…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.|



“Yikes!” she screamed, shaking the ground, the store, the parking lot, in fact, the whole wide world, and I was, to everyone’s regret, caught in that earth-shattering scream. I was carefully balancing twelve trays of loose beads, moving them to their new shelves when, behind my back, I heard that cry for help, that screech of fear, that siren of bead hell.

I instinctively turned. It wasn’t something I thought out and planned rationally. It wasn’t something that arose intuitively from my gut. It was pure animal instinct. Stimulus-Response. Lust. Fear. Gluttony. Raw Emotion. I tried to juggle the twelve trays as they fled my nurturing hands and arms, as if to calm them and say, “You won’t fall.” You won’t get hurt. You won’t leave the safety and sanctity of these trays. Good beads. Good, good beads.

And, for a brief moment, I thought I had saved them from a fate almost worse than death. The trays were juggling and starting to restack themselves. They were home free. One back on top of another on top of another….

If it weren’t for that scream and that deep primal instinct ripping my fear and anxiety from the depths of my soul, and the fact that it is hard to pivot wearing sneakers on a hard wood floor, juggle twelve trays of ever-more terrified loose glass beads, and respond to a lady in distress, the situation would have come to a pleasant end.

But alas, that was not to be.

With some shame, some guilt, much surprise and yes, a lot of embarrassment, this was to be my grand initiation into the phenomenon commonly known as The Bead Spill. What a mess!

I know a lot of people have a fantasy where they are bathing in a tub of beads. It’s sensuous. Caressing. You’re at one with the God of the Beads.

This wasn’t like that. This was thousands of round objects falling and running and spreading every which way. Along the walls, behind the legs of chairs and tables, under people’s feet. In with the dust, the dog hairs, and previously spilled beads or beads that had mysteriously escaped their trays.

She should have said, “Shoo Fly!” Not “Yikes!”.

I’ve never carried twelve trays of loose beads at once again.

Bead spills are not rare occurrences. In fact, some people spill beads like other people drink water.

There are the people who like to carry big purses in small places. These people are prone to sudden turns and distractions. Guaranteed spills!

These people need to understand the interrelationships between space, lack of space and time. Simple physics. Bead spills have physics, and I’m sure could easily be considered a science. Like, if you drop a bead, in what direction does it go? How far does it go? How fast does it travel? Do red beads behave similarly as blue beads? If someone dropped you from the top of a building, would you end up going in the same direction, and as far? Probably not. So what is it about beads that makes things happen like dropping them off to the right, and finding them off to the left? Bead spills do not have the same physics as pick-up-sticks. That is for sure. They have laws of gravity and mass and energy all of their own.

Then there are the people who are torn between their love of beads and their love for their pets. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cat, a dog, a parrot or a fish. Beads spill. It could be a monkey or a ferret or even a Rogue Elephant. Beads spill. Sometimes it’s a dog AND a cat or a parrot AND a ferret. Beads spill.

People need to understand that animals understand the situation. Animals do not want to share love – especially with beads. Beads are beautiful, but don’t need water or food. Beads are comforting to touch, but don’t need grooming. Beads are glorious in their splendor, but will not bite. It should come, then, as no surprise, that animals, when near any pile of beads, will instinctively have the urge to make them spill in ways you never thought of.

Their strategies are legend, and have been written down in a secret book – Bead Spill Techniques for Dogs and Cats. You’ve seen these techniques in practice. Your cat angling for attention, moves toward you to sit in your lap – of course, moves toward you over your tray of beads. Your dog taking the pose to beg for treats while you’re moving your tray of beads from one end of the table to the other. Your pet actually eating those particular beads you’re working with right now. You catch them, but suddenly their tail goes woof, and you are down on your hands and knees again picking up millions and millions of tiny, very small, eye-straining beads. These animal-based-skills are very practiced and endless. Animals do not like playing second fiddle to beads. And if the pile of beads has been organized to accommodate the needs of a particular project, well, so much the better. They score more bead spill points.

Picking up spilled beads is a familiar routine. There’s nothing like dropping 14KT gold delica seed beads onto a gold shag carpet, getting on your hands and knees, and delving into product reclamation. Picking up bead spills works better when set to jazzercise music, but no music will suffice as well. Some people get crafty, and stretch a nylon stocking across the intake collection valve of a vacuum cleaner. Other people, however, are just plain tired of picking up beads. They let them stay where they fall. On the floors. In the couches. In clothing, in boxes, in food, in pots and pans.

New beaders seem especially concerned and anal-compulsive about spilled beads. Seasoned beaders have learned to live with such minor nuisances as combing beads out of their hair.


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