Lutheran chaplain John Dorheim posted the following comment to the last blog entry:
“While serving as a hospital chaplain, as a Lutheran, I learned how to make prayer beads and three or four years later, I am still making them and encouraging other Lutherans to adopt them.
I buy most of my beads locally which is somewhat limiting and I wonder how you go about determining color combinations. Sometimes, I think that what I think looks good might not be shared. Also, I tend to use two spacer beads between the week beads. Of course, this adds another color decision. I’d appreciate any suggestions which you might have.”
This a good question, Rev. Dorheim, and one I think I may not have discussed deeply enough here. For those of you have Bead One, Pray Too, I do discuss the choice of color in Chapter 8 (page 101). One of the things I advise is if you are making a set of prayer beads for a specific person – someone you know – try and find out what colors they like. What colors did they use to decorate their house? What colors do they wear?
If you don’t know who you are making prayer beads for, a look at color theory can help determine some good color combinations.
That’s why God made color wheels! You can buy a color wheel at any arts supply store, or even a good craft store, or you can print one from the internet. Here’s a good link.
I like to make my prayer beads with three – or at least two – colors: one for the connector beads, one for the weeks/decades beads and one for the cruciform/Our Father beads. I usually choose an invitatory bead (on the Anglican Rosary) that is the same color, or includes the same color, as the weeks/decades or cruciform/Our Father beads.
So, as I said, I like three, or at least two, colors. If you look at the color wheel and pick a single color – let’s say violet – you will notice it coordinates with the two colors on its right and left side – your first possible combination of three coordinating colors. Also, if you pick a single color – this time let’s say yellow – you will see it also coordinates with the color exactly opposite its position on the wheel AND the two colors on the right and left side of that color. That gives you SIX color possibilities that will all go together. In the case of yellow, it matches the yellow-green and orange-yellow AND the violet, violet-red and blue-violet opposite.
You should also pay attention to the colors people wear. When they wear a red shirt, they often have blue, black or white pants or skirt. Next time you go to a department store or big box store, glance at the clothes on display. Last season, there were lots of pink and brown combinations, the year before that lots of green and purple (among my own favorites). Look at flowers – the leaves are green and almost every floral color, both pastel and bold, go with green
Another inspiration: colors of the church seasons. I like the combination of purple and blue (Advent) and aqua and olive (Ordinary Time) and light green and bronze (also Ordinary Time).
The point is that the inspiration is all around you – in the color combinations of the sheets you sleep on, the dishes you eat on, the clothes in your closet, the flowers in your garden, etc.
But if you are still unsure, pick up a handful of the beads you are thinking of using – a couple of each color – and see how they look in your hand. Does any one color stand out as ICK? Get rid of it and throw another one in. It also might help if have an Ott-Lite or other true color light, which artists and crafters use to make sure they are seeing the real qualities of their colors.
Another tip – silver and gold go with anything. Consider always using one of those for your connector beads. That’s one color choice down. Then, you can decide if you want to pick one other color for the counted beads, or two. Similarly, black and white match everything, too.
All that said, here are a few of my favorite color combinations, matched with silver or gold connector beads:
olive and lavender
pink and white
pink and lavender
turquoise and spring green
pale yellow and pale blue
Does this help at all? I hope so. Any other readers have any more suggestions?