Greg, as an avid bead stringer and bead weaver, I can tell you that
most of the books out there that are aimed toward “newbies” do not
give exact instructions. They all assume that the reader already
knows the basics of the basics. This is not always true. These books
will have gorgeous photos and minimal (if any) instructions. That
said, I would like to recommend a beginner’s book that is truly aimed
toward beginners. This is a self-published work that (IMHO) is well
written and has lots of projects included. The title is “Beading with Ruby : a beginner’s guide to creating beautiful beaded jewelry” by
Sandi (Ruby) Fischer. The book is available as a CD only, or book and
CD together on her website: www.rubysbeadwork.com. I am a very
satisfied customer and recommend her book to anyone who will listen.
As far as tools are concerned, for bead weaving, not many are
needed. A good pair of flush cutters, round nose pliers, flat nose
pliers and chain nose pliers should be more than enough. Oh, and a
couple pairs of hemostats would be great too. Beading needles are
fairly long and have small eyes. We also use either beeswax or a
product called “Thread Heaven” (I prefer beeswax). Threads available
are many and varied, but almost all of us use Nymo D, so you couldn’t
go wrong with that.
As far as the beads themselves are concerned, the best source that
I’ve found yet is Fire Mountain Gems IF you plan to buy in any
quantity. Their assortable policy really helps bring the price down
when buying beads, especially the Delicas. If you’re not familiar
with Delicas, these are the ones that are shaped so uniformly that
working with them and the lesser expensive Czech beads, is the
difference between night & day. So perhaps a gift certificate to FMG
might be a possibility?
There are several good books that focus on only one type of beadwork
[square stitch, bead looms,bead crochet, herringbone etc] but your
wife could pick these out after she finds a favorite stitch.
You might also go to your local bookstore and find copies of Bead &
Button Magazine [the december issue is availbale now] and BeadWork
Magazine [a new issue is due out in the next week]. She may want to
subscribe to one or both of these.
Tools: Various needles, various stringing threads…sizes and types
depend on the stitch and size of bead, a pointer for knot removal,
good sharp scissors, good magnification, a very good lamp [I love my
Ott Light], glue for sealing knots [I use G-S Hypo Cement], a pad
for beading on [I use a square of Velux], a beading board.
I think that’s a good start. If you go to a beading store, they can
help you with all this stuff and I’m sure you’ll get other ideas
from Orchid people.
How are your wife’s eyes? Bead weaving is done with tiny beads for
the most part. Think Native american Loom Work.
Bead stringing can go from the tiniest to rather large. Best to have
an idea of which would give her the most pleasure. There are several
good bead sites online and Google will head you there. Consider a
subscription to a Bead specific magazine. I include some among my
jewelry interest subscriptions.
Some purists online consider beads the bottom of the pit, don’t even
get involved in defending your gift to your wife. A good Bead Shop
in your neighborhood may be the best place to start. They usually
offer free lessons, and can recommend necessary equipment, and
demystify cord size vs. bead hole size.
Beading can also be done on fine wire or even fine chain. the hole
size of the selected beads will determine the feasibility.
There is a book Big Book of Beautiful Beads, Krause Publications. I
bought mine at Costco, item #738709, price $12.69. It offers over
100 beading projects, well presented with excellent instructions. It
is rather comprehensive, with wonderful color photographs of each
i have carol wilcox wells’ books on seed weaving. i like the art &
elegance of beadweaving better than creative bead weaving for some
reason; just find the instructions easier to follow, somehow…not
that i compared them in detail. i have made a # of chevron chokers
from art & elegance .
for tools…i have the swanstrom plier set from rio & they’re great!
but if she’s just getting interested, you might wanna get some less
expensive ones to start with.then you can give her better ones
beadyeyed girls coming soon to the dot com near you!
If you are interested, I have listed a very good beginner’s book on
EBay (Item Number ebay link removed), for 1.99 + P&P,
which really does assume that you know nothing, has clear
instructions and diagrams, and I found it a very useful first book.
Step-By-Step Bead Stringing:
A Complete Illustrated Professional Approach (Beadwork Books)
By Ruth F. Poris
Manufacturer : Golden Hands Press
Release data : 15 March, 2001
I second the opinion on Carol Wilcox Wells’ book, Creative Bead
Weaving. I recommend it to all my students and to anyone else who
asks where to start. In my opinion it is, hands down, the best book
ever produced on bead weaving techniques. She is a woman after my own
heart: a graphic designer turned bead weaver. The excellent diagrams
are evidence of her past work in design.
Courtney Graham Hipp
cgHipp Jewelry Designs
One of my favorites, especially for loom-woven beadwork, is “Those
Bad Bad Beads” by Virginia Blakelock, which can be had at www.beadcats.com and probably at Amazon as well. It is not as
“flashy” as other books, being an inexpensively produced
spiral-bound number with no color photos, but the clearly written
instructions and nicely drawn diagrams are indispensable.
Blakelock shares many of the kind of tips that make even experienced
beaders go “Jeez, why didn’t I think of that before?”
If your wife has an interest in Native American traditional styles,
the best book out there is Georg Barth’s classic “Native American
Beadwork.” (Note first name spelling) Again, no flashy color
plates, but many well-illustrated step-by-step techniques, including
such rarities as heddle-loom weaving and bias-weaving. Plus, you
can talk to the author anytime you like, as he’s a regular on the
Hide Out forum on www.braintan.com.
As for inspiration (and really nice flashy color pictures), I can
hardly think of a better source than “The New Beadwork,” by Kathlyn
Moss, which showcases recent work by folks who would like beadwork
to be taken seriously as an art form. This is one of those books
that is so packed with beautiful photos of innovative work that your
head will slosh for a while after you look at it, what with all the
new ideas rolling around in there.
As for tools and supplies, just give your wife the Beadcats catalog
and a bunch of cash. She’ll have a bash!
Betty Leeper’s post reminded me of another very good bead source I’d
like to plug: Jane’s Fiber and Beads, who can be found on the web at www.janesfiberandbeads.com. They carry an incredible selection of
Japanese 11/o beads, as well as good quantities of Delicas of all
shapes and sizes and a good range of 14/o colors. They also tend to
carry lots of books, including some hard-to-find Japanese ones. JFB
frequently attends Gem Street shows here in Cincy, as well as other
such venues all over the country, and they are wonderful people to
work with, very helpful, cheerful, and friendly.
Usual disclaimers: I don’t work for 'em; I don’t sleep with 'em; I
just like their beads!
Hope all you American Orchidians are having a lovely Thanksgiving and
staying far away from your computers, unlike me. As for Orchidians of
other nationalities, I hope you’re having an equally lovely Thursday