Perfect Colour Scheme for Beading
I’m writing this post as a response to one of the questions that landed here. It’s not the first time I’ve been asked about choosing colour schemes for beading. Nor, I suspect, will it be the last! So, let me share with you, my thoughts on the perfect colour scheme for any beading project.
I’ve littered this post with examples of perfect colour schemes that I’ve created over the years. They all link to my patterns, so you are welcome to get those to discover how these colour schemes work and how you can use them yourself. (Or, you can read the rest of this post and find out why that claim is complete nonsense!…although I’m still eternally grateful to anyone who supports my work by buying a pattern.)
What is the perfect colour scheme for beading?
Let me cut to the chase here. There is no PERFECT colour scheme. Not for beading, nor for home décor, nor art, nor fashion. The most important thing to understand here is this is art.
Art is subjective. There is no right and wrong. Simply, what you like and what you don’t like. And I can 100% guarantee that there will be some people who also like what you like and some who don’t. Even if there aren’t, it really doesn’t matter.
So, my advice to you is stop worrying about colour schemes. Bead what makes you happy…!
When should you worry about getting it wrong?
Probably, never. I’ve just said, there is no ‘right’ and ‘wrong’.
But, if you are making jewellery or other beadwork to sell, then you might want to consider this. Does your jewellery sell well? If it does, then don’t change a thing! If it doesn’t, could the colour scheme be what is putting people off?
Now, just to be clear, it’s pretty unlikely that colour on its own is the problem. If you think about it, there are so many factors for a potential buyer to consider.
- Do, they have an outfit that will suit the piece?
- Is the style right for them?
- What about the price?
- Do they really need any more jewellery?
Basically, there are a million reasons why someone chooses to buy or not. So, getting bogged down in finding the perfect colour scheme is probably not the solution!
What about selling patterns?
Again, when you create a new design to turn into a tutorial, the chances are, you bead in a particular colour. You might have favourite colours, or you might not. But, I began this post by pointing out that everyone is different. Some will love blue, some will hate it… and so on.
So, if you always make tutorials using blue beads in your sample, some people will love the finished look and want to buy the tutorial. Some will hate blue and may not be able to see beyond the colour. Some will barely even notice the colour, but will be wowed by the shaping and combination of beads.
It can be helpful to make a few different samples in different colourways. This will help increase the appeal of a project to the maximum number of people. Trying different colours – particularly taking yourself out of your comfort zone – can help you to develop as a designer too.
But, once again, the colour scheme you choose is not going to be a deal-breaker.
Why are you looking for the perfect colour scheme?
I’ve recently started taking drawing lessons (which I’m loving!). I started this, partly for pleasure, but partly with the aim of taking a new creative direction (find out what that is, here). Now, when I signed up to this, I knew nothing about the teacher and had no idea what to expect.
What do you think was the very first lesson he taught us? Let go of the idea of perfection. Art is the same as beading – or any other creative endeavour. It is subjective. Whatever the end result, it will appeal to some people and not others. This doesn’t make it ‘good’ or ‘bad’. It just ‘is’.
So, why do people constantly pursue this idea of ‘perfection’. Why hang onto the idea that there is such a thing as a ‘perfect colour scheme’? (There isn’t).
Are you someone who is (almost) never satisfied with your colour choice?
Seriously, how often do you create a piece of beadwork and sit back and think, ‘I like that’? If the answer is ‘almost never’, then let me ask you this…
- do other people admire your beadwork?
- what happens if you put the beadwork away after finishing it, then take it out a while later? – are you then able to appreciate it more?
- are you quite self-critical in other areas? Is there anything you do in life with which you are satisfied?
Let me throw an idea out there. You’re probably not going to like this, but it’s the truth.
You aren’t ‘bad’ at choosing colours. You aren’t ‘missing something’ when it comes to putting a colour scheme together. Your view of your work is reflecting your relationship with yourself.
So, even if you studied every single piece of colour theory ever produced, you’re still not going to be able to create the perfect colour scheme. Because, even if you did (and you probably have done, over and over), you’re never going to appreciate it.
How do designers solve this problem?
I find a lot of people seem to think that professional beadwork designers have some ‘trick’ or ‘skill’ to choosing colours. The truth is, they don’t. I’ve been beading for over 17 years. I’ve published over 500 tutorials and made countless other pieces of beadwork. Do I know how to create a colour scheme?
Have I spent some time studying colour theory? Yes, absolutely. I know all about the colour wheel. I understand about creating interest, shades, light and dark and so on.
But I never sit down and ‘plan’ when I start a project. The truth is, I can’t tell how the beads are going to work until I try using them.
So, I might decide I want to make something with ‘wow’ factor. I might realise this probably calls for a contrasting colour scheme. But I don’t know exactly what beads will work.
You’d be surprised how often my colour scheme results from me asking, ‘what have I got available?’ Basically, I have an idea and I don’t want to wait to order new beads. Or I can’t afford to order new beads. So, I just grab what I have to hand and try and make it work.
Very rarely do colour schemes ‘just happen’. 99% of the time, it’s a case of trying beads, un-doing and re-doing because they don’t quite work.
But, when I say, ‘don’t quite work’, I mean something really, really bad happens. Like maybe the colours clash terribly. Or maybe a finish on a bead causes it to get ‘lost’ in the work. Perhaps the finishes of two beads next to one another cause both their colours to appear different.
There is no ‘trick’ here. Just patience, trial, and a lot of error.
How do you solve the problem?
If none of this has set your mind at ease and you’re still convinced you should be able to find the perfect colour scheme, what can you do?
Well, you can absolutely spend hours trialling different combinations for every single project you make. Or, you can spend all your savings – and more – buying every bead colour available so you know you will have just what you need…
But how about you just change your perspective?
Stop criticising your work. Stop over-analysing your colour choice – or clasp choice. Just make a choice and go with it.
And, if you still really, really can’t see the good in what you are producing, maybe it’s time to start finding ways to be kinder to yourself. Because the beads – and your beading skills – aren’t the problem here!