I looked around, and there was no one whose life I wanted.
No one’s routine. No one’s status or power or celebrity. No one’s Legacy.
And yet, I wanted others to want my life, my values, my perspectives, my convictions. Even, though. Even, though. Even, though. Even, though, I was yet to live my full life or fully define and clarify my values, my perspectives, my too-often changing convictions.
I’m not poor, but I’m not wealthy either. I’m not wealthy enough to get a building named after me at some university, or to be included in those all-too-often pay-to-play opportunities such as getting a board seat in a prominent nonprofit organization. I can’t use money, position or power to impose my legacy on anyone. Of course, I fantasize that I can, but I can’t.
But I can try to live out my life in a purposeful way, and hope that some kind of legacy emerges from that. Results from that. Takes over from that. I have doubts that it will.
In any case, I have not lived my life in a straight-forward purposeful way. While there’s always some kind of purpose in the background, it doesn’t feel like I’m in charge. I might be too insignificant. Survival has probably been the biggest purpose. But there is no flow to my existence. There’s a dart in one way, then another. A jumping off a cliff or two. A few dead ends.
When I was 9 years old, I had an ultimate purpose. I thought I would fail as an adult guy if I didn’t get hairy arms. My friend Gary had hairy arms, but I did not. That bothered me. A lot. Gary would get to high school and be OK. I would not, at least with my currently hairless arms. No one would notice me. Listen to me. Let me participate with them in anything. Connect with me. No one. Not without hairy arms.
One day, I asked Gary how he got such hairy arms. He told me he ate a lot of peanut butter sandwiches. Well, I could do that. So, for the next several months, I ate a lot of peanut butter sandwiches. Every day. Sometimes 20 sandwiches a day. I didn’t get hairy arms, at least not then. But I did get fat.
Legacy And The Jewelry Designer
I didn’t begin making Jewelry in order to leave a legacy. I began making jewelry to make money. That’s it. Didn’t care about beauty. Didn’t care about durability. Could care less if the buyer fulfilled their wishes and desires. Just give me the money.
But as I began to sense that Rogue Elephant somewhere out there waiting for me, things began to change. I designed some pieces for which I wanted to document — written patterns and sketches, photos, some sharing of information and photos. Then more pieces I wanted to preserve in memory.
As I created more custom pieces for people, particularly celebrity musicians and actors, I wanted to preserve these pieces rather than hand them off, so I made duplicates of these and showcased them.
My jewelry designs became more expressive. Impactful for people who wore or bought them. I created more ways to showcase them. Personal and business pages on all the social media sites. My own website. More frequent online posts. An artist statement and a portfolio. Workshops and kits to show others how to recreate these pieces. My jewelry was powerful enough to express my vision about the world and why people wear jewelry. My jewelry became a means for exploring how people become fluent in design. My jewelry became a framework through which to challenge and inspire others to think differently than craftsmen and differently than artists when designing their own jewelry creations.
I often wonder who will inherit my jewelry once I am gone. Will I be remembered for my design work and my design philosophy? Will my ideas endure?
I remember when one of my pieces was accepted for inclusion in a book. “ Little Tapestries/Ghindia (http://www.warrenfeldjewelry.com/wfjghindia.htm )” — was juried into the book SHOWCASE 500 BEADED JEWELRY, Lark Publications. August 2012, listed on Amazon.com at http://amzn.to/z6tZH2 . This played to my ego very well.
When I received my own copy of this book and found the image for Little Tapestries/Ghindia, I felt a lot like in the movie Working Girl. There’s that last shot before the credits roll. The heroine finally gets into the executive suite and gets her own office. The camera focuses first on the window outside her office. Then it slowly pans back, eventually revealing hundreds and hundreds of office windows stacked up on the side of a tall skyscraper.
The Ugly Necklace Contest
The International Ugly Necklace Contest (http://www.warrenfeldjewelry.com/wfjuglynecklace.htm ). This is part of my legacy, I’m sure of this. I know this. A writeup about this contest and its design principles was included as a chapter in Margie Deeb’s book THE BEADER’S GUIDE TO JEWELRY DESIGN (https://www.amazon.com/Beaders-Guide-Jewelry-Design-Exploration/dp/1454704063).
It turns out, it is not easy to do Ugly! Our brains are prewired with an anxiety response. We are preset to avoid snakes and spiders and anything that might harm us. So it is very difficult to design an ugly necklace. We are biased towards beauty and harmony and things which won’t upset us. To achieve a truly hideous result, you have to be a very accomplished jewelry Designer. You gotta know your stuff. Intimately. Fluently.
Moreover, necklaces are arranged in a circle. The circle shape itself errs on the side of beauty, and anything arranged, ordered or organized, such as the component parts of a necklace, will err on the side of beauty.
To top things off, we required the necklace to be wearable. Design-wise, this was another push away from Ugly.
[See The International Ugly Necklace Contest (http://www.warrenfeldjewelry.com/wfjuglynecklace.htm ) ]
The contest had been inspired by some work I was doing. In the late 1990s, our business collapsed and we went bankrupt. One of the things we did was to start up the jewelry and bead business again from scratch. While we did that, to pay the bills, I worked remotely with two companies as a website marketer. One company was in New Hope, Pennsylvania; the other in Vancouver, British Columbia. I was in Nashville. Both companies would link me up to various clients, and I would optimize their websites for search engines and do various online promotions to get them more visibility.
One client was SureFit that made slip covers for chairs and couches. Every year, they held an Ugly Couch contest. I was involved with some of the marketing for their contest. This was the origin of my idea for ugly necklaces. While the criteria for the Ugly Couch contest were simply color / pattern / texture, the criteria for judging jewelry could be so much more elaborated. I took this contest and its judging criteria further into the realm of physiology, cognition and design. But still in ‘English’. Still focusing on the fun. But subtly introducing the design philosophy ideas.
We launched the first The Ugly Necklace Contest in 2002, and held it 10 times over the next 15 years.
Designers were asked to push themselves to make hard choices, such things as:
· Can I push myself to use more yellow than the purple warrants, and mix in some orange?
· Can I make the piece off-sided or disorienting, or not have a clear beginning, middle or end?
· Can I disrupt my pattern in a way that, rather than “jazz,” results in “discord?”
· Can I work with colors and materials and patterns and textures and placements and proportions I don’t like?
· Can I design something I do not personally like, and perhaps am unwilling, to wear around my neck?
· Can I create a piece of jewelry that represents some awful feeling, emotion or experience I’m uncomfortable with?
· Can I make something I know that others won’t like, and may ridicule me for it?
Because answering questions like these is not something people like to do, and in fact, avoid, jewelry designers who attempt to achieve “Ugly,” have to have a lot of control and discipline to override, perhaps overcome, intuitive, internally integrated principles of artistic beauty. The best jewelry designers, therefore, will be those designers who can prove that they can design a truly Ugly Necklace. These are designers who can break the boundaries of form, material and technique. That was the crux of the contest.
We often like to say that beauty (and by inference, ugly) is in the eye of the beholder. But once we utter that phrase, we deny the possibilities of design — and the perspective on beauty or ugly from the eye of the designer. If we are preset to create things that have some beauty to them, perhaps anyone then could create appealing jewelry. But, if we take away too much power to create from the designer — something beautiful or something ugly — we begin to deny the need for the designer in the first place. We leave too much to the situation, and too little to our abilities as jewelry designers to translate inspiration into aspiration into finished designs which emotionally affect those around us. We lose the experiencing of each individual designer’s choices in taking inspirations into finished designs. The challenge of designing an Ugly Necklace shows us that without the designer, there can be no design, no resonant beauty, no parsimonious attention to appeal, no true and full authenticity underlying a piece of jewelry.
We made the contest international. We launched it on-line. Our goal was to politely influence the entire beading and jewelry making communities to think in different terms and to try to work outside the box. We also wanted very actively to stimulate discussion about whether there are universal and practical design theories which underlie beadwork and jewelry design, and which can be taught. Or was everything merely a matter of subjective interpretation.
Very enlightening for me, for our judges, for our students, for the participants and the larger jewelry making community.
Definitely a legacy. Most definitely a lot of fun. But still not enough for me. I still felt I had so many disparate things to bring together under the banner Jewelry Designer. I didn’t know what. I didn’t know where to find it. Wasn’t sure what I was doing. My felt purpose was still cloudy.
Living Out Other People’s Legacies
I had to reach a much older age before I began to seriously think about my legacy. Yet, over the years, looking back, I think, for the most part, I was living out other people’s legacies. Sometimes perfectly, other times rejecting them.
My grandfather — my father’s father — in heavily accented, broken English, would say every time he saw me: You be pharmacist. All you need is one clerk. I’m sure that was my father’s wish as well. He wanted me to be a pharmacist and take over his pharmacy once he retired. I was always a big disappointment. Never even tried to become a pharmacist.
I attended Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, for my undergraduate work. It is a university made up primarily of minorities — Jews, blacks, Latinos, Asians, poor whites. The students colloquially called Brandeis a second rate Jewish Harvard, because whether student or professor or employee, as Jews (or, this extends to other oppressed minorities), when Brandeis was founded in the 1950s, Harvard’s doors were closed to them.
Brandeis has a strong commitment to social justice. It saturates you with that commitment. An infusion. You are told and guided and influenced and challenged to find Truth Until Its Innermost Parts. An emphasis on the importance of authenticity and integrity. A yearning for social justice seeps into your brain and blood and pores. You can never shake it off. It never leaves you. It has never left me.
But perhaps the most important and sustaining other person’s legacy I have been living has been that of my life partner, Jayden. Jayden and I were together over 36 years.
When I met Jayden, Jayden was James. We met in a local bar in Nashville. At the time, I had lived in Nashville a couple of years. I was trying to find friends and trying to date and was always disappointed. The people I was meeting were kind of dull. Not particularly worldly. And definitely not very creative. At the time, most Nashvillians my age left Nashville for other places where they were more likely to find a spouse. And then they would return to Nashville. People my age that I worked with or met here in Nashville were already married.
I dated both men and women. Virtually all of them were waiters, waitresses or hair dressers. At one point, I was so frustrated and so in need of a close human relationship, that I had a little conversation with God in my head. God, I said, the next very creative person I meet — man or woman — will be the way I want to go. I met James. I became gay.
James was the epitome of creativity. So was his whole family. Every craft you could think of, he was an accomplished artist. Leatherwork. Jewelry. Construction. Interior design. I could learn so much from him. He could teach me so much.
Originally from Alabama, James moved to Nashville. He was driving a truck at the time. It was during a recession, and he was having difficulty finding another job. At one point I asked what he could do, and he said he could design jewelry. I said, we could build a business around that.
During this same time, I was directing a nonprofit healthcare organization, and was burnt out. Feeling very disconnected, and wanting to do something else. I quit my job. Jumped into retail. The rest is history: garage sale to flea market to physical store to the addition of an online catalog (www.landofodds.com ).
Our relationship was always contentious. Lots of heated back and forth. Disagreements about life, about business, about friends and relationships. James had grown up in a home where physical and emotional abuse was the rule of the day. Both his father and his mother punished him, broke bones, poured grits on the floor and made him kneel on them for hours. His father was an iterant preacher, and when James was a boy, his father, in exchange for work or money, let other preachers sexually abuse him. James never had any sense of basic trust for anyone. As an adult, he had difficulty relinquishing control. Sometimes, I feel, he confused me with his father.
When we were together about 23 years, James decided he needed to become Jayden. He underwent all the surgeries, and lived the rest of life as a woman. By that time, our relationship long since had ceased to become romantic or sexual. We were very close friends. Business partners. We stayed together. Friends, therapists always questioned my continued loyalty. Given all the tensions in our relationship, why did I remain loyal? Why didn’t I just leave?
Jayden had opened up the world I needed to live in. I learned from her until the point where, to continue to develop as a professional and as an artist, I needed to rely on myself. Legacy was no longer imitation. It had become inspiration. I was becoming the jewelry designer Jayden had wanted to become, but lacked the skills, insights, and energy. I was living out her legacy. But I was finding my own path, too.
Her health was deteriorating rapidly.
Is Legacy The Same As Celebrity Status?
Professionally, I hit a spot where many people knew of me. I had a very positive, shining reputation. But I lacked that magnetic force which would bring people to me. I could offer a workshop, but not fill it with students. I could start an online discussion about jewelry design, but not get enough people to continue to discuss things.
Part of the problem was me. I was a slave to my retail store. I did not have enough free hours to get outside the store and network, whether in the Nashville area, or nationally, or even internationally. Perhaps, if I were out there more, I would have developed that magnetic force which I wanted.
One summer, I applied and was invited to do two workshops at the Bead & Button convention in Milwaukee. I did three workshops, one Japanese Fragrance Garden Bracelet, one ColorBlock Bracelet, and the other, Etruscan Square Stitch Bracelet. When we arrived and I began meeting people at the hotel, everyone knew who I was. In fact, they quoted back to me several of the things I had done, such as a jewelry design workshop in Cortona, Italy many, many years earlier. I was a little off guard. Very unexpected. Played well to my ego.
One of the participants in another contest we held through the store — All Dolled Up: Beaded Art Doll Competition — had made me a bead woven dreidel as a gift of appreciation. She told me how I had changed her life. Given her confidence as a designer. Allowed her to open doors for herself.
Another prominent national instructor, in a back-handed sort of way, forcefully told me she disagreed with my article about jewelry design and color (https://medium.com/@warren-29626/the-jewelry-designers-approach-to-color-bcd9754a83c3 ). In the article, I wrote you cannot paint with beads. She felt she could. I stick by my assessment: you can’t. Beads do not come in all colors. You cannot blend them. Because jewelry is worn and moves with the wearer, the impacts of light and shadow keep changing, and affect the appeal of the piece, given the context. A painting hangs on a wall. It doesn’t move.
I was surprised how many attendees at this conference, whom I never met, followed my career and activities — workshops in Cortona, Italy, other workshops, articles I had written, kits I had developed, TV programs I had been a guest on, enrichment travel cruise.
I got a little taste of the celebrity status I was looking for. But as a legacy, I do not know. I had some influence, some power to create a positive legacy. But I was still insignificant. I returned from Bead & Button, and back to my status: great reputation, but no magnetism. I still did not know what kind of legacy I wanted to leave. There were bits and parts floating around in my head and in the environment, but not coming together.
Why Do I Want To Leave A Legacy?
In college, I thought I wanted to be an urban planner. I was going to work for the Rouse Company — a company that built two planned urban developments — Columbia in Maryland and Reston in Virginia. I had a strong belief in physical determinism. I was going to physically create urban spaces for living, working, playing, entertaining, relaxing, vacationing. All these spaces would define for anyone who interacted with them the meaning of life.
I would have this visual representation of my legacy. I could gaze at it at my leisure. Or purposefully. I could watch people successfully living their lives as people within my physically-designed spaces. Immortality. Fulfillment. What a legacy!
That legacy was not to be. And it was probably a fallacy anyway. A pipe dream. A false prophet.
When I was 62, I applied and got accepted to Teach For America. I thought that perhaps here I might create my legacy as a teacher in an underserved school. After all, teachers have a big impact on their students.
Teach For America trains people, who do not necessarily have a degree in education, to become teachers in low income communities. The goal is to promote educational equity. If you ever get a chance to do this, I highly recommend it. It was one of the most rewarding and challenging things I ever did. And probably one of the most humiliating.
I ended up teaching middle school science and social studies. I was promised a science room, but ended up in a regular classroom. As a science teacher, I was responsible for conducting experiments. My classroom, however, did not have running water, any safety equipment, or other things necessary. I had 32 seats, but my class sizes ranged from 40 to 50. There were no supplies for conducting experiments. I had to buy these on my own. There were no aprons or goggles. Another teacher lent me some of hers which she had had to buy on her own.
As a teacher, I tried to do all the things my various instructors, as well as experienced teachers I interacted with, suggested I do. That first quarter, everything I did, and which they suggested, back-fired. I tried to assert some control, and my students took this as a challenge. I tried to present the required information, but my students never connected to it. They threw candy and pens at me while I was trying to teach. They were always talking. Playing with their cellphones. One student took a gallon of sanitary hand lotion, threw it out the 2nd story window, and busted out the windshield of a parked car below.
The administrators wanted me to teach SEL — Social Emotional Learning. I had no idea what that was. No one could give me a clear idea about it. Got lots of suggestions of things to try, and tried them, but never to the satisfaction of my administrators. They wanted me to coordinate with the other science and social studies teachers. That meant, teaching to the same standards on any particular day, and coordinating exams.
That was a problem for me. The standards, particularly in social studies, were so broad as to make them meaningless. For example, I had to teach the American Revolutionary War in 2 class sessions. In the first session, I was expected to cover 10 different battles. Ten battles in 50 minutes. The same amount of time it took Paul Revere to saddle up his horse.
One of the key Teach For America precepts was, as a teacher, to always maintain high expectations. I had done that the 1st quarter. In the 2nd quarter, as I was attempting to coordinate with the other instructors, I quickly discovered that they maintained low standards. I get it. High standards result in complaints administrators do not want to deal with. Low standards do not. But I could not dumb things down and live with myself. A typical exam question from my colleagues would go like this: What color is the sun? (a) yellow, (b) blue, © green, (d) colorless. I couldn’t go there.
Before the 3rd quarter started, I rebelled. My goals, by the end of the year, were to feel I was on the path towards becoming a good teacher, and that at least one student would learn one thing from me. I decided to reinterpret all the standards from the students’ point of view. I realized that I needed to find connections to each standard which the students could relate to. Not easy. Their life experiences were much more limited than I imagined. Even though we were in a city like Nashville with lots of accessible resources, my students’ worlds tended to be bounded by the couple of city blocks surrounding their homes. I would cover all the standards, but not everything each standard wanted me to cover. I would not coordinate with the other teachers.
I began to find my footing. By the end of the 4th quarter, literally the last week of the 4th quarter, I felt I was getting there. I found my teacher face and voice. Some students did learn some things from me. Overall, I loved the experience. Learned a lot about me. Became an even better teacher. I had hoped there was a legacy here that I could develop and leave. Not really. I was able, however, to incorporate many of the things I learned into teaching jewelry design, and ultimately writing articles and books about it.
Contemporizing Traditional Jewelry
A jewelry designer must deal with the rational and the reasonable. Those choices which are rational are based on reasons. The choices involve things like which design elements to include and exclude, how to include them, how to create compositional arrangements, and how to manipulate these parts and arrangements to create a satisfying whole which is both appealing and functional, how to introduce your pieces publicly.
Reasons justify everyday life. With traditional jewelry, those reasons are provided as well as bounded by social and cultural norms. These norms prescribe fixed frameworks and predetermined rules of composition. These norms prescribe how materials and techniques are to be selected and used. The focus is on universals. The norms allow emotional responses to beautiful, harmonious jewelry, but begin to restrict responses which get too edgy, too dramatic, too rebellious, too radical. Here one purpose of jewelry is to reconnect the individual with the broader goals and restrictions of society.
With contemporary jewelry, the designer substitutes that designer’s own reasons upon which to base rational choices for those found in culture and society. Contemporary does NOT necessarily refer to the use of unusual materials or unexpected compositions and silhouettes. Contemporary encompasses Anything reflective of a certain way of thinking. Here the designer’s personal values, desires, assumptions and perspectives inform what is rational. The client also, by wearing the jewelry, is expected to connect to the personal, not the societal or cultural. The key to design is the management of the subjective.
Towards this end, the designer might either rely on fixed, established rules of composition, or on violating them in some way. Materials and techniques become things to push to their limits. Responses to jewelry must go beyond emotions and enter the realm of resonance. One purpose of contemporary jewelry is to reconnect the individual with their inner self, their personal culture. It is the designer’s ability to channel his or her personal culture, and that of the client. Within the jewelry so created, these abilities form the basis of professional responsibilities and possibilities.
The contemporary jewelry designer is especially positioned to serve at the nexus of all this culture. The designer’s ability to think through and define what contemporary means becomes instrumental for everyone wearing their jewelry to successfully negotiate the day-to-day cultural demands of the community they live in. Designers have a unique ability to dignify and make people feel valued, respected, honored and seen. Each wearer and buyer stands at that precipice of acceptance or not, relevance or not. The jewelry designer has the power to push someone in one direction, or another. It is the jewelry designer who assists the client in transitioning from conformity to individuality.
This is a power that can form the basis of any designer’s legacy. We can most easily see this power in the designer’s attempts to contemporize traditional jewelry. Here we can begin to recognize and understand how the designer substitutes personal reason for that of the broader socio-cultural one.
I was contracted to do a series of workshops in Cortona, Italy regarding Contemporizing Etruscan Jewelry with Toscana Americana (http://www.toscanaamericana.com) . I began with examining several pieces of Etruscan jewelry. For the Etruscans, jewelry was a display of wealth and a depository of someone’s wealth maintained and preserved as jewelry. Jewelry tended to be worn for very special occasions and was buried with the individual upon her or his death. One piece, an Etruscan Collar (http://www.warrenfeldjewelry.com/wfjecollar.htm ), was one I immediately connected with.
The challenge, here for me, was to create a sophisticated, wearable, and attractive piece that exemplified concepts about contemporizing traditional jewelry. I began to interpret and analyze it. I first broke it down in terms of its traditional components and sensibility. Next, I had to re-interpret the piece in terms of its characteristics and parts. These are the kinds of things the designer can control: colors, materials, shapes, scale, positioning, balance, proportions, # of elements, use of line/plane/point, silhouette, etc.
The designer would also try to surmise who, why and when someone might wear the piece. A final assessment would be made about how finished and successful the traditional piece would have been seen at the time it was made.
I researched what jewelry meant to the Etruscans, and how their jewelry compared to other societies around them. 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.
I designed each of these two contemporized pieces, each taking me in a slightly different direction in what it means to Contemporize Traditional Jewelry. The Vestment (http://www.warrenfeldjewelry.com/wfjecollar.htm) is definitely more literal, with a mix of Revival and Contemporized approaches. The Collar (http://www.warrenfeldjewelry.com/wfjecollar.htm) is more contemporized. The core technique for both was the Ndebele stitch.
I worked with glass beads for the Cortona workshop. Then I took the Collar to the next level. I entered Swarovski’s 2008 Create-Your-Own-Style contest.
In the version I created for Swarovski, I used crystal beads instead of glass beads which posed additional problems. I could define distinct boundaries between colors when using glass. The crystal colors, however, tended to blend together. I needed distinct boundaries. I began by trying to create an Amber/Purple/Olivine (yellow-orange, violet and yellow-green) color palette. I found it very difficult to find a green to go with the amethyst and topaz. I tried olivine, light olivine, peridot, erinite, tourmaline, green tourmaline, and finally settled on lime. I’m not a big fan of lime — I tend to be yellow-phobic and lime is very yellow. But it was the only green that had the same underlying shades and tints as the amethyst and topaz. I added a lot of 2mm black crystal beads to my mix, to create a sense of framing and shadows.
My Canyon Sunrise (http://www.warrenfeldjewelry.com/wfjcrystallized2.htm) piece won 4th place. This piece is housed in Swarovski’s museum in Innsbruck, Austria.
Legacy, Authenticity And Purpose
No one says you have to leave a legacy. This may not be important to you. No crime, no foul. You can still find meaning and purpose in life. You can still pursue your Rogue Elephant without pursuing a legacy. For me, there is something I had wanted to happen, a purpose, a justification, a legacy. And I had wanted to see something reassuring in this direction before I died.
I am 70 when I am writing this. In a year I will be closing my shop and semi-retiring. Still working, but getting a chunk of responsibilities off my shoulders. I have mixed emotions. I am confronting that What Is My Purpose? thing. It isn’t easy to walk away from a prestigious position as a business owner in the community. Who am I, if I am no longer important around here?
Jewelry design has been more than a way to fill my time. It’s been, in great part, a mission. It’s been a mission to define it as a professional endeavor, with clear choices, responsibilities, and desired impacts. An authentic performance task. I have spent years clarifying technique, passion, and values. I want those understandings to be shared and continued. Legacy.
The future is always uncertain and unpredictable. There is no guarantee that the purpose and values I found in life, specifically as a jewelry designer, will continue beyond my death. But I feel responsible for at least trying.
I have turned my wanting a legacy into a rite of passage. Through writing, teaching and demonstration, I have attempted to transition from a life focused primarily on me, my goals and achievements, to one focused on leaving a lasting impression on the world. Challenging. Lots of time and resources devoted to this — something that may or may not happen. But all of this has not been a waste. It’s led to considerable personal growth, transformation and development.
Should I Leave A Legacy In A World I Do Not Respect?
One final question. The world at the moment is kind of messed up. I have to ask: Will my Rogue Elephant be here forever? With poaching, climate change, unchecked urbanization and deforestation, censorship, the rise of authoritarianism, displacements and migrations of tens of millions of people, I have to wonder. It feels like forces throughout the world are robbing people of core abilities underlying humanity: critical thinking, empathy, tolerance, and compassion. It is punishing any kind of questioning. It is turning people into technicians and allowing machines to take over many creative tasks.
I may leave a legacy, but it may not be a good fit anymore. It may fail.
It may not.
I will have to leave the answers to future generations.
Thank you. I hope you found this article useful.
Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).
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Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:
What You Need To Know When Preparing A Portfolio
Smart Advice When Preparing Your Artist Statement
Design Debt: How Much Do You Have?
An Advertising Primer For Jewelry Designers
Selling Your Jewelry In Galleries: Some Strategic Pointers
Building Your Brand: What Every Jewelry Designer Needs To Know
Social Media Marketing For The Jewelry Designer
Often Unexpected, Always Exciting: Your First Jewelry Sale
Coming Out As A Jewelry Artist
Is Your Jewelry Fashion, Style, Taste, Art or Design?
Saying Goodbye To Your Jewelry: A Rite Of Passage
So You Want To Do Craft Shows: Lesson 7: Setting Up For Success
The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Metals, Metal Beads, Oxidizing
The Jewelry Designer’s Approach To Color
The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Stringing Materials
Shared Understandings: The Conversation Embedded Within Design
How Does Being Passionate Make You A Better Designer?
Doubt / Self-Doubt: 8 Major Pitfalls For Jewelry Designers
Essential Questions For Jewelry Designers: 1 — Is What I Do Craft, Art or Design?
The Bridesmaids’ Bracelets
The Jewelry Designer’s Orientation To Choosing And Using Clasps
Beads and Race
Contemporary Jewelry Is Not A ‘Look’ — It’s A Way Of Thinking
Point, Line, Plane, Shape, Form and Theme
Jewelry, Sex and Sexuality
5 Tell-Tale Signs Your Pearls Need Re-Stringing
MiniLesson: How To Crimp
MiniLesson: Making Stretchy Bracelets
Architectural Basics Of Jewelry Design
Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry: What Works
What Glue Should I Use When Making Jewelry?
CONQUERING THE CREATIVE MARKETPLACE: Between the Fickleness of Business and the Pursuit of Design
How dreams are made
between the fickleness of business
and the pursuit of jewelry design
This guidebook is a must-have for anyone serious about making money selling jewelry. I focus on straightforward, workable strategies for integrating business practices with the creative design process. These strategies make balancing your creative self with your productive self easier and more fluid.
Based both on the creation and development of my own jewelry design business, as well as teaching countless students over the past 35+ years about business and craft, I address what should be some of your key concerns and uncertainties. I help you plan your road map.
Whether you are a hobbyist or a self-supporting business, success as a jewelry designer involves many things to think about, know and do. I share with you the kinds of things it takes to start your own jewelry business, run it, anticipate risks and rewards, and lead it to a level of success you feel is right for you, including
· Getting Started: Naming business, identifying resources, protecting intellectual property
· Financial Management: basic accounting, break even analysis, understanding risk-reward-return on investment, inventory management
· Product Development: identifying target market, specifying product attributes, developing jewelry line, production, distribution, pricing, launching
· Marketing, Promoting, Branding: competitor analysis, developing message, establishing emotional connections to your products, social media marketing
· Selling: linking product to buyer among many venues, such as store, department store, online, trunk show, home show, trade show, sales reps and showrooms, catalogs, TV shopping, galleries, advertising, cold calling, making the pitch
· Resiliency: building business, professional and psychological resiliency
· Professional Responsibilities: preparing artist statement, portfolio, look book, resume, biographical sketch, profile, FAQ, self-care
Kindle, Print, Epub
SO YOU WANT TO BE A JEWELRY DESIGNER
Merging Your Voice With Form
So You Want To Be A Jewelry Designer reinterprets how to apply techniques and modify art theories from the Jewelry Designer’s perspective. To go beyond craft, the jewelry designer needs to become literate in this discipline called Jewelry Design. Literacy means understanding how to answer the question: Why do some pieces of jewelry draw your attention, and others do not? How to develop the authentic, creative self, someone who is fluent, flexible and original. How to gain the necessary design skills and be able to apply them, whether the situation is familiar or not.
588pp, many images and diagrams Ebook , Kindle or Print formats
The Jewelry Journey Podcast
“Building Jewelry That Works: Why Jewelry Design Is Like Architecture”
Podcast, Part 1
Podcast, Part 2
PEARL KNOTTING…Warren’s Way
Easy. Simple. No tools. Anyone Can Do!
I developed a nontraditional technique which does not use tools because I found tools get in the way of tying good and well-positioned knots. I decided to bring two cords through the bead to minimize any negative effects resulting from the pearl rotating around the cord. I only have you glue one knot in the piece. I use a simple overhand knot which is easily centered. I developed a rule for choosing the thickness of your bead cord. I lay out different steps for starting and ending a piece, based on how you want to attach the piece to your clasp assembly.
184pp, many images and diagrams Ebook, Kindle or Print
SO YOU WANT TO DO CRAFT SHOWS:16 Lessons I Learned Doing Craft Shows
In this book, I discuss 16 lessons I learned, Including How To (1) Find, Evaluate and Select Craft Shows Right for You, (2) Determine a Set of Realistic Goals, (3) Compute a Simple Break-Even Analysis, (4) Develop Your Applications and Apply in the Smartest Ways, (5) Understand How Much Inventory to Bring, (6) Set Up and Present Both Yourself and Your Wares, (7) Best Promote and Operate Your Craft Show Business before, during and after the show.
198pp, many images and diagrams, Ebook, Kindle or Print
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