Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

BIP report: Delica tag progress, and bead embroidery

Filed under: Beading - Confessions of a Chantraphile — folkcat at 4:55 pm on Thursday, July 28, 2005

Believe it or not, I’ve actually done some beadwork this week. Okay, it was only a bit of my Delica Tag Project, but progress is progress, and that’s what counts. I completed three more tags, which makes a total or 75 or 76 done. (I’m not sure which, I’ll have to count.)

3 more down, zillions to go

For a bit of new (read old and not done yet) “Beadwork In Progress”, I’m going to introduce you to my one piece of bead embroidery I’m working on. Anyone who has known me for any length of time will have seen my drawing of my alter-ego, Folkcat – the many-colored cat with wings. I’ve always wanted to do a beaded version of her somehow, and I decided one day (something like 2 1/2 years ago) that bead embroidery would be the medium.

I decided that Folkcat alone wouldn’t be enough, so I looked around for a background, finally choosing this one from a clipart gallery with one of my graphics programs:

The original “cartoon” for the embroidery

You can see my notes about how many shades of each color I’d need down in the bottom right corner.

With tracing paper, I drew in the outlines of all the different areas of color, producing this drawing:

The Map of the patches of color

I took a 8 1/2″ x 11″ piece of Lacie’s Stiff Stuff. Placing the tracing underneath it, I put the two layers on a window (to serve as a primitive light box). With an ordinary pen, I traced the image onto the Stiff Stuff, knowing that the lines would be completely hidden by the time I was done.

I then started choosing my beads. At the time, I had a project box that contained all 32 colors or so of bead that I had picked out. Since I haven’t worked on this in over a year, practical reality has forced those choices back into the general bead pool, or I’d show you a picture of the pile of beads waiting to be stitched onto the picture.

The actual piece in progress

I decided to work primarily with Japanese and Czech 11o seed beads. For the outline of the wings, I used a 12/o Czech seed bead in a silver-lined gold color, to get a tiny bit of extra detail.

Close look at the wing.

As my life becomes more orderly and predictable (not that I expect it ever to be perfectly so!), I expect to get back to working on this piece. I really am looking forward to being able to frame it and hang it on my wall. One thing about doing this blog, it’s helping me by providing a forum for examining where I’m at with beadwork, making it more possible for me to pick up the undone pieces and return to them.

Rest assured, I’ll report on the progress here!



Comment by The Sea Witch

July 28, 2005 @ 5:56 pm

What a beautiful project you have on the go. The wing looks flawless! Can you see the green tinge of jealousy on my words!? :o) Please keep updating how this project is going. I would love to see how it turns out. From a want-to-be bead embroiderer. *grin*


Comment by Jenny "folkcat" Kubeck

July 28, 2005 @ 7:38 pm

Thank you so much, sea witch, for your kind words. Blogging about my many “unfinished projects” is certainly making it easier for me to put in a little time on them at least occasionally.

I probably should have mentioned, I’m doing the embroidery with the back-stitch technique. I bring the thread out the last bead worked, add from 1 to 3 new beads (depending on the curvature of the next stretch), stitch down through the stiff stuff. Then I bring the needle back up one or two beads back in the line, and thread it through those last beads again. The thread winds up coming out the last bead, ready for your next addition.

Bead embroidery is a very easy thing to do. You could start on a small scale project such as taking a piece of printed fabric you like, and outlining parts of the design with beads. It’s a great way to add a high-fashion look to ordinary store-bought clothes!


Comment by The Sea Witch

July 28, 2005 @ 7:41 pm


Thanks for the hints on the stitching. I can picture exactly what you mean for the back-stitch technique. However, I’m not familiar with “stiff stuff.” Is that a specific product, or just a generic term for some type of interfacing/backing?


Comment by Jenny "folkcat" Kubeck

July 28, 2005 @ 9:24 pm

Yes, “Lacey’s Stiff Stuff” is the brand name of a type of stiff interfacing-like material that was designed for bead embroidery. It’s sold in 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheets, and I think in 4″ x 6″ sheets. There are a number of online sources – just search for that exact term – and most good bead shops will carry it as well.

It’s great to work on. You can draw your design right on it. You can glue cabochons or other flat-backed objects to it and bead around them. You can cut it to whatever shape you want and it doesn’t fray.

It’s stiff enough to work on without any sort of hoop or stretcher. And it’s specially designed so your needle will glide through it easily.

Since the Folkcat image is my first piece of bead embroidery, I can’t claim any experience with other materials. It’s my understanding, however, that other people have used soft leather, stiff interfacing such as you might get at the fabric store, and something called “buckram” that’s used in millinery (hat-making).

As for needle and thread, I’m using an ordinary English beading needle, and Nymo size B, doubled.


Comment by The Sea Witch

July 29, 2005 @ 5:59 pm

Once again, thank you for your kind advice. I think that the next project I do will be a beaded version of my device for the SCA. Perhaps on a belt pouch? That should be a small enough scale to get me started without overwhelming me. *grin*

If you would like to see a small example of my stitching you can check out my blog.


Comment by Janet Shaffer

September 4, 2007 @ 4:01 pm

I was wondering if you had a source for the Lacey’s Stiff Stuff, I cannot find it in Pittsburgh.

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