Thursday, January 3, 2013

Beads: An Exploration of Bead Traditions Around the World

Over the past decade or so, I’ve read dozens - possibly hundreds - of books about beads, jewelry, and bead crafts. Some are better than others, and many have made their way into my list of personal favorites. Titles like Mastering Beadworkand The Beader’s Color Palette come to mind. The more information contained within the pages, the more precious a book is to new and experienced beaders alike.

Although technique and inspiration books are invaluable, I particularly enjoy titles that increase my knowledge of the materials we use in our work. For anyone that enjoys learning about the history of beads, and the origins of our favorite bead materials, I have good news. I have found the perfect bead book.

Beads: An Exploration on Bead Traditions Around the Worldis quite possibly the best encyclopedia of beads ever written. Janet Coles and Robert Budwid provide a wealth of information that is not only easy to digest, but a pleasure to read. The book is also filled with hundreds of color photographs of beads, artists, antique and modern jewelry, and indigenous peoples from around the world, dressed in traditional beadwork that is sure to inspire.

Beads is divided into five chapters, each representing a different area of the globe: Europe and the Middle East, Africa, The Indian Subcontinent, The East and Oceania, and The Americas. With exquisite detail, the authors highlight some of the characteristic and traditional beads and jewelry materials from each area, such as glass and jet from Europe, or jade and Thai silver from Asia.

Readers will be delighted to learn about both ancient and modern bead making techniques, and which styles and materials have been passed down from early civilizations. Janet and Robert don’t skimp on the details, or gloss over the grittier facts of bead making, such as the perils of mining Afghani lapis from land-mine territory. Beadweavers will really enjoy the section on how Japanese seed beads are created, from start to finish. Every bead lover or collector will enjoy the bead maps that introduce each continent, and highlights some of the signature beads from the region.

Each chapter includes necklace projects - plus earrings, a belt, and a square-stitch Delica bracelet tutorial - using beads and jewelry styles from each region. The projects are inspired by genuine jewelry from exotic locations, many of them vintage or ancient pieces that were borrowed from private collections for the book. The instructions include a full materials list, and tips for finding or replicating the beads used, plus step-by-step directions and diagrams.

If you adore beads, or just want to learn a lot more about your favorites, you will love curling up with a copy of Beads: An Exploration on Bead Traditions Around the World.

Copyright 2013 Inspirational Beading
Janet Coles, Robert Budwid and Simon & Schuster
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