Lark is giving away a copy (US residents only) of their latest gorgeous bead book Showcase 500 Beaded Jewelry
What makes a well designed piece of beadwork? How do you create a unified, harmonious piece so completely balanced and whole that nothing added or taken away would improve it? Pattern is one way.
Because they transmit visual rhythm, patterns can invigorate your jewelry design with movement. That movement can make a design hum, sing, or belt out loud.
Surface pattern is inherent in seed bead weaving. The locking together of the beads and the minute spaces between them sets up predictable geometric patterns.
Pattern is created by repetition. Like a tour guide, it invites you in, and shows you around.
In a well-planned pattern, the eye travels, following points of interest. These points may be the brightest (or darkest) colors, or the largest expanses of color. They may be directional shapes and elements, like lines or arrows. In fact, any element that stands out from its surroundings becomes a point of interest, or focal point….
This “Margie’s Muse” column excerpt is available in it’s entirety at
What makes a well designed piece of beadwork? How do you create a unified, harmonious piece so completely balanced and whole that nothing added or taken away would improve it? Emphasizing differences is one way.
Contrast is the opposite of concordance. A composition needs contrast because too much visual similarity becomes monotonous. Imagine if everything in your day-to-day life was the same shade of the same color. There would be few cues to help you make a visual distinction between your beads and, say, your lunch. We need contrast not only for visual distinction, but for pleasure: variety can add zest and delight to life.
The more contrast you use, the more dynamic and energetic your work. If you like high drama, begin by emphasizing differences.
The major ways to create contrast among colors are by using differences in color properties: value (dark and light), intensity (dull and vivid), hue (the actual colors), extension (the physical amount of color used), and temperature. To create contrast, vary these properties of color. The easiest contrasts to discern are those of value and hue.
But don’t limit your exploration of emphasizing differences only to the realm of color. Contrast basic design elements. Juxtapose straight lines against curves, diagonals against horizontals, blocks of color against spheres of color. String patterned beads next to solid colored beads and squares shapes next to ovals.
Play with contrasting finishes and materials. Combine smooth beads with faceted, irregular, or chunky beads. Place shiny metallics next to flat matte finishes.
In single strand necklaces, a contrast in size piques interest. A strand of large, faceted amethyst chunks separated by spacers and seed beads is far more intriguing than a strand of amethyst beads that are all the same size.
Texture contrasts are both visually and tactilely fascinating. Everyone loves to touch fringe laden with different sized beads. Add texture to seed bead weaving by introducing larger beads, peyote ruffles, kinky fringe, or netting.
But be careful with contrast. Too many contrasting elements overwhelm and confuse the viewer. When exploring contrast, aim for balance and unity.
Hey, Bead Artists: check out this sneak book preview: Japanese Beadwork with Sonoko Nozue… you can download a free PDF project from the book. It’s a gorgeous book with stunning beadwork:
The following is an excerpt from the December Margie’s Muse.
Readers often ask “what is a color that is flattering to anyone and everyone?” I never believed there was one because people are so very different and millions of colors, shades, tones, tints, and intensities abound in fabrics and beads. I decided to learn what others have to say about this, and lo and behold, the Real Simple website has an interesting feature on the subject… complete with photos!
It is the photos that make the article worth devoting a column to: four photos show four differently colored women in what Real Simple calls “The 4 Universally Flattering Clothing Colors.” The pictures do support the thesis, though four skin/hair colorings is a small sampling. However, I applaud Real Simple for the photos: these kind of claims are usually accompanied by no support photos and just a written description of a color, which is of no help to anyone.
I’ve made swatches of the four colors (and a light and dark version of two). They are in my PDF article that corresponds to this blog post.
Please read the Real Simple article. And tell me what you think.
My opinion? For those of us who make jewelry to sell to the ubiquitous Unseen Customer, these four colors provide a launch pad and give us a little more confidence that our color selections will fit someone.
The most promising colors are Eggplant and Indian Teal: they are muted versions of appealing, sophisticated colors. I would use them first when making jewelry for my Unseen Customer.
True Red is the wildcard. A strong, striking color, it looks fantastic on many people. The article quotes Bill Blass as saying “When in doubt, wear red.” It lends power and allure to the wearer. But everyone? I’m wondering how the palest, blondest woman would stand up to it.
I find Mellow Rose questionable, as I know many women and men whose faces would look washed out by this pale, gentle tint (including mine).
I’d like to hear your thoughts: email@example.com