Wolves across many cultures symbolise loyalty, generosity, intelligence and communication. Being pack animals, wolves may also be important representations of family life. Wolves are the source of power of the moon in Celtic mythology. Because of these varied beliefs about the wolf, symbolic clothing and jewellery are often highly valued. You can make these kinds of prized emblematic pieces with the use of a wolf image and simple beading techniques. Examples of completed wolf beading projects are included in the reference section.
Draw your wolf image on graph paper. Let each square on the graph paper represent a bead. A smaller grid will be easier to follow if you are using seed beads.
Assign colours to each area of the grid. The easiest way to do this is to colour each area with markers or coloured pencils.
Mark the centre of your design with red cross marks. Make a colour copy of your drawn design. Use this copy as your working copy.
Locate the centre of your fabric by folding it in half lengthwise and loosely stitching a piece of red thread through the fold line. Fold the fabric in half crosswise, and stitch a second piece of red thread loosely through that fold line.
Thread your needle with the beading thread. Weave the end of the thread into the fabric near the centre-point marked with red thread, or knot the thread securely to the back of the fabric.
Select a starting point near the centre of your design. The easiest point will be a bead lined up next to the cross-shaped centre you drew on the grid. Work one quadrant of the pattern at a time. Beading will be worked in rows that follow the lines of coloured squares on your grid paper. Choose the first four beads in the colours indicated at that starting point on the paper.
Thread the four beads on the needle and slide them down to the fabric. Insert the needle into the fabric, fitting the beads between the thread coming up from behind the fabric and the insertion point you are pushing the needle through. Pull the thread through the beads and the fabric. The beads should be snugly held to the fabric by the thread, with no thread readily visible.
Bring the needle back up through the fabric between the second and third beads. Guide the thread through the third and fourth beads. Pull the thread snugly. Thread the next four beads in your pattern sequence onto the needle. Insert the needle into the fabric at the end of your new bead section.
Push the needle up between the second and third beads on your newly stitched section. Thread the needle through the third and fourth beads. This stitching pattern is called the lazy stitch because it attaches four beads at one time instead of individually stitching each bead in place. Continue this stitching pattern with the bead colours that match your drawn wolf design.
Start the next row when you finish the first row. You can work from the row end back to the centre or start a new row at the centre line next to the first row. The second row is worked snugly against the first row with the beads touching each other. Each stitched bead should have the bead in the next row aligned with it. When you finish the second row, the two complete rows should look exactly like the coloured squares on the graph paper. Each bead should be touching the bead before and after it, as well as the bead next to it.
Mark finished rows of the wolf pattern with a highlighter on your working copy so that you can keep track easily.
Tie the thread in a knot on the fabric or weave the end into the fabric when you no longer have enough thread to make new lazy stitches. Start a new thread by weaving the end into the fabric or knotting as you did at the beginning. Continue lazy stitching your beads onto the fabric until you finish the first quadrant of your wolf design.
Stitch the following three quadrants of your wolf design just as you did the first quadrant. When the project is complete, you may want to secure the back with felt or other fabric to prepare it for mounting. Depending on the size of the project you may want to mount the beading as jewellery, a barrette, or the front or back of a piece of clothing such as a shirt or jacket.
Adhere the felt to the beading using an iron-on adhesive product or fabric glue. Either adhesive method will fix your woven thread ends in place and keep them from loosening over time. Attach the back of the felt to the desired accessory or clothing using adhesive or hook-and-loop tape strips. Hook-and-loop tape strips offer the advantage of removal of the beadwork for cleaning the clothing item.
The larger your wolf project, the longer it will take to create. Patience will be required, but the finished product will be rewarding. It may take some practice to stitch the rows closely and repeat the grid pattern in beads.
Beaded projects are not suitable for use by children under three years of age.
Tips and warnings
- The larger your wolf project, the longer it will take to create. Patience will be required, but the finished product will be rewarding. It may take some practice to stitch the rows closely and repeat the grid pattern in beads.
- Beaded projects are not suitable for use by children under three years of age.