A Slight History of Beaded Flowers
The truth is often hazy after the veil of a century or two (or five). Please take all accounts with a dash of salt, and a sprinkle of romance...
The first time someone put glass beads on wire and shaped it into a flower is lost to history, but most familiar with the art agree it was during the Renaissance in 16th century Europe.
Though the main technique used to make beaded flowers is often referred to as French, examples of the art have been found from Italy (where the small glass beads were made), to as far north as England. Stories about the production and use of beaded flowers during this time are generally romantic - peasants gathered up misshaped beads that weren';t suited for noblewomen's dresses, strung them on horsehair or copper wire, and sculpted them into flowers which they later sold to the upper classes.
Like other folk art, the popularity of beaded flowers waxed and waned over the centuries, the tradition mainly kept alive through families and passed on from one generation to the next, until there was a resurgence during the mid to late 1800's.
Ladies of that time period, inspired by Queen Victoria's extended mourning over the loss of Prince Albert, developed elaborate funeral traditions that included floral tributes. At that time flowers were only available in season, so enterprising women, probably inspired by traditions passed down through their family line, began putting beads on wire and assembling flowers for their funerary wreaths. These wreaths came to be known as Immortelles, and some examples can still be found today in museums, and private collections.
In 1865 Godey’s Ladies Book published beaded flower patterns, and directed women to use them as personal adornments for hair or clothing. Beaded flowers started gaining popularity in America in the early to mid twentieth century with more patterns and even kits being produced.
In the 1960s Making Bead Flowers and Bouquets by Virginia Nathanson was published. Supposedly, Ms. Nathanson, a former vaudeville performer, purchased a bouquet of beaded flowers in a New York department store, and instead of just admiring them, she took them apart to see how they were made. The book of patterns made from her resulting experiments is still considered by many to be a kind of bible for beaded flowers.
In the following decades more and more beaded flower books were published and interest in this nearly lost art form surged yet again. Now, a whole new generation of beaders have fallen in love with, and are carrying on this Renaissance craft.
Full size Peace rose
Full size dark blush rose.
A purple and pink clematis flower.
One of Spring's first flowers.
A large, pink peony.
A full size pink and yellow rose.
Icy lavender daisy on hairpin.
Pink moss roses on bangle bracelet.
Wild violets on a hairband.
Full size Stargazer lily.
Sunflowers on grapevine wreath.
Rust & tan flowers with crystals.
Orange Daylily in vase.
Cute, little flower pot.
Blue hydrangea bouquet.
Anenome hair clips.
Cherry blossoms on neckwire.
Grape hyacinth bouquet.
Monkshood, catnip, rosemary, rue, and thyme.
Catnip, also known as 'Hangman's Root'.
Monkshood, or 'Witches' Bane'.
Fun, fantasy daisy.
More wild violets on a headband.
Golden brown daisy with crystal center.
Silvery blue daisy hairpin
Silvery blue flowers with crystals.
Daisy in vase.
Full size red rose.