Were you one of those who read my book review on Seed Bead Style and went, "No way, seed beads are too small"? Well, I hear you! Seed bead woven jewelry is gorgeous but there is a price to pay. Time. So for faster bead weaving projects, incorporate crystals instead. Better yet, Swarovski crystals for added sparkle.

Kalmbach Publishing recently sent me a new book to review which delivers what I just wrote. It's Crystal Brilliance: Making Designer Jewelry with Crystal Beads by Anna Elizabeth Draeger.

If you love crystals AND bead weaving, then this book is for you. There are 26 drop dead gorgeous projects in all. I love how the author divided them into four sections - Classic, Romantic, Geometric and Organic.

They cover several popular bead weaving stitches - peyote, netting, RAW (right angle weave), fringe, chevron chain, daisy chain, herringbone and spiral rope. The bottom middle picture in the book's cover shows my favorite, a  truly inspirational modified spiral rope creation.

Another awesome design is one called "Clusters" which shows how the humble daisy chain stitch can really transform into a swan of a design in the hands of a skilled artisan. If you click on the very first link, it will take you to the Amazon site where you can preview more pages. Try the "Surprise Me" function and you might come across these projects.

The author said in her introduction, "Many of the projects in this book can be tackled by anyone who's motivated, even a beginner". I would agree especially the word "motivated". Beginners are best off either trying the very easiest ones or taking a single element like a balled unit in the design below for earrings or a pendant before attempting a more challenging design. If not, you may get discouraged. There is also Basics section at the back which will help beginners.I wish though there were additional diagrams to show the half hitch knotting for adding and ending threads.

Anna Draeger is an Associate Editor of the Bead and Button magazine. She's the Anna in the "Ask Anna" column. Her 20 year passion for beading culminated last year when she "was named an ambassador for the Create Your Style with Crystallized Swarovski Elements program, an exclusive worldwide network of designers who are passionate about and prolific in using these Austrian crystal beauties in their projects and as they teach." This book certainly fulfills the passion and the prolific parts for sure!

Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
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