So, I took a few hours break from my current bout of insane workaholism the other day and did a little beading. This is what programming does to me: my mind goes from being a marvelous realm of creative joy to being a twisted up little thing that can only think in terms of methodology and function. Hurts my soul a little, not gonna lie, but it’s quite useful to those who employ me. Also, it makes me say hopelessly silly things like “How about a small scale mockup of Eleventh century German multi-needle beadwork on 1/4th inch wide organdy ribbon?” I’m fairly convinced I would not be doing this if I were in my right mind. Darn you, temporary left-brain dominance! Here’s the method I used…
According to the expert on the topic, beadwork in medieval Germany happened via a super-specific method. Beads were couched onto animal parchment, which was then mounted onto cloth – ye olde beaded applique, basically. The beads were strung onto one thread, and a second thread was used for the couching. Small metal “bezants” were sprinkled throughout the design for added sparkle. (The glass itself was rather not sparkly.)
That’s how it’s supposed to go. I’m fresh out of animal parchment, and I feel it would be a little too stiff for doll-clothes anyway. I’ll be cheating on this part. (Shocking, I know – missa cheating? What, again?)
I’d actually given up on being able to do anything close to this method, because the world bezant market seems to have crashed and I was at wit’s end trying to find an acceptable substitute that wouldn’t involve a crazy amount of itsty-bitsy-artsy-craftsy to create. Seriously, even my insanity has some limits… ;)
But there I was, one fateful afternoon, strolling the aisles of my local JoAnn’s, muscling (and being muscled) through a sale in the jewelry department during one of those “extra 20% off your purchase” coupon events that just bring out everyone’s Inner Bitch(tm), when a stray shopping-cart-body-check put me face-to-baggy with …
I’m fairly certain that my mother was the only person in the aisle who had any idea what I was talking about. Tee hee…. It’s the small ones in the top baggy that I was interested in – they’re the right size, and they don’t have too much curve to them. I counted when I got home, and I’ve got 60 of the right size to play with. Yipeee!
So here’s how it works:
Now, here’s problem one with deciding to couch beads onto ribbon: ribbon is really thin, and doesn’t play well with an embroidery hoop. I need the ribbon to be under constant tension to make all that couching happen without everything going all lumpy. I suspect there’s a Right Way(tm) to do this, but I don’t know what it is, so I made up a My Way(tm) that worked well enough. It’s fair…
You really can’t tell, but I’ve also marked just how much I need to work to make it around a sleeve. I did this very discretely, with a giant silver Sharpie. It’s pretty hard to mark organdy… I plan to do this sort of beading to finish the neckline (which has been defying me) and the hem, but I’m starting with the sleeves because they’re easy – straight, relatively small, no corners… I like that.
by “secured”, I really mean that there’s a knot at the end. I’m planning to use the couching thread to secure the bezants. I don’t know if that’s correct or not, or even if I’m supposed to be using one couching thread for multiple colors, but it seems pretty logical to me. Also, this is a fairly teensy little ribbon, and three needles seems like more than enough to me….
If you’re not running multiple lines of beads, you’d just pass your needle down and return it topside at the next bead space. Since I’m working multiple strands of beads with one couching thread (read: lazy), I’m picking up that little stitch in the middle of the ribbon, then passing the needle over the next bead thread before going back down to the wrong side of the ribbon. I ended up working from right to left for the first pass, then left to right for the second, etc, instead of always going one direction. It seemed easier.
To put down my little bezant, I’m using one of my favorite tricks. I start by positioning my couching thread so it comes to the right side of the work in the center of where I want the bezant. (That’s why it’s coming up from the center of the ribbon in that last picture.)
Here’s a funny one for you – I don’t really bead a lot, and it turns out that I only have two beading needles to my name. True story. So I had to unthread my couching needle every time I needed to get it through a bead. Stupid hard-headed stubbornness like this has gotten me veeeeerrrrry good at threading needles… *laugh*
Also, I’m using some sort of crazy thread made of many many little filamentous strands. It’s super-strong, doesn’t seem to tangle on itself (probably because there’s very little twist and no ply at all to it), but most importantly it’s on this little bitty spool that’s been hanging out on the corner of my sewing table since forever, so I decided to use it up. I’m pretty sure it’s completely synthetic. *shrug* I do rather like the not-knotting aspect. It could be a very thin faux-sinew. It might be surgical thread. It is a mystery; my gift to all of you wonderful readers who really, really like all the different types of thread. Any guesses? (This is not a trick question – the spool isn’t labelled in an way, shape or form.)
I truly am.
I had to move the project off my sewing table so that I could, you know, sew. I transferred it to a padded noteboard I made year’s back – you know, the ones that hang on the wall that you can pin postcards (or, more usefull, fabric swatches) to? They were quite the thing a few years back. Anyhoo, I realized that this is the single most portable style of beadwork I’ve ever seen – your beads are pre-strung, so you don’t have a billion little containers of beads to take with. If this were hooped, I’d just need to bring the working hoop with the string beads, a spool of thread and snips and I could work anywhere. The fact that I could do this on the couch at night, without fiddling with the beads themselves, really increases the likelihood that this will not end up in the forgotten projects bin.
No, really, I have a box labelled “Finish someday”. There’s another one lavelled, “Immediate gratification – almost done, easy to finish”. Would you like to guess how many things have ever come back out of that box?
All of them! Ha!
But only because I needed to put something large in the bottom, and then everything went right back in…. I think simply knowing they’re there spurs me on to start new and interesting projects. ;)
I have to go back to work now. :(