…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.|


IV. Safari

Beads. Beads. Beads. Bead-Dazzled. Beadiful. Beadelicious. Beads appear in earrings. Beads appear in necklaces. Beads appear in other jewelry, as well, like rings and anklets and hair sticks and combs and armlets and amulets and such. Beads appear in paintings, as simple adornments, as light catchers, as light reflectors, as light refractors, and light adapters. Beads appear, sometimes, as if they were the paint themselves, such as in a beaded piece of French toast, or a beaded chair, or a beaded kitchen.

Beads are a part of suncatchers. They sometimes adorn dolls. They sometimes are the armature and structure of dolls. They sometimes frame dolls. And they are used as frames themselves. They are occasionally parts of scientific experiments. They can be used as inlay. They can embellish masks and lamps and pillows and curtains, or be curtains themselves. The can be the vessel from which things emerge, or the vessel’s surface on which or in which they reside.

The bead artist is the devoted keeper of that flame of sensibility we call “beadwork”. The artist is concerned and compelled here, in a way, less to do with a hobby or craft, and more, as a door to the inexplicable interplay of light and shadow, form and structure, feel and texture, color and design.

This isn’t performance art, where the bead artist peyote-stitches a veil, while immersed underwater, while encased in a melting block of ice, while photographed on live video-cam and internet feed, while chewing gum at the same time. It doesn’t have to be that involved. It doesn’t have to be that grueling. There’s not anything to prove. And although the bead artist’s ability to capture some spiritual awe and mysticality might seem to demand as much, it often doesn’t. It doesn’t have to. The artist relies on the power of the bead to tell the full tale.

The artist, through stitchery or assembly, discovers the inside of the bead on the outside, and the outside of the bead on the inside. Something beyond place. Something beyond time. Something more than the moment. The entire process can seem silly, frightening, pretentious. It can seem sincere, magnificent, defiant. It can evoke wonder, magic, and self-experience. Beyond time.

This is what it means to bead a Rogue Elephant. Art becomes design. Jewelry takes on functionality. Wearability. Context-sensivity. Moveability. Durability. More than beauty. More than splendor. More than wonder. For the bead-artist, the steps can be tentative. They are not well-defined. There is no organization to them. The pathways are not well-worn or –traveled. We’re not sure what we’ll find when we get there. Except we know that part of what we will find will be an elephant. A Rogue one, at that. One that wants to be beaded and adorned. And one that wants, once adorned, to flaunt its stuff. This is our SAFARI .



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