An eclectic blog about beads, beading and beyond

Monday, August 22, 2011

Beadwork in the Antique Pattern library - fascinating and free pattern downloads

Sometimes, I stumble across surprising and delightful finds on the web. Last week was a case in point. I was doing some online research on beadwork in the 1850s for my local beaders group (Bead Society of Victoria, Geelong branch) and found the Antique Pattern Library. Thanks to the hard work of several volunteers you can download free antique craft patterns from the site.

Imagine my delight when I discovered a special area of the library dedicated to beadwork. It was with great anticipation that I downloaded each of the 14 titles in this section of the library. What I found was a wonderful treasure trove of beadwork patterns that look very different to those we use today. Patterns for bead crochet, knitting and beaded embroidery in wonderful detail - some with images, some just words and most, but not all, in black and white. The Priscilla beadwork book: A collection of new and old beadwork with patterns and lessons for working (1912, USA, Ed. Belle Robinson) was one of my favourites. I have included some images from it here as a taster. 

From the New Bead Book
I also totally delighted in the Emma Post Barbour's New Bead Book (1924, The National Trading Company, Chicago). It is full of wonderful colour plates of her finished items, clear patterns and instructions for a range of beadwork techniques.  See an extract from her preface (left ) I learnt that apparently at the time Natrac quality beads are 'the highest grade made" and much much more. (Of course, I am now off to find out what happened to Natrac!)

Sherwoods, 'Impression Powder and Perforated Patterns for printing all kinds of designs for braiding, embroidery and beading' is testament to the creativity of those who bought it. Only the sketchiest of pattern guidance is included.

You can loose yourself in patterns from the 1700s onwards from France, Germany, UK and USA to explore and learn from.

All of the patterns in the library are free to anyone to use for "educational, personal, artistic and other creative uses". (

Monday, August 8, 2011

Rachel the Rock Wallaby and the Endangered collection of beadwork

Dax Designs has made its first adoption of an animal from sales of items in the Endangered colleciton of beadwork and pattersn. It's an adoption package for Rachel the Rock Wallaby that the World Wildlife Fund offers to help support its work with the threatened Rock Wallaby species in Australia. To learn more click here:

Thanks to everyone who purchased patterns and beadwork that made this adoption possible.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Puzzling beads and Nelson Mandela

Just as I was hurrying through the airport in Johannesburg to board my plane to leave South Africa there in front of me stood Nelson Mandela. Not surprisingly, I forgot momentarily about the flight for home, searched out my camera and snapped away. There wasn't much time to admire this extraordinary piece of beadwork 'in situ' so it's great to have the photos. Nelson Mandela is an inspiring person  - he holds over 1000 awards and 115 honorary degrees for his efforts to make the world a better place - so it's not suprising that beaders are some of those inspired by him. If you'd like to see some of the other beadwork inspired by Mandela here are some links to just a few pieces:
Nelson Mandela has also had many places named after him, Nelson Mandela Bay being a good example and you'll see in a moment why I mention it in this blog. Exploring the links between Mandela and beadwork I stumbled across a free Nelson Mandela Bay jigsaw puzzle which features a woman beading. Beader or not, its fun to do.

Click to Mix and Solve

Dax Designs - now on Artisan Co-op