Thursday, February 25, 2010

Beaded Colorways: New Book from Beverly Ash Gilbert is Superb!

The recently-released Beaded Colorways: Creating Freeform Beadweaving Projects and Palettes by my friend Beverly Ash Gilbert (2009, North Light Books, 128pp., $24.99) is fantastic. Even if you are not a beader or a jewelry maker you can appreciate not only the amazing handiwork but also the included removable custom color wheels that will be a help to anyone: artist, painter, decorator, photographer or lover of color. The book is perfect for those who think they can’t match an outfit or choose a color for a wall.

Beverly is a brainy dynamo disguised as a wisp of a woman, humble and modest enough not to mention in her book that she is an engineer by degree and a former corporate-type who was able to break out of a constricting role/schedule to make time to develop her substantial talents and her eye for color.

In fact, her first book was Eye for Color: Interchangeable Templates and Color Wheel System, available on her Web site. A color enthusiast herself, whose deep appreciation for color can be seen on her blog via her own breathtaking photography of her surroundings in Kirkland, WA and on her beloved Whidbey Island, Beverly takes great joy in sharing and teaching an appreciation for and understanding of color to anyone who is interested and curious or who feels they need a little help.

Her open, sharing nature is evident as she explains color theory and bead-weaving basics to open her book. Even if you have never picked up a tiny little seed bead or a bead-weaving needle as was my case when I first met Beverly in the fall of 2008, she will gently guide you first through combining various beads and textures in monochromatic mixes she calls seed bead soups. As she warns early on, even non-beaders can get hooked on the beauty of the colors, enough to quite contentedly display the seed bead mixes in clear vessels as an object of decor – without ever having to make a thing! And she’s fine with that.

From understanding the uses of the color wheel and color relationships – complementary, analogous, etc., to learning about hue, saturation, value and more – Beverly helps students graduate to blending multi-color combinations that satisfy their own particular cravings for color in their surroundings, and of course in their beadwork.

Besides the basic peyote stitch, which is simply sewing two seed beads together, and three-bead netting – both of which anyone can do (with proper lighting and eyeglasses if you wear them, or perhaps a magnifier) – Beverly explains freeform beadweaving, including freeform peyote stitch and freeform netting.

While the finished projects in the book might look like intimidating works of art, Beverly breaks them down into step-by-step instructions with large photos and helpful hints along the way. She suggests color mixes and alternatives and shows how to blend the beads to create an eye-pleasing palette for the project. Her bead soups have tempting names like tropical surf and rain forest and autumn sunrise, enough to get even a color neophyte or reluctant beader to stick a toe in the water.

By the end of my first day with Beverly, I had two gorgeous and very different pendants made, and I am all thumbs and wear bifocals! Her book offers more than a dozen colorful projects as well as a beautiful gallery of finished wearable art and plenty of resources and links to get you beading, or at least learning more about color.

And if this isn’t enough, and her book will definitely leave you wanting more, you can find Beverly teaching around the country this year and signing books, at such notable events as Adorn Me (March), I Dream of Beading (April-May) and the national Bead & Button Show in Milwaukee in June. Her blog offers something for everyone, including an appreciation of family, food, good friends and nature, all as depicted by Beverly, a true gem herself.

No comments: