Spotlight On - Color By Margie Deeb

9:00 AM

Making Palettes for Focal Beads
by Margie Deeb

How to create a necklace color scheme from an existing bead (or fabric) is one of the questions I've been asked the most over the years.

Last week Rachel D. wrote:

"I have a question about working with beads that are multi-colored. I have purchased lampwork glass beads that are made up of at least 3 colors. I would like to know if I should choose 1 color out of the multi-color bead and use as an accent bead or just use plain clear glass beads as accents? I hear different opinions."

I told Rachel "Its difficult for me to give you my most informed answer without seeing the beads."

My preference is color, not clear glass beads. So I would try to choose 1 color within the beads to use as a unifying color. That is not a rule, that is where I would start experimenting.

To give my best answer to Rachel and you, dear reader, I devote this August 2010 column. I've also created a fully illustrated, bullet-pointed, picture-says-it-all PDF guide titled "7 Strategies for Extracting Palettes" available on my website,

Let's discuss this question with one of the strategies outlined in "7 Strategies for Extracting Palettes."

Strategy #1 is the simplest approach, yet often the most difficult to pull-off successfully. I call it "All Colors Present." In this approach you employ all the colors of the existing source (the focal bead) in the necklace itself.

The reason this approach is often difficult to pull-off successfully is because it risks becoming too busy and chaotic. There is already so much visual activity in that focal bead: you don't want to make a necklace that competes with it for attention. Your job is to shape the colorful chaos into a pleasing degree of form and order. To do this use unifying elements, such as similar sizes, shapes, textures in the necklace strands. You can also use solid colors to "frame focal bead".

For example, here is a colorful lampworked focal bead by my friend, jewelry designer, Kristy Nijenkamp. Lots of colors are swirling around this little masterpiece. So Kristy focused on the main three: green, amber, and purple. She framed the focal bead in the most dominant color, green (see the 2 fluorite beads on either side of the focal). Her necklace is strong and colorful, and compliments the focal without competing with or overwhelming it. The overall effect is unified, because the colors within the focal bead are carried through the entire necklace.

Artist and color expert Margie Deeb is the author of The Beader's Color Palette, The Beader's Guide to Color and numerous beading and color publications. She teaches color and beading across the country and her free monthly color column, "Margie's Muse," is available on her website. She writes regularly for Beadwork, Bead & Button, and Step-by-Step Beads magazines. Sign up for her newsletter chock-full of valuable color and beading information... FREE!

Visit Margie's website for her books, kits, patterns, jewelry, inspiration, and more:

Written by Margie Deeb

Blog contributor Thomas Soles is the Trade Show Coordinator for Soft Flex Company. His favorite stones are Lapis and Pietersite. His favorite hobby is day dreaming. And his favorite mustache is Tom Selleck's. As you can see, he has a healthy (or possibly unhealthy) sense of humor. You can write to him at

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