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HOW TO BEAD A ROGUE ELEPHANT The Musings Of A Jewelry Designer: Sex, Sensuality and Sexuality

Posted by learntobead on April 25, 2023

It is very difficult to differentiate among sex, sensuality and sexuality. Are they the same? Does one precede the other? Do you have to have one in order to have another? Can you have one without either of the others? Are these experienced universally? Subjectively? Do we have to experience any one of them at all?

This becomes even more confusing when we add the idea of jewelry to the mix. Does jewelry make sex or sensuousness or sexuality more obvious, less obvious? An invitation? A warning? A restriction? An assistive guide for caressing? A symbolic assertion about beliefs? A signal about desire? A confidence booster for self-esteem and self-expression through sex? A gender marker?

We let jewelry touch our body, though not necessarily everywhere. Its placement on the body tells a story. We often use it to attract the gaze of others, but can as easily use it to restrict that gaze or redirect it or cause it to be forbidden entirely. Jewelry can be inviting to the touch, or disinviting. We can use jewelry to demand respect. We can use jewelry to demand consent.

Jewelry is something we desire for its look, its value, but most importantly, for how it serves our needs and desires. Jewelry, indeed, can express our desires publicly without our having to articulate them out loud to anyone. These desires can be very sexual and sensual. Or not. These desires can be directed at certain people with certain traits, and hidden from others.

Take the necklace. In one culture it can signal that the viewer must keep his gaze above the silhouette boundary line. In another culture, it affirms for the viewer, as if it were a pointer, that it was OK to touch the breast, even encouraging it. In still another culture, the colors of the necklace determine if the situation is sacred (that is, no sex now), or is profane (sex now). The design, composition and color choices within the necklace might demonstrate which characteristics of any viewer were desirable, or not. The necklace might indicate if the woman was married and unavailable, married and available, or unmarried and, yes, available. It might broadcast femininity or masculinity.

The jewelry designer is one of the few types of professionals, typically healers, that people allow to touch their bodies. The jewelry designer is allowed to measure the wrist or the neck. Allowed to position the piece relative to the breasts. Allowed to dress the body, putting the earring on their ear, or the necklace around their neck, or the bracelet around their wrist, or the anklet around the ankle. Allowed to push them towards one emotional direction or another.

Everyone has their own personal journey learning about sex, experiencing it, becoming aware of what feels sensual and what feels sexual. People set some boundaries about what they find appealing and what they find repugnant. And they often rely on jewelry to signify all this.

My Personal Journey

My personal journey has had ups and downs and ins and outs and this ways and that ways. I consider myself gay. But I am still attracted to women, including having sex with women — I always have been so — but I like sex with men better, so I label myself gay. Not bi, not poly, not sapio, not asexual nor unisexual, not heteroflexible nor homoflexible, not fluid nor a switch. I did not consider myself gay, though, until I was in my 20’s.

When I was 7 or 8, I used to fool around with Jay Smith. We would hide in the basement. Drop our pants. Grab each other’s genitals. This wasn’t gay. This was play. Homoerotic sexually, but not sensually. There was no desire here. No passion. We stopped playing when we were 9, but kept this a secret between us.

When I was 10 or 11, I would stop at a gas station on my way walking home from school. The gas station had a little convenience store attached to it. In the store, there was a rack of porn books (hetero only, of course). I shop-lifted many on many occasions. And what I did with them, well, I’d probably make Portnoy in Portnoy’s Complaint blush. Of course, both Portnoy and I had the mother thing — the complaint! — in common. My mother did catch me with these porno books once. She made me return them. [A lot of material here for another book, but I digress.] I re-stocked later on. Would you have expected any less of me?

From the first grade, when I was 6, until the sixth grade, when I was 12, I always remember having at least one girlfriend. Sometimes it was the same girl — that’s you, Arlene — but at different times in different grades. Sometimes it was two or three girls in my class. I repeatedly tried to kiss them on many occasions. This would probably be labeled some kind of date rape today. But it, too, was play. I always thought that I’d settle down with a woman, have two kids, a house, a dog and a yard.

The only jarring disruption occurred in second grade. The teacher was Miss O’Neal. She was very sensual, I could not help noticing, even at my young age. Miss O’Neal loved David. I was extremely jealous. I wanted her to love me. My second grade teacher was hot, what can I say. All through the school year, I wanted her to love on me, as she repeatedly did to David. She would gently place her hands on David’s face, covering each cheek with one hand. She would stare into his eyes and say, “Oohhhhhh…. David!” The words came out slowly, softly, deliberately, as if their sound struggled to never end. She slowly raised David’s head up closer to hers. Her lips would meet his. I tried every Machiavellian thing I could think of at my age of 7 to try to get her to gently stroke my cheeks, and say, “Oohhhhh… Warren!”, and share that kiss. Never happened. Could care less that this teacher was most likely a pedophile. “Oohhhhhh…. David!” Damn David.

JEWELRY DESIGNS CREATE EMOTIONS

As a child, you are never certain about what your emotions are. How they came to be. How they get expressed. What they mean. But as you age, the recognition — conscious, subconscious or otherwise –of senses and their relationship to desires, sex and sexuality gets ever clearer. Sex with sensuality.

A good jewelry designer helps steer the wearer and the buyer towards positive emotions. And in turn, positive emotions often form the core of the designer’s inspirations.

Because of this, jewelry designers need a deeper understanding of types of emotions and their psychological underpinnings. They need to be in touch with themselves about how they experience and reflect sexuality and sensuousness. They need to be able to translate these emotions into jewelry designs where their wearers and buyers share similar emotional understandings.

Jewelry, on one level, encapsulates sensuality. Even the plainest, simplest pieces wreak of it. People sense this emotionally as they interact with their jewelry as worn. The sensations of the wearing of jewelry and the touching of jewelry and the seeing of jewelry can feel good.

People, in fact, develop emotions with jewelry on three levels of sensuality: (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

People use their mastery of sensuality to attract others. These might be friends. These might be mates. This mastery might hold over time, or be ephemeral within a particular situation. Wearing jewelry, buying jewelry, making jewelry all contribute to making this mastery simpler, easier to apply and manipulate. And spill over into sex, if the wearer wants that.

Yes, I Did Go To The Prom

Junior high and high school, for me, were almost a complete sexual bust. I fooled around with some girls, but there was always this racial barrier. I was Jewish, and that was a deal breaker over and over again. I attended some Jewish youth groups parties and mixers, but these were far away from where I lived. There was sex, but no sustained relationships.

In my senior year in high school, I did have a girlfriend for awhile. Her name was Jean. She was Church of Christ, and her parents were very, very wary of me. They said so. And while they were not liberal in any sense of the term, they let their daughter date me. They were unaware that we had sexual relations. I took her to the prom. Never saw her again after I graduated.

Also, when I was a senior in high school, I became very close to another student — Geoff. We had a very deep, platonic, male-to-male relationship. One night, we were outside talking, and he turned me around, and for no other reason than an especially strong feeling of closeness, he kissed me.

My reaction was quick. I turned stiff. I pulled away sharply. This was very disgusting to me. Two guys kissing. Made me very uncomfortable.

Over the next few weeks, I found that I was disappointed in myself. Why shouldn’t two people, regardless of gender, be able to express their closeness with a kiss? I struggled with this. But a few weeks later, again later at night, outdoors, talking about whatever, I turned to him and kissed him. I felt OK about this.

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. Attraction. Intimacy. Pleasure. Eroticism. The sensations experienced and summed up by the label sensuality. The sexuality as an interpretation about how one wants to express their sensuality within the sexual act.

It is important to differentiate sex 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. More attractive. More intimate. More pleasurable. More erotic. But perhaps no two people experience the sensuality of a piece of jewelry in the same way.

Sex, on the other hand, is sex. It can be mechanical, but more preferably, passionate. It can be a simple kiss, or completion of an act. The desire here is simple and limited. It’s simply a desire to maximize the biological. Sensuality adds emotion to this. Intimacy. Sexuality is how we desire to express sex and sensuality publicly. We need sex, sexuality and sensuality as human beings. We need to manage these through our choices about composition, construction and manipulation as designers.

Part of managing sex, sensuality and sexuality is to understand the different roles jewelry plays in their expression. These sex-sexuality-sensuality roles, among others, include,

(1) The Peacock Role

(2) The Gender Role

(3) The Safe Sex Role

See if you recognize any of these.

One sexual-sensual 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, or at least stylishly coherent, 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-sensuality 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 non-binary identity, 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-sensuality roles, however — The Safe Sex Role — concerns the placement of jewelry on the body. Placement will garner either attention or movement or both. Such placement is suggestive of where it is safe, and where it is unsafe, to look at (attention) or to touch (movement) 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? Taking many minutes and 10’s of minutes before interacting and using this time to espouse your personal sexual philosophy of life can really be a buzz kill.

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 in 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 tiny 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 kissing the neck. 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 in this decade. Noses, belly buttons, eyebrows, lips. Think of this as a big Body Chart for safe sex. It was not until the early 2000’s that nipple piercings and genital piercings became widespread.

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.

College

I went to Brandeis University for college. This was a Jewish sponsored but secular institution. A large Jewish student body.

During my freshman year in college, I was a sexual pig. You would not have liked me. Or respected me. I showed little respect to women. It was all about sex and conquest. I pushed boundaries. Inappropriately. I formed untenable attachments. I pushed a friend too far, and I knew it. But did it anyway. And lost a friend.

Losing this friend bothered me a lot. I’m still atoning for that.

I changed my ways.

When I was a junior, I became very serious as a student. I studied all the time. I was eager to learn things. Philosophically. Practically. Artistically.

After awhile, however, I could no longer suppress my sexual desires. My academic self was fighting my sexual self. My academic self was losing. I did not have time to form relationships. And I no longer felt comfortable taking sexual advantage of the girls around me.

For several months, I began to visit the red light district of Boston. I’d visit the gay movie theaters and have random sex. It was fun. It was a release.

Then I tired of it.

Adornment and Sexuality

Jewelry has been intertwined with sexuality and sensuality throughout history. Some cultures linked them with abandon; others feared such linkage. The movement of Buddhism from its origin in India to further east through Indochina, China and eventually Japan, is a key example of all this. In India, Buddhism was strongly linked to sexuality, and jewelry was very intricate, elaborate and elaborated and adorned all parts of the body. By the time Buddhism arrived in Japan, it had become more and more detached. In Japan, they passed a law forbidding the wearing of any jewelry that was anything but functional. Wearing jewelry as a belt buckle (netsuke) or as in the hair to keep it in place was acceptable; wearing jewelry for other than functional reasons was not, and was punishable by the authorities.

Functionality, however, could not fully contain the power of jewelry to excite, entice, attract. Functional jewelry was still made from valued materials like gold and jade and ivory. Functional jewelry still had sparkle and combinations of colors and patterns and textures of which people desired to see and touch and bring that experience into their inner selves. Functional jewelry could still be used to enhance a person’s physical features. Functional jewelry could not suppress the needs of people to interact sexually and sensuously, no matter how hard the authorities tried to make it.

Jewelry as adornment is a symbol of desire. And the exchange of desires. Whether a wedding ring or a gift to adorn the neck, jewelry makes it impossible to escape this symbolism.

Jewelry can be used to articulate eroticism. It can be very obvious like a nipple ring, or more subtle, such as where the jewelry, in its design, points to an erotic zone on your body. The sensation and perception of jewelry can influence the experience of pleasure, arousal, and intimacy in sexual and sensual contexts.

Jewelry can be used to signify someone’s gender or gender identity. It might take the look of a rainbow LBGTQ+ form. It might incorporate symbols specific to female or male genders, or specific to sexual preferences.

Wearing jewelry may be empowering. It may lead an individual to feel more confident in sex or in their sexuality and self-expression.

Jewelry has a power to physically and emotionally pull one person towards another. It can be used to overcome any shyness or hesitancy in initiating a relationship or following through on any attraction.

When I Design Jewelry

I design jewelry for all kinds of people for all kinds of events and situations. Often, when I am not doing custom work for a client, and I get to design something I want from scratch, I try to visualize a woman wearing the piece in context. I want the woman to feel that, by wearing my jewelry, she is somehow more attractive, more sensual, more powerful. I want my sense of desire to match her sense of desire.

My woman is in her late 30s / early 40s. She has some kind of career. She likes to dance. I always picture my woman wearing my piece on the dance floor. In a nightclub. Fast, not slow dancing. No matter what vantage point anyone else in the room is, and no matter what positioning of her body is in while she dances, my jewelry is designed to attract. To draw attention. To hold that attention. To experience that sensuality of the piece as she might experience it.

My jewelry is not garish. It is subtle. Parts of it are to be seen head-on. Other parts to be noticed from the sides. The parts comprising the whole composition form a vernacular that can be easily articulated. Other parts are designed to heighten experiences only. I visualize the necklace moving side to side, front and back, up and down, as she moves on the dance floor. And I want it always to look good, no matter its orientation relative to the other vantages points around the room.

There is always a subtle edginess. But not too much. The colors extend just beyond the boundaries of a color scheme. The textures vary always a step too far. A pattern will need more than a few words to describe. A concurrent formality and informality. I use adaptable elements so my pieces can work for more than one body type or for more than one situation.

My pieces must feel good to wear. I am always aware of that sense of touch. They must be comfortable, so I spend a great deal of thinking and reflection time about how to build in architectural features to make this so.

My woman wants to wear my jewelry over and over again. Not because she has to. Not because she is told to. Not because she is conforming to some social or cultural norm. But because it makes her feel good about herself. It is transformative. It projects a sensual, sexual, positive self-image to those around her.

To Exist Is To Be Sexual

To be authentic, to feel free, a person must be allowed to make choices about how to sexually express themselves, and to what degree such expression morphs into desire, identity and orientation. The contemporary jewelry designer has to rise above any societal or cultural norms which impact on or restrict this expression. The designer must be supremely cognitive of how that designer’s personal framework on life gets imposed on their jewelry all the while maintaining that sense of authenticity critical to whether someone will want to wear or buy their pieces.

Jewelry design becomes an act of reconciliation. There are the designer’s sexual and sensual preferences. There is the jewelry as a reflection of these things. There are the wearer’, viewer’, buyer’, exhibitor’, collector’, teacher’, student’s sexual and sensual preferences. There is the jewelry so designed in anticipation of these other preferences. Choices about silhouette, shapes, colors, forms, patterns, textures, themes. These choices lead to this reconciliation. Jewelry, and how it influences attention and movement, has a major role to play, triggering all this.

To be sexual is to grapple with questions about intimacy. Jewelry assists in setting the stage for such intimacy between two individuals. What jewelry is. What it is made of. How it is worn. When it is worn. Jewelry may lead these individuals to conclusions about the significance of their relationship, and the role of intimacy within it. Or it may fail to do that. In this latter case, the designer, in many respects, has failed in their design. The designer is a professional. She or he has a professional obligation to design jewelry in line with the values and desires of the client. Intimacy is one critical, valued desire which the jewelry design must design for.

In a concurrent way, jewelry should affect the situation between any two, intimate individuals whereby the experience of intimacy is pleasant, positive, fulfilling. Jewelry should reduce the anxiety and dread which can arise from thinking about sex, sensuality, sexuality and their expression through intimacy. The experience of sex can be fleeting. But the desire is that it be intimate and enduring. Jewelry can secure that desire. It makes things feel permanent, rather than impermanent. Persisting, rather than temporary. Impactful within a relationship, rather than chaotic or destructive.

As sex transforms into the sensual, this brings more pleasure, engagement, a heightened physical experience, a more aesthetic quality to the relationship. Jewelry plays a significant role in shaping a person’s subjective experience of existence, in this case, sex. Jewelry brings to the fore all those unarticulated, unformulated feelings, visions, tastes, smells, sensations of being alive. This allows the individual to transcend any narrow definitions they may have about the meaning and purpose of their lives. It allows them to surpass the limits of their everyday existence. That increased sensuality, which the jewelry has assisted in triggering, forces the individual to question how all this pleasure aligns with their sense of authenticity. In other words, jewelry impacts an individuals’ relationship with their desires, pleasures and bodily experiences.

My Decision To Be Gay

When I was 21, my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She survived one more year. The last four months of her life were spent in Sloan Kettering Hospital in Manhattan. I lived in New Brunswick, NJ at the time, was attending Rutgers University to get a Masters in City and Regional Planning. I was also serving as a health planner in New Brunswick.

I would take every opportunity to take the train into New York, and spend time with my mother. She was on high dosages of morphine. She lay quietly on her bed, darkened skin shrunk tightly on her skeletal body. I sat there. Sad, scared, horrified, in denial. She once suddenly sat up and shouted, “Ike,” then lay back down in a drug-induced slumber. I guess she liked Ike.

When I would leave the hospital, I made my way down to the red light district. Just as I had done in Boston. It was a way to leave the real world and pretend nothing bad was happening. It was a way to relieve all the stresses which overwhelmed every part of my conscious and physical being.

Back in New Brunswick, I had been dating two women. At various times, I had considered marriage to each. But the timing was all wrong. I was trying to get established in a career. I was dealing with family dynamics and responsibilities now turned topsy turvy because of my mom’s illness and eventual death. Neither Jeanne nor Robin was sufficiently empathetic to my plight. The emotional distance between each of them and myself kept widening.

I cannot put all the blame on them. I was a lousy communicator. I never articulated what was going on in my head. I hid half my sexual self. I’m sure these unspoken things irritated them.

When I moved to North Carolina to get my doctorate, one relationship ended, and the other I allowed, but shouldn’t have allowed, to slowly, over many years, die on the vine.

I continued this pattern of dating women and running off to the gay bars for several years. Then the AIDS epidemic came, beginning on the coasts, but eventually working its way to the South and Midwest. I was a professor at Ole Miss with an apartment in Memphis when AIDS began to color my life.

There were many friends and many sex-partners in Memphis who came down with AIDS and died. One after another after another. I slammed the breaks on sex, though it took awhile to slow down.

Now I was living in Nashville. I had taken a job as a health policy planner with the state of Tennessee. I was lonely. Bored with the women and the men I was dating. I had a little conversation with myself: the next interesting and creative person I meet — man or woman — that’s the path I’m going to follow.

I met James.

Sex And The Single Rogue Elephant

Let me get this straight, right up front. Finding your Rogue Elephant doesn’t mean to have sex with him. Nothing could be further from the truth.

But, on the other hand, this is not to make your Rogue Elephant asexual. He is not.

He likes his ears stroked. A gently pressure applied with both hands, one on one side and the other on the other, with a slow movement toward the ear’s end, can feel very sensual for him. With a warm attachment to you.

Playfully petting him, and playfully twirling the hair on his body, is all so sensuous for him.

His trunk can be warm and wet, or rough and dry.

He doesn’t stand there waiting for you to comfort him.

Comfort comes in the details.

As you bead him.

And as he roams.

_______________________________

I hope you found this article useful. Please consider sharing.

I’d welcome any suggestions for topics (warren@warrenfeldjewelry.com)

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.

Follow my articles on Medium.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.

Check out my Jewelry Making and Beadwork Kits.

Add your name to my email list.

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Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

What You Need To Know When Preparing A Portfolio

Smart Advice When Preparing Your Artist Statement

Design Debt: How Much Do You Have?

An Advertising Primer For Jewelry Designers

Selling Your Jewelry In Galleries: Some Strategic Pointers

Building Your Brand: What Every Jewelry Designer Needs To Know

Social Media Marketing For The Jewelry Designer

Often Unexpected, Always Exciting: Your First Jewelry Sale

Coming Out As A Jewelry Artist

Is Your Jewelry Fashion, Style, Taste, Art or Design?

Saying Goodbye To Your Jewelry: A Rite Of Passage

So You Want To Do Craft Shows: Lesson 7: Setting Up For Success

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Metals, Metal Beads, Oxidizing

The Jewelry Designer’s Approach To Color

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Stringing Materials

Shared Understandings: The Conversation Embedded Within Design

How Does Being Passionate Make You A Better Designer?

Doubt / Self-Doubt: 8 Major Pitfalls For Jewelry Designers

Essential Questions For Jewelry Designers: 1 — Is What I Do Craft, Art or Design?

The Bridesmaids’ Bracelets

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Choosing And Using Clasps

Beads and Race

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

Point, Line, Plane, Shape, Form and Theme

Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality

5 Tell-Tale Signs Your Pearls Need Re-Stringing

MiniLesson: How To Crimp

MiniLesson: Making Stretchy Bracelets

Architectural Basics Of Jewelry Design

Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry: What Works

What Glue Should I Use When Making Jewelry?

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CONQUERING THE CREATIVE MARKETPLACE: Between the Fickleness of Business and the Pursuit of Design

How dreams are made
between the fickleness of business
and the pursuit of jewelry design

This guidebook is a must-have for anyone serious about making money selling jewelry. I focus on straightforward, workable strategies for integrating business practices with the creative design process. These strategies make balancing your creative self with your productive self easier and more fluid.

Based both on the creation and development of my own jewelry design business, as well as teaching countless students over the past 35+ years about business and craft, I address what should be some of your key concerns and uncertainties. I help you plan your road map.

Whether you are a hobbyist or a self-supporting business, success as a jewelry designer involves many things to think about, know and do. I share with you the kinds of things it takes to start your own jewelry business, run it, anticipate risks and rewards, and lead it to a level of success you feel is right for you, including

· Getting Started: Naming business, identifying resources, protecting intellectual property

· Financial Management: basic accounting, break even analysis, understanding risk-reward-return on investment, inventory management

· Product Development: identifying target market, specifying product attributes, developing jewelry line, production, distribution, pricing, launching

· Marketing, Promoting, Branding: competitor analysis, developing message, establishing emotional connections to your products, social media marketing

· Selling: linking product to buyer among many venues, such as store, department store, online, trunk show, home show, trade show, sales reps and showrooms, catalogs, TV shopping, galleries, advertising, cold calling, making the pitch

· Resiliency: building business, professional and psychological resiliency

· Professional Responsibilities: preparing artist statement, portfolio, look book, resume, biographical sketch, profile, FAQ, self-care

548pp.

KindlePrintEpub

SO YOU WANT TO BE A JEWELRY DESIGNER
Merging Your Voice With Form

So You Want To Be A Jewelry Designer reinterprets how to apply techniques and modify art theories from the Jewelry Designer’s perspective. To go beyond craft, the jewelry designer needs to become literate in this discipline called Jewelry Design. Literacy means understanding how to answer the question: Why do some pieces of jewelry draw your attention, and others do not? How to develop the authentic, creative self, someone who is fluent, flexible and original. How to gain the necessary design skills and be able to apply them, whether the situation is familiar or not.

588pp, many images and diagrams Ebook , Kindle or Print formats

The Jewelry Journey Podcast
“Building Jewelry That Works: Why Jewelry Design Is Like Architecture”
Podcast, Part 1
Podcast, Part 2

PEARL KNOTTING…Warren’s Way
Easy. Simple. No tools. Anyone Can Do!

I developed a nontraditional technique which does not use tools because I found tools get in the way of tying good and well-positioned knots. I decided to bring two cords through the bead to minimize any negative effects resulting from the pearl rotating around the cord. I only have you glue one knot in the piece. I use a simple overhand knot which is easily centered. I developed a rule for choosing the thickness of your bead cord. I lay out different steps for starting and ending a piece, based on how you want to attach the piece to your clasp assembly.

184pp, many images and diagrams EbookKindle or Print

SO YOU WANT TO DO CRAFT SHOWS: 16 Lessons I Learned Doing Craft Shows

In this book, I discuss 16 lessons I learned, Including How To (1) Find, Evaluate and Select Craft Shows Right for You, (2) Determine a Set of Realistic Goals, (3) Compute a Simple Break-Even Analysis, (4) Develop Your Applications and Apply in the Smartest Ways, (5) Understand How Much Inventory to Bring, (6) Set Up and Present Both Yourself and Your Wares, (7) Best Promote and Operate Your Craft Show Business before, during and after the show.

198pp, many images and diagrams, EbookKindle or Print

BASICS OF BEAD STRINGING AND ATTACHING CLASPS

Learning Bead Stringing Is More Than
Putting Beads On A String And Tying On A Clasp

There is an art and skill to stringing beads. First, of course, is the selection of beads for a design, and the selection of the appropriate stringing material. Then is the selection of a clasp or closure, appropriate to the design and use of the piece.

You want your pieces to be appealing. You want them to wear well. You want someone to wear them or buy them. This means understanding the basic techniques, not only in terms of craft and art, but also with considerations about architecture, mechanics, and some sociology, anthropology and psychology.

In this book, I go into depth about: (1) Choosing stringing materials, and the pros and cons of each type, (2) Choosing clasps, and the pros and cons of different clasps, (3) All about the different jewelry findings and how you use them, (4) Architectural considerations and how to build these into your pieces, (5) How better designers use cable wires and crimp, as well as, use needle and thread to string beads, (6) How best to make stretchy bracelets, (7) How to make adjustable slip knots, coiled wire loops, and silk wraps, (8) How to finish off the ends of thicker cords or ropes, so that you can attach a clasp, (9) How to construct such projects as eyeglass leashes, mask chains, lariats, multi-strand pieces, twist multi-strand pieces, and memory wire bracelets, (10) How different teaching paradigms — craft vs. art vs. design — might influence the types of choices you make.

452 pp, many images, illustrations, diagrams, EbookKindle or Print

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Posted in Art or Craft?, art theory, bead stringing, bead weaving, beads, beadwork, color, craft shows, creativity, design management, design theory, design thinking, Entrepreneurship, jewelry collecting, jewelry design, jewelry making, Learn To Bead, pearl knotting, professional development, wire and metal | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

JEWELRY, SEX, and SEXUALITY

Posted by learntobead on May 24, 2020

Not too long ago, I tried to link one of our web-pages — the announcement about our Beaded Tapestry Contest — to a crochet-themed web-ring. I received an email from this web-ring manager that she had received my request, and had visited our web-site. She discovered that we were linked to several Art-themed web-rings, as well. This, she pointed out, was unacceptable. She indicated that her web-ring was “G” rated, and that Art web-rings allowed pornography.

There was no more elaboration. I was wondering what she meant by pornography. It was difficult to imagine that any real XXX sites were linked in these ART web-rings. These websites allowed various artists in many different media to showcase their works. It was much more likely that some of the art-related sites had images that showed portions of the female or male body, perhaps in erotic poses, perhaps not.

I didn’t consider these kinds of things pornographic. She gave me the option either to delete myself from these Art-web-rings, or unsubscribe from hers. So I asked her to unsubscribe me from her web-ring. I guess she was a bit taken aback from my response. She emailed me a few more times to clarify my decision. I had picked Art over her. Supposedly porn over craft.

Geesh!

I replied “let’s just unsubscribe me.” Nothing more. I kept it short, simple, unemotional. I didn’t ask for any more clarification on her views. I didn’t share any of my views. If that’s how she defined “G” rated, fine. I didn’t define it the same way.

And of course, she got a little retaliatory, as I found out after the weekend, that I had been removed from four more crochet-oriented web-rings, without any explanation.

I’m sorry, people, you can’t separate JEWELRY from SEX and SEXUALITY. Playing with beads and designing jewelry is not ColorForms. It’s not dressing up paper dolls. There’s nothing one dimensional about it. There’s nothing asexual about it. You can’t separate jewelry from sex and sexuality.

It can’t be done.

It can’t.

Sex.

Get used to it.

As a jewelry designer, you have to be very aware of the roles jewelry plays in sex and sexuality. These include,

(1) The Peacock Role
(2) The Gender Role
(3) 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 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 in.

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. 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’s 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 touch the person wearing it. The length of the necklace, relative to the neck, the breast, and 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. 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. 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, or with someone sexually arousing 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 line 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. 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, you saw a very dramatic change in jewelry and how it was worn. We’re going back to the 1970’s. Right before the AIDS epidemic, large long earrings were in 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 the shop. 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 1970s. And look at what typically got pierced. Noses, belly buttons, eyebrows, lips. Think of this as a big Body Chart for safe sex.

As society became more understanding of AIDS and how it is spread, the jewelry became larger. It extended to more areas of the body. People wore more of it. But in 2009, it was stilled restrained, when compared to what people wore before the 1970s.

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 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.

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

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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