Friday, March 22, 2013

Beaded Jewelry by Maya Brenner

DK is celebrating Spring Break with its "Time to Play" promotion. This week I'll be featuring three books from their Time to Play boutique. If spring break has already passed in your area, these books can be used for family time or other times when the kids need something to do. Click here or on the photo on the left to see some other books.

Beaded Jewelry offers tips and techniques for making beaded jewelry at home. There are designs for earrings, bracelets and necklaces in varying styles for all levels of expertise.

This is a great book for those interested in making jewelry at home. I loved it! The format is wonderfully laid out and contains lots of large gorgeous photographs. The instructions are fairly easy to follow, but it does take a little practice to get the techniques right.

The first part of the book goes over the basics of beaded jewelry. It covers choosing beads, the different bead materials (resin, metal, glass, gems, pearl, etc.), the findings, and the tools needed. Before launching into the projects, the book goes over some basic techniques which will be used again and again in the book.

The book features 30 projects for different styles of jewelry. They range from fun and funky to elegant and classic. Eighteen of them are designed by the author, Maya Brenner, while the remaining one are designed by Gunilla Johansson.

Brenner's designs are grouped into three sections: earrings, bracelets and necklaces. Each of the sections starts with an introduction about the different styles in the group. It also features small photos of each of the projects along with a label to indicate whether they are easy, intermediate or harder.

For each project, there's a list of materials and tools needed as well as step-by-step instructions with photos. Sometimes the instructions say to refer to a technique presented earlier in the book. While I don't like flipping back and forth, in a book like this it really cuts down on the repetition. There's also a full page photograph of the finished project, so you can see what it's supposed to look like.

The author also makes suggestions for variations on many of the projects. These are presented in a large annotated photographs, which makes them easy to see. I found these particularly inspiring because I could make the project as is, or I could make the item using the beads I have on hand while using the instructions and techniques in the book.

Johansson's designs are all quick and easy. This section features 4 projects for earrings, 4 for bracelets and 4 for necklaces. All are based on Brenner's designs and are simple, yet very pretty.

I found it a little odd that the designs separated like this (by designer), especially since the majority of the quick and easy ones were at the back of the book. I can guess at some of the reasons, but it's still odd. I would like to see them all arranged by type (earrings, bracelet or necklace) or difficulty.

After all of the projects, the next section is all about colours, themes and how to achieve that theme. For example, for the "Vixen", chose a combination of black, red and metallic beads. For the "Angel", it's white, cream, gold, pearls and crystals. The photographs in this section featuring all of the different themes and colour combinations are stunning. Very inspiring.

The final section features a troubleshooting guide for cleaning and mending beaded jewelry.

The table of contents lists the major sections, but not the individual projects. The index is terrific. It lists tools, projects by name, bead types, findings and much more. There's also a resource list with addresses, phone numbers and websites for beading resources around the world.

For the purposes of this review, I made two projects. See below for photos and details.

Highly recommended.

For more information about this book, please visit DK's website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at DK Canada for this review copy.

Beaded Jewelry by Maya Brenner, Dorling Kindersley (DK), ©2012. ISBN 9780756693947(Softcover), 224p.

My projects

The first thing I made was a pair of earrings. I couldn't believe how quick and easy they were. Really nice, too. I didn't time it, but I believe I had earrings done within 5 minutes. That is, once I got all of the supplies together and laid out. One of the steps was a little hard to follow, but I figured it out quite quickly.

Here's a photo of those:

The other project was a triple-stranded necklace. It's my take on the elegant twisted pearl one from the book. I liked the monochromatic theme and twist, but didn't have the pearls to make it. I did, however, have a bunch of bluish/aqua beads to use up. I also didn't have the right clasp to make it permanently twisted. I'll have to twist it each time I wear it or I can wear it untwisted, which looks good, too. It was definitely more complicated than the earrings, but still quite easy to do. All of the steps were easy to follow.

Here's a close-up of the necklace strands:

...and one of the necklace and earrings together:

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