How To Make Beautiful Beaded Flowers with Wire
#Outspiration: Beaded Flowers
Some things are just better together than on their own — think fish and chips, movies and popcorn, Thelma and Louise. When we’re talking about handcrafted jewelry, I think stunning jewelry can be made using wire alone. But being a bead gal myself, I tend to think that everything is better with beads! For example, fantastical things can be crafted when you combine wire and beads. Like the beaded flowers seen throughout this post.
I recall with fondness the bowl of beaded fruit that sat on the antique buffet in my grandparents’ home when I was a child — the way they sparkled and how they felt as I poked at them. And have a look at these South African wire and bead curios that I came across — aren’t they remarkable?
Beaded Flowers Inspiration
While giving thought to what colorful accessories I could craft this spring, I recalled looking through a wonderful book on the Beadwork shelves when I was a newbie on staff many years ago. That book was Beads in Bloom: The Art of Making French Beaded Flowers by Arlene Baker, an incredibly talented needlework and bead artist, designer, and teacher. I’ve since downloaded the eBook so I can reference my favorite patterns on my computer as I bead at home or on the road.
History and Fundamentals
Arlene’s book includes a fascinating chapter on the history of beaded flowers, from the Middle Ages to their rising popularity in France, and during the Victorian era. Arlene then provides this introduction to the fundamental techniques:
“All French beaded flowers are made with beads that are held in place with wire. The wire is shaped into petals and leaves (“units”) using two main techniques, the Loop and the Basic. These two techniques, used alone, or in combination with one another, are the foundation for all other design variations and give each flower its own distinctive form and appearance.”
Perfectly Pretty Petals, Oh My!
You, too, can make your own floral accessories. I love how I can pick a favorite flower from nature and find instructions for how to make my very own beaded version!
Love roses? Make Arlene’s beautiful rose pin by forming the petals and leaves, following thorough steps and detailed illustrations. Then see how she assembles all of the pieces into one gorgeous bloom!
My favorite is the vibrant sunflower pin, which I actually envision making in triplicate then attaching as the focal on a beaded necklace. This pattern definitely looks doable to me, perhaps because it’s less dimensional, which I equate with “easier.”
Seeing how my mom adores Pansies, the symbol of spring awakening, I may get ambitious enough to try my hand at Arlene’s Pansy Pin to gift for Mother’s Day. She starts by forming the bud, then on to the other parts — the center, stamen, petals, and leaf.
With Arlene’s tricks of the trade, such as using hair clips or tiny plastic clothespins to support rows of beads when you’re working large petals, and how to deal with kinks in the wire, I’m sure I can tackle the beautiful projects in the book with confidence.
Arlene’s top tips for beginners:
- Keep the wire under control, but handle it gently as you make your wraps and twists.
- Don’t worry (overwork) the wire; it can break and will at the worst possible place. Repairs are difficult, so a good rule to follow is, if the wrap or twist isn’t perfect, start over or leave it alone.
- Be generous with the wire; you can always trim the length. But if it’s too short, it’s usually too late.
- Always knot the spool wire whenever you finish beading it and immediately after cutting it. This will be easy to remember once you forget and your beads scatter and you have to pick them up and restring them.
- Straighten the wire frequently.
- Clean your hands often; natural oils and perspiration will hinder your ability to grip the wire.
- Practice really does make perfect. You may feel clumsy, awkward, and all thumbs at first; but beading gets easier and you will be rewarded if you don’t give up.
Be sure to download your copy of Beads in Bloom for some spring inspiration today!