The new love in my life: Bead Embroidered Jewellery

Original image and work by Maria Phillips Copyright 2012-2013
Original image and work by Maria Phillips Copyright 2012-2013

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.

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
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, Folky.com, and MagiRoseDesings.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)

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19 thoughts on “The new love in my life: Bead Embroidered Jewellery

  1. The eye is such a powerful symbol, it fascinates me and has done for many years. I still haven’t gotten to grasp with what it is that attracts me so. But i do know that part of it are the myths/mysticism that surrounds it. The evil eye, the all seeing eye, the symbol of the Illuminati, the third eye of Shiva, the eye of Ra…The list goes on. Anyways will stop babbling but your piece so far is stunning and am looking forwards to seeing the developed product when done. 🙂

    1. Yes the symbol of the eye has a special draw for me too. This piece is very loosely based on the Ancient Egyptian Eye of Wedjat which in itself has a lot of meaning for me. Usually the eye is a symbol of psychic communication in the esoteric and spiritual world as I understand it. I also love the design concept of a big eye as a neck-piece looking out from someone’s chest! I reckon another week and the rest of the piece will be done, and I’ll be interested to see what you think. Thank you for checking out my blog 🙂

      1. Hahaha. I hear you!!!! Do you do street festivals? I know, where I live there are alot in the summer. Great place to get the jewelry seen and bought. I know, in the past, I got a few unique pieces that way… 🙂

      2. Time is a big issue for me which is why I decided to try and sell my jewellery online. We don’t have a good support network in terms of family and friends so it’s hard to arrange for childcare, so it makes getting out and doing all the craft fairs and craft markets really difficult. I also think that economically it is the wrong time to be selling couture jewellery. But I’m not willing to cut my costs, as I would be making very little from it anyway once overheads are taken into account.

      3. Hmmm. Yeah, I can see that. As far as network regarding friends and family, I hear that alot from young families. I guess communities are no longer as connected as we once were, making sure other families were getting along okay.

        I see now, how this might be a challenge (this business).

      4. Also we are the only ones in the family with young children still, all my partner’s brothers and sisters have got adult children, with one about to have a child of her own. We both left it a lot later before we had children. Parents have passed on, or just don’t live locally. It’s tough sometimes.

      5. Wow. Well if I lived where you did, I’d sit for you sometimes. It’s important for us to keep our passions on the table, I think it keeps us invested at times. But all this will smooth out at some point…

      6. Aww that’s really sweet of you 🙂 I think you’re right, we have to invest in ourselves so that we don’t lose sight of what it is where doing here. Being a mother is a rewarding, but often tough and stressful job. And it’s all too easy to forget that you are a person with a life as well as a care-giver on call 24/7.

      7. I’ve seen what people become when they forget either or, it’s a precarious balance it seems but one I expect moms must try. One thing I must say, you seem very aware with a good sense of boundaries, so I bet you’re a great mom.

      8. Thanks for saying so 🙂 Funny thing is I started gardening because I got to the stage where I felt as though a big part of me had died. I was forgetting who I was and what I could do. It was an awful feeling. I was desperate to reconnect and feel something again, and gardening was something I could do and still involve my daughter. It became my new passion and gradually with time I woke up.

  2. You and my daughter sound like kindred spirits. She designed, made and embroidered her Victorian style wedding gown (with bustle) and the groom’s frockcoat. (then they honeymooned in Venice at Carnival) 🙂

    1. Your daughter sounds very talented. How wonderful to be in Venice at carnival time, I’ve yet to experience it. I have only been in Venice during the summer. Thank you for taking the time to stop by and leave such lovely comments. It’s nice to meet you too 🙂

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