My favorite frenched beaded flower book has a wonderful picture of a chandelier decorated with french beaded flowers and leaves, purportedly from the 30s. I particularly like the large, patterned leaves, which are notable for their size (roughly 5" across, at a guess) and their undulating edges, neither of which is readily obtainable with the standard technique. It was obvious, looking at the picture that in addition to a central midrib, the central strand around which all additional rows go in the ‘basic’ technique, the leaves also had an additional, beaded edge, which not only allowed for greater strength, but also the undulating edge.
I attempted something similar with a multi-lobed leaf some time ago, which was a dismal failure. This time, I tried to duplicate the effect exactly, and though my leaf is much simpler, I think it uses the same basic method, which I haven't really seen documented anywhere.
The central midrib is 19 gauge; the edging, 22ga, and the fillin 28ga [silver], and required 53” of beads. The fill-in beads are pretty low-quality, but vary between being 11/0s and 12/0s, at a best guess; the beads in the midrib and edging are 10/0 rocailles with lovely huge holes.
My first two efforts were truly dismal, and I used them on an equally dismal flower I made some time back. By the third leaf, I'd learned to not twist the edging together into the final leaf shape until I'd finished the infill (because it's difficult to predict how much space to leave for wrapping the infill wire, and no, jamming the beads tight on the wire is not the correct answer, unless you want to breaking a lot of beads with pliers). Leaving the beads loose on the wire didn't work so hot either, because these huge gaps developed between the edging beads. I learnt instead to use alligator clips to keep the edging beads snug, because I could move the alligator clips along the edging wire as I worked. The fill-in (28ga) wire wraps around the edging wire, then behind a bead and comes back from behind to start the next row: done correctly, the wire hardly shows, even in back.
I inadvertantly bent the midrib to the left, and made some rows ever so slightly too long: but by curling the leaf downward, and stroking the rows upward, I created bends and dips that I think actually make the leaf more life-like. I was also helped by the fact that the two sizes of beads were excactly the same color, so they blend nicely. And finally, I managed to incorporate a little bit of wire-wrapping and curling on the leaf stem. This is something to explore further.
photography 3 apr, file completed 4apr08.
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