Sometimes creating is as simple as working with black and white.


Theoretically, black and white are not considered colours – even though they have such an impact on the world of colour.

So if you’re in the mood to create, and want to feel the pleasure of working with a needle and thread in your hand or sitting in front of your beloved machine – why not consider just taking away colour and working with black and white?

That way you can focus on design elements such as pattern, texture, contrast, variety and repetition – with or without a drawn design to follow.  That’s your choice.

Black and white offer the ultimate contrast – it tops the list of opposites and is the most striking and eye-catching contrast of all.  It creates instant visual interest making the viewer take notice.

And it works – whether you stitch text, a geometric abstract, a yin and yan symmetrically balanced design, flowers, boats or birds – it doesn’t matter – black and white will always work.

Worth investigating is the Japanese design concept of Notan, involving the play and placement of light and dark elements and their arrangement in an artistic composition.  It literally means a light-dark harmony, but the finished design must also include a sense of balance.

Here’s a quick video tutorial on Notan, presented by art teacher, Bethany Thiele.  Check out Pinterest for further Notan inspiration as well.

For someone who loves working with colour upon colour, why am I writing about black and white?

Well, every now and then, I love working with the simplicity and elegance of black and white – and I’m always fascinated by how well it works.

As part of my work on Coral, I’ve been beading like a trooper, and right at this moment, I’m creating a small circular piece beaded in black and white – and I just love it.


I’m trying to emulate the sense of a coral bleaching event.

And while coral bleaching events occur worldwide, the reason seems to be attributed to rising water temperatures.

The living corals just can’t cope and begin to turn white before they succumb and die – and it’s these vibrant coral gardens, once teeming with life that sadly becomes eerily beautiful as they slowly turn white before perishing.

So by using different bead sizes and shapes, beautiful sequins and repeated patterns, I’m telling a story of the state of our oceans, simply by using a needle and thread and a black and white colour palette.

It’s so manageable, yet so elegant, just like those black and white movies from the 1930s and 40s.

Give it a go – work in nothing but black and white, or turn the tables and work in white and black.  It doesn’t matter.

Just make it stunning.