Your Best Kumihimo Design Plan: Part One

Can I let you in on a little secret? You might think that I just have an eye for design and that somehow I know by instinct how to put beads together in winning combinations, but that’s just because you only see my finished necklaces (and you didn’t know me when I was first getting started).

The truth is that designing is a skill I’ve learned over many years and all by best jewelry creations all start with a plan. Some are just rough sketches or strands of beads lined up next to each other. Other plans have charts, diagrams, and involve a bit of math.

No matter how simple or how detailed the plan, the important part is taking the time to make some critical design choices before you start.

Planning Part One: Pick the Right Colors

Color is usually the very first thing we notice in any design, not just jewelry. Imagine getting compliments on a new pair of shoes. What are you more likely to hear? “Ooooo! I just love those RED shoes!” or “Wow! What an amazing rounded toebox on those kitten-heeled shoes!

Red, right?

Of course, those other details matter, but color is almost always noticed first.

Because we make emotional connections and judgements about colors, we often just reach for our favorites. It’s great to develop a personal color palette, but we should still evaluate and question our color choices every time we start a new jewelry design.

Take a look at this bracelet I made a couple of years ago.

The bracelet looks fine. It’s not a knock-it-out-of-the-park, set- my-heart-on-fire bracelet, but it’s pretty.

On the left side of the bracelet the beads are Purple Iris Gold and on the right side they’re Brass Gold. You might not be able to see the difference in the photo… and that’s my point. These two colors are too similar to tell them easily apart… even when you’re holding the bracelet in your hand.

What if I told you this is actually a carefully counted ombré design? I had to sit and string these beads one by one, carefully checking my counts, and after all that work no one can see the pattern.

I was going for subtle and what I got was invisible.

COLOR FAIL.

Now take a look at this bracelet.

This is the same exact counted pattern, but this time with a much better color choice. Now with two distinct, bold colors this design really POPS!

Of course, you don’t have to pick bold, contrasting colors to create a beautiful piece of jewelry. It’s possible to get that subtle, ombré look I was going for in the first bracelet – but the colors have to be right.

Color selection is SO important that it’s my first step in creating your design plan. When you begin next piece, start your plan by picking the right color combinations.

But color is just the first part of your design plan. Click here to read Part Two of “How to Create Your Best Design Plan”…

Happy Beading!

Rebecca Ann Combs