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Friday, May 7, 2021

Still Life Dichroic Brooch

Thanks to my Tuesday afternoon Beading Circle for challenging me to create something fresh. Our Zoom meetings are a great opportunity for beady friends to compare notes, share bead trivia, discuss beading technique, spotlight new designers and patterns. Everyone is beading at home with their stashes nearby. Its fun to do bead along projects.

When the idea of doing a beaded brooch in April arose, folks assumed this would be a bead embroidery challenge. Someone suggested to peruse one’s stash for a button or cabochon as the starting point for a brooch focal. I did not have any buttons.

I’d like to share my creative process of my Still Life Dichroic Brooch.


I did have a dichroic lampwork square frame pendant kit by Paula Radke from way back when I was participating in international bead shows in the late 2000s - early 2010s. I never strung the frame to wear, so it was perfect for my brooch!!

I envisioned the dichroic square as a frame for a miniature artwork. Google is full of images of paintings for inspiration! Rainbow Ridge - Colorful Landscape by Julie Brugh Riffey spoke to me. 

I poured a little of every intensely-colored charlotte 11o beads onto a Chinet® plate for painting with beads with the Ndebele technique.

I managed to recreate the feel of Rainbow Ridge one bead at the time. My beaded interpretation is dancing in the frame because of the shadows created by beads sitting at herringbone angles and the charlotte-cut of the beads which reflects light.



Next, I used the leftover unique black-copper bead from the TBS 2021 Bag of Bead Challenge for a vase. Using the daisy stitch I filled the vase with beaded red and scarlet flowers.


To make sense, I decided to create a still life composition with my two main elements. Again, I looked through artwork on the internet for ideas. How do I show surfaces, light and shadows using beads? The artwork needs to be hung on the wall. The vase of flowers needs to be placed on a table.



While scrounging around my stash I found a few surprises. I forgot I bought four tubes of Miyuki Tila Bead. Also, I purchased an assortment of microscopic seed beads from Bead Cats  in sizes 16o to 24o. I knew I had bugle beads in different sizes for creating the tabletop. 

The flat tile-shaped 2-hole Tila beads were ideal for creating a wall. I played around with square-stitching one tile to another and stringing a wonderful bronze-lined 15o seed bead between stacks of tiles. 

The wall grew tall and wide around the frame. The stepped down tile wall reminds me of Art Deco.


I had to work out how to assemble my beadwoven art in the frame, how to stitch my wall down. To create the brooch I needed some foundation to stitch and secure it to. I ordered a stiff felt beading foundation and a faux leather for a backing for my brooch from i-Bead


I wanted my still life tablecloth to have a floral design. This is where the microscopic seed beads can in handy. The top of the netted tablecloth has microfine vintage bugles meeting up at the bronze-lined seed bead.

I found these would be a safe bet to connect the netted trim to the foundation. I sketched out a netted design in colored pencils. Clever color placement made it look like flowers with leaves. 

Each row of this vertical net is finished in a picot trim. The floral pattern was made to the width of the Tila wall.

Now was the time to stitch down the wall to the foundation. I cut out a rectangle of stiff felt, placed the netted tablecloth and calculated how high should the wall be placed.

How much space to I need for my bugle tabletop between the two?


I marked where to stitch the seed bead for the top of my netted tablecloth. This way everything was perfectly spaced. 

The wall was stitched down along the seed beads between Tilas. I then laid out the different colors of bugles trying to capture the light and depth of a table top.

TIP: To keep the color sequence intact for reference, take clear tape and press down on the bugle layout. The sticky tape will pick up the bugle rows as a single unit. Place it up higher for reference to see which bugle to pick and stitch them permanently in place. 


Then, it was time to hang up the picture. Luckily, there was a space on the wall for the frame. First, I traced the inside of the frame to know the positioning of the herringbone-stitched picture. I stitched my artwork to the foundations by stitching randomly between the beads.

To secure the frame to the foundation, I used a single continuous line of Aileen’s glue. Then I pressed down the dichroic frame in position on top the glue. 

Once the glue dried, I stitched down the corners of the frame carefully not to break up the dichroic triangles design. I used single strings of fine black beads to stitch down each corner.  Then I reinforced them with extra stitches close to the bead strings. This way the glass frame is securely part of the foundation, an important consideration since I will need to add a brooch pin to wear!

Time to add the vase on the tabletop. The tail below the stop bead at the bottom of the copper vase was handy for securing through the tabletop bugle row. I then had to go up through the vase to secure the odd-shaped copper bead. The remaining thread from the daisy flowers was used to stitch down the flowers in a few places. 

To balance the composition, I created another vase using an incised Indian bead as the vase. Petal beads in my stash came in handy to create an exotic bloom. By stringing a 15o between each petal I was able to create a flower. It is topped with a melon bead with a coral turnaround bead for zing. This vase was positioned on the tabletop and stitched down to the background.


Thanks to Naomi Smith of Black Tulip for sharing her technique of attaching vintage pins to brooches. I borrowed the pin from my Bead Poppy I beaded in her workshop. 

TIP: For a discreet brooch clasp, I centered and stitched across the 1” strip 1/4” down from the top of the faux leather backing. This was to prevent the vintage brooch pin from riding up too high.


The brooch needed a backing for a tidy finish. I used faux leather which was really nice to work with. I cut it out in the same shape as the foundation. Also, I cut out a 1” wide x 3-1/4” brooch pin holder strip.

Time to start stitching the backing onto the foundation. For every stitch I added the 15o seed bead. This created a fine smooth discreet bead edge. The 1” strip was stitched together the backing. When I started stitching up near the black frame, I quickly recalled a tip to darken the edge.

TIP: Use a Permanent Sharpie marker to tone down the white foundation edge.

The bead edge-stitching continued down to the bottom and along the lower edge underneath the netted floral. The lower edge of the brooch pin strip was trimmed even to the lower edge and stitched together with the backing. The bead edge continued up to meet the start.

I slipped in the brooch pin under the strip ready to wear. I’m pleased my brooch is balanced and comfortable to wear.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Beaded Anklet Remake

The best way to grow as a beader is to take on challenges where one can figure out how unfamiliar stitches go together while bringing a cherished memento back to life.

My friend, Naomi Smith, was looking for someone who would tackle the following: "A lady reached out and wants a remake of this beaded anklet. This anklet has sentimental value so she’s retiring the old one and will wear the new one."

Original Anklet

I took up the challenge. Naomi and I selected 11/ Czech seed beads in matching colors to the original. Next I sketched out the pattern on a slip of paper.

Mosaic Pattern Sketch

To me it looked like a mosaic (Peyote) pattern which I knew would be a unique start. I tied on a colourful stopper bead and proceeded to pick up the first beads. Since it's a tricky start. I even used a needle in the first row so I could keep the rows straight.

Mosaic Start

I found the 'V' pattern skewing! There's no way this would allow me to add the star fringe and picots!! My Beading Circle friends suggested I try using the brick stitch instead to recreate the pattern in the bracelet.

Comparing Mosaic v. Brick

Every brick stitch begins with a ladder stitch. On my third try, I got the base pattern right!! 1 White (W), 2 Teal (T), 1W,  1T, 1W, 2T, 1W, etc.

Next I figured out the way to get the second row to sit centered on the previous row and was happy with the stubby 'V' taking shape.

Adding Second Row in hand

The idea of the brick stitch is to pick up a bead and pass the needle through the edge thread of the previous row. By returning back up through the new bead, it secure sets the new one into place. This is wonderful for pictorial patterns and gradual 'V's. I like working in hand. Here is a link to a YouTube tutorial for brick stitch

Pulled Second Row in Hand

The magic is happening! 

Third Row

Super satisfied that the beads were falling into place and the pattern is matching up to the original anklet. I didn't finish off any rows until after the fringe trim was complete.

4th Row Added in Hand


Once I had the desired length, I folded the beadwork in half. Then, tied on a stopper bead a wingspan (1.5m) from the bobbin thread and put the bobbin and rest of the beadwork into a ziploc. (An oversize bobbin flip cover would probably be more graceful!) 

Starting at the very centre of the beaded band, I worked my needle and thread down the centre of the brick-stitched beadwork. Upon emerging I started to create the star fringe. I found it best to seamlessly make the stars as you bead the fringe trim from the centre out. 

First I picked up the sequence of seed beads to drop down the star. Then 10 White beads for the centre of the star. Once the circle was formed, I could make five points as I went around.

Adding First Star in the Centre

The last star point is set when you insert the needle up the strung beads. Continue up through the brick beadwork in the direction of work. 

Finishing Centre Star

There are two seed beads between each fringe along the lower edge. Come out from the third bead away from the previous fringe. Pick up 2W, 2T, 2W for the string and 3T for the picot. As you turn around and insert the needle ups the string of 6 beads, a picot is formed. Tension is important here. If you pull the fringes too tight as you're working, they shoot out sideways; if too loose, they sag. 

Fringe in Progress with Bobbin in Ziploc


Pick up 2W, 1T, 2W, 1T, 1W, 3T for the string and top point of star.  String 10W more to start the centre of the star.

Star in Progress

Form a circle by going through the first white bead. String 3T, 1W for first point. Turn around through the first teal bead. 

Start of First Star Point

Tighten for a white tip. 

Tighten Tip

String 2T and pass through the second white circle bead. Repeat 3 times for a total of four points. To complete the star, string 2T and go up through the string of seeds suspending this star.

Finishing Last Star Point


Once all the fringe trim was completed, I lined up the old and new beadwork to study how to finish off each end. Remember, I never secured anything because I did not know how my new beads would come together. I had to finish off each row individually, add and bead or two, weave in the ends. From the outside edge rows I strung on beads for the closure loop. I mimicked the previous loop exactly and reinforced it with a few passes of thread inside. For the button closure, I was not thrilled about recreating a beaded bead. Luckily, there was an oversized bead sitting in the ledge of my beading table! I added it and reinforced it a few time.

Finishing Ends

When I went to test the closure, I added a few stitches across the loop to tighten it when the large bead goes through. This is always tricky! Ideally, you want a bit for friction so the bracelet wears well. Since this was an anklet, it has to wear well!

Lastly, I needed to transfer the dragonfly charm from the old to the new anklet. This was loaded with memories. You could reproduce beadwork, but not the charm!

Reproduction Finished

Sunday, Nov. 22nd we drove through the first snowfall to Erin, ON to personally returned both anklets to Marjorie Wells. The original was a gift from a friend. Marjorie wore it all the time in sandal-weather. There was a lot of wear and tear and many repairs. The dragonfly was added three years ago in commemoration of her husband after the minister told a beautiful story of a dragonfly when trying to make sense of a dear grandfather's passing to children. The dragonfly is integral to the story, while the original beaded anklet is laid to rest in Marjorie's Memory box.

The Old and the New

Now that I had firsthand experience with the pattern building possibilities of the brick stitch, while perusing on Facebook a gorgeous bracelet beaded by Olya Kril, a bead artist in Ukraine, caught my eye. I complimented her and asked which stitch did she use to get this amazing result. Mosaic? or "like bricks"? 

Olha confided that she was inspired by a Pinterest posting. The best way for her to achieve pleasing results was by the brick stitch.

When she linked to her inspiration photo on Pinterest, I laughed. This was a pattern to the Peyote stitch using Miyuki Delica beads from Japan. What a small world!

Moral of my story: Test out techniques for achieving the mosaic look. For Olya and myself, the brick stitch work best with Czech seed beads. Seems like cylindrical beads work well for wide Peyote patterns.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Eva's Lemko Costume

Eva's 'kryvulka' returned

My Canada Day 2020 visit to deliver a restored 'kryvulka' to Orysia Sopinka yielded unexpected riches.

To this point, all I had seen was the broad collar 'kryvulka' beaded by Orysia's mother, Eva Vakyriak, an ethnic Lemko from Chystohorb, an administrative centre of Komancha, within Sanok County, in the Subcarpathian Voivodeship of south-eastern Poland, close to the border of Slovakia.

Eva Vakyriak (1920-2014)

As was the custom, girls would bead, embroider and sew their own folk costumes for festive occasions. In keeping with tradition, young Eva created her very own ensemble comprised of all essential elements of a Lemko-style costume. We know she would have started her accoutrements as a teen because in 1939 she was off to work in Germany as an Osterbeiter, a slave worker.

Orysia displaying Eva's 'lajbychok'

Orysia pulled out a 'lajbychok' (vest) her mother beaded. She kept referring to this fabric work of art in the diminutive form. You could sense the endearment. The more I looked at the 'lajbek' style common in this area, I saw Eva's 'lajbychok' was more refined and one-of-a-kind.

back of 'lajbychok'

Her 'lajbychok' was made of navy fabric with a jacquard weave. This would have been been an expensive purchase, but justifiably worth it! The vest was lined with a loomwoven natural fabric. Great care was taken to cut out the fitted vest and individual tabs which were lined in navy.

detail of lower back beadwork

Using a wide palette of seed beads and bugles, Eva bead embroidered a large floral composition on the lower back. It's sitting on a yellow-outlined ground. The floral bouquet is framed with an arch of star bursts and delicate daisies. I recognized some of the seed beads as spares from her 'kryvulka'. While the arch around her floral composition is fanciful, the floral bead embroidery of every tab is symmetrical and identical. The tabs were perfectly overlapped all around the base of the vest.

beadwork around armhole

Very delicate beaded daisies and bugle V's were embroidered around the armhole opening, neck edge and down the front. 

Smaller florals mirror each other on the 'lajbychok' front. They are sitting on a green-outlined ground.

Check out the floral buttons!! They're probably from Czechoslovakia where pressed-glass buttons are a specialty.

The inside of the 'lajbychok' reveals Eva used a natural thread to bead embroider through the navy and lining fabric. There was no extra satin lining to cover the stitches. 

Then, Orysia brought out her mother 'spidnytsia' (skirt). She first showed the front which was flat with a plain fabric insert. Really, this was a practical solution to keep down the bulk as a decorative 'fartukh' (apron) would have been worn overtop in front.

The skirt was a red printed fabric base which has rows of lace, blue and yellow ribbon stitched down on either side of a natural band. Great care was taken to use the red fabric as part of the striped design. Once the bands were stitched, the red fabric was densely pleated with fine tucks hidden up inside a wide natural fabric band. This made for a very full 'spidnytsia' on the sides and back. A little strip of a similar printed fabric was used to bind the edge of 'kryvulka' so it could be comfortably worn as a collar with the ensemble. (See Lemko 'kryvulka' restoration post)

The 'spidnytsia' hem was finished in a narrow printed navy fabric. It must have been machine stitched on front and fold down and around to the underside. Perfect hand stitches secure the roll-like binding in place.

In these three main elements you can see the harmony of red 'kryvulka', navy bead embroidered 'lajbychok' and the red 'spidnytsia' with ribbon trim. These elements are part of the Lemko-style costume, but Eva creatively embellished each one her way.

Being able to see such beauty up close made for a truly a memorable Canada Day!

As I was preparing my blog, I wanted a photo of Eva (seen above). I started to question how did Orysia come into possession of these original pieces her mother made, if she left in a hurry to work in Germany?

So, I asked....Here's Orysia's story: 

"I went to Dibrova, Ukraine for one day in 1975. Dibrova is a tiny village near Berezhany, Ternopil oblast. Several families from Czystohorb ended up living there after they were forced to leave Czystohorb, by the communist Poles (Aktcja Wisla). An ethnic cleansing had started a few years earlier and mama's family (the Vakyriaks) kept hoping that they would be able to stay in their new home which dido renovated in the thirties. There was a new metal roof on the house that showed the family had some wealth and it was a place for important visitors to stay. 

Mama left either in 1939 or in 1943 for Germany because she was summoned by a person from the government to go to work. She did not say good-bye to anyone, packed her wooden suitcase and left because the man said if she left right away, it would be better for her because the war was just beginning and later on life would get worse for Ukrainians.  

I (Orysia) was a student at an interpreter's school in Brussels, Belgium in 1975 and decided to go to Ukraine to visit family. My destination was Ternopil and after a very long train ride, thorough inspection at the border town Chop and a change of trains, I travelled to Ternopil and stayed with my aunt and uncle. Uncle Ivan took me clandestinely to Dibrova by taxi and I spent a few hours with my baba who was surprised to see me, but treated me kindly and offered me mama's Lemko clothing. She gave me her kryvulka, her skirt and her lajbychok.  There was an apron made out of the same cloth as the front of the skirt and I refused to take it because it looked well used and was not attractive. Today, I'm sorry I about that. Later on that year, I returned to Canada with it."

Maria Sopinka wearing a 'sylianka'

Orysia also brought this photo of her aunt wearing a beadwoven band with motifs which was fashionable in the 20th century. 

Orysia writes: "Maria Sopinka was born in Vyslik Velykij probably in the 1920's.  My father, Teodor Sopinka was her half brother. He was the youngest child, born in 1917, from the first wife and Maria was born to the second wife. Vyslik Velykij was the largest town in Lemkivshchyna with a population of about 2,000 people. Both mama's and tato's families were Lemky and strong partisans for an independent Ukraine. Tato's family ended up in Bila Krynytsya near Pidhajtsi, Ukraine and Maria escaped through the forest and crossed the border to Slovakia." 

I am grateful to Orysia for allowing me to share this story of a very patriotic Lemko family whom I got to know about through my interest in all things beaded and folk art.