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 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 You can also buy my own flower patterns there – beginner to advanced as well. 

Thanks for reading, and happy beading!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

How To Make Your Beaded Flowers Look Lifelike

It's a shame to see beaded flowers that are very well-made but still look stiff or too artificial. There are a few things an artist can do to help make their beaded flowers look more lifelike. As with everything else, it's in the details.

You don't necessarily have to use exactly the same shade of beads in every flower on a spray. Take a look at some roses from the same bush. They can be different shades. The flowers that are just blooming can be lighter; the ones that are dying can be a "dustier" shade; and the ones in their prime can be a more robust color. Also, sometimes a flower can pick up stripes, spots or colored edges as it ages. Take some time and explore this idea.

Of course, living flowers don't have any wire in them. Beaded flowers should show as little wire as possible. For dense flowers with a lot of layers, this means covering each layer of stemwires with a row or two of tape. This way, the inner rows of petal wires won't show through the finished wire.

Also consider using wire that's colormatched to the beads. There are many colors of wire available now, so matching should be easy. If you're using transparent beads, you can even create slightly different shades of flowers by using different wire colors. This color will show through the beads.

Here's a fun idea: Don't cut your top basic wires short. Leave them long. Add beads to them, fold them down the back of the petal, and twist the wire in with the other stemwires. Voila! No visible top stemwire at all. This is especially useful if you are making a pin or hair decoration. The wearer's hair or clothing will not get caught in a top wire that's been cut off, because there won't be any end there.

Lastly, be sure to keep your finished flower stems slim. You can do this by reducing the bottom wires to 2 instead of 3 when you're making petals that require a bottom loop during construction. It may not sound like a lot, but you'd be surprised how much wire you can delete if you use this technique with a dense flower. If you're just learning how to make beaded flowers, be sure you learn this technique.

For all the materials you'll need, including lots of colormatched wires, please visit my new Amazon store at

Happy beading!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Don't Be Afraid To Make Mistakes

I have had a number of students that I have taught to make beaded flowers. I've taught personally in several states, and my tutorial DVDs have been sold all over the world. Many students have also emailed me asking for guidance and advice on my patterns or on general techniques.

There have been many common threads among these students, of course, but there is one that stands out. Many of them were hesitant to try a new technique because they were afraid to make a mistake.

For example, one time I was beading with a group of friends. We had all found each other on the Internet. We were delighted to find that we lived fairly close together, and we decided to get together for a Beading Day.

Instead of cutting off the top basic wire, I was leaving it long and beading it, then twisting it into the regular stemwires of a petal. One of the beading ladies had never heard of this technique, and was fascinated. She was afraid to mess it up, though, and I could see her indecision. If she didn't do it correctly, she was afraid she'd have to undo her whole petal.

Another time, a student emailed me, nervous about a fairly complicated technique. I wrote back and took her through it step-by-step.

What I learned when writing my own patterns is that mistakes are part of the process. In the U.S. we're programmed to try to be perfect the first time we do something new. It's ingrained in us from an early age.

Once I was writing the Magnolia pattern, and found after I'd made a lot of petals that the pattern was wrong. It didn't look like a Magnolia at all. What did I do? After grinding my teeth a little, I cut all the petals apart. All that wire and all that time was "wasted." I hated to do it, but if I hadn't done it, the flowers would have been wrong forever.

And you know what terrible thing happened?


Nobody yelled at me, I didn't get a big red F on a test paper, and no one criticized. I just re-strung the beads, rewrote the pattern, and came out with a much better result than I would have had. The time wasn't wasted after all. I learned to take more time and be sure my patterns were right before plunging into a big project.

So - be patient. If you're just learning, pretend you are your favorite teacher from school, who was patient and kind. Nothing bad happens if you have to undo a petal, or a lot of petals. It's just metal wire and glass beads, and like nature, they are patient teachers.

Enjoy the learning process and relax.

More posts soon!

Please visit my new Amazon store at for all your beading supplies.

My beaded flower Hubpage

My beaded flower Squidoo lens

My website at

My Etsy store

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What Do I Need To Make French Beaded Flowers?

There are a few basic items an artist needs to produce beautiful French beaded flowers. Here's a short list to help you on your way:

1. The tools. The most essential are a ruler, a wire cutter, and pliers. If you're not going to be working at a table you should also have some kind of lap board.

2. A few colors of seed beads. Have one or two colors for the flower, and some green for the leaves and other green flower parts. Czech beads are fine and inexpensive, but you can also use Miyuki or Toho beads. If you're really adventurous you can work with beautiful Swarovski beads too.

3. Spool wires and stemwires of the right gauges. Spool wire can be 24 or 26 gauge, stem wire can be 16 gauge. For larger flowers, also get lacing wire, 32 gauge.

4. Floral tape to cover all the stem wires.

5. Non-hardening floral clay to plant your flowers in.

6. Moss to cover the clay and make the arrangement look like it's growing out of soil.

7. Don't forget the beadspinner! This one tool can save you hours of painstaking stringing work and a lot of sore muscles.

You can get all these items and more at my new Amazon store at

Thanks! Happy beading!

Monday, June 20, 2011

How Do I Finish My Beaded Flower Stems?

The stems of a beaded flower are usually the last thing in the arrangement that you think about. Most artists, especially beginners who want to learn how to make beaded flowers, focus mainly on the flowers and the techniques of creating the flowers.

In order to make the arrangement look its best, the flower stems have to be handled correctly. Sloppy or poorly-finished stems can ruin an otherwise beautiful arrangement or bouquet.

Once you have finished the construction of the flower, it's a good idea to take lacing wire and tightly wrap from the flower head all the way down to the ends of the stem wires. It's a good idea to pinch the petal and leaf stems together tightly just before you make this wrap, so that the stems will be as narrow as possible.

It might take some practice to find the right tension to put on this fine wire, but the results are worth a few mistakes early-on. It's never a bad thing to compress the stem very snugly.

Next, wrap the stems with floral tape. You can buy it online or find it at many craft shops. Floral tape is a waxy tape that becomes sticky when it's stretched. Many flower-beaders cut this tape in half to make their wrapping very fine.

Start the tape positioned snugly right under the flower head. Wrap once or twice completely around the head. Now angle the tape slightly down, keeping all wires well-covered. Wrap all the way down the flower stem, overlapping the tape edges slightly, remembering to stretch the tape before wrapping. You will know if you have stretched the tape enough when it becomes lighter in color. Tear it off at the bottom and wrap the raw edge around the stem.

Virginia Nathanson recommended wrapping stems with floral tape, and she usually used green or brown in her books. You don't have to restrict yourself to greens or browns, however. Floral tape now comes in a wide variety of colors. White tape is very nice if you're doing a bridal bouquet.

Do you want a different look? Some flower beaders paint the taped stems with acrylic paint. This paint is also available in craft stores. If you want a very polished look, use ribbon or embroidery floss.

Embroidery floss is a wonderful way to cover the stems of a very special arrangement or bouquet. Floss comes in cotton or silk. Separate the strands of the floss and lay them closely side-by-side. Using four to eight strands at once, wrap the flower stems just as you would with tape. When you're finished, secure with floral tape. It takes a little practice, but the results are really breathtaking.

More posts coming soon!

Please visit my site at
My beaded flower Hubpage
Get my tutorial DVDs at my Etsy store

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Resources For A Beaded-Flower or Jewelry Artist

Just a few decades ago, getting all the beads and other materials you wanted or needed for your beaded flower, bead jewelry projects, or even kids' friendship knot bracelets was a bit of a challenge.

Why would that be so? Well, some colors of beads were available only at certain times of the year, such as some pinks. This would be due to weather conditions where the beads were produced; sudden popularity of a certain color of beads in the clothing industry; the relative slowness of the ordering and shipping processes before the Internet; and other factors.

The Internet has radically changed the way that millions of people do business, and ordering and fulfillment can occur very much faster than before. Artists no longer have to depend on a local art or craft store, or an expensive specialty store, for their raw materials, and they don't have to take the time to travel to these stores. The closing of stores such as these could seriously deter the artist, too.

Beads are available from more global sources, as well. Previously, most beads used here in the U.S. were shipped in from Czechoslovakia, but now we have easy access to the exquisite Japanese beads as well.

We don't have as much control over the weather, however, so some bead colors may still be scarce at certain times of the year.

With a few clicks of a mouse, an artist can now buy everything they need for their projects and have them sent right to their door. Sources are centralizing, as well, so an artist needn't click all over the web to find what they need. A very popular central source for UK beaders is jillybeads, for example.

Basic visual French beaded flowers instructions and demonstration in making beaded flowers can be hard to come by. To fill this need, I have produced two tutorial DVDs to teach you how to make beautiful beaded flowers, even if you're a raw beginner. Please feel free to visit my own site at to purchase my bead flower tutorial DVDs and my own patterns. The purchase page is here. You can also get them from my etsy store, here.

Purchasers are welcome to email me at any time for clarification of techniques or patterns. I am devoted to helping everyone learn how to make beaded flowers!

Thanks! New posts coming soon.