Sunday, March 14, 2010

Van Dyke Bracelet

This image is from the March 1858 edition of Peterson's Magazine. I've had my eye on this for quite some time; it is accompanied by quite detailed directions and I've used beaded vandyke's frequently in my beadwork, but....

It turns out the directions are nearly worthless!

It is not possible to construct a bracelet that even remotely approaches functional following the directions. The image is also somewhat problematic, as it is not possible to construct beaded vandykes that will lay so completely flat on the round, but to be fair, it does show the beading pattern well.
I tried faceted and smooth beads, in a variety of sizes and using a variety of bead counts, here's what I ended up with after about six attempts, using size 11/0 faceted antique beads:
The bracelet is constructed in two layers, which are connected with the vandykes being offset for each piece; a piece of elastic is added. The pattern states: "This elastic causes the vandykes slightly to diverge, which improves the effect of the bracelet.", ie - it's meant to be a bit ruffled.

This next photo shows an individual vandyke, as well as the connection between the two layers and the elastic

I actually made a pair of these bracelets, as wearing pairs was a common Victorian practice.

These are great fun to wear, they have so much movement. These are another great example of a period reproduction that could be used for modern day wear; my experience has been that no one will believe they are based on a 150+ year old design.

So why "vandykes"?

The name "vandyke" originated from a beard, Sir Anthony Vandyke’s beard, (1599-1641), which was short and pointed. From beards to beadwork, the basic shape was recreated in netting, for this design.

Vandykes can be seen in many other forms of needlework and are a common motif in dress trimmings from a variety of eras.


  1. As lovely as the pictures are, the real thing is just exquisite!

  2. I am mesmerized by that old illustration of the beadwork.... and applaud you on your adaptation!

  3. That is just so beautiful! I wonder how many times it has been attempted since 1858...

  4. These are amazing- Bravo to you for sticking with the project , working it out and creating such wonderful fluttery cuffs- Really stunning!!!

  5. Fabulous! I admire your determination in following such a complex antique pattern.
    Marty S
    Crackpot Beader

  6. I, too, have been eyeing these bracelets - a photocopy is in my project book. I am SO glad you made theme first because I hope to learn from your experience!