Choosing Heads

Your choice of beads, in terms of size, shape and type, is just as important as your color combination.

This book deals entirely with glass beads, and these are manufactured and sold in the following categories: transparent, opaque, lined, processed, and iridescent. Transparent beads are, by definition, clear-colored glass whose permanent color is indeed permanent: it won't fade or wash away. Opaque beads arc often referred to as chalk beads: they, of course, arc solid and not translucent, and are usually quite brilliant in color. Lined beads are made of clear glass, but have been painted on the inside so as to obtain special color effects you won't find in any other variety of bead. They aren't adversely alTectcd by electric light, but prolonged exposure to sunlight may fade them slightly after a few years" time. Finally, both processed and iridescent heads are permanently colored, with an outside finish that imparts a peculiarly glossy or "rainbow" effect. So much for our bead types.

As to size and shape: the categories are faceted, bugle, and round. Faceted beads, as their name indicates, have been cut into small plane surfaces to give them glitter. Bugle beads, measuring from approximately one-eighth to one-quarter of an inch long, are thin and elongated. You can obtain them in satin finish and in silver, gold, green, blue and red, cither silver- or gold-lined, but they aren't used, as a rule, for llower-making; you'll tind references to them only in the chapter on holidays, because the bugle beads' tinsel lining tarnishes after constant exposure to air. They serve splendidly for holiday items, which you'll use for only a few weeks each year and then pack away; employed thus, bugle beads will maintain their brilliance indefinitely. However, the satin variety used in the lamp designs are white and are. therefore, permanent in color. The round bead is what we'll be dealing with for the most part, because it's the perfect answer to the perfect flower. Round beads are usually uniform in size, and are our best choice for round or pointed petals and leaves.

Reads can be purchased already on the thread. These are the easiest to work with, as it's a simple process to transfer them from thread to wire, which isn't the case with the loose beads sold in packets or small bottles. Threaded beads usually come in bunches containing 12 strands, each of which is approximately 20 inches long.

Interestingly enough, we manufacture no glass beads in the United States. They are all imported, the chief sources being Czechoslovakia. France. Italy, and Japan. As to quality, all are excellent. French beads are noted for their soft, muted subtlety of tone: beads from other countries offer more vibrant and brilliant colors.

How will you identify the color of the beads I refer to in the instructions that follow? Reads are given color numbers in their country of origin, like Dior lipsticks—and this is no help to you whatsoever. So in the ensuing pages, when I refer to a color. I'll try to do so descriptively, in the hope that you'll be able to visualize it by association. When I prescribe butterscotch, for example, in Color Plate 10, for the large ti leaves. I literally mean the color of butterscotch candy. Similarly. Wedgwood blue refers to the color of the famous blue china, whereas sapphire blue is the same shade as the gem.

Dye lots can vary, however slightly, from one shipment to the next. Try, when planning a large bouquet or arrangement, to anticipate your bead needs, so that you'll be able to complete the job from a single lot. Any left-overs can be used in the construction of the miniature flowers.

When you buy beads, refer to them not only by color but by size. The size best adapted to general flower-making is 1 1 : those marked 10° are larger and detract from the delicacy of the petals; size 12 are smaller, and may cause you some diiiiculty when you try to string them on 28-gauge spool wire. You can buy beads in most hobby and craft shops, and in the needlework department of most large stores.

Selectinp Tools anil Other Supplies

1. A small wire cutter, with either a side or lop cutting surface. You'll need this for cutting heavy stem wires; a small nail clippcr will be entirely adequate for cutting spool wire.

2. A small, long-nosed pair of jeweler's pliers. This is really an optional tool, but it makes the twisting of wires considerably easier.

3. Spool wires. You'll want 28-gauge for most petals, leaves, stamens and sepals. 26-gauge. a bit firmer than the 28. is best for larger petals; it makes larger units easier to execute. And for lacing and assembling, you'll use either 30-gauge or 32-gauge.

4. Stem wires. 12-, 14-, or 16-gauge are used to reinforce the larger llowers; I 8-gauge for the smaller ones; 19-gauge when you use the large stem beads.

5. Floral tape for assembling. It comes in a wide choice of colors, hut those most commonly used are green, light green, twig, brown, and white.

6. Non-hardening modeling clay. This is the best material available for potting your arrangements. Styrofoam just won't hold the weight of most bead flowers.

7. Florist sheet moss. Get it from the florist; it's an excellent covering for the clay. Wood moss, now being used by some florists, is a fairly new product and is most satisfactory. It' you decide to bypass moss entirely, you can use small stone chips instead.

8. Containers for the bouquets. Your choice is virtually unlimited. Try glass goblets and bowls which match or harmonize with the beads. Or spray containers with paint that blends or contrasts with the color of your creations. Also, bear in mind that these bead-flower bouquets are bona-fide heirloom pieces: don't hesitate to lodge them in your finest antique china, provided that you first carefully stuff it with modeling clay so as to preclude breakage.

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