The new love in my life: Bead Embroidered Jewellery

For some time now I have trying to work out a way of combining my passion for producing fine art with my love of making jewellery, not able to dedicate time to both pursuits to a satisfactory point due to general life commitments. Then just a couple of months ago I came across a piece of jewellery that left me with mouth agape and set my heart racing. It had been elaborately embroidered with beads in beautiful colours and shapes. It was wonderfully opulent, and really had the wow factor. I knew at that moment that this was the kind of jewellery that I really wanted to be making. It was love at first sight.Original image and work by Maria Phillips Copyright 2012-2013 So I bought myself some books on bead embroidery and set about teaching myself the techniques. With nigh on 30-some years experience of needle-craft, making clothes, costumes and a raft of other such crafty pursuits I was no stranger to a needle and thread. My love affair with beads only began around five years ago, and with seed beads in particular even less than that.

I have made many a peyote weave bracelet and cuff since, deepening my love of seed beads and their incredible colour and texture palette. I guess it never really occurred to me that I could actually paint with them on a canvas, with my needle and thread as my brush, and then turn it into wearable art!

With my head bursting with ideas and my heart full of a sense of excitement that I haven’t felt since I was in infant school I designed my first piece, and having bought my special canvas (more commonly known as Lacy’s Stiff Stuff) I got on with painting with my beads and producing my first piece of bead embroidery.

Bead embroidered eye - Stage one of neckpiece

It’s been a fascinating processes as I have been able to combine my skills as a two-dimensional artist, sculptor, silversmith and costume maker. It makes me think that maybe I have found my niche as a jewellery designer and maker at last that combines many of my talents.

Still a work in progress as now I am currently making the neck-piece that the eye pendant will hang from. It is an extremely time-consuming process making even a small piece of bead embroidered jewellery, but the result is truly breathtaking and really is a labour of love as I am so fond of saying. It really is like producing a piece of fine art.

I can only sing the praises of artists such as Heidi Kummli and Sherry Serafini among many others who practise this kind of art to an extremely high level, they are amazingly skilled people with an eye for a profound beauty that is translated in their work.

For now back to working on the neck-piece. I will be posting the finished piece on this blog in the near future. I already have my next two bead embroidery projects in mind, and a collection of pieces that will involve some of the faces that I have channelled and drawn (see my blog post Spirit Portraits – The Art of Seeing Faces), and their stories woven and represented in the jewellery, inspired by Heidi Kummli’s concept of a totem piece in her book listed below.

I welcome all comments, so please let me know what you think or if you have any of your own tips and advice to share. You can also visit my shop MagiRose Designs at Etsy.com, and Folky.com for all my other lines of jewellery. You can also follow and like my page on Facebook, and Twitter!

Bibliography and Suppliers

Recommended books on the subject of Bead Embroidery:

Sherry Serafini’s Sensational Bead Embroidery (Beadweaving Master Class) by Sherry Serafini (7 May 2011)

Spirit of Bead Embroidery by Heidi Kummli (27 Sep 2012)

The following bead suppliers have a wealth of seed beads amongst many other treasures between them and provide excellent service:

Beads Direct

GJ Beads

Robin’s Beads (Stocks Lacy’s Stiff Stuff and many of the other materials and components suggested in the above books)

Published by Maria a.k.a. Bess/Ishaiya

I am an artist, photographer, writer, singer-song writer/musician (pianist), Silversmith/Jewellery Designer and Intuitive. I speak various languages. I am currently retired and continuing to be a student of life. I have three children. And generally speaking I am very spiritual - I also have a very sarcastic and sharp sense of humour... I am what I am and my life's challenge is to 'Know Myself' (so far I'm doing ok with that). I also love coffee passionately. There is so much more to me than all of this, so sit back and have a little read and perhaps you'll discover something new, not just about me but about you too ;)!

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