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
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
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
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
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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!