One of the most difficult aspects of bead craft is patterning. The human eye seeks out patterns, and our brains parse data in smallish chunks. Thus, the reason phone numbers, social security numbers, and the like are broken into smallish chunks: 555-1212 vs. 5551212. This is an important point to keep in mind when considering various bead ideas where patterning is concerned.

Oftentimes, a novice to the world of beadwork will be tempted to simply use whatever is on hand, and the results will be haphazard randomness. Now, it is true that this approach can sometimes yield attractive results. There is, however, a growing body of evidence indicating that symmetry and identifiable patterns are one of the keys to defining what we see and understand as “beauty.” A student of bead craft would do well to take these lessons to heart, which brings us back ’round to the importance of patterning.

Beadwork patterns can be as simple or as complex as you’d care to make them, though I’d recommend simpler designs for the novice, with increasing complexity as a natural extension of experience. And do not think that a simple pattern will produce unattractive results! The simplest pattern of all is 1-1-1, best embodied by the classic strand of pearls. Simple. Elegant. Timeless.

Still, many people get into this hobby as a form of self expression, and one of the ways that expression manifests itself in the hobby is through the magic of the pattern.

Some people spend hours upon hours experimenting with various bead ideas and arrangements until they hit upon something that is truly compelling. More common though, especially to those new to beadwork, is a sense of intimidation. This is unfortunate, but the overwhelming majority of hobbyists will outgrow that fear as they gain more bead craft experience.

Still, if you have recently taken up the hobby and find yourself struggling with the difficulty of developing your own patterns, you can find a number of sites on the web offering bead craft pattern ideas and examples. Make use of these in your designs, and before very long, you’ll probably find yourself thinking, “I like this pattern, but wouldn’t it be neat if…” and almost before you know it, you’ll be on your way to creating your own, wholly unique bead craft design.

Anyone can, in a matter of minutes, learn the basic mechanics of bead craft, but the real artistry, and the part that takes longer to master, is learning the art of patterning. My advice to beginners would be simply this: Try developing bead craft patterns on your own, but don’t force it. If it’s something you’re struggling with, seek out bead craft resource sites on the web for pattern ideas and practice with those. Sooner or later, something will “click” inside your head, and you’ll find yourself branching out in your own direction.

Patience and practice. These are the real keys to mastering bead craft, and truly making even borrowed bead ideas and patterns, your own.

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Author: Chris Hartpence
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Filed under: Ideas, Patterns, Designs and Instruction

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