Pros: Clear, simple instructions; lots of photos
Cons: Absolutely bare bones
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
I’ve learned the hard way that any time I want to learn about a hobby, such as sewing, beading, some aspect of gardening, etc., I should always buy at least two books to read on the subject. No matter how closely I look at or read about the books I buy ahead of time, inevitably one just won’t measure up to the other. I think it’s a curse or something.
This time the disappointing book in question is Jean Campbell’s Getting Started Stringing Beads. This isn’t to say it’s a ‘bad’ book, and it’s definitely better than some purchases I’ve made. But it certainly doesn’t measure up to the next book I’ll review by Chris Franchetti Michaels.
On the surface of it, an ultra-simple, ultra-plain beading book sounds like a fine idea. After all, there’s so much you can learn that it can be extremely daunting to the beginner. A simple introductory book is less threatening. And in large part, this works in Campbell’s book. Unfortunately, beading is a complex hobby, and there’s no good way to get around that, particularly if you want to cover all the bases. Going with simple inevitably means leaving things out that you really shouldn’t. Campbell would have been better off putting together a longer book that neatly separated out and described in simple terms a wider array of topics and sub-topics.
You’ll find the basics here, such as definitions of many types of beads, a millimeter size chart, bead shapes chart, discussions of beading materials (wire, thread, etc.) and what to use to cut each one, and a few tools such as pliers and needles. Unfortunately, there are a few things that get left out, too. For example, there’s no mention of the need for a bead reamer (a tool that smoothes out rough edges inside beads, particularly such as pearls, so they don’t break the threads they’re strung on). The information on beading materials didn’t leave me feeling particularly enlightened as to what I might want to buy first for my purposes—it was too generic and non-detailed.
Next the beginning stages of beading are discussed: stringing beads, crimping, knotting, knot cups, wire working. The information on knots is particularly good, with helpful diagrams and a surprising variety of knots. The information on crimping is less helpful, however. The difference between crimp tubes and crimp beads is never discussed, and yes, it does matter (every time I hear the subject come up among crafters, the overwhelming opinion is that tubes are better).
The findings section describes and shows pictures of such items as bead caps, bullion (French wire), chain, clasps, earring findings, cones, connectors, eye and head pins, end coils, jump rings, knot cups and tips, separator bars, etc. The information here is pretty good—I wouldn’t call it exhaustive, but I didn’t have any particular gripes with it either.
The next parts give you some idea of how to put together projects, from the use of bead boards to making use of repeating patterns of beads, focal beads, etc. The book relies heavily on sample projects to show you how to create projects. This will be an easier learning process for some, while others would rather have tips on the design process itself.
The earrings section has a few quick tips for designing drops, hoops, line & chandelier earrings, while the next chapter details a good handful of designs, and the book ends with some resources and final tips.
Some dabblers might find this a good beginner book, but I’d rather have one that covers all the bases.