…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.|





I think it is important that you work from a palette. Just like an artist. When you sit down to make something, you need to have an assortment of colors, sizes and shapes around you. You need to have all the types of jewelry findings at your finger tips. You need to have all the tools you might need.

So many beaders and jewelers buy just the minimum numbers and types of supplies listed in the set of instructions they are working from. This isn’t enough. It doesn’t allow you to be creative. It doesn’t allow you to adapt to contingencies. It doesn’t allow you to express yourself as an artist.

While having a large enough palette to be creative requires a big investment, this is something the creative jewelry design and beadwork artist needs to do. If you can’t afford to build up this palette all at once, do it in increments and have a game plan.

What you need in your stash:Beads: Colors you like across the broad rainbow plus black, white, grey, plus all the metallics; Variety of sizes and shapes in each color. As one friend said to me, “One thing that frustrates me about beading… No matter what I want to make, I never have the right colors for it.”
Findings: Head Pins, Eye Pins, Clasps, Jump Rings, Soldered Rings, Crimp Tubes, Ear Wires
Stringing Materials: Nymo, C-Lon and/or FireLine threads in size D, in black, white, and some of your favorite colors; cable wires in sizes .019” and .014”; hard wire in 18ga, 20ga, 22ga and 24ga in a variety of colors, including silver and gold
Tools: scissors, chain nose pliers, round nose pliers, side cutters or flush cutters, crimping pliers, bead reamer, thread zapper or bic lighter, work surface, bead board, sizing cones, bead stoppers or clamps, beading needles (sizes 10 and 12), pencils/pens, notepad or sketch pad, ruler, gauge, color wheel.
Lighting and Magnification

For beads, findings and stringing materials, it is better to invest in quality materials. The quality of your materials will substantially affect your outcomes. “Cheap” is not necessarily a better way to start. With cheap materials, you’ll find your crimp beads don’t hold, your clasps break, your beads crack, the finishes on your beads and findings bleed into fabrics, rub off or wear away too quickly.

For your tools, however, we suggest starting with less expensive tools. Tools cause body aches and pains. You need to work with tools awhile, to get a feel for their shape and their construction, before you will want to invest. Less expensive tools in a store will range from $8.00 to $30.00. Anything less than $8.00 is probably too cheap. These “super-economy” tools will kill your body.

Artists treat their beads, findings and tools with respect. They play with combinations. They coordinate their parts based on visual appeal and functionality and durability. They anticipate the context in which their pieces will be worn. The types of body movement they will be subjected to. They are attentive to both the concerns of the wearer, as well as the viewer.


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