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Treasure Chest: a basic bead-embroidered project

After finishing my monster embroidery project Andromeda’s Pearls, I thought that it might be a good idea to share a really basic tutorial on bead embroidery, a project that can be finished in a few days (or even possibly one long day). Treasure Chest is the name of this piece.

More and more often, modern jewelry is being influenced by techniques from other mixed media art forms. That is how Treasure Chest came to be: although I originally bought a set of watch-maker’s tins to use in some assemblage work and altered books, it occurred to me that a tin would also be a perfect little niche on a pin or pendant. Just the right size to hold a favorite token, the glass-topped tin can be sealed to make it permanent, or left loose to allow for an ever-changing display!
Watch-maker tins
Rub and Buff
4x4 piece of buckram
4x4 piece of ultra-suede
Selection of seed beads to coordinate with button ~ delicas, 11/0, and 8/0
Cabochons, pearls, other beads, and charms to coordinate
Nymo 0 beading thread
2 metal loops
Fabric glue
Beads of your choice for the necklace strap. I used:
8x4mm fire-polished Czech crystal rondelles
4mm and 8mm fire-polished Czech crystal rounds
8/0 seed beads
Soft Touch beading wire, .019 inch diameter
4 crimp tubes
Lobster claw and jump ring
Bullion wire

Sharpie pen
Long beading needles
Fabric scissors
Wire cutters
Chain nose pliers

Creating the Pendant

1. Use Rub and Buff on your tin if you wish to change its color. Do not apply the colorant to the back.

2. Choose the beads, cabochons, and charms that you wish to use in your pendant.

3. Cut out a piece of buckram, approx 4 x 4, and draw the shape of your completed pendant's border with a permanent marker if you want to. I usually do not do this as I like to see what shape the piece will take naturally, but many people feel more secure with a plan.

4. Arrange the large focal pieces, and glue down the ones that won't be stitched into place, including the tin, using E6000.

5. Create beaded bezels around your tin and cabochons. First, encircle the tin with a row of back stitching. Place 5 or 6 seed beads on your needle and stitch down through the buckram where the line of beads ends. Come up between the 3rd and 4th beads, and restitch through the rest of the line. Add more and repeat all the way around. When the first row is finished, run the thread back through the entire circle, pull snug, and stitch back into the buckram to prepare for the next step.

6. Begin to weave upward with peyote stitch, continuing to encircle the tin for several rows. Take the thread through one bead in the bottom row, add a bead to the thread and skip the next bottom row bead, taking the thread through the following bead. Repeat all the way around. When the bezel is as tall as you want it, run your needle and thread back down to the bottom of the stack, following a thread path from row to row.

7. Continue beading with back stitch outward from these focal points using different styles of beads until you fill the buckram just to the inside of your border, if you drew one. Use back stitching, small stacks of beads, and any other bead embroidery stitches you like. Use some higher dimensional stitches, especially close to the tin so that this taller piece will be more fully integrated into the design.

8. Back stitch a final row of 8/o seed beads completely around the border.

9. Run a thin bead of fabric glue just outside the last row of beads. Let it dry.

10. Clip the buckram close to the last row of beads, being careful not to cut any threads.

11. Determine the placement of your metal loops and stitch them into place on the back of the buckram, hanging over the edges.

12. Using just enough fabric glue to create a slight tack, attach the wrong side of the beaded buckram to the wrong side of the ultra-suede. The glue will only be holding them together while you do the final stitching. Don't use much or you'll stain the ultra-suede where it seeps through. Let it dry.

13. Cut the ultra-suede even with the beaded buckram.

14. Cover the raw edges with beading. There are several ways to do this, but here's one of my favorites:
Take a few small shallow stitches to anchor the thread between the two layers, close to the edge. Needle up to the top, exiting behind the border row of 8/0s. Pass the thread between the two closest beads in the border row, pick up one 8/0 bead, and needle up from the bottom through all layers of fabric, exiting again just behind the border row. Then pass the thread between the border beads again and down through the bead that was just added. Pick up another 8/0 bead, needle up from the bottom, and repeat the sequence for the entire shape of the pendant.

Creating the straps

1. Determine how long you want your straps to be, and cut two pieces of beading wire, each 5 to 6 inches longer than the intended finished length. I made each of mine about 10 inches long.

2. Slip a crimp tube and a short piece of bullion wire over one end of the first piece of beading wire. Pass the end through one of the metal loops on the pendant and back through the crimp. Tighten and flatten the crimp with your pliers.

3. String your Czech glass beads in a pattern that pleases you, alternating with 8/0 seed beads. I strung about 9 inches of beads for my necklace.

4. At the other end, string a crimp bead and another short length of bullion wire. Pass the end of the wire through the lobster claw and back down through the crimp tube and several more beads. Pull snug and flatten the crimp. Clip the wire end close and push any raw edges into the next bead.

5. Repeat for the other side, taking that end through the jump ring.


Copyright 2008 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

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