How to Design Beaded Beads Like a Pro Using Two-Hole Shaped Beads
It’s the start of the summer bead show season and that always spells trouble for me. No matter how carefully I compose my shopping list and plan my budget, I always return home with a bag full of shaped beads.
A quick look at my bead stash confirms that I find shaped beads irresistible. I own a drawer full of assorted lentils, bars, triangles, squares, and cubes in a rainbow of colors. The problem? I don’t always know how best to use them. This is especially true of the two-hole beads, which add a layer of complexity. I know that I can always string them for an easy necklace. (In fact, if you take a close look at my Find Your Wings necklace in the June/July 2017 issue of Beadwork, you’ll see that I did exactly that with a few 2-hole lentils.) But I want to challenge myself to use two-hole shapes beads in more bead weaving jewelry designs and to make beaded beads.
Tips for Designing Your Own Jewelry and Beaded Beads Using Two-Hole Shaped Beads
When I discovered that jewelry designer Cindy Holsclaw used two-hole beads successfully, I knew I wanted to learn some of her expert tips. Here’s what I learned from Cindy:
Find Inspiration in Unexpected Places
I love that Cindy Holsclaw combines her science background (including a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular biology) with her love of beading. In the “Artist Spotlight: Cindy Holsclaw” interview, Cindy states, “As with my interest in beadwork, in my studies I was most drawn to interesting chemical forms and structures–and I enjoy creating the same forms with beads.” I am not a scientist (except occasionally an accidental one with forgotten foods in my refrigerator!), but learning about Cindy’s passion made me look more closely at my own interests. Maybe shaped beads could be my launching pad to exploring beaded versions of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them? Or maybe instead of cursing the dandelions that are springing up on my lawn, I could try to study one and recreate it in beads?
Choose the Right Beads
Not all two-hole beads work best for all designs. In her DVD Weaving Beaded Beads with Two-Hole Beads, Cindy starts with two-hole CzechMate bar beads. These symmetrical beads have evenly spaced holes, making them easier to use in a jewelry design. In contrast, triangle beads with their pair of holes only on one side are more challenging to use. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t use them, but maybe save them for your second two-hole bead design.
Change Elements One at a Time
When doing a scientific experiment, you need to be able to track which changes lead to which results. It’s better to make small changes one at a time rather than a bunch of changes all at once. The same basic principles can help you make your own jewelry design a success. Change the shape of just one bead, for example, to see if you like the results before proceeding.
I personally find this philosophy sensible, but challenging. If a bead weaving design isn’t working, I might normally change the colors, sizes, and bead shapes all at the same time. My reasoning is that I’m saving time by efficiently doing everything at once, but when my experiment doesn’t work (as it often doesn’t), then I’m unsure about the next step. Should I change the bead shape again? The color? The bead size? Sometimes it’s not clear.
Forget About Failure
What is the worst that can happen? Even if you end up dismantling the whole necklace or bracelet, you’ll have learned something that will serve you in the next beading project. Remember that sometimes mistakes can lead to design breakthroughs. I loved how in her Weaving Beaded Beads with Two-Hole Beads DVD, Cindy shows an example of how she switches out one of the beads in her beaded beads and found the final bead was too small to hold a center crystal pearl. To solve this problem, she simply substituted a different size of pearl. If you look at Cindy’s necklace, you can see that it’s made from different sizes of beaded beads, which gives it more interest than if all the beads had been identical.
Mix Your Bead Finishes
Color combinations can be one of the trickiest parts of a seed bead design to get just right. In the Artist Spotlight: Cindy Holsclaw interview, Cindy notes, “Although I like the overall project to have a pleasing color theme that doesn’t look like its colors are clashing, a colorway also needs to have contrast in tone and hue to add interest. A great solution is to use both matte and shiny finishes in the same project to emphasize some areas and de-emphasize others.” This is a great reminder for me, as when I shop for beads I often focus only on color and end up buying beads in identical finishes.
Learn in Your Own Way
If you want to improve your beading, it’s essential to know how you learn best. Cindy offers viewers multiple ways to learn the information she presents. For example, in her DVD she shows an illustration of the beads and then walks you through the thread path using a computer drawing tool to mark the route. She also shows you the same step using a needle and thread with the actual beads, narrating while she stitches for those who need to hear the instructions in addition to seeing the motions. Plus, Cindy offers a PDF download for those viewers who prefer printed material.
Remind Yourself of Past Successes
I know that the DVD was filmed on a set, but I still admired the way that Cindy showed off some of her completed necklace and earring projects on jewelry display stands and in pretty dishes. I tend to hide my finished jewelry in boxes and drawers. My artful display stands only come out when I’m selling at a show. But I think there’s a psychological advantage to having a successfully completed jewelry design of yours sitting nearby as you venture into unknown territory, a subtle way of reminding yourself that you can totally do this!
Learn to make beaded beads with two-hole bar beads and then create your own variations with half Tilas, two-hole triangle beads, and different bead sizes and colors.