Monday, March 17, 2014

How to Alter a Fabric Bead

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Today we begin a series of posts to show you several ways of making your own beads. For our first post in this series, I'll be showing you how to take an existing fabric bead and changing its look entirely.

Why alter a bead after it has been created? There are lots of reasons. Maybe you don't particularly like the looks of it. Maybe you no longer wear the outfit the beads were made to match. Maybe your taste has changed and you want a completely different fashion look. Maybe you'd prefer to upcycle rather than discard.

In my case, I had a couple of surplus beads left over from this necklace project, below:

A couple of fabric beads like the blue and green bead above were left over from this necklace project. These extras were good candidates for a bead makeover.  Notice I'm featuring a necklace that's perfect to wear on St. Patrick's Day, complete with Celtic spirals!
I was thinking it would be fun to experiment with ways to alter fabric beads, a topic I've not seen discussed before. The surplus beads presented a good opportunity to try out my makeover ideas.

Paint would be my "magic wand" in this little venture. The fabric I originally used to make the beads was a finely woven cotton so I knew it would absorb acrylic paint readily. For the makeover I wanted to go dramatically glitzy with a gold and black color scheme.

This is what the fabric bead, identical to those in the jewelry shown above, looks like after its makeover:

The bead sporting a whole new look.  The fabric texture is now more noticeable, adding interest to its appearance.

 Here's how to give a fabric bead a whole new personality:

1. Start with a bead made from a single layer of fabric adhered to a rolled paper base. To make handling it  easier, slide it onto a wooden toothpick with a "stop" made from a snippet of masking tape wrapped around the toothpick. The stop keeps the bead from sliding around and keeps paint off your fingers.

2. Holding the toothpick upright and using a small flat brush, apply a coat of bright Iridescent Gold fluid acrylic paint to the middle part of the bead. When it's completely dry apply a second coat. (If using regular, heavy bodied acrylic, thin it with just a bit of water so it's the consistency of heavy cream. This helps the paint soak into the fabric.)

3. When the gold paint is dry, use a small flat brush to apply Carbon Black acrylic paint to both ends of the bead.*

4. With a small liner or rigger brush loaded with Carbon Black, make tiny squiggly marks randomly on the middle part of the bead with just the tip of the brush. Or, if you prefer a different design, you could make dots, stripes...any pattern you'd like. Let dry.

5. Seal your bead with a coat or two of clear acrylic varnish.When the varnish dries, your made-over bead is ready to string.

*You don't have to use the same colors I've used. Use different colors, or a variety of colors if you'd prefer. Just be sure to use opaque paints. Transparent paints won't cover the bead's original design.

That's it for now. Have a great St. Patrick's Day! Saol fada chugat! which, in Gaelic, is "Long life to you!"

©2014 Lynn Edwards

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