Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Bead Embroidery

Bead Embroidery has been described as painting with beads by more than one artist. Using beads on canvas, or using them to create intricately detailed jewelry designs, is a way to really unleash your creativity and create something really individual. We saw that here at the shop recently when one of our customers took a Lee canvas design and instead of stitching it with thread, she used beads! The result was simply stunning. The tiger's face had so much life, and when customers who initially thought it was stitching looked closer and noticed that it was done entirely in seed beads, they were stunned! The finished piece was sewn into a bag by Colonial Needle and really completed the project. I have always been interested in beading, but this really opened my eyes to using beads in embroidery and needlework projects. I thought it would be great to share some more examples of how you can create really beautiful art with beads.

We recently received a number of books in shop. One of them is this great book called A-Z of Bead Embroidery by Sue Gardner. It is a really great book with lots of fun projects. Each project has a great picture and detailed instructions on how to complete it. This project, called Dragonfly, is a beautiful example of Bead Embroidery. The book has this project on Tulle, but I think this project would also be lovely and maybe a little sturdier on a fabric a little heavier. You could sew this on a canvas and finish it into an ornament, put it on a bag, or practically anything you can think of!

One of the artists I came across is Bev Choy. She is an accomplished bead embroiderer who creates a lot of exquisite jewelry pieces. Her website shows all of her projects, and her blog gives updates on her projects and day to day life. I really enjoy this piece. It is full of organic shapes and beautiful earth colors. You can see how you can use all types of different beads to create a really beautiful piece. Her website has pictures of all of her different projects and pieces she has for sale. They're definitely inspiring! Another piece, found on her blog, is of a mermaid. I really enjoy this piece! It incorporates different beads and beading techniques with other needlework techniques such as applique. The colors of the fabric and the corresponding beads really compliment each other and bring a really nice depth to the piece. It would definitely look lovely hanging on a wall! This piece reminds me of some of the mermaid canvases that we have had in shop and leads me to my next point.

A great thing to keep in mind is that if you find a needlepoint canvas you really love but would like to try out beading instead of using thread to stitch it, it is totally doable! An article on details how you can convert a Needlework graph to bead design. This is helpful for people who love to cross-stitch too! With a needlepoint canvas, the process would be made a lot easier because you already have the colors painted out for you. The fun (and challenging!) part is going to your favorite bead store and finding beads that match the colors painted!

Another artist I came across who uses bead embroidery in her art is Jo Wood. She is an accomplished artist who describes her art as "bead paintings." She has been working in the fiber arts for more than 40 years, with beads being her medium of choice for over 10. "Beads have been my [her] medium for over a decade and my [her] passion for them has continued to grow along with my [her] palette of these tiny, shiny orbs. The way light plays in and on the glass creates amazing color possibilities." This piece, entitled "Moose Maple", uses different fibers such as wool and beads. I love the use of color in this piece and how the beads really create a sense of texture and space. Another piece on her website, where you can see photos of her work and read her artist statement, is "One Summer Night." She had been inspired by moths flying around a street lamp on a summer night. I think the combination of different fabrics, textures, and sewing methods really make this piece special. I really love the mood of this piece.

It is really inspiring to see all of the things you can do with needlework. Bead Embroidery is just one of the different types of needlework, and as you can see here, you can create some really beautiful pieces when you use your creativity and imagination. Whether you are using a needlepoint canvas that has been prepainted, or working from an image in your head, or a photo, you can really create some really personal pieces. For myself, just seeing these different artists really inspires me to create something really special! I hope you are as inspired as I am and maybe we'll see you and your projects soon!

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