As some of you may know, many French Beaded Flower artists wrap the stems of their flowers with embroidery floss to cover the floral tape used in construction. You can also wrap the stems with beads. I do have a free tutorial for how to do this here.
Today I am focusing on the embroidery floss option.
There are different types of embroidery floss available on the market. I'll be talking about two types - cotton and silk.
I've taken 12" lengths of each type and wrapped them on 16 gauge stem wire to compare them.
DMC Cotton Thread
Regular old DMC brand cotton floss can found in just about any craft store. These come on skeins that contain around 8 meters of thread (8.7 yards). They are made of individual twisted strands of cotton thread twisted together into one thicker twisted thread. This stuff is pretty cheap. Where I live a regular sized skein is only .40 cents or roughly .02 cents per foot.
To properly use this thread, you have to untwist it as you wrap so it lays flat. Though the individual threads will remain twisted.
Pros: It's cheap. It also had the best coverage of all three threads. Since it is thicker, laying it flat and wrapping a 12" length covered 2.5" of a 16 gauge florist stem wire. It is still more appealing than just floral tape alone.
Cons: It's not very smooth looking, you have to untwist as you wrap which is annoying and slows you down. It's much thicker than the other flosses, so it will add more bulk to your stems than the others below.
Soie Ovale Silk Thread
Next up is a silk thread made by the French company Au ver a soie. This thread is claimed to be some of the best silk embroidery thread on the market, so I had to try it. I purchased mine from Needle in a Haystack (here's a link to their soie ovale selection, since it was bothersome to find). It comes on a 15 meter spool, which is currently $3.35 (plus shipping) so around .07 cents a foot. I'm sure there are other sources.
Pros - It's shiny. You don't have to untwist to wrap it.
Cons - Not sure if you can see in the picture, but this stuff has tons of little fly-away threads sticking out all over the place, which I don't find very attractive. The most expensive of the three. Silk threads are much thinner than the cotton. Silk threads are measured by sugas, or the individual silk filaments, which are very fine. The 12" piece of this thread covered 1 1/4" of 16g florist stem wire.
Once I saw those little hairs sticking out, I wondered if it were a handling issue, or a thread issue. So I bought another brand of silk thread to find out.
Japanese Embroidery Silk Thread
This is my favorite. I purchased mine from JECstore for $8 (plus shipping) for a 60 meter spool (.04 cents a foot). The thread is untwisted flat silk made of 12 sugas.
Pros: No fly-away hairs sticking out, smooth and shiny and beautiful. No untwisting to wrap. Cheaper than Soie Ovale.
Cons: More expensive than DMC cotton thread. At 12 sugas it is pretty fine. The 12" length only covered 7/8 of an inch of 16 gauge florist stem wire, so you'll need much more of it to cover your stems.
Until now, I've been using mostly regular old cotton embroidery thread. The nicer silk stuff is not readily available in my small town, and trying to find a supplier was difficult for me, so I put off trying it. Last month I finally got around to it and I must say I am very pleased with the silk floss! Well, the last one I'm pleased with. I will probably be using this more often than the others.
The pictures I took are very close up, so the textures are more exaggerated than they are at a normal viewing distance. At a normal distance, they all look smoother than the pictures. If the silk threads are too much, I promise your flowers will still be beautiful with the cotton. Flossing at all is optional. Folks have been making beaded flowers for years with just floral tape covering the stems. Some people hate just floral tape, but I will repeat advice I've given before. Use what works for you. Use the best materials that you can afford. If anyone gives you grief about your flowers, poke them in the eyes! :)
Anyways, those are just a few options for flossing your stem, if you have a favorite, please share it in the comments so others can check them out!
Hello again my friends! I hope you all had a marvelous holiday season (whatever it is that you celebrate!) and that you are enjoying the new year. Today I wanted to share with you a new tool that has helped with French Beading.
These frames were made by my father from a design by a French Beaded Flower artist and teacher named Sheila Herson, who gave a set to one of her students - Barbara Keute. It was from Barbara that I learned of these very useful tools.
These types of things aren't sold anywhere, since they are a custom design. So, I asked my father to make a set for me. I asked him to make mine out of yard sticks so I could use the frame to measure out Basic Rows or wire easily. There are two hooks on each frame, one on the "top" and one on the "side". You can use either one depending on the length and size of the piece you are making. These frames are meant to be leaned against a table to hold them upright so you can use the hooks to hold your top and bottom loops while you measure out rows and wrap. It helps keep your top and bottom wires very straight and acts as a third hand. They are especially helpful for making large or long petals and leaves. However, I don't work at a table. I actually sit on the floor most of the time, sometimes on the couch, so I've got nothing to lean it against.
An idea was triggered by a memory of my mother using an embroidery stand to hold her cross-stitching. So, I asked my father to design and build a stand for me to go with the frames from pictures of ideas that I sent him. I gave him measurements and angles and all that, and he built me this really awesome stand.
There is a flat piece on the bottom, which goes under my legs. A clamp at the top to attach my frame (I can switch them out easily). It's even height adjustable, and I can adjust the angle of the frame. Now, one thing that was not intended was that it can actually be used standing on the floor while I sit on my couch. This was something I accidentally discovered while I was taking pictures of it this morning. I had to extend the height fully, then attach my frame in upside down and rotate the clamp hinge all the way up. Your feet can sit right on the base. It works for me because I'm short (5'2" ish). If I were taller I'd have to lean down too much. Cool huh?
Anyways, I'm sharing this to hopefully spark some ideas in ways to make beading easier. I've posted pictures of the stand elsewhere, and I've already had a bunch of messages about purchasing one. I don't believe my daddy intends to make more (at this point). But perhaps you could find a way to rig your own? The frames would be fairly simple to make, and if you work at a table that's all you'd need. You don't have to use yard sticks. I've seen others use picture frames. I bet you could use an actual embroidery stand and frames too.
I am open to custom orders now! Currently I have an order for a yellow rose, which is nearly complete. I am also working on a Magnolia project (still) and a pattern/tutorial collaboration with another Beaded Flower designer and friend. I will share more info on that once we have some teasers to show. ;)
I was asked if I would blog a little about the design work that went into my recent commissioned wedding bouquet. Just fair warning, this is going to be a long, wordy post.
Now, I don't have the knowledge to even pretend to be a floral design expert, but I hope that at least going through my thoughts will help others as they make their own designs, and so anyone who goes through all the effort of reading this whole post can gain an understanding of the amount of work that goes into something this large.
I've spent a lot of time in the last year just researching wedding bouquets, because I knew I wanted to make them, and I wanted to make them well. So I've been studying this for a long time. I've watched how florists put them together, how the flowers sit against each other. While looking at pictures of bouquet that were more aesthetically appealing I carefully took note of what types of flowers were being combined, and the effect they had on the bouquet as a whole. Naturally, there are other considerations in play with beaded flowers (weight being the prime issue), but you can learn a lot by studying fresh and fake flower arrangements and bouquets.
This particular bouquet was commissioned, so not all of the choices were mine, but I did play a large part in choosing the flowers. There wasn't any scientific reasoning with my choices. Some of it was just a feeling and I'm not sure I can really even figure out what my reasons were for choosing them.
My customer messaged me inquiring about a Dahlia bouquet with a mix of a bunch of other types of flowers, but she wasn't sure which ones she wanted. She sent me a picture to show me which type of Dahlias she liked best, and the colors that they should be - light pinks and peachy pinks. She also gave me this color palette to work with: coral pink, rose pink, blush pink, peach, and some ivory.
When she mentioned coral pink, my mind went straight to Peonies, which she loved. Now, these particular Dahlias she wanted and Peonies are both large flowers, which means that when made of beads they will be heavy. That means you can't put too many of those in a bouquet together unless you have arms of steel. So, for the rest of the flowers I tried to pick ones that would be a little smaller and lighter.
There are several characteristics I kept in mind while choosing flowers: shape, size, and color. These Dahlias were large and fluffy with multiple layers of long pointed petals. Peonies are large and fluffy with rounder petals and lots of frilly texture. Roses were an easy pick. They pair well with almost any other flower, and they can be made in any size you need. My customer wanted the ruffled roses, so that's what we went with, along with one of the regular roses. Since they were roses, I figured hey, let's go with rose pink for those.
Anemones are smaller lighter flowers with a relatively small number of rounded petals and a nice dark centers for contrast, and they come in Ivory. :) Some Anemones have frilly petals and some have round, I went with round because my Peonies and Ruffled Roses both have frilly-edged petals and I wanted to mix it up.
So there were our main form flowers. With beaded flowers you can't always press flowers together and close up all the holes, so I figured filler flowers would be needed to avoid any gaps between flowers. Billy Balls are cute and pretty popular right now, and they add a new shape. When I mentioned those to my customer she came back with Astilbe and Lavender, which were perfect. They are both longer flowers, easy to make, and they take up space without being too heavy. Though it did add yellow and purple to our colors. The Astilbe we made in a light pink because there were so many other darker pinks and we didn't want those to take over.
For foliage I went with a mix. There's a large mixture of flowers, so it might be a little odd to have just one type and color of leaf. It's just more interesting with a mix. There are long pointy leaves, and short wide pointy leaves, and larger pointy scalloped leaves, and drooping sprigs of small round leaves. And 3 different colors of beads. We mixed these in between flowers instead of making a collar below the flowers to break up the pinks, and to provide a more organic texture.
I hope my scattered and unprofessional thoughts will be of some use to you. :)
LAUREN'S CREATIONS has moved to it's new home on the web! Come drop on by my new website - BeadandBlossom.com - to learn the art of French Beaded Flowers.
Hello everyone! I am Lauren Harpster, the designer behind Lauren's Creations. I am a 28 year old wife, and a mother to three adorable little kids. I've been making French Beaded Flowers for six years now, and teaching French Beading through my website for about four years. I hope you'll join me on my blog so you, too, can Learn the Art of French Beading.