Off the Beadin' Path: Discovering Your Own Creative Trail of Bead Embellishment, by Nancy Eha -- A Book Review
Sometimes, the key to beading success is looking at the beads in another way
The reviewed book, which is well worth the investment if you have trouble getting the creative juices flowing, or keeping them going
Get into the creative mindset with these practical steps
If you'd love to get into beading, but just can't get past your own mental blocks to strike out with your own designs, then this is a great book to get you started. It's not a pattern book. Instead, it's a book that encourages you to build on your own talents and ideas, organize them, and make items that are entirely products of your own inspiration.
The time-honored tradition of bead embellishment has given way to what is, by far, the most popular craft in the world. Beading offers endless variations and amazing flexibility, allowing anyone to exercise his or her creativity in a truly unique way. In Off the Beadin’ Path: Discovering Your Own Creative Trail of Bead Embellishment, author Nancy Eha helps readers unlock their own beading potential. While she does present some “how to” material, specifically on bead embroidery, Eha’s primary focus in the book is to get you into a creative mindset. There are no specific patterns to follow; this is not a book that will teach you to reproduce something. Instead, it’s a workbook for tapping into your creativity to discover designs that are uniquely your own.
About Nancy Eha’s Off the Beadin’ Path
Off the Beadin’ Path begins by addressing common roadblocks that keep budding crafters from exploring their own artistic talents. Eha implores readers not to be afraid to ask stupid questions, and offers tips on how to stop negative self-talk that kills creative initiative. With these and a number of other psychological problems potential artists face, Eha strives to offer actionable solutions that will get you out of your head and into the beading room.
Next, Off the Beadin’ Path offers a few practical tools for working with the beads themselves. This includes an overview of the beads, materials and tools you’re likely to need as you explore. In addition, Eha offers step-by-step diagrams for favorite bead embroidery stitches.
The book includes a number of black-and-white pictures, as well as a full-color insert with pictures of some of Eha’s own bead embroidery and inspirational pieces from other artists. These include such things as beaded clothing, accessories, photo albums and scrapbooks.
Just getting started, or your beading isn't taking off? Here are nine suggestions for essentials to add to your beading supplies
My own impressions of Off the Beadin’ Path
Production for Off the Beadin’ Path: Discovering Your Own Creative Trail of Bead Embellishment was clearly produced on a budget. There are a number of editing errors, and the text itself certainly won’t win any awards. Add to that, most of the pictures are in black and white. That said, these are relatively minor details that don’t significantly detract from what Nancy Eha has to offer. Though the book is primarily aimed at beginning beaders, especially with the specific techniques, it can be used at any level that you may be experiencing “beader’s block.” It takes a number of different approaches to help you start creating again, or to figure out how to translate ideas into reality.
Since I got Off the Beadin’ Path several years ago, I’ve re-read it a number of times. Though I already knew most of the stitches, I find the steps for getting into a creative and productive mindset to be quite valuable. Here on the right, you can see one of my own creations that’s completely my own, and that came about through using these creative steps. This is one of dozens of original designs I've made, and they are all a big hit in my Etsy store and in real-life craft sales and trade shows.
Should you buy Off the Beadin’ Path?
Overall, this isn’t the book to buy if you want someone to spell out patterns for you to copy. It doesn’t have step-by-step instructions for completed projects, only step-by-step instructions for elements that can go into a completed project. Basically, it’s meant to give you a few tools to get you going if you’re interested in pursuing artistic, original designs of your own. You’re offered a strategy that includes logging your work, noting specific elements you really like, writing down or sketching your ideas as they occur, and pushing your comfort zone with everything you have available for your creative endeavors.
Since I wrote my original review on Off the Beadin’ Path, I’ve been in contact with the author herself. After a few exchanges, she generously sent me a copy of her book Bead Creative Like Crazy. If you really want all full-color pictures and even more step-by-step instructions for bead embroidery, then that’s definitely a book to add to your collection. I use both books, which complement each other nicely, to give myself new ideas on shapes and colors to try using my beads. (Note: the book was not given out of any expectation of a review, nor do I receive any additional compensation from the author or anyone else affiliated with the books. My opinions on these are my own.)
In short, if you’re really serious about turning into a bead artist instead of “just another crafter,” then Eha’s books may be extremely helpful. Know that she does aim her work at original designers, and constantly encourages you to use your own imagination. There are thousands of books out there that will simply give you everything you need to create a specific design. Go find those if that’s what you want. For original thinking, I’ve found both of my books from Nancy Eha to be extremely helpful and well worth the price. If this sounds like it's for you, then by all means scroll back up to the top and click the Amazon link for more information.
What about you? What do you find useful when you're trying to create original designs? I'd love to hear what you have to say. Please leave a comment below, and let's get a discussion started :)
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