Warren Feld, Jewelry Designer
Program Philosophy
Ctr For Beadwork & Jewelry Arts

Contemporizing Traditional
Etruscan Jewelry

October 2013
Sun, 10/6/2013 thru Sat, 10/12/2013
2015 (TBA)


(Narrative Synopsis)

Brief Synopsis:

How do you keep beadwork and jewelry design essential and alive?

In this week-long series of workshops, for both Beginner as well as more Intermediate or Advanced level beaders or jewelry makers alike, we will be examining traditional Etruscan jewelry, and how we can understand it from the vantage point of good jewelry design principles.

We will learn and practice some basic techniques of bead stringing and bead weaving. We will learn to use hard wire to make simple and coiled loops as some connectors, as well.

Then we will do some thinking, planning and experimenting with these techniques and principles in order to create contemporary interpretations of two or three Etruscan pieces of jewelry to see what we can achieve.

This workshop is for anyone who loves to make jewelry, and wants to learn the theoretical underpinnings of good jewelry design, and some applications. This workshop is equally useful for beginner, intermediate and advanced student, alike. For each topic covered during our week, we do a little bit of tracking whereby separate exercises and projects are provided, based on technical skill level.




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Sunday – Arrival in Nashville, Tennessee
- arrival
- welcome
- dinner

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Morning Session:

- Orientation to Beads, Jewelry Findings, Stringing Materials, Tools

Discussion. Review with Samples. If you are serious about bringing a design perspective to your artistry and craft, you need first to orient yourself to what “quality” means relative to the pieces from which you can choose. Quality refers to such things as durability, functionality, wearability, context-sensitivity, and move-ability. It means that your resulting piece is also classy and elegant, not merely functional. It refers to understanding what happens to all the pieces, as well as your stringing materials, over time, as the piece is worn. It means preparing yourself to make choices about what to include and not include in the jewelry you design. In our Orientation, we will review quality and design considerations relative to beads, metals, and stringing materials. We will go over some things to think about when purchasing tools.

Afternoon Session:

The good jewelry designer is able to bring a multitude of skills and abilities to the task of creating a piece of jewelry. This afternoon, we review the basics of bead stringing, including practicing crimping using cable wire, crimp beads, crimp covers and horseshoes. Then we learn how to make a bracelet using needle and thread, including how to select and use the thread, and how to tie a special knot.

Materials and Techniques:
Basics of Bead Stringing (This session will conclude on Tuesday morning, with Bead Weaving and Wire Working)

- Basics of Bead Stringing We will cover these topics:
o Pros and Cons of Different Kinds of Clasps and other Jewelry Findings
o Understanding Basics of Three Competing Jewelry Design Perspectives
o Understanding Jewelry’s Role in Cognition and Physical and Social Orientation of Viewer and Wearer
o Understanding “support systems”, particularly the “clasp assembly”
o Crimping using cable wire, crimp bead, crimp cover and horseshoe
o Making a bead-strung bracelet using needle and thread, and tying a special knot



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Morning Session: (continued from Monday Afternoon)
- Basics of Bead Weaving and some simple Wire Work Techniques

Bead weaving is a collection of hundreds of different stitching techniques and strategies used to create pieces that approximate a piece of cloth. For Beginners, we will learn the square stitch, which is very basic, and make a length with this stitch that you can later finish off as a bracelet. For more Intermediate Level beaders, we will learn how to make a netted tube using the Ndbele stitch. We will make a length with this stitch that you can later finish off as a bracelet. In both cases, we will pay particular attention to how best to hold the piece while working it, and how to maintain your thread tension.

Wire working and wire wrapping involves various techniques for shaping hard wire, or turning hard wire into structural components. In bead stringing, we often use head pins and eye pins to create dangles of various types. The key technique to learn here is how to make a loop at the end of the wire, so you can slide this onto a string, allowing it to hang as a dangle or pendant. Making a simple plain loop is a basic wire working technique. Making a coil-wrapped-loop is a wire wrapping technique. We'll practice both.

o Weaving technique, with focus on managing thread tension
o Wire Working technique of making plain and coil-wrapped loops on head pins and eye pins

- For Beginners: The Square Stitch, first using 4mm cubes, then 8/0 seed beads
- For Intermediate: Ndebele (Herringbone) Netted Tube, first using Nymo or C-Lon Thread, then using FireLine thread, all in size D

Discussion, Practice Techniques, Simple Exercises


Afternoon Session:

- Color and Beads

Discussion and Review of Color Concepts, Particularly as applied to Beads and Jewelry, some Trial and Error Exercises on a Bead Board. Jewelry Design usually begins with an understanding of Color Principles, Schemes and Interrelationships.

How does the BEAD assert its need for color? Why are certain color effects pleasing, and others not? While most Color Classes focus on color and paint, here we review color and the manipulation of color effects, as it specifically applies to beads and jewelry. Special attention about using simultaneity effects -- particularly the use of "gray" bead colors, framing, and adapting paint color schemes to beads.



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Morning Session:

- About Jewelry Design and The Design Elements

Discussion and review of ”design elements”, and some Trial and Error Exercises on a Bead Board. Jewelry Design helps you answer the question: Why do some pieces of jewelry draw your attention, and others do not?

Jewelry Design is the application of basic principles of artistic expression. The jewelry artist applies these principles by manipulating the elements of the piece. This morning we will get a better understanding of what “manipulating” and “elements of the piece” mean, from a design perspective.

These elements might include:
- the Positioning and/or Ordering of things
- the Volume or Area the piece takes up
- the Scale and Size of the pieces
- the Colors, Textures and Patterns of individual pieces, and/or sets or groupings of pieces
- the Forms and Structures (identifiable sets of pieces, highly integrated)
- the Materials
- the interplay of Light, Dark, Shadow, Reflection and Refraction
- the clasp assembly and other supporting systems

During the rest of the week, we will be focusing on 10 principles of jewelry design composition, discussing them intellectually, and trying out techniques to put these principles into practice.

- History of Etruscan and Roman Jewelry

Discussion. Review with Images. Beads and jewelry have been used throughout time, and across every culture, but not necessarily in the same ways or for the same reasons.

There is considerable artistry and craftsmanship underlying Etruscan jewelry. They brought to their designs clever techniques of texturing, ornamentation, color, relief, filigree, granulation and geometric, floral and figurative patterning. While their techniques were borrowed from the Greeks and other Mediterranean cultures, the Etruscans perfected these to a level of sophistication not seen before, and not often even today.

While Roman law outlawed the wearing of more than one ring or more than ½ ounce of jewelry at any one time, the Romans loved their jewelry, and wore many pieces, in spite of this. Most Roman jewelry designs were rigid interpretations of Greek and Etruscan jewelry.

- Intro to Contemporizing Traditional Etruscan Designs

Discussion. Design elements are those things within the piece that the jewelry artist can manipulate, such as the use of color, line, forms, textures, patterns and the like. We will review images of a range of Etruscan and Roman necklaces, bracelets, amulets, earrings, and discuss in terms of the use of design elements within the pieces. We discuss what it might mean to contemporize these pieces. In other words, how would we manipulate the design elements to end up with something that was contemporary, paid some kind of reference or homage to the traditional piece, and was also a satisfying work of art.

What does it mean “to contemporize”? If you walked into a Museum of Contemporary Art, you would find some things that were abstract, but other things that were realistic or impressionistic or surrealistic. You would find a lot of individualized expression – works associated with a particular artist, rather than a particular culture. You would find a wide use of modern materials and techniques and technologies. You would find unusual or especially noteworthy assemblages of pieces or colors or textures. You would find pieces that in some way reflect modern culture and sensibilities – fashions, styles, purposes, statements. The exhibits would change on a regular basis, and you would also find something new and different to experience and marvel at each time.

Traditional Art, on the other hand, suppressed individualized expression. Instead, whatever the art form, traditional art emphasized a restatement of its cultural narrative. That is, artists, working within that cultural tradition, would use similar materials, similar designs, and similar motifs. The artwork was a symbolic representation of that culture’s values and self-image. The “doing of the artwork” was a reaffirmation of one’s place within that culture. Simply, if you did the same kinds of things in the same kinds of ways as everyone else, this reaffirmed your membership within that group and culture. And if you visited a Museum of Traditional Art, there would be many displays of wonderful, sometimes elaborate, pieces, but the exhibits would never have to change.

Contemporizing Traditional Jewelry has to do with how you take these particular forms and techniques, and both add your personal style to the pieces, as well as make them more relevant to today’s sense of fashion and style. This may be trickier than it might first appear. To what degree should you reference the traditional design elements in your contemporary piece? Just the colors? The colors and the pattern? The stitching, stringing or other techniques? The structural components, as well? How do you break down the traditional piece, in order to better understand it? And how do you use this understanding to figure out how and what you should manipulate, as you design and construct your contemporary piece?

This week we will use our emerging understanding of good jewelry design principles, and how they help us manipulate elements of design, to begin to develop a framework, as well as some project examples, for contemporizing traditional Etruscan jewelry. We will be using both bead stringing as well as bead weaving techniques toward this end.


- 10 Principles of Jewelry Design Composition
Discussion and review of 10 principles of composition, and some Trial and Error Exercises on a Bead Board. We will evaluate some Etruscan and contemporary pieces. We apply Principles of Composition by manipulating the elements of the piece
These are,
a. Rhythm
b. Pointers
c. Planar Relationships
d. Interest
e. Statistical Distribution
f. Balance
g. Dimensionality
h. Temporal Extension
i. Physical Extension/Finishing
j. Parsimony

Afternoon Session: (this session will continue tomorrow morning)
- Contemporizing Traditional Etruscan Jewelry – Bead Strung Project

Discussion, Work on Projects.
- Discuss what kinds of things we can do to contemporize the traditional Etruscan pendant-drop necklace
- Begin to assemble a contemporary necklace, based on our discussions; may work individually or in collaboration
- Discussion, Critique

May work individually, or in collaboration. You can approach these design projects at many levels, depending on your experience. I’ll have some loosely-structured instructions, which you can follow and personalize. Or you can create your own pieces start-to-finish, given your own creativity and understanding of design principles. These projects are a way to rehearse what we are learning. Some may succeed on first try; others may need fine tuning or re-thinking. By “doing”, it provides your brain, eye and hands some experiential learning.


(Beginner level. Instructions available to complete this piece.
May or may not be able to finish this during the workshop)

(Intermediate level. Instructions available to work on this piece.
Can get started, and rehearse the critical elements of this piece,
but may not be able to finish it during the timeframe of our workshop.)

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Morning and Afternoon Sessions:

Design Theory:
- Jewelry Design: Components and Forms

-- The Etruscan Butterfly Bracelet

Discussion, Work on Projects.
- Discuss what kinds of things we can do to contemporize the traditional Etruscan butterfly necklace
- Design on graph, and then create one approximately 1” butterfly segment, using the Brick Stitch beadweaving technique
- Create one small beaded cabochon segment, using Peyote Stitch Method with an open backing
- Create one Hinged or other Support System ("connector") to attach the butterfly segment to the beaded cabochon segment
- Discussion, Critique, More Design Thinking and Working in reference to the traditional Etruscan butterfly necklace.

Of particular importance is the idea of creating "components" and their utilization within a piece, the understanding of "forms", "structures" and "themes", the application of contemporized design principles and the manipulation of design elements within the piece.


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Morning and Afternoon Sessions:

- Contemporizing Traditional Etruscan Jewelry – Bead Woven Project

May work individually, or in collaboration. You can approach these design projects at many levels, depending on your experience. I’ll have some loosely-structured instructions, which you can follow and personalize. Or you can create your own pieces start-to-finish, given your own creativity and understanding of design principles. These projects are a way to rehearse what we are learning. Some may succeed on first try; others may need fine tuning or re-thinking. By “doing”, it provides your brain, eye and hands some experiential learning.

Can work on one of these:
A. Etruscan Square Stitch Bracelet (beginner)
B. Etruscan Collar (intermediate)
C. Butterfly Bracelet (intermediate)
D. A project of your own choosing



Using bead weaving techniques (brick-stitched butterfly and peyote-stitched beaded cabochon) with less linear positioning of the butterflies, more complex hinged connectors between segments
(Beginner/Intermediate Level. Instructions provided to make each of the three types of components in the bracelet -- brick stitch butterfly, peyote-stitched cabochon setting without a backing, and a connector. You would not be able to complete a full bracelet during the workshop timeframe.)

Using a bead weaving technique, with jointed connectors between segments
[The geometric girders component based on the work of Kathryn Harris
in her “Ka-Ching” necklace.]
(Beginner level. Instructions available for making the components in this project.
May or may not be able to complete this during the workshop timeframe.

Traditional Etruscan Snake Bracelet

Contemporized Square Stitch Bracelet
(Beginner. Instructions available for this project.
This can be completed within the workshop timeframe.)


Traditional Etruscan Collar

Contemporized Etruscan Collar, using Ndebele Stitch
(Intermediate/Advanced. Instructions provided.
During the workshop timeframe, you would make about a 3" length,
learn to assemble two strips, attach an interior chain,
and attach the clasp assembly. The full necklace takes 70-90 hours to make).



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Finale and Departure
Morning Session:

- Review and Discussion of Ideas and Techniques Presented During the Week
- Developing a Personal Style
- Promoting Your Work























All jewelry, artworks, images, designs, copy, Copyright 2011 Warren Feld.
All rights reserved. Warren Feld Studio

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Phone: 615/292-0610.          

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Center for Beadwork & Jewelry Arts
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