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Beading Calisthenics: Speaking With Beads

Posted by learntobead on April 21, 2020

Beading Calisthenics

Beading requires a lot of mind-body coordination. That takes work. It is work.

Calisthenics are exercises you can do to improve and tone your mind-body coordination when bead weaving.

You have to be able to get from your fingers to the needle to the beads, back along the thread to the needle to the fingers, hands, arms, eyes, mind. And then again. And again. Over and over, one more time. You need to get into a rhythm. All these working parts need to be working. No time for cramping. No time to get tired. No time to lose concentration.

A rhythm. Needle, pick up bead, pull down along thread, check the tension, pick up a bead, pull down along thread, check the tension, pick up a bead….

I noticed that different instructors had various techniques and strategies for maintaining this rhythm. Yes, music was involved sometimes. Othertimes simple meditation or creative reading and discourse. Some people had some stretching exercises that they did. Others tested themselves before proceeding with their big project. Still others did small things to reconfirm their learning.

Throughout this Series, I introduce some of the beading calisthenics that I experienced along the way. If you want to gather materials up so that you can follow along with these calisthenics, here’s the list.

MATERIALS NEEDED FOR
ALL THE CALISTHENIC EXERCISES
(SUPPLY LIST):

notebook, pencil
1 tube each of Japanese 11/0 seed beads in gray, 3 different colors of orange, black, white, any other 4 colors
1 tube each of Japanese 8/0 seed beads in gray or silver, black, white, orange, any other 4 colors
1 tube each of Japanese 6/0 seed beads in gray or silver, black, white, orange, any other 4 colors
5 gray-scale colors of delicas or 11/0 seed beads
Nymo D or C-Lon D thread in black
Nymo D or C-Lon D thread in yellow
two toggle clasps
.018” or .019” flexible cable wire
assorted 4mm, 6mm and 8mm beads in various coordinating colors, including grays and oranges in your mix, as well
big bowl and a bowl-full of assorted beads
Size 10 English beading needles
Bees wax
scissors
beading dishes or trays
any kind of graph paper
work surface or pad
colored pencils
a few clasps, (toggles are easy to work with)
some crimp beads
crimping pliers

BEADING CALISTHENICS #8: Speaking With Beads

Zulu Beadwork

During Apartheid in South Africa, there were those Zulu tribes that adopted Christianity and identified with the colonialists, and there were those tribes that did not. The tribes that did not created a very elaborate communication system using beads. 
 
 Besides what colors were next to each other, they used a lot of triangles in their patterns. It was important if the triangle faced up or down, and again what the colors were. With their beadwork, they could “say” something very general, like “I’m mad at the world,” or something very specific, like “I’d like to get together with you tomorrow night at eight, but not before I’ve met with your brother.”
 
 The challenge here is to create your own symbolic communication system using beads and their patterning within a piece of jewelry.
 
 First write a sentence or paragraph about something that you will want to reduce to symbols, and illustrate by constructing a necklace.
 
 Second develop a cipher: This would be a list of each symbol and its meaning or referent. For example, “red” might stand for “women” and “blue” might stand for “men”. A diagonal line leaning left might be “safety”, and one leaning right might be “danger.” Someone using your cipher should be able to make sense of your beadwork and what statement you are trying to make with it.
 
 Third, using graph paper and colored pencils, sketch out what your piece would look like, in order to express the statement you want to make. Have a friend use your cipher and see if they can “read” your piece of jewelry, as drawn on the graph paper.

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 Story

The Nature-Inspired Creations of Kathleen

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Glass Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Lampwork Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Crystal Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Seed and Cylinder Beads

The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Choosing and Using Clasps

How To Design An Ugly Necklace: The Ultimate Designer Challenge

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

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

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

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

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

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