HOW TO BEAD A ROGUE
…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.|
CURRENT ROGUE ELEPHANT BLOG ARTICLES
Land of Odds Begins and Evolves
We went into the bead business so that James could have a job, and that I could jump ship from my corporate health care career. James needed to make some money, and had been having difficulty finding a job. I was burnt out on the health care field, and reached a point where money was less important than happiness.
We began our bead business with $11,000, and over the first 2 years, put in an additional $18,000 of our own money. Through a combination of good ideas, a strong point of view about the parts and finished pieces we wanted to sell, some determination, lots of energy, and a lot of, at least when we started, being in the right places at the right times.
Although I didn’t know it then, I brought an art and design orientation to our business from the start. I had always had a strong interest in architecture, and had been originally trained as an urban designer. I fell into health care and hospital planning, and stuck with it. But my true love was always architecture. I was trained in the art & design tradition.
So, as I was learning about all the parts and how to make jewelry by watching James, and working closely with our customers, I was imposing my training – my design perspective – on them. I was watching closely which parts went with which. Which functioned best with what. What wore better than others. It became obvious which jewely making tasks preceded others. Which tasks had to co-occur. Which tasks were done last. As a result, when I made choices about which parts to carry, which not to, and what how-to-advice to give customers up front, and which advice to wait for --- it was all based on design considerations. I wasn’t only trying to make and sell beautiful things. I wasn’t trying to follow some prearranged set of steps, or sell patterns and books. I was very concerned with functionality. My urban design training subtly influenced how I learned how to think through and problem-solve jewelry making situations.
From our customer’s viewpoint, they felt we had a sufficient selection of parts so that they could come to one place – make one stop – and find all those things that have to come together in order to make a complete necklace or bracelet. And they felt our staff could help them problem-solve – from making recommendations about which materials would work together, and which would not, and what stringing materials would be most appropriate, and which would not, and what strategies of assembly would work best, and which would not.
One other thing that we did that I felt was critical to long-term success was
the fixed and repaired broken jewelry. Not only did this build up a loyal customer
base and lots of referrals. It also let us dissect a wide assortment of pieces
from a wide range of jewelry makers. We saw a lot of how things got put together
and what things caused them to fall apart.