I’ve tried to get my bead sampler to reflect all the techniques identified in the learning materials (and then some), so I’ll cut to the chase.
First, I framed up some purple fabric I had dyed in Chapter 3 with calico backing in a rectangular frame using the method I generally use for metal thread embroidery. Before doing so, I stitched a pleat into the fabric so that I could incorporate some beaded edgings as part of the sample. In general, unless I was looking for decorative thread effects, I used black Nymo bead thread in a size 11 sharps needle (yes, almost microscopic. For the life of me, I cannot make friends with a beading needle – I can’t get used to the length of it and keep stabbing my fingers. I’ve been trying for years.) I’ve generally stayed with my colour scheme, with a few pinky variations, plus gold, silver and black, and the look I was going for was opulent.
Once I finished making the sampler, I cut it from the frame and laced it over a piece of foamcore. Image 1 shows the fabric ready to begin, image 2 shows the completed sampler, and image 3 is a key to the sections on the sampler.
I’ve photographed this in sections to show a detail of each section in close-up. Please ignore the descriptions if I’m stating the obvious/being tedious. Image 4 shows sections 1, 2, 6 and 7.
1. Seed beads sewn on singly, grading in density from the top left-hand corner;
2. Seed beads threaded in sixes then stitched on using fly stitch, carefully arranging the beads while forming the stitch;
6. Multiple sequins threaded on a long stitch using a contrasting silk thread;
7. Overlapping sequins stitched singly in a spiral, overlapping sequins to create a fish scale effect.
Inage 5: sections 3, 4, 5, 8, 9 and 10.
3. Seed beads and bugle beads, each in two colours, stitched singly in a grid pattern with seed beads at the centre of the grid squares;
4. This one is a bit difficult to see. It’s a kind of free-floating fly stitch made from seed beads and bugle beads. This would have made a good edging but I wanted to see how it worked as a space-filler;
5. Multiple seed beads threaded and stitched down in a branching feather stitch pattern – a bit like cypress foliage;
8. Sequins stitched in a grid, using a different arrangement of contrasting straight stitches for each sequin. I think this has interesting possibilities for stitching coded messages only I could decipher – I could easily get to 26 different permutations if I tried;
9. Randomly applied sequins stitched on using French knots with long tails in contrasting silk;
10. A staggered pattern of purple and silver (not green) sequins stitched down with long gold bugle beads.
Image 6: sections 11, 12, 16 and 17
11. Groups of contrasting bugle beads stitched in blocks and in a herringbone pattern;
12. Long purple bugle beads with saucer shaped purple wooden beads threaded on them. One end of each bugle bead sits close to the fabric; the other end is in the air and is tethered to the fabric with a row of seed beads threaded on the bead thread;
16. Enamelled copper wire in two colours wound around a long darning needle to make a sort of wire purl, cut into lengths and sewn down randomly;
17. Lime green glass beads and pairs of purple sequins arranged concave sides together threaded on a long bead thread and sewn on with a single, long stitch.
Image 7: sections 13, 14, 18 and 19.
13. Long purple bugle beads stitched on and then raised chain band worked in silk threads over the beads;
14. Layers of stacked bugle beads decorated with cross-stitches;
18. Very traditional – S-ing with spangles and purls;
19. Some of the wooden beads I painted in Chapter 3 on a long stitch.
Image 8: sections 15 and 20.
15. Metal washers and bugle beads in a random pattern;
20. Large size heck purl and smooth purl chips randomly stitched.
Image 9: sections 21, 22, 26 and 27.
Sections 21 and 22 are edgings, and they are mostly more or less self-explanatory.
26. Brass washers with a small piece of metallic silk chiffon arranged over the top, all stitched down with contrasting seed beads;
27. Interesting square, flat beads I bought in Melbourne (there’s a fabulous bead shop in Smith Street, Collingwood for any Oz-based students) sewn on (they’ve got long, narrow holes through the bead) then shisha stitch worked around the edges.
Image 10: sections 23, 24, 25, 28, 29 and 30.
23. This edging consists of two types of fringe: an oblong made from bugle beads with seed beads as ‘hinges’ with a straight dangly bit in the middle of each oblong;
24. This is based on the patterned edging on page 32 of the learning materials, with minor variations;
25. This edging incorporates sequins as well as beads – a seed bead holds each of the sequins on the thread;
28. Stacks of three wooden beads – largest at the bottom; the top bead is the stopper in each stack;
29. Pumpkin seeds dyed with acrylic ink then stitched on with straight stitches through a hole made with a stiletto;
30. I made a cage from some mesh I bought from The Thread Studio, and stitched it on around the edges. The wooden beads (the painted ones from Chapter 3) are rattling around in the cage.
Phew. That was exciting!