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I know I hate buying a craft book, especially over the Internet, only to find out it wasn't what I was expecting. It's frustrating to find out the book is way above your level, far too basic to be useful, doesn't have patterns, has poor instructions, etc. So I've not only reviewed each of the books here, I've also graded them according to the following scales:
This small book is basically netting/lace techniques for around jars, bottles, and other glass shapes. If you already know how to do netting, this book won't teach you much, but might give you some ideas. I don't know how realistic the book is in terms of its patterns, because they require very specific shapes of glass. Also, this strays from just seed beads; some of the patterns require fancy shapes or special beads that some people might have trouble finding. I definitely recommend making sure you have ALL of the supplies necessary for a given project before you start, or making sure you have substitutions. It would be really frustrating to want to create exactly what they show in the picture but be unable to find some of the supplies, or to find out that your bottle is slightly bigger and requires extra beads. That happened to me on the ivy bowl; I had to undo the bottom and rework it a few times to get it to fit right and evenly. The instructions are a bit heavy to follow, and I found doing so required paying very close attention and often re-reading the text to try and figure out how it pertained to the diagrams. Once you figure out what they're telling you, however, it's actually quite easy to repeat it around the glass. I only recommend this book for its idea value and inexpensive price, not for its actual patterns.
This is a small, black and white pamphlet printed in 1965 for an original price of 50 cents. The pattern instructions are well spelled-out, but there are so few patterns that it is probably not worth the price on auction sites unless you want it as a collector. The instructions for the actual methods used are brief and probably insufficient for a beginner. Patterns included: pussy willow, baby's breath, butterfly, apple blossom, daisy, pansy, iris, zinnia, tulip, daffodil, fuchsia, and rose.
This book utilizes French Flower Beading methods, albeit with different names. The basic technique is called "center bar method," the four-row crossover is called "double loop method," and lacing is called "bracing." Otherwise, the techniques appear to be the same, so it doesn't matter if you learn first from this or another French Flower Beading book. I was reluctant to purchase this after a bad experience with another "Can-Do Crafts" book, as detailed further down on this page. This book is a marked improvement, however, and I thus do recommend it. Some of the flowers shown in the pictures aren't of the best quality. This might make new beaders feel better about their initial results, but the pictured flowers are far from the superior quality I've seen in other books or on some websites. Some of the patterns are more simplistic than those found in other books, which could partially contribute to the lower-quality flowers shown in the pictures. An experienced flower beader can adapt the patterns, though. Flower patterns included: orange tiger lily, white day lily, chrysanthemum, windflower, tea rose, petal flowers, rose, allium, gardenia, yellow freesia, clematis, anemone, bearded iris, double petals flower, canna bud, bachelor button, forget-me-not, daffodil, dahlia, hyacinth, sunflower, gerbera daisy, pot of gold allysum, phlox, pansy, daisy, snapdragon (very simplistic), dianthus, moss rose, aster, quince, azalea, snowbell, bell flower, primsrose, pyrethrum, golden candles, poinsettia brooch, camellia brooches, and garlands.
Disclaimer: I did not purchase this book, I was sent a review copy.
This is a very thorough book, touching on almost every concept I can think of within beading. However, as with anything thorough, that means each topic has less individual coverage than a specialized book. That's great if you are looking for a beginner's book to beading with a cheery tone mixed well with an encyclopedic style. That's not as good if you're looking for in-depth how-tos for a specific project.
Thus, I'd recommend this book as a beginner's first book. It'd make a great gift if you're trying to get someone new into beading, because it is comprehensive and definitely gets inspirational juices flowing by laying out the vast number of things one can do with beads. But if you're a very experienced beader across various beading methodologies, the best you'll get out of this book are fun facts and historical tidbits with perhaps the occasional tip you hadn't considered before.
The how-to diagrams are fairly thorough, but also standard one-piece, flat, follow-the-path models that can be confusing to real newbies. Based on the weekly email I get regarding my step-by-step tutorials, I'd wager that if you're confused by solitary diagrams in other books, this book won't help beyond that. However, if you are able to easily follow the thread/wire in such diagrams, this book does offer many of them for various stitches and techniques.
The photos tend to be small and none of them are in colour (except a few-page middle insert with some mediocre-quality colour photos of projects and eye candy). They are adequate enough for some instructions and there are a few good macro-sized shots in the technique instructions that illustrate things up close, but in terms of the projects they really only give an idea of the overall shape of a piece. They are completely useless from the point of view of trouble-shooting where you've gone wrong in a piece. You must be able to follow text instructions to do any of the few listed projects, so if you have trouble following bead counts, the projects could be frustrating.
Buy this book as a thorough reference to all things bead-related, but not as a pattern/project book.
Techniques/topics covered include: bead basics and history, making your own beads, tools and other items needed for beading, design tips, thread/string types, crimping/clasps/jump rings, peyote stitch, netting, right-angle weave, square stitch, brick stitch, looming, wire types and tools, beaded flowers, beading on fabric, backstitch, stem stitch, chain stitch, buttonhole stitch, blanket stitch, feather stitch, couching, lazy stitch, scatter stitch, cabochons, edging, fringes, knotting, bead organization, preserving beaded items, decorating with beads, four stringing projects, three weaving projects, four wirework projects, three fibre/fabric projects, plus a glossary.
Although Wilcox does a good job of explaining several stitches (peyote, brick, and square, plus varieties of each such as circular and tubular) and of going through the necessary materials and tips on how to use tools, I still feel that this really is an advanced book. There aren't many projects here; only a handful of patterns used to illustrate how each stitch is done and how to combine some stitches. I think I would have found this book overwhelming when I was new to beading. Being more advanced, however, means that I adore this book. The wonderful pictures of very artistic beadworks are not just inspirational, they also encourage me to try weird things that may not work but are valuable learning experiences. When I see some of the amazing sculptures the artists have made, I think, "I bet I can do that, only I'm going to try it THIS way." I have more ideas in my head than I have time to make as a result of this book! And it did teach me how to do more stitches than I knew before. The diagrams are okay, although it can be hard to follow thread direction, and I much preferred to stick with her text instructions. If you've done a bit of beading and you're looking to get seriously into this craft, this is a great book. If you're a beginner, I'd advise either buying a more basic book or practising using free web tutorials such as the ones I've posted first to see if you like beading enough to challenge yourself further. When you're ready to go beyond pre-made patterns, then it's time for this book.
This is a great starter book for anyone interested in French Flower Beading. It has a good variety of flower types, although many are miniature, so don't expect to do huge bouquets without patterns from other sources. The instructions do require careful reading and practise, but anyone should be able to learn from this book. Flower patterns included: thistle, mini marigold, iris, forget-me-not, poppy, African violet, baby's breath, baby's tears, mini Calla lily, crocus, lily of the valley, daisy, spring beauty, and miniature tea rose. Methods used: basic, four-row crossover, loop, and lacing.
This book may be good for beginners to French Flower Beading, but I bought it as an intermediate-expert, so it's hard to tell for sure. I think McCall's book above might be slightly better on instructions, but Kelly's book provides more patterns, more elaborate construction methods, and bigger photos that should greatly assist visually-oriented readers. Flower patterns included: long stemmed sweetheart rose, cymbidium orchid, large moth orchid, snapdragon, hanging fuschia, Aztec lily, Dutchman's breeches, common flax, large ox-eye daisy, coral bean, Queen Anne's Lace, harvest lily, bleeding heart, garden tulip, lily flowering tulip, daffodil, narcissus, pansy, hydrangea, gladiola, sansevieria, iris, hibiscus, African violet, Oriental poppy, tiger lily, liatris, calla lily, hyacinth, dwarf apple blossom, cyclamen, cactus, gardenia, trillium, spider lily, hypoestes, sweet violet, crocus, and shamrocks. Projects included: cymbidium corsage, rose hair barrette, shasta daisy napkin ring, and rose bud bridal veil. Methods used: basic, stem-stiffening, four-row crossover, loop, contiuous loops, continuous double loops, behive, weaving/basket bottom, and lacing.
This was the first book I used in beading several years ago when I used to check it out of my local library about every other month. Now I own my own copy. The designs here use thin wire instead of thread, but the instructions are simple to follow. Most of the patterns are flat (things like butterflies, dolphins, dragonflies, Thumbelina, etc.), but some are three-dimensional, such as a bicycle, an elephant, and more. If you don't want to get into bead stitching, but you'd like to make some cute little things with seed beads, this is a good, inexpensive book to start with. Note: it looks very thin, but it packs many patterns per page. This results in the Mediocre rating of the patterns, because they're small and it can be hard to follow the wire path.
This book from Denmark is in English, but uses its own unique method for flower beading. Instead of the wire-wrapping methods of French Flower Beading, the Stenboden method uses more of a weave. Thinner gauge wire is required, or patterns can be adapted to French methods. The photos demonstrate the patterns as well as bouquet ideas. Flower patterns included: crocus, snowdrop, eranthis (aconite), polyanthus, hyacinth, Marguerite, daisy, cherry bonsai, gypsophila, forget-me-not, poinsettia, hair adornment, table decoration, rose tree, rose bouquet.
This book from Denmark is in English, but uses its own unique method for flower beading. Instead of the wire-wrapping methods of French Flower Beading, the Stenboden method uses more of a weave. Thinner gauge wire is required, or patterns can be adapted to French methods. The photos demonstrate the patterns as well as bouquet ideas. Plant patterns included: Christmas tree, Rowanberry tree, garden pansy, chrysanthemums, Star of Bethlehem, pink saxifrage, Montbretia, Michaelmas daisies, anemone, wild pansy, fern, miniature fern, autumn leaves, rudbeckia, brimstone butterfly.
This small book has patterns for several little seed bead animals, almost all flat. Many of them are shown as keychains/zipper pulls, but you could leave the ring off if you just wanted to make the little creature. In fact, I'd advise that beading wire is tough enough for jewelry, but not for keychains and zipper pulls. Enough bending and tugging, and that wire WILL break. So if you're making these things for kids, expect eventual heartbreak. Having said that, the patterns are simple and reasonably easy to follow. Colour-coded wire lines make the more complicated patterns easier to follow. There isn't nearly as much to this book as there is in Glass Bead Artistry, but for the inexpensive price, it's a good set of patterns. Beware of other books in the series, though, that are designed for larger E beads, and may or may not translate well down to seed beads.
This extensive hardcover book was printed in 1969. The photos accompanying patterns are small and black and white, and thus I don't find them very helpful. The instructions are very verbose, and I sometimes find them a bit confusing. I've always been able to figure them out eventually, or come up with my own way of doing it. This is definitely not a book for beginners, especially given the price. There are too many patterns to list, but I have done the following out of the book: birds of paradise and anthurium arrangement, and strawberries.
This looks like a small press or self-published book. All of the patterns are some kind of netting or lace, and they can easily be combined or altered to achieve different styles. The patterns aren't patterns per se; that is, they don't tell you specifically what colours to use, how long to make the item, etc. Rather, they illustrate the various netting stitch and recommend that you make as much of it as you want. The diagrams and patterns are all black and white, but printed very large so that they are easy to read. They are also good about using dashed or solid lines to indicate different thread paths, plus breaking lines to illustrate which thread is on top or on the bottom. The photos are a bit grainy, but do a decent job of showing you what can be made. It's a nice touch that the photos have printing on them indicating which page the pattern is on. This book is very good value for the inexpensive price.
This was the first book I got on bead stitching, and it's amazing that I ever continued with the craft. The instructions were TERRIBLE. Very poorly designed, difficult to decipher instructions made it impossible to figure out how to do the basic stitch, which incidentally is the brick stitch. The accompanying text was equally confusing. I'm not stupid, but this book made me feel like an idiot for not being able to figure out the instructions. I fiddled with it for quite some time, and was about to give up when I decided to go look for web instructions instead. Once I figured out what was going on from the web instructions I found, I was able to finally figure out what the heck was going on with the patterns, which have little or no accompanying text. While the patterns are brightly coloured and big, they're not very helpful in discerning what bit of thread goes where, which is essential for beginners. The patterns themselves are cute little animals, but don't bother with them unless you really want those specific patterns and can't make them yourself (even then, some of the patterns don't work as well as they look in the pictures, with dangly parts hanging badly, etc.). It's almost unfair to reward the author/publisher by buying the patterns when the instructions are so abysmally bad, especially since there are similar, better books for less money anyway.
Here's the big thing wrong with this book: it implies that it contains enough things to make the pictured items, but that's not true, and the publishers know it. The large blue, green and gold necklace shown prominently on the front cover can only be about 2/3 completed with the beads provided. Granted, a few beads broke as I tried to thread them, but even if they hadn't, there's no way I would have had enough to finish. When I contacted the publisher to complain, the response was that I could purchase an additional bead kit for something like $11. This pissed me off, and I told them they should be ashamed of themselves for scamming a book that is largely meant for kids. I'm sure most kids doing a big project like that would be heartbroken to find they couldn't finish it, after putting in tons of work. And the beads are unique enough that I haven't found anything similar in any craft or beading store, even looking online. I was lucky enough to see a $6 copy of the book in a bargain bin at a grocery store, so I grabbed it (I had already bought my first edition from an online bargain bin for CDN$12, so I figure overall I've paid less than the cost of one full-price book). But I strongly urge people to not purchase this book, especially if you intend to make the prominently displayed necklace on the front cover. You will be disappointed.
You can see what I did make out of the two kits in the gallery.
These are books I have obtained recently, but haven't yet used enough to rate.
These are books I've seen on store shelves or at places like Amazon. If you own one of these books and want to let me know what you thought of it, please email me! I much prefer recommendations to be detailed and wordy. If you're going to say something is great or sucked, please specify why. Tell me if you think it is worth the price you paid, or if it's the kind of thing that would be better found at a library. If you'd like your review posted here, please also say so, and I may consider doing so (please also specify how you'd like to be named, linked to, etc.). And be sure to specify which book you're talking about; don't just say "I liked that beading book you mentioned," or I won't know which one you mean!
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