Welcome to the 2017 National Beading Week Beadalong, hosted by me, Katie Dean.
I’m going to ease you in gently today. For any beading project, getting properly prepared will set you up for success. So, today, I’m going to make sure you have time to make that happen.
I will be picking up the pace a bit tomorrow. So, if you think it’s always going to go this slow, think again…!
Are you ready to bead? Then let’s get started…!
The Golden Rule for Success
Before you start on any of these projects, please read this golden rule carefully and make sure you follow it throughout this week and beyond…
If you start to feel overwhelmed and think you’re no good, just remember this…
As children, we are learning something new all the time. So, we hardly even notice when we don’t get things perfect.
As adults, we often forget how to learn. So, when we try to learn something new and it’s not automatically perfect, we get very self-critical. This is the biggest barrier to learning and if you can overcome it, you can literally do anything!
Think about this… When you see a small child learning to walk and falling over regularly, would you say to them: ‘you’re rubbish. You will never be able to do this.’?
Of course you wouldn’t. You would pick them up, applaud their efforts and encourage them to keep on trying. Eventually they will get there.
Well, as you are learning a new beading technique, you are that small child. You are also the adult. So, make sure to keep giving yourself encouragement along the way. Just keep trying and I promise you will get there! Then, think of the sense of achievement you are going to feel…
So, with that thought in mind, let’s get beading…
This little flower will introduce you to a couple of simple French beading techniques. You will also get used to working with wire. So, this is a huge step in learning the art of French beading.
This is a beginner’s project. So, I am going to assume you have no previous experience. I will be taking things really easy. So, you will just spend a few minutes each day carrying out your steps for that day.
If you want more practise, then you can make several flowers simultaneously. So, by the end of each day you will have several sets of that day’s component.
Today, you are going to start by gathering together your materials and tools. I then want you to read this blog (follow this link – it opens in a new window) carefully. Why? Well, all French beading is based on doing one of two things with your wire: wrapping it or twisting it.
The blog explains the difference between the two techniques. If you want to be good at French beading, it is critical that you understand that difference. It will take you a little while to master. You will feel all ‘fingers and thumbs’ when you first start. This is completely normal. So, remember the golden rule!
The blog gives you a couple of exercises to try. So, grab some scrap wire and a few beads and give them a go if you wish. Or, you can wait and put them into practise on your real flower when we get started tomorrow…
Remember, if you have any questions, or you get stuck, just leave a comment below. I will be answering all your comments. So, you can get some personal coaching from me as you go.
Materials and Tools
- 1g size 11 seed beads in yellow
- 6mm round bead in yellow
- 2g size 11 seed beads in flower colour
- 2ft (60cm) of 28ga (0.315mm) wire in gold
- Reel of 24ga (0.5mm) wire to match your flower beads
- Floral stem tape
- Green embroidery thread for covering stems
- Wire Cutters
- Flat nose pliers (optional)
- A beading mat
- Some clear glue – I use Uhu, but any clear craft glue will work
This project is for you more experienced French beaders. So, I will assume that you already have a certain amount of knowledge.
However, I want to ease you in gently and I will be giving you plenty of handy tips along the way.
So, day 1 is a really simple start. You may have been doing this for some time, but are you really clear on the difference between wrapping your wire and twisting it?
You are going to be using both techniques for your strawberry. I want you to be absolutely certain of the difference because it is easy to confuse the two when we get to day 3 and beyond. If you do end up twisting instead of wrapping, your strawberry won’t work properly!
So, please take the time now and read this blog (click on this link and the blog will open in a new window) and make sure you understand the two ways of working with wire.
Then, I want you to gather your materials together and string your beads onto your wire.
You should string at least 170 green beads onto the green wire. Remember to knot the end of the wire!
Then, string at least 205 red beads onto the red wire. I suggest perhaps being a little generous as this will give you flexibility to alter bead counts later on if you need to. Again, don’t forget to knot your wire!
That’s it for today. If you have any questions, just leave me a comment below and I will respond.
Materials and tools
- 3g size 11 seed beads in red
- 2g size 11 seed beads in green
- Reel of 24ga (0.5mm) wire in red
- Reel of 24ga (0.5mm) wire in green
- Floral stem tape
- Green embroidery thread for covering stems
- Wire cutters
- Beading mat
- Clear glue – I use Uhu, but any craft glue will be fine
Since I have created this project with complete beginners in mind, I want to go right back to basics. When you start to learn beading, you are learning a lot of new things all at once.
Of course you will be learning how to work with beads. But you will also be learning how to read a beading pattern. Plus you will come across some unfamiliar ‘jargon’ and you may find the materials confusing.
So, my aim, with this project, is to help you in all those areas.
The first thing to realise about beading patterns is that every designer will write them a little differently. The basics should all be the same. So, you should get a list of materials and a set of instructions.
You are going to find that some designers illustrate their instructions with photos. Other designers use diagrams. I believe there are pros and cons to both. But I’ll leave that for another blog! For this project, I am going to illustrate each step with a photo and a diagram.
The photos will help you to see how your beads should actually look. The diagrams may make thread paths clearer. They will also help you to start to understand how beading diagrams are set up. So, when you continue your beading after this week, you will also have learned the basics of reading a pattern.
Any experienced beader will tell you that choosing colours is often the hardest part of a project. It is almost impossible to get it ‘right’ every time. But then again, what is ‘right’?
So, don’t get too bogged down in your colour choice right now. If you wish you had made a different choice, you can always change things later on.
I find that I often change my mind with colouring once I start working with the beads. The way they ‘interact’ with each other has a big impact and it can be hard to work out in advance.
So, I’ll just remind you of the materials you should have gathered together for this bracelet and add a few notes on colouring as I go.
Size 8 seed beads
You should have these in two colours. I will be referring to the two colours as (A) and (B). The (A) beads will be the ‘core’ of your spiral. So, in my little sample, these are the dark purple beads. The pink that circle around the outside of the spiral are my (B) beads.
You have a few colour options here. You can either pick some strongly contrasting colours, like I did. Or, try two different shades of the same colour, eg dark blue and light blue.
4mm pearls and/or 4mm firepolish beads
If you have one of my kits, then I have given you some pearls and some firepolish beads. If you are sorting out your own supplies, then you can use both types, or you can just use one or other.
Again, with colour, I had chosen to use two colours. So, in my instructions, you will see me refer to (C) and (D) beads. If you have just gone for one type of bead, then that’s fine. These will be both (C) and (D). So, every time I mention either of these beads, you will be using the same type – your chosen 4mm bead.
In terms of colouring, if you are struggling to decide, then try using a colour that is the same as your (A) beads. It doesn’t have to be the same shade. So, you might have purple (A) beads, then be using pearls that are a darker or lighter shade.
Or, you can ignore that advice completely and just go wild!
I like to think that there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ colour choices. If your choice pleases you, then that is all you need to worry about. Having said that, there are a whole lot of rules around colour, known as ‘colour theory’. So, if you would like to learn a bit more about this subject, you can find lots of information at this link. …but don’t get distracted with that now – save it for ‘homework’ later on!
Setting your self up for greatness!
The first thing to do is to organise your materials on your beading mat. So…
Pour out each of your beads into a separate pile on your mat and label them. So, your mat should look something like the photo.
It is important the you can easily see which type of bead is which. Then, when you are following the instructions, it will be very straightforward. As you can see, my labels are nice and clear and the beads are in separate piles.
Try to arrange them in a line because when you pick them up this will make life easier. If you have beads in groups in front of one another, you may disturb the front group when you try to reach across to pick up a bead from the back.
Cut a length of thread from your reel. Now, some patterns will specify the exact length. So, if that is the case, then just follow the instructions.
For other patterns, where no length is specified, you should work with a ‘comfortable’ length. Now, that may vary for different people. But there is a good rule for guidance. So, if you are starting out, follow this rule…
A ‘comfortable’ length is an ‘arm-span’. So hold the reel of thread in one hand. Take the end of the thread in the other hand. Then stretch your arms out as wide as they will go. This is an ‘arm-span’ of thread. So, cut the thread from the reel.
As an aside, you might see patterns that refer to the thread length using the ‘arm-span’ as a unit of measurement. For example, you may see an instruction to ‘cut two arm-spans of thread’. So you would need to measure your first arm-span, then measure a second arm-span, then cut the thread from the reel at that point.
One arm-span is usually a good length. If you have your thread too short, you will need to keep joining new thread and that is a pain! If you have your thread too long, it will tangle more easily. So, that is why I give this advice.
Thread your needle!
This sounds like a simple step, but it might be the biggest challenge you face throughout this entire project! So, I’m going to help you along and show you a great trick to make life easier.
Start by holding the very, very tip of your thread between the thumb and forefinger of your non-dominant hand. So, if you are right-handed like me, you will hold the thread in your left hand.
Take care and make sure you grab the very tip, so you should barely see the thread between your thumb and finger. Take a good look at the photo.
Now, take your needle in your dominant hand (the other hand). I have made the distinction between ‘dominant’ and ‘non-dominant’ for a good reason. Most people have more control of movement with their ‘dominant’ hand.
So, you are going to hold the thread still and move the needle onto the thread.
Since the tip of your thread is so tightly trapped between your thumb and finger, you should be able to just slide the eye of the needle between them. The thread, in theory, will have nowhere to go other than through the needle!
So, this helps as you don’t need to ‘see’ so clearly – you are working more with ‘feel’.
If you are still struggling, then you can look at your needle. If you look closely, the eye of the needle is flat on one side and indented on the other. If you aim the indented side of the eye onto the thread, this may help. The slope in the metal eye helps to guide the thread through the needle.
I wanted to just start with using the beads today. So, we’re going to begin by getting the first half of your clasp attached.
Pick up 3(B) and carefully slide them along your thread until they are are about 4″ (10cm) from the end of the thread. Make sure they don’t fall off! This 4″ length of thread is known as the ‘tail’ thread. You will stitch it in out of the way at the end, but for now, it helps to anchor the beads.
Pass through the ‘eye’ of the first half of your clasp (it doesn’t matter which half you choose). Then pick up 3(A).
Pass through all these beads and clasp again, so you will be making a little circle of beads with your clasp in the middle.
You should now find your working thread (the one with the needle attached) and your tail thread are exiting from the beads at the same point. So, tie a double knot with the two threads to hold everything secure.
Then, pass through all your beads and clasp one more time to make sure your clasp is really securely in place. Your working thread should be coming out of the last (A) bead.
That’s all for today. So, tomorrow, we will start on the beading ‘proper’ and you will get to begin your spiral. See you then…
P.S. If you have any questions, just leave a comment at the end and I will answer you.
Welcome to day 1! Over the next seven days, I’m going to be showing you how to use Peyote stitch and geometric beading techniques to make a floral pendant.
I will be assuming that you have some knowledge of even count Peyote, Peyote increase and also circular and tubular Peyote. If you need a refresher, you can download free tutorials covering the techniques from the free tutorials section.
I’m also assuming you have your beads ready! So, you should have the following in front of you right now…
- 1g size 11 Delicas in your centre colour (A)
- 3g size 11 Delicas in your petal colour (B)
- 2g size 11 Delicas in your highlight colour (C)
- 3g size 11 Delicas in leaf colour (D)
- Beading thread
- Beading needle and scissors
- Bead mat
Ok, so we’re good to go!
Take care to follow the instructions carefully so you use thread and join your pieces in the correct way – don’t be tempted to think you know what comes next as I have included some little tricks to help you!
Cut about 60cm of thread. Pick up 3(A) and slide them along the thread until they are about 8cm from the end.
Pass your needle through all three beads again to make them into a circle. Tie the two ends of your thread together in a knot to hold the circle firm.
Pick up 2(A) and stitch through the next bead in your circle.
Pick up 2(A) and stitch through the next bead in your circle.
Pick up 2(A) and stitch through the last bead from your original circle.
You should find your needle is right next to the first two beads you added in this row. Stitch through the first of these two beads so you are ready to start the next row. This is called ‘making a step up’ and you need to do it so that you make a visible start and end for each row. (Total 6(A) added in this row).
Pick up 1(A) and stitch through the next bead from your previous row.
Repeat this five more times. Make sure that you only stitch through one bead each time.
When you have added your last new bead, you will need to make your step up again, so you will need to pass through the first bead from the start of this row. (Total 6(A) beads).
Pick up 2(A) and pass through your next bead in the circle.
Repeat this five more times to finish off your row.
At the end of the row you will need to make the step up by passing through the first bead in the pair of beads next to your needle. (Total 12(A) beads).
Pick up 1(C) and pass through the next (A) in your circle. This will be the second bead in a pair of beads.
Pick up 1(C) and pass through the next (A) from your circle. This will be the first bead from your next pair of beads.
Repeat all of this sequence five more times to finish your row.
Take care to watch when you are passing through the first bead in a pair and when you are passing through the second bead so you avoid making mistakes.
Then finish your thread securely and stitch in the tail thread. Set this hexagon to one side – it will become your flower centre. (Total 12(C) beads).
That’s it for day 1. If you’ve got any questions, please leave a comment below and I will help you out.