Making bead flowers is an old vintage craft. Bead flowers can be used in making earrings, necklaces, pins, bracelets, napkin rings, corsages, bridal head pieces, hair jewelry and bridal bouquets. Several famous people adored the fine art of bead flowers. Patricia Nixon and Princess Caroline were two of the famous people who owned these treasures.
How are bead flowers created?
Several kinds of different bead types can be used to create flower beads just as silk flowers are used so can bead flowers be used in the same kind of ways. They are also unique in that a variety of finishes can be applied creating just about any kind of look you might desire.
Seed beads are used to create bead flowers more often than not. Seed beads of 10 or 11 size gauge strung onto 24 or 26 gauge wire create a fabulous piece of art. Just to look at the tiny seed beeds laying out on a mat one cannot imagine the many ways in which they can be used and arranged in making bead flowers. Many people become experts just at creating these beautiful bead flowers. A flower bead artisan can square off or round the edges of the beads adding to the distinction of the created piece.
More often than not a flower bead artist chooses “Japanese seed beads,” as these beads are usually of very high quality and exactly the same in size. Toho and Miyuki beads are notable Japanese brand names.
Patterns are seen as one-two-or three cut beads that sparkle with trumpet beads and rhinestones in the center to accent the entire work of flower bead art. You might also find beads that are matte or pearly looking, colorlined or unlined, transparent beads or opaque. The list of variety here goes on endlessly. I never fail to see displays of “seed beads” everywhere I am looking at or for beads in huge loose bags or tubes. However, most of these are not high quality Japanese seed beeds. If one wants to really excel in the vintage art of flower beads one needs to use the highest quality of seed beeds possible. It will make your final project worth more in dollars as well as in beauty.
High quality bead making depends upon the weather in areas in which they are created. Due to the fact of affect of weather upon the beads there are certain times of the year in which only certain bead colors can be made. A flower bead artist must be aware of the affects of weather and plan their projects accordingly.
Flower bead making is an ancient art being centuries years old, which is why we call this particular bead art “vintage.” Documentations around the world show the flower bead making art possibly to have begun in Germany around the 1300’s. The flower bead craft then spread throughout Europe where artists began to develop several different methods and techniques. The Victorian and the French method were most notable. The Victorian method is similar to modern bead jewelry making techniques. Many techniques I use now in my handmade bead jewelry are from the Victorian methods of making jewelry.
The Victorian method is passing a piece of thread or wire through each bead twice or more whereas in the French method thread or wire passes through each bead only once.
You might also encounter documentations stating the Victorian method is known as the English or Russian bead jewelry making.
Flowers are associated with weddings and many things to do with “churches.” This is why we see so many bead flowers made into wedding arrangements and beads in general are used a lot for church themed projects. This goes back to the 13th century when a string of beads began to be used for prayer beads. It is common to see flower beeds, flowers and beads in general used in all kinds of church decorations, even funerals. The French often used bead flowers for funeral wreaths called “Immortelles.” These giant bead flowers arrangements stood 3 to 4 feet tall. They were left at the grave of the deceased person. They did not last long, maybe about a year or so, but were beautiful to see while standing. With anything as beautiful as these bead flower wreaths were you might see a few of them preserved even today and re-sold as vintage or antique. A really nice arrangement is quite expensive.
In the 16th century it was common for lower and middle class women to create bead flowers for churches as well as many other local events such as yearly parade floats. It was an extremely common sight to walk down the streets of Venice and see these women sitting happily making bead flower arrangements out of wire and tiny glass seed beeds. Venice was actually at one time a supreme location for the production of glass seed beads.
Other uses for flower beads have been to embroider bride and ball gowns, and nobility jackets. They have been used to decorate church altars, carried by altar boys for Easter and Christmas celebrations. Royal brides often wore wreaths of flower beads and carried bouquest made up of a beautiful arrangements of flower beads.
Flower bead art is old indeed, but is still in practice today throughout the world. It is a fine art. Many books have been written about the vintage flower bead artwork, how-tos and how it began and traveled across continents into the U.S. Flower bead art is an interesting subject in the world of jewelry art in general.
By: Connie Limon
Starr is a pair of dangle earrings I added to Carmilita’s Christmas Collection of dangle earrings. She is a mixture of what looks like either snow flakes or stars and glass bells, so pretty.
Starr dangles delightfully from the hook about 1 1/2 inches.
4 star or snowflake silver plated charms same on both sides
2 silver plated French earring hooks
8 silver plated jump rings 9 mm
4 purple glass crackle beads 6 mm
4 pink glass crackle beads 6 mm
16 silver plated filigree beads 3 mm
Starr’s Price: $15 (includes shipping)
Starr will arrive in your home in an organza bag ready for gift giving securely wrapped and placed within a bubble envelope. Purchase Starr from this site and receive FREE shipping included in the price plus a FREE gift.
Purchase Starr here: Carmilita’s Earrings