Book Review: Sensational Bead Embroidery

Sherry Serafini's Sensational Bead Embroidery: 25 Inspiring Jewelry ProjectsSherry Serafini’s Sensational Bead Embroidery: 25 Inspiring Jewelry Projects by Sherry Serafini

This is another book that I received from Lark Books for free. Thanks, Lark! I will be giving this book away to a lucky reader, so read on for instructions on how to enter.

Lark is really stretching my creative boundaries with the last two books they have sent me. This one isn’t quite as completely out of my realm as the last one. I have done some beading. Still, it is kind of interesting to review a book on a topic I don’t know much about.

Sensational Bead Embroidery feels and looks really nice. It is hard cover and about 8.5″x11″. The layout is appealing. The font is a soft grey color, but not so soft that older eyes can’t read it. I found the color of the font to be different from other books I have seen. I found it easy to read.

There are, like the book Creating Glass Beads, lots of good photos in this book. Each page is decorated with different images. On the first page of chapter one are spills of seed beads and examples of cabochons. The images illustrate points on the page.

The first photo in the book is a pendant on a stiff gold metal hoop (like hoop earrings, but for the neck). It is complicated looking and my first thought was that this was a piece to show off the epitome of the author’s work. Wrong! Some of the pieces are smaller, but they all look elaborate and quite complex.

In the introduction, the author acknowledges that she and the reader may have different focal point beads, because the reader may not be able to locate the exact same materials. This sets the reader up for not remaking the exact pieces, but bringing their own creativity into the process.

Chapter 1 is an explanation of basic materials and tools. I am so glad she defined cabochon, because I had read that word in the introduction and was already at a loss. The book doesn’t have a glossary, but chapter one is a pretty good replacement for a glossary. Serafini talks about everything from synthetic suede for backing to marking tools and thread burners. She has a tip box which lists basic supplies. She also has describes optional tools. I like those types of explanations, because people may have questions about certain tools from what they have heard ‘around’ and it is nice to have the answers handy. She also mentions that a task lamp is a must-have. Good lighting is something we don’t always think about and this tip is a good reminder.

Chapter 2 is all about stitches and general techniques. The illustrations are very clear and coded to the text. Any quiltmaker who wants to add beads to a quilt could benefit from this section. Ms. Serafini also talks about patternmaking, which I think is something lacking in many quilt project books. There are outline drawings of patterns in various projects. She gives a basic overview of cuffs and collars. There is also a page on color and design.

The projects start after the first two chapters. There is a large ‘head shot’ of each finished project, a brief description of her inspiration or process, and a supply list, which does refer back to the basic supplies list. In the first project, Spike Angel Brooch, the first few instructions have to do with designing the piece.

The projects range from collars and cuffs to earrings. The Simply Sweet Necklace is one of the least elaborate designs and looks like something non-beaders could wear, which is to say that many of the designs are quite elaborate and might take a special wardrobe to pull off. Finished pieces for which there appear to be no instructions, AKA inspirational pieces, are scattered in between projects throughout the book.

Probably my favorite piece in the book is the Donut and Pearl Cuff. I like it because of the use of sequins. I really like the way they border and highlight the center of this bracelet. I also like the asymmetry of the Triple Play Brooch. This piece also uses some sequins as accents. The Rivoli Brooch is one that I would wear. I noticed in many of the projects that the coloration was subtle. Each piece has color, but it doesn’t scream, which is better for jewelry.

The Gallery at the end shows some really amazing work by other artists. Sherry Serafini doesn’t say whether the pieces are by her students or just people that she knows. She does say that these are possible variations (the equivalent of alternate colorways?) on the projects. The Polar Bear bracelet by Heidi Kummli is pretty amazing. It looks like a cuff sort of bracelet with a polar bear head on it. The description says that the animal [beads?] are cast animals. The author points out that a focal bead can really change the feel of the piece and Kummli’s piece demonstrates that.

I also like Diane Hyde’s Opulent Spring. It is a round ball that I would love to hang in a window so that light could show off the beads.

I would like to see an index and a bibliography so interested readers could investigate this craft further.

Good inspiration and instructions if you want to take up this creative endeavor.

If you would like to enter the giveaway, please leave a substantive comment in the comment section of this post on any topic you want. I will draw the winner’s name on or around April 20, so your comments should be added before midnight on April 19.

View all my reviews
4/20/2011 Update: No more comments! Sharon is the winner!