Friday, July 28, 2006

Color Study #3 ~
Kimono-Inspired Necklace

Many of you know my bead embroidery work, and more recently spirit dolls and finger woven bracelets and necklaces. But way back in the dark ages, I started by making multiple strand necklaces, which I taught as a two-day class that included Japanese pearl knotting techniques and a 2-hour section on principles of design.

My favorite design technique was this: 1) Cut a smile or crescent shape out of a piece of typing paper. 2) Find a picture of a painting, piece of fabric, photograph or advertisement you really like. 3) Place the paper (the piece with the smile-shaped hole in it) over the picture, and move the paper around until you something jumps out as really wonderful. 4) Use this as a beading guide for colors - proportion, arrangement, scale - just copy what you see as best you can.

Several times, this method resulted in a gradual shift from one color on one side of the necklace to a different color on the other side of the necklace. I call it blending colors. And that's what I decided to do for my next Margie Deeb color study. (If you've just tuned in, see the previous two posts for news about Margie's forthcoming new book about color!)

color palette for new book by Margie Deeb

My third challenge was to work with the color palette in the above picture of a Japanese kimono. In addition to making a piece to illustrate this palette, Margie wanted me to write step-by-step instructions for the project. Along with one hundred or more palettes and beaded examples of each, the book will include 20 projects with complete instructions. Since I haven't taught my multiple strand necklace class or blending methods for a long time, I decided to do the kimono in this technique!

beaded necklace by Robin Atkins, bead artist

Here is the finished necklace. I took photos of all the steps along the way, which will be in the book.

Stay tuned for more color studies! And, if any of you feel like it, give it a try. Look through a National Geographic or other magazine with color pictures, or a book of paintings, pick a picture you like a lot, and give yourself up to making something based on its color scheme. Beads are wonderful, yes - but you could do paper collage, a quilt block, a whole quilt, a doll - anything, as long as it's colors are based on the color scheme of the picture you've chosen.


  1. That seems like a good technique to try. I think getting my colors is always the hardest part of any project.

    The necklace is beautiful!

  2. What a great idea! (both the book and using paintings as color inspirations)...and your work is always a visual delight for me...thanks!

  3. Wow, that's very ethnic. I like it:)

  4. OMG this is WONDERFUL!!!!! Can't wait to see the book! Great work...Linda


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