Arte Es Vida


The Art Of Beadwork By Valerie Hector by arteesvida
December 3, 2006, 8:55 pm
Filed under: Art Of Jewelry Design, Beading, Book Reviews

I do get a lot of wonderful books to review on a regular basis. I think I have learned something great from each of them. But every once in awhile I get sent a book that just takes my breath away. The book, The Art Of Beadwork By Valerie Hector is one of those books.

It marries the rich, wonderful history of beadwork (and with no surprise, the forward is written by the sublime Lois Dubin, who wrote “The History Of Beads) with stunning patternry, designs, and instructions.

I confess I had some difficulty finishing this book. At each chapter, I quite literally found myself jumping out of my chair and grabbing a box of seed beads to try something new. The 1960s portrait of Nelson Mandela wearing Thiembu beadwork collar had me up in the middle of the night replicating the Xhosa beadwork scallop stitch the collar was made from. My poor husband just sighed and shook his head…knowing full well the vacuum cleaner would have be unclogged of beading thread and stray seed beads within the next couple of days.

Now, this book does lean towards the more experienced beader. But new beadworkers shouldn’t feel warned off too quickly. The techinques are VERY well explained and illustratied with painstaking detial. And the patterns build up slowly; starting with simple techniques that can be built upon to create more complex work.

Valerie Hector is also excellent at giving beginner’s type advice to keep you from getting too frustrated with the more complicated works…she suggests bigger bead sizes and completing the pattern in more than one color (making it easier to chart your progress along with the pattern progess outlined in the book). These types of pragamtic tips really keep the book in everyone’s range, if you don’t mind a little patient fumbling as you get started!

The book covers classic designs (and their modern variations) from the following regions: Mainland China (Han Beadwork), Ancient Japanese Beadowrk, Indian Beadwork (Gujarat State), Indonesian Beadwork (Sa’Dan Toraja), Malaysian Beadwork, Malaysian Borneo Beadowrk (Kenyah) Papua, New Guinea Beadwork (Ambai Island), Ancient Egyptian Beadwork, Nigerian Beadwork (Yoruba), Kenyan Beadwork (Maasai), Sudanese Beadwork (Dinka), South African Beadwork (Xhosa and Msinga), English Beadwork (17th century), German Beadwork (18th century), Austrian Beadwork (20th century), French Funerary Beadwork, Native American Plans and Plateau Beadwork, Achomawi/Atsugewi Beadwork, Mexican Beadwork (Huichol), and Peruvian Beadwork (Chimu).

This is an amazing amount of breathtaking, museum-quality work from around the globe that spans thousands of years of beadweaving history. This isn’t just a how-to book…it is as complete history of our craft as one could ever hope for. It is equisitely detailed and absolutely gorgeous. If you only buy one beadwork book this year, let it be this one!


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