Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Joy of Beading

Since I got my beads organized into little bins easy to see and play with, I've found one of the unexpected and lovely side effects of this artform: the beauty of the raw materials.  Just seeing them in the dish as I try out different combinations of colors and types for the next part of the work is a pleasure in itself.

This is exciting to me since, as a mixed media artist, I'm used to taking unpromising looking material , even unrecognizable stuff, and making it work as artwork with meaning,but rarely have I handled items that are already lovely to see, and need very little help from me.

I suddenly got slowed down when I noticed this dish of ideas, and I'm showing you the current stage of the butterfly, to see where some of the beads went.

Size of the butterfly is 6.5 inches on each side, it's a square.
I had a reader's question about needles: I don't use a beading needle for this work, since I need a very short needle to get around the small areas, but I find that I often use a number 8 (i.e. very tiny) crewel needle, which I used to use for miniature embroidery, and a couple of other slightly larger ones with longer eyes, no idea where I got them. 

The number 8s are difficult to find in quantities of fewer than 1,000.  I have some from the supply I had to buy decades ago for my miniature needlework club kits, since my members couldn't get the needles (or the tiny canvas, for that matter) and I supplied a new needle with each monthly kit.  I also gave several to each of the participants in the freeform workshop I taught last year.

Beading needs an eye large enough to get the thread through and small enough to slide through the beads. Many of mine are size 11 beads, some smaller.

I notice the same thing here as when I used to stitch miniatures: you get your eye in, and the work starts to look quite normal in size, then you look up after a while and everything around you looks gigantic.  Massive cats, huge trees of houseplants.  I guess everything's relative.


  1. My magpie heart is definitely happy looking at those beads! Beads and buttons = bliss. I too like the small needles for beading...I find the ones sold for the purpose end up getting bent beyond recognition in very short order. Definitely guard my small ones because I do know they're hard to find.

  2. I love your work and want to see the progress on your latest piece so I'll follow now. I came from MA's blog.

    Nice to meet you.


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