Looking for Regional Information?

Creative Beading - Be Your Own Designer

By Charles Hopkins Published 10/23/2007 | Hobbies
You might think that creating your own unique jewelry is difficult. It's really not! Take a look at "what's in store". Get ideas from current trends and improve them. Don't just copy, make any designs your own by adding individual creative touches. Also look back in time to the stunning designs and color combinations of ancient cultures. The Egyptian, Greek, Mayan, Indian, African and Chinese cultures all had great traditions of jewelry designs. Their designs were often very bold with wonderful use of color and form, think of Mayan design using turquoise and gold, or Chinese green jade. These classic looks are ever popular.

There are so many sources of inspiration, look at the fabulous jewelry ads in glossy magazines, or search the Internet. Also, look at your wardrobe and take your color ideas from your own clothes (or shoes and handbags). Relax, let your imagination flow and get inspired. You'll soon wonder why you ever doubted yourself!

When planning a design there are some important aspects, which affect the overall design concept, to consider -

Desired Effect - dramatic, subtle, monochromatic, bold, glamorous, rustic or regal, natural or tribal, brilliance or shine, fun and colorful.

Color Balance - predominately light, contrasting light and dark, predominately dark.

Color Effect - contrasting, complimentary, harmonious, neutral. You may need to take a look at a color wheel to understand fully the affect of multiple colors. Never forget that nature knows best, simply look at the myriad color combinations of plants, flowers and birds, and rainbows.

Design - formal (with symmetry and balance), informal (more random bead placement), montage (variety of shapes and sizes).

Materials - glass, crystal, metal, wood, acrylic or plastic.

Texture - smooth, faceted, etched.

Shape - consistently shaped beads, variety of shapes.

Size - small, medium, large or combination of sizes.

Surface Quality - reflective, faceted, transparent, opaque, pearl.

Balancing Size and Weight.
A suggestion is to use a larger, central feature bead at the front as a focal point. Or as an alternative, create your own feature by using several beads placed together. Similar sized beads create fluidity and simplicity. The use of spacer beads (these could be seed beads, bugle beads or metal beads) places emphasis on the more individual "designer" beads, and may make the piece a whole lot less expensive (unless you use sterling silver beads). Create chunky more casual pieces using a lot of larger beads, or another look is to use only a few beads for a more delicate piece. Always consider the wearer's comfort when using heavy beads or beads with angled edges.

A Guide To Jewelry Lengths.
Below are the standard lengths for necklaces (and their customary names): -
Dog Collar - 14 inches (36 cm)
Choker - 16 inches (41 cm)
Collar - 16 inches (41 cm)
Bib - 16 inches (41 cm)
Princess - 18 inches (46 cm)
Matinee - 24 inches (61 cm)
Opera - 35 inches (89 cm)
Rope or Lariat - 44 inches (112 cm)

Bracelets are usually about seven inches (18 cm) long, make sure you measure your own wrist and add an inch and a quarter (2-3 cm) for comfort and ease in fastening on your own (you are able to do this with a toggle clasp).

How Many Beads Will Be Needed For Your Piece?
Individual beads are measured in millimeters (in diameter) and usually sold by weight, strand or by the individual bead for more expensive ones.

Below is a guide to calculate the approximate number of beads you will need for the standard jewelry lengths. Always purchase extra beads. You will need the extras anyway to make coordinating earrings and bracelet, or other accessories like a key chain, handbag dangle or even a bookmark.

Dog Collar Length - 14 inches (36 cm)
Bead Diameter
3 mm - 120 beads
4 mm - 90 beads
5 mm - 72 beads
6 mm - 60 beads
8 mm - 45 beads
10 mm - 36 beads
12 mm - 30 beads

Choker, Collar or Bib Length - 16 inches (41 cm)
Bead Diameter
3 mm - 136 beads
4 mm - 102 beads
5 mm - 82 beads
6 mm - 68 beads
8 mm - 50 beads
10 mm - 41 beads
12 mm - 34 beads

Princess Length - 18 inches (46 cm)
Bead Diameter
3 mm - 153 beads
4 mm - 115 beads
5 mm - 92 beads
6 mm - 76 beads
8 mm - 57 beads
10 mm - 46 beads
12 mm - 38 beads

Matinee Length - 24 inches (61 cm)
Bead Diameter
3 mm - 204 beads
4 mm - 153 beads
5 mm - 122 beads
6 mm - 101 beads
8 mm - 77 beads
10 mm - 61 beads
12 mm - 51 beads

Opera Length - 35 inches (89 cm)
Bead Diameter
3 mm - 296 beads
4 mm - 222 beads
5 mm - 178 beads
6 mm - 148 beads
8 mm - 111 beads
10 mm - 89 beads
12 mm - 74 beads

Rope or Lariat Length - 44 inches (112 cm)
Bead Diameter
3 mm - 373 beads
4 mm - 280 beads
5 mm - 224 beads
6 mm - 186 beads
8 mm - 140 beads
10 mm - 112 beads
12 mm - 93 beads

Tip: If the quantity of beads required appears excessive remember you actually need to use a mixture of bead sizes, perhaps mostly 3 mm beads with a selected larger beads.

Extra Tip: Remember to include the length of your clasp when calculating the length.

You are now well on your way to becoming your own designer!