Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bullion Rose Showcase

Days of Wine and Roses

Texas Spring has Sprung

A Profusion of Pink

These larger roses (about the size of a quarter) are built on the same 10/0 Delica base as the other roses with eight 11/0 seed beads for the inner petals and six and eight 8/0 seed beads respectively for the outer petals.

Roses Round My Neck

(Instructions for the bullion rose are here).

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bullion Roses

I fell in love with bullion roses the Easter my mother embroidered them all over the cross-tucked bodice of a raspberry chambray dress for my sister. I don't remember what my Easter dress was that year, but Mac's dress is still front and center in my mind, even after more than sixty years. It's not difficult to bead embroider a bullion rose, but I couldn't find one that was made entirely of beads. It's taken me awhile to work it out, a separate rose the size of a nickel that I can use on bracelets, necklaces, rings, earrings, barrettes. I've taught it at the Texas and Shreveport Bead Retreats in the last couple of years and it's still one of my most popular classes at Beadoholique here in Houston. Now I think it's time that I sent it out into the world. Two of the very first ones I made are lurking in the bracelet in the header.

Materials Needed:
Two colors of 10/0 Delicas (the new larger ones)
15/0 seed beads for the inner petals
11/0 seed beads for the outer petals
Top-drilled 6mm crystal or top-drilled pearl
Size 11 or 12 needle
C-Lon, 6lb Fireline, or Wildfire (48" doubled to 24" per rose)

Note: petal = a string of beads--ten 15/0s to a petal in the first round, eight 11/0s in the second round, and ten 11/0s in the final round. There are six petals in each round.

I begin this rose as I do just about anything that's circular (In the Beginning) with this one difference: I use both colors and string them on alternating the color, so that when I pull it into a circle there's an inner and an outer circle of different colors. I usually use two colors of green, but it doesn't really matter because it won't show when the rose is complete.

I have three diagrams , and I have a lot of photos to help you understand the way I work these roses. If you are an embroiderer, you will recognize the thread/needle path as the same you would use for an outline stitch. Further, when you work the petals, you will work from the back, with the petals falling on the opposite side.

*Put ten 15/0 seed beads on your thread and take the needle counter-clockwise five beads. Go into this bead from right to left, coming toward you. Pull tight. Pick up a #10 delica to match the beads on the inner circle (+ on diagram) and take the needle through the next bead on the outer circle (bead 3).** This move sets you up for the next and subsequent petals on this first round of 15/0s. Repeat from * to ** 3 more times (4 times altogether).

For the fifth petal, place the 15/0s on the thread and take the needle under the first petal as shown by the arrow on the right. If you'll look at the larger arrow, you will see that there are two more Delicas to place on the circle, hence telling you that there are already four petals and you are placing the fifth. Take it through the bead, put on the Delica and go through the next bead setting up for the final petal.

When you place the final petal, you will take your needle under both the first and second petals before you come through the Delica. Place your last Delica and pull tight.

Here's how the rose looks after the first row of petals. The good news is that it's all downhill from here--the fiddly bit is over.



I put the center top-drilled crystal on now because it's easier than if it's left until the end. Bring your needle up through the middle, string on the crystal and take the needle through the hole in the center to the back. Turn over and pull the thread to snug the crystal into place.

Take your needle through several beads from right to left and out one of the Delicas on the top row as shown.

Add 11/0 petals in the same way as before working on the back except you won't skip any beads when you work around the circle. Follow the diagram, slipping the needle with the last petal under the first petal before taking the needle through the last bead in the row.

Here's how the rose looks now.

Turn it over and work one row of peyote with the light colored Delicas, placing your thumb in the center and pulling the thread very tight. This peyote row will shape the rose into a cone, while adding the beads where the last round of petals will be placed.

Work the last round of petals (ten 11/0 beads per petal) like the previous round, placing the last petal under the first before taking it through the final bead.

And, finally, here's your rose. While it's taken all day to write this posting, I can make three roses in an hour or less, and so will you after you've done a few. Please let me know with comments or emails if you have any questions.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Flower Power Bracelet - Day 3

Imagine my surprise when I looked down at the bracelet on my arm when I was out shopping today. The center flower looked like a water lily. The five inner petals absolutely refused to stay fanned out and stood right up, surrounding the montee in the center. So, is this a new variation and is it something I can replicate, or is it just a lucky accident? Doesn't matter, because I like it.

I decided that I wanted to show a bit more about the fringe to make clearer the way I work. I created about an inch and a half of the 3-bead peyote with a doubled thread. I realized that I forgot to explain how I get to a single thread. No big deal. I simply make a couple of overhand knots, then clip one of the threads.

Here are some of the fringe elements in my bracelet. This is how it looks before I really get into the whole process. I have a tendency to overdo, although I like to think of my fringe as exuberant rather than overdone.

As a comparison, the photo on the right shows the very first segment I did on the bracelet itself.

I added the two fringe that straddle the middle bead to the sample. Hope this helps. There will be a lot more fringe ideas in the days to come.

Finally, here's a closeup of the picot that is worked along both edges.

Several of my students and friends have asked me about buying beads for the embellishment--the flowers, the leaves, the gemstone chips, the pearls, etc. (I assume these people are probably new to beading because all I have to do is start rummaging through my stash which has been growing for better than 15 years.) Here's my advice to them: start checking out these various types of beads when you're in your local bead store, looking for any strings that have a mixture of colors, or iris or aurora borealis finish which will often enhance very different color schemes. Then there are tubes that are color mixtures of drops, triangles, and cubes. When Suza Beads was still in business, they used to have a huge bowl of beads from which we could buy a small plastic bag full for a very reasonable price. Of course, we weren't allowed to pick out just the beads we wanted, but Nancy never blindfolded us so we always got a great selection. I haven't looked on E-Bay or Etsy, but I'd bet you could find some nice mixtures there for a very reasonable price. And don't forget to check beads leftover from other projects. It's expensive to buy five or six strands just to get the six or seven of each bead that you want to use. There's also no rule about using a large variety of beads either; it's just what I like.

Flower Power Bracelet - Day Two

I've made and sewn the flowers to the bracelet base and now I'm ready for the embellishments/fringe between the flowers. I like my fringe to be very generous and varied, so the first thing I do is start gathering the beads I need. I use a lot of different beads--flowers, drops (all sizes), pearls (top-drilled and keishi), petals, lentils, cubes, triangles,gemstone chips, metal rounds, charms, margaritas, crystals, and on and on. Since I usually repeat the same beads between each flower, I throw at least seven to twelve of each choice into the mix. Then I stir them all up together like I have done in this photo. I have a good mixture of texture (crystal to matte), color (light to dark), and size. Double-click on the photo to see all the different possibilities and the proportion of each.

The fringe is placed through the center bead in the three-bead peyote base, working fringe on both sides of this bead. My reasoning for this placement is as follows: the fringe is supported by the beads on either side of the center bead and the center bead is full of thread so the fringe thread won't be rubbing against the beads (one very good reason why fringe thread breaks). I usually use one color of 15/0 beads for the fringe. For this bracelet I was going to use a light blue, but realized that it wouldn't do anything for the pink to violet flowers, so I switched to a 15/0 cut silver bead.

I bring the thread from right to left through bead #1, string on seven to nine 15/0 beads, a flower bead, a 2mm crystal, skip the crystal and take the needle down through the flower and the 15/0s and back through bead #1. Put on seven to nine beads, a disk bead, a spacer, a 2mm crystal, skip the crystal and come back down through the 15/0s before taking the needle through bead #2. This is the principal thread movement, but sometimes I move to the next bead and sometimes I put two fringe through one bead. The diagram seems to suggest that there are beads on both When the bracelet is worn, these fringes fall and fill in the middle area, but if there's an apparent gap, I will often have one fringe with four or five beads on either side of the focal bead straddle the middle bead as shown.

Here are some other favorite fringe choices. The first is two chicklet or nibblet beads with a 2mm crystal between them. I skip the chicklets and come back down through the 15/0s, snugging up the chicklets to place them side by side. I've used a disk bead on some of the fringe with a spacer and a 2mm crystal on top. Another favorite is stringing three magatamas (large drops) on the end of the line of beads before coming back down.

One other technique of mine as stated in the first paragraph is to repeat the beads I use in each segment (the portion between the flowers created from beads). While I don't put these in the same order, I do place them on opposite sides of the middle bead. You'll see a keishi pearl on the top of one segment and on the bottom of the ones on either side. This is especially true of any beads that I've used as an accent, such as the fuschia keishi pearl in the finished bracelet. It's a subtle way of directing the eye across the entire bracelet.

After I've finished all the fringe, I have one final area to complete. I turn the bracelet over and finish the two ends of the peyote by placing some type of picot along the edge, usually the one I've used here. This is an 11/0, a 4mm fire polish, another 11/0. I bring the needle up through the first edge beads, place the three beads on the needle and go down through the next bead. Up through the next bead, add the three beads and go down through the next. This final row hides the threads along the edge where I've made my knots and adds more support to the fringe.

And finally, the finished bracelet:

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Flower Power Bracelet - Day One

I wasn't really pleased with the flower made with the vitrail beads, so, I made three more of them to use up most of the petals. Beauty in numbers. What I discovered was that it wasn't the flower I didn't like, it was the photograph. While the strings (fifty beads) usually divide evenly with half of the cupped side being vitrail and half not, this one was one bead off. I knew I wanted to make a bracelet as the next logical project, and I like my bracelets to have five elements. So...I needed another flower. What better than the flower made from leaf beads.

I chose leaf beads with a marea coating and chose five that read pretty much as silver instead of ones that would more closely match the vitrail coating on the petal beads. I had already decided that I wanted blue as the main color in the finished bracelet, and that I would use silver as one of the supporting colors. I also knew that I wanted the center flower to be larger, but not completely different than the others. Since I had six cupped beads with the blue glass showing rather than the vitrail, I used this side for the second layer of petals. To accomplish this, I had to add a round of the 8/0 beads without stepping up, just as I did on the flower power ones.

I next made a bracelet base with the blue 8/0 seed beads I used in the center flower. It's highly likely that none of it will actually show once I add the embellishments, but it still supports my color choice. I'm using the 8/0 seed beads because I've found that if I use 6/0s or 5/0 triangles, I put on so much embellishment my flowers are hard to find, like the "Secret Garden" bracelet shown below.

After I finished the base, I marked the position of the flowers with a Sharpie marker.

Then I placed the flowers over the marks to be sure I liked how it was developing. When I make these flowers for a bracelet, I don't end the thread so I can use it to attach them and to add the embellishment. I use the makeup sponges to house the needle and store the thread. I wish I could remember who suggested this to me. I was using foam hair rollers which also work well, and I know that Jelcy Romberg was the one who passed that trick along to me.

I sew the flowers to the base by going through the bottom row of petal beads one petal at a time and working through the 8/0s, thus I sew through a petal, through an 8/0, through the next petal, through an 8/0...until all five petals are attached. Then I wind the thread up again until I'm ready to add the embellishment and attach the next flower. Oh, yes, I used blue C-Lon doubled for the flowers because I wanted to match the clear blue glass, and I used 6lb crystal fireline doubled for the bracelet base because it was handy and I couldn't find the spool of C-Lon.

So, I attached the flowers starting from the left and working to the right, placing each carefully on the dot before I started sewing. And, as usual, they got closer together as I moved across the bracelet, but when I wear it, no one will notice, especially with the embellishment. That's the working rationalization for this bracelet.

Tomorrow I'll add the embellishments and finish the bracelet. (I think I'll start saying "In the next post" instead of tomorrow.)