Friday, February 13, 2015

Book review: Textured Bead embroidery

Anyone who knows me knows I adore books. All kinds, all shapes and sizes... and I enjoy building a library of art books for technique, education and inspiration. Jen Cameron sent me "Textured Bead Embroidery" a while back - and I was waiting to really have a chance to dive in, make something, and give it serious thought. I'm a relatively new seed bearer; open to new ideas!
Linda Landy has a book of eye candy here! (I mean that in the best way!) The book at first thumb-through is filled with clear and colorful diagrams, and tantalizing pictures. It was published in October 2014 - so I think some of you may have seen it by now? If not - go! ( available online and at book stores near you.)

My favorite section = The Bead Directory. Daggers! Lentils! Drops! Spikes! As well as the old faithful bugles, hex, keishi pearls... The break down of shapes was informative, and the images were very inspirational! Ways to use these fun shapes in bead embroidery - made all sorts of ideas pop into MY head! (And I hadn't even gotten to projects yet...)

Part of my stash of shapes: Drops, O beads, bugles, daggers, lentils...

The authors projects are informative and diverse. They range from earrings to collar style necklaces. There are even elaborate 3D structures created from interfacing then beaded on... totally breaking the surface plane and creating a unique form to embellish. The instructions are not only clear, including diagrams - but there is a CD of patterns included in the book. 

The image below is a detail of a cuff bracelet - the Sakura bracelet. I love the texture here, the alternating bead shapes... While this isn't my preferred color palette, I can envision using these design ideas. Olive, turquoise and teal, analogous and harmonious... with undulating currents created by alternating bead shapes? Yes. Mermaid cabochon? Yes!

I was also drawn to the artist/author's use of asymmetry. Its one of my biggest (self-imposed) challenges when doing a bead embroidered piece. After a bezel, it seems so logical to continue in concentric patterns around the focal. I am always trying to vary that in my work and create balanced asymmetry. Linda's book has given me ideas in that respect as well. 

The final portion of the book includes pertinent information on sketching, composition, creating harmony/unity in a piece. The arts educator in me was thrilled with this! Technique and design must go hand in hand! 

So - lets put my new knowledge to the test, shall we? 
As you may remember, January was "Use your stash" month here at AJE. I had a Funny Face cab from Diana that I wanted to create hair for. Keeping it silly, irreverent... After reading the Bead Directory mentioned above, I know how to do a "support row" and sew my drop beads in so they would stand... I also gave bugles a try. Here it is... 
Peyote bezel, embellished with O beads, drops, bugles...
While I was working this popped into my head - Empress Theodora from a Byzantine mosaic, located in the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna Italy.  (Theodora (Greek: Θεοδώρα; c. 500 – 28 June 548), was Empress of the Byzantine empire and the wife of Emperor Justinian I. She was one of the more influential and powerful empresses of the Byzantine empire. )

It was something about the bugles/crown/halo. LOL. Once an Art History geek, always an Art History geek. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts - on my Funny face, and/or on the book if you have read it! 

* Disclosure - Yes, we received a copy of the book to review. No - we were not paid in money, beads, wampum, etc. for said review. Opinions expressed are mine, but I do think you'd like the book. *


  1. I haven't tried bead embroidery myself but I love the look especially cuff style bracelets. I love your face pendant, kind of a look of surprise.

  2. Looks like a very inspirational book...I keep threatening to try bead embroidery since I have a love/hate relationship with seed beads...just worried about gaining another addiction. Love your piece too.

  3. Your funny face lady is adorable. Bead embroidery is my favorite thing to do. To anyone wanting to learn bead embroidery I highly recommend Jamie Cloud Eakin's book "Dimensional Bead Embroidery" or "Beading with Cabochons."She breaks it down into steps and gives lots of options for each step. She really teaches you to design not jut follow a pattern.


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