Hello there! I have been working like a mad woman trying to get this pattern finished while not getting behind on the custom wedding bouquet I'm working on. I finally got it published yesterday, but then the people who depend on me started needing things, so I didn't get a chance to update my blog with the news until this morning.
My recent Ball Dahlia pattern is now available in my Pattern Shop!
I had so many people asking about this pattern, so I've been trying my hardest to get it done for you guys. However, just fair warning, this is a harder pattern, mostly due to the assembly, so I've labeled it an Advanced Pattern. The techniques required are Intermediate level, nothing super tricky if you have a decent amount of experience with French Beading.
Wedding Bouquet Update
Here is a little update on how the custom bouquet is progressing. I've finished all the berries and lavender, and am now working on filler leaves and the pansy boutonniere.
While working on the lavender I decided to try a new design, which in my opinion looks a little more like real lavender than my older design. In the pictures below the new design is on the left and the old one on the right.
The bride I'm working with has chosen the older one, so that's the one that's going in the bouquet. I am getting so close to finishing this project and I'm so thrilled with how it's turning out. SOON!
I've got some neat stuff planned, so here's what's coming up in the near future.
First off, next week I will be publishing a guest article written by the marvelous Suzanne Steffenson on making miniature sized French Beaded Flowers using miniature sized seed beads.
Then sometime later this month I'll be publishing my Asiatic Lily pattern. Luckily, that one is not too difficult, so it will be easier for me to make, photograph, edit, write, and publish it.
After that I'll be doing a Technique Tip post on Scalloping (that one might run into September, depending on how long it takes me to record and edit a video...)
AND in the not-as-near-future... Once I'm finished with this wedding bouquet I'll be working furiously on another project as well, and it's a big one. Big enough that I'm questioning my sanity and my ability to make wise decisions. I can't remember if I've mentioned this before on my blog, but I'm working on a Christmas Collection of patterns. I guess it's actually multiple projects, that are one collective large project. I've gotten a small portion of it written already. What's different about this publication is that I'm going to try self-publishing it as an actual, real book through Amazon's Create Space. This will be my first adventure in publishing a physical book, so I'm using this one as a trial to see how it goes. I will be repeating two of my patterns from previously published PDF's in the collection, but they will have some slight alterations to them. Plus lots of new material that I haven't published before. I'll be showing you all how to make one of my wall hangings in there as well.
Super excited! I've been looking forward to this all year! I am super pumped up and ready to go! My husband, not so much. He knows that I'm going to be a crazy person until I get this thing published. There will be lots of late nights and probably tears and hysterical laughter mixed in as well, but it's all worth it in the end. I've always wanted to write a book, so it's a major goal I can check off my list of things to accomplish.
I've been quiet on purpose this time. The last couple of months I've been working on a rather large project, probably one of the largest things I've ever made (if measuring by mass) but I can't post pictures here yet in case someone sees it before they are meant to see it... and it's killing me!!!
What I can post is this picture of a Ball Dahlia I made recently... I will be publishing this pattern soon. I was hoping to have it ready this weekend, but as I was editing pictures I realized I'd forgotten to take pictures of some of the pieces, so it will take me a few extra days as I'll have to remake them... but it's coming soon!
Custom Bouquet Project
What I'm currently working on is a custom wedding bouquet! Here's a little slideshow on how that's going so far
Super excited to see this one finished! I'll be mixing in some raspberries, strawberries, and lavender with what I've already finished. Then the groom's boutonniere will be made with purple pansies. :) I love making wedding bouquets. They're just so much fun. I'll have more updates on this project later.
(Also, just a little reminder. If you are working on the Blueberry pattern from the Beaded Berry Collection and are having trouble finding beads or other pieces for the Blueberries, let me know and I can hook you up! I bought them in mass for the pattern packet project and I have plenty left over.)
A Little Mini Tip
Since I've been so busy, I haven't had much time to put together more tips for you guys (I have a whole list of ideas that I want to get through, they all just take time), so I've just got a little one for today regarding Continuous Loops, and any other technique that has lots of twisting.
Some patterns call for hundreds of loops, and if you've ever done it you know how badly it hurts. It is the worst. Your little fingertips get so sore. Sometimes I get blisters. So, I recently found these little rubber finger guards, and I love them. They are made for guitar players, so they came as a set of 20, 1 for each finger on each hand. But I only need the thumb and forefinger for one hand, so I have an extra set for when these wear out.
What I love most about them is that the fingernails are open, and I use my fingernails to help measure and separate out beads for each loop. The first kind I used were rubber thimbles, but didn't have the open fingernail and it made it a little more difficult to make loops the way I'm used to doing them.
It does take a little practice to get used to them, as they make your fingers a little thicker so it feels different while making the loops. I'm not sure if they will fit everyone, but I thought I'd pass it along anyways. They work with making tiny little twisted fringes as well.
If these don't work for you, there may be something similar that does. I know of one lady who uses bandaids to protect her fingers, but I think we all know by now that I can't do anything simply. And I think these rubber ones have more cushioning and grip than bandaids.
This is the link to the ones I purchased off of Amazon (not an affiliate link)
So that's where I've been, where I'm at, and where I'll be for the next little while. I am going to be publishing my Asiatic Lily pattern at the end of August. It got pushed back as my previous massive project took longer than expected.
One of my most favorite parts of French Beading is the design work, making a brand new flower from scratch. The whole process excites me. For me, at least, if it's not challenging, then it's not fun. So, when deciding where to begin with the new Tips segment on my blog, I thought it would be nice to start where I usually start when I make flowers - with the initial Design. You gotta know what you're making before you can make it. Consider this first post as an introduction to how I design flowers.
There are so many ways to go about making flowers. Some people like to follow patterns made by others, while some like to make their own patterns. Some artists prefer to make realistic flowers using the simplest method possible, while others love complexity. And yet others choose to make fantasy flowers that bloom completely from the imagination. Any way you go about it, I believe seeing the process behind the design is important, or at the very least, interesting. Even if you normally make flowers from other designers' patterns, you may find yourself needing to make your own design if you can't find a pattern you like for the flowers you want to make.
If you are like me, you like to make your flowers as botanically correct as you can within the limitations of beads and wire and your own skills. (Of course, you don't have to make flowers this way, it's just a personal preference.) And there are certainly limitations. Even the smallest beads will produce a petal that is thicker than a petal on a natural flower. This means that you may not be able to have as many petals, stamen, and other parts as a natural flower without making it look bulky and awkward. We emulate and mimic flowers, and we can usually get pretty close! But you should not expect to reproduce every flower with exactness.
To produce a flower that is as botanically correct as possible, you will first need to study that flower. And I mean really, really study it. Usually, my studying process takes just as long as the actual making. I don't like to design from memory, because memories are imperfect. They fade or get mixed in with other memories. I did this once with an Iris (pictured right) in my earlier years with French Beading, and while the flower was easily recognized as an Iris in shape and form, I missed the mark on a few details (like the missing crests and abnormal stamen). So I highly recommend studying the flower from a variety of sources.
This is the part where science and art overlap.
The absolute best way to study a flower is to get your hands on it and take it apart. Or, if massacring innocent flowers upsets you, at least measure each piece and photograph the flower and it's parts from all angles.
Pictured below are wild Sunflowers (a variety called "Little Sunflower") that grows along just about every road and freeway here in Southern Utah in the Summer and Fall. Sometimes driving down the freeway you can see whole fields full of them. Last year I collected these flowers while on a walk with my boys near our home. (I've learned since that it may be illegal in some areas to collect wild flowers, so do check your local laws before doing this!) If you cannot collect them, then take a camera and measuring tape with you and photograph them in their natural environment so you can study further at home. Or if you are fortunate enough to have drawing skills, make a sketch.
We also go on hikes in the mountains nearby, and there is always a plethora of wildflowers to enjoy.
Finding samples is harder for me because I do not, yet, have much of a garden. I tend to kill all the flowers I plant. I'm also fairly shy, so going up to my neighbors' houses and asking if I can clip a sample of their Poppies or Lilacs is not something that's very comfortable for me.
Online Pictures and Illustrations
Because no one on earth has every variety of every flower and plant known to mankind growing in their garden (or their neighbors' gardens), it is highly likely that you will also need to rely pictures that others have taken. (Thank heavens for the internet! But do be respectful of the copyrights of others, who the photographs belong to.) Before making a flower, I have likely studied dozens of images of the flower, if not more.
If you follow me on Pinterest, maybe you've noticed that I pin a lot of flowers. However, most pictures on Pinterest are made to be pretty to attract attention and drive traffic to a specific website. Most of these images will show only the face of the flower. But I still regularly search Pinterest for flowers because it introduces me to new species of plants and different varieties. Then I take my search off Pinterest to find the details.
You will want pictures of the face of the flower, the backside, the profile, the petals, the leaves, the buds, the stamen, sepals, and every other angle you can imagine. I also try to find a picture of the plant in a pot, and a picture of a person holding the flower, if possible. Do a google search for "daffodil petals", for example, and you will often find pictures of the petals separated from the flower. You can do this for sepals and leaves and buds as well. This will give you a really good idea of the shape you need to make your individual parts. Search online nurseries, gardening websites, and even wikipedia.
I also really love to look through botanical illustrations. You can find many of these online. The artists who make these drawings are also trying to make them as botanically correct as possible. They usually only include a small sample or clipping of the flower or plant, so it's easier to see details than a picture of a live plant or bush with a tangled mass of leaves and branches. Thus they are a well-loved resource for me. Some will have just the small flower sample illustrated, while others have the flower sample, and drawings along the side that depict petals, stamen, sepals, etc. They are simply fantastic.
And, while you're out there browsing the world wide web, take a stroll over to YouTube to see if you can find time-lapse videos of your flower blooming. Not only are these fascinating for flower lovers, but they also let you see the flower in every stage of its life.
While online pictures are wonderful and easily accessed world wide, nothing quite replaces the substance of a book. After the internet got me addicted to botanical illustrations, I started collecting books of them so I can hold them in my hands. Some of my favorites contain artwork by Pierre-Joseph Redouté. I highly recommend his work. Here are the books on Botanical Illustrations that I have in my library (not all are Redouté), and I do recommend every single one of them. (I found all of these below on Amazon, by the way.)
I also have a few Encyclopedias of flowers, and these are a great resource. Not just for pictures, but information on the plant, too.
I've heard of others using seed catalogs for pictures and information.
Another resource that shouldn't be overlooked are the books and patterns written by other designers. Now, I'm not saying to copy their designs, or change a few numbers and call them your own. I mean to study the construction methods and techniques that they use to achieve certain results and figure out how you can utilize those in your own work.
While I'm searching through images, I always ask myself questions about the flower to make sure I'm observing all the details.
- How many petals does it have? Are they all the same size, or are some larger? How are they arranged? (Not all follow the strict "over-under" layering pattern that we see so often with french beaded flowers.) Do they lay flat? Are they curled, crinkled, folded?
- What texture do the petals and leaves have? Silky? Waxy? Translucent? Velvety?
- How thick is the stem? What color(s) is it?
- Do the flowers grow one to a stem, or in multiples? If multiples, how, and where, do they connect together?
- Do the flowers heads stand upright? Or do their stems bend below the flowers to show the face? Do they cascade? Do all flowers on the plant face the same direction?
- How do the leaves connect to the stem? Do they each have their own little stem, or do they connect directly to the main flower stem with no space between leaf and branch? Are there multiple leaves on a branch or just one? Perhaps both? If multiple, how are they arranged? Sometimes leaves are directly across from each other on a stem, sometimes they are staggered. Sometimes they are only on one side of the stem.
In addition to figuring out what the individual pieces look like, you'll also need to search for information on sizing, which will obviously vary from one variety to the next. (One variety of waterlily Dahlia may grow to 7 inches wide, while another waterlily type Dahlia maxes out around 5 inches) How tall is the flower head? How wide is the flower head? How tall do they grow? How do the leaves compare in size? You might have to dig a little deeper for this information, as many gardening websites, online nurseries, and even books will give you the plant spread and height, but not always the bloom size. If you do struggle to find the info, do a search for a picture of a person holding the flower. This will help determine the approximate scale so you can get close.
All of these details that you gather will help you decide how to make your flower. Is there a certain type or finish of bead that will best replicate the texture in the leaves and petals? (I don't always match finishes. These are beads we're working with here, why not let them sparkle!) Which technique will work best to make this shape, without making the stem too bulky? How much support will my petals need? Are the petals and leaves so large that they will require additional support wires to keep them from drooping? Will the flower be heavy enough to require multiple stem wires bundled together, or will just one be sufficient?
I hope this post was helpful or enlightening to some of you wonderful readers. It's a broad overview, and I hope to narrow the topics down as we go along. If there are any tips or resources that you'd like to share, please do so in the comments below!
I'm going to quickly update about this last piece I've finished. My series of Tips will start next week as I am completely exhausted and haven't had a chance to gather all my thoughts (or what's left of my thoughts after this piece) for the first segment on Designing Flowers.
Alrighty. Last week I showed you a picture of the sketch I made for the customer who commissioned this piece. It features roses made from my Free Miniature Rose pattern, assembled into a wreath with draping vines. This was a seriously intense project. Around 160 roses, and over 300 leaves. Working with carpal tunnel affecting both of my wrists, thumbs, and pointer fingers made it take much longer than it normally would.
This piece will be displayed on my customer's shelf, which has a dome shape. But I didn't have one of those, so I used this little birdcage with the same top dimensions to display it for pictures.
The outer width of the wreath is about 10 inches, and the longest vine is 18 inches. The assembly alone took around 6 hours, not including the time it took to put the layers of petals together into roses, or the time to turn individual leaves into leaf branches. So, it was just a massive project. I've been up into the wee hours of the morning for many days. I had to push myself that hard to finish because I have more custom work, and other projects, with deadlines that I can't miss.
But, all the work was worth it as I think it turned out amazing! Even better than what I was imagining. It's so wonderful to see the end result of something you've been toiling over for so long.
And now I jump into my next custom order, which is also very exciting!
Come back next week for my first Tips post, or subscribe so you don't miss anything!
First up, I did publish a new pattern and then got so busy that I forgot to post here about it... This one actually features two patterns for two different types of Tulips - Standard and Peony Tulips (aka Double Tulips). The patterns were so similar that I figured it would be easier and less redundant to just bundle them together.
After my last post I opened up to Custom Orders, but had to close back again a couple days later as my schedule filled really quickly. I don't have many slots this year as I'm working on a large pattern packet for Christmas so a lot of my effort will be spent on that.
My first custom order was for a crystal rose made in a light peachy pink. Here she is pictured with the red one I made myself earlier this year. In the same order there was also a strawberry plant made from a pattern in the Beaded Berry Collection.
I've also been working on flowers for a fundraiser to benefit my nephew's preschool. I was able to make for them one of my new Peonies. Several of my readers have asked me to publish this pattern, but I'm not sure that I can in it's current format. Firstly, it uses a size of bead that is not very common, especially overseas, and is becoming harder and harder to find in the US as well, so I'd have to alter it to suit a more accessible bead size. Secondly, I have a few tweaks to make to the design And Lastly, I use free-form scalloping for the petals so no two are alike and I'm not sure how that would play out for others trying to follow the pattern. I will see what I can do, but it would be a more advanced pattern, and it wouldn't be for a while as my schedule is super full.
This brings me to my current custom order, which is a big one. For my customer I am making a wreath and vine combination to decorate the top of a dome shaped shelf. I made a little sketch as you can see below. The design will feature my miniature roses made in three different colors - red, cream, and black. I need about 165 of these itty bitty roses, and around 200 itty bitty leaves, along with little fern sprigs. It's a lot of beadowork, but I am almost finished, so I should have pictures of the completed piece sometime next week.
Next time I will be back with what will be the first in a series of Tips for my fellow French Beaders. I've been wanting to do this for a while and just haven't had time to gather my thoughts and implement it. So, we are just going to dive in, beginning with how I go about designing flowers. It is my hope that these will be helpful to you and that it will work as more of a discussion with others adding in their helpful hints in the comments.
Until then, Happy Beading!
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