Niki.Tasha – Lesson 5 – Colours

Art Deco Amulet Bag

Art Deco Amulet Bag

glass bead artisan jewelry, a spot to keep a talisman

glass bead artisan jewelry, a spot to keep a talisman

There are all kinds of websites that dedicate some space to defining the meanings of colours.  In Lesson 4 – Colour, we discussed colour theory and we explained cool and warm colours.  In addition to the theory, is the ‘feeling’ or reaction one has with colours. 

The warm colours of yellow, orange and red are gregarious, optimistic and aggressive.  The cool colours of violet, blue and green soothe ; they have a calming effect.

Black, brown and gold, ‘neutrals’ of the fashion industry, are warm colours.  White, grey and silver are cool neutrals.

Blue suggests strength, hence the executive blue suit.  It is peaceful:  the Madonna is depicted as a woman wearing blue.

People are trying to ‘green’ the world: green is the colour of the environment when it is healthy.  Hospital corridors are painted a light green tint.  Green suggests growth. 

Yellow was the colour of royalty in ancient China.  Yellow is cheerful, joyful.

Red:  outgoing, passionate, hot.  In China, red is a lucky colour.  When a bit of white is added, you get a pink tint.  Little girls in Canada wear pink. 

Purple is the royal colour:  an extremely costly dye to make, in the western world purple was reserved for royalty.  In the Catholic church, purple is a sacred colour and worn by bishops.

Gold, a warm colour,  and silver, a cool colour, are 2 precious metals.  Yellow or red gold, the colour of riches and of tradition.  As part of the marriage tradition, it is customary to offer wedding rings made of gold. 

Black is the colour of power and aggressiveness.  Limousines that are black are used in funeral processions in the western hemisphere.  It is a sober colour.

White once was considered the colour of bad luck.  It is also the colour of purity.   In olden days, a woman’s bridal dress was her best frock which was most often made of silk and either black or some other dark colour.  It was  Queen Victoria who started the trend of bridal dresses of white.

In the business world, there used to be a formula for the colours one wore to work.  On Monday you wear your power suit, black.  You want the symbol of authority, the colour black, at the start of the week.  On Tuesday the colour of choice was dark blue; still an authoritative colour but without the aggressiveness of black.   Wednesday is the apex of the workweek:  fewer mistakes are made on a Wednesday.  Wednesday was the day for grey.   Brown, the colour of earth, an approachable colour, is worn on Thursday.  The weekend is just one day away so it’s okay to loosen the reins of business.  Finally, Friday, a day of celebration:  when the whistle blows at the end of the shift we will be on our own time.  TGIF (Thank God It’s Friday), people wear beige or any other tint [remember, a tint is the colour made when white is added to a Hue.]

When you look at your design and you can’t say exactly what is missing, but that something is missing, add a bit of black.   Interior decorators use this trick to ‘ground’ a room. 

When you pick the bead colours, Niki, that you will use in the first project, start with your favourite colour.  I believe, and I am not alone in my belief, that you can never have too many beads and you will always enjoy the pieces you make using your favourite colour.  You must pay attention to the colour values:  Hue= saturated, pure colour;  Tint= the colour you chose but lighter, by adding  white to the Hue;  Tone = the colour you chose but darker, with black added to the Hue.

Copyright © Helene Turnbull  All rights reserved.  No part of this work covered by the copyrights hereon may be reproduced or used in any form or by any means – graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or information storage and rettrieval systems – without written permission of the author.


Niki.Tasha – Lesson 3 – Needles

Needles!  I have so much to say!

Once upon a time needles were an important part of a housemaker’s kit.  They were hard to come by then and were housed in elaborate needlecases; sometimes made of silver or gold and sometimes of wood and whalebone.  A valuable gift for  a sailor to give the sweetheart he left on shore was a needlecase with etching, called scrimshaw, and made of the ivory of the whale. 

The Japanese silk embroideries use special needles to hold the silks as they are used to embellish, for example,  an obi.  These needles were handmade by a Master in Japan.  This work 10 years ago were in danger of disappearing when the aging Master died:  there were no apprentices.  At least, that is what I was told.

Needles are made commercially with steel wire which is extruded through numerous machines until the wire is of the desired diameter.  Next it gets cut into lengths of the different sized needles determined by its end use; eg. quilting, hand sewing, embroidery, beading to name a few.  A hole is stamped out at one end and the other end is made into a point.  The needle is ready for packaging and it’s time for you to decide what needles will work best for you and your beading.

There are blunt needles of different thickness and length that are used by needlepointers.  The higher the number identifying the needle size, the smaller the needle is.  An 18 needle is used for needlepoint canvas with very large holes, while a 26 needle is fine and used for petitpoint, a very delicate silk ‘canvas’.

There are differing sizes of needle for surface embroidery like crewel work which are sharp.

And there are needles for quilting which are also sharp.

There are long needles made of flimsy twisted wire and a wide eye.  They are very easy to thread but are a poor choice when multiple passes through the same bead are required.  You could use this style of needle when you are picking up many beads.  Similarly there are long needles made with extruded steel.

For beading, as for any sewing,  the size of needle is determined by its ability to pass multiple times through a single bead AND open a large enough hole through the other strands already inside the bead so the thread may pass through WITHOUT tugging or forcing or breaking the bead.

Like the women in olden times, we find a needle and use it almost exclusively for everything.  For my petitpoint embroideries (1,600 stitches to the square inch)  I like a quilter’s No. 12 needle.  I make my own personal adjustments:  my petitpoint and my beading require small, blunt needles so I round off the sharp point with a few passes on a special stone I have.  What makes this stone ‘special’ is that it comes from the beaches of Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada:  it has been worn smooth by the ocean’s waves.  I picked it up prior to a beading class I was teaching and I dulled the points off the needles I was to use in that class.  I brought it with me when I moved back home, 3,000 miles away.

I keep my  No.12 quilting needles in its own needlecase to keep it separate from my many other sizes of needles.

Now, the larger the eye of the needle, the larger the thread can be.  It is the eye of the needle that opens a hole in the fabric large enough for the thread to pass through.  The thread could be thick wool or fine silk.  And the fabric can be linen canvas or beads being sewn together.

Niki, when you visit a sewing store, take a look at the needles for sale and you will see the many different needles; one for each special use you might need.  You will have to find your own favourite needle; but, for now get a short and fine needle with a small eye:  your beading supplier would be able to guide you.

I have given you a couple of choices for Canadian bead shops:  the people at both shops are wonderfully helpful and both shops ship internationally.


© 2008 HelenE Turnbull

All rights reserved.  No part of this lesson may be produced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mecanical, including photocopying, recording, or by an additional storage or retrieval system, without the written permission of Savoir Vivre.

Bead a Button

My mother died in 2001.  Behind she left a grieving husband and 3 daughters in shock.   She died suddenly and we all felt the terrible loss.  Daddy died just 9 months later.  And then we were orphans, hanging onto one another and in fear of diminishing the family still further.

We went through our parents’ belongings and sorted out what could be given to charity, what needed to be disposed of, and what we would keep.  A great many items made us stop and reminisce:  ‘This is the tie Daddy wore at my wedding;’  here is the fruit shaped marzepan Mother received as a Christmas gift ( I got that because nobody else liked marzepan); we always knew when Mother was going out because she put on lipstick and perfume and special jewelry.

Mother had a Czech crystal necklace and matching earrings and that went to our oldest, Anne.  A few years after our parents died I was helping Anne pack up her apartment:  she was moving closer to us.  I was livid when I picked up that 4 strand crystal necklace and those glass beads went everywhere.

I found that the strands holding the crystal beads together had become brittle over the years.  Body oils and acids, perfume, cosmetics:  they all contributed to the rotting of the strings holding the beads together.

Anne no longer had the beautiful 4 strand crystal necklace.  It was in pieces.

How can such a treasure, so evocative of Mother, be replaced?  It can’t.  We could have given it to our trusted jeweller to restring.  It wouldn’t be the same thing.  Anne gave me permission to make 3 necklaces using the sparkly crystal glass beads:  one for each of we three sisters.

The last time I saw Anne’s necklace was on Boxing Day 2007.  She was in her apartment, advancing from the relative darkness of her living room into the light from the hallway.  Her chest was ablaze with the sparkle of those crystal beads.  She was gorgeous.  I found it hard to take my eyes off the dancing light of her necklace.

This necklace is nothing but glass:  just a little sand, a little lead, a little heat.  Okay, a lot of heat!   Not gold or silver or platinum.  Not diamond, sapphire, or emerald.  Just glass.  A bunch of glass beads.  From it came 3 unique glass beaded necklaces:  each necklace a representation of Mother.

Where do YOU find the ‘stuff ‘ you use to make YOUR jewelry?  I found it in the beads in my mother’s jewelry box.

Visit the thrift stores:  they have jewelry for sale.  Look in second hand stores.

Where do  YOU find YOUR beads?  What made you choose those beads?  Share your own story.  Tell us.