Bead Fantasizing (and a sorta/kinda book review)

Beading was one of my first genuine craft obsessions.

Like many other kids, I made a pile of giant plastic bead bracelets back in the day. But I think that the real manic bead nuttiness started on a day trip to New York City when I was a pre-teen.

On that trip, I saw some very simply constructed seed bead necklaces being sold in a high-priced boutique for absolutely ridiculous prices. The cheap-o in me was already clearly established by about the age of 10, so this situation horrified me. I vowed – on principle – to go home and make the necklaces myself, for a reasonable, and vastly cheaper sum.

And so it began. I remade the New York necklace in every color, then I changed up the design. I started to buy book after book with beading patterns and tips, and I became hopelessly hooked. God help me now if I ever end up in the vicinity of a bead show. As cheap as I am, I think I understand a percentage of what substance abusers or uncontrollable gamblers must feel in the presence of their chosen vice. Me at a bead show is a little like Gollum in a store full of “precious” rings.

But, like many other insatiable crafters, I frequently buy obscene amounts of craft supplies, hoard them forever and ever, and forget the original thing I had in mind when I bought them.

So, in revolt against my hoarding-but-not-doing tendencies, I dug out one of my old beading books this weekend. I finally got to put some of that obsessive craft energy to use. To find out more about the project above, please read on after the break.

The project at the top of this post came from a book called Bead Fantasies IV. I know, the title sounds a little like a risqué craft video (beaders gone wild!), but it’s really just part of a series of bead jewelry books by designer Takako Samejima. As you may imagine, Bead Fantasies I-III are also out there on the market.

What I like about the whole series of books is the kind of playful attitude the author seems to have towards the jewelry designs. Many of the different projects in the series, and in this book in particular, are made with similar principles, but with lots of variation in the results. Alterations in the shape, color, and size of the beads makes all of the difference, and you can get a fairly wide variety of looks using just a handful of stringing techniques.

Another thing that I like about Samejima’s designs is that you can picture any of the items in a nice boutique (NYC or otherwise)…but the shapes are broken down for you and the patterns are accessible. With this book, I kind of feel like someone from a favorite jewelry shop just sat down to show me exactly how she made the piece I was interested in in her store window.

According to the bio in the back of Bead Fantasies IV, Samejima is a largely self-taught designer, like most of us crafters. I really think that that comes through in a really positive way in this series. Samejima’s designs have that working-it-out-for-yourself feel to them, even though they look sophisticated and designer-y.

The book series was translated from the original Japanese version, but I find it very easy to understand. The illustrations are incredibly helpful. Many of you visual learners out there will probably not even need to read the directions if you view the diagrams.

The image above is actually step one of the project at the top of the post. As you can see, the string lines are pretty well represented, and you get a good sense of what’s going on underneath the design.

So, long story short, I think you get a lot of bang for your beading buck with this book (say it 3 times fast!), and you can finally unearth part of that craft stash you’ve been building up. Good luck and happy beading!

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2 Responses to “Bead Fantasizing (and a sorta/kinda book review)”


  1. 1 catn1p March 22, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Snowflake connected with a cookie, that`s cute, I like colours of your pendant very much. I`m avidly observing everything related to beading since a while and my falling in love with it is just a matter of time. And then… ow, I cannot imagine what will happen. ;-) Warm greetings.

    • 2 fiddlerontheblog March 24, 2010 at 8:40 pm

      Hi catn1p. Thank you so much for your comment! My favorite color is blue, so I make things that are blue quite a lot. I really like your jewelry also! Your wirework is beautiful! Thank you again for your kind words, and happy beading!


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