Everyone needs a Yoda. Jeri Schatz is my beading Yoda. But let me digress. Jeri Schatz arrived in New York City in the 1950’s fresh out of college to embark on a career as a dancer. She found a day job at the Wall Street Journal in the press clipping department and after work would sometimes meet friends at a neighborhood typewriter repair shop in Greenwich Village to discuss art and the social issues of the day. I jokingly tell Jeri she was a Beatnick. “No,” she gently corrects me, “I was a Bohemian.”
Along the way, an injury put Jeri’s dreams of dancing to rest, and she married and had a son. She trained as a goldsmith with some of the best teachers New York City had to offer and created a line of fabulous jewelry. When she came to Philadelphia, she decided to get away from the fire, fumes and chemicals of metal work and took up off loom bead weaving. Since her husband Sig died a few years ago, Jeri has thrown herself into beading with the tenacity of a Jedi in training.
Which brings me back to Yoda. Everyone who is trying to master an art or a craft can use a good Yoda. That means someone who inspires you to make your mediocre work good, and your good work better. I think it is more difficult to give good criticism than it is to take it. That is, if you’re open to it. Jeri gives good criticism, is full of ideas for making designs better, and notices every hanging thread, rough edge and uneven stitch. And she encouraged me to improve my work by making my own findings based on the intended piece instead of buying something as an afterthought.
Jeri is primarily a teacher and has regular classes at the United Federation of Teachers in Manhattan and the Fashion Institute of Technology. She also teaches at The Bead Cellar, in Pennsauken, NJ, The Bead Garden in Havertown, PA, Bucks County Beads in Newtown, PA and any other place she can reach by plane, train or Megabus. She is a card carrying member of the Bead Society of Greater New York and the Main Line Bead Society. And she is totally radical about beads.
Here are some of her recent designs.
Speaking of criticism, Jane Dunnewold wrote an excellent essay of effective critique of artwork. I suggest you take a few minutes to read it.