Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Working Outside Your Comfort Zone

From Gray Girl Studios, a Bead Soup Party participant

I had several reasons for developing the Bead Soup Blog Party, but one of them was to help push jewelry designers to work outside their comfort zones, if even just a little bit.  Being paired with a person they may never have encountered online means they'll receive a small package of beads from the sending partner's stash.  There are only two rules -- you must use the focal, and you must use the clasp.  

The pendant I made from the burgundy focal bead I received from Dee Gordon.

Toggle used by Lisa Liddy

Other than that, it's a free-for-all.  Each partner sends some accent beads, but whether THEIR partner uses them is up to them.  My thought process was the beaders would mix both the beads they received from their partner AND the beads from their own stash, melding the two into a design that probably didn't look like their normal look -- or at least, tweaked their normal look to a different level.

I received the focal as stamped, silver and brass metal with an oval.  I glued in the crystals, added some gears and rivets -- completely and TOTALLY not my style, but I love it and I keep it on my mannequin in my office.

To take a look at the soup sent to people and the things they made with them from the last two parties, click here.  As the new party progresses, you'll see more soup photos get posted, so feel free to subscribe to the group to keep up with the beauty being posted.

How can you vicariously participate? 

Dig through your beads.  Look for things you haven't touched in months or even years.  Let it sit on your beading table for a while as you make things you ARE comfortable with.  Every now and then, hold that focal or those beads up against what you're working with.  Do the colors suddenly look good together?  Does it spark a silhouette you've not thought of?  Does it make you think of yet another bead hidden away in the back of your bead bin?

Try it out.  Cut out that picture at the top of this post and tape it to your bead area.  You never know what might happen.

Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and wrote the blog An Artist's Year Off.  She's also a contributor to Art Bead Scene.


  1. Such good advice, Lori. I actively seek challenges that push my limits. The reason is that I have learned the most valuable lessons about myself as a designer from those experiences. I seek to learn something new every year, often in a medium that I don't work in, because I know that what I learn will be internalized and come out in a different way. I am looking for classes to take this year, and considering my options for that. This Bead Soup and other swaps and hops like this are a great way to give yourself permission to fly in a different direction. Give it a try!
    Enjoy the day!

  2. I completely agree! and I'm so glad I finally signed up for this swap.
    I received my beads today from my partner and I can't wait to get started!

    Thank you for organising this, Lori!!

  3. The first two parties I participated in really made me look outside my normal comfort zone. That's actually helped me in my other creations because I did step outside of the lines. It also helped me to open my store because I could offer an eclectic mix of beading styles that might appeal to a larger audience than my "normal" beading routine.

    So I join this party with lots of anticipation and excitement--wondering what direction my new beading partner is going to take me.


  4. Lori, what a great post. I love your advice and how you think. And I think you are totally amazing spreading this to people around the world via your Bead Soup Party. Everyone can do this on their own, in their own studio, if they wish to. Stretching themselves I mean. But YOU have thought of a way to also share that experience, and at the same time make new friends, AND make it possible for each and everyone of us to experience each others experiences while stretching. (I learn a lot from looking at other designers.) That is BIG Lori! I salute you.

    @balanced: wow, you and your partner are quick!

  5. What a great idea to put people together to push their limits to stretch their talents. Im so looking forward to this and I cant wait to send my beads, receive mine from my partner and make something! What fun this has been in the past!! You couldnt of picked a better time when the winter doldrums are here and this is a bright Spot in these days!

  6. For some it is working outside your comfort zone, and for some (me) it is working outside of your confidence zone. :)

  7. Really looking forward to the challenge and seeing what others do.

  8. first, you are so right about working w/ things you usually wouldn't. The first Soup I chocolate pearls & fell in love w/ dark pearls. Second Soup I got all blue & a fiber focal(still working the kinks out w/ that one for wearability). & lastly, I love love love the herringbone weave you did, is it very hard? I really need to try it.

  9. Lori,
    I was just on your website and your jewelry isvreally looking beautiful! You seem to me to be doing more "random thing" and the really work, if that makes sense! I am so sorry I couldn't join the bead party. I have so few things with me and who knows wherenwe will be when!
    Thanks for your continued support. I had my meltdown for the week. Seems if I can just have one, I can do ok.
    Big hugs and congratulations (and awe) for all you are doing.

  10. Brilliant my dear. What a wonderful catalyst you are introducing to jewelry makers. Your book will be fabulous. Happy beading...

  11. Good advice, Lori...in fact I included it our next guild newsletter, especially your article on the higher cost of silver. It is good to go "out the box" and challenge yourself. It certainly makes you grow as an artist. Thanks for sharing! Hugs, Lupe

    P.S. I have a new blog...couldn't save the old one when I was changing things around.

  12. Thank you friend for having this fabulous party & giving me the CHANCE to step out of my USUAL box. I can't wait to see what I get & I can't wait to challenge myself in the process.
    Excited about practicing to color outside the lines...
    Hugs & Smiles,


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