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French Flower Beading - Berries And Similar Shapes

This tutorial assumes you are familiar with the basic technique for French Flower Beading.

The technique here can be used to make a variety of three-dimensional berries by altering the row counts to form spheres (such as blueberries), pointed cups (such as strawberries), or even long tubes. The versatility of this technique means it can also be used to make lots of other shapes as parts of flowers, plants, or even other small shapes like animals or people.

Beaded Berries - Diagram 1[d]

Start using the normal first steps of the basic technique until you have a basic wire, a feed wire with the rest of the beads on it, and what would normally become the stem wire. As you'll see shortly, the stem wire will end up in a different position than in the basic technique.

The number of beads to start with will depend on the pattern, but will usually be a small amount (probably three to five). I've used three in my instructional graphics.

If your berry will need a long stem (such as a cherry), be sure to make your basic wire quite long and also ensure that the length of the folded "stem" wire below is roughly the same length as the basic wire.

Beaded Berries - Diagram 2[d]

Now comes the big secret to making a three-dimensional round shape: take the "stem wire" and fold it up so it's roughly parallel with the basic wire. Doesn't look like much yet, but trust me, this makes all the difference!

Beaded Berries - Diagram 3[d]

Count out the next row of beads from your feed wire. It will probably be one or two more than you started with. The more you add, the wider out the berry will go right away. Spheres require you to go wide quickly (lots of beads), cones require you to go wide slowly (fewer beads).

Now, pushing the new row snugly against the basic row, wrap the wire around the stem wire so that it pulls the whole thing tightly together. The basic row is about to be the bottom of the cup, and the row you've just added is the start of the "wall." The basic wire may curve a bit, depending on how many more beads are on the second row.

The zoomed-in diagram is shown loose for demonstrative purposes. You definitely want the wire tighter than that. I've made part of the wire red to highlight how things are wrapped in relation to each other; this does NOT indicate an actual change in wire.

Beaded Berries - Diagram 4[d]

Add a third row as above, and you'll see a cup shape start to form. You may need to give it a pinch at this point if it starts to go oval-shaped, unless that's the shape you want.

NOTE: I've bent out the stem wire and basic wire so I could close the scanner lid. You'll want to keep those wires fairly parallel as you work.

In the zoomed-in diagram, I've added red arrows to give you an idea of how the wire is wrapping around the "stem" and the basic wires, just like in the basic method. The difference is, by having those wires parallel and pulling the rows tight, the rows are forced into a round shape instead of a flat leaf or petal. In fact, you may have found that pulling rows too tight in your leaves and petals gives them a bit of a curl, which can be very nice as long as it is done with planning as opposed to sloppyness.

Beaded Berries - Diagram 5[d]

Here are four rows in total, and you can see the cup shape more distinctly. I've provided two scans side by side to show a couple of different viewpoints.

Again, I've bent out the stem wire and basic wire so I could close the scanner lid. You'll want to keep those wires fairly parallel as you work.

Beaded Berries - Diagram 6[d]

Continue adding rows as per your pattern, or as you like them. Keep in mind if you're making a plant full of berries, they shouldn't necessarily all be alike. Some plants have very uniform berries while others vary. The sample shown here is vaguely strawberry-shaped, so if you're doing a plant like that, make some berries rounder, some pointier, some larger, some smaller.

Remember: the more beads you add on each row going up, the wider the berry will be at that point.

You may also need to occasionally stop and pinch the berry to make the rows sit well together. In the picture here, I haven't done that yet and you can see that the rows are a bit wonky. If you need to push rows out from the inside, use the back end of a plastic pen. Don't use something with a point or it'll slip through and separate the rows.

Beaded Berries - Diagram 7[d]

To finish off, you'll need to start decreasing the rows (unless you actually want an open cup/bowl shape). If you decrease too quickly, you'll end up with gaps between the rows, so if you've gone quite wide, you may find that your berry turns out quite elongated as you try to decrease over many rows. Practise will help you control these issues, or specific patterns should avoid them.

Once you've finished the shape, simply twist the wires together and snip them as desired, then add whatever leaves or sepals are required on top, twisting the wire from that part into the berry's stem.

I've provided two views of the same berry here. Notice that there are definite seams along the sides. When arranging the final product, you may wish to turn the berries so the seams are less noticeable. It also helps a great deal to have coloured wire to match the beads.

Beaded Berries - Diagram 8 - Strawberry Plant Detail[d]

In this detail from my strawberry plant (basic pattern adapted from Virginia Nathanson), you can see what a difference using red wire with red beads makes in terms of hiding the seams.

To get multicolour berries, such as the under-ripe green and white ones shown here, you'll have to measure out a long bit of wire to serve as the feed, as opposed to using a large spool filled with beads. Add beads of the right colour row by row to the feed wire as needed. This is much more tedious than regular French flower beading because you can't use a bead spinner.

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Page last updated July 20, 2004.

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