Color Your World

Aug 12, 2007

My green pearl nightmare!
I spent the weekend experimenting with color. For my first experiment, I used Jamie Hogsett's Champagne Necklace (from the new book, Create Jewelry: Pearls) as my inspiration. I used a narrower ribbon and thinner wire (26-gauge) than Jamie did, just because that's what I had on hand. For the pearls, I picked out a strand of multicolored Swarovski crystal pearls that had been languishing in my stash for months. I had purchased them thinking it was a smart budgetary move—rather than buying individual strands of all the colors I liked, this one multicolored strand would give me a little bit of everything. But the way the pearls arrived, strung temporarily together with pink next to green, lavender next to peach, just made them all look completely unappealing. (Imagine opening your closet to find it full of unflattering pastel bridesmaid dresses. That's what it felt like every time I saw those pearls!) I tried sorting them, but in a way, that was even worse. There was no way I would ever use all those green pearls!



Color experiment #1


To my surprise, those pearls actually looked good spread out on the ribbon, instead of jammed up against one another. They just needed a little breathing room.

My second experiment was prompted by something I just read in Mastering Beadwork by Carol Huber Cypher: "If your work is monochromatic (one color), then what you see is what you get. Otherwise, each bead's color can be affected by the neighboring beads. This is one of the most exciting and compelling features of composing work from hundreds of such tiny units."

Using ladder stitch, I stitched together two rows of uninspiring olive/brown seed beads with some of my favorite blues and a little burgundy thrown in.

I especially liked the olive and burgundy together, which is not a combination that I would have ever considered. If you want try this second experiment yourself, here's what you do:


  1. Buy some seed beads in a color you don't particularly like.
  2. Stitch these beads together with some beads you do like.
  3. Prepare to be amazed!

Color experiment #2

I'd love to hear from some of you about your experiences with color, whether with beads or in another medium you enjoy. Any happy surprises? Tips? Horror stories?

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Anonymous wrote
on Aug 13, 2007 10:53 AM

I think I bought the same strand of pearls you did and had the same problem. But the neckalce you made out of them is beautiful. I need to go get ribbon to go with them, but I can't wait to try it.

I'm also going to try your color experiments and see what happens. I'm in a funk now and your ideas sure will help to get me back on track or give me a good laugh. Let you know which it is.

LarissaD wrote
on Aug 13, 2007 12:32 PM
I found this issue of beading daily to be really well written. I loved the focus on the topic of color, and the projects you expermented with. Great Job!
on Aug 13, 2007 4:25 PM
Thanks Wendee and Larissa! Wendee, I'd love to see a photo of your experiments!
JeanY3 wrote
on Aug 13, 2007 4:48 PM
This was excellent, well written, very educational. Thanks!
SaraJ wrote
on Aug 14, 2007 4:18 PM
That is a great idea! I've kinda of done similar in the past; said, hey, what do I think might be a BAD idea of another color to go with this? I've been pleasantly surprised (with some hilariously horrid combinations appearing from time to time, too, lol!)

One of the first couple of necklaces I made, I decided to bring some blue into a cream and orange with a little bit of smoky quartz color autumn necklace I was making (I didn't know then that blue and orange are, complementary colors, I think?). I was pleasantly surprised . . . I did it because I had a feeling of walking through a mountain forest in autumn, with a lake peeking through the trees in the distance. Link to that necklace (bigger view of pic shows it better!)

One other related set of examples involves some Czech pressed glass beads in putples, light opalescent pink, orange and BRIGHT orange, and greens. I HAD bought these as a Monet Giverney Garden mix, but I still wondered about the bright orange . . . I tried them, and the necklace, earrings, and future seed bead bracelet, all looked better WITH the orange, than without. Even the shockingly vivid orange! I'd pull that one away, thinking, that's GOT to be too much . . . but it took something essential away from the feel of the pieces.

Also was surprised at how well my choice of rainbow grey czech ornela seed beads set off these glass beads, and really added to the Victorian feel, colorwise, that I was going for. Adding yet another color, the tiny garnet rounds, as "berries", also surprised me with how well it became a part of the color scheme and design.
on Aug 14, 2007 6:11 PM
Olive green boring? No, no no. It's a favourite - should be considered a basic colour along with black, navy and brown.

Lots of colours look fabulous with olive - try pink - yes, the right shade of pink looks great. Or shades of blue, purple or lilac with a touch of pink with olive are just scrumptious.
Burgundy and olive green is still my favourite eye shadow combination.
on Aug 15, 2007 4:47 PM
Thanks for sharing your photos, Sara! You've made me feel braver about tackling orange!

Sandy, I love the idea of using makeup as inspiration for color combos!