3 Ways to Mix and Match Bead Designs

Mar 23, 2009

Do You Follow Project Instructions?

I admit I was a little hurt when a recent survey revealed only about 25% of Beadwork readers follow our instructions bead by bead. Here at Beadwork our editors and illustrator spend countless hours to make our instructions accurate and easy to follow. However, it’s been about six years since the last time I followed project instructions—even then I used my favorite colors and finishes instead of those prescribed. So this means I’m with the 64% of you who “use the magazine designs as inspiration and adapt the instructions to fit my needs.”

Knowing that many of you are constantly looking for ways to add personal touches to your jewelry, I chose favorite elements from 3 different projects from Beadwork’s April/May issue (subscribe to Beadwork today so you don't miss this issue) to show how easily you can mix and match design ideas to create a project that is uniquely you.

3 Ways to Mix and Match Design Elements 

1. Choose a favorite color palette. When digging through my stash, I pulled out beads the color of Jamie Hogsett’s Brass Garland necklace—I love her mix of grassy greens and brass with a touch of golden yellows.




 2. Single out a component.  Amy Haftkowycz made the sweetest little beaded beads for this issue’s Vintage Charm bracelet and I couldn’t resist trying them out myself (though I only used 5 in my design, I made more than a dozen). You’ll appreciate Amy’s clever pattern—she shares with us the perfect combination of 15°, 11°, and 8° seed beads and 3mm and 4mm fire-polished rounds, things you probably already have in your stash. 

3. Pick a silhouette.

A sucker for all designs asymmetrical, I was immediately drawn to Barbara Richard’s Urban Chic pyrite necklace. Her design combines three beadwoven elements with simply stung elements—a smart way to create a quick necklace that doesn’t forego the rich touch of seed beads.  

My Finished Necklace

My result? An asymmetrical necklace that combines earth-toned beaded beads with knotted pearls, separated by occasional bead caps. It is simple enough to be worn with jeans and shiny enough to wear for dress-up.







If you’ve been inspired to combine ideas from our April/May issue—or just want to tell me what you loved or loathed in the issue--then please take our April/May survey now.  To automatically receive surveys and other fun assignments (for example, over 1,700 people voted to help choose this issue’s cover!), sign up for our Reader Advisory Panel. Why not help us make Beadwork the best magazine it can be?  

Melinda Barta is editor of Beadwork magazine. She is the author of Custom Cool Jewelry and Hip to Stitch, and coauthor of a new book, Mixed Metals. Melinda is teaching classes at Bead Fest Philadelphia in August and Bead Fest Portland in September. If you can’t attend one of these shows, be sure to check out her Custom Collage Charms DVD.  Please post any comments or questions for Melinda on the website. 

Related Posts
+ Add a comment


myra26 wrote
on Mar 23, 2009 9:52 AM
One reason for not following directions exactly is not usually having those *exact* ingredients on hand. Even if you have a great local bead shop they can't carry everything. So often modifications are needed to use the pattern so you can use the materials available.
BethanyT@3 wrote
on Mar 23, 2009 9:58 AM
I almost never use the same colors as are in the design, but I do follow the directions the first time. I'm firmly in that camp of, "Learn the rules first, THEN you may break them!'
SusanF@82 wrote
on Mar 23, 2009 10:03 AM
I would like to get the directions for the beaded bead that you used in your inspirational necklace...Thanks!
on Mar 23, 2009 10:15 AM
Hi Melinda- I wouldn't take it personally. I think that good designers come up with new ways to take the inspiration all around them to create something new. You might want to "copy" a design as close to the original in order to teach yourself a new skill or apply a technique, but once you have done that I think that it is up to you to make it yours. I would be celebrating the fact that your readers are not interested in copying. That shows true originality and artistry. I use my many magazine subscriptions and books, like your Custom Cool Jewelry (which I love) to prime the pump for my clients. I only make one-of-a-kind pieces so I encourage them to think outside of the box and pick the components and techniques and color palettes that work for them to make something unique. I say kudos to those 64% who challenge themselves to be creative. Love your work! Enjoy the day! Erin
AnneM@95 wrote
on Mar 23, 2009 10:54 AM
I'm a bit skittish about posting anything but love your site, the comments, and the magazine, so I feel compelled to submit a thought. I love directions and know that much effort if spent proof-reading by Beadwork Mag. editors. But, never-the-less I continue to be frustrated by poorly written instructions in kits, pricey books, & magazines. Incomplete sentences, or omitted steps or words are rampant in many publications. Perhaps these problems occur because artists would rather create than write; and errors do sometimes force the beader to figure things out but I just want to bead, not spend time trying to find vital pieces of missing directions. Anne
Nemeton wrote
on Mar 23, 2009 11:12 AM
I write instructions and spend hours and hours testing, rewriting, proofreading, checking... and I know how careful the technical editors and illustrators at Beadwork are too (thanks, all!) but still it doesn't worry me that after all that, most beaders are choosing not to follow my instructions exactly. I know that the instructions are there for anyone who wants to know exactly how something was made, but I just love it when someone takes one of my patterns and 'tweaks' it to make it their own, or takes it in some direction I'd never have thought of. That way I can carry on learning new things from my patterns too!
Larry.Linson wrote
on Mar 23, 2009 11:47 AM
I do use the articles mostly for inspiration; there have just been three exceptions over the last 15 or more years -- and those not all from the same magazine. My real reason for commenting, though, is this: I am not in favor of the new "article in every issue by each of the Artists of the Year" format. Not that I don't agree the selected artists are exceptional, it's just that I would like more variety. (I'm sure it's rewarding for the artists, and easy that the editorial staff has a few articles that don't have to be selected from submissions each month. It's just not a format that I like.)
o2ranch wrote
on Mar 23, 2009 6:03 PM
I try to follow the instructions but it is almost impossiable to find the exact materials. I am still a beginner so following the instructions at this time is the way to learn how to make the first one. My next thing is a question that proably pertains to distribution of the magazine. I am a long time subscriber and am dissapointed that my magazine gets to me well after I see it in the stores. Why is that? What are the advantages of subsription if one dosen't see it until after it has been in the stores for a while? Other than saving money , which is only one reason I subscribe.This is not a new thing. I have seen this for over a year.
Lou Ma wrote
on Mar 23, 2009 9:08 PM
Melinda, Please do not feel hurt that we don't exactly copy your design. I sometimes will make an exact copy for my personal use but I would feel dishonest if I sold it to someone. I make one of a kind pieces and my customers like to know that they will not meet their "custom" piece of jewelry coming down the street on another person. If I am new to the technique I do follow the bead sizes and count religiously until I have made at least three items and have the technique down perfectly. I for one am still continually learning after almost 12 years af beading and always find something new in each Beadwork Edition that I haven't encountered before. Thanks for all your hard work and please keep it up!! Lou Ma
on Mar 23, 2009 10:41 PM
I really do enjoy all of the different projects, but as others have stated, I may not have all of the components and like to create my own flair. Sometimes I may have the intent of following instructions to a T, but then my brain starts going and the creativity comes out. I think of most directions as inspiration or a guide more than absolutes, like "here's an idea of how to make these types of beads work together." "Here's a new technique."
BarbaraM@144 wrote
on Mar 24, 2009 6:59 AM
That, my dear, was inspirational!!! Loved your bead a bead and can't wait to get to my stash later on today. Thank you for all your inspirations, tips and tricks.
Heidi. wrote
on Mar 24, 2009 4:13 PM
Even though I am still in the learning phase I often do not find myself following the instructions "exactly" sometimes. Many times I cannot find the same materials or, sadly, I want to keep the cost down. Or I may like some particular thing about one project and something from another and so on...All that said, I am grateful for each and every one of you who spend so much time getting the directions correct and making them simple to understand. I do read the instructions for each one because the process is important and one cannot fully appreciate the result without knowing how the artist got there.
on Mar 24, 2009 5:54 PM
I have to admit I am one of the readers who uses the magazine for inspiration. I do read the directions. Though I do not always clearly understand them. But I am more of a hands on kind of person. I do love love love the articles..I throughly enjoy this website also. It is sooo nice to know that I am not the only bead crazy one out here..Thank you all for all the hard work and efforts you put into these publications. We all love you!!!!!
beadinstyle wrote
on Mar 30, 2009 7:24 PM
Melinda, I second the comments above urging you not to feel upset we don't follow your instructions exactly. Even similar beads can be hard to find (and I own a shop! - its never enough *blush*). The few occasions I have followed bead by bead, I have been profoundly grateful for the detailed instructions. Otherwise I'm more than satisfied to be continually inspired by what is offered by your magazine, more than happy to pick out beads, findings, techniques, advertisers, colours ... and be inspired by them in part and by whole. Whatever works!
on Apr 9, 2009 10:49 AM
Hi SusanF, The instructions for those great beaded beads can be found on page 74 of the April/May 2009 issue of Beadwork. They were designed by Amy Haftkowycz--I love the colors that she chose to combine with brass components. For all of you who use the magazine projects as inspiration we'd love to see what you've been making! Feel free to share by e-mailing pictures to beadwork@interweave.com. Thanks for all your feedback. Have fun! Melinda _______ Melinda Barta Editor, Beadwork
on Jan 27, 2010 5:53 AM

Hi...I followed your steps to work on <a href="www.crystaleleganceuk.co.uk ">Crystal Elegance</a> Thanks for your prosperous information.