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Beading Library Staples

January 29, 2016 , In: Book Reviews, Inspiration
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I’m writing this on a work day – as I’m snowed into my apartment on this lovely January morning.  I’m fully stocked for a nice laid back day:

  • left over pizza in the fridge
  • hot almond chai tea in hand
  • cuddled under quilts
  • cat on my belly…
What else could one want for an unexpected day away from the office?  Oh yes, a fully stocked library of bead books!
If you’ve been beading or making jewelry for any length of time, I’m sure you have a bead library too!  In fact, even if you’re a complete beginner, you probably have a few books or magazines already!  Books are one of the best sources of education and inspiration, so today I’m going to share with you a few of my favorites.  I reach for these books any time my muse has taken a vacation…I flip through their pages and become inspired by all of the colors, textures and shapes, stitches I haven’t yet mastered, components I haven’t worked with (but probably have stashed away somewhere).  
The History of Beads by Lois Sherr Dubin 
The History of Beads has been part of my collection since highschool.  Originally published in 1987, in 2009 Ms Dubin revised and expanded her original writings to include new archaeological findings (ie really OLD beads).  If you are at all interested in the impact of beads on human culture and society through the ages this book needs to be a part of your collection.  It is so amazing to me that simple objects with holes in them have been so integral to humanity since the beginning…I mean, we’re still obsessed with them!
North American Indian Jewelry and Adornment by Lois Sherr Dubin

Also by Ms Sherr Dubin, North American Indian Jewelry and Adornment, is a huge tome.  Full of fantastic full color pictures of works by tribes all over North America.  As a seed beader, I have always been intrigued and inspired by Native American work.  No, my style may not really be reflective of the aesthetic, but of the creative philosophies?  Yes definitely.

The Beader’s Color Mixing Directory by Sandra Wallace
Ok, I know you’re all probably aware that color is hugely important to me in my creative process and in my finished work.  There are several other color books out there that are directed towards beaders, but this one is my favorite.  The first chapter is all about color theory, and how it applies to beads.  There are a few simple projects, but my favorite thing about this book in particular are all of the color combinations.  The middle of the book is full of 2 page spreads all revolving around a color scheme or theme.  The author has photographed multiple pieces of beaded jewelry that fit into each theme, and broken down the colors contained in each piece so it’s really easy to recreate the look of the color scheme, no matter what you are making.  If you are struggling with combining seed beads, struggling with how the beads look different when they’re playing with each other, rather than solitary in their packaging, this book might help you!
The Beader’s Floral by Liz Thornton and Jill Devon (Amazon link, but you may have better luck purchasing through a UK bookseller)

The Beader’s Floral is one of the very best flower beadwork books that I have found.  I discovered this book when I was hung up on a flower idea in my head…and just couldn’t get my thread and beads to make what I had dreamed up.  Not only is this book full of wonderful instruction to make a variety of flowers out of a variety of stitches…but it spurred me to think about the flower in my head differently.  Eventually, with studying this book and experimentation (though no more frustration), I finally figured out exactly how to translate the flower in my head to beads.

Contemporary Geometric Beadwork volumes 1 and 2 by Kate McKinnon
Over the last several years, Kate McKinnon has done something truly amazing with and for the beading community.  She has collaboratively compiled a collection of techniques that allow us to make fantastic, soaring, architectural geometric beadwork…and explained it in such a way that my logical yet freeform brain can work with.  I love that these are truly technique books – if you want instructions for a project, you will not like these books.  If you want to grow your technique vocabulary and learn how to experiment with more geometric shapes, these books are what you need.  I also love Kate’s writing style – somehow she manages to write about beads and beadwork in a similar way to how I talk in my head about them.  Maybe someday, my writing will catch up with hers!
 
Explorations in Freeform Peyote Beading by Karen Williams
 
Freeform beadwork is a hard concept to teach.  A lot of beaders get entrenched in symmetricality, instruction, and doing things “right”.  For me, freeform beadwork happens after you have learned a library of techniques and are able to let go and experiment.  A lot of times people ask me how they can learn freeform – there are so few books and tutorials out there.  When Explorations in Freeform Peyote Beading arrived in my mailbox, I was ecstatic to find that I finally could recommend something to the next person that asked me about freeform beadwork.  Ms Williams thoroughly describes and illustrates her process with gorgeous photos and techniques…and then branches off into interviewing and showcasing other artists and their individual freeform processes.  Some people plan ahead, some people draw sketches, and some people just have an idea and run with it.  It is so wonderful to have several people describe their own approach in one book, I would highly encourage you to seek out this book just to read those parts!
Outside the Box by Laura McCabe
Confession…I might have a eensy teeny weeny beadfangirl crush on Laura McCabe and her work.  Actually a HUGE one, so when I discovered her self published (print on demand) book Outside the Box, I ordered immediately.  When the diminutive book arrived, I dove right in to discover that this book is not only a fantastic showcase of Ms McCabe’s work and the evolution of it, but also of her inspirations and influences.  After thoroughly showing how each of these interests has affected her work, she encourages the reader to self discover their own design influences, to seek those things that inspire your creative side, and to embrace them whole heartedly.  I think this awareness of influence, evolution and inspiration is the main thing that makes each of our art so distinct from the next person.
500 Beaded Objects and Showcase 500 Beaded Jewelry, both part of the Lark 500 Series
I think there is probably at least one book in Lark Publishing’s 500 Series that any creative person would enjoy.  From teapots to tables, ceramic to paper, these books are purely inspirational eye candy.  These are my favorites, Beaded Objects and Beaded Jewelry.  Visitors to my apartment can usually find one of these volumes in my bathroom, perfectly situated for bathtub browsing or late night insomnia relief.  Any time I need inspiration, I just track down these books (because they’re rarely on the bookshelf) and delve into the amazing showcase of color, texture, technique and shape that has been collected between the covers.
 
And there you have it beadzillas!  My favorite bead books for a snowy (or any other) day!  Are these volumes in your library yet?  Is my bookshelf missing something?!?!  Please do share!
 

Lindsay Star

Lindsay Starr is a beadwork and mixed media artist currently based in Nashville, TN. She spent her early childhood in Alaska, and her school age and college years in Oregon. Lindsay has a great appreciation for history, science, and nature and is consistently inspired by insects, sea life, color, and the significance of beads and beadwork throughout human history. She spends her days beading, walking at the zoo, and practicing yoga. Lindsay loves to share her knowledge and passion for beads and beadwork to hobbyists of all skill levels.
  1. Reply

    Wow! How inspirational! I'm going to have to look up Laura Mc Cabe she sounds exciting! Thank you.

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