Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Beading Books and Beyond....

What are you looking for when you buy a beading book?   I know that some people are just interested in projects, while others are looking for a deeper understanding of a stitch or technique.   But, beyond all that, how do you relate to a beading book?   For me, I love beading.  And I love beaders.  Bead books give me so many things and I’ll try to explain it…..

I saw a post a while ago where the person was asking beaders whether they preferred classes that were complicated projects (a project class) or one that concentrated more on teaching about a technique.  The comments showed the diversity you would expect in a group of people… some wanted a project, some a technique,  and others combined the two such that it was technique oriented but the Project was a direct application so they wanted both.   But there was one comment where the person simply said (and proudly proclaimed) they have never taken a class or bought a book.     wow….   This stopped me.

I’ve thought a lot about this response and my reaction is that I feel very sorry for this person.  It may stroke the ego to easily claim that you got where you are solely on your own.  But I think of the cost of this.  I love my craft, and there is no possible way on earth that any one person can have all the ideas out there.  The adoration of isolation in this comment is stunning to me (ok, this was online so let me also add it is delusional in the sense they are seeing pictures of what other people have done and let’s not pretend we are not influenced by our environment).   Anyway, back to my point.  

I love spending time with other beaders!   My gosh, what a wonderful group of people!  (ok, so there are some haters but those are minimal).  Spending time with beautiful, creative people who love to share and have an obsession that I can relate to (collecting beads…) is soooo fun.  When I get a beading book by someone I’ve never met, it is like I have a new friend.  Nice to meet you.  And thank you for sharing your passion, abilities and creativity!  You get an insight into someone you will probably never meet in the flesh but they are available to spend time with you, inspire you, inform you and entertain you anytime you want.  Bad Day?  Pick up a beading book, dive in and live in That world for a while with the friend-you-never-met who wrote the book.  

I recently got a new book.  In terms of techniques, there was nothing new for me.  And it was annoying that it instructed to do things in ways that I totally disagree with and in fact have instructed to NOT DO THAT in my books and classes.  I’ve never done a project, but I read projects.  I am educated by them in terms of “how” that person approached and constructed, what was done first, next, etc.  It is irrelevant that I won’t do That project, the teaching within the project is what I am looking for.   But beyond all that….. I have a new friend!  So what if I don’t agree with everything my new friend has said, that’s ok, happens all the time in life.   And it challenges me.  I don’t agree?  Makes me think about it and challenges me to not only have a position about something, but be able to support the “why” I have that position, helps me to clarify things for myself.  

In all honesty, I have many rationalizations to buy bead books.  I love them (and I’m worth it!).  I love to be informed (knowledge is power!).  I love to see what other beaders are reading (as an author myself, I need to see what my readers may see). 

And I love having a new friend!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Oh yes YOU ARE a designer!

If you are a beader, then you are a designer. You may say “Oh no, I only do projects that others have designed”. But many beaders in this category change the colors or something and this is a design decision. Or you may say “I only buy kits, so there are no design decisions”, but it was you who decided to do THAT kit versus all the other kits available… and that is a design decision.

Then there are people who are not beaders (really? what are you thinking! lol ) and so clearly “they” are not designers. Oh contraire! My guess is that sometime during the day you got dressed and chose That necklace or That bracelet with That outfit and that is a design decision. (insert: ok, you don’t have to BE a beader, but if you never even wear jewelry, then I can’t relate to you at all so you may stop reading…)

Clearly in this world there are many style preferences but regardless of the style you prefer, the design process and concepts apply and understanding the concepts of good design will improve your decisions. And, YEAH!!! there is help for ALL. The recently released book by Margie Deeb will inform and educate you, give you a vocabulary for your thoughts and improve your design decisions.

In the book description: “Here, finally, is a must-have guidebook to the fundamental principles of visual design. Focusing on jewelry, it helps beaders explore concepts such as unity, scale, proportion, balance, rhythm, volume, shape, pattern, texture, movement, drape, and color in their work.”

And from the review by Jean Yates (Amazon Top Reviewer): “If you want to learn more about the world, more about jewelry, more about yourself, and more about the beauty that is all around us and that we can understand and enhance our own creations with, get this book. There is absolutely no way you can resist this book if you love learning and you love jewelry!”

This is not a book with projects. It’s better. It is about every project you have ever done and will ever do in the future.

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Different Way to Look At Needles

Beading needles are an essential part of beading, there is no argument there. I have often seen lots of discussions about the “best” needle. Some people love the John James brand, other beaders are faithful to the Pony brand, and still others love the price and use the Lance brand. I’ve noticed that most suppliers tell you the brand because they know it matters. And oh how those John James lovers are questioning their product. So, here’s the scoop on John James. In the past, all the needles were produced in England, then they got a factory in China. I for one loved the old needles and do NOT like the new ones… they just break in half Frequently. The needles made in England have a dragon logo on the package and the ones from China have a lotus flower on the package. So, if you have some with the dragon… yeah!

And when a new brand comes out with a needle, there is always lots of excitement. When Tulip needles came out, there was an immediate buzz… finally a needle that doesn’t get bent easily! This is simply not an issue for me, but I can see that many beaders value this as a criteria. (Personally, I look at my bent needles with the same fondness I have for my grey hairs!)

This discussion is not about which brand is best, that is a personal choice. But what I do want to offer for your consideration is to look at needles as a tool. The following is an excerpt from my new book Bead Play with Fringe:

“When beading with size 11/0 seed beads, the favorite needle size to use is a size 12. If you only want to stock one size needle in your stash, that is the recommended size. Another way to view needles is that they are a “tool” and having a variety of sizes including 10, 12 and 13 is useful. A size 10 needle is easier to thread and hold so use it to start projects. The added advantage of using a larger needle is that it will help cull out any beads with small holes since the needle won’t easily fit. This is especially true when later steps call for stitching through the beads again. Switch to a Size 12 needle when you perform the latter steps which call for stitching through beads several times. Have some size 13 needles available to use when you need to stitch through a bead again, but it is too tight for a size 12 needle. Replacing the needle to change the size is easy when working with single thread. If a process calls for doubled thread, just use the smaller size needle (size 12) since you can’t change the needle as you bead.”

The point here is that your beading tool box will have many sizes of needles in it and you would choose your needle depending upon what you were doing. In the past, I stocked and used a size 12 needle only. After all, isn’t that what beading projects call for? However I changed my perspective seeing the needle as a tool. So I expanded my inventory of needles (this is not expensive) including the other sizes (I even have some size 15 needles just in case. I haven’t used them yet but I know that when I need them that they will be there). When I am beading, I don’t just automatically pull out a needle. Instead, I’ll think about what stitch I am doing, or what I am making and choose the best needle for the task. As a general rule, I want to use that size 10 needle simply because it is so easy to thread. It helps to cull beads with a too small hole and is easy and comfortable to hold.

Another aspect of my “needle toolbox” is that I have different types of needles and lengths. So, I have some Big Eye needles. I use these when I need to weave in two tails and the holes of the beads are large enough to accommodate them. Big Eye needles let me thread both tail threads at one time – fast and easy. (I’m all for anything that saves me time!). Another needle I have is a 4 inch needle. Yes that is super long but I have had instances where I needed to go through beads that are longer than the average needle. I don’t like it when I have to stop working on a project and purchase something to be able to finish it… so I keep them in stock.

Needles=Tool. I hope this helps you in your beading life!