Mastering Beadwork by Carol Huber Cypher – Book Review

We thought we’d post something a little different today and share our review of Mastering Beadwork: A Comprehensive Guide to Off-loom Techniques by bead artist Carol Huber Cypher!

If you love seed beads and beadwork, you may have already seen this book around in the world of beading. Mastering Beadwork is billed as a sort of bible for beaders – a beading encyclopaedia; beadwork masterclasses; bead recipes and general beading inspiration, all included together in one complete guide.

Mastering Beadwork – content overview

Mastering Beadwork contains 240 pages of beading information. Within the introduction there is a section on how to use the book, what equipment you’ll need to embark upon your beading journey and a really good explanation of different types of beads and beading terminology.

The book also goes into detail about the different makes and materials of beads and how they can be used in beadwork as well advice on color considerations, stringing materials and different jewelry findings.

Following on from the introduction comes the best part… pages and pages of beadwork tutorials and patterns! In Mastering Beadwork, there are tutorials on the following types of beadwork stitches:

  • Peyote Stitch
  • Dutch Spiral
  • Netting
  • Spiral Rope
  • Right-Angle Weave
  • Triangle Weave
  • Square Stitch
  • Daisy Chain
  • Ladder Stitch
  • Herringbone Stitch
  • Brick Stitch
  • African Polygon
  • African Helix
  • South African Scallop
  • Bead Crochet

Each beadwork stitch tutorial gives a brief introduction to the stitch, what it’s used for and how it works. Then written instructions, complete with helpful diagrams, explain the steps needed in creating the stitches. On most pages there are photographs of beadwork pieces made up in the relevant stitches to demonstrate how completed projects should look.

Mastering Beadwork – the pros

What’s evident about this book from the moment you pick it up is that you can tell it’s been written by an expert. The instructions are very detailed; the photographs shows beadwork of an extremely high standard and the sheer amount of information included within the book leaves no room to think otherwise.

If you want to learn beadwork stitch by stitch, this book does seem to start with easier stitches, followed by more complicated stitches as you go through. However with that said, we found that there’s no need to go through the book page by page to learn everything at once, it is possible to flick through until you find a project you like the look of and just make that on its own.

The photographs are colorful and bright enough to make this a visually appealing book, even though the whole guide is text heavy because of the amount of information included. Overall, this is a very user-friendly book that is easy to read and full of inspiration.

Mastering Beadwork – the considerations

Many of the projects included in the book look a little bit old fashioned in terms of colors used and styles. This is probably because it’s easier to show the beadwork stitches off clearly by using a range of mixed colors.

The upside to this is that you can of course use any colors and beads you like providing you stick to the right sizes for your pattern. So if you are worried that some of the projects in the book aren’t quite what you had in mind, don’t forget that you can make these in your favorite colors which will probably make a big difference to how the beadwork will turn out.

Traditional beaded toggles are used for many of the projects in the book, which again might put you off if you didn’t want to use those. However, you can always use ribbon end and cord end findings to finish off your beadwork which will give it more of a contemporary feel altogether!

Another consideration we found is that the equipment section is a bit excessive. Although having a beading awl, caliper and thread burner are all nice to have, don’t worry if you don’t have these. Seriously, you can get started learning beadwork with just this book, some seed beads, beading thread and beading needles.

In summary

Mastering Beadwork is a great book to read if you want to know how to do different beading stitches properly as there are many brilliant tutorials in there, all put together by an expert bead artist. You can also use the book as a reference guide for picking up as and when you need a refresher on a particular stitch.

The tutorials and patterns in the book are written in an easy to understand way and the diagrams and photographs go a long way in demonstrating how the stitches should be done. Although some of the beadwork pieces within the book may look a little old fashioned, rest assured that you can put your own spin on these beadwork projects by using your favorite colors and beads.

At the moment you can buy Mastering Beadwork brand new on Amazon for $17.78. Is it worth the money? Well, we think so… no matter what level of beader you are, this is a good all round resource to have as part of your beading supplies, because it’s a book you can refer back to time and time again for inspiration, even when you’ve mastered every beading technique under the sun!

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