Wednesday, June 1, 2011

How To Bead Needlepoint Canvas (Part One)

There's a lot of beading going on here in Needlepoint Land, isn't there?  I know a lot of folks have experimented with various ways of adding beads to canvas which I am going to summarize below.   But before I do, you should know Sundance Designs (which sells wonderful beads) has two beaded heart kits available with instructions?  This is a good way to practice if you don't happen to have beads lying around or a suitable canvas.  Here are the kits, red/gold/pink first--
http://store.apneedlearts.com/behekired.html

and now green/gold/blue.
http://store.apneedlearts.com/behekigr.html

Generally speaking, on 18 count canvas size 11 beads (sometimes called 11/0) work well.  However, if you are going to completely cover a canvas (or even a big area) solidly in beads on 18 count, I like using size 14 and even 15 if you can find them.  These are just general guidelines.  You can use any size you want depending on the effect you need.

There are two main threads used to attach beads:  using beading thread (like Nymo) or 1-2 strands of floss (either silk or cotton).  My preference is to use waxed silk floss, one long strand doubled in the needle.  Why silk?  It is stronger than cotton.  Why Nymo?  It is stronger even than silk.  Whichever route you go, folks say to wax the thread before you put it through the needle's eye using a cake of real beeswax.  Bead holes will over time rub against the thread they are attached with, leading to a cut thread and a missing bead.  I made sure to use a doubled length of waxed Nymo when I attached beads to Red Geisha since she is going on the front of a purse and will get more wear than a framed piece or a display pillow.

My Nymo thread doesn't have a size listed on it, but this website shows the colors available and mentions the various sizes.
http://www.beadaholique.com/c-60433-nymo-beading-thread.aspx

Some people use Thread Heaven to coat their beading thread and I understand there is a synthetic beeswax available, but I stick to my little pressed cake of beeswax.
http://www.beadaholique.com/nsearch.aspx?keywords=beeswax&ShowPics=1

Traditionally beading needles are around three inches long with very sharp tips.  I like the long length myself but if you do not, John James has short beading needles which look much like tapestry needles except with sharp tips.  They are very nice needles.  I find myself using mostly sizes 10 or 12 although I have some 16s.
http://www.shipwreckbeads.com/catalog/Beading-Tools-and-Accessories/Beading-Needles/

Beading needles have small eyes.  The best way to thread them is to use a wire loop threader like the one in the link below.  I normally just put one ply through the eye.  If I want two strands, I double a long length of thread.
http://www.maxiaids.com/products/1368/Wire-Loop-Needle-Threader.html

The eyes of beading needles and the wires of these wire loop threaders are under a lot of stress. I rarely break the eye of a needle, but when I do, it is always a beading needle.  So don't buy just one beading needle.  To help extend the life of your wire loop threader, put a drop of Super Glue at the base where the wires attach to the holder.  This makes it harder to yank the wires out of the base.

There are several products needlepointers use to keep the beads they are attaching to a canvas secure. Beads are escape artists--they jump and roll and end up everywhere if you aren't careful.  I use a Tacky BOB box to keep my beads from taking off.
http://beadwork.about.com/od/beadworkbookprodrevs/fr/TackyBOB.htm

The Collection has a new wooden disk that has a similar sticky surface that you attach to your canvas using a magnet set on the back.  Pour on the beads and they will stay put until you pick them up with the tip of your needle.
http://www.thecollectiondesigns.com/sequins-and-beads.html

http://pocketfullofstitches.blogspot.com/2011/03/sequins-and-ez-beader.html

I imagine the drawback of both of these is that lint and pet hair will be trapped by the sticky surface and it is very difficult to remove.  It doesn't seem to keep the beads from sticking, however.  I just wish it could be removed with a quick washing periodically.

This is getting much longer than I expected and we've not even reached how to add beads to needlepoint canvas, so let's take a break and I'll write more about this tomorrow.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow Blogging at http://chillyhollownp.blogspot.com and at http://chstitchguides.blogspot.com

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