Custom Jewelry – Bead Embroidery Technique

I particularly enjoy this beadwork technique, as it allows me to experiment with my own creativity in ways that more traditional styles don’t.  On these pieces, I often work in an “ad-lib” style, with no idea whatsoever as to design . . . I simply allow it to come together as it is created.    On the occasions that I do sketch my design prior to beginning the actual work,  I am very likely to deviate from the original concept as I experiment with different materials and stitches.   The following photos  show how versatile this technique really is . . . I have used it to create earrings, bracelets,  pins, necklaces, barrettes, and even Christmas ornaments.

This is a new piece entitled “Grace’s bouquet” in honor of my late grandmother who loved purple.  If she was still with me, I would have given her this one . . . .


August 24, 2014:  I recently made a series of bird-related pins using some lovely porcelain cabochons that I have owned for quite a while.  I love birds, and enjoyed making these. Bird Pins  - 01A - Scaled August 6, 2014:  Here is a new piece . . . I call it “Curious Little Bandits”.  It is a tribute to my many little raccoon friends who come to my patio every night for dinner.  If these spoiled little creatures think I am taking too long to bring said dinner out, they come to my back door and peer intently inside until they get my attention.  They are beautiful, but comical, little creatures and I enjoy them immensely. Curious Little Bandits - Collage 01A - Scaled July 2014:  Here are a few new pieces I have made: Imperial Phoenix Collar - 01AA Scaled Imperial Collar Necklace:  I loved the carved centerpiece (from Red Malachite) and felt that it deserved to be the focal piece of an elaborate design.  I did not, however, want to overpower the focal with a “busy” color scheme, so I went with a dual color scheme of royal blue and copper which I felt accentuated the piece well without being too distracting.  I also integrated a beautiful highly polished Labradorite cabochon with reddish hues into the centerpiece, luscious carnelian cabochons, tiny garnet beads, and freshwater pearls into the body of the collar, and then finished off the design with a vintage button from the Czech Republic as a clasp.  The piece did not photograph as well as I would have liked, but it is a dramatic piece that looks lovely when worn. Millifiore Necklace - 01E Scaled Millifiore Necklace – I have had the golden centerpiece for a while, and finally decided that simple stringing would not suffice.  Using the bead embroidery technique allowed me a higher degree of designing freedom. Other elements I used are crystals, dichroic cabochons,  a vibrant “Dragons Vein” Agate and a variety of floral beads.Owl Necklace with Spiral - 01A Scaled Owl Necklace:  The lovely glass centerpiece, featuring the owl, is actually an antique button which came to me all the way from the Czech Republic.  I doubled this with a fabulous Noreena Jasper cabochon, and iridescent glass chips.  The spiral chain was beaded with size 11 and size 6 seed beads and can be used separately as a necklace if desired. Rabbit Necklace - 01H - Scaled The centerpiece of this necklace is a bunny medallion carved from Ribbon Jasper.  It was very dark, so I decided that it should be painted.  After I painted the piece, I integrated silver Swarovski cube crystals into the design to accentuate the rabbit, as well as simple but well polished marble beads. Memorial Day, 2014:  I just finished this collar-style necklace and have aptly named it “Nona’s Garden” as a tribute to my cousin, Nona Sutherland, who was lost to my family much too young to cancer.  She loved butterflies and she had a personality as beautiful as those winged creatures.   100_4411a Scaled May 2014:  I made the necklace and 2 pins shown below for Mother’s Day.  The darker of the two pins and the necklace were made for my mother.  The lighter pin was made for a friend of my mother’s. Mothers Day Pin - 01AA Scaled Mothers Day Pin - 02A Scaled Both of the pins (shown above) feature beautiful antique Czech glass buttons as a focal point.  I did not want to mar them in any way, so I created a base to fit under each of  the shanks and then stitched each button on through its shank. Mothers Day Necklace - 01AA Scaled The bead embroidery necklace, shown above, features a hand-painted Chalcedony donut and a gorgeous Malachite cabochon as focal elements.  I would not have parted with those beautiful elements for anyone other than my mother! April 20, 2014:  Here is a new piece that I just completed.  It is a lot prettier in person . . . it has a lot of gold, and it gleams. Aztec Necklace - 001B - Scaleda Bead-Embroidery-01A-650x433a Bead-Embroidery-02A-650x433a Both of the necklaces shown in the photo below are favorites that I created, and both were purchased by Deborah J. Bowman, a friend and coworker,  who has always been very supportive of my artistic endeavors.  D.J. always encourages me to muddle through the daily time constraints of my way-too-busy life and keep on creating.  The enthusiasm from others is always a good impetus for keeping me in “creation mode”. DJs-Necklaces-01A-650x487a The two necklaces above, and the one below (L) are examples of pieces that utilize several focal points.  The very elaborate necklaces that I create in this technique often feature multiple and varied cabochons.  In the necklace below (R), the focal centerpiece was beaded over an open-center piece known as a “donut”.  With a little ingenuity, almost any interesting found object can be used in this technique. Semi-Precious-NecklacesA-650x487a Bead-Embroidery-01A1-650x487a Halloween-Pin-01A-650x487a Utilizing a focal  piece, whether it is a vintage cabochon (as in the necklace – below left) or a natural stone (as in the necklace – below  right), a bead embroidery piece can be as ornate or as simple as your individual tastes dictate.  While some beaders find it useful to pre-plan their design, I would like to encourage you to select a focal piece and experiment with letting the piece evolve as  it will.  I often have a general idea of the theme I want to pursue, but I think that a piece flows more naturally if one allows their creative inclinations to come into play without strictures. Necklaces-01A-650x433a Provided below is a close-up view of the “See Rock City” necklace that I created as a whimsical “folk art” piece.   I grew up in a small, fairly rural town and when I was young, it was still common to see this message painted on barns dotted across the countryside.  This piece received a 2nd place ribbon in the 2005 Kentucky State Fair in the jewelry division. See-Rock-City-Necklace-572x650a The kingfisher pin below was created with bead embroidery techniques and features a vintage cabochon focal.  Vintage Swarovski crystal beads add some pizzazz. Kingfisher-Pin-01a

Last modified on: October 28th 2014.