This advice was gained through experience. As a tapestry weaver who wanted to experiment with bead weaving, I was skeptical whether beads could convey a sense of color and texture the way fibers can. Fiber absorbs light and beads reflect light. Fiber is soft and beads are hard. I was could make my own yarn through spinning and dyeing, but there was no way I was going to make my own seed beads. To get a real idea of the difference in these two mediums, I decided to create a bead weaving based on a photograph of a plate holding pears and peaches, the same photograph I had once used to create a tapestry weaving. I warped my loom to correspond exactly in size to the photograph turned on its side. I pored through my bead stash and found fifty tubes of size 11/0 seed beads whose colors could be found in that photograph.
Keeping in mind the method that tapestry weavers use, I placed the photograph behind the warp of my bead loom. I looked at the photograph and the edge that would be the first row of beads. Then I used my threaded needle to pick up beads that were the colors I saw. I didn't think about the picture; I just thought about a the colors I was seeing in the first row. The first few rows were not very impressive, and it wasn't until the tenth row that I began to see shapes emerging. Those little beads became the dots of color in a pointillist painting. Since the picture was on it's side, I did not allow my concept of what a plate of peaches and pears should look like interfere with the beaded piece my hands were executing.
I used all fifty colors. Some rows contained twenty or more colors. Many colors were closely related, like the five shades of white. After I wove in the last row, I turned my loom on its side. Sure enough, there it was: the plate of peaches and pears in all its glory. I walked across the room to look at it. To my astonishment, the image was crystal clear from fifteen feet away. My understanding of pointillism deepened significantly in that moment. I had been watching the weaving progress from a distance of inches. That the weaving translated best from many feet away was astonishing to me. A four-by-five-inch bead weaving is small format, and yet the beads seemed to speak as loudly from a distance as they did from close up.
After realizing that the tapestry method of using a cartoon could also work for bead weaving, my whole outlook on bead weaving changed. I could use anything as a guide. To prove that this was possible, I quickly made a small abstract sketch with pastels using some very lively colors to contrast with the rather dull colors I had used for the plate of peaches and pears. I used about twenty colors of Delica beads for this weaving. The color areas in my pastel sketch were not distinct. Between a yellow and green there emerged a third and fourth color. By looking very carefully at the space between colors, however, I was able to find beads to match so that the emerging bead weaving had the same feel as the pastel drawing. As the weaving progressed, I was thrilled to discover that beads could capture such subtle blending of color. I realized that any image could be created with beads since beads are simply points of color. If carefully arranged, those points of color can add up to a perfectly shaded, blended, complex design.
You can take any image--from a slice of a picture you've taken to the latest crayon creation taped to your refrigerator--and turn it into a bead weaving. Try making a collage of family photographs or finding a picture of your flower. Use your digital camera to take a picture of pebbles or the bark on a tree. Anything can become a beautiful bead weaving because beads make everything beautiful. Tell yourself you are an artist today, and with beads in hand the sim0plest of tools, you can create a masterpiece.
Warning: make sure you use a great loom like the Mirrix!