Do You Keep a Beading Journal?

May 27, 2013

More and more beaders are keeping some kind of photographic journal to document their work on seed bead patterns and beading projects. Are you one of them?

I know lots of professional designers who keep a photographic journal of their seed bead patterns as they design and create them, including photos of everything from the very beginnings of the project all the way to the finished piece of beaded jewelry. But even if you're not a professional designer, you still might want to keep a record of the seed bead patterns you create over the years. If you're thinking of starting some kind of journal to document your adventure with seed bead patterns, here are some ideas for what to include in your journal.

Step-by-step Photographs

Some designers, like me, create a beautiful piece of seed bead jewelry, then sit down to write up instructions for this seed bead pattern and realize that they have absolutely no idea how they just made what they made. In cases like this, it helps to keep a little point-and-shoot digital camera handy to take step-by-step photos as you work your way through your beading project. Even taking a few quick pictures with your cell phone can help you to document and record the steps you took to create a piece of beaded jewelry.

Designer Name and Website

If you like to create beaded jewelry from seed bead patterns by other artists and designers, it always helps to include the name and website or contact email of the designer. If the seed bead pattern came from a book or a magazine, it also helps to note the title of the publication, the date published, and the publishing company for future reference.

When posting your photographs online, it's just good manners to include the name of the original designer. With issues swirling around the beadsphere about copyright theft and intellectual property, you can avoid a lot of headaches by just being courteous enough to acknowledge the original designer of the piece.

Types and Colors of Beads Used

The seed bead pattern may call for one particular type and color of bead, but when you choose to change up a pattern and make it your own, you should note what beads you changed from the original design. It helps to keep a list of sources where you purchased the beads, as well, and any stock numbers or color numbers that you have handy.

You might also want to think about contacting the designer of the piece and showing them how you've changed up their design! Most bead artists love to see how their seed bead patterns have inspired other beaders.

Take A Journey With Your Beads

Another trend that I love is seeing how many beaders fall in love with a book of beading projects and then decide to make every single project in the book. Sort of like what author Julie Powell did when she was teaching herself to cook by making every recipe in Julia Child's first cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Just think about everything you could learn by making every beading project in a book! Of course, if you're looking to start a beading adventure like this, you'll want to document every step of the way with pictures, notes, and maybe even a blog.

Are you ready to start documenting your beading adventures with seed bead patterns? If you're looking for a great book to get started, check out A Beaded Romance by Kelly Wiese. You might recognize Kelly's beautiful style of beadwork from her Beadwork magazine Designer of the Year projects, and in her latest book, she presents twenty-six gorgeous seed bead patterns for beaded earrings, bracelets, and necklaces. Plus, when you order your copy of A Beaded Romance, you'll get six additional seed bead patterns to download instantly, for free!

Get your copy of A Beaded Romance by Kelly Wiese, and start documenting your beading journey with each of these beautiful beading projects.

Do you keep a beading journal of seed bead patterns you've designed, or created? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog with a link to your beading journal so we can check it out!

Bead Happy,


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In A Beaded Romance is a follow-up to the best-selling Beaded Allure, this book will feature 26 beadweaving projects, including necklaces, bracelets, earrings and an anklet, with stitch patterns ranging from beginner to advanced. Beginner beadweavers need not fear, however; detailed, in-depth instruction and clear step photography will guide them through the trickiest stitch patterns with ease.


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leallyson wrote
on May 27, 2013 8:53 AM

Thanks for this excellent article.  I am inspired to start a journal of my beading projects.

diamondgirl7 wrote
on May 27, 2013 9:31 AM

A Beaded Romance is on my "Must Have" list!  Thanks for reminding me :)

on May 27, 2013 2:05 PM

I do not actually follow the path of documentation suggested in this wonderful article, but I have binders for patterns labeled " peyote," "brick," "right angle weave," "loom," etc. in which I keep patterns in divided areas such as "bracelets," "earrings," "sets," etc.  I also photograph EVERYTHING!  It is all in a file on my computer (backed up, of course), with the plan to print it all out for a photo album of my progressive work.  My real passion, though, are my free-form embroidery dolls -- no patterns needed!

sewsweetpink wrote
on May 27, 2013 5:22 PM

Because I do a one woman show annually, I have always photographed my pieces with their catalogue number, to document the stock and make sure my sale sheet matches the pieces I return home with. That was my original intention. Now, as the years go by and I look at the pictures it is sometimes a surprise to see the designs again and I am re-inspired! I can also see how my skills are growing (and sometimes see where I need to improve). I once sent a picture to Laura McCabe of some earrings I made of one of her designs using different elements although I was a bit shy to do so but she was very encouraging. I'm glad your article encourages people to do this. Most of my customers are interested in where the designs come from and also the stones and artist focal beads I use.

Mearla wrote
on May 27, 2013 7:05 PM

I keep a journal of everything I create; jewelry, cross stitch, crochet, knitting, etc.  Years ago, a friend of mine kept talking about some things I'd made for her that I did not even remember making.  It was then I realized that I needed to document the things I created.  It provides me with a source of inspiration & encouragement when I look back and see what I've been able to created in the past and a quick reference for those favorite patterns that I love to make up again and again.  When I give an item I've created as a gift, I usually request a photo of that item being worn, used or displayed by that individual so that I can place it into my journal as well.

JulieLyn wrote
on May 27, 2013 10:15 PM

I've been taking pictures of my work. I'm inspired to start creating more of a journal and document each piece, techniques I've learned (I'm a new beader), elements I liked, etc., as well as the designer and source. Maybe I will even attempt every project in a book!

tererosa wrote
on May 28, 2013 10:05 PM

Ok. I'll do it. Since I'm new in the bead world, I'll go with Maya Brenner's Beaded Jewelry book, and blog about it. I'll let you know where you can find it.

LisaS21 wrote
on May 29, 2013 1:48 PM

Thank you for the encouraging words and great tips on design etiquette.  I started a beading journal a little over a year ago and already am finding it to be a handy reference.

on May 29, 2013 11:26 PM

I also take pictures. Of my beaded projects as well as making notations in books that I use to pattern my designs.  If I buy a design I make a Xerox copy of it first so I can jot down color, size of beads used even sometimes putting dates of when I started and when I finish a project as well as whom I made that beaded project for.

marjack202 wrote
on Jun 1, 2013 4:20 PM

Thank you for your ideas on keeping a journal.  I do many forms of beading and this will be a way to keep it all together.  In the past, I have often wished that I had taken a picture of pieces I have sold or given away.  It is such a good reminder to get on top of this.  Thanks for the push!