Friday, January 22, 2010

Underneath It All

A question from one of the BJP participants got me thinking about the 'bead prep' that I do for each piece.  As we all know, in life, a good foundation is one of the keys to success -- and so as I learned beading and what worked for me the base of the piece became very important.  Its easy to forget it when you are 'itching to start stitching'. 

There are many techniques and materials that beaders use  -- and not being very familiar with all of them I'll just explain my process. 

First of all there is the determination of what I am going to bead.  I'll use an example of a picture but I also use the same technique for figure work. 

Once I have created the design I make a template out of cardstock.  I trace around the template onto Pellon (or Pellon-like) interfacing.  When choosing the weight of the interfacing I look for a 'midweight'.  A heavier weight is good for pictures but for figures (which will have to 'give' when stuffed and curved) the medium weight works best.  Next I choose the fabric which will cover the interfacing.  Some beaders stitch directly to the interfacing but I like to put cotton over it as I think my needle goes in an out with greater ease. I use regular cotton fabric (fat quarters are great for this).  I try to choose my fabric color based on the bead color family that I have chosen.  However if it is a light colored work I can just use a neutral color.  Because I'm encrusting, the fabric shouldn't show through - but if you want to do some special stitch along the way and the fabric may show through a color that blends with the beads is best.

Using Misty Fuse (love this stuff) I fuse the fabric to the front of each piece of interfacing.  Once the fabric is fused to the interfacing I cut around the fabric leaving about a quarter inch out from the edge.  Then I clip and turn the fabric over the edges basting it down.  This is not absolutely necessary for pictures but for figures I've found it works well to fold the fabric over since there can be many curves and smaller sections like arms and legs and with hemmed edges I know exactly where my edges are.   

That completes the prep work -- and I have to say it feels really good to see that blank canvas sitting there all ready for me to start beading. 

"The loftier the building, the deeper must the foundation be laid." -- Thomas Kempis

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