the same time. After we checked in at our hotel, we went to lunch and unloaded about all the relatives. She and I have similar opinions about these people.

In the late afternoon, I stopped by the Bridal Suite, where they had set up to greet guests arriving early and staying at the hotel. You walked into the equivalent of a living room. Off to the left were a bedroom, kitchenette and bathroom. Off to the right were a dining room and an outdoor patio. It was in the 30’s and wet and snowy, so no one went out there.

As more and more people gathered in the Suite, I found myself talking to some folks in the dining room. And then, one by one, two by two, three by three, these cousins I wanted to avoid started filling up the center room. And I found myself backing up against the far dining room wall, seemingly pushing myself into the wall and through it, or so it felt to me. My mind left the room and merged into the wall. I desperately looked for an opening where I could run through the living room and out the door. But more and more people came flooding in. I was having trouble catching my breath, slowly going into panic.

At last, an opening. I escaped. Hyperventilating. I went up to my room, and waited until I regained some composure. My panic attack had run its course.

Twenty minutes later, I returned to the Bridal Suite, bridesmaids bracelets in hand. I had put each into its own jewelry box, with the name of the bridesmaid written on a card in each box. They were going to take the bridal pictures in the morning, and I wanted to be sure they were wearing their bracelets. And I secretly wanted a lot of these people crowding this Bridal Suite to get a glimpse of what I had made.

As I had thought, they loved the bracelets — they were beautiful — but were clueless about design. That “full” feedback is so very important to me, but often missing.

Luckily the colors of the bracelet perfectly matched the dresses.

My job was done.

Dara’s bracelet, different palette, Czech glass

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Do You Know Where Your Beading Needles Are?

Consignment Selling: A Last Resort

Odds or Evens? What’s Your Preference?

My Clasp, My Clasp, My Kingdom For A Clasp

Why Am I So Addicted To Beads?

The Bead Spill: My Horrifying Initiation

The Artists At The Party

How To Bead A Rogue Elephant

You Can Never Have Enough Containers For Your Stuff

Beading While Traveling On A Plane

Contemplative Ode To A Bead

How To Bead In A Car

My Aunt Gert: Illustrating Some Lessons In Business Smarts

A Jewelry Designer’s Day Dream

A Dog’s Life by Lily

I Make All The Mistakes In The Book

How Sparkle Enters People’s Lives

Upstairs, Downstairs At The Bead Store

Beads and Race

Were The Ways of Women or of Men Better At Fostering How To Make Jewelry

Women and Their Husbands When Shopping For Beads

Women Making Choices In The Pursuit Of Fashion

Existing As A Jewelry Designer: What Befuddlement!

The Bridesmaid Bracelets

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online. Begin with my ORIENTATION TO BEADS & JEWELRY FINDINGS video tutorial.

Add your name to my email list.

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GETTING STARTED IN BUSINESS: What You Do First To Make It Official! Design-In Practice Series

Posted by learntobead on July 16, 2020

But First, If You Have Not Already Done So,
 Make These Particular Choices Right Now

Pick a date. It might be easiest, from an accounting standpoint, to pick January 1st. But you can pick any date. This is the date your business has been founded, and your business obligations (discussed below) begin.

Define your fiscal year. It would be easiest to make your fiscal year January 1 through December 31. But any 12-month bounded period which works best for you would be acceptable.

Set your goals for success. Everyone’s goals will be different. You might want to sell a few things occasionally. You might want some steady extra income. You might want to be financially self-sufficient.

Determine what business organizational type you want now, and how you might want to evolve into the future. These range from hobbyist to sole proprietor to partnership to various types of corporate arrangements.

The purpose of this article is to provide the how-to knowledge you will need to know to get started in your design business, whether making jewelry or other crafts, or working on projects involving design. While the specific names of some licenses and registrations will vary by locality, there will be comparable things where you live.

NOTE: The information in this section is a guide. It is not a substitute for sitting down with an accountant, lawyer or business consultant.

Specifically, I want to demystify and review with you these things:

1) Getting federal, state, local licenses and registrations

2) How to protect your intellectual property
 
 
3) What form of business? Sole proprietor, partner, corporation, limited liability corporation.

1) Registrations and Licenses

You register and get licenses for your business for several reasons. First, you will be setting up accounts with various government agencies. This allows you to collect money for them, and then transmit that money to them on a regular basis. This might be sales taxes, payroll taxes, property taxes, income taxes, business census information, and on and on.

The account numbers associated with each registration or license, in turn, allow you to present yourself as a business. They make you look more official and give you more legitimacy. They open doors for you to get deep wholesale and manufacturer discounts.

But, after you register or receive a license, each is associated with some application fees, some have annual renewal fees, some have income or property tax levies, most require periodic paperwork and more involved accounting and bookkeeping.

So, to get the benefits of lower business costs to you, you will incur some additional monetary and time costs. You will have to decide at what point in time becoming an official business is right for you.

Let’s look at some of these things I have had to get doing business in Tennessee. Most of the application forms can be found totally or partially online.

STATE

a. Registration to Collect Sales Taxes (called a “tax number”, “wholesale number”, or “resale number”)

This registration sets up an account so that you can collect sales taxes on each of your in-state taxable sales, and then transmit these sales taxes to the state. You only have to register once. There is a small registration fee, but this is a one-time fee only.

The application will ask if you will be doing more than $4500. (or some similar amount) of sales within the current year. If not, you do not need to register. However, even if you don’t think you will, this does not prohibit you from saying Yes. Saying Yes means you will start to incur costs (fees, taxes, paperwork), and have to be more organized as a business. But it also means you will be able to purchase inventory at wholesale prices.

After a few years, the state will review your activity. If less than $4500/year (or that similar amount required by your state), they will de-activate your number. You can simply and easily ask them to re-activate it.

Handled in Tennessee by the state Department of Revenue.

b. Business registration number (you might end up with separate business registration numbers for the city, county and state you do business in, or there might be a single number used by all three).

This number allows you to pay business income taxes (to your city, county and state), usually once a year. In Tennessee, this is collected each April 15th. Tennessee also collects a registration renewal fee each year.

In Tennessee, handled by the state Department of Revenue.

c. State Employment Account Number. (It might be called a State Unemployment Account Number in other locales).

If you have employees, and thus collect payroll taxes, you need this number to submit these taxes to the state. Typically, you pay these quarterly. You only have to register once for this.

In Tennessee, handled by the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

LOCAL CITY AND COUNTY

a. Business License from the county you live in (from County Clerk)

You use this number to submit business county income and property taxes. 
 You renew this annually.

b. Business License from the city you live in (from City Clerk)

You use this number to submit business city income and property taxes. 
 You renew this annually.

NOTE: If you register for a State Re-Sale Number, the State will eventually inform your local county and city. Your county and city will check if you have registered your business with them. If not, they will find you. This works in reverse, as well. If you register with the city and county, they will inform the State, and the State will eventually find you.

c. Business Property Taxes (sometimes called Use Taxes; in Tennessee, called Schedule B)

Each year you send the state and/or county and/or city a list of your 
 business property assets. About 6–8 months later, you get an invoice due 
 notice from the state/county/city indicating how much business property 
 taxes you owe.

Your business property is: displays, tools, register, telephone, computer, 
 fax, credit card machine, copier, furniture and the like; things that will be 
 around longer than 1 year. Some states might consider major (meaning 
 costly) software, such as accounting software, business property. Other 
 states do not.

You do not have to list everything, but you have to list somethings. Many people who first get started think that if everything — tables, calculators, computers, phone, etc. — are old and used, or given to them by someone else, that their value is $0.00. It is not. Here you would estimate the value or depreciated value at the time you consider the first day of your business. You can check auction sites online, like Ebay, to gauge current values.

If you are leasing any equipment, you would list this separately.

Your business property is NOT: inventory, consumable supplies (such as paper, ink, staples, and the like), the parts you use to make your jewelry. It is not something assumed to be used up within a year.

In Tennessee, the state uses a different depreciation schedule than the 
 Federal Government. Your property, from the State’s standpoint, never 
 gets fully depreciated as on your Federal taxes. You cannot expense your 
 property for state purposes, although you can for Federal purposes. This 
 means you have to keep separate Assets Lists for the state and for the 
 Federal government.

d. State Unemployment Insurance Form — if you have employees, you will be submitting state payroll taxes (SUTA) collected on their behalf to the state, usually quarterly.

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

Federal Income Tax Forms (available from the US Internal Revenue Service online)

Each year, you summarize your revenues and costs on an income tax form (really a series of forms, beginning with a Form 1040). Depending on what form of business (discussed below) you are organized as, you will have different forms to fill out. Learn how to do most of this by yourself without having to pay an accountant or tax attorney. This will save you a lot of money. Use these professionals for the more difficult, confusing parts of the tax code requirements. Besides the Form 1040 Income Tax Return, you will be completing one or more of the forms below.

Most of these are handled by the US Internal Revenue Service. All the forms are available online. Some can be submitted electronically; others, you submit by mail.

a. 1040-ES You will need to submit estimated income taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at least quarterly. You do this online, and easily done by yourself. When you do your annual taxes, you will reconcile these payments on your form 1040.

You will be paying these online through the IRS website.

b. Schedule C — You use this form if you are a sole proprietorship to report your revenues and expenses, as well as the total value of your inventory on the last day of the year. This is a form you should be able to fill out yourself.

The only tricky part is that in the expenses section, when it asks for the Costs of Inventory, it is asking only for the costs of the inventory that you have sold during the year. This is NOT all your inventory costs. The inventory bought but not sold during the year is treated as if it were cash. [In your inventory management procedures, you need to be able to accurately track the costs of your inventory that has sold within the current year, so you can deduct these costs from your revenue, thus reduce your tax burden if you are showing a profit.]

c. Schedule SE — self employment taxes. You have to pay both the employer and the employee payroll taxes (so double-paying on yourself as the sole proprietor), if you show a profit on your Schedule C. This can end up being a big number. This is a form you can complete by yourself.

d. Schedule K — If your form of business is a partnership, you will be completing a Schedule K to document your revenues, expenses and profit distributions. This can be a very confusing form, so it is a good idea to have an accountant complete this. On this form, it will indicate where various calculated subtotals or totals should go on the 1040 form, which is something you can do yourself.

e. Form 1120 — If your form of business is an S-corporation, you will be completing a Form 1120 to document your revenues, expenses, profit distributions and tax obligations. It is a good idea to have an accountant complete this.

f. Depreciation Form — This can be a confusing form The depreciation rules can change frequently. It is a good idea to have an accountant complete this form, at least the first time you have to fill it out. Then, perhaps, teach you how to fill this out in the future.

g. 941 Form — If you have employees, you will be submitting payroll taxes collected on their behalf to the Federal Government, usually monthly or quarterly, and reconciling all your payroll tax deposits quarterly.

You will be submitting these taxes online, and will need to set up an account through the IRS to do so.

h. 940 Form — If you have employees, you will be submitting federal unemployment taxes (FUTA), at least annually, but quarterly if these exceed $100.00 in a quarter.

You will be submitting these taxes online, and will need to set up an account through the IRS to do so.

i. Federal EIN (or, FEIN) Number. You can apply for this online through the Internal Revenue Service. This Employer Identification number is a tax identification number (sometimes referred to as your TIN number) similar to a Social Security Number (also a TIN), but attached to a business rather than an individual. You need this number if you have employees and are collecting payroll taxes on their behalf and have to submit these taxes to the federal government.

However, if you do not have employees, this number is still useful to have On various forms and applications you will be filling out for your business, you will be asked to put down either your FEIN number or your Social Security Number. The FEIN makes you look more of an official business. There are no fees or costs involved by having this number. However, the first year after you applied, you will have to complete a Form 940. On this form, you can indicate that you have no employees and will not need to complete this form again.

They will not deactivate your FEIN number, even after indicating you have no employees.

OTHER

a) At some point, you may want to purchase business insurance. If you are working out of your home, this may be problematic. The zoning laws in most places forbid businesses in areas zoned residential. Most business insurance packages will not cover a business if they are violating any law, in this case, zoning. Your homeowners insurance may or may not cover things related to your business.

b) If you have 5 or more employees (that’s the number of people, not the number of full time equivalents), you will need to purchase Workers Compensation Insurance. You do this through a private insurance company.

c) You will need a set up where you can process credit cards.

d) You will need a bank account. You can either set up a business account or use your personal account.

You will need checks preprinted with your business name on them. If you are using a personal account, get business-size checks printed up. If your business type is a sole proprietorship, whether the account is personal or business, your business name is your personal name. So you would have them print something like this, where DBA stands for Doing Business As:

Warren Feld
 DBA Warren Feld Jewelry

e) You will need an organized way (either in-house, or with an accountant or bookkeeper) to track your costs and revenues, and liabilities and assets.

f) You will need an organized way to store all your receipts during the year, and then all your receipts from prior years. You need to store all your receipts and ledgers for 10 years.

2) Protecting Your Intellectual Property

Trademarks and Service Marks

You will want to protect your business name, your slogan, your logo. A legal trademark or service mark expands the protections available to you. A trademark or service mark protects anything you use to identify your brand and differentiate it from other companies. These prevent other businesses from using any of these things, as long as you are actively using them yourself. If you stop actively using these, you lose your trademark or service mark rights to them.

Each State you do business in, as well as the US as a whole, offer opportunities to protect your trade or service mark. You can prevent someone else from using your business name, or product name, or logo, by registering this name or logo with the state(s), or US. You would put a TM next to the name you’ve trademarked, such as Be Dazzled BeadsTM

A US Trademark would protect you anywhere in the United States. The rules can be a little confusing. It is important to know ahead of time that you cannot trademark an adjective. For a US Trademark, I would suggest working with a trademark attorney. The trademark plus lawyer fees will be costly.

State trademarks protect you in the state you have the trademark in. This should include the state you do business in. It can include other states, as well. In Tennessee, this process is especially inexpensive and easy to do. You would not need to consult a lawyer here. For most designers, a state trademark coupled with some smart marketing and branding would be more than sufficient.

In Tennessee, trademarks and service marks are handled by the Tennessee Secretary of State. For the United States, these are handled by the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Copyrights

Copyright is another form of legal protection. You can copyright advertising copy, brochures, other marketing materials, instructions, jewelry designs, project designs, articles and other written materials critical to your business.

Copyrights can be done two ways. 
 1) Through the US Library of Congress
 2) Using a Post Office strategy

When you have written copy you want to copyright, first, somewhere on the document, you want to either use the copyright symbol © or write out the word COPYRIGHT. List your name and the year.

Examples: ©Warren Feld, 2020 or COPYRIGHT, Warren Feld, 2020

At this point, your document is considered copyrighted. The issue for you is if someone violated that copyright and you went to court to contest this, this would not be sufficient evidence for the courts.

Library of Congress: You can get an official certificate of copyright by submitting an application to the US Library of Congress. Your copyright starts the date the application is submitted. There is a minimal fee. It usually takes about one year before you actually receive the certificate. Courts usually require this certificate as evidence.

US Post Office: You can put your material in a self-addressed, stamped envelope and mail this Registered/Certified to yourself. On the outside of the envelope, write what is inside. When you receive it, however, DO NOT OPEN IT. The post mark date will be evidence of copyright. This will usually hold up in court.

NOTE: It is difficult to copyright a specific jewelry or project design. While there is no legal rule about what constitutes a copyright violation of the design, it is generally accepted that merely a 10% difference would not be a violation. That 10% difference might be a different clasp, a slightly different pattern, or a different color scheme (though the courts allow you some flexibility with color issues).

NOTE: It is expensive to contest a copyright violation in court. This might run $3,000 per incident.

The US Copyright Office will often reject jewelry and other creative project designs for lacking authorship because they consist of common or usual shapes and forms. When submitting your application, you should present a well-reasoned argument, based on basic principles of art and design composition, form and function, as to why your jewelry and patterns should be copyrighted.

You can also copyright a “collection of jewelry”, but you can’t add new designs to the collection, without getting new copyrights. In the collection, the pieces would need to share design elements and sensibilities, and these would need to be obvious.

Copyrights last for the life of the designer plus 70 years. Use form VA (Visual Arts). It usually takes about a year for the paperwork to go through, but your piece is considered copyrighted from the date you submitted your application.

3) What Form of Business?

Your form of business determines what tax forms you fill out each year. You can set y our business up as an unofficial or an official one.

One way you can set up your business is as an unofficial hobbyist. Here you do not need to register your business or getting any local, county, state, and federal licenses and accounts. Typically, your state or province that you do business in will have some kind of benchmark. In Tennessee (circa 2020), if you were going to make less than $4500. per year in sales, you would not have to register your business. You could make sales and not worry about collecting sales tax. You would not pay a business income tax to the city, county and state. You would not pay business property taxes. You would still, however, have to report your income to the government entities which collect personal income taxes. Virtually no paperwork. No worries.

Another way you can set up your business is as an official business entity. As you make your sales, you would also be accumulating money, such as sales taxes, which you would have to transmit on a regular basis to one government agency of another. You will begin to incur some monetary costs (business income and property taxes, and some bookkeeping / accounting costs, for example). You will begin to incur some time costs (securing and maintaining licenses and registrations; monthly, quarterly and annual reports to fill out; more time spent bookkeeping and accounting). However, a BIG ADVANTAGE!!! Is that you will be positioned to buy your inventory (and displays and furnishings) at steeper discounts, thus, make more money.

If you plan on becoming more than a hobbyist, you will need to organize and register your business as to its tax structure. Again, your options are:

(a) sole proprietorship

(b) partnership

c) limited liability corporation

(d) incorporation

Sole Proprietorship: Here you are the owner of the business and solely in charge.

If you are a sole proprietorship, your business name is your own name, and the name you use for your business is your DBA (Doing Business As) name. On various tax forms and registrations, you would list your own name where it asks for the business name, and there usually is a DBA line under this to type in your actual business name.

Sole Proprietorship Advantages: You will have less accounting and associated costs to contend with. Completing your state and federal tax forms will be easier. The business profits are your income, and are taxed as an individual.

Sole Proprietorship Disadvantage: This form of business does not protect you from liability damages. However, you can use your business insurance policy to provide a lot of protection here.

Partnerships: Here 2 or more people get together and form a business together. Partnerships, like marriages, are fraught with the potential for disharmony. Who makes what decisions? How are disagreements adjudicated? What happens to the relationship over time, particularly if the interests of any one partner begin to change?

If you are a partnership, your business name is your actual business name, and you would use your Federal EIN Number as your TIN.

Things partners should think about:
 
 a) You have a deep, honest series of discussions about each of your strengths and weaknesses, and what you can bring to the business

b) You write up a partnership agreement which 
 — details who will do what when
 — how you will distribute profits
 — how you will cover losses
 — how decisions for the business are to be made, especially when there are disagreements
 — rules for what happens when a partner wants to leave the business, or if all the partners want to dissolve the business 
— rules for how to handle growth, expansion, taking on new partners, managing employees

c) You notarize the agreement, and everyone gets a copy

Partnership Advantages: Two heads are better than one, usually. Share a lot of the administrative burdens. More accounting requirements and costs, but not as much as incorporation. Your business profits are your income as this profit is allocated among the partners, and taxed as an individual.

Partnership Disadvantages: This form of business does not protect you from liability damages. However, you can use your business insurance policy to provide a lot of protection here. It is difficult to share the responsibilities as partners.

From my experience, while one partner might be the “creative” one, and the other partner might be the “business one”, partnerships work best when both partners learn and take on both creative and administrative tasks.

Incorporation: Incorporating a business is essentially creating a separate entity (as if it were a person), thereby making the business separate from the owner (in a sense, the business has a life of its own). As a separate entity, the corporation exists independent from the shareholders/owners and its employees.

If you are a corporation, your business name is your actual business name, and you would use your Federal EIN Number as your TIN.

Incorporating Advantages: The advantages of incorporating a small business include: Personal asset protection. Both corporations and LLCs (limited liability corporations) allow owners to separate and protect their personal assets. In a properly structured and managed corporation or LLC, owners should have limited liability for business debts and obligations.

Incorporating Disadvantages: The administration costs are more expensive with a corporation than with a partnership or a sole proprietorship. Administration costs include incorporation costs, annual financial statements and annual corporate income tax return. If you are not an accountant, paying someone to do these can be very costly. Losses in an incorporated business can’t be personally claimed. The corporation is taxed first, and if it distributes profits to its owners, they are taxed again on the same money for their personal income taxes — a double taxation.

Limited Liability Corporation: Small businesses can avoid this double-taxation by taking advantage of the options given to a corporation by the states. Some options include incorporating as an S-corporation or filing as a Limited Liability Company (LLC). These options allow the taxable income to flow directly to the shareholders/members without being taxed twice, while at the same time, maintaining the benefits of incorporation. You still end up with a lot of accounting requirements and expenses. You are protected from liability damages incurred by the business, but you can also use your business insurance to cover a lot of this liability protection without all the accounting issues.

If you are a LLC corporation, your business name is your actual business name, and you would use your Federal EIN Number as your TIN.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Should I Set Up My Craft Business On A Marketplace Online?

The Importance of Self-Promotion: Don’t Be Shy

Are You Prepared For When The Reporter Comes A-Calling?

A Fool-Proof Formula For Pricing And Selling Your Jewelry

Designer Connect Profile: Tony Perrin, Jewelry Designer

My Aunt Gert: Illustrating Some Lessons In Business Smarts

Copyrighting Your Pieces: Let’s Not Confuse The Moral With The Legal Issues

Naming Your Business / Naming Your Jewelry

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

To What Extent Should Business Concerns Influence Artistic and Jewelry Design Choices

How Creatives Can Successfully Survive In Business

Getting Started In Business: What You Do First To Make It Official

Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online. Check our my video tutorials on DOING CRAFT SHOWS and on PRICING AND SELLING YOUR JEWELRY.

Add your name to my email list.

Other Suggested Readings:

David K. William. 20 Books To Read Before You Start Your Own Business, Lifehack,

Backward-Design Is Forward Thinking, (FELD, 2020)

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency in Design, (FELD, 2020)

Jewelry Design: A Managed Process, (FELD, 2020)

How Creatives Can Successfully Survive In Business, (FELD, 2020)

Posted in Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

How Creatives Can Successfully Survive In Business? Design-In-Practice Series

Posted by learntobead on July 12, 2020

Designed Impacts was a management consulting firm I started in 1980. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, I worked with several large corporations on internet marketing. Today, I provide management and marketing assistance and training to jewelry designers under the Warren Feld Jewelry company name. Image Source, Feld, 2020

STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT: 
 How Do You Start and Run A Business Selling Creative Products?

Between Commerce and Art

Many people learn design in order to sell what they make. Designers create websites. They create interiors and exteriors. They build things. They craft things. They make art. All in an effort to make some money.

In today’s world, designers who sell what they create must become savvy in both regular retail selling, that is, directly business-to-customer, as well as internet retail, or virtually business-to-customer. This might seem too complex. Too overwhelming. Too impossible. Too boring. There are a lot of tensions here between commerce and art, not least of which is having to introduce your creative products publicly and persuade people to buy them. Creative thinking is not the same as business thinking. This makes many creatives uncomfortable.

Let Business Concerns Influence Your Artistic Choices

OK, you want to sell your work. But there is always this nagging question: To what extent do (and should) business concerns influence the artistic choices you make?

If you want to be in business, then I’d say, “A Lot!” But this isn’t what a lot of artists like to hear. Design is not the same as painting a painting or sculpting a sculpture. With paintings or sculptures, the artist does not need to communicate interactively with the viewer in order to create the product and that product be deemed successful. Design, instead, is more of an interactive art. It is like architecture, where success can only be created through some kind of meaningful interaction with others, and only be defined as successful as the product is introduced publicly.

Selling your pieces is merely another phase of this interactive art, but, as a business, selling creative products sometimes forces upon you some more limits and refinements. You have to market to audiences. You may have to make trade-offs between visual appeal and functionality. You may have to standardize things to be able to make the same thing over and over again. You may have to work in a production mode and repeat making certain designs, rather than freely creating and designing anew each time. You have to price things so that they will sell, and you have to price things so that you can make a sufficient profit. You shouldn’t undersell yourself, like offering discounts to family, friends and co-workers, lest you run out of money.

You have to conform to prevalent styles and colors and forms. You have to make things that will photograph well. You have to make things that clients want and are willing to buy. You may end up with a lot of “one size fits all,” because producing too much variety in sizes, shapes, colors and sizes could overwhelm you financially.

You find that if you want to make your designs into a successful business, you may have to compromise with yourself, your artistic drives and sensibilities. You may have to limit what you offer. In order to make that sale. In order to make a profit. And stay in business.

A Good Business Selling Creative Products involves:
— Putting your artwork on a sound cost/revenue footing
 — Developing market-driven (what they want) strategies as opposed to product-driven ones (what you want)
 — Pricing your work for sale
 — Implementing various selling strategies
 — Compromising artistic and design choices, in the interest of the business

Why Designers Fail In Business: Some Key Reasons

Over and over again, I have seen one designer after another fail as a business. Usually the reasons why keep repeating themselves with each designer.

1. A reluctance to learn how to conduct oneself as a business

2. Gets bored

3. A fear of marketing your own things

4. Trying to please all audiences

5. Doesn’t do homework on the competition

1. A reluctance to learn how to conduct oneself as a business.

Many designers get so excited after making their first sale, that they think they don’t have to get too involved with business principles. They misunderstand their “business” as a “project-by-project” endeavor. Make something, sell it. Doesn’t matter what the price. Doesn’t matter to whom. Doesn’t matter if making the work in the first place is in line with the resources you currently have, or will drive you in debt in order to get those resources. All that matters is the count — the number of pieces or designs you have sold.

Designers need to focus, not with the count, but on what’s called Velocity, instead. You need to have in place sufficient strategies for keeping your money turning over at a constant rate. You make something. You sell it. You reallocate the money you just made to reinvesting in more inventory, replacing the inventory you sold, evaluating the pros and cons of the sale that just happened, adjusting accordingly, and strategizing how to keep this velocity going at a constant, or ever-increasing, velocity or rate. If you can’t maintain this rate, you go in the hole.

And artists need to keep good records, and implement good accounting principles so they can monitor and evaluate the data about velocity.

2. Gets Bored.

People who get started are very excited. They’ve made a lot of pretty pieces or designs, and someone has bought some of them. But then you need to leave your creative mode, and enter a production mode. You need to discipline yourself to make the same things over and over again, particularly in the first 2 or 3 years of your business. Many designers quickly lose interest.

3. A fear of marketing your own things

You won’t succeed without marketing. Marketing is more than advertising. It includes all forms of self-promotion. It includes doing research on your markets and market niches. It incluces how to reach your potential clients in these markets, how to get their attention, how to get them to translate this attention into needs and wants and desires, and how to get them to part with some money.

Many artists are shy about self-promotion. Time to train yourself, if this is you, to get over it.

4. Trying to please all audiences

When people get started, they are reluctant to use the “No” word. They want to please everyone. But when you get started, you can’t. It will put you out of business.

Let’s say you are a jewelry designer, and have some jewelry for sale that is predominantly purple. Someone at work loves the jewelry, but asks if you can make it in red. If you don’t have an inventory of red beads, and will have to go out and buy them, it may make this sale foolish, from a business standpoint. You can’t buy just one bead at a time; you need to buy strands or packages of these beads — many more parts than you would need to make one piece of jewelry for this customer.

When you start in business, you need to pursue a strategy of depth, rather than breadth. As a digital designer, you want to invest in a limited number of software applications, equipment, and related resources, and narrow your focus on the types of projects you undertake. As a jewelry or crafts designer, you want to buy a limited number of pieces, colors, sizes and shapes of materials in large enough quantities to get adequate price breaks. So, initially, your designs will be limited, as well. If someone asks you to develop a project or design that is outside your budgeted resources, you need to be able to say No!. No! to your family. No! to your friends. No! to the people you work with.

Source, Feld, 2013

In my experience, such as the situation for the jewelry designer with red vs purple beads above, when you say No!, the potential customer tends to make a face. Pitiful. Angry. Frustrated. Sad. Pleading. If you can wait 60 seconds, in almost every case, the customer stops making this face, and says, in our jewelry example, for instance, “OK, I’ll take what you have in purple.”

60-seconds. That’s how long you have to wait without responding. Only 60-seconds before that person gives up and stops making the Face. It always amazes me, but so many jewelry and other designers can’t wait those 60 seconds. They cave.

And don’t give these people discounts. They’re already getting it cheaper, than if they bought the same design in a store, or purchased the design services from a large corporation. One major way your business will get built up is word-of-mouth. You don’t want some of that information to include extremely low price expectations. If you are stuck giving low prices, you will never be self-supporting in your business.

5. Doesn’t do homework on the competition

You need to understand how other designers you compete with function as a business.

How do they define their markets?
 How do they price things?
 What kinds of inventory, software and equipment do they own? What kinds do they NOT own?
 Where do they advertise? How do they promote themselves? 
How do they staff up, contract out, or learn the necessary skills to get the jobs done within the set time-frame?
 How do they define their competitive advantage — that is, all the reasons people should buy from them, rather than from anyone else, like you?
 Where do they sell things? What seems to work better for them?
 How do they figure out the best place — real or virtual — to link their product and product message to the customers most likely to need, want and buy their designs?

You can find a lot of this out by Googling. You can look for designers in your field and occupation. Directories of designers. You can plug in a designer’s website, and see where they are listed, and who lists them. You can look at their work. Often, you can discover many of their clients. You can look at reviews.

Can I Make Money?

Some designers are only interested in selling the occasional piece or project. Others want to create a steady flow of some extra income. Still others want to be financially self-sufficient as a designer.

Whatever your personal goal and commitment, can you make money? The answer is YES… That is, if you are smart about it.

Your friends and relatives might tell you that living as a creative designer “Is not practical,” or a warning “Don’t quit your day job.”

I won’t lie to you. It’s tough. It requires commitment and perseverance. It requires some introverted skills and some extroverted skills. It requires managing a process that includes some creative elements and some business and administrative ones. But you can do it.

First, Goals. Sit down and write down some do-able sets of goals for your business. Some sets of goals will be on the creative side; others on the business side.

One set of goals should answer the question: How are you going to manage the design process (from inspiration to aspiration to finished product to marketing and selling your products)?

Another set of these goals should answer the question: How are you going to maintain your cash flow throughout the whole year?

After you start implementing your goals, at some point you should be able to ask a friend: Did I achieve my goals or not?

Second, Time. Organize your time. You need to spend a certain amount of time with creative activity. Another block of time on business, administrative and marketing activities. And a certain amount of time for reflection and evaluation and self-care. You need to maintain balance between the personal and the professional, and between the creative and the administrative.

Third, Limits. Do not try to do too many different projects or work with too many different kinds of design elements and components at the same time — particularly in your first 3 years in business.

As your business grows, you’ll reach a point where you have enough cash flow — that Velocity of sales — that you can begin to broaden your efforts, meeting more of the needs of your current clients, and expanding the options for new clients.

Fourth, Realism. Do not go for roofs before setting foundations. Learn about materials and techniques in a developmental order. Things will make much more sense and be easier to accomplish as you advance your skills and endeavors.

Last, Supports. You can’t do everything by yourself. Find compatriots. Find a mentor. Share or coordinate some workloads. Be sure you structure in ways to be accountable and get feedback.

_____________________________________

FOOTNOTES

Bethke, Kelly. “A creative’s guide to starting a new business,” Fast Company, 11/9/18.

Campbell, Anita. “A 30-Point Checklist For Your Start-Up,” Small Biz Trends, 4/18/13.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Should I Set Up My Craft Business On A Marketplace Online?

The Importance of Self-Promotion: Don’t Be Shy

Are You Prepared For When The Reporter Comes A-Calling?

A Fool-Proof Formula For Pricing And Selling Your Jewelry

Designer Connect Profile: Tony Perrin, Jewelry Designer

My Aunt Gert: Illustrating Some Lessons In Business Smarts

Copyrighting Your Pieces: Let’s Not Confuse The Moral With The Legal Issues

Naming Your Business / Naming Your Jewelry

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

To What Extent Should Business Concerns Influence Artistic and Jewelry Design Choices

How Creatives Can Successfully Survive In Business

Getting Started In Business: What You Do First To Make It Official

Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

Add your name to my email list.

Other Suggested Readings:

Backward-Design Is Forward Thinking, (FELD, 2020)

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency in Design, (FELD, 2020)

Jewelry Design: A Managed Process, (FELD, 2020)

Posted in Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Choosing And Using Clasps

Posted by learntobead on July 12, 2020

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online. Begin with my ORIENTATION TO BEADS & JEWELRY FINDINGS COURSE. There are 18 video modules including handouts, which this is one of.

CHOOSING CLASPS AND CLASP ASSEMBLIES AND SUPPORT SYSTEMS

In Jewelry Design, when we speak of “choosing a clasp,” we are referring to something broader than the clasp itself. We are referring to what is called the “Clasp Assembly”. The “Clasp Assembly” is everything that has to come together in order to attach your beadwork to the clasp. The “CLASP ASSEMBLY” usually consists of several parts. Besides the Clasp itself, there are probably jump rings and connectors, crimp beads, clamps or other jewelry findings. If we had an S-clasp, the clasp assembly would also include 2 soldered rings (one on each side) plus, if using a cable wire, the loop created with the cable wire and crimp bead which attach and secure the wire around the soldered rings.

The “Clasp Assembly” is a more specific term for the more general jewelry-design terminology called a Support System. The Clasp Assembly is the most important support system in any piece of jewelry. In any one piece, there are usually 1 or more support systems. In a bracelet, you might only have the one support system — the clasp assembly. In a necklace you might have three or five. You want your clasp assembly to be able to adjust to your wearer’s movements somewhat independently of how your beadwork adjusts to this movement. Often, you want the clasp to stay in one place, while the beadwork moves to and fro, out and in, up and down, with the wearer’s movements. This only works if you build support systems into your piece. When you see someone whose necklace has turned around on her neck, this is an example of poor Design. This is not natural to necklaces. Usually the poor design has to do with insufficient support systems built into the necklace.

The most obvious support systems or joints are interconnected “rings” and “loops” and “knots.” Other support systems include “hinges” and “rivets” among other concepts. The support systems through a necklace or bracelet play several roles, and are similar to the joints in your body. They aid in movement. They prevent any one piece from being adversely affected by the forces this movement brings to the piece. They make the piece look and feel better, when worn. They keep segments within the piece from getting too stiff or too tight or too rigid. They help absorb excess force placed on your components because of movement, keeping them from cracking, splitting apart or breaking.

With needle and thread bead stringing, one of the more important support system is the knot you tie to secure your beadwork to the clasp. The knot absorbs excess force. It allows the bracelet or necklace to move easily on and with your body. Because of this support function that knots play, it usually is NOT a good idea to apply glue to the knots. This would cause the knots to stiffen up, create lots of tension on the thread, and cause it to break from force and movement. They would lose their support function.

The best clasp is one that has no moving parts. These include toggles, buttons, slides, S-clasps, and hook & eye clasps.

One clasp element that we jewelry designers call a “moving part” is a tongue. If a metal piece is bent into a “V” or “Arch” shape, and is forced to move back and forth as it gets pushed in and pulled out of the basic clasp, we consider this a moving part. When you bend metal back and forth, it breaks. When metal is bent into a V or Arch, and is pushed/pulled, it will break. In any clasp, where you have a metal part that is bent back and forth in use, we call this a moving part.

The clasp should be proportional to the beads used in the piece. The full Clasp Assembly should be proportional to the piece as a whole. If half your bracelet is taken up by the Clasp Assembly, then there’s a problem here.

Don’t forget that you can also use clasps in a way where they can be worn on the front, not just behind the neck. They can be used to sit on the side or on the bottom. Clasps which are very decorative are used in this way.

All clasps work well in necklaces. In bracelets, however, care and consideration should be paid to how difficult or easy it is to secure and undo the clasp — especially if the wearer has to accomplish these steps by her or himself.

In better pieces, the clasp seems as if it is an organic and integral part of the rest of the piece. It does not feel as it were an add-on.

Types of clasps:

I never knew there were so many choices

So many little parts. So many little things. Are you supposed to know what to do with them all? Do you really need that many? I never learned how to use all these things. What are they for?

I thought, when I started, there was just one kind of clasp. Or maybe two. I didn’t even know how to use these things.

When I started stringing beads, I always used my favorite clasp at the time — the lobster claw. I put a lobster claw on everything, and any old lobster claw I could find, no matter what it was made of. The guy-proof special. The student-proof special. The special that always worked and that everyone knew how to operate.

The tricky part, though, was what to put on the other side. It needed a ring, but what kind of ring? If you used a jump ring, the split in it was often difficult to adjust so that there was no gap. Even if you adjusted it so there was no gap, after wearing your necklace a few times, suddenly there was a gap. The string pulled through. Or the lobster claw pulled through. The top of the lobster claw broke or bent out easily. You couldn’t always manipulate and operate the thing. That mechanical mechanism inside was designed for people with very small hands, long and narrow fingers and even longer finger nails.

I never liked the barrel clasps — another very guy-proof special. The threads always stripped on me. Or they would unscrew themselves, as my body moved my necklace, and the necklace moved the clasp. Some had eye-lets, and these would always break — again from moving back and forth, and up and down, and back and forth and up and down. Metal breaks when you bend it back and forth. These broke.

At one point, I graduated to toggle clasps. These were and are considered the best clasps. They are considered the easiest to get on and off and the most secure. But I never really liked them personally because they were always out of proportion to my necklace and bracelet designs. Always too big. Always unsexy. And the less expensive ones broke. Virtually all toggles are cast, and cast pieces break when confronted with excess force. They crumble and break. Especially the cheaper ones.

Most people, however, buy either Toggle Clasps or Lobster Claws.

Over the years, I discovered that there are many types of clasps, and each had pros and cons in terms of usability and durability. My personal favorites are variations on the Hook & Eye Clasp. These don’t compete with my beadwork. You can always find something that coordinates with the beads. They pass the “Guy Test” — guys can figure out how to open and close them. But these are my choices I make for myself. Everyone needs to decide which types of clasps they prefer and under what circumstances.

There really isn’t a perfect clasp for every situation.

For most clasps, you usually attach your bead work to separate rings on each end (preferably a soldered ring, if this will work), and then attach the rings to either side of the clasp. In a similar way, if using a cable wire, you don’t want to push your crimp bead all the way up to the clasp. You want to allow a small loop in the cable wire between the crimp and the clasp. You want to build in support, jointedness and movement. You want the clasp to be able to rest on the neck (or the wrist), and not move when the wearer moves. You want the beadwork, on the other hand, to be able to move freely and independently of the clasp, as the wearer moves. If there is any resistance to movement in your piece, if things are too stiff, everything breaks — the clasp breaks, the string breaks, the beads break. If you can’t build in sufficient support systems into your piece, you might as well have a mannequin for a client.

Some more clasps:

SPRING RING

This is the cheapest and worst clasp. I really hate these. Its mechanical mechanism breaks easily. Too easily. But, on the other hand, it is also sleek and dainty, and there are few other clasps which are. If you are making a dainty piece, and you know it will only be worn occasionally, you might get away with using this clasp. Otherwise, if you’ve bought a piece with a spring ring clasp, you’ll probably want to replace it before it breaks.

LOBSTER CLAW

This is a very popular style, but it has some weak design elements. The lip (top curved part) is not designed to handle excess force that comes from tugging or pulling. Its mechanical mechanism breaks easily. Often the levers are difficult to maneuver. However, this clasp does pass the guy test. Guys can figure out how to open and close it. It’s relatively inexpensive. There are many styles of lobster claws, so you usually can always find something which can work with the design and flow of your piece. These clasps are OK for inexpensive to moderate pieces. They are inappropriate for more expensive pieces of jewelry, say over $200.00. When I see lobster claws on expensive pieces of jewelry, this is usually a sign that there are other construction flaws in the piece.

PEARL or SAFETY CLASP

These are clasps that if the hook comes undone, something catches it before the necklace or bracelet falls off. Very popular clasp, and a traditional element in many pieces, such as a pearl-knotted necklace or a Victorian style necklace. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to use an alternative clasp in a pearl-knotted necklace or vintage piece, because people expect to see this type, or similar type of clasp, such as a filigree box clasp. Not a great design, however. The hook element must be bent back and forth many times as it is taken in and out of the clasp. It’s a moving part. This causes it to break sooner than later.

TOGGLE and BUTTON CLASPS

If the Toggle Clasp visually fits with your design, this is considered the best clasp. It is considered the easiest to get on and off, and the most secure. Almost every toggle has been cast, and the ring and the bar are very tightly engineered to work with each other. NEVER mix and match rings and bars. Always use these as a set.

The main drawback, for me, of the toggle clasp, is that they tend to look bulky, often presenting a visual issue for me. They do make novelty toggles, such as the sunflower one pictured above, or a leaf and stem or flower and stem or butterfly and butterfly wing. These work.

Another major thing to keep in mind with toggle clasps is that the last half inch or so of beads on the side of the piece connected to the bar, must be small enough to slip the width of the bar PLUS the width of these beads far enough through the circle part of the toggle, that you can seat the bar correctly, like in a saddle. When using larger beads in your piece, you might need to begin and end your strand with smaller beads.

For multiple strand pieces, you would typically add a string of jump rings or a piece of chain to the bar side, and stagger each strand up the chain. Say you have a 3-strand necklace. You could add a 3-link piece of chain to the bar side. You would attach one strand to the top link; the second strand to the middle link; and the third strand to the bottom link. In this way, when you pull the bar through the ring, you are only pulling 1 thickness of beads plus the bar through the hole — not three multiple thicknesses of beads. You do not need to do this on the ring side, but many people do, for symmetry purposes.

Most people use toggles. What a lot of people don’t know is that you should not mix and match your rings and bars. Toggles should always be used as a set. When you go into a store to buy these, if they sell them mix-and-match, you don’t want to buy there. In a large store like ours, if you’re putting a bunch of toggles on a tray, be sure you know what goes with what. When they get bagged up at the register, be sure there’s no confusion about what goes with what. And store them so that there is no confusion about what goes with what.

You can make your own toggle-style clasps, using buttons or large beads. You have so many more colors, looks, textures to play with, when using buttons and beads, rather than the premade clasps you would find in the store. One side of your piece is a button and the other side is a loop. The button can be a real button, or a large bead. The great thing about button clasps is that you can incorporate the clasp as part of the design of the piece. You can match colors and beads that blend right in with the piece itself.

In a bead strung piece, you would tie off a button or large bead at one end, string your beads on, and make a loop with your stringing material at the other end. You would come back through about 2–3” through the beads in your piece, to anchor off your stringing material. To make this loop attractive, people cover it with seed beads, like size 11/0, 8/0 or 15/0 seed beads. Some designers use 15/0 or 13/0 sized charlottes. Charlottes are seed beads with one facet on one side of each bead. Using charlottes ups the visual perception of the value of the piece, though not the cost of doing so.

For bead-woven bracelets, the button clasp (a form of a toggle) sometimes works better from a design standpoint.

Making the button clasp:

The hardest part in making a button clasp is the button hole. If the hole is too small, it’s hard to get the button or bead in and out. If the hole is too large, the button or bead can slide out and the piece will be lost.

To make the button hole (loop), attach a thread to the piece, preferably a little further back from the end of the piece. Where exactly you locate the button loop depends on your design; however, in most pieces, stepping back from the edge ends up with a better looking and more durable product.

After anchoring the thread to the piece where you want it, now string several small beads — usually size 11/0 or size 8/0 seed beads — until you have a line of beads when looped, will fit snugly over your button or bead. Some designers like to use size 13/0 charlottes to cover the loop. This makes the loop feel like it’s an attractive metal piece.

Bring the needle and thread around and anchor the loop to the piece.

Tie it. Now bring your needle and thread back through the loop, one or more additional times (until it’s getting very tight inside the bead), reinforcing the bead hole.

Now tie it off, and weave the loop end into the piece, hiding the end of the thread.

Now, take your bead or button, and attach it to the other end of your bracelet. Ideally, you want to step the bead or button a bit back from the edge. When choosing a bead, it must be large enough for the loop to be secured underneath it.

Do not attach a bead or button flush to the surface of the piece. Allow enough space for the loop to clasp underneath it. This is easily achieved by placing a size 11/0 or 8/0 seed bead between your piece and the bead or button. Or make a tight loop of beads to connect the surface of the piece through the button shank. When making this kind of loop, usually size 15/0 seed beads work best.

If the bead is elongated, you must anchor it at the center, not through either end. Otherwise, there would be no place for the loop to clasp beneath the bead.

There is not a sure-fire way to measure a loop to fit perfectly over a button or bead. So don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get it right the first time or two. As a general rule of thumb, the length of the loop should be a bit more than twice the diameter of the button or bead. Keep practicing and you will get to a point where it will work by instinct.

So, to repeat, you would preferably locate the loop and the button a little bit back from each edge of the piece. When you start at the edge, this is the weakest part of the piece, and the pulls and tugs on the clasp will start to tear at this edge. Also, if you start at each edge, when you put the loop over the button, you’ll have an area of skin showing. When you set both the loop and button back a ways from the edge, when you put the loop over the button, it draws the two edges together.

If we look at the button from the side of the piece, you would want to put an 11/0 or 8/0 seed bead between the button and the surface of the piece. This accomplishes two things. First, when the loop goes over the button, it will rub on a bead, not the threads. This prevents these threads from fraying. It also turns out that when the loop goes over the button and rests on a bead, it sits it better, thus reducing the amount of back and forth movement that occurs as the bracelet is worn on the wrist.

S-CLASPS

From a functional standpoint, this is a great necklace clasp. From a usability standpoint, however, it’s a disaster. Most people don’t know how to use these properly. When you don’t use them properly, they don’t function as well.

The simple S-Clasp Assembly consists of an S-shaped piece and 2 soldered rings (one on each side). These rings are your “support system” or “jointedness”. They allow the S-clasp to maintain its position behind the neck, and the beadwork to move freely, as the wearer moves.

Using these: First you do your beadwork. Then you tie off each end to the soldered rings. Then you position each hook-arm relative to the spine. On one side of the “S”, you should position the hook-arm so the O-ring cannot slide out, as if the arm had been soldered to the spine. On the other side of the “S”, you need to position the hook-arm so that the O-ring can slide out, but only with some resistance by the hook.

Most people are clueless about the need to position the hook-arms, and how you do it. So they end up bending each arm back and forth, and they break off, or they slip off the soldered rings. And the S-clasp doesn’t rest securely behind the neck, or allow the beadwork to move freely as the person moves.

S-clasps come in a wide range of styles and prices.

HOOK & EYE CLASPS

This is a very good clasp for necklaces, but not as functionally good as the toggle or S-clasps. This is the type of clasp that I prefer to use on my pieces. It is very user friendly. These don’t compete with my beadwork as “art.”

The hook and eye clasp consists of two parts — a hook and a ring or figure 8. If you can position the hook so that the O-ring can slide out, but only with some resistance by the hook, you can use this both on bracelets and necklaces. If the hook-arm is a cast piece and will not move, they tend to only work with necklaces.

Always assume your wearer is right handed. When the wearer reaches back behind her neck for the hook, she should be grabbing this with her right hand.

These come in many styles and price points.

People can usually and easily figure out how to use these. They don’t compete with the artistry of your beadwork.

They have a slight functional flaw in that the hook can work itself free from the ring, when the piece is worn. If you can do this with your piece, you want the hook to face up, (not down).

A choker clasp is special kind of hook and eye clasp. These are usually for multiple strand pieces. The “ring” side is a length of chain, so that the hook can attach in more than one place. This makes the length adjustable. I find it useful to build in some length-adjustability into all my pieces. This is easy to do with hook and eye clasps.

MAGNETIC CLASPS

People in general hate clasps, so they love these. These work well in necklaces. While people love these for bracelets, functionally they pose some issues. To open and close a magnetic clasp, you never pull them apart. This weakens the settings for the magnets, and the magnets eventually pop out. Instead, slide the two sides apart, or crack them open like a nut, or as if one side was on a hinge. Never pull. You can see on a bracelet how the wearer might be tempted to pull them open. The bracelet wearer may also pull on the beadwork itself to open the clasp, thus weakening the bracelet.

Always do some extra reinforcement on the two ends of your pieces where they attach to the clasp.

Magnets come in different strengths, but are not labeled as such. You need to test the strength before you use them.

I suggest adding a safety chain to a bracelet. We hear over and over again stories of how people lost their bracelets to the ravages of an all-too-metallic environment. They’ve lost them to the refrigerator door. One woman lost hers to a car door on her visit to the mall. Luckily for her, when she returned to her car — There it was!

SNAP CLASPS

Snap clasps are like the snaps you have on a blouse or pair of pants. These are usually used in bead woven pieces, but they can be used on strung pieces. They are generally easy to get open and closed. They become part of the piece and its design itself, thus not competing with the artistry of the bead weaving. These clasps do wear out, as they are repeatedly opened and closed. There are many manufacturers and brands of these clasps, and variations in styles. The best ones are made of brass or steel, and have the “male” part be as square-ish as possible. If the base is too narrow, the ring slips off easily.

BARREL CLASPS AND SCREW CLASPS

Barrel clasps are very popular with college age and early 20’s. Never use a sterling silver barrel clasp. As the silver softens at body temperature, the threads soften and strip. Barrel clasps have a weak design element on each end where the clasp is to be connected to the ends of the piece. Most barrel clasps use a type of eye pin/head pin, and these break as they get bent back and forth from movement. With barrel clasps, you should always use another intervening ring — a jump ring, split ring or soldered ring — to attach your beadwork to the clasp.

For most types of clasps and other jewelry findings, though not all, you need to use an intervening ring — a soldered ring, a split ring or a jump ring . You attach your beadwork to the ring and the ring to the clasp or finding. Only in this way will you get enough support and jointedness.

Screw clasps tend to look like a bead with a loop on either side.

Usually, one side, sometimes both sides, screw open. These are very attractive and work very well to maintain the organic flow of your piece. However, the threads strip easily, and it’s difficult to readily figure out how to screw/unscrew the loop out from the bead. Usually the wearer ends up ruining the clasp after a few wearings, since it’s difficult to figure out which way to turn each screw-end — especially while wearing the piece — and the threads strip.

FOLDOVER CLASP

These clasps are found on a lot of jewelry. They are pretty easy to attach. They are pretty easy for the wearer to use them. On one side of the clasp, there is a closed loop. This is attached to one end of the piece, usually with a jump ring. It is fixed. The other end is a tongue that snaps over a base and is held in place by friction. This tongue slips over a ring on the other side of the piece, and then tightly onto its base. After opening and closing this clasp several times, the tongue tends to bend upward, thus losing its friction-based tight close. You can use a chain-nose pliers to push the tongue back and regain the friction. Eventually this tongue breaks off.

FRICTION CLASP or BAYONETTE CLASP

Here a curved metal tube on one side slips into a curved metal tube on the other, and is held in place by friction. Or, in another design, a straight pin is pushed into a rubber tube, where the rubber tube fits snugly around the pin, holding it in place. These come long and sleek, or squat and fat.

The friction clasp pictured above looks great on sleek pieces. For most of these, it’s easy to slip beads or charms over the clasp without having to partially or fully dis-assemble it. These are usually soldered or glued and clamped on to the piece. You need to pay attention to the size of the internal diameter of the opening. You want your cable wire or cord to fit snugly into this opening. Put some glue (any glue except Super Glue, and preferably a jewelers glue like E6000 or Beacon 527) on the cable wire or cord. Stick it in. Use a chain nose pliers to clamp the ends down snug. Don’t clamp them flat. When you clamp them flat, it looks weird and annoying.

NOTE: Super Glue has few uses in jewelry. The jeweler’s version of Super Glue is called G-S Hypo Cement, which takes longer to set. Super Glue dries like glass, so the bond becomes like a piece of glass. Movement causes the bond to shatter like a piece of glass. And the broken bond looks like a broken piece of glass.

The jeweler’s glues, like E6000 and Beacon 527 dry like rubber. The bond acts like a shock absorber.

BOX CLASP

The basic design here is a box where a bent piece of metal (called a tongue) slips into one side of the box, and is held in place by an internal latch. We consider the tongue and the internal latch moving parts, since these move back and forth and can break.

Box Clasps often look great, but they don’t last a long time. The internal latch often wears out. The tongue is bent up and down each time it is place in or removed from the clasp. After too many times, the metal breaks. It’s hard to find replacements. What’s nice about these are that they come in a wide range of prices and styles, and can adapt easily to the organic sensibility of your piece. Great for moderately priced jewelry. Functionally a bit of a risk for more expensive jewelry, but visually may be just what the designer ordered.

Sterling box clasps pose a problem, if the clasp rests on the wrist or neck. Sterling softens at body temperature. When the internal latch softens, it releases the tongue. Jewelry coming out of Mexico is notorious for this happening. Say you have a problematic clasp. You don’t have to throw it away. You can use larger beads on either side of the clasp, so that it never rests on the skin.

LANYARD CLASP

This is a wire that is bent into a clasp shape. One end of the wire overlaps that of the other side, and is “springy”. These clasps will lose their “springy-ness” over time. I like to use these clasps with hemp necklaces. They work well with thick cords. They have a primal feel about them.

From a design theory perspective, the base of the clasp is an interesting element. It is basically an arch pinched at its base. This completely changes the mechanical properties of the arch, turning it into a spring. The spring absorbs all the force of the arm, when the arm is bent back and forth to open and close the clasp. If this arch were a V-shape, bending it back and forth would break it. In the Curved-Shape, bending back and forth will also break it. But pinching it, the movement is accommodated by and the forces absorbed by the clasp.

Lanyard clasps come very functional like that pictured. They come fancier, as well. Some of the fancier ones are good substitutes for lobster claws. Lanyard clasps are widely used in name-badge lariats and necklaces.

SLIDE CLASP

These are made for multi-strand necklaces and bracelets, from 2-strand to 9-strand. They are basically two inter-fitting tubes with loops soldered onto them. They are very sleek. They come plain and patterned. They don’t compete with your beadwork. They work for bracelets and necklaces. This is one of the only clasps that has been coming down in price over time. The market is telling you that this is a good clasp, and I agree with the market.

I especially like these clasps for bracelets. They have a way of keeping all the strands of a multi-strand piece laying nicely and separately and spread out. With a lot of other clasps, the multiple strands overlap, get entangled, and don’t lay as well as intended. Usually, one person, wearing a bracelet using these slide clasps, can maneuver these on and off without much difficulty. Another plus.

In many flat, wide beadwoven pieces, I often suggest sewing these in place to use as the clasp.

You do not need to use any intervening rings with this clasp.

DOOR KNOCKER CLASPS

Here we have a loop with a slight opening, with a bar and knob that moves from the base of the loop, over and into the slight opening. These are attractive. They are relatively easy to use. They do lose their friction in holding the knob into the opening. With these, two removable loops hold the beadwork in place, so you could make many strands of bead work, ending each with a soldered ring wide enough to slip the clasp, and use them interchangeably with this clasp. Or you could use this clasp when you want to change the number of strands of beads you want to wear at one time.

_________________________________________________________

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Jewelry Findings: Preparers

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Jewelry Findings: Controllers and Adapters

Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry: What Works!

What Glue Should I Use When Making Jewelry?

Why Am I So Addicted To Beads?

A Very Abbreviated, But Not Totally Fractured, History of Beads

The Martha Stewart Beaded Wreath Project

When Choosing Colors Has You Down, Check Out The Magic Of Simultaneity Effects

The Use of Armature In Jewelry: Legitimate or Not?

Pearl Knotting Warren’s Way

Organizing Your Craft Workspace…Some Smart Pointers

You Don’t Choose Clasps, You Choose Clasp Assemblies

Know Your Anatomy Of A Necklace

Mini Lesson: Making Stretchy Bracelets

Mini Lesson: Making Adjustable Slip Knots With Thicker Cords

Mini Lesson: How To Crimp

Mini Lesson: Attaching End Caps, Cones, Crimp Ends

Mini Lesson: Brick Stitch

Mini Lesson: Flat Even Count Peyote

Mini Lesson: Ndebele Stitch

Mini Lesson: Petersburg Chain

Mini Lesson: Right Angle Weave

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Everyone Has A Getting Started StoryThe Nature-Inspired Creations of Kathleen

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Glass Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Lampwork Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Crystal Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Seed and Cylinder Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Choosing and Using Clasps

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

______________________________________________

Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online. Begin with my ORIENTATION TO BEADS & JEWELRY FINDINGS COURSE.

Add your name to my email list.

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It’s Your Jewelry Or Me!

Posted by learntobead on July 3, 2020

I remember our first date — a blind date — and we started the evening at a diner. I loved that our conversation was full and long and deep from the get-go. I remember asking you the thing you loved the most. You said jewelry making.

I thought, how wonderful. My date is creative. And artsy. And I love jewelry, too, I thought to myself. At the time. On that perfect blind-date you always imagine, but rarely, if ever, comes true. But it was true that night.

About six months later, as I was beginning to fall in love, the full meaning, richness, purpose, intent, motivation, dependency… heck, inner morality to the core of that line — I love jewelry making — became painfully clearer. It was going to be jewelry over me.

We were scheduled to see a play downtown. I had been waiting to see this play for months and was so looking forward to it. But, at the last minute, my now-soon-to-be fiancé was putting the final touches on a piece for a wealthy client, to be delivered at this very same time as this play.

Can’t you re-schedule?” I asked, so certain the answer was to be Yes!

Sorry, my client needs this for an event tomorrow. I have to see her tonight,“ was his response. “You can go without me.

Well, well, well. I was a-steamin’. You can go without me burned into my skin. But, I thought, it was this one time thing, and I’ll get over it. I went to the play by myself.

I think it was the goddess Aphrodite who warned lovers that the essence of love between partners is either the essence of the mind or the essence of the soul. When it is the essence of the mind, the mutual attraction revolves around the things you do. When it is the essence of the soul, that mutual attraction revolves around the things you are.

What an idiot I was beginning to feel I was. I was getting into a mixed marriage. Without any preparation. With minimal understanding about essence of this or essence of that. Naïve. In love. Somehow mistaking the idea of jewelry from the practice of making it. When I had no desire to make it. And my fiancé did.

But it was only going to be this one time. I thought. I hoped. I pretended.

A year after our first blind date, we got married. My spouse-to-be made all the jewelry. All the jewelry I wore. All the jewelry for the bridesmaids. Even jewelry for the grooms. Even my mom. The jewelry was splendid. Sparkling. Rich. Romantic. It set the mood. It set the stage. And my wedding was almost perfect.

This jewelry was still getting crafted, however, 1 hour before the ceremony was to start. I was a bit frantic. In my mind, while I was picturing how this full day would go, I did not factor in having to set up a work table in the minister’s study, nor having to lug cases of jewelry parts and tools, nor having to repeatedly assure everyone — my mom, every bridesmaid, four of the groomsmen, my sister the flower girl — the jewelry would be ready on time. Why was I having to think about jewelry? All I wanted to think about was love.

We moved in together into my spouse’s apartment. I knew it was going to be a tight fit. Beads and stringing materials and pendants and stones and tools and equipment were everywhere. The dining room table. A table in the bedroom. Six TV trays. The coffee table. Storage bins in the kitchen. Boxes in all the closets. I said, “You’re going to have to make some room for me. And my things.”

No problem,” was the response.

We have a problem Houston.

I was so accommodating then. I squeezed myself and my things between everything. I ate on plates on my lap, my drink always somewhat precariously positioned between my body and the arm of the couch. We ate out a lot. I didn’t unpack all my things, and left a lot in boxes.

Over time, I began to notice that I complemented the jewelry more than I got complemented back for anything. I would shower, and there would be seed beads in my hair. The rollers on the vacuum would frequently stop rolling because they were wound up in string. One afternoon, I was making myself a sandwich with some luncheon meat, cheese and vegetables, and I found myself subconsciously choosing each item based on its color resemblance to the piece of jewelry-under-construction sitting on my kitchen counter.

I was losing my essence of love.

To an unfinished piece of jewelry.

What in God’s humanity was happening?

The next few years, the making of jewelry took precedence over shared experiences. Cancelled evenings with friends. Watching TV alone. Few deep and fulfilling conversations about any topic — ANY OTHER TOPIC — than jewelry, jewelry parts, the securing of jewelry parts, the arranging of jewelry parts, the colors, shapes, textures and patterns of jewelry parts, whose jewelry parts were better than others, jewelry parts, jewelry parts, jewelry parts.

I stopped wearing jewelry. My spouse never noticed. I got jewelry for my birthdays. I got jewelry for Valentines’s Day. For Mother’s Day. For Christmas. For any occasion where a gift would have been nice, whether jewelry was the perfect gift or not.

I hate to admit this, and only admitting it under my breath, but I actually tried to make some jewelry. I thought it would bring us closer together. Maybe, I could cleverly transition our conversations away from jewelry if I could somehow speak the language and share the experience.

I discovered I hate making jewelry. I don’t have the patience. I’m somewhat creative, but not that interested in applying it — at least to the making of jewelry. While I think it did entwine our essences somewhat, it wasn’t enough for me. Or thee.

I didn’t know what to do next.

One night, we were making love, but it wasn’t going the way it should have been. There were some beads in the bed and got into places they shouldn’t have. There was some stringing material caught up in the blankets and started to wrap around my toes. My spouse began reciting colors to me as if you could color passion instead of feeling it. Had not the colors of my lips and the colors of my cheeks and the colors of my hands fit neatly into some artistic color scheme, I don’t think we would have ever completed the act.

That was it for me.

Enough.

It’s your jewelry or me,” I shouted.

So, here I am, sitting in front of my computer, filling out my personal profile, my name, what I look like, and how I hate making jewelry.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Do You Know Where Your Beading Needles Are?

Consignment Selling: A Last Resort

Odds or Evens? What’s Your Preference?

My Clasp, My Clasp, My Kingdom For A Clasp

Why Am I So Addicted To Beads?

The Bead Spill: My Horrifying Initiation

The Artists At The Party

How To Bead A Rogue Elephant

You Can Never Have Enough Containers For Your Stuff

Beading While Traveling On A Plane

Contemplative Ode To A Bead

How To Bead In A Car

My Aunt Gert: Illustrating Some Lessons In Business Smarts

A Jewelry Designer’s Day Dream

A Dog’s Life by Lily

I Make All The Mistakes In The Book

How Sparkle Enters People’s Lives

Upstairs, Downstairs At The Bead Store

Beads and Race

Were The Ways of Women or of Men Better At Fostering How To Make Jewelry

Women and Their Husbands When Shopping For Beads

Women Making Choices In The Pursuit Of Fashion

Existing As A Jewelry Designer: What Befuddlement!

The Bridesmaid Bracelets

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

Add your name to my email list.

Posted in Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

My Jewelry Is Over At The Consignment Shop: Did I Make A Mistake Leaving It There?

Posted by learntobead on June 29, 2020

She’s CHEATING ME!” the woman from Rhode Island screamed into the phone. She could hardly catch her breath, the anger overtaking her ability to explain why she was calling.

I read your article about Pricing and Selling on-line, and I’m not getting my $70.00 for my piece.

She didn’t have to say anymore. I knew right off the bat she was talking about CONSIGNMENT. I recognize the anger. The frustration. The feeling that someone put something over on you, and you’re powerless to correct the situation. You don’t know what to do. You know the sweat, time and cost you put into all the pieces you let some stranger have, and now what do you do?

I put 10 of my pieces of jewelry in her shop in Northern Rhode Island — not a big shop, no sales, except, this one piece sold, not in a major place,” she continued, taking breath after breath, to get it all out, in some way that made sense, and some way that kept her from losing it.

What do I Do?

She sold my piece for $70.00, and didn’t give me my money?

Should she have given me my money right away?

Should I take my jewelry out of her shop?

Should I never do consignment again?

She peppered me with questions, not waiting for an answer.

She indicated that the store owner told her that she paid her artists 30 days after a sale. Her customers had 30 days to return something. If the store owner paid before that time, she would be out the money. Store owners can set whatever policies they want, and in this case, I told the woman it was reasonable to wait 30 days, given the policy.

Of course, it had already been 7 weeks.

Should she call her?” Her husband told her not to call yet. He didn’t want her to make waves, or ruin this opportunity to sell her jewelry.

Call her,” I said. If the store owner said 30 days, then 30 days it should be.

Consignment may be a necessary evil, especially when you are getting started in the jewelry making business. But consignment is not the best situation to be in. Most stores that accept consignment do not understand the consignment business. As a result, when the time comes to pay the artists, there’s no cash flow.

In Consignment, the store is at greater risk than the artist. The store has to make space available for the pieces, and forgo the opportunity to get something else in that retail-real-estate that might do better. The store has to display the pieces, and keep them clean and presentable. The store has to train its sales staff so that they have sufficient information and motivation to make the sale. And, of course, there’s the tracking and accounting that goes with every consignment piece on sale.

Your best clue to whether a particular consignment situation is a good or better one, is the percentage split between the store or gallery owner and the artist. Given the level of risk each party assumes, the optimum distribution is 60/40 with the store or gallery getting the larger amount. But if the split is 40/60 or 50/50, this would be a acceptable sign as well.

However, when the split is 70/30 or 30/70 or outside this 60 and 40 range, yellow flags should go up. This shows that the store or gallery owner is not aware of the level of risk in their business. You probably won’t get paid on time, and not get paid without a lot of time spent yelling on the phone. Your pieces won’t be maintained. They won’t be displayed in a prominent place. No one will be trained or motivated to sell your pieces.

Just because you confront a potentially bad consignment situation doesn’t necessarily mean that you should walk away, however. There are a few prominent boutiques in Nashville that offer a 70/30 split between the store and the artist. They rarely pay their artists when the pieces sell. It takes a lot of screaming, “Bloody Murder!” before you get paid. But these are very prominent shops. Letting other stores and galleries know that you have pieces in these shops will open many doors for you. You might view the delayed payments and the effort to get your money as “marketing expenses.”

Other reasons you might settle for a bad situation:
 — You’re just getting started, and saying your pieces are in a shop anywhere has some marketing cache that goes with this
 — You can direct customers to this shop. At least you have a place to send people to view and purchase your work. You might not have a central base from which to work. Your main business might be doing craft shows, and here you can direct people to your jewelry between shows.
 — This might be the only game in town.

But otherwise, if consignment doesn’t have some added value for you, you want to minimize your consignment exposure.

When you negotiate consignment terms with a shop, try to:

1) Get a feel for the amount of consignment they do (and how long they have been doing this), the range of artists, the range of types of merchandise on consignment, and the types of customers they have
 
 2) Get a 60/40, 50/50 or 40/60 split
 
 3) Work with store or gallery owner on final retail pricing of your pieces.
 
 4) Get a written contract
 
 5) Get in writing if possible, but an oral agreement would suffice, to convert the situation to “wholesale terms”, if you pieces sell well. (Be sure to define what “selling well” might mean. Example: sell 10 pieces within next 6 months.)

6) Determine a specific date when to take your pieces out, or trade them out for new pieces. Usually it’s good to trade them out every 3–6 months.
 
 7) Determine exactly how and when you will get paid, after any one piece sells. A 30-day waiting period is reasonable.

As to my friend in Rhode Island, I suggested she take her pieces out of this shop. She was expecting to get paid 30% after 30 days. It’s years later. She was never paid.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Should I Set Up My Craft Business On A Marketplace Online?

The Importance of Self-Promotion: Don’t Be Shy

Are You Prepared For When The Reporter Comes A-Calling?

A Fool-Proof Formula For Pricing And Selling Your Jewelry

Designer Connect Profile: Tony Perrin, Jewelry Designer

My Aunt Gert: Illustrating Some Lessons In Business Smarts

Copyrighting Your Pieces: Let’s Not Confuse The Moral With The Legal Issues

Naming Your Business / Naming Your Jewelry

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

To What Extent Should Business Concerns Influence Artistic and Jewelry Design Choices

How Creatives Can Successfully Survive In Business

Getting Started In Business: What You Do First To Make It Official

I hope you found this article useful. Be sure to click the CLAP HANDS icon at the bottom of this article.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

Add your name to my email list.

Posted in Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Existing As A Jewelry Designer: What Befuddlement!

Posted by learntobead on June 28, 2020

Existence for the jewelry designer is befuddling.

Making jewelry is such a happy endeavor. But is the designer always happy? Always ready to lay out all the parts, and get to it? Forever on top of the game? You are the jewelry designer. Alone, at first, with your thoughts. Your inspirations and aspirations. There is such a long path forward from selecting materials and arranging them in a satisfying way. Then you have to show your piece to others.

It is so scary, risky, fraught with anxiety, difficult to decide, sometimes impossible to fully visualize. Yes, you answer to yourself and your own sense of aesthetics and construction. But yet, you make things for other people to wear, perhaps to buy, perhaps to display, perhaps to comment and evaluate and criticize and tear to shreds. Or ‘like’ it on some level.

Befuddling. Yes, indeed.

And perhaps a bit overwhelming. Somewhat un-motivating. Somewhat problematic.

Head-Game

The act of making jewelry, at any point, in any and every situation, forces too many rules and social conventions upon you. Rules of construction. Rules of aesthetics. Rules of meaning. You must sift through all these rules, lest they paralyze you. So you choose what you want and think will work and think will be OK. And, yes, your choices are leading you in a direction of satisfaction and happiness — you are, after all, narrowing the feasible, the possible and the desirable. But you also find yourself partly or fully forced to be compliant to the expectations of others.

At this initial point, everything is not fully satisfying. You are trying to figure out what to do. What direction. What options. How should I start? What pieces do I need? What colors do I want to use? What clasp? Stringing material? Process of construction? Where will I find everything I need? What will they like? What will they want? Why will they pay for it?

Thoughtfully Alone

But, finally, these questions get some answers. You get to block out the world for a while. You get to be alone with your thoughts.

Yes, you have all the pieces picked. You have a sketch drawn out. And you begin to organize and assemble. You get in touch with your inner self. You rapidly search your cognitive rolodex, and settle in on the feelings and images and values and meanings and emotions you want to apply to your piece, and have that piece reflect. You positively go orgasmic with the colors you have selected and how these are arranged, and with your clever ideas to connect each element and fragment of your piece, one to the other. But at the same time, you go lethargic, meditative, rhythmic in the steps you take to make your piece, one step at a time, over and again, over and again, and once again.

Doubt and self-doubt rear their ugly heads. Will my idea work? Will my colors coordinate and blend? My materials mix? My artistic sense be maintained when subjected to my functional purposes? Can I translate what I see in my head to something real? How literal a path should I take from my inspiration to what I make? How far on a limb do I want to crawl?

When the jewelry designer sits down to make a piece of jewelry, how does it feel? The very act of making jewelry reconfirms for you the very act of being yourself. This feeling is other-worldly. You are the world, at least for this moment in time. This feeling is surreal. Creation in the absence of control.

Finally, you sit in front of your finished piece. You have created an object from nothingness. You have made the intangible tangible. You have forced objects and textures and patterns and colors into an uncharted space. You have transformed thread or wire or string and glass or metal or gemstone and sterling silver or gold-filled or pewter or brass into an expression of the personal. Your personal. You.

And for the moment, you have lived a befuddled life.

With many emotional highs and lows.

As loss of control, a whirlwind of creativity, and a reassertion of control.

And you smile.

Betwixt and Between

Design is a rite of passage. A voyage between the sacred and the profane. A relinquishing of control leading, by grit, perseverance and determination, to a re-imposition of control, structure, shape, silhouette, mass and construction.

You enter a period of liminality. Between the concluding night and the entering dawn. Somewhere above the ocean pouring over the horizon, but below the clouds in the sky along the far away horizon. You are thinking how to put words to your feelings of accomplishment. Set categories to the things you did, such as manipulating colors or materials. Determine forms and themes and segments and values and meanings. Explain all your feelings and choices and desires in words and concepts and phrases for others to recognize and understand.

This is a Rite of Passage. You must move from this ecstasy of your creative self to the reality that your jewelry is merely one object you are introducing into a complex and elaborated world. You must share what you have done with others, and, I know so well, can be very scary. Will they like it? Is there a place for this? Will they understand what I personally contributed to the design? Should I worry if someone might copy this? Or abuse it? Or abuse me in some way, as a designer?

Worldly

And as you successfully, so we hope, maneuver this Rite of Passage, and come out the other side, you return to this object before you. A piece of jewelry. Some metal, some stone, some string. You are ready to pick up that piece of jewelry off your work table, and show it to the world. Now you must sell its virtues. You must market its strengths and gloss over its weaknesses. How wearable is it? How beautiful? How appropriate for which person? In which context? How saleable? How usable?

The world impedes. Those ecstatic hours of creation, losing yourself in this process of essence, dreamily playing with colors, experimenting with arrangements, testing ideas about construction, are slowed down, are gone, are halted, until you begin to make your next piece.

In their place, your fun is tempered by history. By reality. By others determined that your creative self conforms to their ideas. And the ideas of their friends and acquaintances. And, in turn, their friends and acquaintances. Will your piece feel finished? Will they see it as coherent? Satisfying? Will the essence of your piece be contagious as it physically moves further and further away from you?

You are befuddled once again.

The process of designing jewelry is transformative.

The intangible is transformed into the tangible.

Sadness is transformed into happiness.

Shadow is transformed into light.

Inanimate objects are transformed into resonant ones.

The transformative powers of the jewelry designer are heroic. The designer overcomes the lethargy, the blah, the uninspired. The designer crafts functional beauty evoking response and emotion. The designer provides the key to the personal and social success of the wearer. The designer hopes to triumph, lest she or he fall into some kind of professional suicide, characterized by jeweler’s block, resistance, and many unfinished projects. Thus, becomes hero no more.

Is jewelry design, then, merely a cycle of vain-glorious misery? Some temporal happiness and joy following by some ill-defined period of existence? Full of doubts about whether the cycle will every complete itself, or re-start itself, even if it did?

So the question becomes, how do jewelry designers live with all this befuddlement? What keeps them happy? How can the successful jewelry designer think of himself or herself as a designer, fulfilled and happy, if he or she always lives in a world of uncertainty. If the designer personally dis-values their own work. If the designer doesn’t see himself or herself in his work. If the designer doesn’t imbue his or her work with meaning, life and force. If the designer never finishes what he or she started. If the designer substitutes quantity for quality. Or, if the designer only replays and reworks the works of others.

Then existence as a jewelry designer becomes futile.

Hollow.

Essence-less.

And you miss out.

On living this befuddled existence.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Do You Know Where Your Beading Needles Are?

Consignment Selling: A Last Resort

Odds or Evens? What’s Your Preference?

My Clasp, My Clasp, My Kingdom For A Clasp

Why Am I So Addicted To Beads?

The Bead Spill: My Horrifying Initiation

The Artists At The Party

How To Bead A Rogue Elephant

You Can Never Have Enough Containers For Your Stuff

Beading While Traveling On A Plane

Contemplative Ode To A Bead

How To Bead In A Car

My Aunt Gert: Illustrating Some Lessons In Business Smarts

A Jewelry Designer’s Day Dream

A Dog’s Life by Lily

I Make All The Mistakes In The Book

How Sparkle Enters People’s Lives

Upstairs, Downstairs At The Bead Store

Beads and Race

Were The Ways of Women or of Men Better At Fostering How To Make Jewelry

Women and Their Husbands When Shopping For Beads

Women Making Choices In The Pursuit Of Fashion

Existing As A Jewelry Designer: What Befuddlement!

The Bridesmaid Bracelets

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

I hope you found this article useful. Be sure to click the CLAP HANDS icon at the bottom of this article.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

Add your name to my email list.

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HOW DOES THE JEWELRY DESIGNER MAKE “ASYMMETRY” WORK ?

Posted by learntobead on June 28, 2020

“28 Coins Necklace”, FELD, 2010

One Principle of Jewelry Design Composition is called “PLANAR RELATIONSHIPS”. This primarily has to do with the placement of lines and planar surfaces within your piece, and how satisfying all this placement is, so that the lines and/or planes interrelate.

It turns out it is relatively easy to have lines and planes relate symmetrically. That is, it is easy to get people to be more satisfied with your pieces, if you makes things line up evenly to the right and to the left of your center point or line.

Conversely, it is not so easy when you try to create something asymmetrical. In fact, based on the art theory and cognitive psychology theory underlying this principle of planar relationships, I would say that, if your piece is asymmetrical, there must be something else on the person wearing the piece to create the illusion of symmetry. This might be the way the hair is styled, the pattern on a dress, the neckline silhouette of the dress, the shape and positioning of the person’s ears, and the like.

So, for those of you who have tried and succeeded, or tried and failed, to create asymmetrical pieces, how would you describe your design process? And people’s reactions to your piece? Or how it looked on the wearer? If successful, what kinds of things did you do in the design process, that worked in your favor?

Off-centered piece or someone wearing just one earring, can be disorienting and disturbing. How do you feel about asymmetrical pieces, or people wearing only one earring?

PLANAR RELATIONSHIPS

Planar Relationships refers to the degree the piece is not disorienting to the viewer, or particularly confusing in terms of what is up and what is down, or what is left and what is right.

People always need to orient themselves to their surroundings, so that they know what is up and what is down. They usually do this by recognizing the horizontal planes of the floor and the ceiling of a room (ground and sky outside), and the vertical planes of the walls of a room (buildings, trees and the like outside).

Jewelry must assist, or at least not get in the way of, this natural orienting process. It accomplishes this in how its “lines” are arranged and organized. If a piece is very 3-dimensional, then how its “planes” are arranged and organized becomes important, as well.

The goal here is to “see” the piece of jewelry, especially when worn, as something that is coherent, organized, controlled, and, especially, orienting.

Design elements we might use to achieve a satisfactory planar relationship within our piece:

— a strategic use of lines and planes

— shapes

— boundaries

— silhouettes

— contours

— symmetry, or, more difficult to achieve, a satisfying asymmetry

— a planar pattern in how each section of the piece relates to the other sections

— how sections of the piece interlock

— how we “draw and interrelate” parallel lines, perpendicular lines and curved lines within the piece

Example 1: Asymmetric Earrings

How can a person truly pull off wearing only one earring, or two very different earrings, one on each ear? After all, visually, it pulls the person off to one side, thus violating the basic orienting planar relationships. What about the composition of the earring, allows this to work; what about the composition doesn’t?

Example 2: Asymmetric Necklace

When wearing a necklace, where the clasp is worn on the side, instead of the back, sometimes this works, and sometimes it does not. Again, what about the composition of the necklace, allows this to work; what about the composition doesn’t?

With jewelry, asymmetry is a trend the pops up everyso often. In theory, it feels new, different, cool. It allows the wearer to assert a level of individuality and spirit. In practice, it can be awkward, but can be pulled off. As designers, when we want to achieve asymmetry, we have to fight off the brain’s natural tendency to want harmony and balance, thus symmetry.

The easiest way to achieve this is to use other environmental clues — hair styles, clothing styles, patterns in fabric — to assist. We can also play with things like volume, mass and color proportions, where both sides of a piece are visually different, but equal in either total volume, total mass or total color proportions, as if the piece of jewelry were a surrogate balance scale.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Best Way To Thread Your Needle

Bead Stringing With Needle and Thread

Beading Threads vs. Bead Cord

Turning Silver and Copper Metals Black: Some Oxidizing Techniques

Color Blending; A Management Approach

Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry: What Works!

What Glue Should I Use When Making Jewelry?

When Choosing Colors Has You Down, Check Out The Magic Of Simultaneity Effects

The Color Effects of Threads

Wax, Wax, Wax

When You Attend A Bead Show…

When Your Cord Doesn’t Come With A Needle…What You Can Do

Duct Tape Your Pliers

What To Know About Gluing Rhinestones

Know Your Anatomy Of A Necklace

How Does The Jewelry Designer Make Asymmetry Work?

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

I hope you found this article useful. Be sure to click the CLAP HANDS icon at the bottom of this article.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

Add your name to my email list.

Posted in Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation to Crystal Beads

Posted by learntobead on June 21, 2020

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online. Begin with my ORIENTATION TO BEADS & JEWELRY FINDINGS COURSE. There are 18 video modules including handouts, which this is one of.

Crystal Beads

Crystal is glass with lead in it. The more lead you put into the glass, the brighter the glass is. Lead causes health effects. If you looked at glass under a microscope, it would look like a sponge. Basically anything you put into glass, like lead or a dye, will leach out when the glass gets wet, such as when washing or sweating.

The negative health effects of lead result from an accumulation of lead in your body. It doesn’t really leave your body once there. The major way lead gets into your body is ingestion — through the mouth — but it can be absorbed through the skin. So, for jewelry, there is some concern with the older leaded crystal when it touches the skin, or when your hands touch the jewelry and you touch them to your mouth, or you put the jewelry in your mouth. The U.S. has done an incredible job of reducing lead exposure to the general population, but we still have some concerns with the older crystal beads.

The international community started regulating the amount of lead in glass crystal around 1970. They didn’t take it all out, or a big amount all at once. They’ve gradually reduced the amount of lead in crystal. Supposedly, the amount of lead in crystal today is an acceptable risk. They can’t take it all out because then there would be no crystal, and the world would fall apart.

It turns out, as you go back in time, there is more and more lead in crystal. The barrier to putting lead in crystal before regulation was the price of the lead, and lead always went up in price. So there’s more lead in the 1950’s than the 1960’s; more in the 1940’s than the 1950’s; more in the 1930’s than the 1940’s; and so forth. The crystal beads today seem very bright and attractive, but if you held them up next to beads from the 1930’s and 1920’s, the newer ones would look dull and uninteresting like plastic. If you are re-working old jewelry or working with old beads, ideally, you would want to either make things so they are worn over cloth, or put non-crystal beads on either side of your crystal ones, so they are raised above the skin.

Crystal beads are very, very popular. People really value that brightness. They are more expensive than regular glass, but not that much more expensive. These beads are always in high demand. They are always in short supply. The market for distributing and selling these beads is a bit screwy.

And this is the kind of bead that businesses actively try to scam their customers on. I want to give you a sense of what those scams are, and what questions to ask.

SCAM #1: Selling You New Stuff, But Labeling It As Old

The older crystal has much more lead in it, so is considerably brighter and more attractive. Way back when there were some very interesting colors, coloration effects and faceting effects, that only recently have been duplicated or equaled. But they can’t duplicate the brightness. The brightness results from the lead content, not the faceting. Almost all the old stuff has been collected up, so people are not used to seeing it, and seeing any comparisons between old and new. The new stuff looks bright and appealing. People are generally trusting, so it’s easy to get away with.

So you can go into jewelry stores, bead stores, antique stores, estate sales, flea markets, on-line, and see a lot of new stuff getting labeled as old. The old stuff is much more valuable and collectible. If you held the new stuff up next to the old stuff, it would tend to look like plastic.

You won’t be carrying around with you a color chart that shows you color brightness by year of manufacture. But there’s a pretty easy test. If someone says something is old — an old piece of jewelry, or a bag of old beads, hold out your hand straight ahead of you and into the air, and tell them to put it into your hand. If it’s old, your hand will drop. Even if it’s from 1970, your hand will drop. You’re just not used to how heavy things were, when they had a lot of lead in them. When you get back to the 1920’s, each bead is like a lead pellet. One bead will make your hand drop.

If you hand doesn’t drop, then maybe it’s not as old as they are saying, or maybe it’s new.

SCAM #2: Selling You Stuff From A Country Other-Than-Austria, 
 But Telling You It’s Austrian

Just like the Druks and Fire Polish beads, crystal beads are made in many, many countries. Beads from different countries vary in quality, and again knowing what country they come from tells you about the quality and value. The scam here is selling you something from a lower quality country, and telling you it’s Austrian (the highest valued country). They either say they are going to give you a discount on the Austrian, or they pocket the difference.

Swarovski is a company based in Austria that makes the highest quality crystal, and the most expensive. They were the first company to make these, they have the best equipment, and are viewed as top of the line. While Swarovski has offices all over the world, they make these in Austria, (though we know today a lot of production is in China). There are other companies in Austria that either distribute these beads, or turn them into other kinds of jewelry components, but do not make these beads.

Another major source of crystal beads is The Czech Republic. A major Czech crystal manufacturer is Preciosa. Czech crystal usually runs about 10–15% less in cost than the Austrian. Swarovski does a lot of markting; the Czech companies do not. That price difference reflects the differences in marketing costs.

Some similarities and differences: Both the Czechs and the Austrians use the highest amount of lead allowed at any one time, so their beads are equally as bright.

The Austrians have a cultural preference for very sharp facets. The facets on these beads are so sharp that jewelry made with them can scratch the skin. The Czechs have a cultural preference for smoother facets. To the Austrians, the sharper facets make the beads look more like real diamonds. To the Czechs, smoother facets do. Americans seem to prefer the sharper facets. Remember, it’s primarily the lead that gives these pieces their brightness, not the faceting. The Czechs have been moving to sharper facets to compete with the Austrians, because America is the major market for these beads.

The Austrians start with a more intense color palette, and reinforce that intensity through slight modifications in the shape of the bead. You can see this best in the bi-cone, which they make a little less symmetrical and a little more saucer like. This affects how the light refracts through the glass, thus increasing the color intensity.

The Czechs use what I call crayon colors. What’s nice here is that if you are looking for basic colors, like a red-red, or a green-green, you are more likely and more easily to find this color in the Czech line — even though Swarovski offers hundreds of color choices. For example, to get a red-red in the Swarovski line, you would get a red-orange.

The Austrian crystal beads tend to be slightly different in size, because of this shape difference, than advertised. So, if you were purchasing a 4mm bicone, the Austrian crystal is actually 3x4mm; the Czech crystal (and crystal from any other country other than Austria) is 4x4mm. Austrian bicones are smaller than the size you see on their label.

The size differences in the round shape are more difficult to spot. Swarovski also altered its round shapes slightly in the early 2000’s. An 8mm round crystal from any other country would be 8mm x 8mm. From Austria, the older ones are 8mm x 7.5mm. The newer ones are 8mm x 8.5mm. Again, the slightly altered shape changes the way the light refracts through the beads, and enhances the color’s intensity.

In the image below, both 4mm ruby AB bicones would be labeled the same size and color. Both have the same lead content, so they are equally as bright. The Czech color is less intense than the Austrian. The Czech bead is slightly larger and more symmetrical than the Austrian.

If you went into a store to buy 4mm Austrian crystal bicones, you won’t have a chart with you that shows you color intensity by country of manufacture. However, all you would have to do is pull off a strand of 4mm round druks off the wall, or ask to see some 4mm round sterling silver beads. If the 4mm crystal beads you are looking at are the same size as anything else that is 4mm, then the crystal beads are NOT from Austria. In the bicones, the Austrian will always be a different size than the label.

One woman who took one of my classes told the story where she had gone into a bead store she hadn’t been in before, to buy 5mm Austrian crystal bicones. The beads were smaller than 5mm, so she thought she was getting ripped off. She said she threw a temper tantrum, cursing out the store owner, and storming out. You see, it was the company she had been buying them from originally that was ripping her off. Theirs were 5mm.

One problem that people often have when they buy crystal beads from different sources is that many sources will label their crystal beads “Austrian”, but one might send you true Austrian, and another might send you Czech. There’s nothing wrong with Czech crystal. You are getting an equivalent product. The problem that arises is that the actual colors will be different, as will be the sizes and shapes. So, you can order 4mm ruby AB bicones from two sources, and if one sends you Austrian and the other sends you Czech, these will be so different from each other in color, size and shape, that they won’t mix in the same piece.

Another major source of crystal beads is China. While China is working on coming out with a line of crystal equivalent to Swarovski, most Chinese crystal you’ll find on the US market uses considerably less lead, thus is a lot less bright, and more unattractive. This Chinese crystal runs about 1/3 the price of the Austrian crystal. If you held this Chinese crystal up next to Austrian crystal, you would immediately notice that it is cloudier and less bright than the Austrian.

However, when people sell Chinese crystal, they don’t hold it up next to Austrian crystal. They hold it up next to glass. It’s much prettier than glass. Plus, they are in the business of marketing and displaying Chinese crystal so it looks great at the point of sale. If asked, I usually tell people to think carefully before they buy this. At the point of sale, it’s cheap and it’s attractive. But when you take it home, you usually have nothing to mix it with. It’s too dull to mix with Austrian crystal; it’s too bright to mix with glass. However, if you are making fashion jewelry, the Chinese crystal might be the best choice. It is very inexpensive, but will definitely add that extra level of sparkle and brightness that people find so attractive. Moreover, the Chinese line has some interesting color effects and shapes that the Swarovski line does not.

Suppose you are very familiar with the realities of the crystal market. Say you are in the business of selling eyeglass leashes, and that you had been using Austrian crystals in your leash, and having to sell them for $20.00. You have a brainstorm. If you substitute Chinese crystals for Austrian crystals, you’ll be able to sell your eyeglass leashes for $10.00, and become a millionaire.

With this particular type of bead, this relationship based on cost doesn’t really play out. People really value that brightness, and are willing to pay for it. Say I had an eyeglass leash done with Chinese crystals at $10.00 side by side with one done with Austrian crystals at $20.00. I’d sell more at $20.00. Say I had my Chinese one alone. I wouldn’t sell that many more at $10.00, based on a cost projection, because people come to the situation with an expectation about brightness. People shop around. People go to Macy’s and look at tennis bracelets, and they go to Wal-Mart and look at tennis bracelets. Subconsciously, they see and know the difference, and they bring this understanding with them to any purchasing situation.

With Chinese crystal, you are definitely getting an inferior product. But how do you know what you’re buying? I’ve been in many bead stores, bead shows, on-line, and seen many people selling Other-Than-Austrian crystal, but having this labeled as Austrian.

SCAM #3: Selling You Grade “B” as Grade “A”

Crystal in the market can be sorted into two groupings, though they are rarely labeled as such. Grade “A” is perfect. Grade “B” may or may not have scratches and chips. This works like clothing and “irregulars.” Grade “B” comes from many sources. Stores that have these loose in a tray may be selling them out, and they’ve gotten bumped up and bruised in the trays. Some people cannibalize old jewelry. Distributors and manufacturers sell off cartons that have gotten roughed up somehow, through dropping cases, moving and the like.

These beads are so bright that it is difficult to examine them for scratches and chips over a sustained time without hurting your eyes. The only yellow flag that I can suggest is that, if you see these crystal beads getting sold on strands, I’d be more suspicious. When crystal beads come to a store, they come loose in an envelope. If you see them on strands, that means that someone had to pay someone to strand them.

A good reason to put them on strands is that they sell better on strands. But you can only do so many strands in an hour, so the price of these would reflect that extra effort.

Usually when I’ve seen grade B sold as grade A, they’ve been on strands. So I’d suggest examining the beads a little more closely, if you buy them on strands.

Scams Over Crystal Beads Are Easy To Get Away With

The reason so many businesses actively try to scam their customers on crystal beads, is that it’s easy to get away with. Customers are often in a frenzy to get beads which are always in short supply. There can be a lot of wheeling and dealing when distributors sell crystal beads, so often there is not a clear and strong relationship between the price and the cost of these beads. A small retail store may have an incredibly great price, and a national distributor might have an average price. Not all the distributors carry all the colors and all the sizes and all the shapes. Often, people, while on vacation, will see some color or shape at a local bead store, and assume they can find the same thing when they get back home. There are often notorious and seemingly unexplainable shortages of certain colors or shapes.

And Swarovski, in the 2000’s, began rebranding their crystal products as “Crystallized”, which only muddied the water more. You can’t trademark an adjective. What began happening is that many crystal producers and distributors around the world began re-naming themselves “Crystallized”-something. One Chinese company became “Chwarovski.” In January, 2010, Swarovski returned to “Swarovski”, dropping “crystallized.”

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Jewelry Findings: Preparers

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Jewelry Findings: Controllers and Adapters

Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry: What Works!

What Glue Should I Use When Making Jewelry?

Why Am I So Addicted To Beads?

A Very Abbreviated, But Not Totally Fractured, History of Beads

The Martha Stewart Beaded Wreath Project

When Choosing Colors Has You Down, Check Out The Magic Of Simultaneity Effects

The Use of Armature In Jewelry: Legitimate or Not?

Pearl Knotting Warren’s Way

Organizing Your Craft Workspace…Some Smart Pointers

You Don’t Choose Clasps, You Choose Clasp Assemblies

Know Your Anatomy Of A Necklace

Mini Lesson: Making Stretchy Bracelets

Mini Lesson: Making Adjustable Slip Knots With Thicker Cords

Mini Lesson: How To Crimp

Mini Lesson: Attaching End Caps, Cones, Crimp Ends

Mini Lesson: Brick Stitch

Mini Lesson: Flat Even Count Peyote

Mini Lesson: Ndebele Stitch

Mini Lesson: Petersburg Chain

Mini Lesson: Right Angle Weave

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Everyone Has A Getting Started StoryThe Nature-Inspired Creations of Kathleen

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Glass Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Lampwork Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Crystal Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Seed and Cylinder Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Choosing and Using Clasps

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

I hope you found this article useful. Be sure to click the CLAP HANDS icon at the bottom of this article.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online. Begin with my ORIENTATION TO BEADS & JEWELRY FINDINGS COURSE.

Add your name to my email list.

Posted in Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

BEADS AND RACE

Posted by learntobead on June 19, 2020

Is there racism in beading?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I always have wondered why some people called the Ndebele Stitch, the “Herringbone Stitch”. Is it the pronunciation of the word “Ndebele” that influenced the switch? Or something more sinister?

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

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

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

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

Race issues aren’t new problems that suddenly appeared circa 2020. They have historical roots, and an unsettling lingering quality to them. The day I wrote this article, these were some of the headlines on the MSNBC.com website home-page:

“Interracial couple denied marriage license [in Louisiana]”
“Appearance matters more for black CEO’s”
 “Breaking Barriers: US Minority Leaders”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Each time we advertise to fill a staff position, we try to go out of our way to attract qualified minority applicants. We talk to our minority customers. We contact newspapers and agencies that target various minority communities. We contact the state’s Job Service. We get very few minority applicants, and fewer qualified ones. We pay well. The job is very interesting and rarely boring. While I’ve offered jobs to minority applicants, I’ve never had a taker. Whether I project this onto the situation, or it’s real, I get a sense of ill-ease, some risk, some discomfort.

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

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

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

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

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

Time and again over the years, I’ve introduced minority students to one of our bead study groups or jewelry making classes. The groups and classes are very inviting. But how many times I’ve overheard them peppering the person with questions, assuming, for instance, a black person would automatically be interested in Zulu beadwork, tribal jewelry and motifs, or African Trade Beads. And they’re not. Or that an Asian student would only be interested in bead weaving or pearl knotting, and only with Japanese seed beads or Japanese pearls. And they’re not. Or that a Latino student would prefer to use very bright colors. When they’re not. And they get asked all these questions which re-emphasizes that they are not necessarily among friends. And they don’t come back.

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

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

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Do You Know Where Your Beading Needles Are?

Consignment Selling: A Last Resort

Odds or Evens? What’s Your Preference?

My Clasp, My Clasp, My Kingdom For A Clasp

Why Am I So Addicted To Beads?

The Bead Spill: My Horrifying Initiation

The Artists At The Party

How To Bead A Rogue Elephant

You Can Never Have Enough Containers For Your Stuff

Beading While Traveling On A Plane

Contemplative Ode To A Bead

How To Bead In A Car

My Aunt Gert: Illustrating Some Lessons In Business Smarts

A Jewelry Designer’s Day Dream

A Dog’s Life by Lily

I Make All The Mistakes In The Book

How Sparkle Enters People’s Lives

Upstairs, Downstairs At The Bead Store

Beads and Race

Were The Ways of Women or of Men Better At Fostering How To Make Jewelry

Women and Their Husbands When Shopping For Beads

Women Making Choices In The Pursuit Of Fashion

Existing As A Jewelry Designer: What Befuddlement!

The Bridesmaid Bracelets

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

I hope you found this article useful. Be sure to click the CLAP HANDS icon at the bottom of this article.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

Add your name to my email list.

Posted in Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Changing Careers: From Health Care to Jewelry Design

Posted by learntobead on June 19, 2020

For many people, jewelry design is a career choice that comes later in life. You work hard, continually frustrated or disappointed or unsatisfied in your current job. And you reach a point where you want to find something — a job or hobby or avocation — that makes you happy. That gives you a personal sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. You want to make a change.

That’s what happened to me.

I had been in the health care field for over 25 years. I never really liked health care as a field, but it paid a lot, it was a big source of status and power for me, and I did very well. I reached a point where I was near the top of my field, and no longer could push myself to take the next step.

Money had been one of my prime motivators. But that was less important to me now. I had traveled a lot, had lots of stuff and collectibles, a $10,000 wardrobe of the finest clothes and shoes. Except for the travel, I didn’t care about much of these things anymore.

Proving myself to myself had been another motivator. And I had proved myself to myself. I had accomplished some Herculean tasks and projects, under difficult conditions, with good and not so good people. And, though I hate to say it, I didn’t care about promoting health care and health care access anymore. I had done my part thoroughly and thoroughly well. It was time for someone else to take over these reigns.

I was at the top of my field, and social relationships equated with work relationships. I didn’t have friends outside of work. Many “friendships” were shallow in that they involved the machiavellian maneuverings you have to do when involved with work. My staff were not particularly honest and forthright with me, unnecessarily fearing for their jobs, if they were. And while I was surrounded by people every day, and I talked with people every day, and I played and worked with people every day, I felt very alone and lonely. My social connections were shallow or political or discolored by events. A few years earlier it was fun and challenging to manipulate these relationships. But now I yearned for something more real, more personal.

My life was going to continue to wither on the vine if I didn’t do something more drastic. I had to stop my world, and step off.

I had grown up in retail. My parents owned a pharmacy. They put me to work when I was 11 years old. I did so well, that they never put my younger brother or sister to work. [Still a psychological issue for me, though this is for another story…..]

When I graduated college, I looked for a non-retail pathway, because the money potential wasn’t there, and the social status potential wasn’t there, the hours were terrible, and the stresses that come with the monthly ups and downs in business were unpleasant.

Yet “retail” was in my blood. I always envisioned having a little retail store on the side. And when I was ready to make my change in careers, it was retail to which I jumped.

It wasn’t one big jump. Rather it was a managed transition over a period of two years. I made deliberate decisions. I pretested each of my ideas. I assembled the funds I needed to get started. And I started small.

The retail grew, had set-backs, grew again.

After a few years, I evolved from a passion for selling jewelry to one for making it. A lot of things were trial and error, but gradually I began to define a philosophy of design and build upon some great ideas.

I’m very happy to make a living in the creative arts. And to have some of my income and success flow from my designs for jewelry.

I have to admit that my family and friends were horrified at my decision. The saw it as a come-down. Loss of prestige. A failure.

But that is not what it felt like to me. I was happy, motivated, and reconnected to the world.

It’s less money. Less status. Less opportunity to travel. But every day, I wake up and go to work at something I love.

Some final words of wisdom:

1) Be purpose driven.

2) Surround yourself with other creative people who can be supportive of you as a person and as a designer

3) Be a continual learner. Styles, techniques, technologies and materials constantly change. As do fashions and tastes. And there are always new jewelry designers to admire and gain insights from.

4) Always set aside some time each day for reflection and self-care

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Oy Ve! The Challenges of Custom Work

The Importance of Self-Promotion: Don’t Be Shy

Are You Prepared For When The Reporter Comes A-Calling?

Don’t Just Wear Your Jewelry…Inhabit It!

Two Insightful Psych Phenomena Every Jewelry Designer Needs To Know

A Dog’s Life by Lily

Copyrighting Your Pieces: Let’s Not Confuse The Moral With The Legal Issues

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Jewelry Design: An Occupation In Search Of A Profession

Teaching Discplinary Literacy: Strategic Thinking In Jewelry Design

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

Beads and Race

Were The Ways of Women or of Men Better At Fostering How To Make Jewelry

The Bridesmaid Bracelets

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

I hope you found this article useful. Be sure to click the CLAP HANDS icon at the bottom of this article.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

Add your name to my email list.

Posted in Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Glass Beads

Posted by learntobead on June 17, 2020

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online. Begin with my ORIENTATION TO BEADS & JEWELRY FINDINGS COURSE. There are 18 video modules including handouts, which this is one of.

Not All Beads Are Alike

Not all beads are alike. When you see them in a store or a catalog or online, they might look the same in appearance. But appearances are deceiving. There are underlying quality differences which can be very wide indeed. Such differences will have a big impact, sometimes negative, on the success of your pieces.

Beads are made in many countries around the world, but few are made in the United States. Making beads is a difficult task. Bead-making is often done by workers who are exploited in some way, and this is a reality of the craft. Knowing what country the beads were manufactured in tells you a lot about their quality and usefulness. In fact, country-of-origin is your best indicator of quality.

[NOTE: Increased Globalization these days tends to blur geographical boundaries. What’s labeled “Made in Germany” might actually be manufactured in Pakistan. Austrian Crystal and Murano Glass might originate in China. Bali Silver might begin its creation in India or Turkey. Yet we still associate our understanding of “quality” by the country label stamped on the beads packaging, where we assume, that the primary “country” on the label of the product maintains its sense of quality standards, no matter where the product has actually been produced. So crystal labeled “Made in Austria”, which may have actually been manufactured in China, would have the higher qualities associated with Austria; whereas, crystal labeled “Made in China” and manufactured in China would have the lower qualities associated with China.

The journey of a glass bead might transverse 5 or 6 countries before it ended up on the retail shelf. One country might make a core bead. It may go to another country to do some shaping. Still another country to do some finishing. Yet another country for some coloration. And yet one more country to apply a special coloration effect. And, yes, still yet another country to get packaged up as retail-ready.]

Not all beads are useful for all projects. Beads come in all levels of quality and sophistication. Knowing which beads to select for your project, — whether you want to bead a professional jewelry designer, or not is a key skill every beader and jewelry maker needs to learn.

In this module, I’m going to focus on glass beads, and try to give you a sense of what “quality” means. My descriptions are broad generalizations, but will give you a good grounding in quality issues and considerations.

Picture in your mind a strand of 8mm round glass beads. We will call these “large” beads, as opposed to the “small” seed beads we’ll cover later in another module. For our purposes here, it does not matter what color or finish these beads are, only that they are glass, are round, and that we’re looking at several of them that are supposed to be the same bead, typically on a strand.

These are 8mm, Round, Pressed Glass Beads

Look at the glass beads in the image above. They are machine made (pressed glass). I want to give you a sense of what quality means, when it comes to glass beads. I am going to pretend they are made in different countries to give you a sense of what quality means.

Our criteria:
1) perfection in shape
 2) consistency in shape from bead to bead on a strand
 3) hole sharpness or smoothness
 4) hole size consistency from bead to bead on a strand
 5) whether hole is drilled through the center or not
 6) whether the color is in the glass, or applied to the surface of the glass using a coating, film or decal

CZECH GLASS: If these 8mm round glass beads had been made in The Czech Republic, we’d give them a grade of “B”. We would consider the price to be above average, by a good typical benchmark for quality jewelry.

NOTE: The “grade” and “price” refers to beads (and other components) for jewelry making purposes. The quality of the pieces you would use in making jewelry have to be of a much higher quality than those you would use to make something stationery, like a beaded Christmas ornament. All jewelry moves. This puts a tremendous amount of pressure and force on each component. So they have to be a higher quality. My reference in our discussions in on jewelry.

These 8mm round Czech glass beads would be considered “generally perfectly round.” They are not perfectly round, but close.

The beads on a strand from bead to bead are pretty much the same size and shape. They are not really the exact size and shape, just close.

The manufacturer produces thousands of beads, basically one at a time. At the point they are ready to get strung up as strands, they are piled in up into a huge pyramid on a table. Someone, usually a woman, sits there all day and eyeballs them and sorts them by quality. She separates the A-quality from the B-quality. B-quality beads may have some flat sides, the color may not fill the entire bead, the holes may have chips or other problems, the shape might be somewhat distorted. For the A-quality, she chooses which ones are similar enough to be included on the same strand, and the customer will think they are all exactly the same. This process of selection is less important for the B-quality beads.

The Czech beads have a good size hole. The holes from bead to bead on a strand are pretty much the same size. They are drilled through the center.

These holes would be called “generally smooth”. This is a marketing term. The hole of a bead is not very smooth. Instead it looks like a broken soda bottle. If I took a soda bottle and smashed it on the edge of a table, this resulting jagged rim would be what the hole looked like — rough, jagged edges, potential to cut your stringing material. Because you cannot see this roughness with your naked eye, marketers can get away with calling these holes “generally smooth”. However, you always have to worry about the holes of your beads cutting your stringing materials.

One last point. The Czechs use colored glass, so if the bead scratched or chipped, it would be the same color on the inside.

JAPANESE GLASS: If these 8mm round beads had been made in Japan, we’d give them a grade of “A”. The Japanese beads would cost about 3–5 times that of the Czech beads.

These beads would be “generally perfectly round”. They would not be perfectly round, but would be rounder than the Czech beads.

The beads on a strand would be very similar in size and shape, though not exactly the same size and shape.

These would have good hole sizes, and the hole sizes would be consistent from bead to bead on the strand.

These holes would be called “smooth”, and you would primarily be paying for a smoother hole. Note how I say smoother, not smooth. They would be drilled through the center.

The Japanese also use colored glass, so if your bead scratched or chipped, it would be the same color on the inside.

CHINESE GLASS: These round 8mm glass beads could also have been made in China. We would give these beads a “D” or an “F”. They would be 1/3 or less in cost than the Czech beads.

These beads would be “generally perfectly round”.

The hole sizes would be a good size hole and consistent along the strand from bead to bead.

We would call these holes “generally smooth”, meaning they look like a broken coke bottle. The holes would be a little rougher than the Czech beads.

Usually the hole is drilled through the center, but sometimes you’ll find that the hole is a little off-center. If off-center, this means the bead will more easily break when worn. It also means that the beads on a strand will not line up perfectly, which can be annoying.

The problem with the Chinese beads is that they tend to use clear beads and colored coatings. The coatings are very poorly applied. The coatings will chip off, and your beads will all-too-quickly look like chipped nail polish.

[Since 2005, the Czechs have gotten very much into coatings, as well. Their finishes seem more reliable, but will still have the issues of chipping off the core bead. But the coating technology keeps improving. For the Czechs, this has opened up great possibilities in color combinations and effects. The Czechs use their coated beads to supplement and complement their regular line of beads. ]

[NOTE, parenthetically: The best gemstone beads come from China. China gets A+ for gemstones. Their higher quality gemstone beads tend to be higher priced than gemstone beads from other countries. While India is catching up in quality and selection, they still have a ways to go. What I tend to like about the Chinese gemstone beads is that they are more careful in how they drill the holes. They know how to avoid the fracture lines in the stone, so that when finished jewelry is subjected to all the forces of movement and wear, they hold up well, and don’t break. Chinese beads have clean holes, and rarely have any cracks or wear at the hole. Chinese beads, when treated with dyes, heat, radiation, polishes and the like, seem more durable, and less affected by sunlight, water, detergents and general wear, than similarly treated ones from other countries. I usually try to avoid the beads from India, particularly the treated ones, but they are a lot less expensive. ]

INDIA GLASS: As a last example, we can picture these same 8mm round beads beads as if they were made in India. Here, we would give these beads an “F minus minus minus minus”. These beads would be a fraction of the cost of the Czech beads.

These beads would not be perfectly round.

Some holes would be OK, some too small, some too large.

Some holes would be drilled centered. Some off centered. Some somewhat at a diagonal.

These holes would be called “rough”. They can’t get away with marketing because your eye can see how rough these are.

While the Indians are beginning to adapt some of the Chinese production techniques, such as colored coatings and decals, to keep their costs down, for the most part today, you can assume that they have used colored glass, so if their beads scratched or chipped, they would be the same color on the inside.

So Many Beads, So Little Time, Which Ones Do I Choose?

This does NOT mean that you never use beads from India and China and only use beads from the Czech Republic or Japan. You always relate your choice of bead to what you’re trying to do — that is, your design goals, (and if you are selling things, to your marketing goals, as well).

For example, if you are making Fashion Jewelry, the Indian beads might be your best choice. This type of jewelry is often worn only once or twice and thrown away. Not only would the Indian beads be your best choice because they are cheap; their irregularities gives them a funky look, and this works hand in hand with Fashion jewelry. The Chinese beads would be OK because they are cheap, but there’s nothing funky about them. They look very machine made.

On the other extreme, if you were making an heirloom bracelet, and the person you made it for was going to wear it a lot, put it away, give it to their granddaughter or niece, and that person was not going to wear it, then the Czech beads might be your best choice. If the granddaughter or niece was, in fact, going to wear this heirloom bracelet, then, from a design stand-point, the Japanese beads might be your best choice.

From a marketing stand-point, however, if you were selling this piece, you might have to back down to the Czech beads. Say you presented your customer with a choice between a Czech-based heirloom bracelet and one Japanese-based bracelet, and the former might sell for $100 and the latter for $400. Four hundred dollars is a hard sell. To your customer, both bracelets would look exactly the same. The things that are different are either things they can’t see, or things that may not happen for 30 or 40 years.

So, in beading, nothing is perfect. At least should accept these facts: There is no perfect bead for every situation. No perfect clasp. No perfect stringing material. No perfect technique. Everything involves making choices and trade-offs and judgment calls. The more you understand the quality of the pieces you are using, and the clearer you are about your design goals (and if you’re selling your stuff, your marketing goals as well), the more prepared you’ll be to make these kinds of choices.

Yes, better prepared to make choices. That’s why you need an Orientation.

Making Beads By Machine

Pressed Glass. There are many ways to make glass beads by machine. The major way of making glass beads by machine is called “Pressed Glass” — basically molding them.

To oversimplify things, to make a round bead in pressed glass, you would fill two half cups with molten glass and then press them together. At the point they’ve been pressed together, this sometimes leaves a ridge, and sometimes a color change. While they are supposed to tumble the beads to smooth out the ridge, sometimes this ridge can be very pronounced. With the color change, sometimes this looks like a natural part of the bead; othertimes, it’s hideous.

The line down the center of the bead is where the two halves come together.

The Lesson here: Whenever you buy a strand of beads, you need to examine all the beads on the strand, to make sure you can live with what you’re buying. There will be production issues with some beads in any batch. You especially want to look at the equator or belly to be sure there are no ridges or hideous discolorations. You want to be sure there are no flat spots where none should be. That the shape of the bead is perfect and consistent from bead to bead on the strand. That the coloration is full and complete within each bead. And that the holes are drilled cleanly — that is, no chips around the holes of the beads, and that the holes have been drilled as a straight channel through the center.

The actual process of pressing glass into beads: The bead presser sits in front of a fiery kiln, with many rods of colored glass next to him. The tips of these rods are resting in the kiln, to make them soft. A die press (like two cookie cutters vertically hurling towards each other, then suddenly away again) is operating in front of the kiln, between the kiln and the bead presser. The bead presser grabs a rod, and moves the tip into the die press. The press stamps out the shape of a bead. Rods in the die press molds simultaneously create the hole. The presser continues to move the rod into the die press. Only a few beads can be pressed before the rod must be heated again. So the presser lays this rod next to him, with the tip in the kiln, and grabs another rod with a hot tip. The pressed glass cool as they slide into a holding container. The beads at this point are still connected to each other by the excess glass around the molded shape. The beads then get tumbled to break the beads apart from the rod. And they get tumbled again to smooth off the ridges. The quality of the beads relies mostly on the skill level of the master bead presser. These bead pressers vary widely in their craftsmanship.

Druks and Fire Polish Beads

I wanted to give you, at this point in our orientation pathway, a couple of terms for beads. The first is “Druk”. Druk means plain, smooth, roundish. Not necessarily just round. Roundish. You can have a round Druk, a Druk rondelle, an egg-shaped Druk. If you’re looking for a Plain Jane kind of glass bead, usually the word Druk will get you the furthest.

The opposite of Druk is called “Fire Polish”. Fire Polish beads have at least one slice or facet on it. Fire Polish beads start as smooth round beads and facets are grinded into them in a faceting machine. The faceted surfaces and edges can be splintery and sharp. So before these glass beads can be used, these surfaces and edges need to be smoothed out. One way this is done is to run the bead back and forth in a flame or a very hot oven so the surfaces melt, thus “fire-polishing”.

So you can have a round Fire Polish bead. A teardrop Fire Polish bead. A 5-sided Fire Polish bead. An 8-sided Fire Polish bead. A Fire Polish rondelle. If you’re looking for a faceted, dressier look, then usually the words “Fire Polish” will get you the furthest.

THE AB- AND OTHER COLORATION EFFECTS

Now on some beads, there is a special coloration finish called an “Effect”. The most common is an AB effect. AB stands for Aurora Borealis. The AB effect looks like a rainbow or oil slick. This effect appears on just one side of the bead — it doesn’t go all the way around.

There are many ways to make this effect on the glass, and the technology is always changing and evolving — mostly to keep the costs down. Typically on glass beads, a chemical is applied to one side of the bead, and then the bead is subjected to some source of heat and pressure. The chemical explodes on the glass, adheres to the glass, and creates a certain coloration. The effect is typically “fired” on the bead; it is not typically a coating. The fired finish is more durable. There are about 40 different coloration effects — such as celsian, azuro, zairit, valentinit, clarit, vega, ½ silver (cal), ½ gold (Apollo), ½ copper, among others — , and new ones invented frequently. But most often, all you see is the AB effect.

Now, they do create this where it goes all the way around the glass. To go all the way around the glass, they have to repeat the production process twice. When the effect goes all the way around the glass, the color is called AB AB or FULL AB.

If we are talking about color names, the color name for black is “jet.” With no effect the color would be called “jet.” With the effect on one side, “jet AB.” With the effect all the way around, “jet AB AB.” [On crystal beads, the shortform color name would be “jet 2X.”]

Over time, this AB effect will begin to scratch and eventually wear off. On most quality beads, this usually takes a very long time. Occasionally this happens more quickly than you would like. If this is critical to you and your piece, you’ll want to experiment with your beads before you use them. Take one bead and see how easy it is to scratch off with your fingernail. On some Chinese beads, I think they spray it on, because I can literally flick it off with my thumb nail.

Sometimes the word “Rainbow” is used to denote the AB effect. Sometimes this word is used to denote a similar but different effect called “iris”.

DRUKS AND FIRE POLISH BEADS ARE MEASURED IN MILLIMETERS

Druks and Fire Polish beads are measured in “millimeters”. Typically, these are available in 2mm, 3mm, 4mm, 6mm, 8mm, 10mm, and 12mm. Less common are 5mm, 7mm, 9mm and sizes larger than 12mm.

Rulers are marked in inches on one side and millimeters on the other. There are 25mm in an inch. Thus 6mm would be approximately 1/4 inches (25 divided by 6).

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Jewelry Findings: Preparers

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Jewelry Findings: Controllers and Adapters

Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry: What Works!

What Glue Should I Use When Making Jewelry?

Why Am I So Addicted To Beads?

A Very Abbreviated, But Not Totally Fractured, History of Beads

The Martha Stewart Beaded Wreath Project

When Choosing Colors Has You Down, Check Out The Magic Of Simultaneity Effects

The Use of Armature In Jewelry: Legitimate or Not?

Pearl Knotting Warren’s Way

Organizing Your Craft Workspace…Some Smart Pointers

You Don’t Choose Clasps, You Choose Clasp Assemblies

Know Your Anatomy Of A Necklace

Mini Lesson: Making Stretchy Bracelets

Mini Lesson: Making Adjustable Slip Knots With Thicker Cords

Mini Lesson: How To Crimp

Mini Lesson: Attaching End Caps, Cones, Crimp Ends

Mini Lesson: Brick Stitch

Mini Lesson: Flat Even Count Peyote

Mini Lesson: Ndebele Stitch

Mini Lesson: Petersburg Chain

Mini Lesson: Right Angle Weave

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Everyone Has A Getting Started StoryThe Nature-Inspired Creations of Kathleen

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Glass Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Lampwork Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Crystal Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Seed and Cylinder Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Choosing and Using Clasps

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

I hope you found this article useful. Be sure to click the CLAP HANDS icon at the bottom of this article.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online. Begin with my ORIENTATION TO BEADS & JEWELRY FINDINGS COURSE.

Add your name to my email list.

Posted in Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS AT THE BEAD STORE

Posted by learntobead on June 17, 2020

One of the first times I noticed that some people were treated differently than others had to do with Miss Divinity Daughtry — an heiress. I was in elementary school at the time. Miss Daughtry had an estate across the Raritan River from my Dad’s pharmacy. She had been in our store a couple of times, but mostly she stayed on the estate.

She had just killed — that is, allegedly, just killed — another boy friend. In the same way as the first. Car accident. Hit the wrong pedal, or gas pedal stuck, something like that. Man dead. She walked away without a scratch. Poor thing. Bored with her man. Disposed of the best way she knew how — allegedly.

Her estate was very large. She had given some of it over to local communities to use as a park. I spent many-a-day at Island Park — hiking, swimming at the dam, playing on the swings, picnicking. Beautiful park. They held the July 4th fire works there. The land was flat and wooded — flood plain. The ponds attracted many ducks and geese. People loved that park. Though they didn’t necessarily love Miss Daughtry. Few knew her, but all knew of her.

The local police never arrested Miss Daughtry or charged her with a crime. Accident, they said. Convenient accident, everyone else said. No investigation, no trial, no examination of the car. The accidents both took place on Miss Daughtry’s estate. On her driveways. Fast enough to kill the passengers, but not the driver. In the same way. Almost in the same spot. An act of God. An act with God’s blessing. Poor little rich girl. If there’s a boy friend of yours you’d like to get rid of, you might want to try this at your home, and see if it works for you.

It was clear to all that money bought extra understanding, a bigger dose of empathy, a larger amount of believability, more room for magnanimity, and a two-faced measure of justice. Like the drama masks, a tragedy if you looked at the situation from one angle, and a comedy, if you looked at it from another. The rules, the culture, the daily behaviors of life — all work differently for different folks for different measures of wealth.

Whether you’re a Dodge or a Helmsley, leaving $100 million or $50 million to your dog, when you pass away, there’s a certain disconnect you often find based on class and income. What’s important to one class, is not to the other. What are appropriate behaviors to one class, are not to the other. What are measures of success to one class, are not necessarily understood in the same way by the other, or are not necessarily achievable in one generation. Economic classes can be very distinct, and each class creates many social and linguistic behaviors which serve to maintain these distinctions.

So, when Miss Daughtry, again, for the third time, yes, Third Time, had a car accident, while she was driving, with her new boy-friend as a passenger in the car, on her estate, as before, near the same spot, she was again not questioned by the police, or had her car examined. In fact, she left New Jersey to spend time on another one of her estates, I think in Hawaii. Her boy friend was hurt, but not critically so. Miss Daughtry, this time, suffered a fractured bone in her leg. Her driving skills were obviously declining with age. They should at least have forced her to give up her drivers license.

Miss Daughtry died at 81 years of age. One day, she collapsed on the floor, gasping for breath. Her butler watched her choke on food or medicine and did not call for help. She passed away. He was obviously ready to receive her fortune — all of it which she left to him. Although he was eventually put on trial for murder, the jury found him innocent. This was as they should have. When someone rich mistakes the money-grubbing of a butler for loyalty and devotion, society has no other choice, though this innocence is not necessarily as the rich of society would see it. Her obituary told of all her philanthropic works. I remembered her in a different way.

As far as I know, Miss Daughtry didn’t bead or make jewelry or any crafts. Her main hobbies were sexual exploits and mystical explorations. But had she beaded, she would have found beading, as a hobby, to be very expensive, and as a social endeavor, to raise many interesting societal questions related to income and class. Beading, with its upstairs/downstairs implications, mystical and sexual connotations, the potential dangers and thrilling possibilities that come with needle, and scissors, and torch, might have been something she may have enjoyed.

While beading attracts people of all income classes, often there are funny, and not-so-funny, “Upstairs/Downstairs” qualities where beadwork and jewelry are made, where beads and jewelry are bought, and where beads and jewelry are sold. You might assume that this doesn’t concern jewelry makers, but it does. You bead and make jewelry in a social context, and Upstairs/Downstairs tensions are very much among the kinds of things you must manage, to be successful.

So when Nancy, who is middle class, was riding in a car with Letitia, who is upper class, on their way to a beading workshop in the mountains, Letitia complained and complained about having less money, now that her husband was retired. She had to edit down her European tour, cutting out 3 days and 4 countries. She had to change landscaping companies for a less expensive one. Her husband wanted to sit down and come up with a weekly budget. Which meant she’d have to cut back her spending on beads — running about $150–200.00 each week. She’d probably have to cut this down to about $100.00 per week.

Nancy was counting down the minutes — minute by minute — hoping their trip would end soon. Nancy’s husband recently lost his job. Her family was overextended financially. And she probably spent less than $100.00 a month on beads. All Letitia’s talk was making Nancy feel more and more uncomfortable. Nancy was ready to push Letitia out the window. “How will I survive the drive back?” Nancy thought to herself. They stopped to get gas, and Letitia asked Nancy if she wanted to split the cost of a soda.

Crissa points to a staff member at the shop. “Hey, you,” Crissa shouts, then snaps her fingers. “Over here,” she orders. “Get these trays out for me,” she continues. I witness part of this, but it isn’t the first time. I don’t think anyone on my staff likes to be finger-snapped at. All too often, some customers treat staff as servants. They aren’t servants. They don’t want to be. It’s very difficult to maintain a sense of dignity if people treat you that way.

And staff do respond passive-aggressively. “Here?” they say, pointing to trays not even close where to Crissa was looking. “Here?” again feigning interest and concern. When they arrive at the correct trays, they take them out one-by-one, very slowly. They don’t open up the lids. They take their time writing down what Crissa selects. And play as dumb and dumb-founded as they can. They will make Crissa wait and struggle and get frustrated. And delight in this.

Ernesta was another customer who was very haughty with staff. Her husband had been a special American ambassador to Japan. They had spent 15 years living a life of privilege in Japan. When they returned home, she picked up beading as a hobby to fill her time. She missed the people, the parties, the conversations she had had routinely in Japan. Nothing similar was to be had in Nashville, particularly since her husband had now retired. Beading would fill the void.

She came in weekly and, each time, spent hundreds of dollars on beads. She finger-snapped at staff. She asked questions which clearly showed her superiority, and staff inferiority. It came to a point where no one on staff wanted to wait on her. When she entered the shop, everyone found a place to busy themselves and hide. Several years later, her husband died. He left her nothing in his will. Nothing. She had little money of her own. But she had accumulated a bead stash worth thousands of dollars. One day she came into the store, and quietly, meekly, with pleading in her voice, she asked if she could bring back the beads a little at a time for money. Without hesitation, I said she could. But it’s unbelievably awkward each time she comes in. The thoughts going through my head, and what I imagine the thoughts going through her head — a lot to contemplate.

Neva loves to bead. She spends most of her time each week beading. She beads while she does the laundry. She beads while she prepares dinner for her husband and three children. She beads incessantly. Her husband works full-time some weeks and part-time in others. When he works, he gets some decent pay, but it’s never steady, and never enough. Neva works part time as a store clerk to support her beading habit. But she also has supported her beading habit with over $20,000 of credit card debt.

Beading and jewelry making are Neva’s ticket out of poverty. It’s a fantasy ticket to a fantasy island with fantasy riches. But at the same time, she gets to socialize with women who are upper class, who take the classes she takes and joins the bead society she belongs to and attends the same bead shows she does. She visits their homes for beading sessions, or meetings, or special dinners. She travels with them. She meets their friends. She shares their stories, their experiences, their excitement that only money can buy. Occasionally they buy her gifts, or give her hand-me-downs, which in Neva’s hands, are prize possessions. She gets to sell some of her jewelry at prices she could never afford herself. She feels she’s among friends. Among equals.

Sally lives in the wealthiest neighborhood in town. It’s not a stretch for her and her husband. It’s a place they feel they belong, and can easily afford. Sally discovered that she liked to design and sell jewelry. Marketing to her friends, however, has proven a challenge. First, she has to explain to them that, yes, you can make a piece a jewelry. A finished piece doesn’t magically appear that way on a store shelf. Then, she has to explain what “make” means. They assume that “make” means you fly to New York and buy it. Then she tackles the meaning of “design”. “Is that something that you can do?” they ask, implying that really no one makes jewelry, except a few designers whose names they can remember. And she dare not come across as if she has to make jewelry to bring in extra money. While money is not her motivator here, she has to subtly convey to others that she makes and sells for fun, not because she needs to.

Her potential customers in her neighborhood want jewelry. They just can’t make the connection between Sally, designing/making jewelry, and how a piece of jewelry would end up coming to them. Talk about hard sell! And Sally, bless her heart, when someone agrees to let her design something for them, she feels she needs to follow through, no matter what the request. Getting these people to make a request is so fraught with complications of life and meanings, she dare not say No! Even when many requests are unreal. Of course, they would be. Otherwise, they would just fly to New York and pick up what they need.

One woman asked Sally to make something that she could wear, when accepting an award for her horsewomanship. The jewelry had to match the horse’s colors — apparently, show horses have assigned colors — which she described as the pink-rose color in a famous rose given to Queen Elizabeth, the navy blue of an insignia at the local Club, and white. She wanted the necklace to look rich and elegant, and complement both she and her horse. Aside from the fact that making something that is pink and navy and white is difficult, especially if you want it to be rich-looking, we had to find that pink-rose color, and match it with beads.

Google IMAGES came in very handy. We found the Queen and her rose and matching beads. We used blue goldstone for the navy, minimized the white, and brainstormed a great design. Sally was not only making a necklace to go with a dress. She had to learn a lot about horses, horse colors, horse awards, and what kinds of statements her client wanted to make, when wearing the piece.

“Do you carry plastic?” People inquire over and over again. “No,” we say, “There’s a Michael’s craft store across the street. They carry plastic.” I don’t personally want to carry plastic beads. Yet, everytime I say No and Michael’s across the street, I feel a twinge of class consciousness.

Often a customer will say something like, “Are you familiar with the clothing line — ‘Lily’?” And may continue with a related comment like, “Is your dog Lily named after this clothing line?” I sometimes wonder why they would ask such questions? Is she trying to establish that she is somehow above everyone who has never heard of the line? Is she more superior because she is familiar with the line, and others are not? Does the line, and its brand name, relate in anyway to the types of jewelry she intends or make, or the particular beads and findings she wants to buy? Does she think she deserves special attention or more attention, because somehow she is more “in” than “out” than the staff and other customers around her?

Or you will hear the questions, “Are you going to Bead & Button?” or “Are you going to Tucson?”, or “Are you going to take that class with So-and-So?” Each trip involves a great expense, a big time commitment, and shows that the “go-er” has big bucks to spend on beads and related materials, or instruction. And the answer “No,” to each question shows that the “not-go-er” can’t afford the expense, doesn’t have that kind of time, nor does she have a lot of extra cash on hand to spend on things or instruction. The responses to these questions range from, “I have too many beads in my stash already,” or, “I have to work,” or “I can’t afford it right now,” or “I’ve bought her book”. And one person feels superior, and the other inferior.

Class distinctions, even class warfare, is not an acceptable topic of conversation in America. It makes people feel uncomfortable. They feel such discussion is dangerous and divisive. They feel that any beader and jewelry designer, if their work is great, the doors will open. They don’t want to see how class status offers advantages, or even disadvantages. They think that design is design is design, no matter what the income and class situations.

Rather than pretend that class distinctions have very little impact on beading and jewelry making, the good designer should be sensitive to impacts of class, and how to leverage this understanding in the jewelry design process, as well as the business promotion process.

A Revealing Tax Cut

I remember in the early 2000’s, President Bush convinced Congress to pass a massive tax cut. The taxes of the top 10% of the population accounted for 90% of the total tax cut amount. Very Republican. Republicans believe in “trickle-down” economics, and this was the first time in my life that I truly witnessed and slowly experienced a totally trickle-down policy.

Now, as I wrote before, Beading is an expensive hobby. Our customer base is definitely skewed to the up-scale, but we serve people of all economic backgrounds. Before these massive tax cuts, the economy had been faltering. Severely. People were scared. They were cutting back a lot.

In the bead store, we experienced this in a strange way. The first thing we noticed is that our Saturday business dropped to near nothing. Saturdays overall are the busiest days of the week. We serve three or more times as many customers, and usually have the strongest or second strongest dollar-day of the week, on Saturdays. So, what was happening on Saturdays was very surprising and very disturbing.

The next thing that began to waver was our late afternoon business during the week. We would always have a rush after 3pm and through closing each day. Now it was very quiet during the week-day afternoons. And getting more disturbing.

This left us living on the weekday morning business. And we had been living on this for about a year. Before President Bush’s tax cut, this weekday morning business was beginning to weaken, as well. God, how disturbing can things get?

I was forced to cut out the equivalent of 1.5 F.T.E’s — one and a half (thus 60 work hours) full time equivalents, which meant three staff were either out of a job, or had fewer hours. Over the year, I reduced our inventory by over $10,000. I let a lot of things not get done, like the cleaning of our floors, or the replacement of broken light fixtures.

Our usual daily ebbs and flows were breaking down. In the mornings during the week, our wealthiest customers were disappearing. In the late afternoons during the week, our customers on their way home from work passed us by. And on Saturdays, our mix of customers, people who don’t work or don’t make a lot of money, were no where to be seen.

Then came the tax cut. And Trickle-Down Economics. Within weeks, weekday mornings started to get very busy. It took several months, but all of a sudden, our weekday afternoon business started to kick in again. And after about a year and a few months, Saturdays slowly got stronger, and began justifying what I had to pay our Saturday staff.

But Saturday business never returned to its heights for many, many years.

The tax-cut moneys never could quite trickle down to everyone on the bottom.

Like the Colorado River.

On the map, it reaches the Gulf of California.

In real life, it rarely does. The river beds goes all the way to the Gulf. The water often doesn’t. Residents and towns and farmers use up more water than the river carries, and it often doesn’t reach the sea.

The economy, the tax cuts, trickle down, the impacts and effects — — these all made sharper the class distinctions among our customers.

The upstairs/downstairs dynamic shows itself over and over again in the bead business. Think about Jewelry. People wear jewelry to show wealth, status, importance. People get competitive with jewelry — Who wears more, nicer, pricier? Who sells more? To whom? Which stores, located in which parts of town, show-case your jewelry?

People in different income groups shop at different times. Not often crossing paths. They shop for different kinds of products. They make different kinds of projects. They treat staff differently. And they treat each other differently.

Dressing For Success

I was shopping in Green Hills the other day, one of the better parts of town, and dropped off some packages at the local post office branch. I was standing in line, waiting my turn, and noticed how so many of the women, also in line, dressed in a similar way. And I began trying to analyze and categorize all this — it’s so boring to have to stand in line waiting, waiting, waiting. What better thing to do?

And I came up with the idea that richer people, when they dress, emphasize the horizontal. And, with further thought, I began to visualize how working class people, in contrast, when they dress, emphasize the vertical. Classes operate and dress themselves on different planes. Whether this is learned or genetic or any kind of universal mathematical fact, I don’t really know. But look around you.

Perhaps I’m wrong, but it seems to me that wealthier people wear boxier cloths. They emphasize the shoulder-to-shoulder, and de-emphasize their breasts. Their pants line up with the lines going hip-to-hip, and de-emphasize as much as possible, the crack-to-crotch. Shoulders are puffy or padded. If big hair, it’s some variation of left-to-right or side-to-side, like that of Princess Laia and her “ear-muffs”. And if not, it is straight and close to the head. The necklace contour line is a gradual curve, from side to side, as it moves around the neck. The whole profile is as if they were presenting a door for you to knock on. Doors seem all-too-alike, plain, flat, and do not unduly call for your attention. Unthreatening. Accommodating. Asexual.

The whole profile of working class people, on the other hand, and I hope I’m not stretching the metaphors too far for everyone — humor me — is like a sharp knife coming right out at you. The breasts are pointy and pulled together. Hair long and narrow — pony tail, mullet, or Mohawk. The necklace contour line forms a “V”, often long, with large focal point. Pants tight and creased. Pants draw your eye to a tight upside down “V” from waste to either ankle. Sharp. Aggressive. Sexy.

It’s like staring down at a compass. If you were looking straight down onto the compass, that class of people who shower before work would take up the great East-West plane. On the other hand, that class of people who shower after work would run up and down the sharp vertical line running from North to South. Each class would reinforce their compass positions through style choices about clothes, jewelry, hair-style, and accessories.

There’s definitely a different body form emphasis in the way each social class dresses. You see it in the construction of the clothes. You see it in the use of point, line, shape and silhouette in the jewelry. So, it should come as no surprise that class consciousness, even class wars, should enter your local bead store or society.

Luckily for us, class distinctions in America are as much behavioral as economic. You can dress-up as-if, and dress-up anyone else, to fit in. You just have to pick up the subtle clues which show the boundaries between one class and another. That Great Chain of Social Being, connecting the low with the high and the lowly with the sophisticated in America, is not person-specific. It’s situational specific.

Income Class Competition

I have to listen to this several times a week.

“Why is she so successful?”
“Her stuff is Ugly!”
“Cheaply made.”
“She doesn’t even make it herself. She hires people to make it.”
“How did she get into that trunk show?”
“She buys all these things, and has all these things manufactured for her, and she doesn’t charge a full price!”

The “She” here is always someone very wealthy, has access to the “right” and “better” people in town, and probably owns a business and sells jewelry as much for status, as for making money. The title of “designer”, the fact of “owner”, and the visibility of the jewelry design business have as much currency for her (or her or her or her) as making a real profit, or creating truly well-designed and appealing pieces.

And my employee bemoans the fact that she works very hard at creating jewelry, but doesn’t get ahead. Her jewelry is prettier and better made. But everyone seems to want to buy “the other Her’s” jewelry. Her jewelry is for sale in several stores throughout town, but not the best stores as “the other Her’s” jewelry is. She spends days researching opportunities to sell her pieces, when opportunities seem to find “the other Her”, without effort. And my employee has to mark up her pieces so that she actually makes money at this endeavor, and “the other Her” does not. Or worse, “the other Her” has her jewelry marked up many times more than it’s worth, and it sells, because of the particular stores who display it — stores who do not accept just anyone’s jewelry, just those of wealthy women who live in the same part of town as the store owner does.

It is easier to compete with yourself, on your own terms, than with others. The jewelry business, with all its money, status and wealth implications and connections, offers different people different kinds of opportunities. There will be many people who won’t have the resources with which to compete. Realize that, accept it, and move on. Work with the resources you have and can afford. In America, it’s relatively easy to move in and out of situations with different income-class characteristics. But don’t get competitive by class status. Compete against yourself.

This doesn’t mean, if you are not rich, that you have to consign yourself to a second-status role in jewelry design. The sky’s the limit. Smart design, smart planning, smart management, smart marketing will take you wherever you want to go. But don’t waste a lot of time trying to tame the shrew in others. It’s a waste of energy. Stay self-focused.

The Great Equalizers

Although our wealthier customers might be very familiar with the 4 C’s — cut, color, carat, and clarity — they are generally clueless about most jewelry making materials, and even more clueless about the skills, techniques and strategies for assembling pieces of jewelry. And these are the Great Equalizers — Materials and Techniques.

There are no class distinctions when it comes to knowing what “gold-filled” is — few know. Or the differences between A+ and AB quality gemstones — few know. Or which stringing materials are appropriate for which situations — few know. Or which stitch works best with which beads — again, few people know.

So, Beading, because it is an art and requires learning a bag of specialized ideas and tricks, it has certain communal powers and undertones. People become dependent upon one another, no matter their economic class, in order to select materials, learn construction, and create beaded objects d’art, including jewelry.

No matter what the contradictions. No matter what the conflict. No matter what the class warfare. No matter what the personal conviction.

The Beads always win.

And that’s reassuring.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Do You Know Where Your Beading Needles Are?

Consignment Selling: A Last Resort

Odds or Evens? What’s Your Preference?

My Clasp, My Clasp, My Kingdom For A Clasp

Why Am I So Addicted To Beads?

The Bead Spill: My Horrifying Initiation

The Artists At The Party

How To Bead A Rogue Elephant

You Can Never Have Enough Containers For Your Stuff

Beading While Traveling On A Plane

Contemplative Ode To A Bead

How To Bead In A Car

My Aunt Gert: Illustrating Some Lessons In Business Smarts

A Jewelry Designer’s Day Dream

A Dog’s Life by Lily

I Make All The Mistakes In The Book

How Sparkle Enters People’s Lives

Upstairs, Downstairs At The Bead Store

Beads and Race

Were The Ways of Women or of Men Better At Fostering How To Make Jewelry

Women and Their Husbands When Shopping For Beads

Women Making Choices In The Pursuit Of Fashion

Existing As A Jewelry Designer: What Befuddlement!

The Bridesmaid Bracelets

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

I hope you found this article useful. Be sure to click the CLAP HANDS icon at the bottom of this article.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

Add your name to my email list.

Posted in Stitch 'n Bitch | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

HOW SPARKLE ENTERS PEOPLES’ LIVES

Posted by learntobead on June 17, 2020

Shawn and Jessica brought their two adopted Korean boys to the Korean restaurant. It was important that they immerse their sons in Korean culture wherever they could. When they finished the meal, they told their two boys to say “Good-bye” to the hostess in Korean.

“Annyonghi kaysayo”

Good bye, the hostess replied.

And a little sparkle was added to their lives.

Each month, Laura and her co-workers would clean up their Adopt-A-Highway. The work was not hard. The camaraderie great. The task important. And each month she returned home with a great sense of self-satisfaction. And some sparkle was added to her life.

The two little Guatemalan girls were fascinated by the Spanish-English dictionary. They stood on the side of the road, giggling with eyes very wide open in amazement. With the Atitlan Volcano behind them and Lake Trinitaria in front of them, they marveled at seeing so many words in such a small book — so many more words than their teacher could ever write on their chalkboard. And some sparkle was added to their lives.

Like other things in life, jewelry adds a little sparkle to people’s lives. And the jewelry designer, in many ways, determines how.

Sarah had never been to a large fabric store before. So when she entered MOOD in New York City, she nearly collapsed with excitement. She was shaking. Where to begin? Where to begin? She ran here. She ran there. She ran her hands along yards and yards and yards and yards of material. She found fabric patterns to compliment the line of jewelry she made. And some sparkle was added to her life.

Sue and Allan had made reservations for the Chef’s table at Dandelion’s eleven months ago. And they were lucky to get the reservation even then, but someone had canceled just minutes before Sue called to make the reservation. This was their very special night. As they were ushered into the restaurant, past one dining room, then another, past patrons enjoying their meals, and then they entered the kitchen door and were seated at the very cozy table. The Chef greeted them. Sue lightly touched her necklace, in a reassuring manner. And their night was as special as they imagined. And, yes, some sparkle was added to their lives, as well.

Aldia was on vacation, and the store clerk asked where she was from. I live in The Villages near Orlando in Florida, she said. They have 45 golf courses in that community! Do you believe it? she continued. I love The Villages. Everyone says Hello! to you. Everyone will love the beads I bought here. And there was a sparkle that came to her eye.

And as in other situations in life, the jewelry designer not only creates sparkle, but also must be very sensitive to how this sparkle enters people’s lives.

Jewelry may help people feel attached to their surroundings, Be more aware of themselves. Their status. Their situation. Their power. Their sexuality. Jewelry may serve to open up a whole new world for someone. Jewelry may signify how people may safely interact, and not interact. It may start conversations. As well as end them.

The jewelry artist designs jewelry. She or he selects materials to use. An order or arrangement is decided upon. A hypothesis is formulated about how best to assemble the pieces. And the hypothesis is put to the test. And hopefully the finished piece is more than the sum of its parts. Because it has to add sparkle to people’s lives.

The crazy black-white-brown-black-white-brown-black-white-brown piece Lucinda wore to the Latin dance club.

The silken pearl necklace which adorned Gena at her wedding.

The long, multi-strand necklace, with strong navy blues, and very large beads with almost mirror-polished flat surfaces that Paula always wore on days of staff meetings.

The very tiny hoops with simple 3mm crystal dangles that Missy wore every day in her life, everywhere she went, every time she left her home.

Jewelry adds sparkle not only to the life of the person wearing it, but also to the person viewing it. So the jewelry designer, in actuality, has to be doubly-effective with his or her designs. The successful jewelry designer has to be able to come up with designs that create sparkled “squared” — a double dose.

Adding “sparkle” is not, however, only about bright, sparkly things. It doesn’t mean adding glitz. It is not about bling. It’s some more subtle thing. Sparkle is something that wells up within. It is completing, reassuring, reaffirming, self-actualizing, reconnecting. It is a momentary oneness with the air, a breathlessness, a feeling so good welling up within you. A smile.

So, we must have some insight, some clue, some fathoming of how the person — whether the wearer or the viewer — begins to sparkle from within. What are they seeing? What are they noticing? How are they interpreting? How are they understanding?

How is their eye and brain working, when it interacts with jewelry, on a perceptual level? What is the eye and brain really seeing? What is it really responding to?

How is their brain interpreting what it sees? How does the brain come to evaluate the degree to which any piece of jewelry meets a person’s needs, wants, desires, motivations? For sparkle.

How does all this translation of lines and points and shapes and colors and textures and patterns and lights and shadows and drapes and flows and movements and silhouettes result in a sparkling from within?

The search for these answers is very much a part of what it means to pursue a sense of design. Otherwise, you will never truly succeed, through your jewelry, at adding a little sparkle in people’s lives.

Except in a random sense.

And that’s not good enough.

The Jewelry Designer Is A Conductor … Of Sparkle

The elements in jewelry, and their arrangement, play a song. These can be one note. These can be many notes. Or chords. Harmonic. Orchestral. Symphonic. Jazz. Waltz. Hip Hop. Cacophony. The jewelry designer needs to be able to hear this song in their inner ear as they design. Because they are responsible for the arrangement. And tweaking or changing the arrangement.

The jewelry designer is a Conductor.

Of sparkle.

Avoiding discord.

Sparkle Requires No Non-Essential Elements

The best jewelry — the most attractive, the most powerful, the most functional, the most inner-sparkling — are pieces within which there are no extraneous elements. Adding (or subtracting) anything within the pieces no longer makes it a better piece.

Here’s where many prospective jewelry designers trip up. Most try to over-embellish their pieces. If one fringe works, 12 fringes will work better. If bead-bezeled cabochons worked, 6 more will be better. They think if one sparkle is enough, many sparkles will be better.

And others are afraid to add more pieces, for fear someone will think they are show’y. They are afraid of too much sparkle. They shy away from asserting power. They are uncertain. If someone says one piece is beautiful, they wonder if they could create it again. Successful jewelry scares them.

These kinds of jewelry designers substitute more sparkle (or less sparkle) as a way of avoiding making hard choices — choices to find that parsimonious array of sparkle and conclusion which works.

And sparkles.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Do You Know Where Your Beading Needles Are?

Consignment Selling: A Last Resort

Odds or Evens? What’s Your Preference?

My Clasp, My Clasp, My Kingdom For A Clasp

Why Am I So Addicted To Beads?

The Bead Spill: My Horrifying Initiation

The Artists At The Party

How To Bead A Rogue Elephant

You Can Never Have Enough Containers For Your Stuff

Beading While Traveling On A Plane

Contemplative Ode To A Bead

How To Bead In A Car

My Aunt Gert: Illustrating Some Lessons In Business Smarts

A Jewelry Designer’s Day Dream

A Dog’s Life by Lily

I Make All The Mistakes In The Book

How Sparkle Enters People’s Lives

Upstairs, Downstairs At The Bead Store

Beads and Race

Were The Ways of Women or of Men Better At Fostering How To Make Jewelry

Women and Their Husbands When Shopping For Beads

Women Making Choices In The Pursuit Of Fashion

Existing As A Jewelry Designer: What Befuddlement!

The Bridesmaid Bracelets

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

I hope you found this article useful. Be sure to click the CLAP HANDS icon at the bottom of this article.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

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