Monday, July 4, 2011

Bead Journal Project - March 2011

This month, I decided to attempt something new, a piece in the style of the Northeastern Woodland Indians, a technique I've not used before.

Here's the inspiration image (are you tired of seeing it yet?):

Native American “whimsies” are beadwork items attributed to Woodland Indian women during the Victorian era, which they made for sale as souvenirs in areas such as Niagara Falls and Mackinac. These non-utilitarian “whimsies” became an important source of income for these women, helping to support their families.

The whimsies show a definite European influence, after 1800 among Northeastern Woodland Indian women, appliqué beading follows a distinctly different style from the mostly geometric Plains styles. Curvy flowers connected by spiraling vine tendrils are beaded onto black velvet or velveteen show the use of traditional themes adapted to the Victorian tastes of their buyers.

Usually the beadwork is sewn over a pattern cut out of paper, as can be seen in this antique example:

I did the same, cutting a paper template to bead over. It actually serves two functions - providing a pattern and masking the dark background which would dull the colors of white or clear beads.

Designs are usually quite stylized and this did cause me some problems, as my design is naturalistic. This shows up especially in the flower petals, as some unfortunate bead placement.

Overall, I'm pleased - I was able to achieve a lot of texture and depth - but next time I'll stick with simpler forms!


  1. It is beautiful and an interesting technique, I also liked that you told the history of the beading technique.

  2. Fascinating history! Thanks so much for sharing the background along with your lovely flower piece. This was a great technique to use to capture the essence of the flower :-)

  3. This is gorgeous! I think the texture and depth is amazing!
    Marty S
    Crackpot Beader

  4. My goodness, what a gorgeous piece! I loved reading about how you came up with the idea - learned something new, and I love that too!
    Like a 3-D painting in beads....

  5. i LOVE your flower. i've been working on some flowers myself, and i really like to make them as real looking as possible. Your did an amazing job at making it true to life. I don't think you could get any closer. Really amazing work!