Friday, October 30, 2009


The face involves many changes in direction of beadworking. The lapels are worked vertically. The neck switches to horizontal rows of beadwork. To switch direction, put a bead on the needle and dig down into the existing beads and catch the thread that goes between two beads, go back through the new bead. The head continues up and around. The ear is a semicircle within a semicircle. When I do a face, I almost always think that the face will just not come out as I am in progress. However, I concentrate on dark vs light vs medium areas and on establishing lines such as cheek ridges, nose bridge, eyebrows, etc. If you can't see enough detail in the photo you are working from, enlarge it on a copier, playing with the dark/light buttons till you get an image with value differentiation. Fine details are just not possible. I usually find that when I am done, a readable face emerges.

The woman's legs are done just like the man's pantlegs. The socks and shoes do pose a problem since one is in front of the other and they still need to read as separate. The forward sock is lighter and the forward shoe is edged in a gray metallic. I choose not to depict the toe of the behind shoe. The feet read OK as is and the behind toe might add confusion. If I felt that the behind toe was necessary, I would have chosen to do it in small matte black beads.

The face was finished by working in toward the center, weaving the last hole together with tiny beads. The most important thing to remember is to constantly check the size, shape and direction of the beaded piece in progress with the photo you are working from. I sometimes do this every bead or two. It is easy to get an area too big or forget to change direction when needed. Often I will place a bead and then have to remove it and replace with a bead of a different size, color or value.

The Swing Dancers are complete. Joanne

Saturday, October 24, 2009


The second leg of the Swing Dancer is begun by making several bead ladders extending off of the jacket and following the lines of the pants creases as drawn on the original photo. Subsequent rows of brick stitching fill in between the ladders. Short rows and changing bead sizes change the direction of the brick stitched rows.

Another ladder is constructed to form the top of the thigh. It is connected to the jacket and then rows of brick stitching are done to fill in the space between the new bead ladder and the previous stitching. I find it easier to define the shape I want by establishing the edge and then working inward. I much prefer Czech beads to the more uniform and cylindrical Japanese beads. I am always looking for a bead that is a smidge thinner, fatter, shorter, taller to fill in a specific space. In changing direction of lines, I find that sometimes I need to pick up the thread between beads and sometime I need to go through a bead when adding a new bead. I have a theory about beadwork--1. I put a new bead on the needle- 2. I put the needle through the existing beadwork- 3. I go back through the new bead- 4. I pull the thread tight. If the new bead does not fall off, IT'S RIGHT!!

To begin the lower leg, another bead ladder is thrown. I choose to begin again with the dark crease line down the center of the leg. I then fill in with additional rows, first to one side then to the other. I often do rows of brick stitch stacking 2 or even 3 beads at a time to change the angle of the row.

Smaller and darker beads butt the jacket to place the leg behind the jacket. Larger and lighter beads advance the knee and the center line of the leg for roundness.

The foot again begins with a bead ladder off the pant cuff and proceeds to the heel, changing direction for the sole. I love doing brick stitch because decisions are continuing to be made throughout the construction. In doing a scene in peyote or loomwork, the design is entirely charted out in advance. I find that once all the designing decisions are made, I lose interest.  Brick stitch keeps my attention because it cannot all be planned in advance. You have to keep mental flexibility and change as the piece warrants.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

FGP #4

Still working on the Swing Couple. Male Leg #1 is completed. I begin each new area by selecting a prominent line which I have drawn on the photo and creating a bead ladder to follow this line. Bead rows are then added to either side with increasing and/or decreasing to maintain the line's orientation. In the man's first leg, I choose to begin with the dark crease line extending down the pants. Bead rows were then worked to the right and left to complete the pants using short rows and changing bead sizes to achieve the proper shape. I constantly, sometimes ever bead, place the beadwork over the photo to check size and alignment. The direction of bead rows is changed to most appropriately depict the figure. Larger, lighter beads advance and smaller, darker beads recede. Changing bead sizes attempts to add to the dimensionality of the figure. Note that on the left edge of the pants, tiny beads are used to make the pant's edge appear to be further back than the knee and shin.

The sneakers are first worked with vertical bead rows and then switched to horizontal rows at the toe.

The woman's hair is alternately done in rows of larger and smaller beads as well as matt and shiny beads to give a strandlike appearance. Also the first bead row done after the initial bead ladder alternates increasing and decreasing to zig zag the line made by the original bead ladder. This hopefully will make it look more like hair.

Note the hand foreshortened behind the hair. The fingers are just bead ladders of tiny beads. The thread at the end of the bead ladder finger is worked back through the beads to the body of the hand to begin the next bead ladder finger. The fingers will be set in place when the background is done.

Now I'm ready for the second leg. Joanne

Saturday, October 10, 2009

PLaying Card Project #3

Woops, I have started over. I forgot that the end result is to be photographed in playing card size. This means I must keep contrast high between differentiated areas. I knew that I wanted to darken the skin of the Swing Dancers, but leaving the bodice black does not provide enough contrast. I certainly do not want to imply a topless dancer!

I have also switched the blue in the skirt to a truer blue not an aqua. Thus will blend better with the entire picture.

The man's coat is providing additional challenges. The arm forward of the body is done in bigger beads and lighter shades and the coat tail also progressed to bigger and paler beads to put it in front of the pants. Again, I use the collage template to control my size, shape and direction of design lines. Only by constantly laying the working beadwork against the template can I keep myself from drifting off course.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

FGP Card Project #2

To begin the beadwork, I choose one of the lines I have drawn and construct a bead ladder laying it directly on the photo to measure length. I work to one side of the ladder, again measuring frequently by placing the beadwork on the photo. I shape the line by increasing-that is using larger beads or stacking 2 or 3 beads and/or decreasing-that is using smaller beads or short rows. If the direction needs to change drastically, I will start a new bead ladder following an adjacent line and work from the new bead ladder towards the old. To work perpendicular to existing beadwork, just turn the work 90 degrees and pick up the thread between bead rows instead of the normal thread between tops of beads. I am assuming a knowledge of brick stitch here. I am sure that how to do brick stitch can be found elsewhere. The trick is to keep measuring constantly against the picture to check size, shape and direction of the beadwork. Enough for now. Joanne