Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Vintage Beaded Bags


My first beading project was to knit a beaded bag using the vintage pattern from my grandmother’s beaded bag that she had handed down to me. This bag was her pride and joy. From that time on I have had a fascination with beaded bags of all kinds. The second beaded bag I made was the one above called "Strawberry Dress".

Handmade beaded bags started around 200 years ago. You can tell the age of the bags based on their themes. Motifs on the bags have changed over the years. The early 1800’s scenes depicted funerals. The 1820- 1860 bags depicted outdoor views, historical architecture, and romance.

Antique beaded bags used tiny beads size 24 which is about 2,500 beads per square inch. The average size bead that is popular now is a size 11 which is about 324 beads per square inch. The tiny beads were strung on a fine thread and worked with small 0000 size knitting needles. All I can say is that these women must have had exceptional eyesight.


Click on photo for close up

After learning about the early beaded bags I was up for the challenge of trying out this technique. I bought vintage size 24 beads and worked up a design pattern calling it “Bumble Bee Blues” which eventually became known as “Sting of Beauty” necklace. Working with size 24 beads is a challenge for many reasons. One obstacle is not being able to pass the thread through the bead two times even when using a small size thread. Working a peyote stitch required two passes. Sometimes I had to rip out one entire row to switch the beads in the previous row to beads with larger holes. This was time consuming and many beads would break in the process. The challenge was worth the effort. I had a new appreciation for these talented ladies of the 1800’s. I encourage you to take the challenge using size 24 vintage beads and experience a little bit of history.

I have displayed Diane Hyde's work before and I never grow tired of seeing her new creations. This beaded bag was a finalist at the recent Bead Dreams show in Milwaukee Wisconsin.





This bag is called "Sent of a Rose". Bead Embroidery on quilted, pieced fabric. What I think is very special is the woman's hair. This is real synthetic doll hair. The purse frame is vintage French Lucite (1930's) and the antique brass mesh chain for the strap gives it a nice finished look. The purse is lined with raw silk.



Diane was a 2007 finalist this year and won 2nd place Finished Jewelry for her necklace called "Opulent Spring".

7 comments:

SuzyQ said...

That bumble bee is pretty amazing close up. The beads are soooo tiny.

Louise HIll said...

You can see how irregular they really are.

rara28 said...

Beautiful work!!

Christina said...

Gorgeous! And I saw Diane Hyde's pieces at Bead & Button. They were so beautiful.

Louise HIll said...

Thanks Christina for posting on your blog about my blog. I agree Diane's work is beautiful!

beadexplorer said...

I loooove beaded bags. Your "Strawberry Dress" looks so yummy. Big compliments for this!

I made a peyote handbag last year:
"Colourflow in Mind"
Now I am learning how to bead knit. I can't decide weather peyote with cylinder beads or knitting with round beads looks better. :) I guess, I will make a peyote bag sometime in the future again, too ...

innanyc1 said...

Fantastic work!Beaded handbags are designed with fine artistic touch and are lovely to look.They suit different occasions and people.A great website offers designer made bags.