It happens to many bead artists, especially seed bead weavers. They feel insecure choosing colors for a new project. They begin to doubt themselves and their color instincts. And then, like grasping for an aspirin, they head straight for the dark metallic iris beads they think will cure every color ailment. They cross their fingers for good luck, hoping those dark metallic iris beads will pinch hit for a strong, memorable palette.

They will not.

Time and again the cover of our beloved bead magazines display the featured project in dark metallic iris beads; sometimes several variations at a time. The side-by-side weaving of 3 kinds of dark metallic iris beads looks less like a well-planned color scheme and more like a dark, reflective mass of indistinguishable tones reminiscent of the skin of that wet reptilian creature that burst from the astronaut’s chest in the movie “Alien.” If I want to discern the design, I have to squint to visually separate it from the confusing, murky color palette. It’s difficult to comprehend exceptional design when it’s palette is boring, or worse, mediocre. And the dark, metallic iris palette is exactly that: mediocre.

I’ve seen many a good piece of beaded jewelry (and many a good artist) hiding behind the dark metallic iris palette. Sure the beads themselves tempt us with their shiny colors (as do most beads), but they don’t make the most appealing palettes. They are at best, OK. And who wants to settle for “OK”?

6 Escape Tips

1. Become aware of the trap itself. If you’ve read this article, you’ve handled this.

2. If you have the slightest hesitation about choosing colors (who doesn’t?) grab a color wheel! Pick ONE color, then spin the wheel and read the different combos it shows you. Use one of them.

3. Borrow palette ideas from everything that appeals to you: fabric, clothing, linen catalogues, etc.

4. Educate yourself. The archives of my monthly “Margie’s Muse” column will provide you with more valuable color training than you have time for. FREE! Or read my color books (available on my website). Or take my online color classes.

5. Consciously look at color combinations that excite you. Take the time to determine what makes them work. Chances are the variations of light and dark are a major reason (a feature the dark, metallic iris palette lacks).

6. Take risks! Shut your eyes and grab handfuls of beads, tubes, or hanks. Commit to making a color palette using 3 of them.
If you must create jewelry in the dark metallic iris palette, don’t do so out of self-doubt, insecurity, or ignorance. Do it because it speaks to your soul and makes your spirit sing. Or because your customer will pay you for it.

Life is too short and too delicious for boring beadwork and mediocre palettes.