Saturday, April 3, 2010


In a fit of enthusiasm and in spite of the fact that it was near budgetary suicide, I recently purchased four juicy new beading books. One of them was Diane Fitzgerald's Shaped Beadwork. All it took was one leaf-through those fabulous pages and I was in love.

Mind you, I have no time available to go through, what is for me, the long agonizing process of following someone else's instructions, learning new skills. My nose has a date with the grindstone. Self-employment without a net looms. I need to produce.

But it occured to me today that I never did want to become a slave laborer in my own factory. It's why "limited edition" is the closest I will come to production. And I recalled, as I drank my morning coffee and browsed through Ms. Fitzgerald's book, that the fastest way to the slavery of hating what you used to love is to get stuck in a comfy rut and stop learning.

I'm pretty much a genius (she said modestly) with right angle weave - it's my stitch of choice. I can weave it, embellish it, teach it and diagram it. I'm totally comfy with square stitch, Russian spiral, Celini, Chevron and embroidery. Herringbone? Peyote? Not so much. I can peyote my heart out if the piece is flat or tubular and I can create and follow a complicated rectangular pattern but start doing a lot of tricky turns, increases and decreases and I have all the grace of a beader born with feet on her wrists. By the time I finished learning Russian Leaves - the air was swear-word blue from the studio to the kitchen.

So, I have a big fat valentine to hand out to the fabulous Ms. Diane Fitzgerald. Her book is definitely not for baby beaders - but the instructions are enough to help the pattern-allergic experienced beader learn with as little pain as possible. It took me two hours to make the first earring. About ten minutes to make the second.

Ahhh, Grasshopper - do NOT forget the step up! Do not put the step-up in the wrong place! Remember that both sides should have the SAME number of beads! Unravel. Unravel. Begin again! Oh look. Gee. As it gets wider, it has to have more beads in a row. Doesn't say that in the book. Maybe Ms. Fitzgerald counted on the reader having an iota or two of common sense. And actually looking at the picture.

It's not her fault it took me so long. I have never stuck to a pattern of any kind or cooked according to a recipe. I have a mental block about instructions. My motto is: read half of them and then figure it out for yourself. Believe me, I don't recommend this method, even though it has made for the odd innovation here and there. I do blame Fitzgerald for one thing, though - it is her fault I had to learn pointed ovals. And it will be her fault when I need to learn other shapes from her spectacular book too.

Next? After I practice making pointy ovals for hours and hours, it will be the layered oval! I figure the cloud of frustration over my house will become so huge people will think it's a weather bomb.


Mikki said...

How cool to see you blogging about your adventure. You do fabulous work, you've planned your adventure and you have a head start by already being in two galleries. I have every confidence you will do fine.
As an instructor it always makes me smile how people use or don't use my instructions.

Anonymous said...

I love your writing style!!!!

cl said...

I am very found of your sense of colors, that makes your jewellery so beautiful !!

NEDbeads said...

What a fabulous post! I had a lot of fun with this book myself, and found that once you get the shapes down, the layered ones are easy to construct (except that first row on the inside...grrrr), and I can't wait to see your new things!!

LLJones said...

Thanks Mikki. I teach too...just not (um,so far)too much peyote. Basics, RAW, square and embroidery. And it's funny observing what a horrible student I am! ("Look at the diagram," I tell people, "it won't bite you.")Appreciate the vote of confidence.

beadbabe49 said...

oh yes! I love this book too and also found the second pair of earrings went MUCH faster than the first! I also found I had to PAY ATTENTION while doing the 3-D ones...every time my mind wandered, I had to pull a bunch of stitches out!
But it's sure worth it in the end, don't you think!

LLJones said...

CL - I think my color sense is left over from childhood! Not complaining.

NED - will keep that in mind and persevere.

Anonymous - thank you! I enjoy writing.

BB - The wandering mind is NOT at all
a help with this stuff. But something clicked by earring two and it doesn't all seem quite as boggling now.