Like most (tell me I'm not the only one!) bead crazed folks, I simply cannot resist a new bead book on the market. To add to the pain of my pocketbook, I usually can't wait for regular Amazon.com shipment and thus purchase full retail price at Barnes and Noble as soon as the book hits the crafts section. Here are some of my past and recent favorites:
Since I love history and primitive bead making cultures, my bookcase is groaning under the weight of Collectible Beads- A Universal Aesthetic, by Robert K. Liu, 1995. This oversize book is a treasure trove of "ancient, ethnographic and contemporary beads, recognizing them as a revealing and inspiring symbol of humanity's cultural and spiritual aspirations," with 300 photos of ancient and modern beadwork.
In that same vein of thought, there is Beadwork- A World Guide by Caroline Crabtree and Pam Stallebrass, published by Rizzoli in 2002. What I love about this book is the incredible diversity of bead cultures featured from around the world from African tribes to Native American Indian tribes and many more, with amazing color photographs. Incredibly detailed and exhaustively researched, I highly recommend it for a bead enthusiast's library.
Five designers teach us how to make glass, metal, polymer clay and fiber beads in the wonderful Making Beautiful Beads, published by Lark books 2003. It has excellent tutorials with color photographs to demonstrate techniques. Each section features a lengthy "introduction to" a certain medium and then variations of techniques that are different, inspiring and concise enough to refer to for years past the introductory stages.
For the polymer bead artist or prospective artist, I highly recommend Making Polymer Clay Beads by Carol Blackburn, published by Interweave Press 2007. It is exactly what is says on the cover, "step by step techniques for creating beautiful ornamental beads." It covers everything from tools and brands of clay, to conditioning, skinner blends, inclusions, varnishes, metallic powders, and on to wonderful techniques of combing and feathering, how to use bead rollers, drilling, sanding and polishing. It is quite comprehensive. I mean, who knew you can make polymer beads that look like leather?
Just to make my life more difficult for those of us who can't resist delving into new projects no matter how many are piled in the corner, Julia S. Pretl wrote Bead Knitted Bags, 10 projects for Beaders & Knitters. Oh, my goodness, what amazingly beautiful bags. I went totally insane over which gorgeous project to begin first. If you are overwhelmed with projects like me, it will be slow going, as the work is quite small and requires intense concentration, but it comes complete with a DVD that includes 10 printable patterns and 20 video tutorials.
Julia Pretl is also a featured artist in another book nestled on my table, Beading for the Soul, by Deborah Cannarella, published again by Interweave Press 2005. This book explores the "personal power of beads" with 26 inspirational projects from 23 designers. From prayer beads to woven Chinese Good Fortune pouches, you can create sacred beaded objects and adornments with the aid of terrific instructional panels and tutorials. Eleanor Wiley's Handheld Prayer Beads section has a particularly powerful resonance.
Decorative Ornament- More Than 2,350 Historical Designs and Patterns by Owen Jones, is an invaluable resource for color reference for the beader and jewelry designer. Get out your post it stickies and get ready for color combination inspiration on almost every page. This 432 page volume, published in 2006 by Tess Press, is a feast for the designer's eyes. It covers design and ornament of Savage Tribes, Egyptian, Assyrian & Persian, Greek, Pompeian, Roman, Byzantine, Arabian, Turkish, Moresque, Indian, Hindu, Chinese, Celtic, Medieval, Renaissance, Elizabethan, Italian and Leaves and Flowers from Nature Ornament. The colorful illustrations will have you at your sketchbooks in a jiffy and if you are blocked for color combination ideas, this book will get you back on track in no time at all.
Last but not least on my list is Beaded Jewelry- The Complete Guide by Susan Ray, published by Krause Publications 2007. This is my most recent bead book acquisition and it is already a treasured volume. Susan begins her book with a history of beads, with recommended reading lists, and moves on to color expressions, supply sources, care of beads, types of beads, tools and their usage. From there she delves into specialized areas of bead making such as lampwork and polymer, then discusses stringing techniques, findings and closures, to name a few. It has many projects, inspiring photographs, and a very user friendly format.
By no means is this list an exhaustive one. There are many more book sources of inspiration and technical prowess. I hope if you don't have these titles you will search them out at your library or bookstore. And always, have fun!
Written by guest editor Jennifer Stumpf. You can read Jennifer's blog www.jenniferstumpf.blogspot.com and see her art beads and jewelry at her website www.jenniferstumpf.com and etsy shop www.jenniferstumpf.etsy.com.