Thursday, September 8, 2016

Bead Embroidery Bag Book Review

A guild member (hi Nancy!) found out about my interest in Japanese Bead Embroidery when she read my first post on Hana. She later contacted me to ask if I'd be interested in buying a book she had that was from the JEC. I was obviously interested, I'm always up to buying more books. So when I replied back asking which book it was, imagine my delight when I found out it was the same book I've been eyeing for a year =D

This is actually THE textbook on Japanese bead embroidery and I've been putting off buying it because of shipping cost. Well thanks to my friend I was able to get it for 20$! The book is in Japanese but the JEC provides a pamphlet with English translations.

While in Japanese embroidery the different phase projects end up being framed, for bead embroidery the projects are beaded bags. The story my friend told me is that while Master Saito the founder of Kurenai-Kai learned traditional embroidery, during the war there wasn't a very high interest in it. So to provide for his family, he learned bead embroidery and made beaded purses to sell.

The book shows the different purses embroidered at each phase and each one brings in a new technique to be learned. I'm not showing all the projects, but here's a peek at my favorites (not forgetting the one on the cover, which is phase IV Floral Melody). It also includes the "special project" bags that don't belong to a phase, but are extra projects embroiderers can buy.

P.S. The pictures aren't great but you can see what is in the book at least and get a good idea :)

Phase II Calm Flow

Special Project Camellia Bag
After the pretty pictures, there is a section on the tools used in this technique. 

As well as a section on setting up the fabric.

Following these, are page after page of detailed instructions on how to do each technique. I really love Japanese embroidery books, the diagrams are always excellent.

At the end of the book, are the details for making each purse. Each project has the list of materials and the pattern showing which beads should used where.

Now obviously this is all in Japanese, so it's nice that they've included English translations. However, the translations don't include the pages detailing each purse. Which means, you have to buy the kit from JEC and take their classes in order to make them. And there are no skipping lines. If I wanted to make Floral Melody which is phase IV, I'd have to take and finish all the phases that come before it.

The JEC has released their schedule for 2017 but I'm still waiting to hear about the bead embroidery classes. So we'll wait and see about that ;)


  1. I hope you get to do the classes - it will be lovely to watch your progress!

  2. I'm so glad you got the book, and fingers crossed for the classes.

  3. What a gorgeous book. I hope you can do the classes but it is nice just to browse the book and get some inspiration from it.

  4. I can't help thinking it's a bit of a scam! Buy the book then HAVE to buy the kit and take the classes! I'd love to see your work if you do take the classes, i don't think they do them over here.
    Oh! I've been meaning to email you - i sent your scissors. I don't want any money, they are a gift from one embroiderer to another.

  5. It's a very interesting article!!
    I hope everything goes well for you with what you want to do!!🤗

  6. This looks a lovely book, what interesting bags.

  7. Interesting post - you always find challenging projects.