Lacing your bead flowers and leaves will keep them looking their best for the long term. Lacing may seem like an unnecessary step, but it will make a big difference in how well your flowers hold up over the years. Lacing your larger petals and leaves will keep the rows together and prevent gaps and a look of “stringiness.”
A good rule of thumb is to lace any piece that has thirteen rows or more in the French technique. The lacing wire should be invisible from the front of the flower, and neatly tucked between beads and as invisible as possible from the back. For best results, lace very large pieces two or three times: across the center, and one-third of the way up and down the piece. The high and low lacings can be done on the diagonal to add further stability.
I recently restored four vintage bead flower arrangements. One of the biggest problems with these flowers was that they had been laced poorly or not at all. In the large white daisies, the artist had laced with heavy wire which had rusted and turned black over the years. I replaced these wires with modern, very thin, white-colored wires. The flowers suddenly looked fresh and new again.
Lacing is a technique borrowed from sewing. There are several ways to lace. If you sew, you know the terms running stitch and back stitch. When you lace your beaded flowers, you are actually doing a running stitch or back stitch to hold the rows of your petals and leaves together.
If you are doing a flower such as a rose, with flat petals, you can lace each petal separately. If you are making Daffodils, Stephanotis or perhaps Bells of Ireland, you will lace all around the piece just under the head of the flower, then tie the ends of the wire together. This forms the shape of the bloom. For a lily, lace all the petals together in a line, then tie the ends of the lacing wire together when you are done. This keeps the petals in the proper alignment, side by side, not overlapping.
First, you will need 30-gauge or 32-gauge wire. It's best to use a wire that matches your petal or leaf color as closely as possible. Modern lacing wires come in a variety of colors plus almost-clear, so it shouldn't be hard to find something that will hide inside your flower very well. You will also need a sewing needle.
Measure the piece you are about to lace. For our purposes, let's say the piece is two inches across. Measure and cut a length of lacing wire three times the width of the piece to be laced - in this case, six inches. Fold the wire in half. With the ends of the wire, straddle the front of the basic or middle row of the petal, in the middle of all the beads on that row. Gently draw the wire-ends through. Snugly twist the wires at the back of the piece to lock the wire in place. Work from the back of the piece to hide as much of the wire as possible.
Thread one of the wire ends through the needle eye and twist about a quarter inch of the end around the rest of the wire, to lock the wire onto the needle so you won't lose the wire. Move the needle to the outside of the row right next to the center row. Thread the wire through to the front of the piece, stitch over that same row toward the center row, and bring the wire through to the back. Keeping the wire free of kinks, gently pull it taut so the flower’s rows are snugly held together.
Move the needle to the next row, or the second row out from the center row, and stitch through on the outside of that row. Stitch over the front of the row and come back through between the previous row and the second row. Repeat this process until you reach the end of the petal, then knot the wire and cut it. Tuck or curl the wire end out of sight. Repeat the process on the other side of the petal.
You'll be surprised at how much better your flowers will look when they are laced. This simple technique keeps the rows in line and the whole flower in good shape. The flowers will stay much more beautiful for many years and will stand up much better to handling and cleaning. It seems like a detail, but really, don't skip this step! You'll be glad you laced your beautiful 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!