DylanA friend of mine texted me the other day. Her 6-year-old son had asked if he could look at The Beader’s Guide to Jewelry Design in the car as they ran errands. He poured over it intently, studying page after page. At one stop (looks like a QuikTrip gas station to me) he said, “Mommy, this book is beautiful! Can I keep it forever?”

She told me he carried it with him all day.

I was astounded that a 6-year-old recognized beauty in that form.

It made my day.

Holding_the_HopeMaybe like me, you grew up among the notion that jewelry is, at best, gewgaw for the shallow minded. Or, at worst, a prop for the vain. That jewelry is no more than playing dress up; meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

Decades ago I worried that I was devoting a large part of my life to a frivolous pursuit that, in the end, would prove it misspent or squandered. But now, after having explored every aspect of jewelry from the ornamental, to the academic, to the aesthetic, and to the most fascinating for me, the psychological and emotional, I’ve come to a secure peace in knowing this: I have devoted much of my passion to precisely the right thing for me and my growth.

An excerpt from The Beader’s Guide to Jewelry Design speaks to what I’ve discovered.

“We diminish the significance of jewelry – and its creation – when we consider it simply ornamentation. The very heart of jewelry is the expression of being. Each time we make and adorn ourselves with jewelry we give ourselves over to an ancient ritual, a ceremony where the alchemy of our creativity combines with the passion of our self-expression.

The result? Magic.”

An alchemical magic happens when we commit a deliberate act of love and beauty.

Before I design jewelry for a friend I spend considerate time imagining. My mind sweeps through years of scenes. I see her laughing, talking, turning her head. I mentally sort through what I know she finds beautiful in books, movies, relationships, nature, art. I sense who she is beyond words. Like sculpting clay, I form these sensations into an object of beauty. She will drape this beauty on her Self, and it will temporarily become part of who she is.

Beyond artistry, talent, and skill, this is an act of love.

When we make (or choose) jewelry for ourselves, the process is more intuitive and rapid. But it is no less than – nor should it be – an act of love. And when a woman loves herself it has a profound impact on this world. This world where many women are raised to hate their bodies, hate themselves, see themselves as less-than, put their wants, desires, and needs beneath those of others.

Creating, choosing, and wearing jewelry can be an act of love that can have a profound impact on the world. It will start imperceptibly small: You may not be aware of it. But it can touch each person you interact with. And from there, expand infinitely.

Now when I hear the notion that jewelry is a fribble of vanity I smile. We jewelry designers know the truth, even if we’ve not put words to it, even if we’re not fully conscious of it. We know the necklace itself is a symbol, a reflection of the love and beauty that went into creating or choosing it. And we know the life-affirming power we feel when we suffuse our lives and ourselves with love and beauty.

I’d like to ask for your help. Will you write a book review for The Beader’s Guide to Design?

I ask because reviews sell books. Gone are the days when publisher’s marketing departments passionately push one book like mine to bookstores, because, well… gone are bookstores (for the most part)! Potential readers now rely on online reviews to decide if they want to purchase a book.

If you’re not sure how to approach writing a review, keep reading.
Whether you like the book or not isn’t as important as you might think. Book reviews aren’t about opinions. What makes a good review is you expressing what you found valuable.

BGJD_cover_3stack_3inches_highHow To Write a Valuable Review of an Instructional Book

I’m currently taking The Story Cartel Course by writer/teacher Joe Bunting. Joe, who encourages us to both publish reviews each other’s work and to ask for reviews, inspired me to write this post. Some of these guidelines were inspired by him and his work.

Your job as a reviewer is to help readers discover whether they will enjoy the book.

Questions to consider answering:
  • Did the author communicate concepts and instructions clearly?
  • Was the writing style engaging and easy to read?
  • Was enough information presented to challenge you?
  • What information was included in the book and what did you learn (or disagree, or not learn) from it?
  • Were accompanying diagrams, photos, and illustrations appropriate? Did you learn from them?
  • Are you more empowered and knowledgeable as a result of reading the book?
And finally, I agree with Joe’s question “Did this book succeed or not? The question is not “did you like this book?”  Your review is not about you. It’s about the reader.”

You may want to focus on a section or chapter that you learned from (or didn’t learn from for a specific reason) and quote from it.

If You Don’t Like the Book
Joe Bunting says “I always err on the side of leaving positive rather than negative reviews, even if the book doesn’t suit my taste. If you follow these rules, readers will be able to see whether the book is for them or not, regardless of whether you give them a verdict or not. As John Updike said, “Try to understand what the author wished to do, and do not blame him for not achieving what he did not attempt.”
A good reviewer rises above her own personal preference as a sign of respect to both readers and the author who wrote the book.
And if the book failed, give the author the benefit of the doubt. Updike said, “Try to understand the failure. Are you sure it’s his and not yours?”

However, if you still think the book is bad, remember your first loyalty is to the reader: Leave the bad review!”

Thank you in advance for writing a book review either on Amazon or Barnes & Noble:

Leave a review on Amazon

Leave a review on Barnes & Noble


purple_astonishmentA friend of mine loves the word “astonish.” What a fun word! I love being astonished. And I love astonishing.

Do your creations have the ability to astonish? Of course not every piece of jewelry you make. But have you made a piece where you purposefully set out to make a piece that astonishes?

I’ve seen a trend in the last decade in beaded jewelry. An assumption that the more beads one can load onto backing or string, the better a piece will be.

This “more is better” attitude is everywhere. When we watch the news we see 5 boxes of information being fed to us rather than concentrating on one story.

My husband, a guitar player, has shown me that line of thinking takes the form of how fast a player can play; how may notes the artist can cram into one or two seconds. The more notes, the better the player. Absurd, as it sounds, that’s the thinking.

In reality, “more is better” is a lazy approach. If one doesn’t have the focus, competency, or knowledge to consciously compose something interesting or beautiful, one falls back on simply doing more, more, and more of something, hoping others will be dazzled by sheer volume or amount of energy expended.

How many items one can attach to leather backing is production, not true creativity. It is not astonishing.

I find that in jewelry that astonishes me, every bead is (or looks as if it is) purposefully arranged, with thought to each bead around it, and how it relates to the entirety of the piece.

  • The composition is planned and ordered, even if it appears to be spontaneous and random.
  • Colors harmonize with each other and are balanced throughout the entire piece.
  • It’s well-planned movement guides my eyes and delights my senses: I enjoy following it.
  • It interacts with the body in fluid, seamless motion.
  • The technique intrigues me.
  • An overall harmony exists: of the entire piece as a whole, and each individual piece.

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts. What astonishes you?

photo by Lee Wilkins

photo by Lee Wilkins

Let’s talk about beauty.

I’ve recently returned from the Central California Bead Society in Fresno where I taught and presented a new lecture, “Designing Beauty,” based on my latest book, The Beader’s Guide to Jewelry Design.

I choose specific images for the slide show to help us precisely and instantly explore design concepts. Much of the jewelry I showed illustrated the concepts beautifully. Oohs and ahhs wafted like perfume through through the room. Conversely, since much can be learned from failure, I featured jewelry that missed the mark. Jewelry whose lack of unity evoked scrunched noses. Jewelry whose confusing shape left us uttering “wha-a-a-t?” Jewelry so visually unbalanced our bodies involuntarily listed to the left as we stared at it.

My hope was for a lively, animated discussion about aesthetics, design, and beauty. I was thrilled to get that and more!

We examined focal point and emphasis: What guides your eye in, around, and out of a piece of jewelry?

We explored asymmetrical balance and disagreed: What some sense as solidly balanced was, to others, wonky.

We analyzed intangible movement: What kinds of lines, shapes, compositions, and repetitions create what kinds of movement?

We inspected shapes: Why is it so important that the overall shape of jewelry be distinguishable and aesthetically pleasing?

And we talked briefly about one of my favorite topics: beauty.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” one reminded us. We all have different sensibilities, different ideas of what is beautiful. Yet, there are aesthetic principles of beauty which humans have agreed upon since we became conscious.

Personally, I look to how something makes me feel before I assign the word “beautiful” to a work of art…

Do I feel inspired?
Do I feel enchanted, as if some form of magic is taking place?
Do I sense a timelessness?
Do I feel awe?
Do I feel peaceful, like all is right for just this moment – or possibly forever – because this exists?
Do I sense something larger and grander going on, something beyond what I can see, taste, hear, and touch?
Do I feel glad to be alive, honored to be in a world where this exists, honored to be part of the human family where a fellow being can create such beauty?

I am interested to hearing your thoughts. How do you define beauty? Please let me know!

Read the interview with Lark Books about The Beader’s Guide to Jewelry Design here.

1: Margie Deeb’s New Book, The Beader’s Guide to Jewelry Design

2: Margie Deeb Discusses Unity

3: Get Focused with Margie Deeb

4: Margie Deeb Stays Balanced

5: You Move Me, Margie Deeb

6: Shape & Color

7: Jewelry & The Body

8: The Creative Journey

FearfulFear and Creativity. I don’t hear artists talk about them openly enough.

When I’m battling fear in a creative project, my mind conjures images of all the artists I know. I see them in their studios, passionately writing, designing, composing, and creating for hours upon endless hours, not an emotional bump in the road. I know I’m not alone in these fake, self-torturing images. Many artists have them because we don’t share our creative fears, or fear-managing techniques as freely. It’s vulnerable for me to admit my creative fears, especially when I’m an expert in my field. I used to think that being an expert meant I’d have no more creative fear. No way.

Fear takes many forms. At times mine can be paralyzing. Other times as mild as “I can’t decide which color.” It will cloak itself as procrastination. Or distraction (“let me read just one more article, then I’ll find a better solution”). Or lethargy (“I just don’t have the energy to work on this tonight.”). Or self-beratement (“there’s not an original idea in my brain!”) It’s always there for me to handle, to some degree or another. If I’ve chosen to challenge myself creatively, fear will be present. If not, then I’m not challenging myself.

Masters in every walk of life, artistic and otherwise, are the ones who manage, rather than deny, fear and doubt. For me, managing my fear and doubt is part of the discipline of art. Sometimes I win brilliantly. Sometimes I lose. Learning to manage is an evolving process because at different times in my life different things trigger fear, different things are at stake.

In my latest book the section on fear was the most frightening for me to write. So frightening that I took it to a writer’s conference, where I knew I’d have the support I needed to finish it. It was frightening to write because in it I expose some of the ways my fear terrorizes me. In the same section, I give practical techniques I use to manage fear and doubt. My trusty work-arounds.

Below is a link to a section of it in PDF download. This is an excerpt from “Chapter 8: The Creative Journey” in The Beader’s Guide to Jewelry Design.   I hope you’ll find it valuable. And let’s open up this conversation so we can all manage fear more easily.

What fears inhibit you creatively?

How do you manage them?


Nathalie wrote a funny title for this interview installment. It is all about movement, why a piece must include movement. Not necessarily physical movement, but intangible movement. Movement makes art come alive.:


Larkcrafts.com has published the first in a 9-part interview with me about my newbook, The Beader’s Guide to Jewelry Design.

When I write a book of this scope I spend years of my life living it: not only creating it, but I meditate on it, dream about it, try many versions of every paragraph, every page. It is a broad and deep commitment. Made from a place of intense  passion, caring, and compassion. And it sustains me through the inevitable gridlocks, fuels me when I’m tired, and sustains my Soul and Spirit through the entire journey. For me, it comes from a lifelong commitment to Beauty.

In this week’s brief interview I discuss why I wrote the book. (And a little bit of “how.”)

Each post will give you more of the book itself and insight into my process. Enjoy!

shape_spread_01 shape_spread_02 artist_waysTwo advance copies of my latest book, The Beader’s Guide to Jewelry Design have arrived. I’m so pleased with the content, the paper, the quality of printing, the photography. I am VERY PROUD! And so excited for you to read it, dear artists!

Final Proofs

Final Proofs

I’m finishing up the final proofs of my fifth book today, The Beader’s Guide to Jewelry Design.

An array of mixed feelings accompanies the end of creating a project this big. I’ve been working on it for over 2 years. I wrote it, shot most of the photography, designed it, illustrated it, and produced the files for the printer (did everything except the cover).  The Beader’s Guide to Jewelry Design was a massive undertaking.

In reading the entire book for proofing I relived the 2-year process in fleeting flashbacks. I remembered where my life was when I began the illustrated tables for the “Jewelry and The Body” chapter. I remember the incident with my young nephew that inspired the beginning of the “Shape” chapter. He’s 2 years older now. I wonder if, when he gets older, he’ll be embarrassed by it. I thought back on who I was when I began the book… a different person than I am now.

I did something I’ve not done in previous books. I was more personal: I included more of my personal creative journey and vulnerability in the pages. I wanted the the reader to feel like I was sitting with them at the kitchen table having an excited discussion about design. Maybe over a glass of wine, with pen and paper in hand. When I read the book cover to cover yesterday I realized I had achieved that. I was thoroughly engaged in the text, even though I already know what it says. I enjoyed reading it. That’s what I want for the reader: not only to learn and be changed by the content, I want them to enjoy themselves.

When I finished my first book, Out On A Loom (self published), I was bouncing off the walls with excitement. The novelty of it being my First still colored my thoughts and emotions, even though it was 15 months in the making.

My second book, The Beader’s Guide to Color (Watson-Guptill), took over 4 years to create because most of it was written at night and on weekends. After shipping the final proofs I was shocked to find myself depressed and disoriented. I felt like my child left me. I’d known every minute detail of her life– every comma, every word, every picture, diagram, illustration and concept– intimately. When, a few weeks later, I couldn’t remember which page a particular photo appeared, I burst into tears realizing she was slipping further and further away. I felt like something so precious was gone forever. It was. The process of creating a book is the true joy if it. Not having done it. Holding a vision, creating it, and manifesting it in the very best way I can is one of my greatest joys in life.

Finishing Beading Her Image, my 3rd book (self-published), was different. When you self publish, the end isn’t as abrupt and final as sending proofs back to a publisher. You and the printer work back and forth through printing. You market like crazy, morning noon and night. (Actually, you market like crazy regardless of who publishes the book — if you want sell any copies.) Then you get busy clearing out space and stacking thousands of books in 25 – 30 lb boxes somewhere you’ll be able to reach them. And then, if you’ve done you’re marketing, you start packaging and shipping. You turn the music up very loud and you spend days and days packaging and shipping. And you wish you’d been doing more yoga and strength training the last 2 years.

proofs_2My 4th, The Beader’s Color Palette (Watson-Guptill) was another 2+ year project and I was determined not to be depressed afterwards. Turns out I wasn’t. So much was going on in my life at the time that required focus. And since it was my 4th book, I knew the ropes. And since resources had been depleted in its creation, I got back to work that actually brought money into the bank account (creating a book costs time and money).

The process of creating a book becomes almost all-consuming for me. I love the intensity of focus. And I love it for long periods of time. I’m so fulfilled when I can plumb the depths of both my creativity and my medium, be it words, color, beads, or paint. Much of this latest book is about just that: plumbing the depths of creativity (in the form of jewelry design). The joy of becoming a master at one’s art. The passion and sheer joy of creation.