Crystal Brilliance by Anna Draeger is an excellent book using gorgeous sparkly crystals and projects that a even a beginner can do.
Draeger starts the book off by giving a brief history of how she picked up beading. It's always fun to hear how a talented artist stumbles upon that which makes their heart sing.
The next section explains color, crystal shapes, culling beads, findings, type of needles to use, beading thread and the various issues with using beading thread, using ergonomics to avoid damaging hands, wrists, neck, etc. Draeger also discusses the ideal work space, and creating new designs.
One of the best things about the first section are the crystals, lined up by color, marching across the bottom of the pages. So, if like me, you get frustrated trying to interpret colors online, these photos are high quality photos of each crystal. The color looks very accurate when I compared them to the pitifully small number of colors I have in my collection.
Following this information, the book is organized into four sections: Classic, Romantic, Geometric, and Organic and each project is assigned into the appropriate section. Each section starts out with the simplest project and works up to more complicated designs.
Each design includes a list of materials (size, number of beads, etc), and another list in a colored box off to the side with an inventory of the exact colors used in case you want to make an exact replica of the project. The directions are step by step and very clear. Illustrations are included for each step showing the line and direction of the thread with arrows and a clear, gorgeous photo of the finished product.
One of my favorite things about each project is the inclusion of a design alternative as well as the materials needed for the alternative. There are 26 actual projects, but with the design alternatives, that number technically balloons to nearly double the projects. While some alternatives are subtle, several are very different and help the beader see how to make a matching pair of earrings or completely change the look of a piece.
The end of the book contains a Basics section on things like how to end a thread (I had no clue how to do that before reading this book!)
I decided to test whether a beginner could truly be successful doing one of these projects. Luckily I had all the supplies I needed on hand because I have been wanting to try peyote (no, I still haven't done it yet). I chose the very first project in the book and made a bracelet for my daughter just by following the instructions. I proceeded to try one of the design alternatives-a pair of earrings using the beaded bead shown as part of the necklace in the top photo of the cover. They turned out super cute and were easier than I expected.