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MY ONLINE VIDEO TUTORIALS: So You Want To Be A Jewelry Designer

Posted by learntobead on September 25, 2020

 


VISIT MY ONLINE SCHOOL

Learn to Think and Speak and Work
Like a Jewelry Designer!

Making and designing jewelry is fun, awesome, challenging and rewarding.  You enter a world full of inspiration, creativity, color, texture, construction, beauty and appeal.  With your jewelry, you impact the lives of many people as they go about their day, attend special events, or interact with friends, acquaintances and strangers.

As a jewelry designer, you have a purpose. Your purpose is to figure out, untangle and solve, with each new piece of jewelry you make, how both you, as well as the wearer, will understand your inspirations and the design elements and forms you chose to express them, and why this piece of jewelry is right for them.

Your success as a designer is the result of all these choices you make.   Our courses are here to help you learn and apply key insights about materials, techniques and the jewelry design process when making these kinds of choices.  We also introduce you to things you need to know when trying to conquer the creative marketplace.

Empower yourself to become fluent, flexible and original in jewelry design.

Enroll now.

Begin with our ORIENTATION TO BEADS & JEWELRY FINDINGS COURSE. For newbies just getting started, or experienced designers as a great refresher.

 


Everything People Wished They Had Known
Before They Started Beading and Making Jewelry!

We require all our students to take our ORIENTATION TO BEADS & JEWELRY FINDINGS class first, before taking any of our other classes.

I have created an updated, extended version of this class online, which you can register for.    The class is divided into 18 short video tutorials on such topics of seed and delica beads, metal beads, clasps, stringing materials, adhesives, miscellaneous findings, and the like.   There is a downloadable handout that accompanies each video segment.

19 lesson modules.   This class is $30.00.
You can find it online and register here.


 

16 Important Lessons I Learned Doing Craft Shows!

In this SO YOU WANT TO DO CRAFT SHOWS… video tutorial class, I discuss critical choices jewelry designers need to make when doing craft shows.  That means, understanding everything involved, and asking the right questions.

Learn How To…

…Find, Evaluate and Select Craft Shows Right For You

…Determine a Set Realistic Goals Right For You

…Compute a Simple Break-Even Analysis

…Best Ways to Develop Your Applications and Apply

…Understand How Much Inventory To Bring

…Best Promote and Operate Your Craft Show Business

 

Doing craft shows is a wonderful experience.  You can make a lot of money. You meet new people. You have new adventures.  And you learn a lot about business and arts and crafts designing.

 

19 lesson modules.  This class is $45.00.
You can find it online and register here.


 

Learn An Easy-To-Use Pricing Formula
and Some Marketing Tips
Especially Relevant for Jewelry Designers!

 

This PRICING AND SELLING YOUR JEWELRY course is about one key to success: SMART PRICING!

 

I share with you my knowledge, experiences and insights about…

(1) Why Jewelry Sells

(2) Three alternative pricing formulas used by jewelry makers and the jewelry industry

(3) A simple, mathematical formula for pricing your jewelry which I developed and prefer to use

(4) How to break down this mathematical pricing formula intoa series of easy to implement steps

 

Then, we practice applying the formula to some different pieces of jewelry.

At the end of the course, I discuss the differences among retail, wholesale and consignment.

I briefly discuss several key business strategies which are very related to pricing.

And I offer some final words of advice.

11 lesson modules.  This class is $35.00.
You can find it online and register here.

 


Posted in Art or Craft?, art theory, bead weaving, beads, beadwork, business of craft, color, craft shows, creativity, design management, design theory, design thinking, jewelry collecting, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, professional development, Resources, wire and metal, Workshops, Classes, Exhibits | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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 »

Women Making Choices In The Pursuit Of Fashion

Posted by learntobead on June 24, 2020

It has always seemed to me that society has a strong bias against women and their ability to make choices. Men are decisive; women are not. That’s what society seems to say, So are women incapable of making choices in the pursuit of fashion Which bead color, color combination, style, silhouette? Which bead stitch? Which arrangement of beads and parts and pendants on a necklace? Which metal? Which stringing material? For women, so society seems to say, it seems the implications of any one choice are imbued with so many social and personal and cultural and situational issues, that it becomes too overwhelming to make.

The fact today, or I hope it is a fact today, however, is that we can use “women” and “choices” in the same meaningful and positive sentence. The pursuit of fashion knows no gender biases. Yet, this might be considered a relatively new phenomenon. For it was not always that way — or at least, as society viewed it. It took hundreds of years of feminism, strident and subtle, violent and passive, to change society’s views of how women think, and if they could think at all. There’s been a lot of kicking and screaming, put-downs and denials, resistance and sabotage, cruelty and abuse that has occurred during my lifetime, and before, to get to the place where women are today. Not all women that come into the bead store are as appreciative of their feminist sisters who opened so many doors and opportunities. And not all women are as aware of their gender-history, as they should be.

It was Darwin who wrote, in the latter part of the 19th century, that women were not as evolved as men. They were given equal amounts of protoplasm as men. But women were incapable of using that protoplasm. God made women to procreate. Procreation was a totally biological function, requiring no thought. Raising children was a biological function, requiring no thought. If forced to use their brains, women became ill, exhausted, infected, disordered. Only men had the will, ability and motivation to think. And in deference to women, men had to think for them, as well.

The 19th century thinkers were thus enlightened. The tasks of men required intelligence. The activities of women did not. Women lacked the ability to reason and comprehend general principals. Women would not have evolved at all if they had not been blessed, because of evolution, with men’s brains. The argument continued, if women had not been blessed with men’s brains, they would not have been able to procreate. And thus, the human species would have become extinct.

Craniologists, at the time, found that men’s brains were bigger than women’s brains, and thus concluded female inferiority. However, one scientist, proceeding along this same line of research, found out that, on average, German brains were 100 grams heavier than French brains. And this line of research ended abruptly, for fear of fomenting civil conflict. And so, too, ended any more research comparing the brain matter of women to that of men.

Physicists, at the time, speculated that each human organism had a finite amount of energy. Women had to expend so much energy on reproduction, that they did not have enough energy left over to think. Men had this excess energy, so they could think. Since women eat less than men, women also had a harder time generating new energy.

Educators, at the time, used Darwin’s explanations as reasons for denying women an education. Since women could not think logically, they could not be taught to do so. It was the widely held belief that women could not grasp knowledge.

Physicians, at the time, described all illnesses affecting women, as symptoms of one illness only — a disease of the womb. To cure any disease, meant some surgical, physically abusive and cruel treatment applied to the woman’s reproductive organs. A common prescriptive was to tell the woman to think less, in order to cure herself. Sleep more. Never touch a pen, brush or pencil as long as you will live.

Advice Columnists, at the time, and this is 1849 New York, advised women about their expenditures on dress. Do not delude yourself with appearance, they wrote.

– Do not permit fashion to impair your health
 — Do not allow dress to infringe on your delicacy
 — Do not allow unnecessary expenses on fashion
 — Do not spend too much time with fashion

In Boston (1840), one Advice Columnist went so far as to warn women to wholly lay aside their ornaments, as fast as possible, if they expected to have any sense of well-being. It was a mark of bad judgment for a woman to pursue fashion.

Wow! I think I need to knock Darwin, and certainly some of his contemporaries, down a few notches. And what does this all mean for beaders and jewelry designers and fashionistas? From the 19th century scientific point of view, a craft like beading or jewelry making would have to be primarily intuitive, requiring no thought or logic. It would have been beneath a man to do. For men to get involved with beading or jewelry making, it would have meant resisting evolution, and resisting progress.

Beading and jewelry making, from the Design perspective, are very much about making choices. Women are assumed and subsumed to be as capable as men. Beading and jewelry making are processes of construction, whether conceived and executed by women or men, which happen within an environment, and the results of which are judged as art, as the pieces are worn. There’s a lot of choice going on here. What goes together, and what does not. What will hold the structure of the piece together, and what will not. What you want to happen to the piece over time, and what you do not.

The Designer, whether woman or man, has to make the same kinds of choices, to be successful. Perhaps there are nuanced differences between women and men, in how they think through and come to any choice. I do not know. But the choices need to be made, nonetheless.

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 »

Women and their Husbands When Shopping For Beads

Posted by learntobead on June 24, 2020

It’s always been a little confusing in society about how women should relate to their husbands, and how husbands should relate to their wives — especially while shopping for beads, clasps, stringing materials and other findings in a bead shop.

It’s not just in a bead shop. I remember coming home one winter vacation. My stepmother was a bit frantic. She was unable to cook my dad meals. The oven and 2 burners on the stove no longer worked. She had asked my dad if they could buy a new one, and he said “No.”.

I doubt my father truly understood what was getting asked of him. It seemed out of character for him to say No. But my stepmother was afraid to ask him again. So she was very stressed at having to prepare meals everyday on the two burners that were left. My father, and this was in character, never noticed her dilemma.

She felt the bible instructed her to abide by whatever my dad said. I took her aside. I told her firmly that in the Old Testament, and we’re Jewish, so we go by the Old Testament, it relates that the “woman” is the head of the household, and that the “man” is head of everything else. So, I further instructed, if the oven goes kaput, it’s her responsibility, under God, to get a new one. My father has no jurisdiction here.

Thus Anna found herself a new oven. And she gave my father the bill.

The bible is actually very confusing when it comes to delineating appropriate roles and relationships between men and women, and husbands and wives. Take the book of Genesis — the root of all things. It turns out, there were many, many, many versions of this first book of the bible. In some versions, Adam and Eve were equals. In other versions, Adam was more equal than Eve, and in still other versions, Eve was more equal than Adam. Some versions even threw in a 3rd party — Lilith. Dreadful Lilith. So we have stories where it’s Lilith vs. Adam and Eve. Lilith and Adam vs. Eve. Lilith and Eve vs. Adam. Lilith, Adam and Eve.

So, among these very ancient biblical and co-biblical texts, we have a plethora and cornucopia of sexual relationships, power relationships, gender relationships, and sexuality relationships. We have pairs and triplets, straight and gay, feminine and masculine. And it was up to a committee — probably all made up of men — to pick one of these many versions to incorporate into the official bible as the Book of Genesis. Guess which one they picked.

But if we were trying to sort out which version of the truth about Genesis was more correct, and more Godly and God-inspired, things would be somewhat confusing. It’s unclear if God had any plan about the relationships between men and women. Perhaps any thought about the relationships between men and women is trivial, when compared to creating the whole universe.

I don’t know.

And it’s clear that many other people don’t know.

When we look at how women relate to their husbands, when they come into the bead shop, we find many contemporary interpretations and re-enactments of these historical dilemmas. And we watch in amazement as husbands and wives play out their respective roles.

He drops her off, and goes elsewhere.
 He drops her off, and waits patiently.
 He drops her off, and waits impatiently.
 … waits sitting in the store
 … waits sitting in the car
 He is embarrassed to be seen in or near a bead shop.

He won’t get near a bead shop.
 He is someone who will drive her anywhere, anytime, any place.
 He loves what she does.
 He comes into the bead shop, and follows her up and down all the aisles, but says nothing.
 He comes into the bead shop, and follows her up and down all the aisles, and offers lots of advice.

He likes to make all the final decisions.
 He hates making any kind of decision.
 He likes to know exactly how much she spends.
 He prefers her not to tell him exactly how much she spends.
 He is never told what she spends.
 He is easily convinced that all her shopping will lead to something, like jewelry getting sold.
 He worries you haven’t bought enough.
 He tells her she really has enough already.

He tells her she needs to stop beading.
 He tells her she can’t continue to shop at bead stores.
 He figures the more she spends at the bead shop, the more he can spend on himself for his own hobbies and endeavors.

Should there be rules here? Should every woman show the same deference to her husband? Should every husband show the same deference, in return? Or should each woman be left to her own wiles and devices? Do husbands have shades of character, for which the wife must gracefully conceal, or relegate to some other universe, or trod on in spite of?

To gain some more insight here, you could almost create a HUSBANDS OF WOMEN WHO BEAD TAROT deck, to explain all the relationship variations and how these get expressed in the bead shop. For example,

THE FOOL
 
Jalinda pays for her beads by check, and writes “Kroger” in the memo line. Kathy uses a secret bank account to pay for her beading supplies. Alice had returned home from a bead show with a small bag of beads. How much did you spend, her husband asked. $25.00, she replied, as she stashed her $1,032.00 bag of beads in her craft room. Sally has her system all worked out. She uses a joint checking account to pay for the part of her beads she wants her husband to see. She pays for another part of her beads with a personal checking account that her husband might accidentally see. And she pays for the last part of her beads with a check from her son’s bank account, which her husband will never see. These husbands are played for fools.

THE SAINT
 
Jerome has taken an active interest in his wife’s hobby. He looks forward to their bead store trips. He’s very up on what she is doing, and what her goals are. He can do more than tag along as she goes up and down the aisles. He can actually shop for her on his own, and pick the right things she needs. This husband is what women often refer to as “highly evolved.”

THE EMPEROR
 
Everytime Mark comes into the shop, he says, “I don’t ask her to go to tractor shops, why would I go to a bead shop?” These husbands have their own lives, separate from those of their wives, and no issues about that. On the one hand they show self-confidence; but on the other hand, they show a fear and an avoidance of things with which they don’t want to deal.

THE HANGED MAN
 This husband brings the wife to the bead shop, but sits off to the side, or sits in his car — often for hours. He has little interaction with his wife, but his just-enough-visible-presence strangely hangs over the shopping situation. This husband is unwilling to make an effort to share his wife’s endeavors. Netty had this kind of husband. They were Southern Baptist. After 22 years of marriage, her husband informed her that he believed God required that she now be subordinate to him. She couldn’t reconcile reality with her and his beliefs. So her trips to the bead store grew longer and longer and more frequent. She kept her husband waiting in the car while she spent his money on everything she could think of. About every 1 ½ to 2 hours, he would come into the store to check on her, and she would say, “It will just be a few more minutes, dear, go back to the car.” She’d make a funny face as he headed back for his car.

THE INVESTOR
 After his wife toils away for hours on end, but, come the next morning, decides she doesn’t like her evolving piece, and takes it apart, the husband asks, “How can you do that, after putting in all those hours!?#@ This husband shows disapproval, assuming his wife lacks vision and purpose.

You’ve seen all these husbands before. Few people have worked out the perfect husband-wife relationship. So the tensions get played out over and over again, with each trip to the bead store, as one or the other or both begin to shop.

The Design Question here — that is, the implications for finding inspiration and turning this into jewelry — is how well the woman manages her husband, and the roles required of each in their relationship, whatever type of relationship they have, when they shop for parts.

No matter what Tarot Card in the deck the husband seems to be. So no husband-type or behavior-pattern is better or more appropriate or more suited to finding oneself in Design. It’s a matter of, given a particular relationship, what choices does the woman (or her husband, for that matter) need to make, in order to get there?

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 »

Were The Ways Of Women Or Men Better At Fostering How To Make Jewelry?

Posted by learntobead on June 24, 2020

Women get together and bead. They sit around a table. They talk. They gossip. They share bead stories. They share personal stories. They complain about the difficulties in life, and they extol the joys of living their lives. And they bead. At least a little. Some more than others. But it’s often difficult to tell if the talk is more important, or the beading. Or if all the talk is too distracting for some. Or not distracting enough.

Women get together and bead in classes. They get together and bead around the dining room tables in their homes. They attend workshops, and sit in a circle and bead. They join bead societies, and sit in a circle and bead. They arrange retreats so that they can sit in circles and bead. Why do so many woman like to sit around in a circle and talk and bead? Vera says it’s so I can get an education about women when I’m with women.

But anthropologists tell us this was always so. Women sat in circles and talked and crafted. The circles provided a measure of convenience. They provided a sense of safety. They allowed women to reconfirm their places within the group. They allowed women to learn the basic rituals in life, and to transfer this knowledge to their children. They offered women some sharing of responsibilities, especially for child raising.

It was because women so frequently came together to sit, circular, with one another, and because the tasks they did, while in these circles, were so involved and complex, that language was born. Women had a lot to say. They had to keep their children alive. They had to influence their child’s development. They had to balance the gathering of food with the rearing of children. A few guttural sounds, and the waving of hands, was insufficient. So a language of purpose was born, and the circles of women had one more added responsibility — keeping the language going.

Men, on the other hand, only needed a few sounds to get through their day. A “grunt” for “This is a good place to hunt.” A “grunt-grunt” for “Here comes the woolly mammoth”. And a “grunt-grunt-grunt” for “Run, here comes the woolly mammoth!”

Men also had an “Ah” for “This rock looks like it will sharpen up well.” They had an “Ah-Ah” for “I’ve made a sharp point with this rock.” There was an “Ah-Ah-Ah” for “Look at the spear I’ve made with this sharp rock point.” And then an “Aaaaaahhhh!” for “I speared myself with my sharp rock point!”

These grunts and ah’s would get the men through their day. They were sufficient.

But not for the women. Grunts and ah’s couldn’t capture ideas like, “Your baby threw up over me,” or, “Don’t eat those berries — they’re poisonous,” or, “These leaves and shoots would make a pretty dress.”

At first, in the earliest circles of women, various women would invent words, but they would talk across each other. [I’ve heard some say that this continues even until today.] Women had difficulty making themselves heard and understood. They might try shouting the word louder, or more frequently, or right into another woman’s face. But this probably precipitated fighting, perhaps a punch in the face. Early language use was probably a tower of Babel — no one speaking the same things.

To rein this in, to correct for this chaos, to bring order to language, rituals were born. By convincing all the women in a circle to perform in the same way, they could label each performance. And with each label, everyone could understand. Some rituals were religious. Some were social. Some social rituals were oriented around life cycle events, like birth, puberty, marriage and death. Some social rituals were oriented around the gathering and preparing of food. And other social rituals were oriented around making things. It was important that everyone perform in the same way, do the same things, and use the same labels for things. This had survival value.

Concepts were channeled into words. Words delineated activities and events. Women whose performance held closest to the words — as defined by the beliefs about the concepts underlying these words — had higher status. Women were keepers of the “word”, and those that did a better job of “keeping”, had higher status. These women were judged better. More right. More righteous. More proficient.

And beading and jewelry making were eventually born. Women used the small seeds and berries around them to adorn themselves. They added small shells, pieces off bushes and trees, and animal parts. They figured out ways to string these together and secure them in place. They developed the “Needle” and concepts for making and utilizing these needles. And women sought to preserve beading by performing it over and over again in the same way. And performing it within their tight circles. And with the smaller materials, objects and tools they had at hand.

Which brings us to men.

Men made jewelry, too. They made jewelry that did not need an elaborated language to inform them what to do. Given how men envisioned the design of hand-made things, they gravitated towards larger objects. Men hammered these. They put holes in things. They bent things into hooks, and rings, and connectors. Their jewelry was informed by strength. It didn’t take much of a language to demonstrate how to hammer things and make holes in things. They could easily teach others.

And this teaching was a source of power and strength. Men who could teach faster had higher status. Those that could develop tools to hammer and drill faster, cleaner, better, more exacting, using ever-harder and harder stones and other materials, continued to have higher status. Those that could build mechanical devices to achieve even better ends, secured their higher status.

For women, large, heavy tools and objects were inconvenient. They preferred smaller things they could manipulate, while gathering nuts and berries, and while nursing and caring for their children. Women relied on their fingers and hands in different ways than men. Some might suggest this was only a difference in scale; others might argue that these differences were significant. But the importance of the hand in craft was critical from the start.

As humans, for both WOMEN and men, their beading and jewelry making were informed by a sense of design. Undeniably, there was always a sense of design in craft. The degree to which WOMEN and men could implement their design sense, however, was limited by language and ritual. If they couldn’t provide a Name for something that they could envision in their mind, it was difficult to make it so. If they couldn’t create ways to teach themselves or others to recreate these Imaginations over and over again, the design concepts would be lost. And humanity would be lost. Or at least, set back.

Earliest humans most often assigned spiritual meanings to words and concepts associated with jewelry, to help them remember their sense of design. Some shapes and designs became strongly associated with social rules and social preservation. Eventually Art was born, and many more meanings could be assigned, and assigned in more complicated, elaborated ways. The expression of design would come to have many more pathways. It became much easier to progress with humanity. And more challenging. And more fulfilling.

Whether the ways of WOMEN or the ways of men were better at fostering jewelry, beading, design and creativity, … well, this battle is still getting fought out today.

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 »

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 »

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.

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The Jewelry Designer’s Approach To Color

Posted by learntobead on June 6, 2020

Abstract: Color is the single most important Design Element, whether used alone, or in combination with other Design Elements. Yet jewelry creates a series of dilemmas for the colorist not always anticipated by what jewelry designers are taught in a typical art class. This article reviews the basic concepts in color theory and suggests how to adapt each of these to the special requirements of beads and jewelry. Special attention is paid to differentiating those aspects of color use we can consider as objective and universal from those which are more subjective. The fluent designer is one who can maneuver between universal understandings and subjective beliefs when selecting and implementing colors, color combinations and color blends. This involves managing the sensation of color light value (balance), the sensation of color contrasts (proportion), and the sensation of simultaneous color contrasts (context) among designer, wearer and viewer.

RETHINKING THE TEACHING OF “COLOR” IN JEWELRY DESIGN

You cannot paint with beads and other jewelry components.

I am going to repeat this: You cannot paint with beads and other jewelry components.

When you take color class after color class rooted in art, they are teaching you how to paint. You can’t do this with jewelry and beads.

As frustrating as this can be, you cannot ignore the fact that Color is the single most important Design Element. Colors, their selection, use and arrangement, are believed to have universal powers to get people to see things as harmonious and appealing. Color attracts attention. A great use of color within and object, not only makes that object more coherent, it can be contagious, as well. Using colors that do not work well together, or using too many colors or not enough colors, or using colors which look good on paper but distort in reality can put people off.

Designers can learn the artistic basics of Color concepts and theories. They can reference this visual language of color to influence how they go about making choices, including those about picking and using colors. However, jewelry artists who are fluent in design will be very aware of the limitations this artistic, painterly language imposes on them. They will have to learn how to decode, adjust and leverage their thinking to anticipate how the bead and other related and integrated materials assert their needs for color, and how to strategically compose, construct and manipulate them.

Jewelry, unlike painting or sculpture, has certain characteristics and requirements which rely on the management and control of color, its sensation and its variability with a slightly different emphasis than learned in a traditional art class. Jewelry is a 3-dimensional object, composed of a range of materials. Jewelry situates, moves and adjusts in relation to the human body and what that body is doing at the moment. To get the attention their jewelry deserves, jewelry artists must become fluent with color selection and application from their own disciplinary perspective. We must understand color in jewelry as the jewelry is worn, and worn in a particular context or situation.

Beads [here I use ‘beads’ as a stand-in for all the component parts and stringing materials used in a piece of jewelry] are curved or faceted or otherwise shaped, and the shape and texture and material and dimensionality affect the color, its variation and its placement and movement on the beads surface. They affect how light reflects and refracts, so depending on the angle at which you are standing, and how you are looking at the bead, you get some unexpected, unanticipated, sometimes unwanted colors in your piece of jewelry.

Additionally, you need to anticipate how the bead, when worn, can alter its color, depending on the source of light, the type and pace of movement of the wearer, and how the eye interacts with the bead at any point of time or positioning. There are many gaps of light between each pair of beads, and you can’t paint these in. The colors don’t blend, don’t merge, don’t spill over, don’t integrate. You can’t create the millions of subtle color variations that you can with paint.

I’m not suggesting that beaders and jewelry makers be afraid of colors. Rather, they should embrace them. They should learn insights into understanding colors. They should be inspired by colors. They should express their artistic and creative selves through color. They should use color palettes to their fullest. They should recognize how their various audiences see and claim and interact with color.

It is most important that jewelry designers understand color, its use and application from their own disciplinary standpoint. In some sense, however, the approaches of most bead artists and jewelry designers too often remain somewhat painterly — too routed in the Art Model. The Art Model ignores things about functionality and context. It diminishes how the individuality of the designer, and the subjective responses of the wearer and viewer affect each other. In many respects, these are synergetic, mutually dependent and reciprocal. The Art model understands the success of jewelry as if sitting on an easel, not as it is worn.

As a result, color theories get oversimplified for the jewelry artist. “Value” is barely differentiated from “Intensity”. Color selection focuses too much on harmony, and too little on resonance and edginess. Color training too often steers jewelry designers towards a step-by-step, paint-by-number sort of approach to color selection and application. The co-dependent relationship between Color and other Design Elements is downplayed and glossed over. This is a major disservice.

So, I’ve tried to re-think how we could and should think about and teach “color” to jewelry artists. Not easy. Art and Design Theory suggests that, in order to teach designers to make good choices, we need to break down color concepts and theories into teachable and digestible groups of skills. And then show how the next set of skills builds upon the first.

We need to show jewelry artists what kinds of color choices they will be making as they create pieces of jewelry, and then put them in situations where they are forced to make these kinds of choices. We need to think of colors as “building blocks”, and the process of using colors, as one of creative construction. Creative construction requires focusing on how color (and multiple colors) is (are) sensed, and sensed by various audiences which include the artist him- or herself, and the wearer and the viewer, and the exhibitor, collector, and the seller, if need be.

So, that’s where I’ll begin with color: Delineating the types of choices that the jewelry artist needs to make, starting with choices about picking colors.

Picking Colors

As a design element, color is used to attract attention. It aids in grouping some objects and setting boundaries between others. It can emphasize and focus. It conveys meaning and value. Usually color enhances the aesthetics and appeal. Color can be used as an organizing tool and create segments, components, rhythms, movement, dimension and hierarchical arrangements within your jewelry composition. Color can affect the figure/ground relationship of the composition.

There are many different kinds of choices involved, when using Color:

Choices about colors based on our understanding of…

— Personal strategies for picking colors or finding inspirations for colors — Color theories and concepts

— How the bead (and related jewelry materials) asserts its (their) needs for color

— How color affects the viewers of color

— The process for designing jewelry with color

— The situation or context within which the jewelry is to be worn

Part of picking colors is very personal and subjective. And part of this is very strategic and must be managed. That is, part of picking colors is about anticipating more universal understandings about how various audiences will sense and pick colors. How do you actually go about picking your colors, and then deciding on your final colors for your piece? What kinds of things influence you in choosing colors? What inspires you? Where do you look for inspiration? Do you have favorite colors and color combinations? Or colors and color combinations that you detest? How do you anticipate how others will view and evaluate the colors you pick?

Choosing Colors is an involved exercise. Most people avoid this kind of exercise, and settle for a set of colors that match. But, in design terms, Colors are used by the designer to clarify and intensify the effects she or he wants to achieve.

What does it mean to “clarify and intensify” the effects you might want to achieve? For example, the artist may use color to clarify and/or intensify any of these kinds of things…

— delineation of segments, forms, themes, areas

— expressions of naturalism or abstraction

— enhancing the sense of structure or physicality (forward/recede; emphasize mass or lines or surfaces or points)

— playing with light (surprise, distort, challenge, contradict, provoke)

— altering the natural relationship between the jewelry and the situation it is worn in (context, clothing, setting)

Color is the primary Design Element designers choose to express their intent, establish unity, create rhythm, set movement and dimensionality in place, enhance shape, make points, lines and planes come alive, and the like. Alas, too few people apply this kind of thinking and make this kind of effort when choosing colors.

For myself, I know that as I start to play with my design arrangements, I also begin to identify potential color issues. Designs are imperfect. Beads are imperfect. Colors are imperfect. With each issue, I try to figure out solutions — other things I can do with colors to make everything work. My choices begin with scientifically proven color theories — shared universals that virtually everyone has about picking colors.

In literacy terminology, this is called decoding. Then I begin to personalize my choices so that my results show more of my individuality as an artist. Some of these latter choices do not necessarily reflect shared universal understandings about color, its sensation and its use. In literacy terminology, my ability to move back and forth between the objective and subjective is called fluency.

Bead Choices

The bead — its very being — creates as series of dilemmas for the colorist. And each dilemma is only overcome through strategically making and managing choices about color and design.

Such dilemmas include things like…

  • Beads are not the same as using paints
  • Can’t blend beads
  • Boundary issues
  • Issues associated with shapes, faceting, edges, crevices
  • Jewelry reflects and refracts light, and this may change as the wearer moves, or lighting changes, or perspective and angle of vision changes, or materials or material mixes change
  • Limits in the range of colors (and color tones) you can pick from
  • Issues associated with the fact that jewelry as worn, takes many shapes/positions, as the person moves, and the color appearance may change or vary
  • Beads are parts in whole compositions, and juxtaposition of 2 or more beads may change or vary the colors’ appearance
  • Jumping from bead to bead within the composition, means the viewer’s mind has to fill in where there are gaps of color to give the illusion there is a continuance of color throughout the composition
  • Yet most people do not recognize or anticipate these kinds of dilemmas.

Emotions, Moods and Choices

The emotional and psychological effects of color are undeniable. These effects are usually felt through processes of color comparisons and contrasts. The better designer anticipates the goals of the wearer, and what emotions and moods the wearer wants to evoke in all that see the jewelry as worn. This might be appeal, beauty, trust, power, wealth, intelligence, and the list goes on.

Designing With Color — Many Choices

The jewelry designer must be strategic with color, which comes down to..

  1. Selection
  2. Placement
  3. Distribution
  4. Transition
  5. Proportion

Designers must be intentional, not only with the selection of colors, but in the placement of color within the piece, as well. The designer achieves balance and harmony, partly through the placement of colors. The designer determines how colors are distributed within the piece, and how colors transition from one color to the next. And the designer determines what proportions of each color are used, where in the piece, and how.

These kinds of choices affect movement and rhythm, dimensionality, and resonance.

Subjective or Objective Choices? 
SOME TOOLS FROM ART THEORY

Many people are often skeptical that you can choose colors with any basis of rationality. Choosing colors is intuitive, subjective, personal. You can’t teach people to be better users of colors, because you’re either born with a sense of color, or you are not.

People seem to have cultural or social expectations about the meanings of some colors. When Vanderbilt students see black and gold, they associate it with school colors. When others see black and gold, they associate it with something else. The same goes for University of Tennessee Orange, and so forth school to school.

If we are to be able to teach jewelry makers and beaders to be more scientific in their choices of colors, and be able to anticipate how their various audiences respond to colors, then we would need to have some objective rules, rules that refer universally to just about everyone. Rules that inform people what colors are best. What colors go together, which ones do not. Rules that show how to manipulate color and its expression in perfect and predictable ways.

But everything seems so subjective.

When people see colors on the vertical, they may respond very differently than when they see these same colors on the horizontal.

Look at flags of countries around the world. Many flag colors are red, white and blue.

If you look at France’s flag, you have red/white/blue on the vertical.

Russia’s flag has red/white/blue on the horizontal.

You frequently find that people might like a color arrangement in a vertical organization, but feel very uncomfortable, or have much disdain for those same colors, when found in the horizontal.

COLOR TOOLS AND THEIR THEORETICAL BASIS 
Sensation Management

Color research over the past 100 years or so suggests that there are many universals in how people perceive, understand and respond to colors. These universals provide the basis for several “sensation-management tools” jewelry designers might use to help them manipulate various design elements and their arrangements within a jewelry composition. Some of the most useful color tools are those which designers use to control how to make one color relate to another. These have to do with creating and managing…

A. Sensations of Color Balance (Light Values)

B. Sensations of Color Proportions (Color Contrast)

C. Sensations of Simultaneous Color (Simultaneous Color Contrasts)

As jewelry designers, we need to know…

— What these color TOOLS are, and with which we can play

— What the special demands beads (and all other materials) place on our use of these TOOLS

— How we can push the limits of these TOOLS to achieve harmony, variety and emotional responses

How Far We Can Push the limits of these TOOLS to achieve parsimony and resonance

Toward this end, we need to know a little bit about the research and theories these tools are based upon. We need to understand some things about perception and cognition. That is, we need to understand, as people interact with our jewelry, how the brain comes to see color, recognize color, and interpret color in context.

Theory / Research Underlying These Color-Sensation Management Tools

My favorite book on the research into the theoretical bases of these kinds of color management tools is by Johannes Itten [2] called The Elements of Color. The most important theories about color universals for jewelry designers, as detailed in his book, include,

(1) After Images

(2) Use of the Color Wheel

(3) Color Schemes

(4) Color Proportions

(5) Simultaneity Effects

As a design element in and of itself, Color (and its attributes) are universally understood as if they were objective facts which comprise a visual grammar. It is important to understand how to employ universal understandings about color.

Universality, in and of itself, however, is necessary but not sufficient for understanding why some color use draws your attention, and others do not. Here aspects of subjective interpretations and reactions, given the context, have great influence. The fluent, successful jewelry designer should understand both those universal and subjective aspects of color.

The initial discussion below, however, primarily concerns itself about color as a design element — that is, as something universal and objective.

(1) After Images

The first research had to do with After Images. If you stare at a particular color long enough, and close your eyes, you’ll begin to see the color on the opposite side of the color wheel. So, if you stare at red, close your eyes, and you’ll see green.

I know you want to do this, so stare away:

So our first color-sensation tools are based on LIGHT VALUE. Each color has its own energy signature. This seems to be universally perceived, and perceived in the same way.

Some colors have a positive energy signature; other colors have a negative energy signature. The brain wants to balance these out and harmonize them into some kind of zero-sum outcome. Everyone seems to see after images and see the same after images. It seems that the eye/brain wants somehow to neutralize the energy in color to achieve some balance or 0.0 point. The brain always seeks a balanced energy in light and color. The human eye is only “satisfied” when the complementary color is established.

[This is the basis underlying the various color schemes below. ]

If red had an energy of +10 (I’m making up this scale), and the eye/brain then convinced your psyche to see green, then I would suppose that green would have an energy of -10. Hence, we reach a 0.0 point (+10–10 = 0).

Again, the brain wants balance, harmony, beauty, non-threatening situations. The brain does not want edginess, tension, anxiety, fear, or ugliness. So, when you perceive red, your brain, in knee-jerk fashion, and in the absence of other information which might lead to a different interpretation of the situation, tries to compensate for the imbalance by also seeing green.

And we can continue to speculate that your eye/brain does Not want you the designer to overly clarify and intensify, should this result in a more resonant, perhaps edgy, composition. This takes you too far away from 0.0 energy, and starts to become threatening. It might excite you. It might revolt you. In either case you would react, feel, sense the power of color, but maybe not in a more balanced way the eye/brain would prefer.

But all jewelry designers need to know, and this is important, that their guiding star is “Resonance”, and this can take you a little beyond the harmony the brain seeks. Creating a little “edginess” in your jewelry can’t hurt, and might better help in achieving finish and success. But creating too much “edginess” might strike too forcefully at the heart of our prewired anxiety response, and our brain will not let us go there. Your eye/brain does Not want you to push yourself and your jewelry too far to the edge with color. This countervailing force might create tensions with your artistic and design intentions.

The eye/brain wants balance, harmony, monotony. Red and green can seem so much fun at Christmas time. But if you put your red and green necklace on a copy machine, and took a photocopy of it, it would all look like one color of black. Red and green will always copy as the same color and shade of black.

And that is how we perceive them. And cognate them. We see red and green as the same. As the same color black. And if we assign red a +10 score, and green a -10 score, the eye/brain is happy to end up with a 0.0 score. This combination can be boring and monotonous. Combinations of red and green can feel unified and appear varied, yet somehow fail as choices in our jewelry designs.

And it is important to recognized that if, your composition only uses red, that in reality, when something doesn’t balance off the color red, in this case, the brain will create its own after image — some sensation of green — to force that balance. The brain wants to feel safe and in harmony and balance. Everyone’s brain seems to operate similarly so that this aspect of perceiving color is universally employed.

How far the jewelry designer should fight this universal tendency is up for debate. However, when initially picking colors to combine in a piece, we might try to achieve this 0.0 balance score (thus, a point of harmony and balance), and then, by clarifying and intensifying, deviate from it a little bit, but always with an eye on that 0.0 — what anyone’s eye/brain is driving it to do. We want the eye/brain to feel satisfied and “safe”, but as a designer, we also want to give the jewelry a punch, a wow, an edge. There are many color tricks and techniques that the designer can apply here.

(2) The Color Wheel: A Spectrum of Light Values

Science and Art Theory have provided us with tools to help us pick and combine colors. One tool is the Color Wheel. With almost every book about color, there is a Color Wheel. Some are more detailed than others. Some are easier to turn and manipulate. They all have different colors at the North, South, East and West points, but it is the same series of colors, ordered in the same way, color to color.

It is important to understand how to use the Color Wheel. This curtain of color provides the insights for selecting and arranging colors that might go together well. The color wheel helps us delineate what color choices we can make, and which combinations of colors might work the best together, to achieve a perceived harmony and balance.

The Color Wheel is a tool and a guide. It’s not an absolute. Beads don’t always conform to the colors on the wheel; nor do they reflect light and color in ways consistent with how these colors appear on the wheel.

Look at this color wheel:

Get some color pencils, and color in all the colors around the wheel.

On the Color Wheel, there are 12 colors arranged into three families of color.

The Primary Color [3] family includes three colors: yellow, blue and red. These colors present the world as Absolutes. They are definitive, certain, and steady. They convey intelligence, security, and clarity.

The Secondary Color family includes those colors you can make by mixing any two primary colors. These three colors are: green, orange and violet. These colors present the world as Contingencies. They are situational, dependent on something, and questioning. They convey questioning, inquiry, risks assessed against benefits.

The Tertiary Color family includes six colors. Each of these colors is a mix of one of the primary colors and one of the secondary colors. These include: red-violet, yellow-orange, blue-green, blue-violet, yellow-green, red-orange. These colors show Transitions. These colors are useful for transitioning from one primary or secondary color to the next. They bridge, integrate, tie things together, stretch things out. They give a sense of before and after, lower then higher, inside and outside, betwixt and between. They convey ambiguity or a teetering on the fulcrum of a scale.

As you begin to pick colors, you will also want to manipulate them — make them lighter or darker, brighter or duller, more forward projecting or more receding, and the like. Expressions of color are referred to as attributes. Expressive attributes are the ways you use color as building blocks in design. So, here are some important building block/color terms/attributes and vocabulary.

(3) Color Schemes — Rules for Balancing Light Values

Color schemes are different, universally recognized and proven ways to use and combine colors, in order to achieve a pleasing or satisfying result. Good color combinations based on color schemes have balanced, harmonious tonal values — their light energy levels balance out at the zerozero (0.0) point. Better designers like to tweak these combinations a bit, in order to evoke an emotional and resonant response to their work.

Color Schemes, then, as represented in a Color Wheel, are based on harmonizing (e.g., zero-sum) combinations of colors. Color schemes — like the split complementary scheme of violet, yellow-green and yellow-orange — are different combinations of colors the Light Values of which add up to zero, and achieve harmony.

You can place geometric shapes inside the Color Wheel, and rotate them, and where the points hit the wheel, you have a good color combination. For example, if you place an equilateral triangle (all sides are equal length) within the circle, as in the diagram below, the points touch Yellow, Red and Blue. If you rotate it two colors to the right, it touches Orange, Violet and Green.

With color schemes, you always need to think about things like:

  1. Whether one color should predominate, or all colors should be more or less equal
  2. Whether there should always be a “splash of color”, as interior designers like to say — a “drama” color to achieve exciting, focal, look at me first effects
  3. If symmetry works with or against your color choices
  4. If you need to adjust intensity (brightness) or value (lightness) in each color, to get a better sense of satisfaction
  5. If you need to adjust the proportions or distributional patterns or arrangements of each color used; that is, experiment with same colors, different placement or different sizes or different quantities or different shapes or mixes of shapes

Let’s look at the three most popular, often-used Color Schemes — Analogous, Complementary, and Split Complementary.

Analogous

The analogous color scheme is where you pick any 3 hues which are adjacent to one another on the color wheel. For example, you might pick yellow-green, yellow, and yellow-orange. This scheme is a little trickier than it seems. It works best when no color predominates. Where the intensity of each color is similar. And the design is symmetrical. I also think this scheme works best when you have blocks of each color, rather than alternating each color. That is, BETTER: color 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3 rather than WORSE: color 1, 2, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3, 2, 1, 2, 3, 2, 1.

Complementary (also known as “true complementary” or “dyadic”)

The complementary color scheme is where you pick any 2 colors which are the direct opposite on the color wheel. For example, you might pick yellow and violet. To use this color scheme effectively, you would balance the contrast of the colors by value (lightness/darkness) and/or intensity (brightness/dullness). In this color scheme, one color has to predominate.

Split Complementary

This is the most popular color scheme. Here you choose three colors: a hue and the hues on either side of its complement. For example, you might choose yellow and blue-violet and red-violet (thus, the two colors on either side of Violet — the complement). In this scheme, one color needs to predominate. This scheme works well with both symmetrical and asymmetrical designs. You can use an isosceles triangle (has two sides with equal length) within the Color Wheel to pick colors.

One thing I like to do with this scheme is arrange all my beads, then replace one color with one of the others, and vice versa. Let’s say you had 20 blue-green (aqua), 10 orange, and 5 red beads, which you had laid out in a satisfactory arrangement. You could change it to 20 orange, 10 bluegreen, and 5 red beads, and it would look just as good.

A lot of people have difficulty using the color orange in jewelry designs, but find it easy to use blue-green. Here’s a nifty way to trick them into using orange, and liking it. Do the composition with blue-green dominant, then switch out all the blue-green for orange, and any orange you used for bluegreen.

There are many other color schemes. Some examples:

Analogous Complementary.(3 analogous colors, and one complement of one of these 3). Example: blue-violet, violet, red-violet with yellow-green.

Triadic: (3 tertiary hues equidistant on the color wheel.) Example: red-violet, yellow-orange, and blue-green. You can use an equilateral triangle within the color wheel to help you pick choices.

Tetradic: (Using 4 colors, a double complementary scheme). Example: Yellow-green, orange, red-violet, and blue. You can use a square or rectangle within the color wheel to help you pick choices.

Hexadic: (Using 5 colors). Can use a pentagon within the color wheel to select your colors.

Monochromatic: (A single hue, though with different intensities, tints and shades)

Achromatic: (black and white and gray (without color))

Neutrals: (mixes of hues to get browns (or grays))

Clash: (combines a color hue with a color on either side of its complement). Example: blue w/red-orange or orange-yellow There are many books, as well as free on-line color scheme designer apps to check out and play with.

(4) Color Proportions and the Sensation of Color Contrasts

Just because the colors picked conformed to a Color Wheel, doesn’t mean that they will be successful within your jewelry composition. It turns out that making color choices based on Light Values alone are less than perfect. Colors do not occur in a vacuum. They appear next to other colors. They appear within a situation or context. They reflect and refract light and shadow differently, depending on setting, lighting, and context.

That means, perceiving and recognizing one or more colors is important information to have, but not enough information for the brain to determine if the object is satisfying or not, or safe or not. People do not yet have enough information to make an absolute choice whether to wear or buy a piece of jewelry, at this point.

This bring us to the sensation of Color Contrasts. Colors appear together in different proportions. This also affects the brain’s processes of trying to harmonize them — that is, achieve a light value of zero.

Another series of color research focused on the effects of color proportions. These scientifically derived proportions show the joint effect of 2 or more colors, if the brain is to score their sum as a value of 0.0. (Again, I’ve made up this scoring, but you get the point about reaching equilibrium). The brain would like to know, not only what color it is, but what proportion relative to other colors, we have before us.

As designers, to achieve a sense of harmony and balance, we are going to mimic what the brain does when seeing more than one color — we are going to vary the proportions so that, in combination, the sense of that perceptual and cognitive zero-sum game is still maintained.

And again, I’ll make the point that not all compositions have to be perfectly harmonious.

Itten has a picture of the ideal and relative proportions of colors in harmony and balance.

Yellow to purple, 1:4 (This is read as “1 in 4”, and means that given 4 parts, 1 should be yellow and the remaining 3 should be purple. )

Orange to blue, 1:3

Red to green, 1:2 Yellow to orange: 1:1.3

Choreographing Color Blending and Transitioning: 
Playing With Proportions

Every so often, you might want to create a rainbow, or some sequencing of colors, say from light to dark, where all the colors seem to emerge from the last, and bleed into the next. This is much more difficult with beads than with paints for all the usual reasons discussed above.

A “Random” selection or placement of colors doesn’t usually work as well as selecting and placing based on some more mathematical formula. “Alternating” or “graduating” colors doesn’t always work as well, either. You must create a more complex, involved patterning. You must choreograph the layout of colors, so that, from a short distance, they look like they are blending, and gradually changing across the length of your piece.

One of the easier mathematical formulas to come up with as a way to choreograph things, is to play with color proportions. Go bead by bead or row by row, and begin with the ideal proportionate relationship between two colors. Gradually manipulate this down the piece by anticipating the next ideal proportionate relationship between the next two colors that need to follow.

In fact, any kind of statistical or mathematical formula underlying an arrangement will work better than something random or intuitive, when managing color blending and transitions.

(5) Simultaneity Effects and the Sensation of Simultaneous Color Contrasts

It turns out there is even more to how the brain recognizes and tries to harmonize colors. Knowing (1) the color (light value) and (2) the relative proportions (contrasts) of color within the piece of jewelry is necessary, but still not enough for the brain to decide whether the piece of jewelry will be satisfying, finished and successful, or somewhat ugly, buyable or wearable.

Some colors, when sitting on or near a particular color, are experienced differently, than when sitting on or near a different color. The line of research we are focusing on here deals with what are called Simultaneity Effects. Colors can be affected by other colors around them (simultaneous color contrasts). Colors in the presence of other colors get perceived differently, depending on the color combination.

Simultaneity Effects are a boon to the jewelry designer. They are great tools for such things as…

  • Filling in the gaps of light between beads
  • Assisting in the blending of colors or the sense of movement of colors along a line or plane
  • Assisting in establishing dimensionality in a piece that otherwise would appear flat
  • Harmonizing 2 or more colors which, on as a set, don’t quite match up on the color wheel
  • Establishing frames, boundaries or silhouettes
  • Re-directing the eye to another place, or creating sense of movement

For example, a White Square on a Black background looks bigger than a Black Square on a white background. White reaches out and overflows the boundary; black contracts.

Gray always picks up some of the color characteristics of other colors around it.

Existence of these simultaneity effects is a great piece of information for the designer. There will be gaps of color and light between beads. Many bead colors are imperfect, particularly in combination. Playing with what I call “grays” [thus, simultaneity effects] gives the designer tools to overcome some of the color limitations associated with the bead.

Simultaneity effects trick the brain into filling in those gaps of light between beads. Simultaneity effects trick the brain into believing colors are more connected and blended and mutually-supportive than they would, if separately evaluated. Simultaneity effects trick the brain into seeing satisfying arrangements, rhythms, and dimensionality, where, without them, things would be unsatisfying instead.

A final example of simultaneity effects has to do with how people sense whether colors are warm or cool. In one composition, depending on the color mix, a particular color might be felt as “warm”. In a second composition, with a different color mix, that same color might be felt as “cool”.

Here the yellow square surrounded by white feels lighter, brighter and a different temperature than its counterpart.

The red square surrounded by the black feels darker, duller, and a different temperature than its counterpart. Again, simultaneity effects give tools to the jewelry designer for intensifying and clarifying the design, without disturbing the eye/brain pre-wired fear and anxiety responses. These allow you to “blend” and build “bridges” and create “transitions.” You have a lot of tricks to use here which enable you to push the envelop with your designs. And still have your piece be judged as beautiful and appealing.

Simultaneity Effects are some of the easiest things the jewelry artist can control and manipulate, to fool the brain just a little bit. They let you bring in unexpected colors, and fool the brain into seeing color coordination and color blending. They let you convince the brain that the color proportions are correct when, in reality, they are not. They let you convince the brain to jump the cliff, which the gap between beads presents.

For the brain, gaps between beads — that is, areas with undefined colors, creates work for the brain, and is fraught with danger. The brain has to actually construct a color and meaning to fill in this gap. Without any clues or rules or assistance, it is more risky for the brain to jump the cliff, so to speak, and fill in the gaps with color, than it is for the brain to follow an easier pathway and simply define the jewelry as ugly or boring and reject it and move on. Similarly, simultaneity effects convince the brain to look around corners, go into crevices, explore and move around the whole piece from end to end.

It is at this point in the design process where the jewelry artist must be most fluent, creative and strategic in using color. It is primarily and most often through establishing, and then managing, the sensation of simultaneous color contrasts where the artist begins to build that connection between audience and self, wearer and resonance, the wearing of and the context, coherency and contagion.

With Simultaneity Effects, colors begin to take on meanings and emotions. These can be as simple as sensations of warm and color, close and far, approaching and fleeing, soft and harsh. Or they can be much more complex, even thematic and symbolic.

The Use of “GRAYS” (simultaneity effects) to tie things together 
— Blending and Bridging

With beads, the eye often needs to merge or coordinate colors, as it scans any piece. And then there are the gaps of light between beads. The eye needs help in spanning those gaps. The Artist needs to build color “bridges” and “transitions”, so that the eye doesn’t fall off a cliff or have to make a leap of death from one bead, across the gap, all the way to the next.

One easy technique to use is to play with simultaneity effects. One such effect is where gray takes on the characteristics of the color(s) around it.

In beads, there are many colors that function as “grays” — gray, black diamond, alexandrite, Montana blue, prairie green, fuchsia, Colorado topaz — colors that have a lot of black or gray tones to them. Most color lined beads result in a gray effect (where the class encasing distorts the inside color). Metallic finishes can result in a gray effect.

Aqua/peach lined Antique rose Teal iris In one piece I made, for example, I used 11/0 peach lined aqua beads as a “gray” to tie in larger teal and antique rose beads together. While aqua is different than teal and the peach is different than the antique rose, in combination, the aqua/peach-lined beads acted like a gray. When close to the teal iris beads, the aqua took on the teal color; when close to the antique rose beads, the peach took on the antique rose color. Gray colors pull from one bead, and transition to the next in a very subtle way, that tricks the brain, but does not disturb it.

Expressive Attributes of Color and Color Contrasts: 
Important Color Terms and Vocabulary

Each color on the wheel is called a HUE. Hues are pure colors — any color except black or white. And if you look again, there is no black or white on the Color Wheel.

BLACK is the absence of color. We consider black to be opaque. Usually, when people see black, they tend to see shadows. With black, designs tend to feel older, more antique’y, richer, more traditional and solid, and seem to have a patina around them.

WHITE is all the colors merged together. When all colors in “light” merge, you get White. When all the colors in paints or pigments are merged, you get a neutral gray-black or beige. With White, designs tend to feel sharper, brighter, more contemporary.

INTENSITY and VALUE. Better jewelry designers are those who master how to play with INTENSITIES and play with VALUES. This means they know and are comfortable with manipulating bright and dull (intensity), and light and dark (value). They know the subtle differences among red, pink and maroon, and how viewers react to these. They know how to punctuate — BAM! — with Yellow, and EASE — with purple, and CALM — with blue.

The contrasts between Bright and Dull or Light and Dark are not quite the same. Bright and Dull (intensity) has to do with how much white, gray or black underlay the Hue or pure color. Low intensity is duller; high intensity is brighter. Think of a Stop Sign. It could have just as easily been Red, Pink or Maroon. Red is the most intense — the brightest of the 3 — and hence the sign is Red. You can see red from the farthest distance away. Red is “Bright (intensity)”, but not necessarily “Lighter (values)” than Pink or Maroon.

The contrasts between Light and Dark are called VALUES. A lower value is darker, though not necessarily duller (intensity). Pink has a higher value than maroon, because it is lighter. Yellow is the lightest color; violet is the darkest. Yellow has a higher value than violet.

Unfortunately, in many texts and guides written by Bead Artists and Jewelry Designers, they combine the concepts of intensity and value into a single concept they refer to as “Values”. Bead Artists and Colorists often write that the “secret” to using colors is to vary “values”. When they refer to “values”, they are actually combining these two color theory concepts — “values” and “intensities”. Both are really different, so this combined meaning is a disservice to the bead artist and jewelry designer trying to learn to control color choices and color expression.

So, as you work with people to create jewelry for them, you make choices about, and then manipulate:

— colors

— balance and harmony (distribution, placement, and proportions)

— intensities

— values

— simultaneity effects

Let’s say you wanted to design a necklace with blue tones. If you were designing this necklace for someone to wear at work, it would probably be made up of several blue colors which vary in values, but Not in intensities. To give it some interest, it might be a mix of light blue, blue, dark blue and very dark blue. Thus, the piece is pretty, but does not force any power or sexuality issues on the situation.

If you were making this same necklace for someone to go out on the town one evening, you might use several blue colors which vary in intensity. You might mix periwinkles and Montana blues and cobalt blues and blue quartzes. You want to make a power or sensual statement here, and the typical necklace someone would wear to work just won’t do.

Let’s continue with some more important color building blocks or concepts.

TINT, SHADE and TONE are similar to values and intensities. They are another way of saying similar things about manipulating color Hues. TINTS are colors with white added to them. Pink is a tint of Red. SHADES are colors with black or gray added to them. Maroon is a shade of Red. And TONES define the relative darkness of a color. Violet is a dark tone and yellow is a light tone. Red and green have the same tonal value. “Tones” are what copy machines pick up, and the depth of the black on a photocopy relates to the tonal value of the colors on the original paper you are copying. Red and green photocopy the same black color. They have the same tonal value.

TEMPERATURE. Colors also have Temperature. Some colors are WARM. The addition of black tends to warm colors up. Warm colors are usually based in Red. Red-Orange is considered the warmest color. Warm colors tend to project forward.

COOL colors are usually based in Blue. Green-blue is the coldest color. Addition of white often cools colors. Cool colors tend to recede.

Given the other colors which surround them, however, usually warm colors may appear cold, and vice versa.

Juxtaposing colors creates MOVEMENT and RHYTHM. By creating patterns, you guide the brain/eye in its circuitous route around the piece, as it tries to make sense of it. Juxtaposing Warm with Cool colors increases the speed or sense of movement.

Some colors tend to PROJECT FORWARD and others tend to RECEDE. Yellow is an advancing color. Black recedes. You can play with this effect to trick the viewer into seeing a more MULTI-DIMENSIONAL piece of jewelry before her. By mixing different colors and different finishes, you can create a marvelous sense of dimensionality.

— Faceted, Glossy beads will tend to look closer and capture the foreground

— Smooth, Glossy beads will tend to capture the middle ground

— Matte, Dull, Frosted, or Muted beads will tend to fall into the background

To Reiterate Some of The Key Ideas and Understandings

The color research begins to open up ideas about how the brain processes color, and which of these processes might be seen as universal, and which more subjective.

The brain first perceives, then tries to understand the color as a color. It senses Light Values.

The brain perceives, then tries to understand the color relative to other colors around it. It senses Color Contrasts.

At the same time, the brain perceives and tries to understand the color within some context or situation, to gauge more meaning or emotional content. It interprets Simultaneous Color Contrasts within the boundaries of a context, situation, personal or group culture.

The END RESULT is simple:

Should we consider the jewelry to be finished and successful?

Should we like the jewelry or not like it?

Should it get and hold our attention, or not?

Should we approach it, or avoid it?

Should we get excited about it, or not?

Should we comment about it to others?

Should we buy it?

Should we wear it?

All this perceptual and cognitive and interpretive activity happens very quickly, but somewhat messy. Some of it follows universal precepts. Some of it is very subjective. Our brain is trying everything it can to make sense of the situation. It tries to zero-sum the light values. It has to take in information about a color’s energy signature. It has to take in information about how much of one color there is in relation to other colors. It has to take in information about emotional and other meaningful content the juxtaposition of any group of colors within any context or situation represents.

With any piece of jewelry, the artist and designer is at the core of this all. It is the designer, in anticipation of how others perceive, recognize and interpret colors in their lives, who establishes how color is used, and manages its expression within the piece. The jewelry designer is the manager. The designer is the controller. The designer is the influencer. The designer establishes and conveys intent and meaning.

DECODING COLOR AS A DESIGN ELEMENT

Art and design theory informs us how to objectively use color. That means, there are universally accepted shared understandings and expectations about what makes a piece of jewelry more satisfying (or dissatisfying) in terms of choices about color.

So, when we refer to our lessons above about color use, and examine the orange and blue necklace above, we can recognize some problematic choices about color.

The first is about color proportions. The most satisfying proportionate relationship between orange and blue is 1:3. That means, for every 3 parts, one should be orange and two should be blue. In our illustrated composition, the relationship is more 1:2 or half orange and half blue. To make this piece more attractive and satisfying, we would need to reduce the amount of orange and increase the amount of blue.

The second is about color schemes. Here we have a 2-color, complimentary color scheme. To make this piece more attractive and satisfying as a complimentary color scheme, we have learned that one of the two colors should predominate. Either we have to add more orange, or have to add more blue.

So, we have decoded our Color Design Element and we see that the proportions are less than optimal, and the color scheme chosen is less than optimal. To make the necklace more appealing, and in conformance with universally agreed upon understandings about good color use, we will need to increase the amount of blue and decrease the amount of orange, so that we get a 1:3 (orange to blue) proportionate outcome, and we allow one color to predominate.

Let’s look at another example:

First, white is not considered a color. We can ignore it.

Second, proportionately, there should be equal amounts of green to that of red. The relationship is 1:2, meaning for every 2 parts, 1 should be green and 1 should be red. Proportionately, in this piece, we are close to this proportionate relationship.

Third, we have, in effect, since we ignore white, a 2-color complimentary color scheme. We have learned that in this scheme, one color should predominate.

That means, in this composition, the current use of color will not and cannot work. It results in an unacceptable and unsatisfying use of color. Proportionately, both colors need to be equal. Color Scheme wise, one color needs to clearly predominate. We can’t conform to both universallyaccepted shared understandings about the use of green and red in a 2-color scheme.

DESIGNING JEWELRY WITH COLOR

Always remember that your choice of color(s) should be secondary to the choices you make about concept, theme, arrangement and organization. Color should be used to enhance your design thinking. Color should not, however, be the design.

When we study color from a design standpoint, we think of color as part of the jewelry’s structure. That means, color is not merely a decorative effect or object. It is more like an integral building component which has been organized or arranged within a larger composition. As a component, it is a “Design Element”. Color is the most important Design Element. It can both stand alone, as well as easily be combined with other Design Elements. There are some universal aspects when color is objectively understood as an element of design. As part of an arrangement, we begin to treat color in terms of Principles of Composition, Construction and Manipulation. Color takes on some subjectivity. Its effects become much more dependent on the artist’s intent and the situation in which the jewelry is worn.

Color is used to express meaning and enhance meaningful expressions. We use color to express elements of the materials used, like glass or gemstone. We use color to express or emphasize elements of the forms we are creating. We use color to enhance a sense of movement or dimension. We use color to express moods and emotions. We use color to influence others in sharing the artist’s inspirations and aspirations.

As designers, we…

— Anticipate how the parts we use to make a piece of jewelry assert their needs for color

— Anticipate shared universal understandings among self, viewer, wearer, exhibitor and seller about color and its use

— Think through how colors relate to our inspirations and how they might impact our aspirations

— Pick colors

— Place and arrange colors

— Distribute the proportions of colors

— Play with and experiment with color values and color intensities

— Leverage the synergistic effects and what happens when two (or more) colors are placed next to one another

— Create focus, rhythm, balance, dimension and movement with color

— Create satisfying blending and transitioning strategies using color

— Anticipate how color and the play of color within our piece might be affected by contextual or situational variables

— Reflect on how our choices about color affect how the piece of jewelry is judged as finished and successful by our various client audiences

— Use color to promote the coherency of our pieces, and the speed and extent to which attention by others continues to spread

Fluent designers can decode color and its use intuitively and quickly, and apply color in more expressive ways to convey inspiration, show the artist’s strategy and intent, and trigger an especially resonant, energetic response by wearers and viewers alike.

Don’t get into a Color Rut

And a last piece of advice. Don’t get into a color rut. Experiment with different colors. Force yourself to use colors you usually do not use or avoid. If it’s too psychologically painful, make a game of it.

________________________

FOOTNOTES

[1] Pantone website https://www.pantone.com

[2] Itten, Johannes. The Elements of Color: A Treatise on the Color System of Johannes Itten, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 2001

[3] In reality, the selection of primary colors is arbitrary. The primary colors depend on the light source, the color of the background, and the biology of the color-sensing components of the eye. We choose red-yellow-blue when referencing painting or coloring on white background, like paper. We choose red-green-blue when referencing color placed on a black background, such as a TV or computer screen. We choose cyanmaroon-yellow-black when using overlapping inks to create color on a white background, and better reproduce true colors. We understand that the eye sees red-greenish yellowblue-violet most clearly.

Color References Worth Checking Out

Rockport Publishers, Color Harmony Workbook, Gloucester, MA: Rockport Publishers, 1999.

Deeb, Margie. The Beader’s Guide to Jewelry Design, NY: Lark Jewelry & Beading, 2014.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

The Jewelry Design Philosophy: Not Craft, Not Art, But Design

What Is Jewelry, Really?

The Jewelry Design Philosophy

Creativity: How Do You Get It? How Do You Enhance It?

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Becoming The Bead Artist and Jewelry Designer

5 Essential Questions Every Jewelry Designer Should Have An Answer For

Getting Started / Channeling Your Excitement

Getting Started / Developing Your Passion

Getting Started / Cultivating Your Practice

Becoming One With What Inspires You

Architectural Basics of Jewelry Design

Doubt / Self Doubt: Major Pitfalls For The Jewelry Designer

Techniques and Technologies: Knowing What To Do

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

Teaching Discplinary Literacy: Strategic Thinking In Jewelry Design

The Jewelry Designer’s Approach To Color

Point, Line, Plane, Shape, Form, Theme: Creating Something Out Of Nothing

The Jewelry Designer’s Path To Resonance

Jewelry Design Principles: Composing, Constructing, Manipulating

Jewelry Design Composition: Playing With Building Blocks Called Design Elements

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

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.
Of special interest: My video tutorial THE JEWELRY DESIGNER’S APPROACH TO COLOR

Add your name to my email list.

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What “Ambition Type” Jewelry Designer Are You?

Posted by learntobead on June 5, 2020

Not Just One Type Of Person Wants To Become A Jewelry Designer

There is not just one type of person who becomes a jewelry designer. There are many, many types of people who find jewelry design a common passion. They may have different ambitions. They may prefer to use different techniques and materials. They may have different levels of financial success. They may have different compulsions for creating jewelry.

We can differentiate people who become jewelry designers by their aspirations (1 Neuendorf, 2016) — why they became jewelry designers. Some jewelry designers fit one type of aspiration; others, more than one. Which one are you?

Social Interactants

Creatives often seek out other creatives and form a social network. They may be makers. They may be sellers or exhibiters or collectors. But they look for ways to interact and meet and share close-knot social ties. Part of the reason is to learn new ideas. Another part is to get feedback and critique. The social group and network will offer support, advice, career and business opportunities and direction. These are people you can lean on when times get tough. There might even be some shared glamour and celebrity, depending on the artists and their group.

Social Interactants typically seek recognition for their efforts and their works. The success of any piece of jewelry depends on the judgements of the various audiences which interact with it. Social interactants allocate a good deal of their time anticipating how others will understand and react to any piece of jewelry. They spend time seeking out opportunities to display their works publicly.

Compulsive Creators

There is this innate, compulsive, don’t-fight-it desire that some jewelry designers have for creating jewelry. Composing, constructing and manipulating design elements is intrinsically rewarding. There is a strong, profound commitment to jewelry design, and this directed energy is often associated with productivity and success.

Compulsive Creators love what they do. It allows them to think creatively. They allocate a lot of their time towards achieving a high level of quality and sophistication.

Lifestyle of Freedom Seekers

These designers like to set their own pace, establish their own routines, work when the spirit moves them. A regular 9 to 5 job is not for them. They like to make their own rules and be self-directive. Any financial insecurity and uncertainty that comes with this is worth the price to pay for a lifestyle of freedom.

These designers believe that this freedom allows them to experience the world around them in a greater depth and to a greater degree. In turn, they have more understandings for how to find and then turn inspirations into finished jewelry designs.

Financial Success Achievers

Successful jewelry designers can do quite well for themselves, but it takes a lot of drive, organization and business and marketing sense. Jewelry design can be a lucrative career with such determination, gaining visibility, and a little bit of being in the right place at the right time.

But many designers primarily look for money to supplement their income or retirement. Some look to make enough money to pay for their supplies.

Sometimes, designers make jewelry to seek wealth, rather than income. They accumulate many pieces of jewelry and many unusual supplies and components to achieve wealth as success.

Financial Success Achievers typically try to create a business around their jewelry.

Happenstance and Chance

Not everyone who becomes a jewelry designer aspired to be one. Sometimes people fall into it. They need a piece of jewelry to match an outfit and decide to make something themselves, then get hooked. They watch someone make jewelry, then get intrigued. They try to repair a broken piece of jewelry by themselves. They accompany a friend to a jewelry making class, then want to try it out.

Many Ambition Types

Aspirations and ambitions vary. There is no best way or right way. It becomes a matter of the designer finding that balance of design, self, and other-life which works for them, and drives their passion.

Jewelry designers were motivated to become designers for many different reasons. But motivations are only a start. These make up only a small part of what it truly takes to be a successful designer. Designers need to develop skills and techniques, creative thinking, design process management, and disciplinary literacy, to continue on their pathway to success.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

The Jewelry Design Philosophy: Not Craft, Not Art, But Design

What Is Jewelry, Really?

The Jewelry Design Philosophy

Creativity: How Do You Get It? How Do You Enhance It?

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Becoming The Bead Artist and Jewelry Designer

5 Essential Questions Every Jewelry Designer Should Have An Answer For

Getting Started / Channeling Your Excitement

Getting Started / Developing Your Passion

Getting Started / Cultivating Your Practice

Becoming One With What Inspires You

Architectural Basics of Jewelry Design

Doubt / Self Doubt: Major Pitfalls For The Jewelry Designer

Techniques and Technologies: Knowing What To Do

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

Teaching Discplinary Literacy: Strategic Thinking In Jewelry Design

The Jewelry Designer’s Approach To Color

Point, Line, Plane, Shape, Form, Theme: Creating Something Out Of Nothing

The Jewelry Designer’s Path To Resonance

Jewelry Design Principles: Composing, Constructing, Manipulating

Jewelry Design Composition: Playing With Building Blocks Called Design Elements

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

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 »

Do You Have A Learning Style?

Posted by learntobead on June 5, 2020

There Are Many Ways To Learn

There are many ways to learn beading and jewelry making.

  • Rote Memory
  • Analogously
  • Contradictions
  • Assimilation
  • Constructing Meanings

Most people learn by Rote Memory. They follow a set of steps, and they end up with something. They memorize all the steps. In this approach, all the choices have been made for them. So they never get a chance to learn the implications of their choices. Why one bead over another? Why one stringing material over another? How would you use the same technique in a different situation? You pick up a lot of techniques, but not necessarily many skills.

Other people learn Analogously. They have experiences with other crafts, such as sewing or knitting or other craft, and they draw analogies. Such and Such is similar to Whatnot, so I do Whatnot the same way I do Such and Such. This can work to a point. However, beading and jewelry making can often be much more involved, requiring making many more types of choices, than in other crafts. And there are still the issues of understanding the quality of the pieces you use, and what happens to them, both when jewelry is worn, as well as when jewelry is worn over time.

Yet another way people learn is through Contradictions. They see cheap jewelry and expensive jewelry, and analyze the differences. They see jewelry people are happy with, and jewelry people are not happy with, and analyze the differences. They see fashion jewelry looked down upon by artists, and art jewelry looked down upon by fashionistas, and they analyze the differences.

Assimilation is a learning approach that combines Analogous Learning and Learning Through Contradictions. People pursue more than one craft, keeping one foot in one arena, and another foot in the other. They teach themselves by analogy and contradiction. This assumes that multiple media mix, and mix easily. Often, however, this is not true. Usually one medium has to predominate for any one project to be successful. So assimilative learning can lead to confusion and poor products, trying to meet the special concerns and structures of each craft simultaneously. It is challenging to mix media. Often the fundamentals of each particular craft need to be learned and understood in and of themselves.

The last approach to learning a craft is called Constructing Meanings. In this approach, you learn groups of things, and how to apply an active or thematic label to that grouping. For example, you might learn about beading threads, such as Nymo, C-Lon and FireLine, and, at the same time, learn to evaluate each one’s strengths and weaknesses in terms of Managing Thread Tension or allowing movement, drape and flow. You might learn about crystal beads, Czech glass beads, and lampwork beads, and then, again concurrently and in comparison, learn the pros and cons of each, in terms of achieving good color blending strategies. You might learn peyote stitch and ndebele stitch, and how to combine them within the same project.

The Reality

In reality, you learn a little in each of these different learning styles. The Constructing Meanings approach, what is often referred to as the Art & Design Tradition, usually is associated with more successful and satisfying learning. This approach provides you with the tools for making sense of a whole lot of information — all the information you need to bring to bear to make a successful piece of jewelry, one that is both aesthetically pleasing and optimally functioning.

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 Amazing Things You Can Do With Beads

Posted by learntobead on May 30, 2020

What Can You Do With Beads?

A BEAD is anything that has a hole in it. And you can do a lot of things with things that have holes.

You can put these things on string.

You can sew these things onto fabric.

You can weave these things together with threads.

You can knot or braid or knit or crochet these things together.

You can combine and wrap and en-cage these things with metal wires and metal sheets.

You can work these things into projects with clay, polymer clay and metal clay.

You can embellish whatever you can think of — dolls, tapestries, clothes, shoes, scrapbooks, pillows, containers, and vases.

You can incorporate these things into basket weaving, wood work, and kumihimo.

You can use these as money or for trade.

You can use these things in scientific experiments.

You can fuse these things together.

You can incorporate these things into projects involving stained glass, mosaics, or multi-media art.

You can use these to make yourself look prettier through adornment.

You can decorate your house and your household things with these things.

You can texture surfaces with these things, using glues, cements or resins.

You can use them as game pieces.

You can use these as ornamental or decorative objects.

You can sort them and organize them and stack them and arrange them and assemble them once or twice or over and over again.

Beads can become an armature to support the structure of something else.

You can use these symbolically by colors, shapes or sizes to signify emotions, spiritual connections, and life’s rights of passage.

You can construct models with these, such as architectural or biological or chemical.

Beads can be used to communicate emotions, beliefs, status and power, and social acceptability.

You can establish fashions and styles with these, or use these to measure the level of someone’s taste.
 
 You can buy these pre-made, or make your own.

You can do a lot of things with beads. Most people begin by Stringing beads, and graduate to things like Weaving beads, Embellishing with beads on Fiber, Knotting and Braiding with beads, and Wire Working with beads. A few people learn to hand-make Lampwork glass beads, or learn to sculpt with Polymer Clay or Precious Metal Clay, or learn to solder using Silver-Smithing techniques.

And you can feel self-satisfied and secure in the knowledge that, should everything else in the world around you go to pot, we will all be back to bartering with beads.

And you will have them.

So, beads are good.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

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.

Add your name to my email list.

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

Everyone Has A Getting Started Story

Posted by learntobead on May 30, 2020

Everyone has a Getting-Started story. Some people were always crafty, and beading was a natural extension to what they were doing. Others were driven by the allure of beads and jewelry. They saw fabulous earrings and necklaces and bracelets in magazines, department stores and boutiques at prices out of reach, and they said to themselves: I can do this — and for less. Some didn’t want to pay to have jewelry repaired by a jeweler. And still others were drawn by the beads themselves — beautiful objects to be adorned. And played with. And fondled.

Vanessa told me how she got started. She had bought a strand of beads. She possessed them. They possessed her. She kept them with her at all times. In her pocket. In her purse. Between her hands. Inside a zip-lock bag. Then outside the zip-lock bag. And back into the zip-lock bag. After weeks of taking them out, putting them away, and then taking them out again, she sat herself down at her kitchen table. She lay the strand of beads on the table, ever-so-gently. She reached for the sharpened scissors. And cut the strand.

The beads rolled all over the table. Vanessa’s eyes got wide. She told me she couldn’t stop looking at them and touching them and playing with them. The look on her face was sinful, almost pornographic.

Vanessa returned to the local bead store. And bought some more beads.

Terry had been crafty her whole life, ever since she was a little girl. She didn’t remember when she first started making jewelry. But she did remember when she was lucky enough to get paid for it. She made more jewelry. She sold more jewelry. And made more. And sold more.

Hessie loved to watch the jewelry home shopping network. She imagined herself modeling the jewelry on TV, and telling her audience how wonderful the beads and the colors and the stones and the designers all were. She began watching the craft shows on cable, and studying the instructors and every little thing they said and did. She started bead stringing jewelry and learning some wirework.

If you had walked into Renee’s bedroom, you would have seen boxes and boxes of jewelry — all in need of repair. She kept meaning to fix each piece, but the cost and inconvenience were too high. Finally, she convinced herself, “I can do this myself.”

Darita was a fiber artist. She had become frustrated, a bit, because she wanted more life in her projects. By a happy accident — a shattered car window and shards of glass sticking into several fiber projects on the front seat of her car — she discovered she could add beads. These beads added light and interplays on light. Darita was very happy with the results.

I always find myself asking our customers and students how they got started. Here’s how some of them finished the sentence, “When I started beading…

“… I needed jewelry for my prom.”

“… My neighbor made me do it.”

“… A friend wanted a pair of earrings.”

“… I visited my first bead shop.”

“… I needed someone to repair a necklace, and couldn’t find anyone to do it.”

“… I needed to make some extra money.”

“… I was thinking about what to do after I retired.”

“… I ordered a kit on-line.”

“… I dreamed about beads and designed in my sleep.”

“… My dad brought me a beaded Indian doll, and I had to learn how to make something so similar.”

“… I was recuperating in the hospital from some surgery, and the volunteer brought me some beadwork to keep me busy.”

“… I begged a friend of mine to make me a bracelet like hers, but she never did. So I made one for myself.”

“… I decorated a scrapbook with some beads, and suddenly found myself switching craft careers.”

“… I needed an escape, something relaxing, something meditative.”

“… I was a baby in diapers learning to walk by following my mother holding some big beads dangling from a string.”

When I started beading in the late 1980’s, there were no major bead magazines — like Bead & Button or Beadwork. There were very few stringing material options, and in fact, many people used dental floss or sewing thread or fishing line. There were few choices of clasps and other findings — especially for stringing on thicker cords like leather or waxed cotton. I had to go to hardware stores and sewing notion stores and antique stores and flea markets to find things, and make them work. I cannibalized a lot of old jewelry for their parts.

I was in Nashville, Tennessee, at the time. There wasn’t much of a beading culture here. It was difficult to find advice and direction. This was pre-Internet. I mostly strung beads, and got hooked early on. Probably because I sold so much of what I made. Selling your stuff gets you addicted very fast.

Very fast.

But initially, that’s all beading and jewelry meant to me. Money.

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 »

TECHNIQUES AND TECHNOLOGIES: Knowing What To Do

Posted by learntobead on May 22, 2020

(Begin Top Left) Bead Stringing, Bead Weaving, Wire Working, Metalsmithing

Abstract: Jewelry Making Techniques bring materials together within a composition. Techniques construct the interrelationship among parts so that they preserve a shape, yet still allow the piece of jewelry to move with the person as the jewelry is worn. And Techniques manipulate the essence of the whole of the piece so as to convey the artist’s intent and match it to the desires of wearer, viewer, buyer, seller, exhibitor, collector, student and teacher. Technique is more than mechanics. It is a philosophy. Thoughts transformed into choices. Part of this philosophy is understanding the role of technique to interrelate Space and Mass. Space and Mass are the raw materials of jewelry forms. Technique reduces the contrast between them in a controlled way and with significance for designer and client. Techniques have special relationships to light, texture and ornamentation. Technology enables us to expand our technical prowess with new materials, processes, styles and forms

TECHNIQUES AND TECHNOLOGIES:
Knowing What To Do
Technique is Knowledge, Value, Creation

Jewelry Making Techniques are more than mechanics.

Techniques are ways to implement ideas. To transform thoughts and feelings into choices.

Techniques are knowledge, value and creation.

Jewelry Making Techniques bring materials together within a composition. Techniques construct the interrelationship among parts so that they preserve a shape, yet still allow the piece of jewelry to move with the person as the jewelry is worn. And Techniques manipulate the essence of the whole of the piece so as to convey the artist’s intent and match it to the desires of wearer, viewer, buyer, seller, exhibitor, collector, student and teacher.

There are many different kinds of jewelry making techniques, as well as strategies and variations for implementing them. In fact, the jewelry designer has no proscriptions, no prescriptions, no expectations, no limits on how she or he decides to compose, construct and manipulate materials and structures and supports. It can be a technique that is learned. It can be one approximated. It can be totally new, emergent and spontaneous. It can be socially acceptable or not. The designer can pull, tug, press, cut, carve, sculpt, emboss, embellish, embroider, sew, knit, weave, coil, bend, fold, twist, heat, cool, assemble, combine, dissolve, destruct, cast, wrap, solder, glue, wind, blow, or hammer.

In reality, it is impossible to discuss meaningfully the technique apart from the ideas, abilities and experiences of each jewelry designer, particularly in reference to knowing when a piece should be considered finished and successful. There will be some variations in how any designer applies a technique. This is called skill. One might pull harder or hammer harder than another. One might allow some more ease or looseness than another. One might use easy solder where another might choose hard solder. One might prefer a thinner thickness or gauge of stringing material, and another a thicker one. One might leverage the structural properties of one material, while another might choose other materials with different properties towards the same end. One might apply the technique, following Step XYZ before Step ABC, and another, apply the technique in reverse, altering the steps to be XYA and ABZ.

But our primary focus here is on technique apart from skill. This lets us see why some designers are masterful at technique, while others are not.

While there are a lot of different methods and applications designers can choose from, all too often, however, when selecting techniques, jewelry designers fail themselves (and their clients). They disappoint. They do not understand how to select techniques. They do not fully understand the basic mechanics. They do not fully understand the expressive powers of techniques.

Because of this, they are unaware of the responsibilities, as artist and designer, which come with them. In turn, they make inadequate choices. They might choose the simple, the handy, the already learned. They might choose what they see other designers using. They might choose what they see in magazines and books and videos which get spelled out in Step1-Step2-Step3 fashion.

But often they are naïve in their choices. They lack an understanding of technique and its philosophy. They do not understand that there are lot of things more to any technique beyond its simple mechanics. Techniques are not step-by-step. They are a collection of knowledge, skill, understanding, choices, decisions, tradeoffs, intents with implication and consequence. Techniques anticipate shared understandings between artist and audience about finish and success.

Moreover, jewelry designers often do not recognize that each and every technique can and should be varied, experimented and played with. They do not understand that techniques do not work or accommodate every situation. That is, jewelry designing is not a “Have-Technique-Will-Travel” type of professional endeavor. Techniques need to be selected and adapted to the problems or contexts at hand.

They do not understand that there is more to techniques than securing an arrangement of elements. They do not understand that techniques must find some balance or tradeoffs between maintaining shape(s) and managing support(s), that is movement, drape and flow.

They do not understand how their choice of technique, and the decisions they make about how to apply it, influence the response of others to jewelry materials and forms they create. Technique, compounded by skill, can be very determinative of outcome.

SPACE AND MASS AND A PHILOSOPHY OF TECHNIQUE

Space and Mass are the raw materials of jewelry form. Space is void. Mass is something. Some jewelry depends more on the expression of Space; others more on the expression of Mass. Whatever the designer’s goals and intents, Technique permits a reduction of the contrast between space and mass. Towards this end, Technique communicates the significance of a mass within a space by controlling it. Publicly demonstrating this control communicates intent, meaning and expressiveness.

The jewelry artist begins by confronting a void. There is space, but there is nothing in it. Space.

Into this space or void, the artist introduces mass. This may begin with a point or a line or a plane or a specific shape or color or texture or pattern. More mass is added. Mass.

The designer sets boundaries, places and distributes things, brings things together, determines the scale, signifies directions and dimensions. The designer begins to co-relate the mass to the space around, within, or through it. Mass on Space.

The designer regulates the relationship and relative importance of the surface of the mass to the entirety of the mass itself. Sometimes the mass (or its surface) is expected to be static. Sometimes it is expected to move. Occasionally ornamentation is added. In the context of jewelry, some of this mass should be able to hold a shape; other of this mass should be able to move, drape and flow when worn. Mass on Mass.

Technique makes something out of nothingness. It is designed. It is constructed. The act of implementing a technique — that is, revealing a pattern of choice behaviors — is communicative. It has intent. Mass, Space, Intent.

Eventually, the designer applies Technique to this mass, and in so doing, creates composition. Things are assembled. They are pulled together. The mass suddenly has order. It has organization. It is communicative. It interacts with the desires others place on it. It evokes an emotional response. It references a context or situation in which it is to be worn. Mass, Space, Intent, Content.

Thus, things placed within the space are pulled together, juxtaposed, connected, inter-related in some way. We call this composition. Composition might mean how the jewelry designer

– Treats the surface

– Emphasizes dimension

– Joins units

– Impresses into things, onto things or through things

– Pulls or Stretches or Twists things

– Covers, embellishes, frames or exposes things

– Asserts or changes the scale

– Determines sizes, shapes and volumes

– Arranges, Places, Distributes things

– Relates positive to negative space

– Creates a rhythm, form or theme

– Expects things to move or be static

– Anticipates who might wear it, how it might be worn, and where it might be worn

A piece of jewelry becomes a wholly finite environment within what otherwise would have been nothingness. But filling this space with form is not enough. It is not the end of the designer’s role and responsibility.

With order, organization and communication come significance, meaning, implication, connectedness and consequence for everyone around it. Expression occurs. An explanation or story emerges.

The designer must give this mass-in-space a quality other than emptiness. It must have content, meaning, purpose. The designer must allow this mass-in-space to be enjoyed. Again, expressed. Much of this comes down to materials and techniques.

That means the designer must impose upon this space some personal Philosophy of Technique — hopefully employing artistic and design knowledge, skill and understanding. This philosophy is how this designer thinks-like-a-designer. It becomes a key part of the designer’s fluency, adaptability, and originality as a professional. It is how the designer touches things and brings things together. This is a philosophy of selection, implementation and management of mass-in-space which

– Balances, equalizes, meditates

– Restricts

– Releases

– Senses and newly senses

– Becomes a standpoint, a flashpoint, or a jumping off point

– Sees new possibilities, forecasts, anticipates or expects

– Creates and re-creates feelings

– Plays with tolerances, stresses and strains

– Makes things parsimonious where enough is enough

– Results in things which are finished, successful and resonant

The mass has form and arrangement within space. It begins to convey sensation and feelings and content and meaning. But the designer still has not completed the job. Jewelry cannot be fully experienced in anticipation. It must be worn. It must be inhabited. It must communicate, interact, connect. Any philosophy of technique must account for all of this. Mass, Space, Intent, Content, Dialectic.

The elemental parts and their pleasing arrangement into a whole must allow it to be enjoyed by others. Be influenced by it. Persuaded. A desire to touch it. See it. Wear it. Buy it. Display it. Show it to others. Others, on some level, must accept the designer’s Philosophy of Technique, that is, the designer’s definition with intent for manipulating mass within space, in order to

– Recognize how to look at it and react to it

– Understand how to wear it

– Be inspired as the artist was inspired

– Feel the balance, harmony, variety, cacophony, continuity, interdependence among spaces and masses

– Anticipate the effects of movement, drape and flow

– Get a sense of psycho-socio-cultural release

– Get a sense of psycho-socio-cultural restriction

– Know when the piece is finished and successful

– Judge the piece in terms of value and worth

– Assess the risk within some context of wearing or purchasing it

– Assess the risk within some context of sharing it with others

Designers over time gain fluency in their philosophies of several techniques. Such fluency is recognized and comes to the fore when Techniques serve the desires, understandings and values of both designer and client. Techniques and the philosophies (ways of thinking) which underly them must fully communicate the particular intent, concepts and experiences expressed by the jewelry designer. They must anticipate, as well, the particular shared understandings others have about whether the piece will be judged finished and successful.

Designer and client have a special relationship which comes to light within the composed, constructed and manipulated piece of jewelry as it is introduced and expressed publicly.

Through Technique. Through Skill. And a Philosophy.

TECHNIQUES INVOLVE RELATIONSHIPS

Techniques, and the relative skill in applying them, are used to resolve the relational tensions underlying the craftmanship, artistry and design of any piece of jewelry. How these relationships are implemented and managed affect how the finished jewelry will be perceived sensorially, sensually, and symbolically. These will affect how the wearer/viewer recognizes the artist’s intent. These will affect how the wearer/viewer sees their desires reflected within the piece, thus the value and worth of the piece to them.

In design terms, this is called Expression. Expression in design is the communication of quality and meaning. The designer expresses quality and meaning through the selection, implementation and application of technique. We sometimes refer to this as skill. A technique will have a function. It will have a set of mechanics and processes. It will have purpose. There will be variations in how the mechanics and processes will be put into effect. Sometimes it will require a stiffening up; othertimes a loosening up. A pressing or pulling harder or softer. A curving or straightening. A transformation from 2 dimensions to 3 dimensions. Repositioning. Altering texture.

The technique, its function and application will further get interpreted and transformed, that is, expressed, into wearable art. Similar to how sounds are made into music. And how words are made into literature. There is an underlying vocabulary and grammar to jewelry design, from decoding to comprehension to fluency.

Some aspects of expression are universal, but perhaps most are very subjective, reflective of the interpretations and intents (philosophies) of the artist, the wearer/viewer, and the general culture. Because of this, each and every expression of design through technique will have to resolve some underlying tensions. Of special concern are these tensions and relationships:

  1. Aesthetic (beauty) vs. Architectural (function)
  2. Should Parts Be Considered Center Stage or Supplemental
  3. Special Relationship to Light and Shadow
  4. Special Relationship to Texture
  5. Special Relationship to Color and Ornamentation
  6. Aesthetic vs.Architectural

Jewelry Design all too often is viewed apart from the human body, as if we were creating sculptures, rather than wearable art. Yet its successful creation and implementation is not independent of the body, but moreso dependent upon it. It must feel good, move with the body, minimize the stresses and strains on the components and materials. And look good at the same time.

This sets up a tension in the relationship between the Aesthetic and the Architectural. The problems of jewelry design extend beyond the organizing of space and mass(es) within it. The designer must plan for and create a harmonious and expressive relationship between object and body and between object and person as the object is worn. This often means compromising. Trading off some of the aesthetics for more functionality.

Before you choose and implement any technique…

STOP
ASK YOURSELF:
What about this technique and the steps involved in implementing this technique will help my piece maintain its shape (structure)?

Before you choose and implement any technique…

STOP
ASK YOURSELF:

What about this technique and the steps involved in implementing this technique will help my piece move, drape and low (support)?

2. Should Parts Be Considered Center Stage or Supplemental

The question becomes how the various parts or segments of the jewelry should relate to one another. We might have strap, a yoke, a centerpiece or focal point, a bail, and a clasp assembly. The tension here becomes whether the jewelry as a whole should be judged critically as an expression of art and design, or only the centerpiece or focal point should be so judged.

With the latter, the non-center/focus parts of the jewelry are seen merely as supplemental. This is similar to how a frame functions for painting or a pedestal for a sculpture.

With the former, each segment or component part cannot exist or be expressive apart from any other. The piece must be judged as a whole. The whole must be more resonant or evocative than the sum of its parts.

Here we begin to question what exactly technique is. Is it only that set of mechanics and processes applied to only a section of the whole piece of jewelry? Or is it how the designer makes choices about construction and manipulation from getting from one end of the piece of jewelry to the other?

3. Special Relationship To Light And Shadow

Light and shadow are both critical design elements to be manipulated as a part of the jewelry designer’s active decision making process. Yet, light and shadow affect the experience of any piece of jewelry in ways which are outside that designer’s scope and control, as well.

Light and shadow are necessary for the expression of the artist’s intent and inspiration in jewelry. Because light and shadow move, change character, and come and go with their source, light and shadow have the power to give that mass of component parts a living quality. This effect is compounded (or foiled) as the wearer moves, changes position, travels from room to room or inside to outside.

The designer cannot control all this, but should be able to predict a lot of this behavior, and make appropriate design choices accordingly.

The designer can channel light through the selection of materials and their reflective, absorptive and refractive properties. The designer can play with color, pattern and texture. The designer can be strategic about the placement of positive and negative spaces. The designer can arrange or embellish surfaces in anticipation of all this. The designer can diffuse light or transform or distort colors. The designer can add movement or dimensionality to enliven their forms. The designer can even use light or shadow to hide things which might negatively affect the overall aesthetic.

The points, lines, planes and shapes incorporated into any piece of jewelry become receptacles of light and shadow which can change in character or form as time progresses, people move and contexts change. An important part in the success of jewelry designs is played by the quality and intensity of light (and shadow) within context.

4. Special RelationshipTo Texture

Jewelry is experienced both tactilely and visually.

Sometimes these complement each other; othertimes, they compete or conflict. Texture plays a major role here. On the one hand, it expresses something about the quality of the materials used. On the other, it gives a particular quality to light and shadow, and their interplay with the piece as worn.

Designers often select materials partly based on their tactile textures. They might also alter these textures to expand on the variety of expressive qualities that might be offered. The stone might be used as is. It might be smoothed and polished. It might be roughed up, carved or chiseled. The material might end up expressing something about the natural state or about refinement and sophistication.

Visually, the designer makes many choices about how to employ the materials. They may emphasize verticality over horizontality. Projecting over recession. Slow or fast rhythm. Opacity may be altered. The designer produces differing visual expressions based on patterns and how lighting of the surface conveys the sensory experience of these patterns.

A single texture, whether the goal is tactile or visual, is rarely employed alone in jewelry design. The actual variety of materials and treatments produces a complex of textures that must be composed and harmonized and resonant into the jewelry’s expressive and consistent whole.

5. Special Relationship To Color and Ornament

Color is a characteristic of all jewelry making materials. It is a constant feature of any piece of jewelry. Materials might be selected for their color and visual appeal. Techniques might be selected for their ability to enhance or play with color and its visual appeal.

Yet, on the other hand, other jewelry making materials and techniques might be selected primarily for their structural properties — that is, their ability to be used to create, maintain, and retain shape or silhouette. They might be used as mere armature or to create that armature. The colors of these materials or the effects resulting from how techniques manipulated them may not be suited to the expressive goals of the designer. Because of the nature of jewelry making techniques and components, there also may be an unintended or unwanted absence of color, such as gaps of light between beads.

Thus, because of these kinds of things, materials with more suitable expressive colors, either as is or as manipulated, are added to the surface as embellishment and ornamentation. Sometimes these materials are dyes or coatings or fired-on chemicals. Sometimes these materials are more substantive materials like glass, gemstone, wood or shell.

These ornamental materials may cover parts of the surface or hide the entire surface of the piece. They may disguise it. They may be used to alter how color is perceived and experienced. They may completely change the experience. But without technique, and a philosophy of technique, these ornamental options may make it impossible to achieve the sensory, visual or structural powers the ornamentation is meant to provide.

The tension arises when the designer makes choices whether the ornamentation is to be used to enhance the expressiveness of the piece as originally designed (applied ornamentation), or, whether the ornamentation is to be used to create a completely different meaning, decorative motif, or symbolic expression, regardless of appropriateness to that original design (mimetic ornamentation).

Applied ornamentation enhances the designer’s power and control to assert intent and inspiration within the jewelry. Often applied ornamentation makes some reference to the underlying structures behind it. But the designer needs to be careful that this doesn’t turn into merely applied decoration. As ornament, whatever is done is integral to the piece. As decoration, it is not.

Mimetic ornamentation is often used to make a piece more familiar, more accepting, more reassuring to various audiences. It might be used to disguise something. It might have symbolic value. Here, too, the designer needs to be careful that this doesn’t turn into merely applied decoration.

A third consideration is whether the ornamentation is critical to the jewelry’s functioning or materials (inherent ornamentation). It is important that it be organic to the piece. That is, it should derive directly from and be a function of the nature of the jewelry and the materials used. It may allow size adjustment. Its placement may reinforce to overcome vulnerabilities. It may redistribute stresses and strains. It may aid in movement. It may assist in maintaining a shape. It may rationalize color, texture and/or pattern within and throughout the piece.

SURVEY OF JEWELRY MAKING TECHNIQUES

There are many, many different types of techniques used in jewelry making. Each encompasses basic mechanics. Each is implemented within a procedure or process. Each is a form of expression.

These techniques or forms of expression differ from each other in terms of the choices the designer makes about how mass should get related to space for creating composition. They differ in how structure (shape) is created and preserved, and in how support (movement, drape and flow) is built in, achieved and maintained. They differ in how pattern and texture is created or added. These techniques differ, apart from the materials used, in how people interact with them, aesthetically, functionally, sensorially and sensually.

These techniques are not mutually exclusive, and are often combined. It is up to the designer to select the technique or techniques to be used, maximizing the strengths and minimizing the weaknesses of each. Usually, the designer, when combining techniques, will want one technique to predominate. The designer does not want the underlying philosophies of two or more techniques to conflict, compete, or not coordinate.

Stringing, Bead Weaving

Beads and other components are assembled together into a composition and silhouette. The stringing materials range from the very narrow, like beading thread, cable thread and cable wire, to thicker, like bead cord, leather, waxed cotton, ribbon, satin cord, and braided leather. The stringing materials are often hidden, and typically play a supplemental role to the beads and other components within any composition.

Philosophy of Technique: Objects are placed and assembled together within a space in relationship to the direction and linearity of some type of stringing material or canvas. There is great attention to the use of points and lines, usually within a singular plane. Shapes are basic, often only in reference to a silhouette. Minimal attention is paid to dimensionality.

A piece is made stable by the rigidity of the stringing material or canvas. The stringing material or canvas is able to withstand tension and compression.

Often, designers place too much reliance on the clasp assembly to provide support (movement, drape and flow), instead of embedding support elements (rings, loops, unglued-knots, hinges, springs, coils, rivets, rotators) throughout the piece. In a similar way, often designers place too much reliance on the placement of objects on the canvas (that is, stringing material) for maintaining structure (shape), instead of other elements that could be used to maintain shape, while mitigating against stress and strain.

Each stringing and bead weaving technique and its procedures and processes for implementation rely on part of the implementation to maintain a shape, and on part of the implementation to allow for movement, drape and flow. The particular technique used to assemble the beads (and related components) sets the tone in pattern, shape, form and texture. Some stringing and bead weaving techniques are great at maintaining shapes. Other techniques are good at allowing for movement. The better techniques are good at accommodating both structure and support.

Knotting, Braiding, Knitting, Crocheting

The stringing materials take center stage, either in combination with other elements, or alone. The composition may or may not include beads and other components. Occasionally glue is used, but its use should be minimized.

Philosophy of Technique: Within a space, the artist places and intertwines various types of stringing materials. The artist varies tightness and looseness, placement and distribution of sizes, volumes and mass to achieve the dual goals of structure and support.

A piece is made stable by the rigidity of the intertwining (knotting, chaining, braiding) of the stringing material or canvas. The intertwined stringing material or canvas is able to withstand tension and compression.

Each strategy for knotting or braiding attempts to simultaneously achieve structure and support. The technique might vary the placement of fixed points with the use of chaining to create lines, forms and planes within the composition. Considerable attention is paid to the positioning of positive and negative spaces.

There is a lot of attention to the use of line. These techniques allow for incorporation of various strategies for achieving a sense of dimensionality. The shapes may be allowed to stretch or contract, allowing easy response to issues resulting from stress or strain. Texture is a major emphasis.

Embroidery, Embellishment, Fringing

Elements are attached to the surface of the canvas. This surface is often referred to as the foundation or base. These elements may be glued or sewn or woven on. The canvas typically plays a diminished or supplemental role, though this is not a requirement.

Philosophy of Technique: The space available has been defined by a particular canvas. This might be a string. This might be a flat surface. Elements are placed on and secured to this surface; the mechanics here relate to structural goals. The pliability, manipulability, and/or maneuverability of the canvas relate to support goals.

A piece is made stable by the rigidity of the stringing material or canvas. The stringing material or canvas is able to withstand tension and compression.

The embellishment may be used to create a particular image, or pattern, or texture. Often it is used to add a sense of dimensionality and/or movement to a piece. It invites people to want to touch the composition because it adds a very sensual quality to a piece beyond the characteristics of the materials or colors used.

Stamping, Engraving, Etching

Elements are embedded on or worked into the surface of the canvas. The canvas may be comprised of any material.

Philosophy of Technique: The space available has been defined by a particular canvas. This is typically a flat surface of some kind, but not limited to any one material. Structural, as well as support, goals depend on the physical, functional and chemical properties of the canvas. Sometimes these properties are altered through the application of the techniques. Texture and pattern are major focuses.

A piece is made stable by the rigidity and material strength of the canvas coupled with that canvas’s ability to maintain its integrity after it has been physically or chemically altered. The resulting canvas is able to with stand tension and compression.

Wire Working, Wire Wrapping, Wire Weaving

Hard Wire is manipulated into forms which hold their shape, serve as structural supports, or create pleasing patterns and textures.

Philosophy of Technique: The designer places wires into a space. The wires may be bent to form lines, planes, shapes and forms. The wires may be interwoven, bundled together, coiled, or otherwise anchored or tied together to create a canvas and form the basic foundation of a piece of jewelry.

During the process of applying a wire technique and creating a piece of jewelry, the physical properties of the wire must be changed. The designer takes wire, applies a technique to it, and continues to apply the technique until the wire is stiff enough to hold a shape. Each time you manipulate wire, it gets harder and harder and harder. If you manipulate it too much, it will become brittle and break. The wire can be pulled, coiled, bent, twisted, or hammered.

A piece is made stable by the stiffness or hardness of the canvas and its material strength, where it is stiff enough to hold a shape, but not so stiff as to become brittle and break. The resulting canvas is able towithstand tension and compression.

Considerable attention must be paid to strategies of support, that is, how things get joined and jointed. That is, whatever the piece of jewelry, it must be able to move freely, and withstand all sources of stress or strain.

For example, hard wire would not be used as a stringing material. If you put beads on the hard wire to create a bracelet or necklace, the wire would distort in shape when the piece is worn, but not return to its original shape. In this case, you would have to create several segments or components using the wire, and then make some kind of chain to create that jointedness and support. Picture a rosary which is a bead chain made of wire.

Metalsmithing, Fabrication, Cold Connections

Here metal is shaped and formed into a broad, layered canvas or a series of canvases we call components. Layers of sheet, wire and granules, or a series of components may be combined in some way, either to create a more complex composition, increase a sense of dimensionality or movement, or allow for jointedness, connectivity and support. The designer might use heat and solder — fabrication. Or the designer might use rivets, hinges, loops, rings, rotators — cold connections. The layers or the series of components may be textured or not.

Philosophy of Technique: Into a space, the designer places pieces of metal. These pieces of metal may sit side-by-side, on top of each other, overlap, sit perpendicular or at an angle. The components are attached together, using heat and solder, glue, or cold connections. Each layered canvas or component is a composition unto itself.

Canvases and components are rigid shapes and are constructed to withstand stress and strain. When constructing a piece of jewelry, typically the designer interconnects various components in a way which allows movement, drape and flow.

Interconnected components may be thematic or tell a story.

A piece is made stable by the rigidity and material strength of the canvas after it has been successfully altered through shaping, heat, soldered connection, glue or cold connection. The resulting canvas is able to withstand tension and compression, up until the point it bends or dents. Usually, if that happens, the piece can be unbent or undented. Considerable attention must be paid to strategies of support, that is, how things get joined and jointed.

Casting, Modeling, Molding, Carving, Shaping

Here a material is reconfigured and altered into some kind of shape or form. The material may be rigid, like wood or stone. It may be malleable like clay or casting material. The material, once altered, may or may not be subject to additional actions to change its physical, functional or chemical properties, such as the application of heat or cold or a chemical bath.

Philosophy of Technique: The material is positioned within a space. As it is manipulated, it most likely will alter its relationship to that space. It will be able to play many roles from point to line to plane, and from shape to form to theme. The designer must be critically aware of how the technique will alter this relationship between space and mass, and light and shadow, and how these in turn, will affect form and composition.

A piece is made stable by the rigidity of the canvas after it has been shaped. Cast pieces have difficulty responding to strong forces. The resulting canvas is able to withstand tension and compression only to that point before it crumbles and breaks.

Structure and support considerations can either be built into the resulting component, or components may be treated in similar ways as in metalsmithing.

Lampworking, Wound Glass, Encasing

Rods and stringers of glass are heated by a torch and wound around a steel rod called a mandrel. Sometimes shards of glass, sometimes with abstract patterns, sometimes representative of realistic images, are laid on the hot glass, and covered (encased) by a transparent glass wound over them. The result is a bead or pendant or a small sculpture.

Philosophy of Technique: The material slowly enters and occupies a defined space. The artist plays with different types of glass, glass colors and transparencies, rods of glass, pieces of glass, ground up glass, and metallic foils. Things are placed and layered and spiraled. Surfaces can be altered by tools. Once begun, the artist must take the technique to completion. Thus, the artist’s ideas, focus, and intent are very concentrated and intense. Glass as a material requires the manipulation of the interpenetration of mass with space.

A piece is made stable by the properties of the glass. The resulting canvas is able to withstand tension and compression to the extent the properties of the glass will allow.

Glass Blowing

Air is forced through a steel straw. At the end of this straw is a blob of molten glass. The air forces it to hollow out. As this happens, the artist rolls it, hammers it, textures it, domes it, otherwise shapes it until it is a finished piece. The artist may roll the glass over other pieces of glass, to melt them into the piece. As the glass cools, the result might be a bead or a pendant or a small sculpture.

Philosophy of Technique: The material expands within a space. This space may be very narrow and defined, or very expansive, perhaps ill-defined. The resulting object has surface and interior and exterior spaces. The qualities of the surface create a play between mass and space, and their interpenetration.

A piece is made stable by the properties of the glass. The resulting canvas is able to withstand tension and compression to the extent the properties of the glass walls will allow.

Computer Aided Design (CAD), 3-D Printing

Here the artist uses computers to aid in the creation, modification, analysis, or optimization of a design. The output is typically in the form of electronic files or technical drawings for 3-D printing, machining or other manufacturing operation. 3-D printing takes a CAD model and builds it, material layer by layer in an additive manufacturing fashion. Frequently, the 3-D printed object is a casting mold, rather than the finished piece.

Philosophy of Technique: CAD can place points, lines and curves within a 2-dimensional space, or curves, surfaces and solids within a 3-dimensional space. CAD can simulate motion and its impact on any object. It can take into account other parameters and constraints. The final technical output must convey more than information about shape. It must convey information about the extents to which various materials may be used in the design, their dimensions and tolerances. It must convey information about the pros and cons of processes the artist might use in the design.

One pay-off for the artist is that the computer can detail many more ways, and many more unexpected ways, to relate mass to space than typically thought of without it.

HOW TO LEARN TECHNIQUE

A good design, poorly executed, is not worth all that much.

So, how do we learn techniques is ways which help us develop ourselves as designers and be fluent in how we select, implement and apply them?

We need to be very aware of what influences us in our

o Selection of Technique

o Implementation of Technique

o Application of Technique

Selection: Anticipating What Will Happen If And When

We begin to develop our fluency in technique at the point of selection. To select a technique is to anticipate what will happen to the piece of jewelry after it is designed, constructed and worn. This involves all our senses from thought to touch to sight.

When we touch a piece constructed using a particular technique, how will it feel? Will it curve or bend? Will it curve or bend in the direction we need it to? Will it drape nicely on the body? Move easily with the body? Feel comfortable when worn? Will it hold its shape?

When we see a piece constructed using a particular technique, what will be the resulting pattern and texture? What will be the interplay of light and shadow? Will it look good from all sides when sitting on an easel? Will it look good from all sides when someone is wearing it? When that person is moving? Will all color issues be resolved?

We play a What-If game. What-If we used a variation on the technique? What-If we used another technique? What-If we combined techniques or sequenced them or staggered them? What-if we settled for a little less beauty to achieve better movement, drape and flow?

We might do some research. Has the technique been used by another artist or in another project you were attracted to? Was it used successfully? Did it work well in terms of structure and support? Did it contribute to (or at least not detract from) the visual appearance of the piece?

We might do some pre-testing. Will the technique hold up to our expectations? Will it still work with some variation? Will it work under differing circumstances?

We are honest with ourselves about our biases. Will we pick something only because we have done it before? Or we are very familiar with it? Or it is the easiest or path of least resistance?

Implementation: Basic Mechanics and Processes

We want to learn the basic mechanics of each technique in a way which highlights their philosophies — that is, how we think them through. We think about managing:

– Structure and Support

– How To Hold The Piece To Work It

– How To Distribute Stresses and Points of Vulnerability

– How To Create A Clasp Assembly

– How To Finish Off The Piece

Structure and Support. To begin, we know that each and every technique has as part of its mechanics and processes some aspects which help us create and maintain structures (shape). And each and everytechnique has some aspects which help us create and maintain support (movement, drape and flow). We want to be able to break down any technique so that we can recognize what results in what.

Holding The Piece To Work It. Next, the basic mechanics also includes strategies for how to hold the piece while you work it.

Picture yourself as an artist. An artist has an easel and something to use as a clamp to hold things in place.

A bead weaver would use their forefinger on one hand as an easel, pressing the developing bead work project against it, and then take their thumb on that same hand, and clamp down over the work to keep it in place.

A silversmith might use a steel bench block as an easel, and a vice as a clamp.

Someone doing braiding or knotting might use a clipboard as an easel and a bulldog clip as a clamp.

Your challenge is to hold the piece in such a way that you maximize your ability to implement a technique all the while maximizing the strengths of that technique and minimizing its weaknesses. This is called leveraging. You use whatever it is that is equivalent to the artist’s easel and clamp in such a way that you can successfully leverage the technique for your purposes.

Holding your piece correctly also sends signals to your hands telling you when each individual step is completed, and when you are finished.

Distribute Stresses and Points of Vulnerability.

In any piece of jewelry, it can be expected that the stress-bearing and strain-bearing strengths and weaknesses of each component will be unevenly distributed throughout the pieces. That is, there will be some areas or points in the piece of jewelry which will be vulnerable to stresses and strains. This may cause the piece to break or lose its shape or otherwise disrupt its integrity.

The jewelry designer needs to be able to easily look at a piece or its sketch or design plan and identify all the points of vulnerability. After identifying these, the designer will need to figure out ways to compensate for these weaknesses in design.

Usually points of vulnerability occur in these places or situations:

  • Where the clasp assembly is attached to the piece
  • At the beginning and the end of the piece
  • Along the edges
  • Corners and inside corners
  • Where components have very sharp holes or edges
  • When using materials which degrade, deteriorate, bleed, rub off, distort, are too soft
  • Where there is not an exact fit between two pieces or elements
  • Where there is insufficient support or jointedness

These points of vulnerability may need reinforcement. More support or structural elements may need to be added. Things may need to be re-located or positioned within the design. They may need to be eliminated from the design.

Most often, places of vulnerability occur where the structures or supports in place take on the shapes of either H, L, T, or U. Think of these shapes as hazards. These shapes tend to split when confronted with external or internal forces. They tend to split because each leg is often confronted with different levels or directions of force. The legs are not braced. These hazardous shapes cry out for additional reinforcements or support or structural systems.

The Clasp Assembly. The “CLASP ASSEMBLY” usually consists of several parts. It includes everything it takes to attach the clasp to your beadwork. Besides the Clasp itself, there are probably jump rings and connectors, crimp beads, clamps, cones, end caps or other jewelry findings.

Visually, the Clasp Assembly is part of the vernacular of the piece. Ideally, it should seem organically related to the piece or at least a logical inclusion.

Structurally, the Clasp Assembly should hold the piece together as the piece is worn. It may have some impact on maintaining the shape of the silhouette.

Most importantly, the Clasp Assembly should be put together as a support system. It is the most important support system in any piece of jewelry. Support systems used in a necklace or bracelet are similar tothe 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 keep the piece from being stiff. They make the piece look and feel better, when worn.

The Clasp Assembly of any piece of jewelry should be designed first before the rest of the piece is designed, or designed currently with the rest of the piece. Too often, jewelry designers select the clasp after they have finished the rest of the piece. They do not seem to understand how the clasp assembly is an integral part of the implementation of any technique. In this case, not only does the clasp assembly look like it was the last choice, but it usually falls short of meeting its visual, structural and support roles.

Finishing Off The Piece. We always need to step back and reflect whether the piece as designed and implemented will be judged as finished and successful by each of the myriad audiences we hope to please. Will their judgments confirm or reject our philosophy of the particular technique(s) we used?

It is the challenge for the designer not to make the piece under-done or over-done. Each and every material and component part should be integral to the piece as a whole.

Application: Achieving Expressiveness

Expressiveness refers to the power of the piece of jewelry to fit with both the designer’s as well as all other’s expectations about desire, connectedness, power, value and worth. This is one and the same thing as measuring the extent to which both materials and techniques can be seen to have been leveraged, to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses.

A technique has been applied in the most expressive way at that point where the design elements and the materials selected have been composed, manipulated and constructed in the most optimum way. We can judge the degree of expressiveness by honing in on two concepts: Parsimony and Resonance.

Parsimony (maximum applied impact): Parsimony is when you know enough is enough. When the finished and successful piece is parsimonious, the relationship of all the Design Elements and their expressed attributes will be so strong, that to add or remove any one thing would diminish, not just the design, but rather the significance of the design.

Parsimony is sometimes referred to in art and design as Economy, but the idea of economy is reserved for the visual effects. For jewelry designers, we want that economy or parsimony to apply to functional and situational effects, as well. The designer needs to be able to decide when enough is enough.

Parsimony…
– forces explanation; its forced-choice nature is most revealing about the artist’s understandings and intentions

– relies on evidence moreso than assumptions to get at criticality

– focuses examination of the few elements that make a difference

Resonance (coherency of applied impact): Resonance is some level of felt energy that is a little more than an emotional response. The difference between saying that piece of jewelry is “beautiful” vs. saying that piece of jewelry “makes me want to wear it”. Or that “I want to touch it”. Or “My friends need to see this.”

Resonance is something more than emotion. It is some kind of additional energy we see, feel and otherwise experience. Emotion is very reactive. Resonance is intuitive, involving, identifying. Resonance is an empathetic response where artist and audience realize a shared (or contradictory) understanding without losing sight of whose views and feelings belong to whom.

Resonance results from how the artist applies technique to control light, shadow, and their characteristics of warmth and cold, receding and approaching, bright and dull, light and dark. Resonance results from how the artist leverages the strengths of materials and techniques and minimizes their weaknesses. Resonance results from social, cultural and situational cues. Resonance results from how the artist takes us to the edge of universal, objective understandings, and pushes us every so slightly, but not too, too far, beyond that edge.

Jewelry which resonates…– is communicative and authentic

– shows the artist’s hand as intention, not instinct

– evokes both an emotional as well as energetic response from wearer and viewer

– shows both degrees of control, as well as moments of the unexpected

– makes something noteworthy from something ordinary

– finds the whole greater than the sum of the parts

– lets the materials and techniques speak

– anticipates shared understandings of many different audiences about design elements and principles, and some obvious inclusion, exclusion or intentional violation of them

– results from a design process that appears to have been more systemic (e.g., ingrained within an integrated process) than systematic (e.g., a step-by-step approach)

– both appeals and functions at the boundary where jewelry meets person

TECHNOLOGY AND JEWELRY DESIGN

The potential of technology merged with craft is infinite.

Technology includes things like,

– New methods, processes and materials

– New ways to implement ideas

– Ability to generate new styles

– Opportunity to create meaningful forms

– Unseen contributions to aesthetic structure and composition

– Less costly and/or more production-friendly methods for creating pieces, especially for projects which might not otherwise get implemented

New materials and composites are created and enter the marketplace every year.

New ways of extracting, shaping, finishing, stabilizing materials come on line each year.

Computer Aided Design (CAD) and 3-D printing provide the tools to jewelry designers to create things beyond their imaginations.

Electroforming enables the creation of lightweight pieces from various metals.

Lasers are used to weld, cut and decorate.

Laser-Sintering melts powdered metal, layer by layer, into a finished piece.

Jewelry makers and beaders frequently come up with new techniques, mechanics and processes for creating jewelry. Technology provides creatives with original ways of expression.

“Smart” elements are getting introduced into some designs, transforming your jewelry into a smart device. These might measure health and fitness; might change color and appearance to suit different environments or clothing; might warm or cool the body.

TO WHAT EXTENT SHOULD JEWELRY DESIGNERS
RESPOND TO TECHNOLOGY?

Technology is a very powerful tool. Combined with craftmanship, it can create a new language of shape, object, and sensation. We have to be careful, however, that we use technology to support jewelry which is hand-made, and not supplant it.

The use of technology allows the designer to create new forms and materials that otherwise would not exist. Technology often translates into convenience and more rapid production. In today’s globalized world, this might offer a competitive edge. Technology also enables more customization, and faster customization. Again, in a globalized world, this would offer a competitive advantage. Technology encourages us to look forward, rather than back, for our inspirations and insights.

Again, it is important to emphasize that we do not want all this technological efficiency to diminish the act of “creativity”. We don’t want to standardize everything and reduce everything into a set of how-to instructions. We want to expand our creative abilities. We want to increase the power of the designer to produce pieces reflective of the artist’s hand. We want our jewelry to be as expressive as possible of the needs, wants and desires of our various clientele.

The impact of jewelry on our professional practice. Whether we use new technologies in our professional practice, or not, we cannot escape them. We must be up-to-date and aware of technological impacts on what we do and how we do it.

The impact of technology on work and jobs was the focus of an opinion piece in the New York Times by David H. Autor and David Dorn.

As jewelry designers, we are living through and with all the positives and negatives that arise through this technological change.

  • How has technology affected what we do as designers?
  • How has it affected what we do to survive and thrive as designers?
  • Have we mechanized and computerized the jewelry design business into obsolescence?
  • How have you had to organize your jewelry designer lives differently?
    given the rise of

-The internet,
-Ebay, Etsy and Amazon.com
-Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram
-New technologies and materials like precious metal clay, polymer clay, crystal clay, 3-D printing

  • What has happened to your local bead stores? Jewelry stores? Boutiques?
  • What has happened to bead and jewelry making magazines?
  • If you teach classes for pay, or sell kits and instructions, how do you compete against the literally millions of online tutorials, classes, instructions and kits offered for free? How does this affect what you teach or design to sell as kits?
  • If you sell jewelry, how do you compete against the 60,000,000 other people who sell jewelry online? How does this affect your marketing, your pricing, your designs?
  • If you make part of your living doing the arts and crafts show circuit, will there still be a need for this in the future?

_________________________________________

FOOTNOTES

Autor, David H. and Dorn, David. “How Technology Wrecks the Middle Class”, New York Times, August 24, 2013.

As reference in:
https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/24/how-technology-wrecks-the-middle-class/

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

The Jewelry Design Philosophy: Not Craft, Not Art, But Design

What Is Jewelry, Really?

The Jewelry Design Philosophy

Creativity: How Do You Get It? How Do You Enhance It?

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Becoming The Bead Artist and Jewelry Designer

5 Essential Questions Every Jewelry Designer Should Have An Answer For

Getting Started / Channeling Your Excitement

Getting Started / Developing Your Passion

Getting Started / Cultivating Your Practice

Becoming One With What Inspires You

Architectural Basics of Jewelry Design

Doubt / Self Doubt: Major Pitfalls For The Jewelry Designer

Techniques and Technologies: Knowing What To Do

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

Teaching Discplinary Literacy: Strategic Thinking In Jewelry Design

The Jewelry Designer’s Approach To Color

Point, Line, Plane, Shape, Form, Theme: Creating Something Out Of Nothing

The Jewelry Designer’s Path To Resonance

Jewelry Design Principles: Composing, Constructing, Manipulating

Jewelry Design Composition: Playing With Building Blocks Called Design Elements

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

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.

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Approaching Beading and Jewelry Making As Architects

Posted by learntobead on May 22, 2020

It’s a strongly held belief of mine that Beaders and Jewelry Designers should be taught and learn and practice as if they were Architects.

Beaders and Jewelry Designers and Architects impose shape, light, shadow, aesthetics and function onto an otherwise empty space. The scale might be different, and the purposes might vary, but they all do the same thing, requiring the same kinds of thinking and insights.

The knowledge base and insights required are many. Beaders and Jewelry Designers need to understand the consequences which result from their selection of materials. They need to know what works and doesn’t work when specific techniques and processes of construction are implemented.

They also need to recognize, given any design goal, how these kinds of choices enhance or impede movement, drape, flow, and durability. As well, they need to be aware how these choices affect the creation and retention of shapes and forms. The need to understand the roles of stresses and strains on the continued success of jewelry over time. Last they need to be capable in making choices about aesthetics and function, fully comfortable with the tradeoffs one must make before one completes the finished piece.

I like my students to be fully aware how they physically build a piece of jewelry. Structurally so it holds a shape. Mechanically so it moves, drapes and flows as intended. Functionally so that it withstands the tests of stress, strain, time and place. Aesthetically so that the surface and surface treatments resonate.

So, this is a start — a Statement of Opinion.

I want to spend some time and effort teasing out this Opinion into more concrete terms. If we were establishing a professional program of Beading and Jewelry Design, and wanted to get beyond Craft, and beyond the confines and limitations of traditional Art theory, how would we began to generate that language and vocabulary of Design which our students would be taught? I think the discipline of Architecture offers a lot of clues and insights.

Let’s begin the discussion and see where it goes.

And a first question would involve generating more awareness where a knowledge of how choices about structure and materials can affect “shape” or “movement”.

QUESTION 1: WHAT CAN YOU ACHIEVE WITH SOME TECHNIQUES OR MATERIALS THAT YOU CAN’T ACHIEVE WITH OTHERS?

For example, I prefer to use Fireline with right angle weave stitch, and a more traditional beading thread with peyote stitch. The Fireline gives me more control over maintaining a tighter and more even thread tension with RAW, but I find it often makes my peyote pieces too stiff.

I find that the type of joint created with brick stitch allows me to make a much greater and often more satisfying range of shapes than if I tried to make the same shapes with peyote stitch — the architectural joints created with peyote don’t allow the same multi-directional movement as those with brick.

Coated and galvanized beads often do not work well in bracelets. The coatings chip off too easily.

It is more difficult to achieve a satisfying outcome, when mixing different kinds of materials rather than using a single type of material in the same piece.

Beth Katz S.
I completely agree with your thoughts about the architecture correlation. I have a friend who is a landscape architect. The name of his company escapes me (so what else is new?), but it ends with “chitecture.” When I told him that many of my pieces are structural in nature and that I am often inspired by various types of architecture, he suggested I use the name “beaditecture,” but I thought I was a mouthful. No do, however, like the idea.

Lynn D.
The structural practicalities of any beading piece are very important, particularly if the piece is sculptural and/or wearable. I often see beadwork that is stunningly beautiful but that wouldn’t survive if worn regularly… or that would be hideously uncomfortable for the wearer. Even the small practical things like whether a bead is top- or side-drilled can be very important when you’re connecting things together and want them to hang the right way round!

Susan Lifton S.
I definitely agree that architects and beaders/jewelry designers share similar skills — I’ve been an architect for over 20 years and only began beading 4 years ago. I picked up beading very quickly as I already had skills in math, design, color, spacial relationships, geometry, structure and problem solving.

Continuing the discussion…

QUESTION 2: IF THE BEADER/JEWELRY MAKER SAW THEIR PROJECTS AS AN ARCHITECT WOULD, WHAT KINDS OF WORDS AND PHRASES WOULD THEY USE TO DESCRIBE THE PROJECT, OR HOW THEY WERE APPLYING THE TECHNIQUE OR WHAT THEY WERE TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH?

For example, when I teach a stitch, like circular peyote or tubular Ndebele, where we start the stitch by making a circle of beads, I now refer to this circle as a 1-stack column. I want my students to recognize this circle as a necessary supporting structure. So I use the word “column”.

In some projects, where I have my students attach two components with say, a bead between them, I now refer to this connecting bead as a “supporting joint”. I want my students to recognize that this connector has important structural purposes. It has to both hold the two components together and allow them to maintain a shape and silhouette, as well as allow them to move, or self-adjust to the varying forces of movement when the piece is worn, somewhat independently or co-dependently.

In the piece under construction and pictured, the joint is made up of a 2-hole superduo. To be effective, the distance between the holes of the superduo have to align perfectly with the corner holes of two tila beads. In this piece, I would have preferred to use 2-hole Czechmate Tile beads instead of Tilas, because they make the piece look richer and more attractive, but the hole alignment doesn’t work. Because of this mis-alignment, with the Czechmate Tiles, too much stress is placed at the joint, working against my structural goals and necessities.

In teaching dimensional beadwork, I now differentiate between the parts of the piece which serve to provide structure or shape — usually two “arms” crossing somewhat perpendicularly — , and the other parts of the piece which merely fill in the “space” between these supports.

ARCHITECTURAL LANGUAGE

Architects have an established way of visual thinking and methodical communication. They have meaningful ways for relating design intent to visual representation and context.

Architects talk about such things as construction and construction materials, they refer to columns, arches, walls, floors, structures, load weights, slabs, foundations, spatial relationships, building blocks, shapes, posts and beams, frameworks, platforms, scale.

Architects might reinterpret any piece of jewelry in terms of its structural anatomy.

They might see a piece of jewelry having a footprint.

They would be concerned with the effects of movement, drape and flexibility, thinking about things like static, strength, stiffness, comfort, bending, stretching, shifting, light and shadow, lateral structural systems, beams and columns.

They would confront the consequences and implications of force, stress, and strain.

Architects would think about how best to manage the visual presentation, seeing it as somehow a skin or surface supported internally or externally by various structures which help it hold its shape and enhance its visual presentation.

Daisy V.
Yes , we are Architects , always building something with ALL the differents shapes available . THATS THE MAGIC OF WORKIN WITH BEADS !! Let our imagination run wild !!

Continuing the discussion…

QUESTION 3: CAN YOU THINK OF WAYS IN WHICH THE SMART MANAGEMENT OF THREAD TENSION EITHER (1) INCREASED YOUR ABILITY TO MAINTAIN A PARTICULAR SHAPE OR POSITIONING OF AN ELEMENT OR A CURVATURE WITHIN YOUR PIECE, OR, (2) ENHANCED THE MOVEMENT, DRAPE AND FLOW OF YOUR PIECE?

Your thread (or, similarly for any other stringing material like cord, cable wire, hard wire or elastic string) is your canvas. We often don’t think about this. However, we should. As the canvas, your thread serves several functions. Foremost, it serves to keep your piece’s shape.

The more thread you stitch into the holes of your beads, the more power your canvas has to maintain this shape in the face of forces resulting from movement.

The way you stitch this thread through various pathways in and around your beads enhances or impedes the ability of your piece, or parts of your piece, to move, drape and flow.

How you prepare your canvas before you use it affects its durability and integrity. You might stretch it. You might wax it. You might color it with a marker. You might twist it when making twisted fringe so it holds its twist.

The canvas and how it is used may determine a piece’s silhouette. It may force upon your piece a sense of boundaries and frames, verticals and horizontals, straight lines and curves.

Whether you want any parts of the canvas to show, or whether you want to hide all the canvas within the holes of your beads.

Architecturally, we would want to have the best understanding of how the canvas works, at each and every point of our piece. How it works at the clasp. How it works at the point of focus. How it works along less embellished areas. How it works along more embellished areas.

And we would want to know how the management of our canvas — that is, the management of thread tension — affects each different type of stitch. And what opportunities and limitations each different type of creates for managing our canvas.

We frequently talk about (and compare ourselves to others) in terms of whether our personal tension is towards the tighter or the looser, but, otherwise, we often don’t see that managing tension has more implications for the success of our pieces. We need to be able to switch back and forth between tighter and looser, to accomplish our architectural goals for our pieces.

Right Angle Weave Stitch Sample

So, for example, I discovered that right angle weave requires both tight and looser thread tension throughout. For right angle weave to function architecturally — it functions like a spring mattress — the beads within the RAW unit need to be very tightly bound together so that the beads within the unit function as one. The tension needs to be looser within the connecting beads between RAW units, so that each unit can move somewhat independently and self-adjust to the forces of movement. This architectural understanding influences how I design my thread pathways in projects where I incorporate right angle weave.

Peyote Stitch Sample

Nancy Cain had a very informative article about mastering thread tension for tubular peyote stitch in the June/July 2015 Beadwork. She wrote, “Learning and understanding the foundation aspect of peyote stitch and the role of thread tension is the key to starting a structural shape….The first five rounds are the most important for setting tension for the entire piece.

[ I’ve also found that if you don’t get the first 3 rows very tight, you can lose control over the tension in the rest of your piece. For me, these organization of these rows forms a “column” and must conform to the structural requirements, as such. ]

Nancy covers a lot of relevant ground in her article which is very worth reading.

THE EVOLVING POSITION STATEMENT:
Architectural Basis of Jewelry Design

It’s a strongly held belief of mine that Beaders and Jewelry Designers should be taught as if they were Architects. Beaders and Jewelry Designers and Architects impose shape, light, shadow, aesthetics and function onto an otherwise empty space. The scale might be different, and the purposes might vary, but they all do the same thing, requiring the same kinds of thinking and insights.

The knowledge base and insights required are many. Beaders and Jewelry Designers need to understand the consequences which result from their selection of materials. They need to know what works and doesn’t work when specific techniques and processes of construction are implemented. They also need to recognize, given any design goal, how these kinds of choices enhance or impede movement, drape, flow, and durability. As well, they need to be aware how these choices affect the creation and retention of shapes and forms. Last they need to be capable in making choices about aesthetics and function, fully comfortable with the tradeoffs one must make before one completes the finished piece.

I like my students to be fully aware how they physically build a piece of jewelry. Structurally so it holds a shape. Mechanically so it moves, drapes and flows as intended. Functionally so that it withstands the tests of time and place. Aesthetically so that the surface and surface treatments resonate.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

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.

Add your name to my email list.

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I MAKE ALL THE MISTAKES IN THE BOOK

Posted by learntobead on May 14, 2020

I MAKE ALL THE MISTAKES IN THE BOOK

Recently, one of my jewelry making friends, while attempting to attach a clasp to a bracelet she was making, exclaimed in frustration: “I MAKE ALL THE MISTAKES IN THE BOOK!”

My first thought was, What are these mistakes?

And that led me to ask this question of my readers:

QUESTION:

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MISTAKES THAT YOU HAVE MADE THAT SHOULD BE IN THE BOOK?

From me:
 I am usually working on projects and waiting on customers or answering their questions at the same time. What I have done, more times than I can count is one of two things. I either pick up my work to continue the project, and head in the wrong direction. Or, I repeat the last step I did rather than continue with the next step.

Jennie H

Those are the most common mistakes I make too. Another one I make is one there’s no excuse for. I pick up 2 beads instead of one and don’t notice until I get back around to the mistake in the next row or round.

Jan A

Skipping a bead, or leaving thread around the edge of a bead and only realising you have done so after you have woven in the ends, I had to redo a beaded bezel this afternoon after doing the first one. 😦

Kassie S

I sometimes think I will be able to back out my thread by stitching in reverse instead of taking off the needle and pulling the thread out. Bites me in the behind every time.

Evelyn E

Kate McKinnon, author of “Contemporary Geometric Beadwork”, recommends breaking the offending double bead (delicas, or seed beads) by pushing a map pin through it and into a rubber eraser. Works great. Once I tried using a needle nose pliers to break the bead, but the glass sliced through the Fireline thread, so that move is too risky for me!

Jan A

The only thing about doing that, Evelyn is that you end up with a little bit of loose visible thread where the extra bead was, if you don’t burst the thread. If it is on the inside, or will be covered by layers of embellishment then you may be able to get away with it, but may be obvious on a simpler piece.

Evelyn E

“Catching A Loose Thread From A Twisted Bead” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryPtjHqtHeE

Jan A

I saw that, it depends on the piece, it doesn’t always work.

Jan A

It would for that technique because you can take it down into the columns of herringbone between the sections of peyote. The problem I had today was with a peyote bezel, I tried doing that but it wouldn’t lie flat and I had the extra bulk from the second thread, so I just redid the bezel — I’m just fussy about the finish.

What are all the mistakes in the book that you make? Share in the comments section.

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 »