Color is so very important to us seed beaders! From the time I first started taking beading classes and working from my first set of seed bead patterns, I’ve been obsessed with color. The bead shop where I started taking beading lessons didn’t have a very broad selection of seed beads at first, so we students were limited in our choices. But having limits on my choice of seed bead colors wasn’t really a bad thing: it brought out my creativity when it came time to choose which colors I would use for that week’s particular seed bead pattern,
Of course, one of the best ways to take a favorite seed bead pattern and make it your own is to change up the colors of the beads! But where do you start? For a lot of us, choosing colors of beads for a beading project can take longer than actually stitching the project itself. Lucky for us, we have a fabulous beading tool called the color wheel, and there are some easy ways to use it for successful color schemes!
1. Complementary color schemes. A complementary color scheme is composed of colors that are located opposite from each other on the color wheel. Think about blue and orange, yellow and lavender, and red and green. Colors that are located directly across from each other on the color wheel create strong and dynamic color palettes when used in the same beading project. The high contrast between complementary colors results in finished beadwork that will stand out.
If you want to tone down the high contrast of complementary colors, try using a split complementary color scheme: choose a color on the color wheel, and instead of using just its complement, use the two colors on either side of its complement. For those of us just starting to play with color or for anyone who is still feeling unsure when playing with color, the split complementary color scheme is a great choice because it looks great every time!
2. Analogous color schemes. On the color wheel, an analogous color scheme can be created by choosing three or four colors that lie directly next to each other. Analogous color schemes can be found throughout nature and create soothing, pleasing beadwork.
When choosing your colors for an analogous color scheme, make sure that you have enough contrast between each color, and pick a neutral color like cream or grey to pull them all together.
3. Monochromatic color schemes. This one is a favorite of mine. Since I began beading and designing my own seed bead patterns, I seemed to have a knack for designing monochromatic color schemes, where all the colors used in a piece are just different shades of the same color. Monochromatic color schemes can be a fun challenge: do you have enough shades of purple in your seed bead stash to create a dynamic piece of beadwork? Sometimes, it’s a good excuse to do a little bead shopping so you can round out all the different shades of one particular color of seed bead!
4. Mix your metallics. Lately, I’ve been experimenting a lot with mixing my metallic seed beads. If you’ve been following the mixed metal trend in other jewelry designs, you’ll love the way that mixing metallic seed beads gives your finished beading projects a rich, earthy look.
For an extra bit of texture in your seed bead patterns, try mixing matte metallic seed beads with shiny metallic seed beads. If you need some contrast with your metallic seed beads, try using a black matte or dark grey matte seed bead to balance out bright golds and silvers. For darker golds and darker metallics, try using an opaque white seed bead to lighten the color scheme and keep it from being too dark.
5. Start with your focal bead. If the seed bead pattern that you want to make uses a focal bead of any sort, use that as your starting point on the color wheel and build your palette from there. Just place it on the color wheel closest to the matching color, and then build out your analogous, complementary, or monochromatic color palette. What could be easier?
However you decide to change up your colors, knowing your way around the color wheel can help you create some fantastic color schemes that you can use over and over again to create beaded jewelry from seed bead patterns that’s just right for you!
Looking for a great way to add dozens of new seed bead patterns to your collection? Check out the Best of Beadwork: Bead Stitch eBook Ultimate Collection. More than fifty of our favorite seed bead patterns in five different eBooks, for less than $1 per pattern! And the best part of this collection is that it’s available as an instant download, so you can break out your color wheel, dig through your stash of seed beads, and get started right away! Get your Best of Beadwork: Bead Stitch eBook Ultimate Collection today and start playing with color!
Do you have a tip for someone who wants to start playing with color? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and share your ideas and advice with us!
P.S. For a free color wheel, check out some of these from Tiger Color that you can download instantly!