While casual bead jewelry projects are easy to complete, the more serious ones demand more from the crafter or designer regarding technical skills and aesthetic values. So if you are at that stage where your bead jewelry projects need more sophistication and nuance, we got your back in today’s blog.
Bead Jewelry Projects: Working with Color
Q: I usually seem to go toward the same colors and color families when I go shopping. Isn’t this going to make my job tedious?
A: Certainly not! One strategy to build your color sense and preferences is to do so in this manner. If you keep buying beads you like, you’ll notice that they begin to blend, and a new design idea or combination may emerge.
When you’re out shopping, buy the beads that speak to you (you know what I’m talking about, don’t you?) even if you’re not sure how you’ll utilize them. Experiment and play with your beads when you get home.
One of my favorite things is creating a piece using several tones of the same hue. These two shades of green may not look nice together when used alone, but when paired with a few other greens, like the numerous greens in a garden, they can become attractive.
A piece with various hues of the same color can have texture and depth. To provide balance, use a different color as an accent color, perhaps one from the opposite side of the color wheel. I might use copper beads or persimmon red as an accent hue if I’m blending many colors of green, for example.
You also don’t have to make your color combinations particularly attractive. If everything is too neatly organized, it can give the impression that there is no movement or nothing to look at.
Adding some “wrong” colors to the piece might help to generate tension and make it more fascinating. To give a work a jolt of energy, wake it up, and give it some life, use “rude” tones of yellow, chartreuse, or orange.
You’ll discover many gorgeous examples of color wheels to work with and exciting ideas to explore if you search “color wheel” on Google Images. In addition, color wheels can be found in art and design books if you don’t have access to the Internet.
Q: I don’t think I have a good sense of color. What can I do to make stuff that I’ll enjoy?
A: “I don’t have a good color sense,” someone says every time I teach a lesson. However, your color perception is like a muscle that hasn’t been used long. It may feel rusty when you first use it, but it will develop and grow as you use it. You will get more confident about what you enjoy and don’t like as it grows more robust, courageous, and willing to try new things and take risks.
Make a list of color combinations that appeal to you to develop new ideas for your next project. The colors you prefer can be found in people’s clothing and jewelry, books and publications, home décor, and even art and nature. Experiment with a selection of beads to see how different colors could appear together in lesser amounts.
Q: What resources can I use to learn more about color?
A: I recommend keeping color suggestions in a file folder for inspiration. Tear out magazine ads that you find fascinating or startling in terms of color choices. Color inspiration can be found anywhere from newspapers to magazines.
When you see a full-page ad in a recent magazine, you can bet the company spent a lot of money making sure the colors are vibrant, appealing, and contemporary. So make a beading craft with the colors from the advertisement. You may even take the ad to a bead store to get color matching.
Estimate the proportions of the colors in the advertisement so you can utilize them in your piece similarly. But, of course, the best thing is that you already know the color scheme works and enjoy it!
It’s also vital to remember that the beads in your early pieces aren’t destroyed or finished. This is one of the more pleasant differences between beading and sewing.
Let’s face it: if you don’t like the jacket you stitched, or it doesn’t fit, a prized piece of expensive cloth becomes almost useless.
If you don’t love one of your finished jewelry pieces, remember that you can wear it for a while, break it apart, change the design, remake it, or preserve the beads to use in another piece. So take a chance, make a mistake, and try something new!
Designing a Jewelry Concept
Q: How do I plan a necklace design?
A: I recommend sticking to a simple two-color design for your first endeavor. You can’t go wrong with black and ivory or black and white. If you frequently wear black, you may prefer to wear this simple style all the time. Choose two distinct bead shapes in each hue to add extra diversity. Experiment with a few different designs. (See Experimenting with Design Concepts.)
Keep in mind that you are not yet creating a piece. This is a fun and safe aspect of the design process. Set the samples aside till the following day if they don’t compel you to move forward. Getting out of bed and taking a fresh look at your options can often help you make decisions or develop new ideas. Then you can start working on a peace plan.
Consider adding a third or fourth color to the mix. As you can see, patterning has an unlimited number of possibilities. A necklace also doesn’t have to be the same design all the way around. Larger beads can be used in the center front, or the large beads can be spaced closer together in the front, adding more small beads as you move closer to the back. Alternating two or more distinct sequences around the necklace is also an option.
Playing With Ideas for Design
String 1″ or 2″ of each pattern suggestion on the end of your beading wire to evaluate what looks nice and what you prefer. Another excellent approach to experiment with design, color, and location before starting to make a piece is to lay down larger beads on a bead board.
The first bead or color should be A; the second should be B; the third should be C, and so on. Using letters is a fast technique to note a stringing sequence or design idea. Then, when you’re working on a new project, writing down the sequencing and taping the design samples into your notebook will assist you in jump-starting the process.
Q: What is the purpose of patterns? Isn’t it possible to merely mix and match beads at random?
A: Of course, you don’t have to arrange all of your pieces in excellent, tidy designs. It’s just a good starting point. Beaders jokingly refer to random as the most challenging pattern because it can be difficult to achieve balance and harmony in a random design. It’s acceptable to start there if you’re comfortable with the idea of working at random.
A compromise is also an option; for example, make a necklace with planned designs and then add a wilder tassel with a random design.
Q: I’d like to build a necklace out of a unique string of beads I purchased, but I’m scared I won’t have enough. So, what should I do now?
A: The answer to this problem follows directly from the answers to the previous two questions. You can avoid worrying about whether you have enough of one bead by thinking of a new creation as a combination of several different beads. Work with what you’ve got and allow that constraint to help you design the final product.
Do you need more help with bead jewelry projects? We can help you with a variety of topics, such as:
- Differentitating different bead types and measurements.
- Learning essential wireworking techniques for beading projects.
- The proper way of using crimps and other beads and findings.
- What jump rings are for and how you can use them in bead jewelry projects.
- The essential tools and equipment for beading projects, especially those aimed at crafting DIY bead jewelry.
- Wire wrapping techniques for beginners!
Q: When I look at a whole quantity of beads or a big ounce bag of seed beads, it’s difficult for me to develop a jewelry piece. How can these storage quantities translate into a wearable items?
A: You’re right; the dimensions of a whole hank or bag of beads vary dramatically from how they appear in your finished piece. You should string a few beads before making any final judgments.
If the color of the bead in the packet appears to be excessively bright, keep in mind that you’ll be merging one tiny particle of that color at a time in your work. Also, when the proportions alter, colors become much more subtle, so don’t rule out hues that seem a little too brilliant in the greater quantity.
While the beads are still in the bag or on the hank, you won’t be able to get very far with your design. So instead, cut a string, spread some of each bead out on a mat, and begin experimenting with color combinations.
Then follow your gut; go with what you like and toss out the ideas that don’t appeal to you. As a result, you’ll begin to strengthen and trust your color sense and establish your beading style.
Q: I have a strand of lovely beads but am stumped about what to do with them. So, what do you think?
A: Variety adds interest to a creation, which is why it’s a good idea to have several beads on hand to start. Also, suppose you experiment with bead combinations and colors at home. In that case, you’ll have a few ideas for the new item before entering the bead store and are overwhelmed by the variety of beads available.
Ask for assistance if you need it. Many bead store personnel are highly experienced beaders and even teachers, and they are delighted to give you their ideas on what could look well with your strand of beads. Even if you don’t always agree with their ideas (remember, there is no “correct” solution! ), these suggestions can help you get closer to your vision for this piece. Only buy the beads you’re sure about at each store visit and take your time to let the design emerge.
You don’t need to know what the final piece will look like when you start working on the project. It’s a systematic procedure. You’ll follow that path and make decisions along the way.
Pretend it’s a road map, and you’re trying to figure out which way to go. Do you like this concept? Yes? Then include it. Does that concept appeal to you? Not at all! Change it, then.