…A Guide For The Aspiring Bead Artist
by Warren S. Feld

Excerpts From This Ever-Evolving Tale.....

I don’t mean to drag a poor Elephant by its tail, kicking and screaming, into our bead world against its wishes. Nor do I perceive the elephant to be a threat, like you might see an Elephant in the boudoir, or the fine china store. And I don’t want you to shut your eyes and pretend not to notice that this Elephant is here, standing shoulder to shoulder with every beader and jewelry maker around.

The Elephant is not a joke. And the fact that it is “Rogue” makes it more important than ever to figure out why it’s here, among size #10 English beading needles, and Czech size 11/0 seed beads, and Austrian crystal beads. It seems so worldly, yet other-worldly, our Elephant. It’s not our muse. It’s not our Cassandra. It has no secret plan or strategy. It does not depend on its size to make its point. It does not hesitate to stomp and chomp and clomp because the beads before it are raku or glass or gemstone or crystal or metal or plastic. But a Rogue Elephant in the middle of our craft room forces upon us a completely different logic, so that we can make sense of it all.|



Anatomy of a Necklace

A necklace, or any type of jewelry, has a structure and anatomy. Each part has its own set of purposes, functions and aethetics. Understanding each type of structure or physical part is important to the designer.

We can envision the Anatomy of the Necklace to include these parts:

Yoke: Part around the neck. Typically 6-7”, including the clasp assembly

Clasp Assembly: Part of the Yoke. This includes all the pieces it takes, including a clasp, in order to attach your beadwork to your clasp.

Break: Transition from Yoke to Frame, usually at the collar bone on either side of the neck.

Frame: The “line” seen on the front of the wearer, demarcating a “silhouette,” and connecting to the Yoke on each side, at the Break. On a 16” necklace, this would typically be around 9-10” long.

Bi-Furcated Frame: A Frame split in two, usually at the center and in two equal parts, with a centerpiece focal bead or pendant drop in the center.

Focal Point: While not every necklace has a focal point, most do. The Focal Point gives the viewer’s eye a place to rest or focus. Sometimes this is done with a centerpiece pendant. Can also be created by graduating the sizes of beads or playing with color or playing with fringe.

Centerpiece: A part that extends beyond the line of the Frame, usually below it. Forces transitional concerns between it and the Frame.

Centerpiece with Bail: A part that drops the Centerpiece below the Frame, forcing additional transitional concerns between Centerpiece and Frame.

Embellishment: Things like fringe, edging, surface decoration.

Each part of the body of a necklace poses its own special design challenges for the jewelry artist. These involved strategies for resolving such issues as:

- making connections
- determining angularity, curvature, and roundedness
- transitioning color, pattern and texture
- placing objects
- extending lengths
- adding extensions
- creating balance and coherency
- keeping things organic, so nothing looks like an afterthought, or an outlier, or something designed by a committee
- determining which parts or critical to understanding the piece of jewelry as art, and which parts are merely supplemental to the piece.


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