I kept track of my progress on my template by adding a green sticky over each panel letter after I had finished it....and finally, after literally months....
All the panels had a green sticky! YAY....well... maybe. After clicking this picture with my victory fist.....what I call "Finishing, or Finisher's Anxiety (FA) soon set in. Which in short I define as a feeling of "O.M.G.....what they heck do I do now???? ....What if I mess up the panels trying to put them together??? What if I break the basket trying to wire them on???? What if the weight of the beads pulls everything apart??? What If...what if....what if! "
At this point, I let myself freak out a bit, especially when I laid out all my bags of parts! I had been keeping them in a box and making a point not to look at them....for a couple of reasons really, one being I wanted myself to be surprised at how it looked in the end, but mainly, it was my way of focusing on my immediate task at hand~ at this point I was still not sure that I would have enough time to finish before the contest deadline. I was trying to keep my tunnel vision fixed on the light at the end...but had no idea when the light should be coming in to view! Whenever I would start to get overwhelmed, I would write my friend Janice and she would always have the right words to keep me going~ I remember one time I wrote and said,' I don't know, I don't think I'm going to finish'....to which she replied...."You HAVE GOT TO FINISH THAT BASKET" and something else on the line of, don't you dare do anything else but work on it!
One by one, I took each little bag of parts and emptied them out on my worktable. I laid them out in the order I was going to wire them together, the furthest back at the top, with the closest elements at the bottom. I had my soie oval on hand in several different colors, to wrap stems that would show as I went
Each element was added one at a time, and wrapped super tight around the center stalk
If you look close, you will see the center stalk here bent over to the right at the top of the ground mound. I left it long and bent it to the side like this to give me plenty of wire to not only attach the ground mound to, but to support the whole thing being wired onto the basket
After they were assembled, they went back into their little zip bag. Here they all are laid out on the counter, ready to go onto the basket...finally!
One last picture of an empty basket and I am ready to start adding the panels.
To have easy access to both the top and the bottom, I set the basket up on two hat boxes, leaving a space in the center where I could have a hand on the top and one on the bottom at the same time. I started from the center, and wired each panel onto the frame at the base, sides and top at whatever element ended up touching the frame
I primped and bent each to the shape I liked as I went along. Some flowers, most of them, stayed to the top, but I also took some flowers and leaves to the back
After finishing the center band, I started the outside band and did the same working my way around.
Having been working on it so many months, hours and hours a day nearly every day, it was a kind of strange feeling being done.. I missed working on 'my beads' ....but not for very long. I have another in the works now, as well as a really fabulous 17th c project that I am planing on sharing with everyone very soon~ of coarse its beaded, but yours doesn't have to be!
Remember~ baby steps lead to a finished pile of puzzle pieces!
I am not going to go thru how I made each and every panel, but picked a favorite to show you the steps of how my foxgloves grew from spindly little wires and 'seed' beads (he he)...into lovely flowers. The photo above shows all the pieces needed for this single panel. The wires were bent to shape and each numbered to correspond with the same part of my drawn pattern.
The floral wire will become the base of the foxglove, and the bare wire will shape the bell of the flower.
The base , or back of the flower, was worked first, then the bell wire laid on
I first bent it to shape and after proper placement, cut off the excess wire and whipped the wire to the base with my thread
Starting from the petal edge, beads are worked in an arc above the flower base down to the stem end. Leave the thread tails long so they may be wrapped several times around the stem to secure
Next worked then attached were the little flower caps
To the right are finished foxgloves bent to their final shape, and to the left, a set after wrapping all the tail ends in silk~ it makes them look so nice and tidy!
As I worked each panel, I laid them on my paper pattern to get an idea of how they looked and to make sure they would fit. After I took their picture, each pile of pieces went into its own little bag labeled with the panel number to wait to be assembled at the same time after all the panels were finished.
To make up your shapes for beading, very few things are needed...just wire and imagination actually! I chose a paper/linen covered floral wire~ I say both paper and linen because when I first bought it, it was covered in thread, and half way thru my basket the manufacturer switched to paper. They both covered well and took the watercolour paint tint easily, tho the thread covered wire it came out a little darker than the paper. The above picture shows the plain stark white floral wire at the bottom, and the same wire after I aged it a little to look not quite so new at the top. It was quite easy, each wire was dipped in a vat of walnut ink to the shade of my liking, then spread on a pan and baked in the oven at 250 degrees for about 30 minutes. The gauge of wire is your own choice~ but you should pick a wire that is as fine as the beads you are working with~ to blend and not be noticeable.
I used 2 'tools' exclusively for bending all my shapes for this basket~ one was a pair of round nose jewelers pliers, and the second, was one of my favorite chopsticks I brought home from Japan~ the taper from one end to the other was perfect for making smooth turns of pretty near any size. Above is one of the 8 vases on the basket. There isnt much to explain really, I just bent whatever shape I needed the way I thought it should go, always keeping in mind how large my beads were and how/where the 'wire stem' was going to attach in the finished panel
I wired each piece next to my pattern to constantly check the size and be sure I had the right shape.
I was elated to find near the exact size & color antique striped beads that are on the vases in the original basket to use for mine, and as you can see, I didn't find many! I think I have about 4 beads left over
This type beadwork is referred to as 'twilling' or twill beadwork, but is basically peyote stitch...but a LOT easier done on wire if you ask me! At the end of a row or edge, the thread is simply taken around the outside of the wire shape and then next row immediately worked~ this attaches your work to the frame and turns the row all at the same time! There is no right or wrong way to do it, and you can start at the bottom and work up, at the top and work down....you can start from the side and go across, or start int he middle and work out to both sides at the same time~ I did many leaves that way. There are no patterns to limit what you can create, because you make the shape and work the beads to fill it~ both inside and outside the wire shape.
I have put the last of my Retired Nicol Sayre Easter bunnies on eBay this week, as well as some wonderful Spring dollies~ Gnome Hilde & her Mushroom & little Petit Mon Cher~ she is a miniature that fits in the palm of ones hand~to see them just click on my eBay Specials link in the sidebar
Ah the fun part! This is the final configuration I decided upon during my 'cling form' session. I beaded a rainbow, but never did like the look of it even before I finished it, and it didn't fit anyway so out it went!
To make up the center panel, the first thing I did was turn the basket upside down and stitch the background net to it at each little wire ring.
I then flipped it back over, and sat it up on two hat boxes so that I could have both hands free for wiring the pieces onto the netting. For this I used super fine near invisible wire. I poked holes in the vellum of the motifs with a needle first to open a place where the wire would pass thru easily. I always had in mind the amount of space the wreath would overlap and spaced the pieces accordingly~ if I would have put the cloud and sun directly to the edge of the panel up against the lattice, aLOT of it would be totally hidden behind the wreath, so I moved it away from the edge
Wreath has been 'fouffed' to leaves standing straight up, so I could pass the wire around thru them without catching the leaves themselves...this seemed to take forever~ my arms go so tired! It took over an hour just to attach the wreath
Then I had fun primping and bending the leaves into shape. I was not pleased with how stark the wires looked tho, I did not want them to be so noticeable, so to blend them with the beadwork more,
each got lightly tinted with watercolor paints to match the bead colors. I enlarged my photo of the Corning baskets wires and they too blended with the bead colors. One can tell the wire is the same wire, but it takes on a different tint for each motif. It was impossible to tell from the photo those wires were painted or wrapped in silk. The only other basket I know of that uses this same technique of wire framed twill beadwork is held at the Maidstone Museum in Kent, and its wire frames I have examined up close and are wrapped in a very fine silk thread in color to match the beads.
In my next post I will share what wire I used for my pieces, and how I prepared it prior to use
This is what I kept saying to myself. Every time I thought, Ok....I am done with the leaves...I would loosely fit them together and nope....need to make more leaves! I finally settled on 96. I wont get into wiring the shapes just yet~ that is coming up next. To assemble the wreath, first I laid all my pieces out in the color order I wanted them. I used a light and dark green, and a goldish brown color of beads to keep things interesting
Once laid out in an order I liked, I started from the top, or back most set of leaves. I made it the same way I make my real wreaths at Christmas time~ even used the same green floral wire. My first set was wired together, then the next one laid on and a couple wraps around with the wire, then the next and the next
Wrap the wire round as tightly as possible, I mean, really tight, otherwise, one can simply pull out a leaf by tugging ever so slightly. I went round each single leaf stem 3 or 4 times with the wire, and used it right off the spool~ meaning, I had the entire spool in my hand and wrapped each side of the wreath with a single length of wire
The beginning and ending tails are left quite long to attach both sides together with
This is the front side, the leaves are densely packed and flat. I will not bend them around to shape until on the basket
First side done. easy. Now the second side is laid out. The second side will give you fits trying to get it the same length as the first, so have your first side right there, and every other leaf or so, check your length to keep yourself on track. I made, took apart and remade and took apart and remade the second side at least three times before I got it to where I wanted it
I checked several times placement on the basket to be sure they would fit right before I finished them in silk
All of my wires are hidden beneath soie ovale. If you are not familiar with it, it s a wonderful flat untwisted filament silk. I am wearing gloves because it catches on even the most microscopic of nothings, and my hands are so rough~ I have never ever had nice pretty girls soft hands! Again, starting from the top, the entire piece is wrapped in the soie ovale to cover the wire wrapping. One at a time, several wraps around each leaf is made.
Absolutely not visible from the front, I still wanted my basket to look just as nice from the underside.
Now comes the fun fun part, assembling the center panel on the basket! If you grew up in the 1970s, you should remember the 'cling form' toys that were so popular~ if you don't, they were packaged like a board game with a scene on the board coated in plastic. With it came a bunch of little plastic sticker looking pieces that you could position around on the board to make scenes. They clung to it by static electricity, hence the name Cling Form~ anyway, this next step reminded me of that game a lot, as I had all my pieces finished and I could put them where ever I wanted, it was pretty fun ;)
I will admit my favorite part of the angel was making her wings. To make them look like they were made of real feathers, I made each feather element up individually. Stumpwork is a fun game, if you have the patience for it. One literally can spend months making up all the tiny pieces of the puzzle....little piles of things everywhere...and not until the very end when you put them all together do you get to see what it will look like!
Tiny little sugar beads as I call them, because they are literally some smaller than a grain of sugar...are strung onto wire. I left a little tail and then bent it into a little ring and that is what I stitched down onto the vellum
Starting from the furthest most points of her wings, and working fwd, each was laid on one at a time, following my penciled pattern
After I got her wing feathers attached, I stitched the skirting of her gown to the vellum on three sides only, leaving the hem free
Last on was her hair, I think total in length this is about 13" of strung beads
Once she was complete, the final step was to carefully cut the excess vellum away being careful to not cut into the stitching of the beadwork
Her wrap was laid on, and now she is ready to go onto the background with the other elements~ the clouds and sun and the banner she will hold with my name and date on it. I made up the rainbow, but it just didnt look right and made everything too crowded, so I decided not to use it. The only thing left now is the beautiful wreath that will surround the center panel
The Lady's Repository Museum is a privately owned museum dedicated to the collection, preservation and study of unique early American fashions of both women and children, the later being a specialty.
All proceeds from Diamond K Folk Art sales (antique reproduction Folk Art, Dolls & hooked rugs) directly support the Museum, of which can be found on ETSY, eBay and the DKFA Blog~ please see the links on the sidebar. You can also mail me at email@example.com