Sunday, 22 February 2015

Bead embroidery

I'm hooked on something new. A little while ago I came across Robin Atkins who makes the most fantastic art out of beads. I read her pdf which is called One Bead at a Time and was desperate to give it a go. My first attempt was quite satisfying though not very adventurous.
After that I decided to try a bracelet and I made this...
Although I enjoyed making it it isn't something I'd actually wear as it's rather clumpy. I used three little coins from Bulgaria but the beads I used to attach them were too big and they look like little volcanoes. It hasn't photographed very well as it was very sunny and there are too many shadows. Also, it looks like it's lying on a crumpled bed sheet. That's because it is.

Still, I was well into the whole bead thing now and found the fabulous artist Nancy Smeltzer. She has a blog and a website and I have spent hours and hours studying her work. Nancy suggests starting not with one bead, but with a piece of material you like so I rummaged through my workbox and found a nice piece of fabric with squares in autumn colours. Many days and hours later I had made this...

It's about 20cm square. This is quite brave for me colour-wise as I usually stick to one colour. The close up below shows how labour intensive this new hobby is. 

My latest piece is probably more Robin Atkins than Nancy Smeltzer as although I started with a nice piece of batik material I covered it completely with beads so you can't see any of the fabric at all. I've named it 'Under the apple boughs,' which is a line from a Dylan Thomas poem. I quite like the idea of abstract art but this piece had a tendency to keep turning into flowers and trees and things. I did quite a bit of unpicking too as sometimes I'd spend an hour or so on a bit and it wouldn't look quite right. This was quite difficult to photograph too but here goes...
And a close up...

I have no idea how many hours this took. Again, it is about 20cm square but since I have covered every bit there are a fair number of beads in it. I even wove the little light green squares you can see in the detail above and then sewed them in.

So that's where I've got to so far with the bead embroidery. Do visit Robin and Nancy's sites - they are amazing.


  1. Your work is amazing too! You picked up the techniques and the process of intuitive bead embroidery very well and very quickly. "Under the Apple Boughs" would make Dylan Thomas swoon... he would not believe how it captures the musicality of his poem. Bravo!!!

  2. I think these are just fabulous and if you get started now you should have one done in time for my birthday. xx