Book Review: Bella Beaded Jewelry by Donatella Ciotti

If your idea of fashion jewelry leans towards “big, bold is beautiful” then this is the book for you. Beads, buttons, safety pins and more combine with wirework, cording, crochet, simple knotting, and stringing to create attention grabbing, decidedly retro necklaces and bracelets. These pieces have attitude.

All the designs in this collection are simple enough for a beginner to tackle with confidence as close-up photography and clear instructions make assembly a breeze. Any small mistakes will blend in, becoming a part of the design thus making the piece your own. Beginning with an overview of materials, tools and basic techniques, Ciotti then moves on to designs incorporating pearls and mother of pearl. The classic looking “Crochet Necklace and Bracelet” uses layers of pearls and beads on a simple crochet base while the “Egyptian Collar” puts safety pins to stunning use in a truly unusual choker.

In the chapter on glass, silk thread and cord Ciotti uses an assortment of stringing methods and simple knotwork to create bold necklaces like “Colors of the Sun” and the fun, bright “Hot Peppers!” Flexible wire and crystal beads form an unlikely, yet head turning match in the “Squiggle” necklace and earring set found in the wire section. Crochet, safety pins and pearls make up a pair of bracelets while basic wire working skills come into play as large mother of pearl flowers combine with and assortment of Venetian glass beads in “Caged Pearls”. The last chapter shows what can be done with wooden beads, buttons and cord, wire, chain or tubular mesh.

The list of suppliers found in the back will be particularly helpful in tracking down some of the supplies used in creating these pieces although a bit of ingenuity could find substitutions for some of the materials not typically found in the beaders stash. Perhaps the biggest strength of this book is to inspire jewelry makers of all levels to look at the everyday materials around them with a fresh perspective


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