March 21, 2007

Freeform - Lesson learned

A Beader's Meal
Need I say more? I have never attended a beading-related event where we all did not eat very well. A good meal and beads, what more could anyone want?

Facilitating Freeform in Beads

(all samples in the photos are the property of workshop participants)

I just spent a weekend teaching freeform peyote. It taught me one thing ... you do not teach freeform, you facilitate freeform! This technique has no rules and there are no mistakes, just opportunities to grow a piece in a different direction. With those parameters, I have to concede that you cannot teach it, you can only foster the creative spirit in each attendee. Not every beader has the personality to thrive in this atmosphere. It is not the easiest technique to do in a workshop setting.

When I agreed to take on this assignment, I didn't realize that I was fortunate to have a group of relatively new beaders .... they didn't have any pre-conceived notions of what was right and what was wrong. Everyone learned that they could let loose and let the beads tell them where to go next.

We worked on basic techniques and how to handle tension. You don't get pronounced humps 'n bumps if you don't control your tension. One participant got excited when she realized that she was actually "doing peyote!"

I based the workshop around a series of elements which I illustrated and provided samples. This way, when one hit an impasse, they could pick another element and try that next. It seemed to work as everyone used them differently and incorporated them into their own bracelet, with their own colors and variations.

It's always exciting to have someone listen, look and then go off in another direction. Remember I said there were no rules and no mistakes? This regal, long element will ultimately be attached to a dark, matte rectangular base. I like the idea that the flowing piece of beads will be offset onto a structured, angular base. It will most certainly be an "Oh Wow" piece.

Color is such a personal choice and it's hard to work outside of your comfort zone. This sample comes from two participants who sort of said "ug, nasty" to their starter pieces. I've long held that it's not the beads (or colors) but what you do with them. Once the two elements were joined with a bit of added fancy work, everyone admitted that it looked quite different and had merit.

See what you can do when you let loose, let the beads do the talking and creativity take over?


  1. Very cool, Judith. It looks like everyone had a great time!

  2. Anonymous4:09 PM

    Wonderful photos and story.

  3. Thanks for a great post. Free-form anything is definitely one of those techniques you have let yourself be free to experience or you struggle unnecessarily.

  4. That "ug, nasty" one definitely hits my button. Love it when colors clash, meld, combine and do their own thing. Freeform though, that's scary- I keep thinking I'll try it and then I don't because what if I can't... but these are all so lovely I really will have to give it a go. Glad you shared the photos.