Monday, July 15, 2013

Unconcious Designing Part 1

Are you an Unconscious Designer?

First let me say, this blog may sound like criticism, but it is meant to be helpful.  So, now that I’ve explained my motivation, put any hurt feelings aside and let’s talk. And while this discussion relates primarily to bead embroidery designs, it can have application to other bead techniques. 

The most common design error I see with bead embroidered designs is a lack of proportion.  Good design concepts include PROPORTION AND BALANCE.

“Proportion is the relationship of two or more elements in a design and how they compare with one another. Proportion is said to be harmonious when a correct or desirable relationship exists between the elements with respect to size, color, quantity, degree, or setting. Good proportion adds harmony, symmetry, or balance among the parts of a design.”  From

 Sure, you can bend the rules to achieve a shock with a design, but the pieces I see that violate this design concept aren’t trying to do that. 

There are two commonly seen errors:  One is a bead embroidered pendant type design that is hanging from a tiny strand of beads.  The other is when joining bead embroidered sections and using a tiny design for the connection point(s).  I totally understand that the construction may be sufficient such that the piece will not fall apart (strong thread, numerous stitches)  BUT…..

 it LOOKS like it will fall apart!

The only explanation I have for these designs is that the designer was so focused on the bead embroidered portion that the design as a whole wasn’t even looked at.  This is easy to do.  The fun part of the design is the bead embroidery and this is where the main focus is.  However, your design is not complete until the entire necklace/bracelet/earring is finished.  Other people will look at the design in its totality, not just a section of it.  If the proportion is off for these other parts of the design, then the whole design fails.  Sorry, it is just a fact.

So, if you think it doesn’t matter, take a picture of the design with that tiny strand of beads.  Now redo it and use AT LEAST a 6mm round (if not 8mm..) and take a picture. Don’t ask a beader (they can make the same error as you and look only at the bead embroidered section) instead ask your husband or some other non-beader friend which picture they like better.  They will always choose the redone version because the proportion of the piece is corrected.  And really, you can’t just show the piece to hubby and ask if he likes it; that’s like asking if you look fat in those jeans.  Unless they a person that never learns, he knows how he needs to answer. So, you need to make it safe for the person you are asking an opinion of… they can pick from two different pictures so no insult is implied. 

Getting compliments on your necklace or “likes” on facebook is not a good tool to evaluate your design.  People will give you compliments because they like you and you made it.  People want to encourage you.  Likes on facebook don’t explain whether the person likes the whole, or just part of it.

Good design is a fuzzy thing…. People have different tastes.  There can always be an aspect of something that speaks to someone’s unique experience creating a unique bond.  In other words, as my sister and I have observed “There is nothing so ugly that it won’t sell”.  But, there truly are rules for GOOD design and one of them is proportion.  Criticize your own work and try to be honest.  When you are finished, ask yourself if you have violated this fundamental principle.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Bead Embroidery Jewelry Projects Book

Bead Embroidery Jewelry Projects: Design and Construction, Ideas and Inspiration

What’s it all about? 

I have a new bead embroidery book coming out with an official release date of Nov 1, 2013 and I see from the pre-orders on Amazon, it is doing pretty well.  So….. I thought it might be a good time to explain what this book is (and what it is not).

From an overall perspective,  I see this book as the final in a series, a trilogy, for bead embroidery.  The first is Beading with Cabochons (2005).  This book simply and gently takes you from “I’ve never done any of this technique” to a confident successful bead embroider.  Between the photos, illustration and text, you will be able to proceed with confidence and expand your understanding…..  Oh and by the way, probably become a bead embroidery addict!  You will want to keep this book in your library to refer to the numerous techniques for bezels, attachment methods and edges.

The second book in the trilogy is Dimensional Bead Embroidery (2011).  This book contains MANY techniques, not only new bezels, attachments and edges, but expands to include many surface stitches.  Again, it is a useful reference book you’ll want to refer to as you create your own designs. 

Although each of the above books contain projects, the lasting value is because of all of the techniques they have (and they don’t have duplicates).  I have observed that most bead embroidery is one-of-a-kind, in other words, most people who do bead embroidery are not primarily interested in doing a project from a book.  However, the value of the projects is still important because they show how to use the techniques, show the techniques in action so-to-speak.  

My philosophy is that techniques are the “tools” we use to create our designs and the more tools (techniques) that are available to us, the easier and more successful our designs can be.  This is the value of the first two books.  I have created an index that includes both books which you can download.   It shows a small photo of the technique and includes which book it is in and the page number.  I keep this printout right by me in the studio…. So I can easily see the options when I am creating a piece.  It helps me to keep my designs fresh and not just do the same thing all of the time!

In order to fully and completely explain all of the techniques, there is very little room left in the book for projects or explain designing.  This is where the final book in the trilogy comes into play…..

So first let me say it is an unusual book because there is not a Basics section like you are used to seeing which explains beads, thread, tools, etc.  Nor will you find a section on how to do the stitches.  This is really a continuation of the previous books     AND     the stitches and techniques are fully explained in those  books, so…. Do you really need another section on how to do Backstitch? Instead, the Basics section relates to the basics of design and the basics of construction.  How to design, do’s and don’ts with construction, how to make templates for collars, etc.

Yes this is a book that contains over 30 projects.  AND they are fully explained projects so you can simply do them or you can easily use them to create your own interpretation.  What is different is that besides the projects, there is information on how that projects’ design was developed so you can easily develop your own unique designs.   The book begins with necklaces designated as “The One” (basically pendant designs) and proceeds to Totem designs, followed by “the Many”, then designing using a bead collections and also doing Asymmetrical designs.   After necklaces are chapters for earrings, pins and bracelets.  Each have a discussion of their unique design and construction issues.

What makes this book different is what you are learning.  Each project was selected to specifically teach a design process or something about construction methods.  Like my previous books there are many “TIPS” included.  But beyond tips, there are “Lessons” which are more full discussions, or steps and further explanations about the design or construction methodology. 

So, if you know how to do bead embroidery stitches, this takes the next step to using them in designing jewelry.  There is an index in back that shows the stitches but it really is a reference for understanding and communicating since many stitches have different names to different people.  I may use a stitch in a project and I may refer to is as one name, but you know it as another name; this index will help in that communication issue. (yes, I am anticipating the Amazon review that complains they don’t have enough information to do the stitches even though the intro and other areas SAY it doesn’t have that…. )

And it’s 160 pages.  (look at your other bead books, most are 128 pages… )



It is for anyone who knows basic stitches, both beginners and advanced bead embroiders.  This will be a resource for how to use those basic stitches to create jewelry designs.

 Even if you’ve been doing bead embroidery for a long time, there are valuable tips and techniques you’ll want to have….. Not to mention, it will be a great resource to expand your design possibilities and get you over a hump when you are having a creative block.