Dimensional Bead Embroidery, by Jamie Cloud Eakin, is an illustrated guide covering traditional and innovative bead embroidery stitches and techniques. It's designed to help beginners learn the basics, but also to inspire experienced beaders to expand their creativity.
This book includes lots of clear, close-in photography and easy-to-follow diagrams interspersed with digestible sections of text. As usual with Lark Publishing, the cover, binding, and paper quality are all excellent.
Introductory and Stitch Chapters
The early chapters of Dimensional Bead Embroidery cover basic tools and materials, along with many essential techniques that you'll use over and over again as a bead embroiderer.
I found the descriptions and explanations in these chapters clear and unintimidating. I also enjoyed the many tips thrown in along the way -- the kind of tips that give you those "aha" moments and save you time and potential frustration down the road.
If you're a beadweaver without much embroidery experience, you'll quickly discover the differences between the two methods in terms of supplies and approach. You'll also find simple answers to many of your most basic questions, such as: What can you use as a backing? When should you use stabilizer? Should you use an embroidery hoop? How the heck do you center a finding, such as a bail, on a bead embroidered component? All of this is covered in the first few chapters.
Chapter 4 explores the many different types of components, other than beads, that you can include in embroidered beadwork. Here, you'll also learn how to adapt components that were not originally designed for embroidery work (such as how to give an uneven component a flat base and how to deal with pendant holes).
Chapters 5 through 8 are devoted to different categories of stitches. First, you'll learn (or review) the basic surface stitches, including back stitch, couch stitch, and lazy stitch. You'll then move on to the bezel stitches, which is where bead embroidery really becomes interesting. Lots of different types of bezel edges are covered; you're bound to find inspiration to tackle some, and perhaps even the motivation to invent some of your own.
Next up are edge treatment stitches (considered the "first stage" of the finishing process), and attachment stitches, which allow you to join embroidered beadwork with other components.
Projects and Gallery
When you reach the projects chapter of Dimensional Bead Embroidery, you may notice that the instructions seem more complex than they did in the technique-specific portions of the book. But if you take your time and make use of the diagrams in this chapter, you'll ultimately complete some very striking, artful jewelry pieces -- plus one embroidered purse.
Even if you don't complete all nine projects, simply reading through them will help you to understand exactly how different types of embroidery projects come together. You can then browse through the final gallery of beadwork, located near the end of the book, and envision how you might design your own variations.
Overall, this is a book full of beautifully presented instructions and explanations. Its focus on dimensional beading techniques allows even beginners to "get to the good stuff" in bead embroidery without feeling bored or overwhelmed. Although a few of the diagrams are smaller than optimal, they're all pretty clear and straightforward, and I think you'll find them relatively easy to use.
I recommend Dimensional Bead Embroidery if you:
- are interested in trying (or further exploring) bead embroidery and are drawn to highly-textural designs with lots of embedded objects; and
- prefer experimenting with techniques over following step-by-step project instructions without variation.