One often has a fondness for firsts — a kiss, a car, a home. So it is with my first beading book. I found it in a craft store in a small Arizona town.
Titled Beading With Ruby — a beginner’s guide to creating beautiful beaded jewelry by Sandi (Ruby) Fischer — it contains everything the beading newbie needs to get started.
Published in 2002, it’s a simple coil-bound book, 106 pages on standard-sized copy paper, a poor cousin of the high-end, full-colour-on-every-page, glossy beading books that line bookshelves today.
Don’t be fooled. For beginning beaders this book is a gem — no pun intended. Inside you’ll find just about everything you need to know to start beading. All the basic stitches are there, along with projects and tips on choosing needles and thread. Colourful drawings and photos illustrate the steps from start to finish.
Gertrude Stein once quipped, a rose is a rose is a rose. Gertrude Stein, I’m willing to bet, was not a beader.
One of the first and most important lessons I learned from Ruby’s book is that all beads are not created equal. Or to contradict Ms Stein, a size 11 bead is not necessarily a size 11 bead. Which explained why when I mixed Japanese and Czech seed beads the result was less than pleasing. Then toss in size 11 Delicas. Well, the problem just got worse. I’ve since learned how to combine those beads into pleasing combinations, but for a beginner it was frustrating.
The pages in my copy of Ruby’s book mark my first steps as a beader. Corners folded over. Passages lined with hi-liter ink. Handwritten notes draped around the margins.
I’ve since acquired many beading books. (They’re so addictive. Kinda like potato chips for the eye.) They’re shiny-covered and glossy-paged, filled with gorgeous photos and intricate computer-generated patterns. I don’t write in these books. They don’t invite that kind of familiarity. I use Post-It notes instead and in so doing, lose some of the spontaneity I had when reading Ruby’s book.
Although my new books are beautiful enough to grace any coffee table, Ruby’s book is more like the friend who comes by for coffee, comfortable and easy-going and not stuck on style. Glad I found it.