Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Calm Flow - Start

It's been 4 years since I went to Atlanta to take the phase 1 class in Japanese bead embroidery. I always planned to go back and continue the rest of the phases. Unfortunately, that never happened. The trip to the JEC was very expensive and travelling there was not very easy as the center is in the middle of nowhere.

Thankfully with COVID (can't believe I'm saying this), the JEC has started looking into other ways to hold classes. They've allowed certified teachers, who were willing, to offer classes thru zoom. One of those teachers is Cecilia Roger. She is certified to teach traditional Japanese embroidery and bead embroidery, as well as luneville embroidery. 

We're a small group of ladies from Canada and Europe taking classes over February and March. Except for me, all the other students are doing phase 1. It's been very interesting sitting through the lessons and revisiting phase 1. We meet every two weeks and Cecilia has very high expectations of us. The plan is by the end of the lessons, everyone would have completed their piece.

Phase 2 is called Calm Flow and it is a piece that is almost entirely made up of long lines of couched beads. The long lines are meant to imitate water.

The fabric comes pre-printed, so no need to transfer the design. However, the outline needs to be retraced, because stretching the fabric distorts the lines. It doesn't matter for the curved lines, but the outline of the piece needs to be the correct size in order for it to be finished into it's final form. As you can see below, mine was distorted. 

The piece is beaded in black and a gunmetal 3-cut Czech beads. It's mainly all black, but the gunmetal color gives a nice accent.

Except for a few areas where beads are individually placed, the koma is heavily used. Every time I start a line of thread, I need to string beads and the line is wrapped around the koma.

In terms of tools, all that's needed are beading needles (I like to use my Japanese couching needles). black sewing thread, scissors and a pair of komas.

If you're ever finding yourself stitching a long line of beads, be it straight or curved, the best method is using a koma. It's great for maneuvering the beads and for maintaining tension. What they offer is control. It's the same reason embroiderers use them when couching gold passing. Control is important when you're trying to stitch a line as straight as possible, which is the first step in the piece.

Once the outline is put in, I can start beading the white lines with the accent bead.

A very time consuming process.

However, it's not as time consuming as filling in all the space with black beads. If I thought couching rounds on the mariner's compass took a long time, I'm going to be at this for a lot longer than that.

The picture below represents about 34 hours of stitching. I'm going to tackle it one open area at a time, working from the center outwards. The center has been filled and right now, I'm concentrating on stitching the area located on the bottom right. I've already stitched around the flame (can I call it that?). I need to set a delimited area so I can fill the rest with long lines along the gunmetal beads. What area left with no beads will be taken care of later.

Progress on this piece will be black, black and more black. Not very satisfying to follow, but once it's done it's going to look fantastique!


  1. Your work is exquisite. However, I'm not sure I would have the patience to try something like this. You mentioned luneville embroidery which I had to look up. Discovered it's also called Tambour embroidery. Very interesting process (thanks to the YouTube videos). Looking forward to more posts about all of this. Thank you.

  2. Wonderful photos as usual. Is it just certain areas that will be beaded? Surely not the entire surface?!!

  3. That's going to look really sumptuous, but all that beadwork is going to be quite the epic, isn't it!

  4. It's great to see you back to bead embroidery and wow, that is one stunning design! I suspect it might get boring to work on occasionally, but I'm sure it'll be worth it in the end.