Rachel Nelson-Smith's Bead Riffs: Artfully Presented

Incorporating music with funky beadwork, Rachel Nelson-Smith has turned her love for both into an artfully presented beadworking book: Rachel Nelson-Smith's Bead Riffs. Fun titles, intro to basic beadwork materials, and color illustrations make the book both functional to use and fun to read.

Blending Musical Theory and Jewelry

Nelson-Smith approaches "beading in the way a jazz musician approaches playing" by making it up as she goes. Her projects are all named after a different facet of jazz music, like a particular jazz music theory to names of her favorite jazz songs, to even winging it with a unique take on the designs in Riff It, a section that accompanies some projects with ways to embellish a design or make it your own. Because the approach is so different from other classical or modern jewelry making books, her designs and the names to them are memorable.

Projects Overview

All jewelry projects have a jazz-inspired name, along with a description or history of how the name applies to the piece. For example, Four is a tune written by Eddy "Cleanhead" Vinson, with lyrics by Eddy Jefferson and made famous by Miles Davis. It is also a tune about the four greatest things in life. Her project with the same name is a bracelet all revolving around the number four: four bumps (dimensional), four different colors that contrast with each other, and four sets of jump rings. By incorporating the jazz history behind each name, the pieces seemingly come to life with an instant history themselves.

Bead Riffs Chapters

The jewelry projects inside Bead Riffs primarily focus on the peyote and right angle weaves. In her introduction, Nelson-Smith talks about the importance of improvisation to both the musical and beading worlds. The first chapter focuses on the different materials that will be used in the projects, the basic beadweaving techniques to learn, and her color collections for her designs. The next three chapters are the actual jewelry projects: Chapter 2: Necklaces and Pendants; Chapter 3: Rings and Earrings; and Chapter 4: Bracelets. In all, there are 23 different jewelry projects to choose from. The gallery at the back of the book showcases both her past work and the work of other notable jewelry artists.

While some of Nelson-Smith's projects seem complex, she has a whole range of jewelry pieces that can be finished by readers from all different levels. Her love for and knowledge of jazz music shows through to the pieces themselves, and with the introduction under each title makes the jewelry come to life and want to be worn. If you are any kind of music lover, her play on words is fun to read and surprisingly goes hand-in-hand with beadweaving.

Book Information:
  • Rachel Nelson-Smith's Bead Riffs: Jewelry Projects in Peyote & Right Angle Weave; by Rachel Nelson-Smith
  • Lark Crafts, an Imprint of Sterling Publishing; Beadweaving Master Class Series
  • ISBN13: 9781600597831
  • Hard cover; 128 pages
Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher and any opinions are my own.

Lark Crafts: Rachel Nelson-Smith's Bead Riffs: Jewelry Projects in Peyote & Right Angle Weave

Renee Shelton.