History has proven that we like to adorn ourselves with beaded embellishment. Our choices have included bead embroidery, from subdued to glamorous and even over-the-top. For example, African tribes have a long tradition of wearing elaborate handmade beaded jewelry. These designs are not only beautiful but also hold important cultural significance.
And it’s widely recognized that Native Americans are known for their bead embroidery, such as amulets, pouches, headdresses, neckpieces, belts, and footwear.
We’ve all seen the skirts, dresses, and even hats from the 1920’s Flapper era. Their garments were weighed heavily with beaded embellishment and look like so much fun to wear!
In more modern times, elaborate beaded attire has also adorned royalty and celebrities, from Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth II, to Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor.
And who among us girly girls doesn’t love a bead-embellished frock, such as this Anthropologie top that my coworker, Megan, shows off from time to time?
Though I won’t be adding bead embroidery to an article of clothing any time soon, I would love to learn how to create a bead-embroidered accessory, such as a cuff or bling ring.
During my years working on the Beadwork and Jewelry Stringing teams, I’ve been absolutely smitten with the bead-embroidered jewelry that comes into our offices! A favorite of mine has always been the work of beading rock star Sherry Serafini. Sherry incorporates fun cabochons, found objects, and other exciting components into a distinct modern style. Check out more of her designs here, and find out which real-life honest-to-goodness rock stars have commissioned her work! You’ll also love reading about two other stars in the bead-embroidery arena, Kinga Nichols and Nancy Eha here!
Although it may seem intimidating to try your hand at bead embroidery, it’s not hard to get started! Our very own beading rock star, Tammy Honaman, has put together a down-to-earth video course that covers everything you need to know in the Learn How to Embroider with Seed Beads Course, part of our Getting Started Bead Weaving Series. I was lucky enough to have a sneak peek at the course and am anxious to finally try bead embroidery for myself!
Tammy’s methodology is totally approachable and super fun to watch. Tammy teaches new beader Hannah how to embellish a pretty button and turn it into an artful pendant or brooch. They kick things off with an in-depth discussion of all materials and tools, including how to choose a focal piece to embroider around. What a great idea—-I wouldn’t even know where to start!
Tammy and Hannah also discuss inspiration and how to get started planning your design. Tammy then shows Hannah how to affix her focal to a backing material. They start the foundation row around their buttons and continue to build rows from there. To complete the lesson, Tammy provides detailed instruction on how to finish it all off (without accidentally cutting the thread!), and includes a show-and-tell session of other finished examples that can be made using the same techniques—cuff bracelets, rings, lanyards, and more.
I found the interaction between Tammy and newbie Hannah to be engaging and informative, as Hannah often asks the questions that I’m thinking! Ready to try your hand? Download the Learn How to Embroider with Seed Beads Course and get started!
Debbie Blair, Editor, Beadwork magazine
Learn from these bead embroidery experts, today!