The beads used to make French beaded flowers are, for the most part, seed beads in sizes 9, 10 or 11. Now you can use other types of beads like bugles or crystals or even smaller or larger seed beads, but these are the most common sizes used by the authors of books I have and myself.
Seed beads are sometimes called rocailles, which is from the French, meaning rocky or bumpy surface, and the word dates back to the 14th century but was first applied beads in the 17th century. Who knew? Funny what you learn when researching a blog post.
Most seed beads come from Czechoslovakia or Japan. I use mostly Czech beads and I favor size 9 beads that have three cuts or facets to them, commonly called 3-cuts.
But I do use Japanese beads as well. It all depends on what look I’m going for. If I want a sparkly irregular look I go for my Czech size 9 3-cuts or size 10 or 11 3-cuts or charlottes (randomly faceted one-cuts).
If I want a more uniform, smooth look I turn to Japanese Miyuki seed beads. It’s important to note that Miyuki seed beads have larger holes than Czech seed beads of the same size so that may affect the size wire I would use. I do not use cylinder beads (Delicas) at all. Much too geometric for my taste to use in beaded flowers.
One really great thing about Japanese seed beads is that they come in SO MANY colors! So if I’m trying to match someone’s color scheme for, say, a wedding or come really close to a flower’s true color in nature, I will sometimes turn to the Japanese beads because there’s so much more of a color selection.
Another variable to know about with seed beads is finish. So many luscious and interesting finishes to choose from! I use AB (Aurora Borealis) finish beads a lot. I like the way they sparkle and change color depending on how you look at them and the light. But as you can see from the photos of part of my stash, I use all kinds of beads with all kinds of finishes.
For a pretty good primer on seed bead finishes go here to the Art Beads site page for Miyuki beads and look at the pictures of the different finishes. Cool huh?
So, I think we’ve covered the main topics preliminary to actually making some flowers: tools, wire and beads. Stay tuned and I’ll teach you how to make some simple loop flowers next.
Bear with me. I’ve never done a “tutorial” before and I’m not sure how I’m going to take pictures and do the work at the same time (tripod anyone?). Don’t worry. We’ll figure it out.