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About Beading : Design



With our beadwork kits we have given you full instructions with clear diagrams, Beginners Tips and everything you will need to make a beautiful beaded project. On this page we would like to give you some design ideas and criteria so that you may create your own necklace in your own style, and feel proud when you say "I designed it".

You may find the idea of designing your own necklace a rather daunting task, but at its simplest level it involves making a few decisions that you would normally make all the time - what colour should this be? What style of clasp would I like? How long shall it be? How can I incorporate that gorgeous handmade bead I've just bought? What can I wear it with?

There's no reason why you shouldn't marshal your thoughts just that little bit more and gain the confidence and motivation you need to produce a lovely necklace from just one starting point. There are various concepts that you will need to think about, such as Theme and Style, Shape, Palette, Texture, and Stitch before you can even begin threading a needle, but they can all be fun, and you may already have an idea you want to follow, or a reason for making the necklace, such as a special bead, or a new outfit, or a special occasion. Whatever it may be, keep it in mind as you go through the following points:

Theme: firstly focus on what style or theme your necklace should be - chic, glitzy, ethnic, textural, pretty, moody, dramatic, etc (it doesn't matter if your description doesn't have the same meaning for other people, as long as you know what you mean) - or you could be even more detailed such as summer flowers, rock pool, night sky, or such like. That theme will help you to be disciplined when you start to get confused by all the choices available, and it will help you when you get carried away in our bead shop, and want to buy everything!

Shape: what shape necklace do you want? What will suit you? What will you be wearing it with? How will it relate to the style and theme of the piece? Already your options are starting to narrow down: should it be a plain braid or fancy braid, choker or lariat, collar or pendant, rope or elements? These considerations may be easy for you, or you may have to spend quite some time working through them, thinking about your wardrobe, your body-shape, your image and lifestyle.

Stitch: When you have decided what shape necklace you want the next step will be to decide how to achieve it: what stitch or combination of stitches will work? How will it drape or fold (or not)? Will you need to make various elements first before you can assemble them into the finished piece and will they be in the same stitch? Will the stitch or the entire necklace be embellished with different stitches and/or different beads? How much will the stitch contribute to the overall design - or will it be merely a means to an end? These decisions will be based very much on your own confidence and your stitch repertoire - if neither are very large you can still design and make a great necklace by using the other design criteria.

Palette: Firstly relate your colour palette to the style you have already decided upon: what colour will give you the feeling or mood or theme that you want? You may already have a colour in mind - but how to pick the right shade? And how many colours and shades should there be? To do this we should think about the traditional colour theory. The idea is to go for your main colour and then pick an opposite (or complementary) colour on the colour wheel which will really bring your choice to life, and make it more intense, make it zing. On a very simple (or secondary) level we are talking, for example, orange/blue, or purple/yellow. But these contrasts are highly charged, and most of us would feel a little easier if it were toned down a little from the pure colours to say, sand/turquoise, and damson/mustard. So if, for example, you are after a moody or dramatic style then you could think about berry and plum colours with a touch of spice, or deep inky blues with a dash of mandarin.

Or you could decide to get out of your usual play-it-safe rut and use a lot more colour, by going for adjacent hues on the wheel, and all their variants in-between; if you want a relaxed and gentle style then lavender through to blue may be the choice. Or for a bright and vivacious look, go wild with orange through pink, or for a fresh and interesting slant try turquoise to lime. Just remember how you feel when you see all those gorgeous colours for sale at our bead shop - and be brave!

Texture: Once you have chosen your stitch and your palette you can decide how much texture or pattern you would like in your necklace. There is so much choice ranging from the stitch itself to the shape and finish of the beads, but your chosen style will help to keep you focused! Generally, if you want to paint a picture with beads (on an amulet purse, say), then you want beads of the same size and shape and colour choices with as little finish variation as possible - more colour, less texture. Opaque and transparent beads work together well, with the transparent beads doubling up as shading for the opaque. Some of the gloss finishes can be added in as highlights (the lustre of pearl or Ceylon beads are difficult with other gloss or AB finishes) The satin (or semi-matte) beads fulfil a very useful go-between job, particularly with the satin silver-lined which are easier to get along with than their up-front cousins the pure silver-lined beads that ALL want to be stars of the show! But if you are looking for texture or tone rather than a specific design, then go for lots of different finishes within your colour range, and lots of different bead shapes. This is the most fun to shop for and buy!

Balance: You are about ready to start your beading, but give a little thought before you do to the following notes on different aspects of balance, which may make all the difference to your very own wonderful design:

    • If you are making a large necklace with many different elements (or colours or shape or finishes) your eyes will need to rest on certain quieter spots. That could be blocks of quiet (or plain) beads, blocks of plain stitching, or open spaces between beadwork.
    • The eyes also need to travel along the piece so some pattern of beads or way of linking various elements or sections will make them more cohesive and more pleasing.
    • Similarly repetition of groups of beads or elements of an equal visual weight will help to unify the piece, and visually balance it.
    • Consider how your necklace will fasten, and what type of clasp will complement the design, and in addition be practical to use.
    • If your necklace is to have a central focal point, it needs to be weighted so that it falls to the centre. Conversely, if that focal point is excessively heavy (with a massive handmade bead that you just couldn't resist!) you may wish to consider balancing the weight of the necklace for your own comfort with additional beads at the back of the neck.

Now that you have had fun thinking about your necklace and its design it's time to buy those beads and turn your ideas into reality.



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