…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.|



The Inner Me

I could have been a lot of different things in my life. Traversed many different pathways. There was archeologist, which I pursued courses and a very short trial field work study, and I was bored with it. There was architecture, which others discouraged me from pursuing, but with which I have always been fascinated. I studied urban design. I was interested in physical community planning, but at the point I was to enter graduate studies at Columbia to pursue this, my mom got sick with cancer. I decided to stay in New Jersey to take care of her. I did pursue graduate studies, but now at Rutgers, which didn’t offer urban design per se.

I studied social planning, became a local health planner, and rose up and up and up the ladder of health care success until I could no longer stand health care. Difficult setting to work in. Cutting costs, cutting services, imposing on the practice of physicians, denying access to the poor, denying access to increasingly sophisticated and effective technologies and drugs.

Sometimes, I think to myself, that I could have been a corporate lawyer. Probably would get bored. Or a news commentator or talk show host – exciting, but I don’t get that passionate about enough things to sustain this line of work.

No, most of my life has been inner directed. Finding the meaning of “me”. Exercising, exorcising, and empathizing emotions, understandings, feelings, thoughts, fears and powers. Recognizing my creativity, and seeking a way to apply it, so that it did not make me crazy. Did not frustrate me. Did not bore me. Did not get in the way of making it through each and every day.

And as I got older, I knew I needed to be able to bring that inner me – that creative, purposeful self – to what I did.

At first it was painting. Then I stopped. Then it was social activism in health care – the maternal child health program in New Brunswick, the health planning activism in North Carolina, the senior citizens programs, the rural hospital coordination initiative, the Mid-South Research Network in Missississippi and Memphis, Tennessee, the environmental studies in Nashville, Tennessee, the lobbying for greater access to health care across the nation. Then I stopped.

And I was alone with fears and thoughts about money, power, prestige, status. I was wondering how the concerns of others – my family, my friends, my colleagues – would limit, delimit or not limit what I would do next.

I was always motivated by that inner me. So, I made a great change in my life. I turned to beads and jewelry. I settled for less money. I lost some friends. My family was not particularly understanding, somewhat disappointed. I gained some new friends. I focused more on myself.

The evolution to jewelry designer has been a long one. Fun, fruitful, even entertaining. But in some sense, it’s been no different than anything else I’ve done over the years, in that I’m still trying to apply that inner me – that creative, thoughtful, introspective self – to what I’m doing.

Jewelry design, as in other arts and crafts, is an expression of the inner you. The energy you bring to it, your vision, your meaning, your essence, is what makes it work. Because it reflects what makes you work.

The greatest success comes when you chase your Rogue Elephant. You gear up for the challenge. The test. The application of your inner self. And when you’ve caught that Elephant, and adorned him, as any Rogue Elephant should be adorned, you find that inner high.



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