Friday, May 14, 2010

Techniques for Great jewelry design – the power of editing and how to play with beads.

The power of editing.

I own a bead shop and am therefore spoiled by having everything I need right at my fingertips when I decide to design a new project. It’s a wonderful thing for our customers as well, to have access to an enormous array of choices. However, that can be intimidating for someone new to beading. Here are some techniques we use every day to help all our customers design jewelry they love. Give this a try with your own bead stash!

1. Start with a bead you love. I will hand someone a bead board and encourage them to walk around the shop, and let their eyes wander and start by choosing beads they are drawn to. It’s important to let this instinct guide you.

2. Next, start choosing other beads you love. Don’t think about whether they “match” or if the finishes go together. Ditch all your preconceived notions about what goes together and just pick things you love.

3. Make sure to select more beads than you think you need to complete your design. I’m just designing a bracelet in the photos, but just LOOK at all those beads!

4. Now, just start playing. Arrange the beads on the bead board, swap them around, try out different combinations and sequences. Try things that are unexpected. While you’re doing this, trust your inner design eye to help you edit out whatever doesn’t work. You may need to go back and get more of one bead or another.

5. Eventually, you’ll edit your selections down to something that’s beautiful, and you’ll love it because you started out with what you were naturally drawn to.

Finally, I always find it amazing that for our younger customers, under 12 years old, we don’t have to explain any of these steps. Kids have such free minds that all the techniques I just told you about come naturally, and they come up with some absolutely awesome designs. You can too – just start with more and edit out, and remember how to play like a kid!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Twisty Easy Tubular Herringbone!

I'm so excited to be back blogging again! I've got SO many new ideas to share that I thought I'd start out with some detailed project instructions for this fun, quick weave.

I came up with this design at a playday at my dear friend Ann's house, where I need to work on quick, easy projects or I don't get anything done in the creative melee that occurs there monthly. NOT complaining; it's just that some projects are better left to quite time in the studio. We were nearing the end of the day and I was sorting through some beads and came across some 12mm bugles I had in my stash. I added some size 11 rocailles in a matching color, size 10 beading needle, and Sono thread. Here's the result:
Start with a two-bead ladder, 4 rows long, using size 11 seed beads (rocailles).

Join the ends together to form a tube, and add another row of herringbone using the size 11 seed beads.

Now, work one row of two-drop herringbone, using a 12mm twisted bugle bead, two size 11 seed beads, and another bugle bead for each set of beads you stitch (two sets per row). Step up after the second set. Continue adding rows until you reach the desired length, and finish with a clasp.

I finished mine with a loop and beaded toggle, but you could also stitch on your clasp of choice. This beaded necklace was completed in about two hours - not bad for a stitched piece of that length!
These instructions are necessarily brief for this blog format, but I imagine a moderately experienced beader familiar with tubular herringbone weave will catch on and make this fun and QUICK project without any trouble.
If you like to bead with people and want to try this project, come by the shop some Friday night during Open Beading (6-9pm every Friday night) and I'll help you with it!
Now, go bead something!