Saturday, February 11, 2017

19th Century Motif: Dragonfly Part I

I will begin by saying that I did not "discover" this dragonfly in a primary source and found a way to magically reproduce it. While creating a prototype is one of my favorite things, this time it was Casey O'Connor who brought up a picture on The Civilian Civil War Closet. It was beaded and buggy-count me in!

She couldn't quite remember the source of the mysterious insect. Eventually, with the help of Colleen Formby and others, we were able to determine the artist responsible for the beaded curiosity- the late, great, Kelly Dorman. I'm sad to say I didn't know her, though I'm guessing we've crossed paths as we both hail from Michigan. She was a fantastic researcher and beader, and I strongly urge you to visit her blog Mackin-Art to see the beautiful pieces she created.

I have to say that the problem-solving, engineer's daughter part of my soul needed a puzzle on a cold February night. A proper blog post will be coming in the near future, as I'm actually supposed to be working on stuff for the conference in March, not playing with shiny things. (Important info will be included, like the fact that these are pretty decorations for bonnets, hats, and hair pieces). Off to work then, troops!

Materials: Size 11 beads (Toho brand is best), .25mm non-tarnish silver artistic silver, two other larger beads (I used coral, 6mm), patience

Step 1: Put bead through about an 18 inch piece of wire. Make sure it is in the center.

Step 2: Now loop one of the wire ends back through the bead, while anchoring the bead in the center. You will use this technique for the entire piece, just changing how many beads you'll add. Tighten.
Step 3: Add on two more beads to make a second row. Again pull one of the wires through, and tighten. It will stack on the other one, building two rows. You will do the 2x beads on 13 rows.

Step 4: Congrats getting through those 13 rows of 2 beads. Your little guy should look like this (if he doesn't, make sure to go back and tighten where needed).

Step 5: Now you will do a row of 3, 4, 5, 4, and 3 beads, in that order.

Step 6: To add the eyes, string a larger bead (not too big!), and then one of the body beads. pull your wire around the body bead, catching it. Tighten. Then weave the wire into the top row. Do this to both sides, twisting the two wires together when finished. Don't trim it yet (that part is the bottom of the piece)

Step 7: For the wings, you will follow the same process as the body, but with different bead row amounts. This is where you can definitely add cool colors/designs and such. Your bead amounts in each row go in this order: 1, 2, 2, 3, 4, 4, 5, 5, 5, 4, 4, 3, 2. When you finish the wing, add a single twist of the wires to keep it in place. Do this four times.

Step 8: Connect the two sets of wings by twisting them together. You should have to two sets twisted together. One is your top set, the other your bottom. 

Step 9: Spread the 4 wires of the top set and place the bottom set between them. Wrap the top set around once, then the bottom. You should end up with one piece after they are both twisted together.

Step 10: Now at this point, I'm sort of lost. Since I don't have the original in my hands, I have to guess. Remember those two wires from the body? Wrap them around the center point where the wings all meet. Wrap them around a few times. If it will work, depending on your bead size, try to weave some of the wires from your wings through the body. I had a very hard time with this, so I tried that first method. With all of your leftover wire at the bottom of your piece, twist it into a circle. Kelly had her dragonfly with a spiral; the circle has the same effect, and feels very sturdy. Feel free to do the spiral and tell me if it goes well. Trim any extra wire. And finished.
You are done! Play around with colors to get a different design. You may possibly go blind and descend into madness.
A view from underneath
 The Tres Dragonflies in the Collection

 Add a comment below if you have a question or would like to add a link to your own butterfly! I'm signing off for now-back to the relentless effort that is planning a conference!


1 comment:

  1. This is so cool! Dragonflies are my favorite insect, so I'll definitely have to try this. Thanks for the tutorial!



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