Friday, September 10, 2010

Bead Color Triads: Primary Colors

Primary Colours

Ask anyone that made it through kindergarten what the three primary colors are, and there’s probably a 99.9% chance that they’ll say “Red, Yellow and Blue”. And while that answer is true, it’s not the whole truth. It’s only about a third of the truth.

Printers, artists, and scientists know that there are other correct answers to that question, depending on what type of color you mean. Anyone that has actually tried to mix red, yellow and blue paint knows that it doesn't actually work the way it does in preschool cartoons.

In honor of the back to school season, and art teachers everywhere, I thought it would be fun to do things a little differently this month. We’re going to look at beads in three different primary color palettes, and perhaps compare how well each one would look in a finished piece.

Red Yellow Blue Bead Palette

Building Blocks is the first group of beads that I made, so named because I can’t help but see Lego bricks when I look at those blue, boxy Miyuki hexes. The effect is even stronger with transparent ruby seed beads and yellow cat’s eyes nearby. No matter what the brightness or finish is, something about red, yellow and blue together always brings on memories of crayons and building blocks.

Red Green Blue Bead Palette

Shattered Light turned out to be a surprisingly irresistible palette. I’m usually not a fan of red and green together. I find that it either looks unsophisticated, or that the red is far too orange, and the combination looks garish. But here, the cobalt seed beads seem to anchor the other colors, rein them in and make them work together. The Czech rice beads and TOHO triangles don’t even have a hint of Christmasiness with blue there to keep things under control.

Magenta Yellow Cyan Bead Palette

Pop Print somehow seems even more youthful than the crayon-colors, with almost fluorescent shades of magenta, yellow and cyan blue. I started with the tagua slice, which is a bit muted, but still leans far enough on the darker side of bubblegum to qualify for this palette. The dyed shell rectangles and 11/o seed beads seem to look tropical and candy-like at the same time. All this palette needs is a pair of headphones, and you’ve got the makings of a teenaged ensemble from recent, but simpler times.

So, if you had to choose just one of these primary color palettes - with any bead type - which would it be?

Copyright 2010 Inspirational Beading


  1. Pop Print for me. I am a sucker for the neon green!

  2. I like the building blocks palette. Probably because I'm stumbling over so many Legos these days :)

  3. I can't decide! I think if I had to choose only one, I'd go with Shattered Light, because it was such a surprise. Plus, I've been dying to use those red ovals and I have no idea what to do with them!


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