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Designing With The Brain In Mind:Perception, Cognition, Sexuality

Posted by learntobead on October 16, 2021

Warren Feld

Warren FeldJust now·21 min read

Abstract

Jewelry plays a lot of psychological functions for both the wearer and the viewer, so it is important to understand some things about perception and cognition and how the brain processes information. The jewelry designer plays with various design elements, let’s call these parts. The designer arranges these parts into a composition, let’s refer to this as the whole. The brain takes in information about, that is, attends to each part, and information about the whole, and assigns a meaning to these. The designer must anticipate all this, especially understanding Gestalt behavior. So the designer is not only dealing with aesthetic and functional considerations in their designs, but also the psycho-social-emotional triggers and filters these may represent. Some of these emotions may evoke a sense of sex, sexuality and sensuality. Last, jewelry designers must be very aware — metacognitive — of how they think through design, and be able to turn their experiences into thinking routines.

DESIGNING WITH THE BRAIN IN MIND

Jewelry plays a lot of psychological functions for the wearer, the viewer, and the buyer, so it is important to understand some things about perception and cognition and how the brain processes information. Jewelry is used to meet the individual’s needs for self-esteem and self-actualization. A sense of oneness and uniqueness. Or conversely, a sense of being a part of a larger group or community. A sense of survival and protection. A re-affirmation of values and perspectives. A connection to a higher power or spirituality. A sense of fantasy. An orientation to what is up and what is down and what is left and what is right.

The jewelry designer plays with various design elements, let’s call these parts. The designer arranges these parts into a composition, let’s refer to this as the whole. The brain takes in information about, that is, attends to each part, one by one, and then gathers information about the whole, and assigns a meaning to all these. Because of how the brain works, there may be several meanings that rise up to the surface, so the brain has to filter and prioritize these somehow. The resulting assigned meaning(s) results in some type of behavior. At its simplest level, the behavior is either one of placing attention or one of suggesting movement. The behavior, whatever it is, reaffirms for the observer that their goals are getting met or that there is some consistency and coherency with personal values and desires.

The designer must anticipate all this. So the designer is not only dealing with aesthetic and functional considerations in their designs, but also the psycho-social-emotional triggers and filters these may incur. Some of these emotions may evoke a sense of sex, sexuality and sensuality. Jewelry has sensual qualities. It has gender associations. It may symbolically represent what is safe and what is not to view or to touch.

PERCEPTION

Perceptions are ways of regarding, understanding or interpreting something. We perceive using our senses. We touch, we see, we feel, we hear, we smell, we sense positioning. Perceptions are subjective, and each person has their own subtle differences, even when responding to the same design or event. In fact, different people may have very different perceptions about the same design or event. Their assumptions, expectations and values may further color their perceptions.

Each person filters their perceptions with each move, each conversation, and each situation. Such filters may contingently alter perceptions. Perceptions are not fixed. They are very sensitive to the context and the situation. Any type of filter may result in selectively perceiving some things, but not others. In design work, our clients might selectively focus on brighter lights, louder sounds, stronger odors, sharper textures, silhouettes, proportions, placements and distributions, balance, harmony and variety. Selective perception can add some more muddiness to the interaction especially as designer and client try to find and develop the shared understandings necessary for success.

Adequately sharing understandings within a situation and among the people in it depends on the amount of information available to each person and how correctly they interpret it. Perception is one of the critical psychological abilities we have in order to survive in any environment.

The designer needs to be open to understanding how the client perceives the design tasks and proposed outcomes, and to adjust their own perceptions when the management of the relationship calls for this. There is no formula here. Each situation requires its own management strategy. Each designer is left with their own inventiveness, sensitivity, and introspective skills to deal with perceptions. But it comes down to asking the right questions and actively listening.

How does the client begin to understand your product or service?
Can the client describe what they think you will be doing and what the piece or product might look like when finished?
Can the client tell you how the finished piece or product will meet their needs and feelings?
Can the client tell you about different options?
How will they interpret what you want them to know?
What impressions do you want to leave with them?
Do they perceive a connection between you as a designer and your design work as proposed?
What levels of agreement and disagreement exist between your perceptions and theirs?
Can you get at any reasons which might explain their perceptions, and any agreement or difference?
Can you clear up any misperceptions?

The jewelry designer needs to distinguish between how the jewelry is perceived when it is not worn from when it is worn. When not worn, jewelry is an object admired and perceived more in art or sculptural terms. When worn, jewelry is an intent where perceptions about the jewelry as object are intertwined, complicated, distorted, amplified, subjugated — you get the idea — with the needs and desires of the individual as that person presents the self and the jewelry as worn in context. Either set of perceptions may support one another, or they may be contradictory.

COGNITION

Cognition involves how the brain processes our perceptions, particularly when these perceptions are incomplete or contradictory or otherwise messy or unresolvable. Cognition focuses on how the brain takes in existing knowledge and creates new knowledge. Cognition is both conscious or unconscious, concrete or abstract, intuitive or conceptual. Cognition may influence or determine someone’s emotions. Metacognition is your own awareness of your strategies and methods of thinking and problem-solving.

The brain takes in a lot of information all at once. The brain looks for clues. It compares clues to information stored in memory. Typically different parts of the brain will simultaneously process (e.g., parallel processing) either different clues or the same clues in different ways. Some information will have greater relevance or resonance than others. Some information will be rejected. Some information will be recategorized or reinterpreted.

You can think of all these mental processes going on in the brain as a huge, self-organizing undertaking, but happening within minute fractions of a second. What happens is very context- or situation-specific. The goal is the creation of some kind of understanding. This understanding will have some logic to it. It will be compatible with and reaffirm the individual’s memories, assumptions, expectations, values and desires. This understanding will typically result in some kind of behavioral response. The response will most often be related to attention or movement. The understanding and the behavioral response will likely get stored in memory.

Attention

The cognitive process starts with attention. Attention has to do with how we focus on some perceptual information, and not on others. A key function of attention is how to identify irrelevant data and filter it out, enabling other more significant data to be distributed to other parts of the brain for further processing.

Picture a piece of jewelry. This jewelry will present many stimuli — color, placement, proportion, balance, volume, positioning, its relation to the human body, the context within which it is worn, perhaps how comfortable it feels, symmetry, and the list can go on and on. Which perceptual clues are most important to the person who needs to decide whether to wear or buy it? Attention is the first cognitive step in determining how to answer this, though the observer does not always consciously grasp the specifics of what is going on.

There are two types of attention: (1) Orienting, and (2) Directing.

Orienting Attention works more reflexively. For example, we are prewired in our brainstem with a fear or anxiety response. This helps us reflexively avoid snakes and spiders. This anxiety response has major implications for how people initially respond to jewelry as it is worn.

Say a stranger is in a room and wearing a necklace. You approach the entrance to this room. You see the stranger who is wearing the jewelry. Your brain has to instantaneously evaluate the situation and determine if it is safe for you to approach and continue to enter the room, or whether you need to be fearful and turn around and flee. Jewelry can play a key role here.

The jewelry signals the primary information the brain needs to make this judgment. Perceptions are filtered to the very basic and very elemental. First the viewer wants to be able to make a complete circle around the jewelry. Anything which impedes this — an ugly clasp assembly, poor rhythm, colors that don’t work together, uncomfortable negative spaces — makes the brain edgy. If the brain gest edgy, the jewelry will start to get interpreted as boring, monotonous, unsatisfying, ugly, and we can go all the way to will cause death.

After the viewer makes that complete circle, a second perception kicks in and becomes key to whether the brain will signal it’s either OK to approach or, instead, you better flee. This second perception is a search for a natural place for the eye/brain to come to rest. In jewelry we achieve this by such things as placing a pendant in the center or graduating the sizes of the beads or doing something with colors.

In slightly more technical terms, the jewelry draws the observer to a focal point at which they can sense an equilibrium in all directions. The viewer feels physically oriented. The jewelry composition presents a coordinated form which connects spaces and masses within something that feels / looks / seems like a unique harmony. The observer is made to feel, as she or he is attenuating to how mass relates to space within the composition, that not only is each element of the jewelry related to the ones preceding or following it, but that each element is contributing to the concept of the whole — the jewelry form is greater than the sum of its parts. There is continuity. There is coherence. Space and mass are interdependent. The distinction among parts is removed. The brain likes this. It searches for it. It makes it restful.

The full experience of the jewelry only gains its full meaning within its total expression. The significance of the total jewelry composition unfolds as the observer moves about its separate parts. This expression, in turn, as it relates to the attention processes of cognition, gets reduced to the confluence of the two clues of (a) making a complete circle, and (b) finding a place to come to rest. If the two clues are satisfying, the jewelry is viewed as finished and successful, and the immediate environment is seen as safe.

The jewelry designer controls the limits and the possibilities for attention. If jewelry design were merely a matter of organizing a certain number of parts, the process would be very mechanical and not at all creative. All jewelry design would be equally good (or more likely, bad). The purpose of good jewelry design is to express particular meanings and experiences for the wearer, viewer or buyer to attend to. Jewelry design is only successful to the extent these are fully communicated to the observer, and are fully sensitive to how perception and cognition play out in our brains. That is, how the jewelry, through its design, enhances or impedes perception and cognition.

Directing Attention, the other type of attention, signals to the observer the possibilities for or constraints on movement. It is more deliberate rather than reflexive. It can divide one’s attention so that the person can pay attention to more than one thing at the same time. Using our example, there could be several strangers in the room, each wearing a different style and design of necklaces. As our observer walks into the room, attention can be shifted from one person / jewelry to another, or focused on one person / jewelry alone.

Directing Attention determines the potential for movement, so that the observer can anticipate the possibilities, or conceive the limits. With whatever piece of jewelry is worn, how freely or easily can the person shift positions, stand, run, dance, lay down? Will any type of movement change the appeal of the jewelry as worn? Is there anything about the design of the jewelry which anticipates different kinds of movements and positioning? Will the appeal of the jewelry remain should the wearer move to a different type of lighted situation or into a shadow? How much ease should be built into the construction of the piece?

The aesthetics of mass and space, such as the interplay of points, lines, planes and shapes, are rooted in a person’s psychology in order to arouse predictable patterns of experience. There seems to be a constant human need to perceive and attend to spatial relationships which distinguish harmony from cacophony. This psychological response to form most likely is connected to a person’s mechanisms for balance, movement and stature.

On the simplest level, observers use jewelry to assist them in knowing what is up and what is down, and what is left and what is right. Jewelry is used similarly in this directing sense as the floors, walls and ceilings are used towards this end in a room, or the horizon, landscape and trees are used outside. Without any clues about positioning, a human being would fall down and not be able to get up.

Picture, for example, how you might feel when the person standing next to you has one earring stuck in a 90 degree angle, or is only wearing one earring, or has a necklace mispositioned and slightly turned around the neck. You most likely feel a bit uncomfortable, perhaps uncomfortable enough to let the person know the jewelry needs to be adjusted in position, or that they seem to be missing an earring. Or perhaps not so comfortable to raise the issue publicly.

GESTALT: The Whole Vs. The Parts

One mechanism of cognition is called a Gestalt. At its root, Gestalt means that the whole composition is more meaningful than the meanings of its individual parts. There is a chicken and egg type of debate within the field about whether the person attends to the parts first with a stronger emergent whole, or whether the person needs to understand the whole first and use this understanding to interpret the parts. But for jewelry designers, we do not have to get into the debate here. Jewelry designers need to recognize that the resulting whole composition should always be more resonant, more finished-feeling and more successful than any of the individual design elements incorporated into the piece.

At its core, people are motivated to recognize entire patterns or configurations. If there are any gaps or flaws or mis-directions, the brain, cognitively, has a tendency to fill in the gaps or ignore the flaws or mis-directions. Where perceptual information does not exist or is somehow incomplete, the brain will fill in the blanks, so to speak, using perceptions about proximity, similarity, figure-ground, continuity, closure, and connection. This all involves work on the part of the brain. The brain may generate resistance towards this end, unless somehow coerced or tricked by aspects of the design choices themselves.

Jewelry will have a lot of gaps of light throughout. The individual beads and components do not blend into each other. They are distinct points of information. Instead, from the brain’s point of view, there are the equivalent of cliffs between each one. The brain, in effect, is asked to jump each cliff. It may be resistant to do so. The brain wants harmony. The brain wants to connect the dots into a smooth line. Or, if the composition were separate lines, the brain wants to connect the lines into a smooth, coherent plane. Or, if there were several distinct lines and planes, the brain wants to integrate these into a recognizable shape or form. But again, all this is not automatic. The brain will resist to do any more work than necessary. The designer will need to make smart, influencing, persuading choices in the design. The Gestalt mechanism is a set of these kinds of choices.

The brain needs to be sufficiently motivated to make the effort to harmonize the pattern or configuration. Gestalt is one of the cognitive, motivating, innate forces the brain uses. In music, when the brain hears part of a melody, it not only hears the notes, but also something else, let’s, for simplicity, call this a tune. This something else allows the brain to anticipate how the melody will continue. If the melody at this point changes key, the brain anticipates how the melody will play out in the new key as a similar tune but with different notes before it is played. How the brain interacts with a piece of jewelry has parallels.

One obvious example is the use of color simultaneity effects. Here the color of the next bead is affected by the color of the previous bead. Place a grey bead next to an orange bead, and the grey bead will take on some orange tones. Both beads get perceived as blended or bridged, even though, in reality, they are not. The observer generalizes the relationship between the two stimuli rather than the absolute properties of each. Take three beads, one emerald, one olivine and one grey. You would not normally find these two greens within the same composition. Place the grey bead between the two greens and, because of simultaneity effects, the two greens will harmonize as the grey forces a blending or bridging.

Jewelry designers need to learn the basic principles or laws of Gestalt. This allows them to predict the interpretation of sensation and explain the way someone will see their compositions. It allows them to anticipate how their jewelry will arouse predictable patterns of emotions and responses in others.

These laws can be used as guides for improving the design outcomes. They can be used to influence what design elements should be included. In what forms / volumes / placements / other attributes these design elements should take. How design elements should be arranged. How construction and function should best relate to aesthetics. How the jewelry should be worn. How the jewelry might coordinate with other clothes and accessories or contexts.

These principles are based on the following:

Principle of Proximity: In an assortment of elements, some which are closer together are perceived as forming groups. Emphasizes which aspects of elements are associated.

Principle of Similarity: Elements within an assortment are grouped together if similar. This similarity could be by color or shape or other quality. If the assortment is comprised of many elements, some similar and some dissimilar, the brain will sort this out so that the similar ones, no matter where placed within the assortment, will be perceived and grouped together.

Principle of Closure: People tend to perceive objects as complete, even when incomplete, rather than focusing on any gaps or negative spaces. When parts of the whole are missing, people tend to fill in the missing parts. The brain is preset to attempt to increase the regularity of sensation or the equilibrium within an experience or event.

Principle of Symmetry: The mind perceives objects as being symmetrical and forming around a center or focal point. Similar symmetrical elements will be grouped as one. The brain will attempt to make something which is asymmetric be perceived as symmetric as best as it can. The brain equates symmetry to coherency.

Principle of Common Fate: Elements are perceived as lines which move along the smoothest path. We perceive objects as having trends of motion. In jewelry design, think about something like rhythm. The beads are not moving in reality, but we perceive a direction and a quality of movement.

Principle of Continuity: Elements of objects tend to be grouped together, and therefore integrated into perceptual wholes, if they are aligned with an object. If two objects are next to each other or overlap, the brain tends to see each object distinctly as two separate wholes, if the elements within each object are aligned and continuous. Picture a 2-strand necklace. The brain will be primed to see these as 2 separate strands or wholes, rather than one whole necklace. Objects with abrupt and sharp directional changes will less likely be perceived as a whole.

Principle of Past Experience: Under some circumstances, visual stimuli are categorized according to past experience. Especially when faced with unknown or unfamiliar objects, the brain will resort to using past experience as a means for interpretation and whether to group elements within the objects as a whole.

DESIGNS CREATE EMOTIONS

There is a growing body of knowledge of the mechanics of sensory processes in cognition. A good design creates positive emotions for the viewer, wearer and/or buyer. Jewelry designers need a deeper understanding of types of emotions and their psychological underpinnings. People develop emotions with jewelry on three levels: (1) visceral (intrinsic), (2) behavioral (behavior), and reflective (reflection).

(1) Visceral (wants to feel): attractiveness, first impressions, feelings

(2) Behavioral (wants to do): usability, function, performance, effectiveness

(3) Reflective (wants to be): meaning, impact, shared experience, psycho-socio-cultural fit

METACOGNITION

Metacognition is an awareness of your own thought and problem-solving processes. It involves a search for patterns and the meanings behind them. It involves a lot of reflection. It involves a sensitivity to the choices made when confronting any unfamiliar or unknown situation. It concerns an awareness of why some choices worked better than others, or not at all.

For jewelry designers, it is important to take metacognition one step further. It is important to turn your experiences into thinking routines. These routines are fix-it strategies you bring with you when overcoming difficult or unfamiliar situations.

SEX, SEXUALITY, AND SENSUALITY

As a jewelry designer, you have to be very aware of the roles jewelry plays in sex, sexuality and sensuality. The act of sex. Everything leading up to it. Eroticism. Sex, however, differs from sensuality. Sensuality is how the jewelry brings out the sensual — the gratification of the appetite for visuals, sounds, tastes, smells and touch. Sensuality always makes jewelry desirable. But perhaps no two people experience the sensuality of a piece of jewelry in the same way.

These sex-sexuality-sensuality roles include,

(1) The Peacock Role

(2) The Gender Role

(3) The Safe Sex Role

One sexual role of jewelry is the Peacock Role. People wear personal adornment to attract the viewer’s attention. This means that the jewelry not only needs to be flashy enough, but also must contain culturally meaningful elements that the viewer will recognize and be sufficiently meaningful as to motivate the viewer to focus his or her attention on the jewelry and who is wearing it.

These culturally meaningful elements might include the use of color(s), talismans, shapes, forms. They clue the viewer to what is good, appealing, appropriate, and to what is not. But the jewelry must also provide clues to the individuality of the wearer — her (or his) personal style, social or cultural preferences, personal senses of the situation in which they find themselves.

Another of these sexuality roles — The Gender Role — is to define gender and gender-rooted culture. Certain jewelry, jewelry styles, and ways of wearing jewelry are associated with females, and others with males. Some are used to signal androgyny, others polyamory or gender fluidity. You can easily label which jewelry looks more masculine, and which more feminine. Some jewelry is associated with heterosexuality, and others with homosexuality. I remember when men, in a big way, started wearing one earring stud, it was critical to remember whether to wear the stud in the left ear lobe (hetero) or the right one (gay). For engaged and married women, it is important to recognize which style of ring is more appropriate, and which hand and finger to wear these on.

One of the most important sexuality roles, however — The Safe Sex Role — concerns the placement of jewelry on the body. Such placement is suggestive of where it is safe, and where it is unsafe, to look at or to touch the person wearing it. The length of the necklace, relative to the neck, the breast, or below the breast. How long the earring extends below the lobe of the ear. Whether the person wears bracelets. The size of the belt buckle. If a person has body piercings, where these are — the navel, the eyebrow, the nose, the lip.

Jewelry calls attention to areas of the body the wearer feels are safe to view or touch. It’s like taking a sharpie marker and drawing a boundary line across the body. Jewelry gives the viewer permission to look at these areas, say above the line, and not others below the line. Jewelry may give the viewer permission to touch these areas, as well. The wearer may want to call attention to the face, the neck, the hands, the ankle, but also to the breasts, the naval, the genital area.

We know that certain areas of the body are more sexually arousing than others. We know that different people are more or less comfortable with these areas on the body. But how does the wearer communicate that? How does the wearer communicate her (or his) personal views of what is sexually acceptable without having to physically and verbally interact with someone in order for that person to find out?

Jewelry. How jewelry is worn is one of the most critical and strategic ways for achieving this Safe-Sex goal. The linear form of the jewelry imposes a boundary line on the body. Do not cross it. And make no mistake, this boundary line separates the permissible from the impermissible, the non-erotic from the erotic, the safe from the unsafe. In a similar way the centerpiece focuses attention as if it were an arrow pointing the way. Jewelry is not just a style preference thing. It’s a safe-sex preference thing, as well.

When news of the AIDS epidemic first burst on-stage in the 1980s, you witnessed a very dramatic change in jewelry and how it was worn. Right before the AIDS epidemic, large long earrings were style. Remember shoulder dusters. But as awareness of AIDS spread, most women stopped wearing earrings for awhile. Then gradually, they began wearing studs. Then very small hoops. It wasn’t until around 2004 that some women wore the new chandelier earrings, and you saw longer earrings on actresses as they paraded down the red carpets of one award show after another.

Prior to AIDS, the necklace style was for longer necklaces — 24” to 36” long. The necklaces were full — multi-strand, lots of charms and dangles. Again, as awareness of AIDS spread, the necklace profile changed rapidly to no necklace at all, or to thin, short chains and chokers. You would typically find ONE charm, not many, on a necklace. Attention was pulled away from the genital area, the navel and the breasts, all the way back up to the face.

Prior to AIDS, necklaces and earrings were the best-sellers in my store. After AIDS, it became bracelets. Holding hands. Not necking. Not fondling. Not sexual intercourse. Holding hands was now the acceptable norm. This was safe.

Body piercings came into major vogue during the 1980s. And look what typically got pierced. Noses, belly buttons, eyebrows, lips. This of this as a big Body Chart for safe sex.

As society became more understanding of AIDS and how it spread, the jewelry became larger. It extended to more areas of the body. People wore more of it. But in 2009, it was still restrained, when compared to what people wore before the 1980s.

In the sexual hunt between the sexes, jewelry plays an important boundary-defining role. Let’s not forget about this. Jewelry, in some sense, is an embodiment of desire. Jewelry communicates to others how the wearer comes to define what desire might mean for the self. It communicates through placement, content, embellishment and elaboration.

Jewelry does not have to be visibly erotic, or include visual representations of sexual symbols, in order to play a role in sexuality and desire — a role that helps the hunter and the hunted define some acceptable rules for interacting without verbal communication.

___________________________________

FOOTNOTES

Canel, Melissa. The Role of Perceptions in Conflict. April 9, 2016. As referenced:

https://prezi.com/auvtd6yylkkf/the-role-of-perceptions-in-conflict/

Dunlop, Cole. You Are Not Worried Enough About Perceptions and Assumptions. May 7, 2014. As referenced:
https://www.authoritylabs.com/worried-enough-perceptions-assumptions/

Gangwani, Prachi. “Sexual or Sensual? Here’s The Difference Between The Two,” 9/30/2016. As referenced in:
https://www.idiva.com/relationships-love/sex/sexual-or-sensual-heres-the-difference-between-the-two/16093050

Mausolf, Judy Kay. How To Avoid 4 Communication Pitfalls:
Assumptions, Perceptions, Comparison Expectations and Commitments. Spring, 2014. As referenced:
https://www.practicesolutionsinc.net/assets/docs/communication_pitfalls.pdf
Progressive Dentist Magazine

Nguyen, Hoang. “10 Psychological Rules I Used To Make Users Love At First Sight,” As referenced in:
https://blog.prototypr.io/10-psychological-rules-i-used-to-make-users-love-at-first-sight-55c71f99bfa1

Wellington, Kiki. “Sensual Vs. Sexual: Do you know the difference?”, 11/7/20. As referenced in:
https://medium.com/sex-with-a-side-of-quirk/the-difference-between-sensuality-and-sexuality-3b1c4f4315f2

Wikipedia: Cognition. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognition

Wikipedia: Gestalt Psychology. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gestalt_psychology

Wikipedia: Perception. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perception

_________________________________

Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.

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

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

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Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Resiliency: Do You Have The Most Important Skill Designers Must Have?

Disciplinary Literacy and Fluency In Design

Backward Design is Forward Thinking

How Creatives Can Successfully Survive In Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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PART 1: THE JEWELRY DESIGNER’S ORIENTATION TO OTHER JEWELRY FINDINGS: PART 1: PREPARERS

Posted by learntobead on March 14, 2021

Continue Part 2: Controllers and Adapters

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

Choosing and Using Other Jewelry Findings: 
Preparers

You have to approach the Jewelry Findings with a large measure of respect. “Jewelry Findings” are all the pieces that you use, including clasps, other than stringing materials and beads. They are called “jewelry findings”, because up until about 15 years ago, many of these pieces didn’t exist. People went to sewing notion stores, antique stores, flea markets, hardware stores, cannibalized old jewelry, wherever, and found things and made them work. Because many of these pieces are new, there is not a consensus on what some of these things should be called, so you have a lot of similarly looking pieces that go by different names. I’m sure over time, the name-game will shake out, and there will be more consistency.

Respect these jewelry findings. They are the pieces that get pulled and strained, torn at and squeezed, maligned and misused. These are the pieces that will make or break your piece of jewelry. Understand and respect them.

Many designers fail to make the full range of these pieces available to them. They either don’t know about them, or are afraid of them or think they might use them incorrectly. They too often limit their own design possibilities by relying on the same limited set of findings for everything they make. But the world of possibilities that these jewelry findings open up for us is endless.

Below is a list of other major jewelry findings used in bead stringing. I’ve tried to group them into three categories to make it a little easier to relate to.

PREPARERS:
 Things Which Prepare the Ends of Cords and Stringing Materials:

These kinds of jewelry findings are mostly used with thicker cords, like leather and waxed cotton, but also with cable wires. These enable you to create a “loop end” on each side of the cord or cable.

From the two loop ends you have created on each end of your cord, you then continue to create the rest of your clasp assembly. If the loop is big enough (to give you jointedness), or looks substantial enough (like it won’t break from movement), you can attach the clasp directly to the loop. If not, you will want to attach your clasp/ring to jump or split rings, and these, in turn, to your loop ends.

You usually try to match the size of the interior opening on the jewelry finding to the thickness of your cord or cable. For some of these pieces, this match is more important than others.

You always put some glue on your cord or cable before you stick them into the piece. You use glue because all these cords are oily, and some will sweat, as well. They will slip out of the findings — even with tight crimping or clamping — because they are slippery. That’s why you use glue.

I recommend using a glue like E6000 or Beacon 527. Don’t use super glue. Super glue (or the jeweler’s version called G-S Hypo Cement) dries like glass, so the bond will shatter like glass, because all jewelry moves. Also, after it shatters, the bond looks like a broken coke bottle. E6000 and Beacon 527 dry like rubber, so they act as a shock absorber, when the jewelry moves.

CRIMP ENDS

These come very fancy or plain. They come with a small opening to use with cable wires, and wider and wider openings to use with leather or waxed cotton, or even braided leather.

These pieces have a loop at the end of a tube. The tube has 3 bands. The first and third are decorative. The center band is meant to be crushed and crimped. You put some glue on the cord or cable — any glue except super glue — stick it into the tube, and take a pliers and crush the center band as flat as you can get it.

When you crush the middle band, visually, it looks like it is part of a pattern of beads. It doesn’t look like an ugly crushed piece of metal.

Some crimp ends come with a hook, so that you attach a loop on one end and the hook on the other, to create a hook and eye clasp.

These and clamps (see below) work best for preparing the ends of cable wires and thicker cords. Crimp ends tend to be on the pricier side; clamps are very inexpensive. Both hold well, relying on both the glue and the crimp.

CHAIN/CORD ENDS

These pieces have a loop at the end of a split tube. For chain, these are soldered on. For cords or cable, you put some glue on (again never super glue), stick it into the split tube, and take a pliers and crush snug, NOT flat. What’s holding these on is the glue. If you crush flat, you lose the bond. Should tightly match cord thickness to interior diameter.

We need to crush snug because we want the glue to adhere to all the interior surfaces. If there are any gaps where the glue has not adhered, the bond will break.

These are terrible pieces, because it is difficult to achieve that perfect bonding with the glue.

END CAPS

These pieces come in just a few sizes, but many designs. Those pictured are very industrial looking, but they come very decorative, as well. Some pieces have a hole at the end instead of a loop and are labeled “end caps,” but technically, these should be called either a cone or a bead cap. Usually, the interior opening size of the end cap will be listed, such as ID=6mm or ID=8mm or ID=12mm. You coordinate this with the width of whatever you are trying to slip into the end cap. But because of the shape of the end cap, there still may be fit issues.

These pieces have a loop at the end of a hard metal tube. The loop is either an eyelet or a fixed loop. You put some glue (not super glue) on cord or cable and stick in. The glue is all that holds. Should tightly match cord thickness to interior diameter.

Because it is important, for the bond to hold, to get the glue to adhere to all the interior surfaces, and you cannot crush the ends snug, you need to put a lot of excess glue on the cord when you stick it in. And you need to be prepared to wipe away the excess glue that bleeds back out.

You never attach your clasp directly to these pieces. You need an additional intervening ring — jump ring or split ring or soldered ring — between the end cap and your clasp component.

CLAMPS
 Ribbon or Bar Clamps:

These clamps are folded metal with a loop in the center edge, come in different lengths, and have teeth. These are for ribbons or fabric. You don’t use glue, because the glue will bleed into the ribbon or fabric.

You fold over the end of the ribbon or fabric, making the end pretty, and stick into the clamp, and use a pliers to crush firm. If your material is wider than the clamp you have, you would make several folds in the end, like you would when gift-wrapping a package.

Foldover or Wing Clamps:

These come in a few different sizes, some with square loops, some with round loops. Some have plain backs; some have patterned backs.

These typically are a loop on top of flat metal with two wings that fold over. You put some glue (not super glue) on the cord or cable, sit in the saddle between the two wings, and use a large pliers, and crush the two wings over each other and over the cord. Crush as flat as you can get it. This is not done in one movement because the wings are stiff and strong. You usually take your pliers and move then to one side, then the other, then back, until you get the two wing position over each other, and you can crush them flat.

One mistake people make with this piece is that they crush snug, not flat. Where the wings overlap each other, this leaves an air passage. Again, we want our glue to adhere to all the interior surfaces. If you crush snug, this air passage will weaken the bond, and your cord will pull out. You have to crush as flat as you can get it, to force the glue up into that air passage.

You can use one clamp for multiple strands, if you wish. You can seat multiple strands of cable wire or leather or whatever into the saddle of one clamp.

These and the crimp ends work the best for preparing the ends of cable wires and thicker cords. Crimp ends are pricier; clamps are cheap. Crimp ends have a design impact; clamps are very utilitarian.

COIL ENDS

Coil ends have an open ended loop at the top of a tightly wound coil. I don’t like the way these look after they are crushed onto the cord, and they don’t hold up well. One advantage is that the coil functions as a spring, and absorbs a lot of the excess force place on the piece, that comes from movement.

With coil ends, you put some glue, (but not super glue), on the cord, shove it into the coil. You take a chain-nose pliers and crush the first two rings of the coil onto the cord. If you crush too hard, you’ll slice the cord. If you don’t crush hard enough, the cord will pull out.

The way the loop was designed to work, was that you take a pliers, move the open ring to the side, slip on your clasp or ring, and, using the pliers, move the open ring to a closed position again. DON’T DO IT THIS WAY. When you move the loop back and forth, it breaks off easily. These loops are rather brittle. SO, the way you would use this, is that you would take a jump ring or split ring, and attach this to the loop and your clasp piece. As long as you don’t move this loop wire, it stays strong.

Coil ends come in two sizes in terms of the width of the interior diameter. If your cord is thicker than the smaller size, see if you can make it work with this smaller size, anyway. The larger size is more awkward to use. Say you had leather cord. You can take a single-edge razor blade and cut the end at an angle, put some glue on the cord, and shove it into the smaller piece.

BEAD CAPS

This is a decorative cup-like or bowl-like piece, with a hole in the center. This piece is originally used as a decorative element, to cover one or both sides of a bead, as you string your beads on. However, you can adapt this piece to be an end. You might have multi-strands, where you tie them all off together, and use the bead cap to hide the mess. You might have a bead crocheted rope, and again, use the bead cap to give your piece a decorative end. You glue the bead cap on. Then you take an independent wire or thread, attaching it to your piece about 2–3” from the end, and running it through your piece, through the cap, then finishing off the rest of your clasp assembly.

What’s nice here are that there are hundreds of styles, whereas the more typical jewelry findings look very utilitarian.

BELL CAPS

A bell cap is a bead cap with a loop on it. This is a decorative cup-like or bowl-like piece, with a loop sticking above the center. This piece is originally used to adapt something, like gluing it to the top of a crystal pendant or bead, to be a drop. But it can be adapted to use as a fancy end-cap. Use glue here. Attach the clasp assembly to an additional jump ring or split ring. Again, there are many, many decorative styles in bell caps, so you won’t have to rely on the typical and very plain specialized jewelry findings.

The arms on the bell cap are somewhat independent, and can be pushed into the shape of whatever piece they are attached to. So, for example, you can take a rough stone, position the bell cap at the top, push on the arms to shape them to the stone, then put glue on each arm and attach the bell cap to the piece.

BEAD TIPS (aka, KNOT-COVERS)

These pieces are used to hide knots. One style has a cup with a tongue attached. Another style ends with a loop, not a tongue. The most widely used style — Clam Shell Bead Tip (or double-cup) — has two half cups that close over the knot, and a tongue extending from one end. While some people use these pieces with cable wire, they are primarily designed for use with needle and thread.

These take some practice in learning how to use them. On the first side of your piece, you string on the bead tip, say the clam shell. You tie a bunch of knots in the tail, so your knot is bigger than the hole in the bead tip, and won’t slip out. Cut off the tail. Put a drop of glue on the knot. Here you would use something like superglue. Superglue will make the knot stiff, so it won’t pull through the hole. E6000 will make the knot rubbery, and it will be able to contort and work its way through the hole. Trim the tail. Press the two halves of the clamp together over the knot, so it looks like a bead. Take the tongue, fold it over and through the ring on your clasp, and back to itself, so it forms a loop.

On the other side of your piece, here’s the tricky part. You need to keep your tension on the thread, so the thread doesn’t show when you’re finished. You need to tie a bunch of knots, and complete the rest of the process. This is a 3-hand operation, but you only have 2 hands.

Here you slide the bead tip onto your thread. Use one hand to hold everything tight. Take an awl or a round nose pliers — something where the width graduates into a point, and put the tip where you want your finished knot to end up. Tie an overhand knot over the awl or pliers up high on the wider part of the jaws. Tighten the loop of this knot. Tighten the tension on your thread. Move the loop down the awl or pliers a bit, moving towards the narrow pointed end. Tighten this loop. Check your overall thread tension. Move the loop down a little bit more. Tighten this loop. Check your overall thread tension. When you loop gets to the tip of your awl or pliers, you need to pull your knot tightly, and push the awl or pliers out of the way, AND, you want to maintain the thread tension in your piece. Tie a bunch more knots. Put glue on the knot. Trim the tail. Close the clamp. Loop the tongue into the other part of your clasp. This takes about 5 tries before your body gets that muscle memory to do the task easily and correctly.

When I started in jewelry making, almost every piece used bead tips. I’m not a big fan of this type of piece today. The tongue when bent over to hook and secure the clasp is not jointed enough. It doesn’t leave a big enough loop, so there is tension and these tongues break off. Today, you can tie your piece to the clasp using knots, then slip a crimp cover over the knot, so it looks finished as if there were a bead there. This is both more secure and easier to do.

Some alternatives to tying a globular knot: (1) with needle and thread work, you can tie off an end to an 11/0 seed bead, and have your clam-shell enclose the seed bead, and (2) with cable wire, you can crimp on a crimp bead on the end of your wire, and have your clam-shell enclose the crushed crimp bead.

CONES

Cones come in many shapes and designs, but basically look like a megaphone. These are used to finish off the ends of jewelry, often to hide a lot of messy knots or unfinished ends inside the cone.

One style of cone is called a 3-to-1 cone (also, 2-to-1 up to 11-to-1). This is a flattened cone, with one hole on one side, and 3 holes on the other. This is supposed to help you finish off a 3-strand piece in a decorative way. You pull each of 3 strands through the 3 holes on one side, and out together through the one hole on the other side. For two of the strands, you tie a large knot or double-knot, cut off the excess tail, and let the knot fall back into the box of the cone. I’ve only known one person in my life who could accomplish this, and maintain sufficient string tension so that none of the cable wire showed on the other side of the cone and as part of the bracelet. For the 3rd string, you would continue creating your clasp assembly. This is a good piece in theory, but not practice. Most people end up tying the three strands into this big, globular knot, and then trying to finish off the clasp assembly, only to have the clasp assembly take up 25–30% of their finished bracelet.

Regular cones are used like lampshades to hide some ugliness. With the typical cone style — that megaphone looking piece, the way you are supposed to use this piece is as follows: You take a soldered ring, something small enough so that it will fit far enough back into the cone, that the cone will hide any of the finishing knots or ends. If we start with a 3-strand necklace, you would tie off each strand to one side of the soldered ring. Then you would take a separate, independent cable wire, hard wire or thread, whatever you are stringing with, and tie it off in a knot to the other side of the soldered ring, pull the whole works into the cone, with the stringing material coming out the narrow end. Then you would finish off your clasp assembly.

The soldered ring, in this case, acts as a “support system”, creating jointedness. Otherwise, without this ring or support system, the cone could not support the resulting stress and strain. Since all the pieces are metal — cable wire, cone, clasp, crimp — , and these would be too stiff and would not move easily, and, as you now know very well, when you bend metal back and forth, it breaks.

EYEGLASS HOLDER ENDS

A major category of jewelry are eyeglass leashes. You make an eyeglass leash by attaching an eyeglass holder end to the eyeglasses, making a string of beads, attaching the string of beads to a split ring, and attaching the split ring to the eyeglass holder end. You never attach the beadwork directly to the holder ends. Eyeglass leashes take a huge beating, as they are worn, and you need to create as much jointedness as possible, so you don’t ruin someone’s eyeglasses, have the lenses shift position within the frames, or have the leash break. In fact, we want to use a split ring — about 10mm or 12mm in diameter — that is a little larger visually than you might feel comfortable with.

Eyeglass leash holder ends are made from round rubber thong (usually black or clear), flat vinyl (usually black or clear), or elastic cord (comes in many colors). The round rubber thong is the most durable. Elastic cord is not durable at all. There are various style options. Most come with what is called a “coil center”. When the eyeglass leashes are worn, the rubber, vinyl or elastic cord sweats, both from the humidity found in the air, as well as the wearer’s own body sweat. Coil centers tend to slip, so these don’t work well with narrow arms on eyeglasses. Other eyeglass leashes come with a bead center, usually a 6mm glass roller bead. The beads don’t slip.

The ones with bead centers are a little more expensive than the ones with coil centers. One company bought the ones with the coil centers, slipped these off what is basically a rubber band, and slipped on a 6mm glass roller bead. They took a $0.45 cent piece and sold them for $4.00 a piece. People thought they were magic because the beads didn’t slip, so were willing to pay the premium. You can do the same thing. There are about 300 colors of roller beads, so you can personalize your line.

WATCH BAND COMPONENTS

These pieces are used to adapt watch faces so you can make beaded watch bands off them. They consist of a tube designed to slip over the spring bar on each end of a watch face, and some kind of loop or series of holes that come off the tube. Beaded watch bands have become so popular, that now you can purchase watch faces designed specifically to attach these to them.

CRIMP BEADS, CRIMP COVERS, and HORSESHOE WIRE PROTECTORS

Crimp beads come in many styles, sizes and finishes. These are used to secure cable wires to clasps. The crimping process involves crushing the crimp onto the cable wire, first separating the tail wire from the main wire, then creating a lock, and finally re-shaping it so it looks like a bead again.

Crimp Covers

These are U-shaped beads that slip over the crushed crimp. They are used like a lampshade to hide something that is ugly.

You attach the crimp cover in two steps. First, using the tips of your crimping pliers, you push the two sides of the U together, so you have a pretty bead. These are made of a soft metal, so you don’t want to push too hard, or you will crush them. After you get the two sides to meet, you’ll find that the lip on either side doesn’t meet up perfectly.

So, Second, at this point, you return the crimp cover to your crimping pliers, this time resting it between the top notches (thus, furthest from your hand) in each jaw. This will help preserve the roundness of the crimp cover as you manipulate it. Gently push the jaws to force the lips to meet more perfectly. You can slide crimp covers over your crushed crimps. You can also use these to slide over any knots, to hide the knots.

Horseshoe wire protectors

These serve several purposes. (1) It forces you to leave the correct size loop in the cable wire, so that you have the appropriate support system or jointedness. Without the loop, you would be pushing the crimp all the way to the clasp. This is a No-No. You never push the crimp all the way to the clasp — this creates stiffness with metal parts, and general movement would cause these to break.

(2) The horseshoe also makes the loop more finished looking — better than a bare-wire loop. Most people hate a bare, exposed loop. The horseshoe fools the eye/brain here, making it think that the loop is finished and more organically a part of the whole composition.

(3) The horseshoe prevents the cable wire from folding into a V over a period of time and wear. If the wire were to change from an arched loop to a V-loop, the wire then would more easily bend back and forth and break.

There are many choices to make when selecting crimp beads:

Crimp Beads

tube vs. round 
 no difference in “holdability”, but most people prefer the tubes

THE SILVER COLOR ISSUE: sterling silver vs. silver plated vs. silver plated crimp with sterling silver crimp cover vs. argentium silver crimps
 Silver-plated crimps are usually plated over brass. Brass has a very high degree of integrity as a jewelry making metal. The plating wears off relatively quickly, and your crimps will look black — basically tarnished brass. More recently, these plated crimps have been plated over aluminum, which can break from the force of the crimping pliers.

Sterling softens at body temperature. If your crimp is resting on the wrist or the neck, there is some risk of it softening and weakening. This risk is minimal, however. If you’ve crimped correctly, you shouldn’t lose sleep over this. I prefer to use the sterling silver crimps; they are often made better than the other crimps.

You can also use a silver-plated crimp to crimp, and slide a sterling silver crimp cover over it.

Argentium has the same silver content as sterling but does not soften as easily at body temperature. These are a lot more expensive than sterling.

crushing the crimp and re-rounding it vs. crushing, then using crimp cover

Some people don’ t like the look of the re-rounded crimp, or feel uncomfortable trying to re-round them. The crimp covers add about $0.50 — $1.00 more to each piece.

plain tube vs. twisted tube
 The twisted tubes (sometimes called Tornado or Cyclone crimps) are a little more expensive than the plain ones. When you crush the twisted tubes, they look decorative enough that you don’t have to re-round them. You definitely need to re-round the plain ones.

Regular or long tube vs. short or half tube
 Short tubes or half tubes are primarily used in pieces like illusion necklaces, where you have a cluster of beads, and the cord shows, another cluster of beads, the cord shows, etc. Half tubes are used on either side of the clusters to keep the beads in place. When you crush the half tube, the volume of space it takes up is not noticeable. When you crush the regular sized tube, its volume of space is too noticeable and detracts from the general look of the piece. One mistake people make with the short or half tubes, is that, when they use them to finish off the ends of jewelry, their mind tells them to use 2 or 3 of them so that they will “hold better.” A crimp is a crimp, and if you crimped correctly, there is no difference in holdability between the short and longer tubes. Each crushed crimp you add becomes like a little razor blade. All jewelry moves, so you’re increasing the chances, by using more than one crimp on each end, that one of these crimps will cut through the cable wire. One crimp on either end is enough.

variations on quality/grade of crimp beads
 Basically, you get what you pay for!

Here’s how crimp beads are made: You start with a sheet of metal. You roll the metal into a tube. You buff along the seam where the two sides meet, so that it looks like it’s been soldered together. However, there’s really a seam there.

So often, people come into our shop and tell sad tales of failed crimps and broken bracelets and necklaces. They blame themselves. They blame the pliers. But they never blame the crimp beads. In most cases, the crimp is at fault.

Cheap crimps, usually bought in small packages, usually at craft stores, are not made well. When you crush these, they tend to split along the seam. Sometimes you can see the split. Othertimes, you can’t quite see that the two sides of the tube have started to separate. Your cable wires pull out. Or your crimp edges have cut into the cable wire.

An A-grade crimp, usually costing about 3 times what the cheap crimps cost, can hold up to your initial crushing, as well as another 8 or so clamping down on it during the re-rounding process.

There are heavy-duty or A+ grade crimps. These run about 6–8 times what the cheap crimps do. You don’t have to worry about any splitting, no matter how much you work the crimp bead with your pliers.

using 1 crimp on each end vs. using more than 1 crimp on each end
 Using 1 crimp on each end of your piece is sufficient. Using more than 1 crimp on each end is too risky. Sometimes you mind, or your best friend, thinks that is 1 is good, 2 or more would be better. No! When you crush your crimp onto the wire, it becomes like a little razor blade. All jewelry moves, so your crimp is constantly trying to saw through the cable. Using more than one crimp on each end increases the chances that one will saw through. All you are doing is adding razor blades.

size of crimp

Manufacturers are inconsistent in how they label the sizes of crimp beads. In general:

2mm is the average size For .014, .015, .018, .019 cable wires

1.5mm is small For .010 and .012 cable wires

2.5mm is slightly more than averg For .019 and .024 cable wires

3.0mm is large For .024 cable wires, or thicker cords, or bringing

more than 1 strand thru at a time

4.0mm and larger For thicker cords, or bringing 2+ strands thru

Continue Part 2: Controllers and Adapters

______________________________________________

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

______________________________________________

Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.

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

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

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

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YOU INHERITED SOME JEWELRY … NOW WHAT?

Posted by learntobead on December 23, 2020

Bags and Bags of Jewelry

She came to me overwhelmed. She had bags and bags of jewelry, some in perfect condition, some not so much, some broken. Her aunt had died, and left her a lot of jewelry. That was years ago. Her mother had died more recently, and left her a lot of jewelry, and a lot of half-finished pieces and components and parts. Her mother had dabbled in jewelry making. And regrettably, three more family members, including a grandmother she was very close to, had recently succumbed to the corona virus. And each had left her more bags of jewelry.

She tried sorting these herself, but frustration got the best of her. She knew there were pieces she would wear herself. Other pieces she wanted to keep for sentimental reasons. Parts of pieces she thought she could do something with, re-purposing them. And lots and lots of fine and costume jewelry she wanted to sell.

She felt she needed some more help in sorting and evaluating what she had. She needed to know, What she should do, How she should do it, and Where she should go to do it.

Our consultation covered these considerations:

1) Etiquette

2) Organize and Sort

3) Clean, Identify Areas of Wear, Refurbish

4) Establish Value

5) Keep and Wear, or Keep and Store

6) Re-Purpose

7) Recycle

8) Sell

9) Donate

10) Throw Away

1) Etiquette

Her name was Danali. She was named after her grandmother and a great aunt. Danali felt very guilty and a few other awkward feelings as she thought about giving away or selling all this jewelry. She repeatedly asked herself, “Should I keep all of it?”

Did she have to keep it all? It was important to have this conversation up front. I told her she did not necessarily have to keep everything. The various people who gave her their jewelry would want her to be happy. She needed to do the things which made her happy, whether this meant keeping things, reworking things or selling things.

Was it her decision what to do with the jewelry, or should she involve other members of her family? Her brother asked her for some of it so that he could give it to his wife and daughter. Her step-father wanted to give several pieces to his second wife. I advised her to consider herself first. Some families have a tradition of passing down jewelry. What was her family’s tradition? Was giving some of it to her brother something she wanted to do? Since she wasn’t related to her step-father’s second wife, I told her that I found his desire to be a little unusual, maybe even creepy. Bottom line: the jewelry was passed down to her to make her happy. That had to be the guiding principle here.

She wanted to remake or sell some of the jewelry. Would she be violating someone’s legacy here? Again, I pointed out that she should do what makes her happy. That’s the legacy. Her deceased relatives wanted her to be happy and get pleasure from the jewelry which they had worn or created. Getting pleasure meant both financially and/or aesthetically. They left their jewelry to her because they trusted the decisions she would make. But that did not mean that every piece had to be preserved exactly or stored in some warehouse or safety deposit box or not be sold or shared with others.

Danali needed to talk about giving herself permission to make those particular choices which would make her happy. She needed to acknowledge to herself what she wanted to wear, what she wanted to repurpose, what she wanted to give away, and what she wanted to sell. This was important.

2) Organize and Sort

The next thing she and I worked on was to organize and sort all the pieces. There were a lot of pieces, and this took many hours spread out over several weeks, typically a 2-hour session at a time.

We went one bag or one box at a time. Within each bag or box, we went piece by piece by piece at a time.

For each piece, we created a simple written record:
 a) Description of piece to best of her and my ability
 b) What she preferred to do with the piece:

– keep and wear,

– keep and store,

– repurpose,

– cannabalize the parts,

– recycle,

– share with someone else,

– donate,

– sell,

– throw away

These became the sort categories for her jewelry.

c) What I thought the full retail price would be for the piece, if sold in a store. [More about establishing value later.]

In our descriptions, we examined each closely and paid particular attention to these factors:

1. The condition, both top-side and back-side, and whether both top and bottom sides of the piece were finished and detailed, or just one side

2. The type and quality of materials used, such as differentiating fine from costume jewelry, gemstone from glass from plastic, type of metal and if there was an accompanying stamp (like .925 or 14KT or GF), and the like

3. The craftsmanship, especially for hand-made pieces

4. For pieces with better quality gems, then their cuts, their visual qualities, and whether the gems alone were more useful and valuable than the piece as a whole

5. The quality and condition of the clasp and other connector features

6. Looked for evidence of the designer or brand, such as a signature or stamp

7. If there was any paperwork associated with the piece, from designer sketches to valuations to certificates of authenticity to insurance policies to sales receipts

8. For some pieces, we listed a style or decade or era it might be associated with, and wrote down the evidence we used to draw these conclusions

The GOOGLE LENS app will let you take picture of anything, and then search its image database. This was helpful in locating similar pieces, and seeing how they were described and valued. Sometimes we took a picture of the clasp or a particular cut of the stone to see what similar things and information we could find through Google.

With each piece, I had Danali ask herself these questions:

· Did you like it?

· Like it enough to want to keep it?

· Did she have space for it?

· Were other things very similar and duplicative?

· Would a photo of the item be a sufficient keepsake rather than the item itself?

· Could she create or recreate or repurpose something of pleasure and value from any of the parts?

3) Clean, Identify Areas of Wear, Refurbish

A lot of inherited jewelry needs some cleaning, and perhaps some refurbishing and repair. It is important to consider whether you think any particular piece will benefit from this extra effort. This is true whether you want to keep the piece or sell it.

Some jewelry will benefit from a soap and rinse with warm water and mild dish detergent. Other jewelry might need some polishing up, especially if it is made from sterling silver. Of note, plated materials will not polish up and be a shiny color again. Sterling silver will.

Typically, some stones are missing and need to be replaced. A clasp might be missing or might not work well any more. The stringing material may have deteriorated. Some parts of the piece may have chipped or broken off. It may be missing a part, such as the clutch for an earring post. Old rings may need new shanks. Chains may need to be soldered.

Costume jewelry will be particularly difficult to restore. The parts are usually made of materials that cannot be re-soldered. The materials used — beads, stones, findings — may no longer be available, or available in the particular colors available when the jewelry was first made. If the piece was plated, this plating has probably worn away. Re-plating may be difficult or too expensive, given the material value of the piece.

4) Establish Value

It is important to establish value for each piece. It is equally important to use a measure of value that can be standardized for all pieces, and that is understandable.

The value of any one piece of jewelry is not one particular number. It depends on the context. The value could be the price someone would pay for it in a store. It might be the price someone who sells jewelry is willing to pay for it, so that a profit could be made. It might be the value of the materials themselves, irrespective of the design. It might be the value people are willing to pay for pieces made by a particular designer. It might be a value at auction. It might have value only for the person who owns it.

There are several standards for establishing value. Four prominent ones include the following:

1) REPLACEMENT PRICE

2) ESTATE VALUE AT RETAIL

3) ESTATE VALUE AT WHOLESALE

4) INTRINSIC VALUE

Replacement Value. If you bought the same piece new today, what would its price be? This gives you the highest valuation. It is not the value of the piece itself. This value is the least accurate standard. However, it is a number that people can easily relate to. I like to start with the replacement value, because it is so meaningful to the client. And I give the client what are called multipliers — that is, a number to multiply the replacement value by in order to estimate what value they might really be able to get for their pieces, given where they are trying to sell them.

Estate Retail Value. This is the price a piece of jewelry would be sold at to an individual who is looking to purchase the used jewelry for themselves. This value links directly to the jewelry item. These individuals expect to save money compared with buying a similar item new.

There are many sources of estate jewelry. These include people who sell used, older or vintage jewelry through Craigslist, Ebay, various auction houses, garage sales, flea markets, or other online sites. There will be quite a variety here in pricing and pricing strategies. For price comparison purposes, I like to use prices I find on Ebay. I tell my clients to use a multiplier between .40 (representing a 60% reduction in value) and .70 (representing a 30% reduction in value), with .60 or 60% as a reasonable average estimate. So, they would multiply the Replacement Value by .40 to get at the Estate Retail Value.

If the Replacement Value was $100.00, then a reasonable estimate of the Estate Retail Value would be $100.00 times .60, or $60.00. This would be $40.00 less than the Replacement Value. Stated another way: if a similar new piece was selling for $100.00, then someone would expect to pay $60.00 for the used jewelry when purchasing that jewelry for personal use.

Estate Wholesale Value. This is the price a business which sells used jewelry is willing to pay. Businesses have to take into account many more costs — overhead, rent, maintenance, staffing — than individuals buying used jewelry. So these businesses will only be willing to purchase used jewelry at a considerably lower price than the Estate Retail Value. The jewelry these businesses need to purchase have to be resalable at a cost customers are willing to spend, and which also covers their operational costs plus a profit.

Businesses like antique stores, estate jewelers, pawn shops, even some boutiques, may purchase inherited jewelry for resale. You can anticipate that they will want to at least double, and probably triple, their cost to set their own price for their customers.

The Estate Wholesale Value is probably the best value for resalable jewelry which has been inherited. This assumes that most of the inherited jewelry will be sold to a business where that business intends to resell it.

The multipliers I suggest here are between .30 (70% reduction) and .50 (50% reduction), with .35 (65% reduction) as a reasonable estimate.

If the Replacement Value was $100.00, then a reasonable estimate of the Estate Wholesale Value would be $100.00 times .35, or $35.00. This would be $65.00 less than the Replacement Value.

Intrinsic Value. The value here is set by the value of the raw materials, usually less a small processing fee. This value yields the lowest price. This price may be lower than the actual price you might be able to sell your item, so think carefully. Typically the Intrinsic Value is the value of the raw metals and the gems. Style, condition, brand, market demand, among other factors, are not taken into account.

Refineries, Cash-for-Gold businesses, some fine jewelry stores will pay intrinsic value for inherited pieces. Be certain up front, with pieces made up of both precious metals and stones, whether the purchasing business will pay for both, or just one or the other. You may have to remove any stones before taking your pieces into these businesses.

There will be different payment rates for different metals, all based on weight. An average scrap rate for gold or sterling silver will be around 85% of the current market value less a processing fee, say $50.00. They will take the total weight of the metal, calculate the current value, multiply this by .85, and subtract a processing fee. This becomes the Intrinsic Value.

The intrinsic value for any gemstone is based on the wholesale price of the gem less any cost for re-cutting, re-polishing or otherwise refurbishing the stone.

Intrinsic metal prices are well publicized online. Intrinsic stone prices are not, and there will be a wide variation on this, so it is wise to shop around.

Other Value Considerations

There are other factors which may come into play:

– Whether the piece is currently in style or not

– Whether something makes it rare or coveted, such as by a particular designer or brand (look for stamped mark or engraved signature), or is an unusual design or uses particular stones

– Metal and gemstone prices fluctuate quite a bit, and you may be hitting the market at a low (or at a high) point

– The condition of the piece

And just because the piece is costume, not fine jewelry, is not a reason for dismissal. Many costume jewelry pieces are coveted and highly valued today.

OnLine Services

There are many online services which will value your pieces for you. Their fees and reputations will vary widely. Check their online reviews.

There are several national associations for appraisers. These require their members to adhere to a high standard of conduct. You should make sure your appraiser either is a member, or, if not, you know that person to be highly knowledgeable and reputable. This is because anyone can present themselves as an appraiser. There are no federal and state licensures.

An appraisal will

· Clearly state the value and the type of value

· Describe the item in detail

· List the procedures used to determine the value

· Specify the appraiser’s qualifications

· Have the appraiser’s signature

You will also find scrap metal calculators online which will be useful.

5) Keep and Store, or Keep and Wear?

Keep and store. For some pieces, you may want to keep them, even though you do not plan to wear them. They may have some sentimental value. They may have a personal story to tell. You might see yourself wearing them at some time, just not now, and are not ready to part with them.

I suggest keeping at least one piece from each loved one from whom you inherited the jewelry. Pick a piece they may have worn a lot, or worn on a special occasion, or represented their personal style.

You can also display pieces you love, but are not interested in wearing, say in a shadow box you hang on the wall.

Keep and wear. There are most likely many pieces you can see yourself wearing. It’s great to mix old and new pieces together with any outfit. Everything is a matter of styling and your personal taste.

6) Re-Purpose

A brooch becomes a pendant. A pendant becomes an earring. A necklace is remade into two bracelets. A very long necklace or a multiple strand necklace made into two or more necklaces. A shoe-clip becomes a clasp. There are many ways to re-purpose jewelry from one type to another.

You might also repurpose a pin into a curtain pull. Some earring drops into push pins or refrigerator magnets. Use in a mosaic. Embellish a cross stitch canvas. Create a bookmark. Decorate some sandals or sneakers. Use as drawer pulls. Decorate your cell phone. Add some pizazz to a purse or strap.

Lots of ideas. You can also do a search engine search, like on Google or Bing, using the keyword phrase “old jewelry into new” or “grandma’s old jewelry”.

7) Recycle

Sell your scrap. There are places, like refineries, cash-for-gold stores, jewelry stores, and the like, which will buy scrap for its intrinsic value. For metal scrap, they will weigh your pieces and you will get paid, depending on the weight, metal value, less a fee. For stones, places will evaluate their wholesale values, less costs for reconditioning or refurbishing, and less a fee.

Cannabalize the parts. You can break up the pieces of jewelry and reuse the components, beads, clasps and other parts in other jewelry making projects. The parts may have more value as parts than as part of the piece as a whole.

8) Sell

There are many places, both where you live, as well as online, where you can sell your pieces.

Locally, you might contact antique stores, boutiques, jewelry stores, salons or pawn shops. Most likely they will take your items on consignment (that is, you will be paid when the pieces sell). You might try a local flea market or marketplace. You might hold a garage sale.

Online, you might check out Ebay, Craigslist, Rubylane, Etsy, The Real Real (focuses on high-end jewelry), Worthy.com (diamond rings), Tophatter and other jewelry-specific auction sites. Take high resolution photos, at least 500 x 500 pixels in size. Provide good and thorough descriptions. You need to establish, through how you present your items, a high level of trust and credibility.

Ebay especially is a useful source for researching the prices your items might sell at. If you have several items which might only sell for a few dollars each, you can group them together into a “lot,” and sell them as a “lot”.

Be sure to list…

· Description, including anything of particular interest, using words your potential customers will connect with

· Condition, any flaws, any functionality issues

· Color

· Brand

· Size and dimensions

· Estimated value and the basis for that valuation

· List price, as well as minimum acceptable price

· Photos, at least 3 (front, back and side), and use a white background

· Shipping requirements, limitations, instructions

These online sites will take a 10–15% of your sales price as a fee. There may be some other small fees involved. You should anticipate these fees, when setting your prices.

9) Donate

Let’s say you have a lot of jewelry you like, but doubt you would ever wear it. You don’t want to deal with selling the pieces. So you might think about donating them.

First, think about any friends or relatives who might appreciate these pieces. You could even hold a party and let people pick out the things they like for themselves.

Second, think about donating pieces to charity or nonprofit thrift shops like Good Will or Salvation Army. Other sites, I Have Wings Breast Cancer Foundation; Dress For Success; Support Our Troops; Suited For Change; New Eyes.

Make sure you get a donation receipt.

10) Throw Away

Of course, your last option is to throw the jewelry away.

You do this only after you have exhausted all other options.

_______________________________

USEFUL AND INFORMATIVE LINKS

https://tracymatthews.com/what-to-do-with-inherited-jewelry

https://recyclenation.com/2014/07/recycle-jewelry/

https://www.leohamel.com/blog/index.php/2018/02/what-to-do-with-inherited-jewelry/

https://www.callagold.com/antique-or-inherited-jewelry/what-to-do-with-your-inherited-jewelry/

https://ask.metafilter.com/29181/What-is-the-proper-etiquette-for-dealing-with-my-deceased-Moms-jewelry

https://sixtyandme.com/give-yourself-a-legacy-gift-by-repurposing-meaningful-jewelry/

https://www.worthy.com/blog/loss/inheritance/selling-inherited-jewelry/

https://whatsyourgrief.com/sorting-through-belongings/

https://www.foxfinejewelry.com/blog-post/what-do-i-do-with-inherited-jewelry

https://www.samuelsonsdiamonds.com/insights/how-to-determine-estate-jewelry-value/#:~:text=The%20only%20way%20to%20truly,consider%20during%20the%20appraisal%20process.

https://www.mygemologist.com/learn/selling-jewelry/how-to-value-inherited-jewelry/

https://truval.com/blog/steps-determine-value-vintage-jewelry/

https://www.worthy.com/blog/knowledge-center/jewelry/how-much-is-my-jewelry-worth/

https://tdcjewelry.com/what-to-do-with-old-inherited-jewelry/

https://quickjewelryrepairs.com/articles/inherited-jewelry-value-and-refurbishing/

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/100115/how-value-jewelry-inherited-loved-one.asp

https://susanjane.com/inherited-jewelry/

https://sabrinasorganizing.com/places-to-donate-jewelry/

https://askinglot.com/what-can-i-do-with-unwanted-costume-jewelry

https://premeditatedleftovers.com/naturally-frugal-living/7-ways-to-turn-unwanted-jewelry-into-cash/

____________________________________________

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

Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry: What Works!

What Glue Should I Use When Making Jewelry?

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).

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

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The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Stringing Materials

Posted by learntobead on November 22, 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.

STRINGING MATERIALS

I’m not proud to admit it, but I used to string things on fishing line and dental floss. It was there. I knew about it. I understood it. It was simple. Uncomplicated. Didn’t need directions. Didn’t need a 20-minute explanation about when these were used, and when they were not, or what they were used for, and what they were not.

Then I discovered Tiger Tail cable wire. This seemed magical, somehow. It was something more than fishing line or dental floss. It seemed strong. It was metal. It was masculine. You could swing from trees on it. You could tie up old planks together to secure them. You could string things on easily without a needle. You didn’t need glue. You didn’t need bead tips or knot covers. It tied easily to clasps. And although, it turned out, the Tiger Tail broke rather easily, I’d pretend like it never broke for me.

Luckily, today, beaders have been blessed with an abundance of stringing materials to choose from. Each has it’s pros and cons. Each much better than the choices I had a few decades ago.

When beaders and jewelry makers select stringing materials, they need to ask a lot of questions of the people who sell these products, as well as the people who use them. You’ll get a lot of contradictory advice. But you need a lot of information to help make your choices. For me, I prefer stringing materials that don’t break easily, allow pieces to drape nicely, move freely and correctly with the body, and are relatively easy to use. But don’t we all.

From a design perspective, you typically get your best results with needle and thread. Needle and thread projects always take the shape of your body. So they feel the best, move the best, and drape the best. However, needle and thread are very involved and time-consuming to do. Especially if you’re selling your stuff, it’s difficult to use needle and thread and expect to recoup your labor costs. As long as you know what the ideal is, however, it becomes a little easier to step back from the ideal, and compensate for any weaknesses through various design techniques and devices.

Threads, Needles, and More Threads

I discovered Nymo beading thread, Size #12 English beading needles, and Tiger Tail cable wire. This wasn’t a match made in heaven. I didn’t take to it like a duck takes to water. It wasn’t a piece of cake.

Have you ever seen a beading needle? They’re so thin. They have even thinner eye holes. First you learn that cotton sewing thread is round and sewing needles have round holes. Next you learn that nylon beading thread is flat like a ribbon, and beading needles have rectangular, narrow holes.

The shape of the eye-hole of a beading needle is like a funnel –one side of the hole is bigger than the other. If you are having trouble fitting that thread through the hole, turn the needle around. Try again.

I started with size #12 needles. I find #10 needles to be more useful for bead stringing and both #10 and #12 most useful for bead weaving. Proportionally, the eye holes in the #10 are much bigger than those in the smaller, thinner needles.

Major Beading Threads

NYMO thread is the granddaddy of them all. It comes in many colors and thicknesses. It doesn’t look like it, but it is one of the strongest things you can string things on. With NYMO, the black is stronger than the white. The white is stronger than the colors.

C-LON thread (also called SuperLon) is a relatively new thread. It’s similar to Nymo, but a little stronger. It comes in a lot of colors, but only a couple of thicknesses. In our store, if you came in for a Nymo product, and there was an equivalent C-Lon product, we would suggest you switch to C-Lon. With C-Lon, the colors and the white are as strong as the black. All are as strong as Nymo black.

ONE-G thread is made by TOHO. This is a premium nylon beading thread, and much more expensive than Nymo or C-Lon. I’m very fond of the strength of the thread, and the feel, give and take of the thread while I’m beading. It has a stretching quality to it that makes it less tiring to use on long projects. It’s my beading thread of choice.

SILAMIDE is a prewaxed thread. Lots of beaders love this. I’m not a big fan of this because it breaks very easily. Some people suggest that you double the thread to deal with the breakage issue, but I find it awkward to use a doubled thread. Even though Silamide is prewaxed, if you purchased it from us, we would tell you to wax it. There’s no waxy buildup on it, and this, we feel, is the major advantage of waxing.

When you use beading thread as your stringing or weaving material, you want to pass through each bead about 3 times. Most weaving techniques do this automatically as part of the step-pattern of the technique.

A Note About Waxing Your Thread

natural beeswax
synthetic beeswax (microcrystalline wax)

I advise all my students to wax their thread before they use it. The wax has these advantages:

  • Protects the thread from chemicals in the environment, including pollutants in the air, chemicals in a person’s sweat, and chemicals in cosmetics and hair sprays. Natural beeswax will protect the thread for 150 years. Synthetic beeswax provides protection for centuries more.
  • The hole of a bead looks like a broken coke bottle. The wax will fill in some of the jagged rim, lowering the risk of the hole cutting your thread.
  • Helps you maintain a tighter thread tension while you weave or string.

There are products called thread conditions. One brand, now defunct, was called Thread Heaven. When you keep pulling the thread through your beads over and over again, static electricity builds up. This results in the thread getting tangle up and knotted while you work. The conditioner prevents this from happening. Waxing will not.

You cannot use both products. You have to pick one. I suggest always picking the wax.

The Hybrid “Cable Thread”

Every year there are many new stringing materials. Many start as advances in fishing lines. One recent advance is what I call the hybrid “cable thread”. These are made from threads that are braided together (instead of braided wires as in a cable wire, see below) and encased in nylon,

Three brands — Power Pro, WildFire, and FireLine are very prominent. I especially like the FireLine.

You use these with needles, but do not have to wax them, though I suggest you do. You don’t have to go through your beads three times, like with the threads. Once is sufficient, though I sometimes go through 2 or 3 times to firm up the way the beads lay on the stringing material, and so the beads don’t wobble.

You don’t necessarily have to wax the FireLine, but a lot of people like to do this. The major advantage of waxing is that the wax protects the integrity of the nylon encasing. Cable threads are strong only to the point the nylon encasing is able to maintain the twist in the braided threads. As soon as the encasing is violated, the thread immediately untwists and breaks. You might pierce the thread with the needle as you are working your piece; the wax will melt into the hole and plug it. A pollutant in the air, or a chemical in someone’s sweat, or cosmetics or hairspray will make the nylon encasing deteriorate. Perfume oils will dissolve it. The wax provides a protective shield to minimize this happening.

If you wax it, this will increase your thread tension considerably. In most projects a tight tension is very desirable. With some very tight bead weaving stitches, like Peyote, cable threads may result in too tight a tension. Usually, I use regular beading thread with the Peyote stitch. With weaving stitches with loose tension, like Right Angle Weave or Ndebele, the cable thread’s tightness is an advantage, giving you more control over managing the thread tension as you work your piece.

Beading thread is flat and shaped like a ribbon. Beading needles have rectangular holes. FireLine, however, is shaped round. To make it easier to thread FireLine into a beading needle, you can flatten the end of the FireLine. I pull the end between two of my fingernails. You can also use a chain nose pliers to flatten the end. Then pop it into your needle. Don’t pull this through your teeth. It will cut into your teeth.

Pieces done with the cable threads lay stiffer and feel stiffer than the threads, like Nymo or C-Lon, but they drape and feel much better than the cable wires.

Many stringers and bead weavers have switched to cable threads.

Bead Cords

For some types of jewelry projects, you don’t want to cover and hide all the stringing material with beads. You might be putting knots between beads, or you might be doing macramé, braiding or kumihimo with beads, or you might be doing something like a Tin Cup necklace, where you have a cluster of beads, then some cord showing, then another cluster of beads, then more cord showing, and you get the idea.

In this case, if we used threads, the raw and waxed threads would be kind of ugly. Most cable wires, if showing, would be ugly. So instead, we use what is called Bead Cord.

Bead Cords are threads which have been braided together to make the stringing material look pretty. However, we don’t wax the bead cord to deal with issues like fraying or stretching. This would ugly it up.

Thus, when we use Bead Cord, we are trading off durability for appearance. If we were going to cover all the bead cord with beads, then this would not be the best choice of stringing material. You would want to use either a thread or cable wire, in this case.

There are many brands and qualities of bead cord.

Most people prefer Griffin Bead Cord, which comes on cards, and has a needle fixed to one end of the 2-meter long cord. There are many colors and thicknesses. It is available in Nylon and in Silk. I’d give this cord a grade of a “B”. What people like about this cord is that it comes with a needle attached on one end. This makes it easier to use when you are knotting between beads. It allows you to start with a thicker cord.

I recommend using silk bead cord if your project is all pearls or mostly pearls. I suggest using nylon bead cord if your project is very few pearls or no pearls. Unfortunately, every other type of stringing material, except the silk, will ruin the pearls. These other materials cut into the nacre around the pearl, starting at the hole, leading to cracking and chipping around the bead, thus ruining them. Only silk won’t cut into the pearls. Unfortunately, silk naturally deteriorates in 3–5 years, so anything you do on silk will have to be re-done every 3–5 years.

Nylon doesn’t deteriorate, so that’s why we suggest it for everything else. Now some people tell me things were always done on silk. I tell them nylon wasn’t always. But I can reverse hats. Say you’re selling your pieces. There’s more marketing cache if you say “it was strung on silk”, than if you said “it was strung on nylon.” You can make it your customer’s problem to re-string in 3–5 years.

Basically, at the same level of quality, the pros and cons of nylon and silk are the same. At the same quality level, they fray the same, stretch the same and get dirty the same. It’s just that the silk deteriorates and the nylon does not.

Bead cords are also used in knotting, macramé, braiding, bead crochet and kumihomo.

C-lon or S-lon (same thing, two different brand names) is the A-grade nylon. It comes in 4 thicknesses. It’s excellent.

Flexible Cable Wires

When I first started beading and making jewelry, I was not a big fan of thread. I was never one to sew. Needle and thread seemed so complicated. It took so long. The threads seemed to break. They frayed. They stretched. They got tangled up and they got knotted up. It was hard to see and keep in my field of vision a very thin thread on a very thin needle going through some very small beads. I poked myself with the needle. It made me cranky.

I turned to Tiger Tail cable wire. Cable wires are flexible wires that are braided together and encased in nylon. The wire is stiff enough to be its own needle. Stringing beads on a cable wire seemed so perfect. You only had to go through your beads once. The wire was stiff enough to be its own self-needle. Zip, zip. Fast, fast. For years, I made everything on cable wires. Always satisfied, never a complaint.

Today, there are many brands, qualities and distinctions of cable wires. There are easily over 24 choices. Each brand organizes its worst to best wires differently. None of the brands provides sufficient information on their labels to make a fully informed choice. It’s very confusing. It’s virtually impossible to compare across brands. You need to know the materials the braided wires are made of, the thicknesses of the finished wires, and the number of wires braided together within the cable, the material the nylon sheathing is made of, and the thickness of this sheathing.

The true measure of wire strength is called “tensile strength.” This is the amount of force it takes to keep the wire from untwisting within the nylon sheathing. Tensile strength depends on what the wire is made of, what the nylon sheathing is made of, and how thick and nonporous this nylon sheathing is. This information is not found on any of the labels.

On the labels of these products, the manufacturers list the number of strands braided together within the cable. This gives you some information, but not enough information to make a choice. You don’t know what the wire is made of, or it might say “stainless steel”, but there are hundreds of grades of stainless steel. They do not list what the nylon sheathing is made of, or how thick and nonporous it is. Some companies differentiate their lowest from highest qualities based on the number of strands. For example, one company’s low end is 7-strand and its high-end is 49-strand. However, other companies do not differentiate by number of strands. Another company’s 7-strand high end product is stronger and softer than its middle-range 49-strand product. It’s middle range 49-strand product is stronger and softer than that first company’s high-end 49-strand product.

A long time ago, manufacturers put “pound strength” on their labels. It’s on some labels, but not all. The actual pound strength numbers change more often than feels comfortable.

There are no government standards about measuring “pound strength.” Because of this, whenever you see “pound strength” on a label, whatever the product, you need to take this with a large degree of skepticism. First, there are two definitions of how to measure pound strength — (1) how heavy the fish is that the line will support, and (2) how much force the line will support when reeling in a fish of a given weight. But because there are no standards, it is up to the factory to put whatever they want. Most of these wires are made in total or in part in one factory in Taiwan. The person at the factory responsible for labeling pound strength many years ago never got it right, and never got it the same. One batch would show 20#, then the next time it might show 2#, then 5#, back to 20#, down to 10#. Since he could never get this right, the manufacturers asked him to leave this information off the label.

There are many brands of flexible, nylon coated cable wires. These cable wires can be grouped into three levels of quality:

— Craft (Tiger Tail)
 — Designer (Flex Wire)
 — Professional or Artist

I start people at the Designer (flex wire) quality cable wires. Most craft stores only carry the Craft quality. This is rather useless. Most bead stores carry the Craft and Designer levels, and sometimes the Professional or Artist level as well. The “best” level is extremely expensive, so I feel the beader or jewelry-maker needs to justify the extra expense when moving up to this quality. I’ve rarely seen a situation where the Professional quality was needed.

Tiger Tail was the original cable wire, and today it is the low-end product. It’s the Craft level wire, and all brands carry it. Often you don’t see the word Tiger Tail on the label. You can tell it’s Tiger Tail because it’s very cheap — substantially cheaper than anything else — usually under $5.99 for a 30ft spool. Tiger Tail wire breaks very easily in and of itself. The wire tends to kink. The way you should attach Tiger Tail to the clasp is to tie the wire into a knot or a double-knot. This gives you a very secure connection to the clasp.

Tiger Tail Cable Wire

Flex-wire is the Designer Level. Flex-wire (again available in several forms in each of the brand lines) is noticeably more expensive than the Tiger Tail — usually starting at $10.99 — $18.99 and up for a 30ft spool. It does not break easily in and of itself. It does not kink. However, it is very difficult to tie into a knot. So you have to use a crimp bead in order to hold the wire in place and secure the clasp. [I only recommend 2 brands — Soft Flex and Flexrite. These are very supple; the nylon sheathing has a high degree of integrity; they are very strong]

Flex wire cable wire

The way you use a crimp bead is that you take the wire and go through the crimp, through the clasp, then back through the crimp. You crush the crimp with a pliers (preferably a crimping pliers) to hold it into place. The major reason to use a crimp bead is to make your piece look more finished, than if you had tied a knot. However, it does make your piece less secure.

When you crush your crimp bead onto the wire, this flattened crimp becomes like a little razor blade. All jewelry moves. So your crimp is constantly trying to saw through your wire. On Tiger Tail, crimps easily cut through the wire, so that is why we suggest tying a knot. If you don’t like the look of the knot, you can either use beads on either end with large enough holes to swallow the knot. Or you can use a piece called a crimp cover and slip this over the knot, squeeze it shut, and it looks like you have a bead there.

With Flex-wire, this wire is so strong that we feel very comfortable recommending that you use a crimp bead on each end. However, and this is a big However, we DO NOT suggest that you use more than one crimp on each end. Sometimes your friends, or your mind, will tell you that if 1 crimp was good, then using 2 or 3 crimps on each end will be more secure. It’s not. All you are doing is adding razor blades. You’re increasing the chances that one of these crimps will cut through the wire.

If you’ve crimped correctly, one crimp on either end is sufficient. It doesn’t matter what the shape or the size of the crimp bead is. It doesn’t matter how heavy the beads are.

Cable wires come in different thicknesses.

For necklaces, you want to choose the thinnest wire that is the most durable. This is because the major design goal here is to have your necklace drape as best and as comfortably as possible. We suggest something around .014” or .015”. If someone sits at their desk and fidgets with the necklace a lot, then this thinner thickness will break. In this case, since durability is becoming an issue, the .018″ or .019″ will work fine.

For bracelets, you want to use the thickest wire that is most comfortable. Bracelets take a huge beating on a daily basis. We suggest something around .018” or .019”.

For eyeglass leashes, we suggest .024” or .019”. These take the most beating. You don’t want the leash or the eyeglasses themselves to break.

Cable wires are fast and easy. They are not as involved as using needle and thread. However, with the cable wires, the finished projects tend to be stiff. They don’t lay well. They don’t move well at all. If you make a bracelet with needle and thread, the bracelet, when worn, conforms to your wrist. If you move your wrist to the right, your bracelet also moves in the same direction to the right. If you made that same bracelet on cable wire, the wire takes the shape of a circle. Your wrist is actually oval. If you moved your wrist to the right, the bracelet done on cable wire would actually move in the opposite direction — to the left.

Lots of deep physics here. But the results are obvious, and often embarrassing. This most often happens with necklaces that turn around when worn, bringing the clasp front and off-centered, sometimes making the wearer look somewhat clownish.

Most brands of cable wire I find too stiff. They have major problems of draping and moving with the body. They lay on the body funny. Two brands I find particularly good, and these are the only brands I use, are Soft Flex and Flexrite.

Hard Wire

People use hard wire to make things like ear wires and clasps, earring dangles, chains, rosaries, coils and components, and wire-wrapped settings for stones.

But hard wire is not a stringing wire. You can’t simply put beads on it and attach the ends. The hard wire would bend and distort, but not return to its original shape, like a cable wire would.

There are many kinds of hard wire.

At the low end is called Craft Wire. Craft Wire is plated wire over steel or a brass alloy of steel. Craft Wire is bad for finished jewelry projects. It’s OK for practice. It’s OK for stationary objects like a beaded ornament. All jewelry moves. The plating doesn’t bond at all to steel. So when you bend the steel back and forth, the plating tends to wear off quickly. Also when you bend steel back and forth, it doesn’t take long before it breaks.

Craft wire, no matter the brand, tends to be packaged like the white spool pictured below.

Above Craft Wire is Plated Copper Wire. If you need to work with a plated wire, then Plated Copper Wire is a great product. There are many brands. The packaging varies but it never looks like that of the craft wire above. The plating and enameling bonds well to copper, so it takes a very long time to wear off. Also, when you bend copper back and forth, it takes a very long time to break. It comes in lots of colors and lots of metallics.

Higher in quality than plated wire is called “Raw” wire. In our store, we sell raw brass, raw copper, raw nickel. We sell sterling silver wire, fine silver wire, gold-filled wire and a new metal called argentium silver. Argentium is tarnish-resistant sterling silver.

The sizes of wire are measured by “gauge”. What Gauge means is that somewhere on earth there is a standard sized pipe. Gauge refers to how many wires will fit into the pipe. So, if you can fit 20 wires into the pipe, the wire is 20 gauge. If you can only fit 6 wires into the pipe, that wire is 6 gauge.

When buying wire, another choice to make is how HARD or stiff the wire should be at the start of your project. Wire is usually sold as 
 “Hard”,
 “Half-Hard”, or
“Dead-Soft.

With “Hard” hard wire, you can’t bend the wire. This is useful when making a hat pin or stick pin. You cut the length of wire you want. You take a metal file and file one end into a point. The wire is stiff, so it will easily puncture a hat or a fabric, without bending. However, if you wanted to make a loop on one end of the hard wire, say to make an earring dangle, you could not; it won’t bend.

With “Half-Hard” and “Dead-Soft” wire, you can manipulate the wire. You can twist it, bend it, curve it, wrap it, hammer it. Each time you manipulate the wire, you harden it. If you keep manipulating and manipulating the wire, it eventually hardens to the point where it is “Hard”, that is, unbendable. If you kept going still, the wire would become brittle and break.

Your goal as a wire artist is to find that level of hardness/softness where, after you manipulate the wire the way you want, you’ll end up with wire that keeps its shape, stays in place, or if it is holding a stone in, that the stone won’t pop out.

If I want to make an earring dangle by putting some beads on a wire, and bending one end into a loop so that I can hang it, if I started with “Half-Hard” wire, I would grab the end of my wire with a round nose pliers, twist my wrist to form the loop-shape, and let go of the wire with the pliers. I can trust that the loop-shape will keep its shape.

If I had started with “Dead-Soft” wire, however, and repeated this same procedure, the loop would open up and lose its shape. The wire is too soft. To start at “Dead-Soft”, I probably would have to grab the wire at both ends with vises or pliers, twist the wire until it started to harden, make a loop with a round nose pliers, and perhaps hammer on this loop a bit — all before I could trust that the loop-shape will keep its shape.

Most wire artists and how to books tell you to start at dead soft. Many of my students and customers who follow these directions have their bracelets pull apart, their shapes distort, their stones pop out of their settings. This is because they have not manipulated the dead soft wire enough to get it stiff enough. I suggest, either starting with half hard wire, or to twist the dead soft wire somewhat to stiffen it before you begin to shape it.

Plated Craft and Copper-Core wire typically comes as “dead soft”. It is up to the manufacturer to determine what that means. So, you will find that one company’s dead soft might be stiffer or softer than another’s. Typically, if I start at dead soft, I twist the wire or hammer it to harden it a little bit, before I start my projects.

Some Other Popular Stringing Products

Elastic String: People hate clasps. So they love this material. You put the beads on, tie a surgeon’s or square knot, put a drop of glue on the inside, then the outside of the knot, cut the tails, and that’s it. Comes in different colors, different thicknesses, different textures. Does deteriorate a little over time, and it does lose its memory. There are many brands. Some labels say they don’t deteriorate or lose their memory, but from experience, they all do.

The elastic string which is round lasts a long time. The elastic string which is flat like floss shreds rather quickly.

When using elastic string, you first take some super glue and coat the beginning 3/4″ to 1” of the string. Let it dry. Take a single edge razor blade and cut the end at an angle, so you have a point, and the end becomes a self needle. Put your beads on. Then tie a surgeon’s knot or square knot. As you tie your knot, put a drop of glue on the inside of the knot, pull tight, and put another drop of glue on the outside of the knot. Any glue EXCEPT super glue.

We suggest E6000 or Beacon 527, but, with this product, you can use school glue, rubber cement or elmers glue. Super glue dries like glass, so the bond becomes like a piece of glass. When you pull the string, the bond shatters like glass. Moreover, the broken bond looks like a piece of broken glass. The other glues dry more like rubber, so when you pull on the string, the bond acts like a shock absorber.

Elastic string can deteriorate in about 1–2 years, depending on its exposure to the air and sunlight.

Illusion Cord (monofilament): Basically a thin fishing line. Used to make illusion necklaces. Small crimp beads are used to hold clusters of beads in place. Not particularly durable. Any monofilament will dry out and crack from exposure to ultraviolet light and heat.

Hemp: Used with various macramé, micro-macrame, knotting and braiding techniques.

Irish Waxed Linen: Similar to hemp, but a higher quality. Used for more fashion-oriented jewelry that incorporates macramé, knotting and braiding techniques. In jewelry, the waxiness of this product draws dust and dirt to it. You might want to use, instead, an unwaxed bead cord for jewelry.

Leather: Always popular. Greek leather is the highest quality. Don’t shower in this. It makes the leather dry out and crack.

Waxed Cotton: A more durable leather substitute. It doesn’t have that great earthy smell of leather, however. Simply a waxed or glazed cotton wrapped around a nylon monofilament. You can shower in this.

Pearl Cotton #8: Used in making bead-knitted bags. 11/0 seed beads will slip over the Pearl Cotton #8.

Rubber Thong: Another leather substitute and more durable. Very soft to the skin.

Satin Cord (Rat Tail): A shiny, colorful cord that’s used to hang pendants from. Pretty. Frays relatively quickly. Not durable at all.

Organza Ribbon: The type of ribbon that you would string beads on. Use a Big-Eye needle to get your beads onto the ribbon.

Memory Wire: A stainless steel coil, like a slinky. Cut off some rings, put beads on, then, bend the ends. Caution: Memory wire will ruin all your jewelry tools. If you are using Memory Wire, then use industrial strength tools — things you would find in a wood-working shop.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Jewelry Findings: Preparers

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

Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry: What Works!

What Glue Should I Use When Making Jewelry?

Why Am I So Addicted To Beads?

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

The Martha Stewart Beaded Wreath Project

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

The Use of Armature In Jewelry: Legitimate or Not?

Pearl Knotting Warren’s Way

Organizing Your Craft Workspace…Some Smart Pointers

You Don’t Choose Clasps, You Choose Clasp Assemblies

Know Your Anatomy Of A Necklace

Mini Lesson: Making Stretchy Bracelets

Mini Lesson: Making Adjustable Slip Knots With Thicker Cords

Mini Lesson: How To Crimp

Mini Lesson: Attaching End Caps, Cones, Crimp Ends

Mini Lesson: Brick Stitch

Mini Lesson: Flat Even Count Peyote

Mini Lesson: Ndebele Stitch

Mini Lesson: Petersburg Chain

Mini Lesson: Right Angle Weave

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

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

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Glass Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Lampwork Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Crystal Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Seed and Cylinder Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Choosing and Using Clasps

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.

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

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

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

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

Add your name to my email list.

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SO YOU WANT TO DO CRAFTSHOWS…

Posted by learntobead on November 1, 2020

LESSON 4: Set Realistic Goals

At the Tennessee Craft Organization Fair, Nashville, TN. Image by FELD, 2005.

From my online video tutorial:
SO YOU WANT TO DO CRAFTSHOWS…
 16 CRUCIAL LESSONS I LEARNED
 
BY DOING CRAFT SHOWS

Instructor: Warren Feld

LESSON 4: SET REALISTIC GOALS

Roland and Rolanda

Making money at fairs and shows isn’t as easy as it seems. As Roland and Rolanda quickly found out. They thought all it took was to rent a table at any show or fair, lay out their jewelry, wait for customers to come by, and purchase their stuff.

All through the shows, they sat on chairs reading books, waiting for people to come by. They spent more money on inventory, packing, displays and travel than they ever made.

And they never developed any kind of plan of action.

Roland and Rolanda needed to set realistic goals:

– (1) how much money did they have to get started and sustain themselves?

– (2) what was their break-even point?

– (3) what did they need to prepare themselves to “sell”?

  • (4) what amount of repeat business and follow-up sales were they looking for?
Typical Budget Items

BUDGET

How much money will you need?

Make a list of all possible costs. There are the obvious like transportation, lodging and meals, and the costs of displays, packing and marketing, and the costs of the parts used to make the pieces which sell.

Entry fees will vary widely from show to show. They cold cost $25/day up to $400 and up per day. They could go as high as $5000 per day.

If you have a specific craft show in mind, review their rules, and what they entry fees cover, and do not cover.

What are the costs of extras, like electricity, tables, special lighting? Do they also collect a percent of sales? Do they offer special services, like booth sitting, for extra fees? Is parking free, or do they charge? Do you need to provide additional insurance? Will you need to purchase special licenses, registration and permits, such as an out-of-state wholesale license?

THERE ARE TWO TYPES OF COSTS TO ACCOUNT FOR:
 Fixed Costs and Variable Costs

There are two types of costs: Fixed and Variable

You need to prepare a budget to be sure you can pay for what you are committing yourself to.

You will need display supplies, packing supplies, marketing and promotion supplies, and probably some food and drink for yourself. You will be traveling. You may have to stay overnight somewhere. You will probably have some credit card finance charges and cell-phone charges associated with sales you make. You may need to pay someone to help you staff your booth. You probably will be paying various fees — entry, electricity, table rental. And you will need enough money to buy enough supplies to make up your inventory.

Your breakeven point is when your revenues = your costs.

How much money do you want to make?

At the very least, you want to come home from the show and breakeven. That is, you want to cover all your costs.

So, in your budget, you have begun to list all your costs.

Now, how much inventory will you need to make, and sell, in order to breakeven?

Inventory: Bring 4x what you need to sell

At this point, we are going to talk about inventory in terms of retail prices, not in terms of numbers of items, and not in terms of wholesale costs.

Our total inventory would equal the total of all retail prices (=the prices you are selling each piece at), if every piece sold.

A good rule of thumb for figuring out how much inventory to bring is this:

You will need to bring with you, at a minimum, 4 times the inventory (=total retail dollars) you hope to sell.

YOU WILL NEED TO BRING WITH YOU, AT A MINIMUM, 4 TIMES THE INVENTORY YOU HOPE TO SELL.

For example, if you need to sell $200.00 of merchandise to breakeven, you will need to bring $800.00 of merchandise with you. Again, $800.00 is the total of all the retail prices of what you bring.

If you want to take in another $100.00 of sales on top of your breakeven, then you will need to sell $300.00 (=$200 + $100) of merchandise, and then you will need to bring a total of $1200.00 (=$800+$400) of inventory. This is $400.00 more inventory that you would need to bring to make one hundred more dollars over your breakeven point. Again, $1200.00 is the total of all the retail prices.

BREAKEVEN ANALYSIS

I want to introduce you to a quick and dirty breakeven analysis. I call this “Quick and Dirty” because we are using imperfect information. However, this imperfect information is good enough to help us make a decision whether a particular craft show is worth the risk.

Your breakeven point is where you have sold enough inventory to cover your costs. That is, the total retail dollars you have taken in equals the sum of your fixed plus your variable costs.

We use our quick and dirty breakeven analysis to answer the question: How much inventory do I need to sell in order to breakeven?

Let’s familiarize ourselves more with the components of the formula, and then review the math.

Examples of Fixed Costs

FIXED COSTS

Fixed costs are costs that remain the same, regardless of how many items you sell at your craft fair.

Fixed costs include things like fees, travel, food, and staffing. Again, you have to lay out this money for fixed costs whether you made no money at all, or made a bucket full of money at your craft fair.

Examples of Variable Costs

VARIABLE COSTS

Variable costs are costs that get incurred when each unit is sold.

Thus, variable costs fluctuate based on the number of units sold. If you seel very few pieces, your variable costs are small. If you sell a lot of pieces, your variable costs will be much higher.

Variable costs include special packaging and displays, brochures and business cards handed out with each sale, credit card fees you are charged by the banks after each sale, and the cost of the parts used to make each piece that has sold.

We estimate variable costs using some industry standards about the percent of total retail price these costs are associated with.

Tamaya Soul Necklace by FELD

­

NOTES:

When we calculate the cost of inventory, we differentiate between the cost of those pieces which we actually have sold from the cost of those pieces we did not sell.

For purposes of developing a budget and calculating a breakeven analysis, to help us decide whether a particular craft show is worth the risk, we focus only on the estimates based on what we sell.

From an overall business standpoint, because you will want to bring 4x the inventory of what you predict will be sold, and these additional out of pocket expenses associated with the pieces which would not be sold have not been included in our breakeven analysis, you will need to be realistic, whether you can afford the show, or not.

Examples of Investment Costs

INVESTMENT COSTS

There are some additional costs you will incur which are also not included in our breakeven analysis. I’m going to call these “investment costs.” Investment costs are things you pay for which have to last a very long time, and which you will use at many, many craft shows.

These include “long term assets”, such as buying tables na dchairs, a tent, and display cases.

These also include “long term liabilities”, such as paying down loans and credit card charges over a longer period of time.

We do not include these investment costs in our breakeven analyses.

FIXED AND VARIABLE COSTS LAID OUT WITHIN A BUDGET TABLE

FIXED AND VARIABLE COSTS LAID OUT WITHIN A BUDGET TABLE

Say you will be doing a 2-day craft show out of town, 200 miles away from home. And you will need to hire 1 person to help you. Let’s look at our budget for doing this particular craft show.

You have budgeted for your fixed and variable costs as shown in the table above. I have plugged in some typical numbers into this budget table.

Our fixed costs are relatively easy to figure out.

Our variable costs, however, will have to be estimated. These variable costs are keyed off the retail prices you set for your jewelry. We will use some industry percent of price standards, as well as our breakeven analysis formula, to help us figure out the “TO BE CALCULATED” variable costs in our budget table.

Calculate Estimated Variable Costs Using Rates (aka, multipliers)

For example,

I have used 12% as the proportion of the total retail price that would be spent on marketing costs. These costs would include brochures, business cards, a post card mailing, some promotional ads, some effort to contact previous customers to let them know you will be at this craft show. The industry standard for marketing ranges between 5 and 15 per cent.

If you are getting started, you can use my numbers presented in this table. After you have done a few craft shows, you can begin to analyze your own sales and cost data, to develop what are called multipliers for each variable line-item category.

Again, our quick and dirty analysis is keyed off our retail prices.

I am assuming that you already know how to set fair and reasonable prices for your merchandise. If not, I would suggest reviewing my PRICING AND SELLING video tutorial.

BREAKEVEN ANALYSIS

LET’S TRY SOME MATH:

THIS IS HOW WE SOLVE THIS FORMULA:

Let’s review this breakeven formula application again, in English.

For those of you who haven’t had algebra, or are somewhat math-phobic, I want to go over the mathematical analysis in more English terms. It is important to understand the concepts, and to understand how to do the math.

First, we have the breakeven formula itself. Basically, it says:

100% of Breakeven revenue
 Equals
 The Total of all our costs.

Some of these costs are fixed, meaning we have to pay for them, whether we make any money or not.

Some of these costs are variable, meaning we only incur these costs when we sell something. The amount of variable costs “Varies” based on how much we sell.

We are trying to figure out how much we need to sell in order to breakeven. We can easily figure out our fixed costs. We estimate our variable costs as a percent of revenues.

In this particular example, 
 Our fixed costs were $535.00. So, Y = $535.00
 We estimated our variable costs as 65% of revenues. So our variable costs = .65 times X.

This is all the information we need to do the algebra in the formula and figure out our breakeven revenue=costs point, which we have called “X”.

We begin to re-state the formula as:
 100% of revenue equals $535.00 + 65% of revenue.

So, we continue to play with the formula so that we get:
 Total Breakeven Revenues on one side of the equals sign, and everything else on the other side.
 
We have to do this is a few steps.

We re-write the formula again:
 100% of revenue minus 65% of revenues equals $535.00.
 

 And we simplify this a little by writing the formula as:
 100% minus 65% times revenues = $535.00

And simplifying the formula even more, we subtract 65% from 100% and get 35%, and the formula reads:
 35% times revenues = $535.00

Since we want to end up with 100% of revenues on one side of the equation, and the dollar amount that this 100% equals on the other side, we have to do one more math step.
 To change .35X to 1X, we have to divide it by .35.

Mathematically, if we do something to one side of the equation, we have to do it to the other side, as well.
 That’s how we get:
 100% of revenues = $535.00 divided by 35%.

And the answer is that our breakeven revenue, where our sales equals our costs, is 
 $1528.57

So, to breakeven, we would need to sell a retail total of 41528.57 of merchansie at our 2-day show. To sell that much inventory, we would need to bring about 4x that much, or $6,000.00 of inventory with us.

While we do not include the costs of this additional inventory, and which we assumed would not sell, we still need to anticipate in our realistic goal setting process, the financial impact of all this.

Let’s update our budget table for this 2-day craft show example:

ONE MORE EXAMPLE

Now, let’s review our breakeven analysis with another example.

Say you are doing a 1-day craft show, close to home, low fees, you bring your own tables, and you don’t need electricity, and don’t need extra staffing. Also, you don’t plan on doing a lot of marketing.

First, you begin to set up a Budget.

Here we have fixed costs equal to $70.00.

Our variable costs we estimate to be 54% of our total revenues.

Next, we calculate our breakeven point, using our quick and dirty formula.

Breakeven Analysis Formula

We see our breakeven point is $152.17. And using our rule of thumb about how much inventory to bring, we need to bring 4 x $152.17, or about $600.00 of inventory.

The Next Question To Ask Ourselves: How Much Profit Do You Want To Make?

How much more money do you want to make above and beyond your breakeven point?

You don’t just want to breakeven. You want to make a profit. At our breakeven point, we have covered both our fixed costs and our variable costs. Our fixed costs are now all paid for.

As we bring in more addition revenues, we will have more variable costs to cover, and only based on how much more we sell.

Example 1 above: In our first example, our breakeven point was $1528.57.

In this example, 65 cents of each dollar in price that was earned was spent on variable costs, and 35 cents on each dollar earned was spent on fixed costs.

As we go beyond our breakeven point, and become profitable, again in this example, we would be spending only 65 cents out of each additional revenue dollar for variable costs.

We would have no more fixed costs.

If we had sold one more dollar, we would have had 35 cents remaining. We could have used that remaining 35 cents out of each dollar of additional revenue to pay for some of our investment costs, as well as pay ourselves something.

Profit Goal

How much of a profit goal you want to set is your personal choice. However, I like to tell students that breaking even at the show itself is OK, if you also have strategies in place to generate follow-up sales, either through repeat sales between shows, or repeat sales at the next show.

WHAT DID THEY NEED TO PREPARE THEMSELVES TO “SELL”?

Selecting and doing craft shows requires research and planning. And it requires an ability to keep up a good “Retail Personality” while standing on your feet for ong hours, sometimes when it’s too hot or too cold or too windy and dusty.

Selling Jewelry requires a different mind-set than Creating Jewelry. If you don’t have the personality for Selling, bring a friend with you who does.

WHAT AMOUNT OF REPEAT BUSINESS AND FOLLOW-UP SALES SHOULD YOU LOOK FOR?

A good goal to set is to generate repeat business equal to 25%. So, if you have 10 sales at the show, your goal would be to get 3 repeat sales. These could occur when the customer contacts you between shows. These could also occur at the next show you do, when the customer buys from you again.

You will make a might higher profit and experience better long-term outcomes, through repeat business. With repeat business, you can considerably lower your variable costs, particularly those associated with marketing. Because of this, that 2nd or follow-up sale is often more important than that 1st sale at the show.

Lesson 4 was to set Realistic Goals.

It is OK to start small. To start locally. To gradually take on bigger and bigger shows, while you are establishing your reputation and building a following.

You obviously want to keep your expenses to a minimum, and there can be some steep up-front costs, such as creating a sufficient inventory.

Starting small gives you a chance to test out your ideas about costs, whether you like doing craft shows, whether there is a good fit between your merchandise and the shows, and whether there is a good fit between your personality and doing craft shows.

When you start, you might be able to share booth space with another friend who has a business, and share some of those other fixed costs, like travel and fees.

Do your homework when selecting craft shows which fit well with your goals and your budget. Figure out your breakeven point, and how much inventory you need to bring to make a profit.

As Roland and Rolanda should have done.

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

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

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

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

A Fool-Proof Formula For Pricing And Selling Your Jewelry

Designer Connect Profile: Tony Perrin, Jewelry Designer

My Aunt Gert: Illustrating Some Lessons In Business Smarts

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

Naming Your Business / Naming Your Jewelry

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

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

How Creatives Can Successfully Survive In Business

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

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

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

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

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

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online. Begin with my ORIENTATION TO BEADS & JEWELRY FINDINGS COURSE.
Check out these two other tutorials:

Pricing and Selling Your Jewelry. Learn an easy-to-use pricing formula and some marketing tips.

So You Want To Do Craft Shows… 16 Lessons I Learned Doing Craft Shows. Understand everything involved and make the smart choices.

Add your name to my email list.

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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 »

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

Posted by learntobead on July 16, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1) Getting federal, state, local licenses and registrations

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

1) Registrations and Licenses

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

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

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

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

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

STATE

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

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

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

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

Handled in Tennessee by the state Department of Revenue.

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

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

In Tennessee, handled by the state Department of Revenue.

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

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

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

LOCAL CITY AND COUNTY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

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

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

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

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

You will be paying these online through the IRS website.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OTHER

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

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

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

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

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

Warren Feld
 DBA Warren Feld Jewelry

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

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

2) Protecting Your Intellectual Property

Trademarks and Service Marks

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

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

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

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

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

Copyrights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3) What Form of Business?

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

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

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

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

(a) sole proprietorship

(b) partnership

c) limited liability corporation

(d) incorporation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

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

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

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

A Fool-Proof Formula For Pricing And Selling Your Jewelry

Designer Connect Profile: Tony Perrin, Jewelry Designer

My Aunt Gert: Illustrating Some Lessons In Business Smarts

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

Naming Your Business / Naming Your Jewelry

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

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

How Creatives Can Successfully Survive In Business

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

Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.

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

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

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

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

Add your name to my email list.

Other Suggested Readings:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Choosing And Using Clasps

Posted by learntobead on July 12, 2020

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

CHOOSING CLASPS AND CLASP ASSEMBLIES AND SUPPORT SYSTEMS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Types of clasps:

I never knew there were so many choices

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some more clasps:

SPRING RING

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

LOBSTER CLAW

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

PEARL or SAFETY CLASP

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

TOGGLE and BUTTON CLASPS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Making the button clasp:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

S-CLASPS

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

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

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

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

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

HOOK & EYE CLASPS

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

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

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

These come in many styles and price points.

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

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

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

MAGNETIC CLASPS

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

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

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

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

SNAP CLASPS

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

BARREL CLASPS AND SCREW CLASPS

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

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

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

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

FOLDOVER CLASP

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

FRICTION CLASP or BAYONETTE CLASP

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

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

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

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

BOX CLASP

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

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

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

LANYARD CLASP

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

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

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

SLIDE CLASP

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

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

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

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

DOOR KNOCKER CLASPS

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

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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

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Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.

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

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

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

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

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It’s Your Jewelry Or Me!

Posted by learntobead on July 3, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No problem,” was the response.

We have a problem Houston.

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

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

I was losing my essence of love.

To an unfinished piece of jewelry.

What in God’s humanity was happening?

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

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

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

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

I didn’t know what to do next.

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

That was it for me.

Enough.

It’s your jewelry or me,” I shouted.

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

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Do You Know Where Your Beading Needles Are?

Consignment Selling: A Last Resort

Odds or Evens? What’s Your Preference?

My Clasp, My Clasp, My Kingdom For A Clasp

Why Am I So Addicted To Beads?

The Bead Spill: My Horrifying Initiation

The Artists At The Party

How To Bead A Rogue Elephant

You Can Never Have Enough Containers For Your Stuff

Beading While Traveling On A Plane

Contemplative Ode To A Bead

How To Bead In A Car

My Aunt Gert: Illustrating Some Lessons In Business Smarts

A Jewelry Designer’s Day Dream

A Dog’s Life by Lily

I Make All The Mistakes In The Book

How Sparkle Enters People’s Lives

Upstairs, Downstairs At The Bead Store

Beads and Race

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

Women and Their Husbands When Shopping For Beads

Women Making Choices In The Pursuit Of Fashion

Existing As A Jewelry Designer: What Befuddlement!

The Bridesmaid Bracelets

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.

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

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

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

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

Add your name to my email list.

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

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

Posted by learntobead on June 29, 2020

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

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

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

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

What do I Do?

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

Should she have given me my money right away?

Should I take my jewelry out of her shop?

Should I never do consignment again?

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

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

Of course, it had already been 7 weeks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

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

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

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

A Fool-Proof Formula For Pricing And Selling Your Jewelry

Designer Connect Profile: Tony Perrin, Jewelry Designer

My Aunt Gert: Illustrating Some Lessons In Business Smarts

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

Naming Your Business / Naming Your Jewelry

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

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

How Creatives Can Successfully Survive In Business

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

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

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

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

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

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

Add your name to my email list.

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HOW DOES THE JEWELRY DESIGNER MAKE “ASYMMETRY” WORK ?

Posted by learntobead on June 28, 2020

“28 Coins Necklace”, FELD, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

PLANAR RELATIONSHIPS

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

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

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

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

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

— a strategic use of lines and planes

— shapes

— boundaries

— silhouettes

— contours

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

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

— how sections of the piece interlock

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

Example 1: Asymmetric Earrings

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

Example 2: Asymmetric Necklace

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

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

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

Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Best Way To Thread Your Needle

Bead Stringing With Needle and Thread

Beading Threads vs. Bead Cord

Turning Silver and Copper Metals Black: Some Oxidizing Techniques

Color Blending; A Management Approach

Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry: What Works!

What Glue Should I Use When Making Jewelry?

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

The Color Effects of Threads

Wax, Wax, Wax

When You Attend A Bead Show…

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

Duct Tape Your Pliers

What To Know About Gluing Rhinestones

Know Your Anatomy Of A Necklace

How Does The Jewelry Designer Make Asymmetry Work?

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

Add your name to my email list.

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

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation to Seed and Cylinder Beads

Posted by learntobead on June 25, 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.

Seed and Cylinder Beads

There are big bead people and little bead people. Some bead stringers like to say, “The older the person, the bigger the beads,” but I’m sure bead weavers would beg to disagree. For little bead people, there are thousands of colors and hundreds of shapes and sizes of what we call Seed Beads. These little bead people bead-weave, bead-string, and wire-work for all kinds of folks, situations.

The basic shape of seed bead is what we call “roundish” or “squared round”. They are round in the middle and squared on the ends. Sometimes the label “Seed Bead” refers to this specific shape; othertimes the label refers to the whole family of shapes.

There are many other shapes in this family of seed beads. For each shape listed below, they also come in different sizes and many different colors and finishes. These shapes include:

Cuts or Hex Cuts (seed beads that are cut from a six-sided hexagonal tube, rather than from a smooth cylinder, so that each bead has 6 sides)

Charlottes or True Cuts (single faceted roundish seed beads, thus each bead has only one faceted side)
 NOTE: Charlottes are made this way. True Cuts are accidents at the factory where the regular squared roundish seed beads haven’t cooled appropriately, and get flat on the size they were resting on.

Tri-Cuts (3 and more facets on roundish seed beads)

Bugles (tube shape, available in several lengths and diameters)
 Twist Bugles and Twists (very short tubes with a twist in them)

Nibblettes (1-hole flat rectangle bead) or Tila Beads (2-hole square rectangle bead)

Cubes or Squares

Triangles
 Some triangles have smooth, rounded edges; others have sharp edges. NOTE: In bead weavings, you can get a neat texture with the triangle — point / flat-surface / point / flat-surface/ point /flat-surface / etc.

Mini Fringe Drops or Raindrops (teardrops that are roundish, with a centered hole through the top)

Magatamas (teadrops that are more squarish, with an off-centered hole through the top)

Cylinder Beads (sometimes called by the major brand name which is Delica)

Superduos (one of many 2-hole seed beads)

…among others…

Just like the Druks and Fire Polish beads, and the crystal beads, seed beads are made in different countries, and knowing what country they come from, tells you a lot about their quality and usefulness.

The color names and color code numbers vary quite a bit from country to country. The actual shapes, sizes and color tones vary quite a bit, as well, making it difficult to mix beads from different countries within the same project.

CZECH SEED BEADS: The Czech Republic is one of the major sources for glass seed beads. The Czech Seed Bead is your minimal quality seed bead for jewelry making purposes. Anything lower in quality is useless for jewelry. All jewelry moves when worn, and this movement subjects each component to tremendous forces. Lower quality seed beads cannot hold up in the face of these forces. With lower quality seed beads, the holes are too sharp, the beads break easily under pressure, the finishes bleed into fabrics.

Thus, you need higher quality beads and other components for jewelry, than you would use for something stationery, like a beaded Christmas ornament.

So, I will give the Czech Seed Bead a grade of a “C”, and say that this is the lowest price you will pay, if you are using these for jewelry.

Most Czech seed beads come on hanks, and you usually buy these by the hank. You buy the whole hank. Hanks are usually 10–12 apprx 16”-strands tied off together; however, there is a lot of variation on what ends up getting tied together and labeled as a hank.

While most Czech seed beads on a hank are the same size, a sizeable number are not. If you are doing a pattern or a picture, you will either have to keep adding and subtracting beads as you go through the pattern, or you will have to cull all your beads up front so you are starting with the same sizes.

The hole size in these beads varies widely from bead to bead. The holes are too small to notice ahead of time. Many seed bead projects require that you go through the same bead with your needle and thread 5, 6, 7 or 8 or more times. If you can’t get that needle through one more time, often you are stuck. Sometimes you can compensate, but othertimes you just have to start over again.

These holes would be called “generally smooth”, but I think they are really pushing the marketing here. These holes are very rough.

You can have a high degree of trust on the finishes of these beads, but there are a sizeable number of colors that fade, bleed out or rub off.

Seed bead systems are set up like paint by number systems. There are many, many colors. Some colors of beads are made through the manipulation and coloration of glass alone. But you can’t make every color in these paint-by-number type systems using glass alone. Some processes for creating a color, such as galvanized, coated, lined, some metallics or dyed, are not always stable. When working with seed beads, you end up learning what these unstable colors are. Sometimes, the problems result when the beads rub onto something else; othertimes, the finishes react with chemicals like oils, or ammonia or sulfides on the skin or in sweat; still othertimes, sunlight lightens or fades them. Many pinks, reds and purples, as well as unusually bright colors are problematic.

If working with unstable colors, what you do is you spray your finished project with a clear fixative called Krylon. You buy this in an art or craft store. If it’s a baked on finish, the Krylon hardens the shell. If a dyed finish — remember glass looks like a sponge — using the Krylon is like putting a plug in each of the holes to keep the dye from leaching out.

Another thing you can do is dip your finished piece in Future clear acrylic floor wax, and then air dry it. This will stiffen your piece a bit, but also protect the finishes on your beads.

You can use a sealant. You purchase this in the paint section, usually near the metallic paints, of an art or craft store. Sealants may alter the colors a bit, and leave your project glossier.

JAPANESE SEED BEADS: I would give the Japanese seed beads a grade of an “A”. You buy these “loose” rather than on “hanks”. We usually get a big bag of beads and we re-tube these in the shop. The Japanese seed beads run about 1/3 more in price than the Czech ones.

Most of the beads in the tube are the same size.

They have a good size hole. The hole from bead to bead is the same size.

These holes are called “generally smooth”, meaning they look like a broken coke bottle, but no where’s near as rough as the Czech ones.

You can have the same trust on the finishes of the Japanese as you do with the Czech. It’s pretty much those same colors that fade, bleed out or rub off. [Again, you would use a clear Krylon fixative spray.]

There are 3 companies in Japan which manufacture seed beads. These are Miyuki, Toho, and Matsuno. It is often difficult to mix beads made by these different companies. The supposedly same-size beads actually vary in size from company to company. Miyuki and Toho beads are very regular and consistent in size from bead to bead. Matsuno beads are not. The color-palettes and underlying tonal qualities vary from company to company.

You will find that the color code numbers do not follow a strict pattern, say, all the reds or all the opaques or all the silver lines sharing a number series. The Japanese also frequently change the color names associated with each code. This can get confusing.

The “DON’T-USE-THESE-SEED-BEADS-FROM-THESE-COUNTRIES” Beads: For jewelry, you will definitely want to avoid using seed beads made in India, China, or Taiwan. These break easily, the finishes are very unreliable, hole sizes vary widely, holes are very sharp. These do not hold up well under the forces that jewelry is subjected to. They more easily discolor or bleed into fabrics.

Getting Started With Seed Beads: When starting with seed beads, we suggest that people try both the Czech and the Japanese, and see which ones they like best. The Japanese are more expensive than the Czech, but not that much more expensive. The Japanese ones are definitely easier to use.

However, one problem with the Japanese seed beads is that they are too perfect. Sometimes when your seed beads are too perfect, your outcome comes out like a paint-by-number Elvis on velvet. Because of the little irregularities from bead to bead in the Czech line, your outcome looks more organic, more artistic. If you were creating an ethnic looking piece, Japanese seed beads would make it look machine-made; Czech seed beads would make it look hand-made.

Buy all your seed beads upfront. Seed Bead colors vary from batch to batch. The color of the bead is affected by the barometric pressure outside the factory where and when they are made, and this is something the factory cannot control. Most seed bead projects take 40–60 hours to complete. That means, you need to buy all your beads, or even a little bit more, right up front. You might come back to the store 2 weeks later, and your 11/0–404 will be a different shade than that 11/0–404 now in the shop. So, find out about your store’s exchange policy. At our shop, we don’t give cash back. We do an even exchange or a store credit.

Above is an image of the same color from two different color batches.

Seed Beads Sizes — An Unusual Numbering System

Most of the seed bead styles use an unusual labeling system to denote sizes. For example, you have 18/0’s and 16/0’s and 15/0’s and 14/0’s and 13/0’s and 12/0’s and 11/0’s and 10/0’s and 8/0’s and 6/0’ and 5/0’s, and you get the picture. What these numbers mean — and had more meaning hundreds of years ago — is how many beads per inch. They don’t really work out as beads per inch, but for the main sizes between 18/0 and 6/0, they come close enough. But if you had to visualize whether an 8/0 is bigger or smaller than a 6/0, visualize beads per inch.

An aught-size may be written as a fraction (11/0), as a number followed by a degree symbol (11o), or simply as a number (11).

The most-used size for more art- and design-oriented projects is the 11/0. The most-used size for more craft-oriented projects is the 10/0. You would most likely find 11/0’s in a bead store, and most likely find 10/0’s in a craft store. Basically, the smaller the bead, the less gaps of light between each bead, and thus a stronger, more intense, and sharper result.

Native Americans like to use sizes 18/0 and 16/0, but you won’t find these in too many places outside areas catering to Native Americans. I remember once visiting a bead store in Gallop, New Mexico, and they had a wall full of hundreds of colors of 18/0 and 16/0 seed beads — — they took up as big an area as our 11/0’s take up in our shop. And we have a lot of 11/0s!

Believe me, even the 15/0’s scare me and put me on edge, because they are so small. I can’t imagine working with 16/0’s and 18/0’s!

Cautions:

Japanese seed beads tend to be a little larger than their Czech counterparts. So, an 11/0 Japanese seed bead will be little larger than a Czech 11/0.

Japanese seed beads are more tubular shaped. Czech seed beads are more saucer shaped.

The actual sizes of seed beads will vary by the finish on the bead. So, transparent amethyst will be smaller than transparent amethyst AB, which in turn is smaller than amethyst Ceylon, and this smaller than galvanized amethyst metallic.

There are three companies in Japan that make seed beads — Miyuki, Toho, and Matsuno. The shapes and actual sizes of the beads from each of these companies vary slightly. The consistency of seed beads within any batch and color is relatively high for Toho and Miyuki, but not so great with Matsuno. The stable/unstable finishes of colors is similar across brands. Most how-to books refer to Miyuki products. Toho has some very unusual colors.

E-Beads

In many pattern books, they tell you to use what’s called an E-Bead. Here they are referring to either a size 5/0 or size 6/0 seed bead. This vague label — E-Bead — was more useful pre-Internet. Today, since there is a size difference between 5’s and 6’s, pattern books can tell you exactly which size to get, and between stores and the internet, you can find exactly what you need. It seems, at times, that the only reason to preserve this vague naming convention is a snotty one — I know what this means and you don’t. Well, now you know what it means.

People started using this naming convention years ago, but in a slightly different way. Years ago, people were told they could substitute an E-bead — either a size 5/0 or 6/0 — for a 4mm round Druk. The 5’s and 6’s are close to 4mm. It’s very expensive and difficult to make a perfectly round bead. So a long time ago, people were telling other crafters that they could substitute a cheaper E-bead in projects where they would use a 4mm round Druk.

It’s also a bad naming convention in that all seed beads are E-Beads. E-Beads refers to how these were originally made. These beads all started as a long tube of glass. The tube was put through what looks like a bread slicer. The shape of the slicer was in the form of the letter E.

Cylinder Beads or Delicas

The cylinder beads or delicas are one of the few beads in the store that we weigh, before we put them into tubes. So these are like cocaine. The same color in a delica might be 3–10 times the price of that color in the squared roundish seed bead lines.

Today, there are many brands of cylinder beads. One of the original brands was “Delica” by Miyuki. Sometimes “Delicas” is used as the generic name, like Kleenex is sometimes used as a generic name. In older pattern books, they tell you to use Delicas. In newer pattern books, they tell you to use Cylinder beads.

There is a bad naming convention around these cylinder beads. Some places label their cylinder or delicas size as 11/0; others as 12/0. In this case, they are referring to the same bead. They are called 12/0’s because they are the same size as a 12/0 seed bead. They are called 11/0’s because they are used interchangeably with the slightly larger 11/0 seed bead. They are used interchangeably with the slightly larger bead because of the shape difference. A seed bead is basically a ball; a cylinder bead is a brick. That shape difference makes them interchangeable with the slightly larger bead.

I want to give you an idea of what it means to interchange seed beads (the squared roundish basic shape) and delicas (cylinder beads). I know, when I started beading and jewelry making, I had originally shied away from delicas, because of their price. But I use them regularly now.

Let’s go back to the example of the eyeglass leash. If your eyeglass leash was all seed beads, and you were standing against the light, you would see the ridges along the sides of the beads. If you used delicas, they line up perfectly. You would see a solid line of color. When people view a solid line of color, they see the piece as higher end.

Say you were in the eyeglass leash business, and did a low-end $20.00 market and a higher end $60.00 market. If you used seed beads in your $60.00 market, your pieces wouldn’t sell because they would look cheap. If you used delicas in your $20.00 market, your pieces wouldn’t sell either. These make the pieces seem out of place, and people avoid them. You use so few beads in a project like an eyeglass leash, that the cost differences are just fractions of a penny. But there are huge perceptual differences.

If you’re an artist doing two types of markets — low and high ends — you don’t necessarily have to come up with different designs for both markets. You can trade out seed beads and delicas within the same overall design, and play with people’s perceptions.

Suppose you wanted to do an amulet bag, or some kind of bead-weaving that approximates a piece of cloth. If you used seed beads, there would be little gaps of light between each bead. If your piece were a solid color, it would look less intense. If it were a pattern or a picture, it would look less sharp. If you used delicas, these line up perfectly like a brick wall. If the piece were a solid color, it would look more intense. If a pattern or a picture, it would look sharper.

With seed beads, they have little ridges on them, and when you try to move the piece, they catch on each other and the piece feels stiff. With cylinder beads, when you move the piece, it feels much more like a piece of cloth.

Now let’s say you wanted to do an amulet purse and went to the cash register with seed beads. These might ring up as $15.00. If you went to the register with delicas, these might right up as $150.00. There’s a lot of sticker shock at the register. But these kinds of projects take 40–60 hours to do. In this context, your biggest investment is your labor. The cost of the beads doesn’t seem quite so horrific. And in most situations, you get a better outcome with the delicas.

Cuts, Hex Cuts, Charlottes and True Cuts

People value brightness. They try all different kinds of strategies and manufacturing techniques to get their beads to be brighter and brighter and brighter. In crystal beads, they add lead. But lead is expensive. When they can’t afford lead, one technique is to facet the glass. A smooth, roundish glass surface absorbs most light that hits it, and reflects very little. A faceted glass surface absorbs less light and reflects more of it. That makes it seem, to the viewer, that it is brighter.

There are different types of faceted seed beads. The main type is called a Hex Cut, (often referred to simply as “cuts”). A hex cut seed bead has 6 faceted sides.

Another type of faceted seed bead is called a Charlotte or a True Cut. These beads have only one facet on each bead. So you see one flat surface and the rest is rounded. Charlottes are made that way. True Cuts are accidents at the factory where the regular seed beads are resting on a flat surface, but hadn’t cooled enough, so one side got flat.

Charlottes and True Cuts traditionally were mostly used in costuming. They are more and more used in jewelry. Picture the country music artist coming out on stage at the Ryman Auditorium — the mother church of country music. An area of her costume has been embroidered with Charlottes. Because of the 1-sided-facets of the charlottes, the faceted sides of these beads will face up randomly. As the spot lights hit the costume, the facets reflect the light back into the audience, but in a random, unpredictable way.

Suppose the costume had been embroidered with hex cuts. When the light hits the costume, all the facets are facing up in a very predictable way. These regularly positioned facets will reflect the light back into the audience in a predictable way.

The difference in effect is immediate. The unpredictable flashes of light into the audience, as reflected by the charlottes or true cuts, heightens the audiences’ experience with the performance. And this would be much moreso than had hex cuts been used instead. With hex cuts, the audience would soon be able to subconsciously predict the pattern of light bouncing off from the artist, and actually get a little bored from this.

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

Best Way To Thread Your Needle

Bead Stringing With Needle and Thread

Beading Threads vs. Bead Cord

Turning Silver and Copper Metals Black: Some Oxidizing Techniques

Color Blending; A Management Approach

Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry: What Works!

What Glue Should I Use When Making Jewelry?

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

The Color Effects of Threads

Wax, Wax, Wax

When You Attend A Bead Show…

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

Duct Tape Your Pliers

What To Know About Gluing Rhinestones

Know Your Anatomy Of A Necklace

How Does The Jewelry Designer Make Asymmetry Work?

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

Add your name to my email list.

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

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 »