Monday, August 15, 2011

Designing with my Bead Soup, Part Two

Playing with my Bead Soup package was such fun that I thought I would share my process with you.

Here is a picture of the lovely beads that I received.

My BSBP partner sent me the perfect package to inspire creativity. The selection included a variety of beads and components including handmade glass headpins, vintage glass, semiprecious, glass pearls, beautiful copper pieces, chain and ribbon.  

I began the process by liberating the beads from their strands. Yep. I cut them up. I think beads need to move about freely. A quick clip and we're in business.

Then introductions. It's a mixer where all the beads get to know each other. My other components wait patiently on the side. This part is only about the beads.

(It's important to note here that I am just focusing on color. I don't clutter the process with what these beads are going to evolve into. If an idea gets sparked, great. But I am not focusing on my finished piece, just color. I just keep the vague idea in my mind that this is going to be a necklace. Eventually.)

First I looked at the color mix. Instead of using generic color names like green, blue and orange, I picked names that evoked images. Isn't it more enticing to say that the colors of this palette are peacock, coral, lime, sky and indigo?

Then I started "the audition". During the audition phase, I just jumped in to see how different beads looked with the existing palette.

I added the red and green beads to start. I liked those colors and thought they might bring out the coral and lime colors in the palette. But looking at them sitting there, I thought they were a bit too big and pulled focus from the original group.

So I split them up and added a few more in different sizes to see how that might play out. First red...

 ... then red with pearls. The pearls pulled to much focus. They are pretty though. Then I tried green.

Nice, but I didn't feel it. I liked elements of both of these palettes, but I thought that the beads were too large and I wanted my BSBP beads to stand out. So I went back to the bead boxes.

I surmised that what I really liked about my original beads is that the overall color read blue to me. So I tossed in some blue beads and accented them with green. 'Cause I like green and that silk ribbon is green. I looked it over. Those blue coral beads in the bottom corner were too big.

So I ditched them and added some vintage glass coral colored round beads to play up the coral accents. They're sitting right there in the center, just above the green strand that is about to be cut up. I liked it. The proportion looked balanced and I liked the mix of colors. It let that dark indigo and peacock pearls from the original palette shine through. I also added some small metal round beads. That's them in the right side of the picture. They look like this close up:

I know! I love them too. Nope, I have no idea where I got them. 
They have lived in my stash for a while.

So there it is. My final palette. It's sitting there patiently on a bead board. Waiting.

A few things that I am going to think about as this pile of beads evolves into a necklace:
  • How many of each bead am I going to use? Do I have the right mix of size and shape?
  • Do I want to push my necklace to read one color with accents or do I really want to mix it up?
  • What moods or emotions does this palette bring into play? Can I use that to focus my design choices?
  • Single strand? Multi strand? What stringing material am I going to use?
  • How the heck am I going to incorporate the chain and ribbon into the design? (I love a challenge!)
I can't wait to see what happens! More to come after the reveal on September 17.


  1. Love to hear other designer's thought process! Great selection of beads, too!

  2. Thanks so much for posting this. I loved seeing the thought process behind your color selection. Can't wait to see the final piece.

  3. Yes, I love the thought process! And hearing it defined is great. I think I have unconsciously done parts of this, but having it laid out step by step really helps. Thanks dear!

  4. I loved the way you tried to figure out just what to add and how to bring out the color palette. Great post. Can't wait to see what evolves.

  5. This is a great post! Thanks for letting us take a look at your process as well as giving us a chuckle or two (or at least me) over the liberating them from the strands as well as "the introductions". You are too funny!

  6. This really is "Bead Soup". I loved how you added a dash of this and a pinch of that. I'm sure the flavor will be lovely.

  7. this was an awesome post. I will have to look at beading in a new way.

  8. What a cool post! Seeing how other people work through their design process is always so inspirational! :)

  9. This post is a terrific lesson on color selection and the mix of colors and sizes. I'm always learning whenever I read your posts. I have a tendancy to go monotone with my colors. I really want to start to mix it up. I think it adds interest and energy. Thank you for the inspiration.

  10. What a wonderful interesting post. It really opened my eyes to how a person could play with the beads to just the right beads!

  11. SO brave to just pour them all together like that! Thanks for sharing all your thoughts/play by play.

  12. Thank you for sharing the process!

    Warm regards,


  13. I absolutely LOVE your detachable bow. What a cool concept! I also enjoyed reading about how you selected your beads. "Auditions" HA! I love it!


Your comments mean a lot to me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.