Bead colors: do they matter?


Bead colors – how much do they matter in a design? Well, believe it or not, the coloring you use can literally make or break a design. I’ve been spending a lot of time exploring color theory. This month, we’ve been talking a lot about how bead colors work together and what you need to think about as you’re choosing a color scheme. So, let me show you what a difference the right (or wrong) choices can make in practice.

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Why does this matter to you?

If you’re hoping to sell a beading pattern, then getting the color scheme right is absolutely critical. A huge number of people will pass by a beading pattern if they don’t like the color. That’s pretty scary, right?

So, how do you combat this?

Well, the first thing to remember is that you can’t please everyone.

Although, you can try… You may see a lot of designers make the same piece in a range of different colorways. Doing that gives maximum chances of appealing to different audiences. So, that is definitely something to bear in mind.

How to choose bead colours, Katie Dean, My World of Beads

But I don’t want to focus on that today. I’m going back even further in the design process, to focus on getting the color balance right. So, the appeal of the design isn’t just a matter of ‘I like blue, but hate pink’. No, the bigger issue is really about interest and balance. So, you can actually appeal to those ‘blue lovers’ even with a ‘pink’ design if you get the balance right. Most people will be able to see that they could translate from one color to another.

But if the balance is wrong, it can literally kill a design, as I’m about to demonstrate with one of my own patterns…

Bead colors for cupcakes

When I first started designing Peyote stars, I created a design with cupcakes. Now, the thing about that is, you don’t have a lot of leeway with colors.

You need beads that are cake-colored for the base. You do have a choice of icing and decoration, yes. But you also need to pull everything together with a suitable background.

Anyway, for reasons best known to me, at the time, I decided to focus on a chocolate theme. So, this was the initial colorway that I used to make my star.

Cupcake Peyote star pattern, Katie Dean, Beadflowers

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking… Where are the cupcakes?

That’s right. My choice of bead colors may be a pretty color scheme, but it doesn’t support the design. You can see the cupcakes if you really look. But at first glance, this star doesn’t scream cupcakes!

How to make changes

So, what was I to do? How do you go about making changes to your bead colors.

In some cases, you might need to start over and change everything. But before you do that, stop and think. Can you identify just one change to make?

In this case, I thought the background was probably the biggest problem. So, I decided to reverse things and try out some lighter, more neutral backgrounds… Think white chocolate instead of milk or dark chocolate!

Rather than immediately launch into another full project, it’s a great idea to make a little sample strip to test some ideas.

Bead colors can make or break a design, Katie Dean, My World of Beads

I began to get a sense of which background colors would help the design, instead of ruining it. Then, I also tried out some variations for icing. I felt like I didn’t have a lot of room for adjustment with the cake color. (Although this reflected my bead stash as much as anything!)

So, I took these experiments and moved on to try another couple of options…

The cupcakes were certainly starting to stand out a little more. But in my first sample, I still had too little interest in the icing. So, that led me to try another experiment with more color variation in the icing.

Things were starting to take shape, but I didn’t feel I’d ‘aced’ the design yet.

So, on to another option…

Using what you’ve learned

My little strip had helped to show me the differences between my beads. I actually liked the slightly darker, lemon background of my first trial. But that didn’t really enhance the ‘cake’. So, I decided to take a risk and try a completely different, much bolder cake color. Maybe this could be a chocolate cupcake?

I was also observing that it helped a lot to give my individual cupcakes some individual style. So, I decided to try something bolder in that direction.

Finally, I began to assess the last element in my design: the star edging. Did I actually need those edging beads? Did that border add to the design or not?

Only one way to find out…

Cupcake Peyote star pattern, Katie Dean, Beadflowers

That’s how my next attempt came out. At last I had managed to color my design so that it shouts ‘cupcakes’ more boldly. And do you know what? Suddenly the project became appealing to customers…

So, if you’d like to try making your own cupcake Peyote star, here is the link to the pattern. It includes all the bead colors that I used (all my variations – just in case one of the others takes your fancy). Plus, I’ve given you some guidance if you want to change things up and choose your own colors.

In conclusion

Next time you think, “bead colors don’t matter that much,” think again. Rather than just grabbing the first beads from your stash, put some thought into how your choices are going to affect your design.

You don’t have to be the one creating the design yourself. In fact, you may already have discovered this… Even re-coloring an existing design can go seriously wrong if you don’t know what you’re doing. So, something that looked like a gorgeous project can suddenly become a bit of an eyesore with the wrong bead colors.

And, before you panic here, having the ability to choose color schemes that work isn’t just something some people are born with. If you don’t feel like that skill comes naturally to you, then it is a skill you can learn. In fact, it’s a skill that I teach in an online beading class. So, if you feel like you could use some help, check out the class here.

And, even if you feel happy putting bead colors together, hopefully this has underlined the importance of your choices. So, make sure you take a little time over them. It can literally make the difference between a project that looks OK and a project that looks amazing.

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