…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.|




Infuriating! That’s how many people, beginners and advanced alike, feel when they try to understand patterns and instructions.

Know up-front that most patterns are poorly drawn, and most instructions are poorly written. The instructors who write these often leave out critical steps – especially for new beaders and jewelry makers who are unfamiliar with many of the things these instructors assume that you know. Most often, they leave out critical information showing you the pathway, and how to negotiate that pathway, from where you are to where you are going next. It’s obvious to the instructor. But not so obvious to you.

In patterns, this “where I am, where I am going next” information is frequently unclear or omitted. You did Step 1 OK. You understand what Step 2 is about. But you don’t know how to get from Step 1 to Step 2. Othertimes, the patterns are overly complex, often, in the editorial interest of reducing the number of printed pages. Instead of showing a separate pattern or diagram for each step, the editors frequently try to show you three, four, five or more steps in the same diagram. So you have a bird’s nest of lines, and a spider-web’s road map – and you’re no where.

I tell people, that you need to re-write the instructions and re-draw the patterns or diagrams in a way you personally understand. This is very helpful.

Reading Patterns: Usually patterns are organized starting at the bottom with row 1 or step 1, first moving left to right, and then moving up to the top. Othertimes, you move in the opposite direction, starting at the top, moving left to right, then working down towards the bottom. When reading a pattern, you first need to locate whether the pattern goes bottom-up or top-down, or left-right or right-left.

Next, determine the directional flow of the work. Are you moving left to right and then right to left? Are you moving left to right, and then flipping the piece over, so you can continue moving left to right? Are you starting in the middle?

Most patterns and instructions are written from the Right-Handed person’s perspective. Right-Handed people usually work counter-clockwise. If you are Left-Handed, you may want to redraw the pattern or rewrite the instructions. Left-Handed people usually work clockwise.

Now, look at all the special symbols on the pattern, if any. Decipher what each ones means before you begin your work. If you don’t know what “11/0” or “cylinder bead” means, for example, use the internet or your local bead or craft store, as a resource for finding out.

Clearly delineate, even outline on the pattern itself with a pen, the thread, string or wire path. Be sure whether you are following a straight line path, or not.

Determine if you are creating one line or row at a time, or more than one line or row at a time.

If the pattern is fuzzy on how you proceed from one step to the next, try to draw in your own pattern, based on the written instructions, or on what you intuitively feel needs to happen next.

To draw your own patterns, you can find several sources of free graph paper on line. Usually the graph paper is available for a wide range of bead weaving stitches and techniques.


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