Jewelry Design: Escape The Dark Metallic Iris Trap with Margie Deeb

Margie Deeb revisits a jewelry making trap. Dark metallic iris beads are pretty amazing. They are full of highlights and colors. They are little rainbow planets with hot spots, oil slicked surfaces, and a base color. But if they are overused, they can be drab and lifeless. They can even seem reptilian and alien. Margie sees them used as a crutch quite often. Beaders will sometimes settle for these beads instead of understanding how color works and using a better suited bead for their projects. Would you like to escape this beading trap? Read on and find out how to become a better beader.

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We love Margie Deeb's intimate knowledge of colors and we wanted to re-share some of our archive articles she has written for us. Margie is an incredibly talented artist, designer, and author. Follow along on her color journey. Let's all become students of color!

Below, Margie discusses how to recognize the dark metallic iris bead trap. Don't over do these beautiful black beads. The end result will look gloomy and gothic. It will not do any of your jewelry designs a favor if you settle for these beads, rather than use them correctly.

Escape The Dark Metallic Iris Trap by Margie Deeb

It happens to many bead artists, especially seed bead weavers. They feel insecure choosing colors for a new project. They begin to doubt themselves and their color instincts. And then, like grasping for an aspirin, they head straight for the dark metallic iris beads they think will cure every color ailment. They cross their fingers for good luck, hoping those dark metallic iris beads will pinch hit for a strong, memorable palette.

They will not.

Time and again the cover of our beloved bead magazines display the featured project in dark metallic iris beads; sometimes several variations at a time. The side-by-side weaving of 3 kinds of dark metallic iris beads looks less like a well-planned color scheme and more like a dark, reflective mass of indistinguishable tones reminiscent of the skin of that wet reptilian creature that burst from the astronaut's chest in the movie "Alien." If I want to discern the design, I have to squint to visually separate it from the confusing, murky color palette. It's difficult to comprehend exceptional design when its palette is boring, or worse, mediocre. And the dark, metallic iris palette is exactly that: mediocre.

I've seen many a good piece of beaded jewelry (and many a good artist) hiding behind the dark metallic iris palette. Sure the beads themselves tempt us with their shiny colors (as do most beads), but they don't make the most appealing palettes. They are at best, OK. And who wants to settle for "OK"?

Soft Flex Beading Wire - Black Onyx Color

Soft Flex Beading Wire - Black Onyx Color

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Escape Tips

1. Become aware of the trap itself. If you've read this article, you've handled this.

2. If you have the slightest hesitation about choosing colors (who doesn't?) grab a color wheel! Pick ONE color, then spin the wheel and read the different combos it shows you. Use one of them.

3. Borrow palette ideas from everything that appeals to you: fabric, clothing, linen catalogues, etc.

4. Educate yourself. The archives of my "Margie's Muse" column will provide you with more valuable color training than you have time for. FREE! Or read my color books (available on my website). Or take my online color classes.

5. Consciously look at color combinations that excite you. Take the time to determine what makes them work. Chances are the variations of light and dark are a major reason (a feature the dark, metallic iris palette lacks).

6. Take risks! Shut your eyes and grab handfuls of beads, tubes, or hanks. Commit to making a color palette using 3 of them.

If you must create jewelry in the dark metallic iris palette, don't do so out of self-doubt, insecurity, or ignorance. Do it because it speaks to your soul and makes your spirit sing. Or because your customer will pay you for it.

Life is too short and too delicious for boring beadwork and mediocre palettes.

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Margie Deeb

Artist and color expert Margie Deeb is the author of The Beader's Color Palette, The Beader's Guide to Color, The Beader's Guide to Jewelry Design and numerous beading and color publications. She teaches color and beading across the country and her free monthly color column, Margie's Muse, is available on her website. She writes regularly for Beadwork, Bead & Button, and Step-by-Step Beads magazines.

Visit Margie's website for her books, kits, patterns, jewelry, inspiration, and more: