Sunday, January 24, 2010

Beads with Needlepoint (and a Plaid Egg)

I was working on the plaid egg last night, and was thinking that if I hadn't been stitching this to illustrate setting up and using a plaid pattern on an actual project, I would have incorporated beads into it. (my favorite thing).

A number of years ago - probably six or eight, I was fooling around with plaid again, and one day was bored with the heart I was working on, and decided to see what would happen if I used beads on the weft (as it is on the "dips" of the canvas weave) instead of thread.

What a surprise when the result had a spectacular resemblance to a surface beaded "solid." I had previously only used beads in tiny spaces - such as little round things or "jewels" on patterns, as they clumped up and were uneven on the surface. As I like to use beads as part of the needlepoint itself, this wasn't acceptable, and wasn't really very pleasant to work.

I was so excited that I never finished the little heart - but moved on to the next thing: Another heart in "gingham" in two colors and white. (didn't finish it either, but it's a great illustration.) By working beads into the fabric of the needlepoint this way, they become part of it, and the surface is smooth and uninterrupted, as beads placed on the warp "bumps" will stand up and wobble.

Of course more fun experiments happened - and one of my favorites was the hat inset I worked for Vikki Pinson (who is a fine milliner, as well as a world class finisher) with leopard spots. I used the Sundance black hex beads for glitter, and then just used the different pattern on the background - widely spaced - with beads that gleam softly rather than sparkle.

Incidentally, one uses size 14 beads (When using Sundance) on 18 mesh canvas, and size 11 on 13 mesh.

I have since made giraffe and zebra print napkin rings and bracelets with this technique - and also, several years ago, cuff bracelets with "lace" and flowers, with matching earrings. Lots of Possibilities here!!

"The World is so full of a Number of Things, I'm sure we should all be as Happy as Kings." (Robert Louis Stevenson, "A Child's Garden of Verses.")

ADDENDUM:There are napkin ring and bracelet patterns on Freebies, and my BEAD book is now in E-Book form on my web page, Elegant Whimsies, divided into two chapters.

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