Playful Bead Embroidery: Embrace Found Objects with Sherry Serafini

There’s something magical about a found object, whether a rare find in a bustling bazaar or a forgotten charm oozing with mystery rather than intrinsic worth. Like little mementos calling to you in some way, found objects can spark a memory or simply invite your imagination to spin a tale.

ABOVE: Working magic with bead embroidery and found objects, Sherry Serafini steps you through her creative process – one component at a time.

Sherry Serafini’s creative works of bead embroidery come alive with found objects.

Sherry Serafini’s creative works of bead embroidery come alive with found objects.

Sherry Serafini’s enthusiasm for found objects spills right out of the screen in her online workshop Bead Embroidery: Adding Found Objects into Your Projects. She takes us into her creative thought process as she combines intricate bead embroidery with washers, wooden rings, watch parts, shells, or anything else that could give flare to a design.

Train your eye to spot unusual items that you might want to add to your next project!

Train your eye to spot unusual items that you might want to add to your next project!

Open Your Mind to Intriguing Discoveries

Sherry is a master at seeing the potential in found objects. Illustrating this point is an amusing confession she shares at the beginning of the workshop. “I was walking my dog, and I looked down and I saw this washer,” she explains. “And I thought, don’t be goofy; don’t pick that up. I went back the next day and I picked up that washer!”

I don’t know about you, but I love this little anecdote. It reminds us that we can find inspiration in unlikely places, and that sometimes we need to look at things from a different perspective to see their promise.

An earring? Or just one element of a larger masterpiece? Once you have a few components, you can start imagining what you want to do with them.

An earring? Or just one element of a larger masterpiece? Once you have a few components, you can start imagining what you want to do with them.

Not about to risk turning fun into stress, Sherry doesn’t get bogged down in planning an entire design. Instead, she gives herself the freedom to play and experiment, creating all kinds of individual components and enjoying every bit of it. You’ll be doing the same in no time with this liberating workshop!

A simple beaded backstitch starts to transform a rusty washer into an eye-catching component.

A simple beaded backstitch starts to transform a rusty washer into an eye-catching component.

Crafting Components: Odds and Ends Meet Bead Embroidery

First up: individual components. It’s amazing how much interest you can create with found objects using a few basic stitches and edge embellishments. Sherry starts by demonstrating the beaded backstitch on an old, rusty washer backed with beading foundation (affiliate link). She also experiments with layering materials, securing them in place with E6000 glue, to create components rich in detail.

Learn how to create a picot edging to hide raw edges.

Learn how to create a picot edging to hide raw edges.

To hide unfinished edges, a picot embellishment works wonders. Sherry demonstrates how nicely crystals and with size 11 seed beads work together to create a pleasing adornment.

An initial row of beaded backstitch supports a smooth transition to peyote, which is able to conform snugly to donut-shaped armatures.

An initial row of beaded backstitch supports a smooth transition to peyote, which is able to conform snugly to donut-shaped armatures.

Wooden donut armatures are more secret weapons in Sherry’s repertoire. They provide a wonderful dimensional structure to support your beadwork. Sherry reminds us to encircle the object using an even number of beads; then it’s easy to transition to peyote stitch to engulf the armature all the way around. Check out Sherry’s eye candy below to see what fun she has with armatures!

What do you get if you mix wooden armatures, circular peyote stitch, and attractive focal beads? Stunning embroidered designs! Follow along with Sherry – and you can do it too.

What do you get if you mix wooden armatures, circular peyote stitch, and attractive focal beads? Stunning embroidered designs! Follow along with Sherry – and you can do it too.

Mix and Match: Building a Finished Piece

Once you’ve created a wealth of individual components, you’re ready to start combining them into your version of spectacular. Take a cue from Sherry, who says she has the most fun when she has “a million components laying in front of me.”

Sherry layered and embellished smaller components to create an ornate piece. She uses beading foundation for the base of the piece, with thinner UltraSuede for pieces that sit on top.

Sherry layered and embellished smaller components to create an ornate piece. She uses beading foundation for the base of the piece, with thinner UltraSuede for pieces that sit on top.

Sherry stacks small pieces onto larger ones to create complex sculptural elements. Even at this stage, you still don’t have to have a final design in mind. Later, these perfected elements can be synced into a unified whole.

Have an object that won’t sit flat? Never fear; Sherry has tips for that too. Between extra UltraSuede (affiliate link) and strategic planning on bead size and placement, you’ll be able to incorporate your favorite quirky items.

Evolution of a component. Does it matter if you don’t know what it’s called? Says Sherry: Not at all.

Evolution of a component. Does it matter if you don’t know what it’s called? Says Sherry: Not at all.

If you keep your eyes open for intriguing items, you’ll soon have a range of materials at your disposal to start playing with as you make components. When the fancy strikes you, combine your pieces, incorporating even more found objects in the process. As you can see in the featured photo at the top of this post, Sherry uses an impressive variety of gadgets, from chain (affiliate link) and bristle discs to feathers and bolts.

Sherry’s Top 5 Tips: Add Found Objects to Bead Embroidery

With tips on everything from adding borders to creating contrast, Sherry is a source of expertise and inspiration at the same time. Check out these pointers.

1. Use contrast to complement.

Add visual interest to your work by using contrast. An old, rusty piece of metal pairs nicely with glitzy components. Beads of contrasting sizes and finishes also complement each other.

2. Contain your stitches.

When stitching bezels or borders around components, keep your stitches directly beneath the item. Then you won’t have to worry about cutting any threads when you cut out your component flush against the beads.

3. Embellish the raw edges.

Picot is just the thing to cover up the raw edges of layers of backing. Try a combination of size 11 seed beads and 2mm crystals — or just experiment.

4. Hug the contours.

When stitching around oddly-shaped objects, backstitch through just one bead at a time where you’re navigating tight corners or angles.

5. Don’t discount uneven objects.

For objects that don’t lie flat, add a few extra layers of UltraSuede to fill in the gap. Your beads will have something to rest against when you embellish the edges of the object.

Are you ready to dump out your stash of odds and ends to start incorporating found objects into your beadwork? Sherry’s workshop, based on her popular video, is guaranteed to get you started with your own found object creations. Purchase it individually or access it along with dozens of other on-demand courses by subscribing to Interweave’s Online Workshops.

Go be creative!
Tamara Kula
Producer, Bead & Jewelry Group


Can’t Get Enough of Found Objects? Seek Out These Treasures!

Post a Comment