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Saturday, December 11, 2010

A New Skill Set

I have this idea for a piece, but I don't think it can structurally be beadwoven.  I think it will have to be embroidered in order to maintain its shape.  I really want to make this piece, so, time to learn bead embroidery. I have bead embroidered on lace with reasonable success, but that was soft and flat. This will have to be done on a stiff backing and then have a layer of support inside as well as a lining.  So I decided it was time to acquire a new skill set.

I chose a cabochon I really loved, so as to make sure I would give this my best effort and finish instead of giving up in frustration, which I wanted to do several times, even with the cabochon of azurite with malachite inclusions leading the way. 

I had purchased some backing from Nicole Campenella at Beadwright on Etsy, and chose a beautiful turquoise piece.  I ransacked my bead stash for likely suspects, guessed a layout, and glued on the cab.  I had some unpolished malachite seed beads and used them as part of the bezel with pretty good results.  OK, so far so good.  But I didn't like the feel of the backing in my hands.  It's wonderful backing, mind you, and is available in a multitude of colors.  But I like the feeling of woven glass beadwork in my hands.  Something to adjust to.
I felt OK about what I did as I went along, but realized there was a skill to the layout that I lack.  I read the experts, Kummli, Seraphini and Eaton, and they all said "just play with the beads" so I played along.  I discovered that it might be best to complete one  phase and tie off my thread before starting something new, so if I change my mind, I can rip without worrying about what came before and after.  I also realized that a color contrast in a bead used to secure another was a LOUD statement, and somewhat playful in effect.  Good info as well.

When it came time to finish the edge I was dumbfounded.  There HAS to be a better solution than brick stitch or picot with stitches visible on the back side!  But no, that was the consistent recommendation.  I could not do it,  I did an invisible pick stitch on the back side.  I will have to do some playing with that because I just don't think that visible stitch will ever feel good to me.

And then, time to add fringe.  Had to be through the brick stitch edging.  I like layers of fringe, but settled for one BIG layer.   Another thing to figure out!  I used an attachment directly from Jamie Cloud Eakin, which works well with the mega-fringe, and strung a neckband from the leftover beads.

I'm glad I kept going and didn't allow myself to give up.  I like the result, but see TONS of room for improvement.  I learned alot!  Experience is so different from thinking you understand, from reading about it, how something is done.   Best do it again and get a little more of that under my belt before the pearls arrive.


  1. This is gorgeous! I am very much a beginner at any kind of beading, so I am duly impressed :) Love the colors here as well.

  2. Enjoyed following the construction of this beautiful piece. I do bead embroidery and finish off my edges by doing a whip stich with 2-3 beads on each stitch, sewing the front to the back. No backing or thread visable.

  3. Wonderful Embroidery-Work! You realy play with the beads!

  4. Beautiful and thanks for sharing the process, it is so helpful to see your pictures and comments.

  5. Thanks so much ladies. I really appreciate you taking the time to look and to comment! And Cenya, thanks for the advice. I'll give it a whirl.

  6. That learning thing is great, isn't it? Keeps the mind flexible.

    I hear what you're saying about the edging. But I find if my front and back are both medium weight ultrasuede, and I use a brick stitch and pull the stitching *just* tight enough, the thread will disappear into the fluffiness of the suede pretty well, and all you see is the beads. You don't need to stitch very deeply into the ultrasuede, the edge won't ravel and with so many small stitches, the strain is minimal.

    I started stitching on Lacy's Stiff Stuff, but moved to ultrasuede only, so I can get the color I want. Then I stiffen with a layer of thin cardboard glued inside, and back with another layer of ultrasuede. I like the flexibility of working directly on the suede.

  7. Thanks for the ultrasuede advice Lynn. I have used it for years to make jewelry for my other job, and will give it a try.