Friday, October 25, 2013

Book review - Explorations in Beadweaving by Kelly Angeley

Explorations in Beadweaving: Techniques for an Improvisational Approach by Kelly Angeley is an interesting book on a wide range of stitches, styles, and even materials.  It's a good reference for anyone who's interested in learning the basics and then having fun with them.

Even though my Challenge piece I've started blogging about is free-form, I'm not really all that comfortable creating pieces that are "improvisational" as the sub-title suggests.  I was happy to see that Explorations in Beadweaving has many projects that can be followed step by step with beads and materials easily found.  There are a few projects that have focal pieces you might not find as easily (such as vintage cabochons, antique glass art print slides, or porcelain sink faucet knobs), but the author gives tips and suggestions on what you can do to make a similar project with different materials.

The book is divided into five chapters: peyote stitch, herringbone stitch, right-angle weave, bead embroidery, and combining stitches.  Each chapter has 3-4 projects using the chapter's technique, and each project has a "Take Two" section that explains either an alternate way to make the project or how to make earrings or a necklace using the same technique.  Throughout the projects are tips to help you adjust length, pick the right found objects, keep the tension tight enough, and much more.

The projects themselves are beautiful and cover earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and there's even a ring.  Each has a number of full-color charts to help you with the thread paths as a companion to the written instructions.

There are a number of different types of beads used, so if you've been curious what to do with long magatamas, peanut beads, drop beads, or spikes, this book has you covered.  I've shied away from spikes, but after seeing the two projects here that use them, I may have to rethink my reluctance.

As I was reading the book I wondered where some of the focal pieces could be found.  In "Finding Wonderland" I thought the focal looked like a Lipstick Ranch piece, but it wasn't listed as such in the Materials list.  I was glad to see the "Project Resources" section at the end of the book and to confirm that it was a Lipstick Ranch piece!  It would have been nice if the resources were listed with the project, but this is okay as long as you know where to look.  There's a "Where to Shop" section on the page facing "Project Resources" with the contact information for the resources.

I think the main advice for this book (or any bead book, really) is in the introduction to "Sol Sister Cuff":

Although I have provided bead-by-bead directions below, trust your instincts and follow your own creative voice while beading.
I'm glad I picked this book up, and I actually wish I'd looked through it before I did my Challenge piece.  I think I could have made a few aspects of the bracelet easier on myself from some of the tips in the bead embroidery chapter.

Check this book out if you're interested in developing an "improvisational approach" to your beading!

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