Monday, October 19, 2015

Beading Beyond Jewellery

Regular readers may remember from my last post that I acquired an addiction for bead embroidery on my recent trip to the USA and since my return I've been getting lots of practice on Jewellery pieces. But after a while I began to think that there was maybe more I could do with art beads and seed beads (in fact any beads) beyond jewellery and so I started to play around with some other mediums.

Now of course I know this is not an original idea and there are people out there using beads and embroidery to create stunning works of art such as the hugely talented Michelle Carragher who works on costumes for film and television including costume extravaganza - Game of Thrones.

House of Stokeworth Sigil - image © MCE/HBO 2015
If you don't know Michelle I would highly recommend taking some time out to visit her web site and take a look at her exquisite work.

Michelle Carragher Embroidery
Needless to say my attempts don't come close to Michelle's work but I've had great fun doing something completely different and stretching my creative muscles. I started off with one of Jenny Davies-Reazors pretty crow cabochons and after bezeling that decided to let loose and freestyle with a selection of beads. I could have gone on forever with this but eventually started to think OK - what am I going to do with it now..?

Felting is another new addiction of mine so I decided to try combining the two, finally mounting the piece in a shadow box frame that I stained to match and backed with some hand made paper. Not too shabby for a first attempt froI thought.

Another Cabochon of Jenny's inspired me to make this little wall hanging of a harvest goddess. I was desperate to use some of the dyed curly sheep's locks I'd bought at Sarafina Fiber Art and they worked really well for her wild windswept hair.  I used Czech glass leaves and flowers, seed beads and embroidery to embellish the piece and now I just have to work out how to mount it but, as I've decided to do a series of season goddesses that will probably happen once they're all completed.

Harvest Goddess by Lesley Watt
These pieces are all quite small and I really like working in this format. I have a number of art beads in my stash that I've never managed to create jewellery with because they too big for my design style but these have proved to work really well as miniature wall art. This abstract needle felted piece is designed around a large polymer pendant by Roberta Warshaw and is bezeled and embellished with seed beads.

Setting Seed by Lesley Watt
My favourite to date is this mixed media piece which includes my first attempt at wet felting - great fun and much more to come! I picked up the cabochon at Lisa Peter's Russ's  booth at Bead Fest and it immediately made me think of a moon. This is also a very large piece and I was doubtful I would create jewellery around it so I bought it with the specific intention of trying something different with it and I'm so pleased that it came out just the way it was in my head. The hare is made of polymer clay which I drilled tiny holes in and attached to the felt with seed beads. More curly wool locks and more beads add the finishing touches.

Chasing the Moon by Lesley Watt
I bezeled this lovely ammonite cabochon by Susan Kennedy with no real idea what I was going to do with it - I've found bezeling is something I can do whilst watching (or at least listening to) TV in the evening so I tend to get through a lot this way!

I just happened to have put some old woollens in a hot wash to turn them into felt and when this one came out was a perfect match for the cab. It's a really nice thick felt so I decided to try out a purse with Sue's cab as a focal with seed bead embellishments... it's a work in progress but it's coming along nicely.
My team mate Jenny has been using beads in her mixed media art for a good while now and has been a huge source of inspiration for me on this journey. When I stayed with her in the summer this piece was a wall hanging was a work in progress -  finished it's just stunning and I'm very proud to have one of my moon gazing hares at it's heart.

Beaded Wall hanging by Jenny Davies-Reazor
This felted setting for one of my hare totems has such as lovely ethereal quality...

Mixed media wall hanging by Jenny Davies-Reazor
I was honoured to have my fox totem in this shadow box piece which is currently being exhibited at a show at the Newark Arts Alliance in Delaware.

Mixed media wall hanging by Jenny Davies-Reazor
Do a quick search of Pinterest and you'll find plenty of other artists who work beads into their art - here are just a few I found...

This beautiful shrine by Larkin Jean Van Horn incorporates a porcelain owl cabochon by Laura Mears and hand stitched beads.

I Went to the Woods by Larkin  Jean Van Horn

I love the way these vintage bottles by Zinnia's Art have been embellished with all sorts of mixed media and ephemera including beads...

 Zinnia's Art
Embellished Bottles byZinnia's Art
A beautifully beaded dragon mosaic by Hobbymix.

Totem bag featuring another Laura Mears cabochon and seed bead embellishment.

Totem Bag featuring a Laura Mears Cabochon

And finally s Day of the Dead shadow box shrine from Mixed Media Artistry with porcelain skulls by Laura Mears.

Day of the Dead shadow box shrine by Mixed Media Artistry

I'm looking forward to seeing where this takes me and will keep you posted on my progress and if you use beads in creative ways other than jewellery - we'd love to know so please do share.

THEA elements


  1. All of these pieces are just stunning!

  2. What an interesting and inspiring post! Such lovely pieces, all of them! I thoroughly enjoyed seeing all the ways to incorporate beads into art forms. Thank you.

  3. I loved this post! I am so impressed with the unique art work and bead work in these pieces. Your combinations of bezeled components and felted wool is just inspiring and I hope you'll write more posts about your work.

    1. Thanks Kristen - I'm really enjoying this new direction so I'm sure there will be more posts to come.

  4. Nice! I love the purse and the goddess and the hare chasing the moon.


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