A relatively simple technique that looks simply amazing, French beaded flowers make lovely jewelry, home décor items and bouquet additions. This style of bead craft has roots going back centuries to the European Renaissance and enjoys periodic revivals but is not widely known by most beaders. Varying the size of the beads can take your finished flowers from delicate to substantial, depending on your purpose, but the effect is stunning at any size. Here is how to do it.
String a large number of beads onto the wire without removing the wire from the spool. There's no set number to work with but err on the side of too many rather than not enough. Simply put: larger petals take more beads, even more if your beads are small. This is probably the single most tedious part of these flowers so it's good that we get it out of the way early.
Move a few beads towards the free end of the wire and make a loop below them. The distance between the free end of the wire and the loop should be equal to the planned length of your petal plus (at least) 1/4 inch. The more beads you move up in this step decides the overall shape of the leaf.
Bring the working wire (the part strung with beads and still attached to the spool) up and along the left side of the starter beads until you have enough beads to surround that side with no gaps. Wrap the working wire over, under and around the holding wire, snug up against the beads. Repeat with the right side, bringing the bead-strung wire down to the bottom and securing it the same way.
For rounded petals, butt the top- and bottom-most beads perpendicular to the wire before wrapping. For pointier petals and leaves, angle the top bead approximately 45 degrees before wrapping the wire. For extra length added to one end, add a bead between each row.
Continue until the petal or leaf is the size you want and wrap the wire several times around the base of the petal to secure the final round of beads.
Trim the remaining wire on top to 1/4 inch with wire cutters. Clip the bottom of the wire loop and trim the working wire to the same length.
Bend the top wire to the back of the petal with small needle nose pliers. Grasp the ends of the lower wires with the pliers and twist them into a single strand.
Repeat the process for as many petals and leaves as your flower needs. Remember that most flowers have an odd number of petals so five petals will look more realistic than four.
For stamens, a single bead at the end of a twisted wire or just a loop made on a set of round-nosed pliers will work nicely.
Bundle all of the petals, stamens and leaves together and twist all of the stems into a single rope. Large pliers will help for this more than the small needle-nosed variety.
Arrange the petals, stamens and leaves into a pleasing arrangement, gently so as not to separate them from the twisted stems. To finish you can wrap the stem with florists tape--good for including in bouquets--or wrap with ribbon or coated wire to prevent the ends of the wire from snagging anything. Add your jewelry findings or attach to whatever surface you choose.
Things you need
- Wire cutters
- Small needle nose pliers
- Round nose pliers
- Large pliers
- Florist tape (optional)
- Ribbon (optional)
- Jewelry findings (optional)