5 Tips for Designing with Color

Tips for Designing with Color

Marlene Blessing, editor in chief of Beadwork

Color is such a key element of good design. Yet each of us wrestles now and then with being in a color rut—"I only buy  purple beads"—or wondering what shade of blue brings out the best in a new multicolored lampworked pendant. Do you ever watch The View on TV? If so, you’ll understand how much fun it is to poll several of our bead magazine editors and learn new and different angles from each one.


Denise Peck, the editor of Step by Step Wire Jewelry, gives advice on adding color to wire jewelry:

"Wire jewelry, by its nature, is not very colorful. But there are so many beautiful colors of craft wire and aluminum wire now available that it’s a cinch to spice things up. Perhaps more challenging is complementing the subtle tones of silver, copper, and gold wire with colored beads. Silver wire has cool, gray undertones that look fabulous with shades of blue, black, and white—like the pearls and crystals of Jodi Bombardier’s Grapevine cuff bracelet in my new book, Wire Style. Similarly, the warmth of gold wire blends beautifully with oranges, reds, and browns. Copper wire looks lovely with amber-colored beads but can also really stand out with complementary colors like blue and violet. Don’t be afraid to keep a color wheel by your work space to remind you of combinations you may not have thought of in your designs."

From Leslie Rogalski, editor in chief of Step by Step Beads, comes some design savvy for creating "selective impact" with color:

"Black is a staple color of the graphic shapes and designs for which I am known. For instance, to bring a powerful look to a piece using crystals, I played off the reflective drama of Comet Argent Light bicones against matte black seed beads. By placing the sparkle only on the tips of the fringe bracelet I call Anemone, I created a lushness that sets off both the glittering crystals and the rich velvet blackness of the matte beads (Step by Step Beads, January/February 2008). In another version of the Anemone bracelet, I chose metallic copper beads to tip fringes of a mix of matte iris blues and purples and gave the bracelet the same rich look."



elle Fox, our Stringing editor, often looks at color in terms of the latest fashion trends:

"In the Fall 2008 issue of Stringing  we discuss one of our favorite color trends: ombré, a French term meaning items that have colors or tones that shade into each other. Think of it as tie-dye’s glamorous cousin. To achieve the ombré effect in your jewelry, try using beads in graduating shades of the same color or subtly blend shades of one color into shades of another color."





Melinda Barta, managing editor for Stringing and Beadwork, recommends mixing metals to create color and excitement in your designs:

"I can't recall how often I find myself about to finish a project and end up short just one matching jump ring. My solution? Throw the idea of perfectly matched components to the wind and mix your metals! If you hesitate to dive in, start slow by choosing bright beads and charms for your most eye-catching elements, as I did for my A Love of Travel Charm Bracelet from Custom Cool Jewelry. Notice how the mixed components become mere texture."



My Own Earth Girl View

Can you tell we’ve each got our own perspectives? Me, I’m a fool for color. But more often than not I get in a groove where everything I touch is earthy-looking—especially green. The fiery rust-red in my Rings of Saturn necklace in Easy Wire shows how even an earth girl can learn to heat up her palette.  Buy our October/November 2008 issue of Beadwork to find designs that go all the way from bright to earthy to romantic and beyond! 








New Free Project:

Holiday Crochet Necklace
Barbara Richard

Crochet a mix of green/gold size 11 cyclinder beads and a few clusters of size 15 red seed beads for this holly-branch necklace.  The leaf dangles near the pendant and on the toggle clasp are created with peyote stitch.  The project is from Beadwork magazine.  Be sure to check out the October/November issue of Beadwork for more ideas on how to embellish pendants with seed bead stitching. 



Marlene Blessing is the editor in chief of Beadwork magazine and co-author of Create Jewelry: PearlsCreate Jewelry: Crystals, and Create Jewelry: Stones.  She is also a frequent presenter on the PBS-TV series Beads, Baubles & Jewels.


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