‘Flower Forever’ by Ragnar Levi gives a wonderful view of the history of the craft of French Beading. It was written to accompany a fabulous exhibition at the Thielska Gallery in Stockholm, Sweden. The exhibition, entitled, ‘Eternal Bloom! Bead Art and Crafted Nature’ runs until 14th February 2016. It features historic arrangements and also new arrangements by modern artists, put together by floral artist Gunnar Kaj, who has been in charge of the floral arrangements for the Nobel Prize awards.
Ragnar Levi’s book gives an account of the art of French Beading, including a detailed history and a look at the manufacturing and crafting processes used today. Flower Forever includes stunning photos by Edvard Koinberg. You can see a couple of samples in this blog post, so I would like to thank Edvard for allowing me to use them. Can I also say that his work is stunning and if you would like to see more, you can find his website here.
Back to the book! Ragnar was kind enough to send me a signed copy of ‘Forever Flower’, having been told of my own interest in French Beading. Some of you will know that French Beading was my own entrance point into the whole world of beads and I have always been hungry for knowledge about the craft. Strangely, we don’t know an awful lot about it’s origins, or so I thought…until I read Flower Forever. This gives a wonderfully detailed history. It also gave me a new appreciation of the whole craft. Aside from looking at the history, and appreciating the beauty of French beaded flowers, both old and new, Ragnar takes a look at the craft from start to finish. He talks about the process of manufacturing beads, the techniques for French beading and the, often complex, relations between the bead manufacturers, craft workers and sellers of the finished flowers. I started to see this beautiful craft in a new light: every stage is an art form in itself and, more than just a hobby, this is skilled work that has traditionally been undertaken by incredibly talented artists. After reading Flower Forever, I felt incredibly privileged to be just a small part of this traditional art. Ragnar has an amazing collection of French Beaded flowers that go back to centuries past. His passion for these flowers and for the artists, both past and present, who have created them shines through in Flower Forever. So if you have even a small interest in French beading this is definitely a book that you should have on your bookshelf.