Beaded Embellishment: Techniques & Designs for Embroidering on Cloth

by Amy C. Clarke, Robin Atkins
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The Gilded Serpent

On The Costumer's Bookshelf,
a series of book reviews
by Dawn "Davina" Devine Brown

Beaded Embellishment
Techniques &Designs for Embroidering on Cloth
by Amy C. Clarke & Robin Atkins

Have you ever dreamed of owning a book that would step you through the process of beading a beautiful bra and belt set?  This book comes very close!  Beaded Embellishment is an exceptionally useful reference guide for anyone who is considering beading a costume for the first time or who is looking for some hints, tips, techniques and inspirations.  Published by Interweave Press, the same people who produce Beadwork magazine, this full color book is reasonably priced at $21.95.

Beaded Embellishment is broken down into three distinct parts.  In the introductory section, the authors give a brief history of beading on cloth, which situates this tradition within the context of folk art from around the world. 

They include some beautiful images of beaded textiles from such far-flung places as Romania and Sumatra.

  Then the authors  go into detail on the materials and supplies and introduce the vocabulary of the bead, explaining the difference between the three types most commonly used for surface embellishments: seed beads, bugle beads and novelty beads.  They include recommendations for beading on different cloth, selecting needles and thread and preparing your work area. 

The most valuable part of this book is the "techniques" section.  Well-written directions for all of the most useful stitches for the application of beads are accompanied by clear illustrations. 

Although only four variations on fringe are discussed, the directions are sound and can be modified by dancers interested in building lusciously long drapes of custom beaded fringe.

  Like most craft books, many sample projects are included.  Though these projects do not have direct applications for the Middle Eastern belly dance costume designer, they do offer excellent examples of beading techniques in use.

Thoughtfully, the authors have included a chapter devoted to creating custom designed beadwork, and offer their thoughts on the process of design. They introduce the elements of design and focus on how color works.  Included in this section are several techniques for jump-starting the design process through experimentation.  If that's not enough to get your creative juices flowing, the final section of the book is an extensive gallery of photographs of beaded pieces.  While most of these examples would fit into the category of fine art rather than costume, there are a myriad of design ideas, color schemes, lines, shapes and forms presented that can serve as inspiration for the costume designer. 

With all this book has to offer, I found Beaded Embellishment  a stimulating, informative and inspirational read.  Even if you have been beading for years, find a copy and take a peek. It is the perfect blend of information and inspiration for beaders at every level.  

Ready for more?
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...the hottest and latest new styles from across the US, Turkey, Egypt and beyond

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On the Costumer’s Bookshelf by Dawn "Davina" Devine Brown,
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