An eclectic blog about beads, beading and beyond

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Beading novelty: are you strong enough?

Amongst the chaos of creating a studio I am treating myself to further time musing on the criteria used for judging beadwork competitions. This week my musings are focused on ‘novelty’. What is it, how do we create it in beadwork and do we always want it?

Novelty is from the Latin word for "new" – novas. Hence, most dictionary definitions of novelty emphasise ‘newness’ and ‘freshness’. In the world of design a novel design differs from all previous designs so it cannot replicate or simulate a natural object or prior art and design – such as a specific building, logo or object that already exists. It must have a specific and seeable "point of departure from prior art." It must have a ‘point of novelty’ that is identifiable.

Extending on that, the novel is often surprising and within this it may be striking, unusual or amusing. It may please or displease. It may make us smile with ecstasy or squirm in agony. Novelty may be nice, but it may nasty.

For instance, as a beader you may create novelty by putting two or more things together in new ways – combining beading stitches, bead colours or types of beads together in new ways.  Your ‘point of departure from prior beadwork’ may be your stitch combinations, your colour combinations or your bead combinations, or all three. You may bead a blue cat or a green sun using beads made from colour pencils or something equally unusual.

Your specific combination of stitches, colours or beads may surprise, amuse or jar. It may be pleasing or not. It may make others smile or squirm. So, as you aim to create novelty in your beadwork you may need to take a moment to muse on how others may respond to its newness. Will it be with agony or ecstasy or somewhere in between? Is there a good reason why those specific colours have never been put together in that way before or why nobody has tried combining those specific stitches?

There is evidence from psychological studies of creativity that many people are biased against the novel – they find it scary, agonising and unpleasant. So, the more novel your beadwork the more others may agonise when they see it. Try taking your own novelty bias test by visiting The Ugly Necklace Contest website. How do you respond to the novelty – with agony or with ecstasy?
As you muse on this you may want to reflect on the opening verse from a poem by Samuel Nze, titled, ‘Novelty requires strength’:
Novelty requires strength;
We need to be strong
To break those fetters
That cage us in,

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