What are Petal Beads?
Petal beads are made from pressed glass that has been shaped to give a slight natural curve, rather like petals. They have a hole drilled through from front to back, making them perfect to use for bead embroidery projects and very interesting to incorporate into bead weaving projects. The name really describes the beads brilliantly. Petal beads measure 14mm x 13mm, so they make quite a statement in a project. Their size and the fact that they are made from glass, also means they are a little heavier than some beads, so bear this in mind when you are designing projects! Petal beads are also available in a fabulous range of colours and include natural pattern that reminds me of a semi-precious stone texture.
How do you use Petal Beads?
As I mentioned, petal beads are great for creating flowers in bead embroidery. The placement and direction of their hole allows you to lay them flat on fabric, pass the needle up through the hole, then either straight over the bottom edge, or you can pass through a seed bead and back down through the hole to anchor the petal beads in place. Their size means that any project using them in this way will have great texture, not to mention easy-to-make flowers!
If you are planning to use them in bead-weaving projects, then you will need to think about the placement of the hole. The petal beads have a fabulous texture from all angles, so if viewed from the side, you can see the ‘wavy’ effect of their shaping. You can stitch them so that they are lined up and viewed side on to give the kind of texture that makes you just want to run your hands through the beads! Alternatively, if you play around with thread paths, it is possible to incorporate them so that they sit flat, as I did in the floral pendant. You can find the tutorial for this project here.
Are there any pitfalls to avoid?
Generally speaking, these beads are straightforward to use. I have just mentioned the fact that you might need to put a little extra thought into the hole placement as you design your thread paths. You should also bear in mind that the petal beads are fairly heavy. This isn’t a problem for necklaces and bracelets, but they will create quite a bit of weight in an earring design. I am also wary about thread breakages. To be fair, this is more a paranoia than a problem – I haven’t had huge problems in this area, but it seems like a possibility that needs to be thought through. The weight of the beads makes me feel that I need to make several thread passes through in order to secure them reliably. This is no problem to do as the holes are large enough to allow this, but, once again, it is something to bear in mind. You also need to take care as you add the petal beads to your project: the shaping means that they have a ‘front’ and ‘back’. Either side can be used as the ‘front’, but you need to remember to check that you are adding all the beads the same way around throughout your project…unless you have made a conscious design decision to mix up the fronts and backs!
I am still creating more designs with Petal beads, so do follow this post and check back regularly – I will be adding in more links to tutorials as I create them! Meantime, enjoy using these fabulous beads.