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French Beaded Flowers Craft Kit

The History of French Beading

The art of making flowers with beads is certainly not new, although there is very little documentation or available historical accounts to unravel the true origins. 

What is French Beading?

French beading refers to specific techniques used to construct 3D flowers and floral arrangements.  Tiny glass beads are thread onto fine wire and manipulated or sculptured into different shapes and forms to make petals and leaves.  The distinction between French and Victorian (also known as English or Russian) beading is the amount of times the wire passes through each bead.  Most French beading techniques pass the wire only once through a bead, whereas Victorian beading usually makes two or three passes.

Most modern bead flower artists refer to their work as 'French Beading' although the techniques have been combined over the years with other wire wrapping and weaving techniques.

A Journey Through Time

As said above, there is little known about the true origins of French beading but there are theories that the first beaded flowers would have originated in the 1300s in Germany when the first steel needles and wire were developed.   Another popular theory dates from the 1500s when maids would gather beads leftover from embellishing ball gowns and jackets of the nobility, string them onto wire or thread and wrap them to form flowers.  These flowers would be used to decorate church altars and banquet tables.

In the late 1800s, beaded flowers were used to make extravagant funeral wreaths, called Immortelles.  These were constructed by workers in factories and sold in shops for the wealthy to purchase and display on loved one's graves.  As they were made on metal wire and exposed to the weather, they didn't last forever (a few examples survived and can sometimes be found at antiques markets).  Eventually they were banned as they made a mess when they disintegrated!

In 1865 Godey’s Ladies Book published beaded flower patterns, and directed women to use them as personal adornments for hair or clothing.  The rivival saw beaded flowers being used in bouquets and bridal headdresses.  The style of the time was for the bride to wear her hair down and natural and embellish with flowers.  Beaded flowers were the perfect solution at times of the year when fresh flowers were not available.  


After World War II, instructional kits and books were produced by designers and the art was once more popular.  Most vintage beaded flowers for sale are from this era and the books are still useful resources for modern beaders.

In response to the 9/11 attacks, artists collaborated to create a funeral wreath for each site.  These wreaths are now displayed in the Pentagon, The Liberty Museum in Philadelphia and the 9/11 Museum in New York City.

Swarovski commissioned several artists to design and create the first Swarovski crystal bead flowers.  As these beads were larger, the artists modified patterns and designed new ones and eventually they created a sparkling garden of flowers.  This installation toured the world and can now be seen in the company's headquarters in Austria.

I fell in love with the ability for art to mimic nature, especially as it involved using beads!  I have enjoyed working with the wire and creating life-like flower patterns for you to recreate at home.  I am always experimenting and therefore, new flower kits will be released quite often.  I loved the idea of being able to build a collection, a bit like when I was a child and you got a magazine a month with a 'bit' of the collection.  I have designed my kits to be like this, so you can collect and make the flowers you like, whether they are personal preferences or seasonal choices to be swapped in and out.

I hope you enjoy making them as much as I do.

Amanda x

Images below show an Immortelle, Godey's Lady's Book, vintage beaded bouquet, beaded flower display and the commemorative wreath at the Pentagon.

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