Saturday, July 22, 2017

Beaded Flowers - Load Beads the Easy Way



In making bead flowers, you’re going to be using hundreds or thousands of beads per flower. Loading techniques you might use for jewelry or loom projects will be very slow and may leave your eyes and back stressed.


You need a method of loading many beads onto the needle or wire quickly and with minimum physical strain. There are two very efficient ways to do this. 



If you are using beads that come strung in hanks, use the first method listed below. I’m right-handed, so I’ll describe how to do this for righties. Lefties, simply reverse the hands and you’ll be loading beads by the hundreds in no time. Note: When I buy hanked beads, I separate the hanks from the master hank, then tie a knot in the top of every hank. This prevents any strands falling out of the hank over time and having my beads ending up in the carpet.



Straighten about six inches of your spool wire and leave the end open. Choose a strand of beads and carefully ease the end out of the hank. If your top hank threads are very short, do this: Select a strand and push the beads as far to the other end as they will go, then carefully pull or cut the near end away from the hank.



Lay this open end of the strand across your left pointer fingernail. Lap your middle finger over the pointer finger’s nail and pinch the thread between them. Push several inches of beads up to your pinched fingers and stretch your thumb and other fingers away from those fingers. Pinch the beaded thread between your remaining fingers and hold the thread taut so the beads are in a straight line. You now have about 4 inches of beads ready to string and load onto your needle or wire.



Insert the needle or the open end of the wire into the beads closest to your pointer finger. Push the wire through the beads to come out of the beads close to your thumb. Drop the thread.



With your right hand, grasp the tip of the open end of the wire. Pull it away from the thread at a 45-degree angle. Once the thread has been extracted from the beads, the beads will be loaded onto your wire. Allow them to flow down the spool wire to make room for more beads. Re-set the hank thread between your fingers and repeat the stringing process.



When you get near the end of the beads on the hank thread, you have a choice to simply continue in this manner until you have all the beads on the wire; or, knot the long end of the thread so no beads can escape. Gently pull or cut the remaining end of the thread out of the hank and continue stringing from the short end.



The next method works well with Swarovski beads, bagged beads, or with hank beads that you have taken off the hank. For this method you’ll use a bead spinner or bead stringer. Bead spinners come in three or more sizes, which is very convenient if you’re using several different colors or amounts of beads, or your own mixed bead colors. See my new album Bead Spinner Varieties for some examples of bead spinners.



Regardless of the size of the bead spinner’s bowl, fill the bowl half-way with your desired color of beads.  Curve your wire to follow the shape of the bowl, or recurve it to the rear. Hold your needle or your wire approximately half-way into the layer of beads. Gently spin the bead spinner into the end of your needle or wire. It may take some practice for you to find the correct curve for the wire and the angle at which to hold it in the bead reservoir. Don’t be discouraged, you’ll find them with a few tries. Once you’ve found them, the beads will seem to defy gravity and “walk” quickly up your wire. Tip the wire or needle up to allow the beads to flow down the spool wire to make room for more beads.



Using a bead spinner is my favorite way to load beads when I’m using many Swarovski beads in a flower. Take a look at my album Swarovski Bead Flowers and you’ll certainly appreciate the value of using a quick method to string beads.



To order your own custom bead flower piece, message me directly. My beginner and advanced how-to videos are available on DVD. They teach everything from the materials needed, to arranging and displaying your finished flowers. See my own website to purchase them at http://www.rosemarykurtz.com. You can also buy my own flower patterns there – beginner to advanced as well.



Thanks for reading, and happy beading!



Saturday, June 10, 2017

Reinforcing Completed or Vintage Bead Flowers



Bead flowers should hold their original shape, whether that shape is vertical, curved, standing out horizontally, or draped artfully downward. Make sure that your bead flower treasures retain their shape for the future by using stem stiffening and reinforcement techniques. You can easily “retro-fit” a finished or vintage piece. See my video “Vintage Bead Flower Restoration Project” for more information and photos.

If your flower is already assembled or it’s a delicate vintage piece, the great news is that the stemwire can be reinforced to regain or retain the flower’s beauty. This technique works best if your flower has a separate center unit; this will hide the new wire. If done well, the reinforcement will be almost invisible in any flower, and will greatly add to its beauty.

If the flower is a vintage piece, inspect its stem carefully. If the tape is dried out or loose, remove it. If the main stemwire is at all weakened or rusted, remove and discard it. Yes, you want to keep as much of the original piece as possible, but not at the cost of the strength of the restored flower. Keep all petal, center and sepal wires intact.

For smaller flowers: tape a length of 18-gauge stemwire and make a narrow hook two inches from one end. For larger flowers: Fully tape three separate lengths of 18-gauge stemwire. Keeping two to three inches of one length of stemwire extended, tape the three lengths together tightly. If necessary, wrap lacing wire around the three wires first to prevent slipping during taping. Make a hook of the protruding end of the wire. Keep the hook shape within a half-inch of the other two stemwires.

Carefully thread this hook through the bottom of the finished flower between opposite petals and beneath the center unit, if the flower has one.

Straighten the stemwires. “Set” the flower head snugly so it doesn’t slip around by pulling down and pinching the hook with a plier so that the flower head is held steady. Add the flower’s original stemwires to the new one and snugly reinforce with several wraps of green paddle wire or lacing wire. Tape all stemwires together.

For extra security  for a large or heavy flower, start with a hook of approximately four inches. Thread it through the flower, wrap the hook around the stem once, then pass the hooked wire through the flower a second time, coming from a different angle between petals.


To order your own custom bead flower piece, message me directly. My beginner and advanced how-to videos are available on DVD. They teach everything from the materials needed, to arranging and displaying your finished flowers.G o to my own website to purchase them at http://www.rosemarykurtz.com. You can also buy my own flower patterns there – beginner to advanced as well.

Thanks for reading, and happy beading!








Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Vary Colors in Bead Flowers with Shading and Tipping



Some living flowers have petals that are a solid, dark shade at the center, and become lighter the farther away from the center the petal grows. This effect can be copied in bead flowers by simply creating petals of progressively lighter hues, and then assembling the flower.

This look is indeed striking and lovely, and I use this technique often - but it’s fun and challenging to go to the next level.

Many living flowers and their petals are not made up of a single, solid color. Some petals have two or more internal colors. It is possible to imitate these effects in bead flowers.

Today I want to discuss two of the best techniques to achieve this. These techniques are called shading and tipping. Shading and tipping can be used subtly, to create delicate variations in a petal’s hue, or boldly, to create sharply-defined changes in tone or color.

Let’s discuss the subtle ways first.

Let’s say you want to gently vary the shade of the petals you’re making. Use two or three similar shades of transparent beads. String the beads onto your wire, but after a few inches of one color, switch to another one of your three colors. If you’re using bead spinners, keep switching to a spinner with another color of beads after a few inches are loaded onto your wire. Keep switching colors, loading them all onto the same spool wire, until you have enough for one petal or as many petals as you are going to make. Construct the petals as usual; don’t count beads or do anything else to affect the colors. The finished petals will show subtle stripes of all the colors you used.

If you want the changes of colors to occur only on the tips of the petals, it’s a bit more complicated. Let’s say you want a subtle change in color (say, from a dark pink to a light pink) on the very edge of your petals near the point. Work your dark pink petal until you have only four rows left to go. Push back the pink beads on the spool, measure enough wire to finish the entire petal, and cut the wire.

Transfer beads from the spool wire onto the working petal wire until approximately one inch of bare wire is left before reaching the top basic wire. Now, add your second color beads onto the petal wire. Wrap the wire around the top basic wire as always. Onto the working petal wire add about the same amount of the second color beads as on the previous row. Then add enough of the first color of beads again to reach to the bottom basic wire. Wrap. Repeat with the last two rows, but this time use about half as much of the second color beads for both sides of the petal. This petal will now have a tip of a different color than the rest of the petal. You can vary this technique in countless ways to get different looks for your flowers. 

Now let’s try a bolder look and a slightly different technique. You’ll see an example of this in my Cattleya Orchid. Let’s say you’re making a purple petal with a yellow “center.” Start making the petal with yellow beads. Make up to 9 rows of this color. For a large petal, you can wrap the wire down the stem and cut it, then wrap on a new wire loaded with several strands of purple beads. The finished petal will be a purple piece with a striking yellow center. If you’re making a small or medium-sized petal, no need to cut the wire in the middle of the petal. When you’re ready to change colors, measure enough wire to finish the petal and cut. Then add the new color to the cut petal wire, and keep working.

With these techniques you can make dew-tipped roses, two-tone flowers, lovely orchids, even tie-dye colored flowers.

To order your own custom bead flower piece, message me directly. My beginner and advanced how-to videos are now available on DVD. They teach everything from the materials needed, to arranging and displaying your finished flowers. See my Shop here on Facebook, or press the “Shop Now” button to go to my own website to purchase them at http://www.rosemarykurtz.com. You can also buy my own flower patterns there – beginner to advanced as well. 

Thanks for reading, and happy beading!