Sunday, July 31, 2011

The long-overdue post about the magnificent book Beaded Colorways

Several weeks back I made mention of the book Beaded Colorways and how I intended to blog about it, but was having computer difficulties at the time. Well the keyboard's fixed, the crafts show is long past, so here is my tribute.

I want to declare up front that I don't know the author Beverly Ash Gilbert; I had never even heard of her until I plucked this book off the shelf at my local Borders. (And let's wander off-topic for a sec and all shed a tear for the fact that none of us will be plucking books off Borders shelves anymore.) It's just that I am too novice a beader to be able to offer lots of firsthand advice, so the best way I can make this blog useful is to trumpet a golden resource when I stumble across one.

The cover grabbed me right away--I thought, wow, I want to make THAT. It was exactly what I had been looking for--some way to marry my structural seed bead weaving with the many other types of beads I have--pearls, crystals, random glass beads, stone chips, nuggets.

The necklace on the cover is freeform netting. I have seen lots of freeform beadweaving projects in the beading mags, but frankly, most looked, well, messy to me. Unbalanced. Clashing colors. Perilously constructed. But thanks to Beverly's clear instructions and color guidance, I was able to produce the necklace below as my very first attempt at freeform netting:

Obviously, my piece is monochromatic and does not have the shifting color gradations of hers. But I had confidence in my bead soup mix, thanks to her step-by-step instructions for building complex bead soups with "shadows," "highlights" and "sparkle."

There are tons of books out there on color theory, and some tailored specifically to beads (complementary colors, triads, yada yada), but Beverly gives the clearest explanation I've seen anywhere about the importance of saturation and value. The book also comes with color wheels in the back for you to play with.

Another imaginative feature of the book is to show lovely photographs and then how Beverly builds bead soups from them. The montage below illustrates how she assembled her bead soup from the reds and purples of the grapes and the wine, with sprinkles of green and other hues mixed in for interest.

I have tended to stick with monochromatic color schemes because that's what I feel most comfortable with, but this book is giving me the courage to play with other combinations. I think my first step will be to find some pleasing photographs and build bead soups around them. (I know there are lots of color palette generators out there--anyone have a favorite?)

OK, end of the commercial. I also have to confess I am using this book as a rationale for building up my seed bead stash (Oh, this bead soup would be much more complex if I had THREE shades of rose to add, instead of just one...) And the one bit of personal advice I can throw in, based on my sole freeform beadweaving experience, is to make WAY more bead soup than you think you'll need. For my sea monster above, I kept adding to the soup and ran out of beads in several colors before I was finished.


  1. You're being an enabler here! I want that book NOW! Ha! I love your freeform necklace. Couldn't do that, I don't think. But you did it beautifully -- great fun to see (and probably to wear!). Thanks.

  2. I really need that book too!


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