Saturday, November 29, 2008

Re: Center Bar?? Make Loops??

I ran across a tutorial for the Victorian technique, which removes any confusion about the center bar or making loops. In the Victorian technique (also known as “ladder,” “Russian” or “English” technique), the wire goes side-to-side in relation to the leaf or petal. In French style, in the “basic” technique, the wire goes around in widening concentric circles – or more correctly, spirals. See Victorian tutorial here.

This removes all doubt about the “center bar” because there isn’t any center bar! In this technique, you begin and end at the top or bottom of the leaf or petal. When you cut the spool wire, you simply tuck the loose end of the wire into the next row, or lead it through a few rows back to where the stemwires should be. Voila!


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Friday, November 28, 2008

Q & A Digest: Wire Ends Catch in my Clothes

Question: The top basic wires on my bead flower pin keep catching in my clothes and making the flower misshapen. How can I prevent this?

Answer: It’s all in the making of each petal. Here are a few suggestions:

Make each top basic wire longer than the length of each petal. When each petal is finished, fold the top basic wire down, uncrimp the end, and wrap the wire in with the stem wires. Now you will have no “nib” at the tip of the petals to catch in your clothes.

Another idea: When the petals are finished, cut the top basic wire short as usual. Now take a narrow needlenose plier and curl the end very tightly around on itself, flat against the petal. This should leave no end available to catch in your clothes.

Also, you could do this: If your wire is fine enough, use a plier to “lead” the cut end into a row of beads. I use firm wire that can’t pass through the beads twice, so this technique does not work for me; but if you use lighter wire, it might suit your needs just fine.

Thanks, and have a great weekend!

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Q & A Digest - Center Bar?? Make Loops??

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Hello beaders and future beaders, Today’s post is about some confusing terminology in some patterns to make French bead flowers.

Most bead flower patterns will refer to “basic wire,” “basic row” and making “rows.” You will occasionally see patterns that refer to “center bars” and making “loops.” This is a rare terminology in the art and can stump some beginners. Even experienced flower beaders might scratch their heads in puzzlement when seeing this terminology.

Here’s the translation: First of all, the technique is the “basic” technique, where you put a measured amount of beads on the crimped basic wire, and make a basic loop. The “center bar” is the crimped basic wire. This writer also uses “center bar” to refer to the amount of beads on this wire. So, if the pattern says “a one-inch center bar with a quarter-inch center bar of beads,” or something similar, it means use a basic wire of at least one inch (that’s actually very short for a basic wire, so be generous), and use a quarter-inch of beads on that wire.

When you see an instruction for “loops,” that refers to rows. As you may know, in making French bead flowers, in the basic technique one row is 180 degrees, not 360 degrees. We do use the term “loops,” but that refers to a different technique, and that is for a future post.

If you don't understand something in a pattern, just trust your instincts, go with your gut and make something up. It takes some courage when you're just beginning, but - it's only beads and wire! If you make a mistake, you can learn from the mistake, take apart what you’ve made, and start over. Some of my favorite flowers have come about because I was just "trying something" or because I made a mistake in following a pattern. It's what the painter Bob Ross used to call a "happy accident."

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Vintage Art, 2.0

The European art of bead flowers is the hottest “new” art around. It’s truly a vintage art, 2.0.

Take a look! There are even DVD's to show you how to do it.

The art of making flowers out of beads strung on wire may have begun as early as the 1300’s in Germany, when metal wire was first developed. The simple loop posies that were probably made in that simpler time and place were the ancestors of a stunning array of modern-day creations.

Bead flowers can appear anywhere you might use silk or fresh flowers. Unlike living flowers or even silk ones, however, bead flowers can look fresh for a lifetime or more. They make ideal bridal bouquets, bridal headpieces, hair barrettes and corsages, to name just a few uses.

Recognize any of these names? Marie Antoinette, Napoleon’s Josephine, Patricia Nixon, Princess Caroline, Princess Grace of Monaco, William Randolph Hearst. Do you know what they have in common? All these people owned and treasured bead flowers.

Bead flowers can be made out of many kinds and styles of beads. For a great accent, some beaders use rhinestone centers in their flowers. Beads can be matte or pearly, colorlined or unlined, opaque or transparent, and the list goes on.

The great thing about bead flowers is that the artist’s creativity can be unlimited. Want to make a black rose? Go ahead. How about a “giant” version of a tiny living flower? Be our guest. Want to create a flower that looks like it’s from another planet? Sure, why not? New hybrids of living flowers are being created all the time. A twin to your “fantasy” bead flower could appear in the local garden stores soon.

Modern bead flowers are amazing, and you can learn how to make them. Take a look!