Book Review: Bead Riffs

I have to say, when I saw the title of Rachel Nelson-Smith’s book Bead Riffs, I was intrigued by the reference to music in the title of a beading book. I was also interested to see how she would weave the two together. Rachel is a jazz singer and a beader. As she explains it, you learn music and beading by starting with the basics. As you gain expertise, you start to improvise and add your own special twists and turns.

Chapter One is named The Setup. Rachel explains all of the tools and materials needed for the projects in the book and shows how to bead peyote and right angle weave. Variations for both stitches are shown along with ways to embellish them.

I have never seen rhinestones used with beadwork in the manner that Rachel uses them. I have to try it – just plain have to. She uses crystal components called montees that can be sewn to the beadwork and they look fabulous.

Another great tip – how to use a plastic circle and bit of wire to make a custom beaded toggle. I won’t give away any more secrets or tips – believe me, there are plenty. The remaining chapters focus on different types of jewelry with necklaces and pendants up first.

One thing I like about this book is the fact that it contains projects that are very ornate as well as those that are on the more minimalistic side like the pendant above. I think that broadens the appeal of the book to a wider audience.

The projects are just gorgeous and Rachel definitely provides a unique spin on things. And the beads and music? It’s blended so nicely throughout the entire book. Jewelry pieces are named after song titles or performers. Riff it tips provide helpful information. There are also tidbits of information about jazz greats like Sarah Vaughn and Dizzie Gillespie.

Fly Me to the Moon – in music and in beads.

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