Playing with Color: 3 Tips

Jan 17, 2008

It's easy to get in a color rut in beading. Sometimes we don't even realize it! This past Christmas I wanted to make some pink earrings for someone who loves pink. I discovered I had no pink beads at all in my collection. Instead, I had probably every shade of blue you could imagine. I had no idea my bead stash was so unbalanced. So my color tip is a simple one: pick out a color you've never worked with--one that you might even hate--and design something! (And as always, I'd love to see it if you do!)--Michelle Mach, Beading Daily editor

Tip 1: Experiment with the Same Colors, Different Placement

Beading Daily reader Elizabeth Cummins shared her experiments with using the same palette of colors in four different beaded designs. Notice how the colors look different depending upon their placement. Placing the same green beads next to blue or brown does make a difference! Try this with the same number of beads in different colors. Then try it with one color being the dominant one. This tip isn't just for seed bead folks. Try stringing several variations of a bracelet with the same 3 or 4 colors of beads and notice the difference!




Tip 2: Start with Classic Color Combinations

That first tip is great if you already have a color palette to use. But what if you don't have one? This next tip on color comes from beading instructor Laura Andrews. Laura will be teaching the River Net (pictured below) and Pearl Gate classes at Bead Expo Portland in March.

"Put your own spin on a classic color combination. For example, the innocent exuberance of primary colors red, blue and yellow can gain the regal sophistication of burgundy, navy, and topaz. Test color combinations by viewing a few beads of each color in your hand in natural light."--Laura Andrews

The "natural light" part of this tip is really key when working with color! I've been guilty of occasionally beading in poor light and later finding some odd beads in what I thought was a monochromatic piece.


Tip 3: Combine Light and Dark Shades

If you're used to creating monochromatic pieces, this final tip from Beverly Gilbert might help you stretch and grow as a designer. Beverly will be teaching Cornucopia of Gems (pictured below) and Wanderlust Bracelet at BeadFest Miami in April.

"When working with color, include light and dark shades of that color into your beadwork to add depth and movement. Doing the same thing with all of the colors in your piece will help blend the colors together and make your bead work glow!"--Beverly Gilbert


I haven't tried this exact tip, but I have sorted strands of gemstone beads by shade.  (Watermelon tourmaline is especially fun.)  Designing a necklace with a light shade at one end and darker shades at the other is an easy way to add visual interest to your design.

If you'd like more ideas about working with color, look for the "Color Works" column by Margie Deeb in every issue of Step by Step Beads.

Contest Reminder:  Have you sent in your organization tip for the Beader's Stash Contest? Deadline is next Friday!

Michelle Mach is the editor of Beading Daily. Ironically, even though she normally loves playing with color, this weekend she has an ivory/gray/beige necklace to finish up.

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Janet@211 wrote
on Jan 23, 2008 8:09 PM
My two sisters and I always give each other gifts that we make at home. But being three of us, we need to make sure not to show any favoritism. I use the tip on using different colors or pattern variations all the time. If I give Virginia a barrette, then I'll make one for Emily and myself. But I change the colors or pattern to make them all different. This is a great tip for anyone looking for unique gifts without needing completely different things.
likeduh3 wrote
on Feb 8, 2008 2:36 PM
I basically do the same thing for my Mom, sister, sister-in-law and BFF. Several years ago I made single weave Viking knit necklaces for each and now I have been making pendants for the necklaces. This year I made Swarovski Crystal Ball Beaded Beads of different color combinations for each. I learn the pattern on the first one and cruise through the rest of them making my holiday beading less stressful.
SherryT@10 wrote
on Feb 9, 2008 2:44 PM
I love receiving Daily Beading.You have given me some new ideas for projects. Keep up the great work. Can't wait for the first issue of Beadwork. Sherry Taylor