Sunday, November 18, 2012

Book Review: Lark Books' Bead Riffs by Rachel Nelson-Smith

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I was recently asked to review several Lark Books. Which to read and review first since they're all idols of mine?? So, I randomly selected Rachel Nelson-Smiths' Bead Riffs. What a fun read! Different from most beading books I've come across, Rachel makes the connection between her love of beading and her love of jazz. She's spent about 10 years singing jazz and almost 2 decades beading, so is well versed on both topics. I love knowing something about my beading idols besides just their work, sort of like seeing one of my schoolteachers in the grocery store. They DO have another life! ;-)

I first came across Rachel's work when she came out with her Ootheca cuff. This was a design that I just couldn't quite fathom how she made it. Looked WAY too difficult to me, from photos alone. Now that I've read her book, I feel confident that I COULD tackle it given Rachel's wonderful tutorial writing abilities. She takes us from the basics of the stitches involved with some very good basic hints (more about his later) to step by step instructions and very understandable illustrations to over 20 projects ranging from the basic to advanced designs.

As to the basics, I had an "AHA" moment when reading her instructions for right angle weave (RAW).  This has been one of my most challenging stitches. I mostly gravitate to double needle RAW designs, but on page 16, Rule 1 for RAW states: " Each subsequent unit travels in a circular direction opposite from the previous row. For example, a unit formed with a clockwise thread path is followed by a unit formed with a counterclockwise thread path." So simple, yet in all the years I've been beading, I had never thought of it in those simple terms. I struggled with each and every pattern I attempted to make. Following beautiful patterns shared by talented artists is great, but an AHA moment is priceless.

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