Sunday, 14 April 2013

Botanical beading: a spring race with Mother Nature

Right from the start: this post isn't doll-related. This week I've been working on an idea that popped in my head last spring, when I was very busy buying furniture and stuff for the house. This year I was set to do what I had planned.

What is this project, you may ask?
I like to make trees and bushes from seed beads. I've made like eight and they are pretty different from each other (I'll write a post about them). So this time I decided to introduce a new species. Can you guess what it is?

It's not weed. It's totally not weed.

Well, I'm making a blooming chestnut tree! I have one right outside my window in my parent's house and I watched it bloom every year. Once I'm finished with this, I can have a tiny chestnut in full bloom whenever I want :)

Spring came late around here and all the flowers are catching up. A few days ago, I caught sight of some swollen buds:

This is what they looked like on the day I started. Right now, they are springing leaves like there's no tomorrow:

I hope to finish before the trees do!

My plan is to make a small tree with about 20 flowers and enough leaves to look normal. At the moment, I have 10 flowers and 48 leaves of various sizes. I figure I have yet to make as many. Will I be in time?

Anyway, time for a tutorial!

The tutorial

This will show how I made the leaves and flowers. You can experiment with the number of beads. Have fun!

The things I used for this part:
- seed beads
- green beading wire
- transparent thread (or any beading thread)
- beading needle
- wire cutter

I will also need:
- a small pot
- plaster
- thick wire for branches
- decorative thread to wrap the tree
- (optional) stuff to cover the plaster and paint the pot

It all started with some doodles in my sketchbook from which the leaves patterns emerged. I experimented with leaves composed of 7 leaflets, but they were too bulky with all the seed beads converging in one spot, so I went with 5. Here's the pattern:

There are three leaves and two flowers. I prefer the flower on the right, with 4 beads in the middle. The flower patterns are 3-dimensional. If you don't know how to read 3D beading patterns, google a basic beaded ball.

For the flowers, I mixed various scraps of whites and pinks.

Not all pictured.
I slipped some transparent beads with coloured centres in the mix to simulate the bright colours inside chestnut flowers:

This is my result:

To make the flower, I start with 4 beads tied in a circle...

The next row consists of 5-bead circles. I have the first bead already, so I add 4...

I go back through that first bead and the next in the previous, 4-bead circle. I have a bead at the bottom and one at the side, so I add 3 to complete the circle of 5...

This is one of those things that's a lot easier to do than to explain.
Same for the next circle...

Now for the last one on this row, there is already a bead at the bottom and one on each side, so only two are needed...

This square in the middle is where I started.
The next row has 6-bead circles which are made the same way. Here I am starting the last row, which has 7-bead circles...

The beading is a mess at this stage, but I promise you it's a lot easier than it looks...

This is before the last circle was added
In each of the last circles, two beads are anchored in the previous row, two connect with the sides, and 3 are just hanging there. To gather the flower, I pass the needle through a top bead (the middle of these 3), add one or two more beads, then the next bead and so on until I've passed all 4. Then I tie and cut the thread.

The stem is a small piece of wire that goes through one of the first four beads then back inside.

That's all for the flower. Now, leaves...

Let's check that pattern again:

The underlined numbers show the length of wire needed; 15, 18 and 20cm translate to 6, 7 and 8 inches accordingly.

Each leaflet is a loop of beads. All the loops connect at the base and are beaded from one side to the other. I'll show you what I mean on the example of a medium leaf.

I took 6 beads on my length of wire and looped the wire back into the first bead, in the opposite direction...

I pulled it tight, leaving a little stem on one of the ends. For the next leaflet, I strung 11 beads, then back through the first 2...

I pulled the bases really close, holding them between my fingers, then pulled the loop tight. For the centre leaflet, 14 beads and back through the first...

The next two are just like the first in reverse order. Here is the finished beading:

To get rid of the gap where the leaflets connect, I grab the first and fifth leaflets with one hand, and the rest with the other, and twist them twice...

Then I twist the stem....

And that's all there is to the leaf!

The other two patterns are the same. The numbers show how to string the beads. For example, 11/2 means that 11 beads are strung, and the wire returns through the first two. In the small bead, the wire goes back through all the beads but the last one.

That wasn't too difficult, was it? I will come back with another post about how to assemble a beaded tree, as well as the other trees I've made (edit: it's up!). Meanwhile, don't hesitate to ask any questions!

Enjoy your spring in the Northern hemisphere! Do you have any favourite seasonal plants that you'd like to see year round? Tell me!

The Black Kitty

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