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Beader's Bookshelf

I have a huge library of beading books and people frequently ask me which ones are "the best" - so I thought I'd start reviewing them here.
I personally own all of the books listed below, and have tried to be clear and unbiased in reviewing them. It will take me a while to write coherent thoughts on all of the books in my library, but I'll keep adding, so please stop back.
I'd also love to hear your opinions on your favorite books, so drop me a line with your thoughts too. I'll include other's comments as space permits.

Happy Reading and Happy Beading!

Creative Bead Weaving:
A Contemporary Guide to Classic Off-Loom Stitches

by Carol Wilcox Wells

This book is a classic, and rightly so. If you are a beginner and can only get one book, this is it. If you're an experienced beader and want a reference, this is it.
Seven basic stitches (peyote, brick, square, right angle, African helix, netting, and chevron chain) are thoroughly covered, with diagrams and instructions that are better than any I have seen anywhere. The sections on increasing and decreasing in peyote and brick (typical stumbling blocks) are particularly excellent.
The book also includes a wonderful section at the end on how to move from one stitch to another within a piece. (This last bit will be overkill for beginner beaders, but a real boon to folks who want to do some freeform designing on their own.
Note that this is not a book of patterns, though there are a number of lovely projects in it that complement the stitch instructions nicely. It is, however, the best teaching and reference book I've seen. It belongs in every beader's library.

Creating Crystal Jewelry with Swarovski
by Laura McCabe

Lots of really great eye-candy for the "any bright shiny object" folks (and I include myself here...) among us. I have always admired Laura McCabe's work and she does not disappoint from the sparkle perspective. As with most bead books, she includes a nice section on tools and materials, including a great section on Swarovski options for those who have only ever dealt with small bicone beads. (Quick: What's the difference between a rivoli and a dentelle? And here I thought Margaritas always had salt around the rim...)
Her instructions are very clear and easy to follow, with an excellent section on open-backed bezeling techniques - including a particularly useful chart on how many beads to use to begin a bezel for different sizes of rivolis.
So what's not to like? She makes use of some hard to find and antique crystals. You can, of course, substitute, but then they are, well... substitutes. Secondly, don't get into this book if you are on a tight budget. Crystals of this quality are expensive and she uses them lavishly. In addition, she makes frequent use of 15/o gold charlottes - which are gorgeous beads and look magnificently luxurious with the crystals - but which were $17.50 for 7.5g last time I checked.

The Beaded Sphere and Variations:
Beading in the Third Dimension

by Judy Walker

Oh, boy. I am in trouble now... I don't think I'll emerge for months.
I'm not sure this is a book for beginners who have never woven beads before, but for those of us who have been around the block (even a bit), this is going to add another dimension (oops!) to our existing obsession.
The book starts with a section on techniques for creating simple geometric shapes and joining them together. The diagrams are excellent and instructions clear and easy to follow. Then the fun really starts.
In section two, we zoom along to filled shapes, star shapes, triangles, squares, octagons, pentagons, hexagons... (you get the idea). Again, all with excellent diagrams and instructions.
There are 13 great projects you can practice on, but the best part is the techniques and their potential.
Somebody come and get me in time for Christmas - OK?

The Art & Elegance of Beadweaving
by Carol Wilcox Wells

This is one of my favorite beading books. It includes fine instructions with very clear diagrams for peyote stitch, herringbone stitch, cheveron chain, crocheted ropes, and spiral ropes, with a wonderful section on beaded beads. The many variations on chevron chain will definitely keep you in straps and necklaces.
There are excellent instructions for increasing and decreasing in peyote - both on the end of rows and in the middle of pieces.
There are enough full color gallery pictures to keep you inspired for a long time.
Probably not the best book for the absolute beginner, but a seasoned beginner with some patience will come away inspired.

Surprisingly, you won't find brick stitch in here, though. You'll have to go elsewhere if you want to learn that.

Mastering Beadwork:
A Comprehensive Guide to Off-Loom Techniques

by Carol Huber Cypher

Carol has been teaching beadwork for years and it shows in her clear, easy to read text. I particularly like the first two chapters of introduction that cover tools, techniques, and terminology thoroughly.
The book covers all the basic off-loom stitches. This is a "learn by doing" book. Tutorials present sample projects designed to give a beginner immediate experience with the stitch presented. Each project begins with a list of the tools and materials needed, along with a nice description of "setup" - what you need to do before stringing the first bead - which would be very helpful to a beginner.
The book includes lots of color diagrams, gorgeous photos of finished pieces, and a number of tips and techniques to make things easier. Some of it might be a bit overwhelming for the complete beginner, but hang in there, take it step-by-step, and you'll do just fine. It is also bound in a spiral binding so it lies nice and flat while you follow the directions.
The book does have one minor failing: it only covers the stitches in the context of the projects. So it does not provide a clear reference for folks who want to, for example, look up how to increase or decrease in peyote. As an overview of lots of techniques to get your creative juices flowing, this is a great book. If you're looking for a soup-to-nuts reference on a single stitch, look elsewhere.

Beading with Peyote Stitch: A Beadwork How-To Book
by Jeanette Cook and Vicki Star

This slim book contains plenty of information about flat, tubular, and dimensional peyote. It is the only book I've seen that teaches even-count peyote by stringing on an odd number of beads, which I found kind of odd, but if you follow the directions, you will wind up in the right place.
Diagrams and instructions are generally very good. I do have one quibble: The diagrams use bead colors that are sometimes very similar, so if you prefer diagrams to text descriptions, make sure you work in good light and read carefully.
The last third of the book also contains a full color section in the of wonderful eye-candy pieces by a wide variety of artists sure to inspire beginner through experienced beaders alike.

Beading with Brick Stitch: A Beadwork How-To Book
by Diane Fitzgerald

Another slim book packed with good information on a single stitch: Brick Stitch.
The book has a fairly extensive section devoted to the history of brick stitch (illustrated with some interesting photos).
Next comes the meat of the instructions, along with drawn diagrams, that are thorough and easy to follow. I like that she includes a number of pages on various edge-finishing techniques (bubble edge, spiky edge, picot edge, scalloped edge).
Then follows a number of projects with diagrams and instructions for you to try out your skills.
Finally, a wonderful, full color, inspirational gallery of amazing pieces by a variety of artists, kicked off with some of Diane's own beautiful beadwork.
(Note: I discover that this book is - sadly - now out of print, with corresponding price increases for remaining and used copies. However, the author has it available on CD on her own site. You can find it at

A Beader's Guide to Color
by Margie Deeb

This is not your typical "how-to" book on bead stitches. It covers color theory for those who haven't attended art school, and then applies it to beadwork, including discussions of how bead finishes affect a piece.
Major sections include: Color Theory & Design, Theory-Based Color Schemes, Emotional & Symbolic Color Schemes, and Inspiration & Technique. If you are thinking of doing any designing at all - or even changing the colors on a purchased pattern - this book is essential. Even if you've studied some color theory before, you'll find this book thought provoking and useful.
The book does also include projects, along with how color theory was applied in each one, which is a great way to learn. Each project also includes the Delica color numbers, which is a nice.
Finally, there are lots of truly spectacular full color illustrations of amazing beadwork by a number of artists. As I heard someone say, if you aren't inspired by those, you're dead.


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