Blending a love of jazz and a love of beading seems to be a perfect idea as the author, Rachel Nelson, points out in the introduction.  As in jazz, improvisation in beading is something to be celebrated and embraced. The 128 page book is built around 23 of the author’s beaded jewelry designs based on right angle weave and variations of tubular peyote stitch. Hence the distinctive subtitle of Jewelry Projects in Peyote & Right Angel Weave.


After the brief introduction to Rachel Nelson-Smith’s Bead Riffs it is on to “Chapter One: The Setup.”  Starting on page 10 through texts and pictures the chapter explains the materials needed and their various types, the threads involved, tools required, and techniques required. This leads into detailed instructions on how to do the “right angle weave” of various types. Mixed in with pictures of various results are pictures of the author and her bandmates making music to reinforce the basic idea of the book that jazz and beadwork both require the same skills and inspirational artistry.


Once you have mastered the basic ideas in Chapter One it is on to the actual projects.  Those begin with “Chapter Two: Necklaces and Pendants” on page 33. The projects such as “Polka Dots and Moonbeams” (pages 34-37), “Rondo” (pages 44-47) and “Fly Me To The Moon” (pages 69-72) and others all have a musical tie in. Each project has a small introduction that explains the reference of the title, a list of supplies, techniques required, and a description of the finished size of the object. Each project has a picture of the finished item as well as several close up pictures of various detail elements along with detailed instructions. Under a “Riff It” section on some of the projections there are several suggestions on using the same design to accessory objects and/or how to individualize the piece. This same format continues throughout the book.


“Chapter Three: Rings and Earrings” comes next and starts on page 73. This is where you can learn how to make the “Nightingale” earrings (pages 80-81) or the “Five-Piece Band” rings (pages 82-85) among other projects. Like everything in this book, as well as any book of this type, you have to look at the pictures and instructions in the book to see if the project will work for you as the names of the projects aren’t going to tell you much.


That short chapter gives way to “Chapter Four: Bracelets.” Starting on page 89, projects such as the beautiful “Swing Time” (pages 97-99) and the truly “Something Cool” (pages 108-111) among others are covered.


The book closes with a photographic gallery of work from various artists that is visually stunning. That naturally leads into a short galley of the author’s own work. That is equally impressive before being followed by an author’s bio, an acknowledgement section, an index, and a one page advertisement of other books of interest to readers.


This 128 page book that also bears the logo “Lark Jewelry & Beading–Beadweaving Master Class” is clearly not for beginners. While there is introductory material to beading found in the book these projects are based on the idea that users have some experience in beading that they can build off of to create these projects. Visually appealing with numerous detailed projects, Rachel Nelson-Smith’s Bead Riffs is a book that will serve its intended audience very well.



Rachel Nelson-Smith’s Bead Riffs: Jewelry Projects in Peyote & Right Angel Weave

Rachel Nelson-Smith

Lark Crafts (imprint of Sterling Publishing Co.)

September 2011

ISBN# 978-1-60059-783-1


128 Pages




Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano Texas Public Library System.



Kevin R. Tipple ©2012

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