French Beaded Rainbow wreath by Lauren Harpster

2018 One-A-Day Project complete – and introducing my 2019 Project

Well my friends, another year has come and gone. If you remember way back in January, I started a new personal challenge to make one French Beaded flower or leaf every day, which would all then be combined into a wreath. I’ve been posting update pictures every month (or so), so I won’t re-post all of those here. But if you want to recap, I do have a page dedicated to my 2018 One-A-Day Project in my portfolio where you can view all of the pictures. 

Here is a picture of the finished Color Wheel wreath! It measures 18 inches (~ 46 cm) wide and weighs 6 lbs. 

French Beaded Rainbow wreath by Lauren Harpster

And here is a little slideshow of closeups on the different color sections. 

This was such a fun project. At the start of the month I would gather all the beads in the colors I was using and put them in a box along with other types of beads or crystals that I was using for flower centers, and the wire. The box was left near my work station (aka my couch), and whenever I sat down to work on my big project, I would quickly make my daily piece. That made it easy for me to remember to do it. Though I found the hardest part was making just one piece daily, so this project taught me patience. 

I had so much fun experimenting with weird ways to use French Beading techniques. I’ll be sharing at least one of those experiments soon. For the last several months that I’ve been making leaves I did take it easy and just made something simple, but that’s only because they’ve been busy months. 

I am in love with this wreath. Each piece is a day of my life. Some days have bigger and brighter flowers, while other have rushed simple flowers. Each flower has a story of it’s own to tell. Some where made with my daughter sitting right beside me, watching, and usually grabbing everything. Others were made while I was sitting there crying over some something or other that happened that day. Some of these flowers watched the same movies I watched while building them. Others were made while I sat in the parking lot at school waiting to pick up my two older kids from school. Some days didn’t quite turn out like I planned, but isn’t that exactly how life is? Look at the whole picture! Even if some flowers are smaller and less glorious, or if they had sad stories instead of happy ones, they still add to the whole story. 

I know there were several of you who were following along with me with the colors, or who had started other types of one-a-day projects. If you finished yours, I would love to see it!  

What I Learned

I want my blog to be a place of learning, just as much as a place of me sharing pictures of the cool stuff I make. So I thought it would be helpful for me to share some of the things I’ve learned, the mistakes I made, and what I would change if I remade it. 

First, I didn’t go into this project with much of  a plan. In some ways that was a good thing because it left the doors of creativity wide open, but it caused problems in other ways. For example, I may have had a similar number of flowers in each color, but the flowers were all different sizes, which means that each color may or may not take up the same amount of space. So while making leaves I had to assess how much space I had, and how much more space I needed the leaves to take up. Sometimes I had to make more flowers instead of leaves to help fill up space, but oh well. I didn’t really know how big this piece was going to be until after I had a couple sections finished. After mashing up the pieces together in sections I estimated how long each color section would be, and was able to calculate the finished size, and I was pretty close. 

My second lesson is more of a lesson that I’ve re-learned. Normally I don’t like to assemble pieces like this until I have all the pieces made. That way I can make a layout and get the spacing right. I made an exception this time because each section took around 2 hours to assemble, and I really wanted a finished wreath at the end of the year, not a 14 hour assembly session. So I took a risk and started adding sections to the wreath as soon as I had the leaves for that color finished. I thought I’d done a pretty decent job measuring and marking boundaries for where each color needed to fit, but apparently I didn’t. If you look at the wreath, the yellow and blue sections look shorter than the others. That’s because they are. I squished my flowers too closely together, coupled with my errors in measurement, and voila. Some sections are shorter and some are longer. This caused some problems with the last section (pink). I wasn’t quite certain I’d be able to cover the space I had left. I did have to space those flowers out a little more than the others, and adding in those last pieces made me really nervous. I still had to do some creative bending of some of the flowers to get full coverage, but there was no way in heck I was going to remove them all the way back to the yellow section to even it all out. So that was just an error I accepted. 

Third… some of my reds are too dark. This was the first section I made, before I had a good idea of what the rest was going to look like. And even though I used darker shades of each color in those sections, the red just looks so much darker and feels unbalanced compared to the rest. So if I had planned more ahead and picked out colors in each section before starting anything, I might have foreseen that issue. 

The last lesson is one about colors and how I arranged them. If I were to do this again, I would make sure to use more “between” shades and specifically place them between the two different colors. The red and orange blend somewhat together, and the blue and purple. But I feel like the other sections could use a little more of the between colors to make a softer transition between colors. So some yellow-green and some more blue-green, and some darker pinkish reds… I did have a little bit of the between colors, but I wish I’d done more of them. 

So, one day I’ll recreate this with all of my improvements. But even with all it’s imperfections, I still love my Color Wheel Wreath!  The point of this project wasn’t to plan ahead and make something perfect. I wanted it to be a crazy mix, and that’s exactly what I got. So, keeping all things in mind, I consider this to be a successful project. It will hang proudly on my wall for years and years to come.

Assembly

I’ve already had a few people ask about how I assembled the wreath, so I took a couple pictures while working on the pink section to share with you. 

The steps themselves are fairly simple in theory, but a pain while working. 

  1. I wrapped the stems on each flower and leaf with floral tape, then used more floral tape to wrap them into bunches like this one. Each section had somewhere around 10 bunches. 
Also, I just have to say that I love this picture. It kind of happened accidentally (not this exact one but the one previous that was less centered and noticed the frame effect and that it would be really cool so I took a new one more centered), but now I’m looking forward to getting to use my wreath as a frame around pictures. Yay! 
French Beaded Rainbow wreath by Lauren Harpster

2. I pre-wrapped the frame with floral tape. This makes the surface of the wire frame less slippery so the wire I used to assemble held more firm. I use this same method with most of my flowers. 

French Beaded Rainbow wreath by Lauren Harpster

3. I cut a length of 28 gauge (.315 mm) wire and wired one bunch made in step 1 to one of the frame wires. The wrapping must be tight! The bunch should not wiggle or move at all. 

French Beaded Rainbow wreath by Lauren Harpster

4. And then I covered over the same section again with floral tape to cover the wire. 

5. Repeat over and over and over for each little bunch until the section is finished. 

Sounds easy, but it’s kind of a pain to wrap floral tape and wire between each of those wires. Very time consuming. But also very secure! 

French Beaded Rainbow wreath by Lauren Harpster

2019 One-A-Day Project

I had so much fun with the last one that I’ve decided to do another one in 2019. My first idea was to do another project like my wreath with random flowers, but with just shades of white and blue to make a chandelier (or two if it got too big). But, then Christmas came around and I think we all know how much I love Christmas. So, instead I’m making a huge Christmas wreath. One piece at a time. 

I’m going to do this one a little differently though. I won’t have a specific theme for each month, I’ll just keep going until I have enough of what I’m making to finish the number I think I need. But I might have to add in more later on… There will be big blue poinsettias with gold trim, pine cones, pine needles, holly, a big giant bow, other kinds of berries… silvery leaves… I’m so excited! Below I’ve pictured the first colors I’ll be working with to make the new Poinsettias – some pretty metallic blue Toho beads and some Czech metallic gold beads. Maybe the pale greens will be part of the centers? I’m not 100% sure how I’m going to do the centers on the Poinsettias, but I do know that I want them more decorative than realistic as I’ve done with my previous poinsettias. Something sparkly. So that’s why those other gold beads are in the picture. Anyway, the poinsettias will be the main focus of the Christmas wreath, so I figured I should start with those to get a better idea of the wreath as a whole. Then from there we’ll just see where the journey takes me! Hopefully it will turn out just as nicely as the Rainbow Wreath. 

I hope the New Year brings all of you health, happiness, prosperity – and lots of beading. 🙂 

17 Comments

  • Suzanne

    Thank you so much for all you do for our community. I really enjoy reading about your process, especially with this wreath. I could see that each section and it’s lessons fed the next color, and it was interesting how that worked for you. And I really liked the glimpses of the ganutell-like coiled flowers. Many happy returns of 2019! (And may Lily enjoy all of her new teeth!)

    • Lauren Harpster

      Oh thank you, Suzanne! I’m sure I learned more from this project, just maybe all of them aren’t things I can put into words. The coiled flowers are one experiment that I’m going to share in an upcoming blog. Just not sure when to fit in it with the other blogs I’m preparing. I know you were working on a similar idea, so if there’s anything you want to add, let me know! Happy New Year!

  • marylee

    Lauren…this is stunning……I have looked very closely and at amazed that each flower is somewhat different from all the others! And I love your story about each flower or piece that you completed every day was tied in some way to your day/life. It’s so neat that you can look at some of the flowers and remember your day based on an individual piece. It’s like a year long diary! I can’t wait to see your next project!

    • Lauren Harpster

      Hello Marylee! Thank you so much! It is like a diary! I tried not to repeat too many flowers, but some days I was just too brain dead. Or I wanted to change some details to see what would happen. I’m pretty sure I have one or two of my miniature roses in each color.

  • Vicky Wheeler

    Hiya.
    Happy New Year .
    I absolutely love your wreath. Would you mind if I did my own one using some of your ideas?

    Vicky

  • Lucy Smith

    Lauren – I smiled at your definition of your couch being your work station because I do my beading watching movies from my rocking chair:). As far as lessons learned, the artist is always more critical of their own work and I personally love the darker shade of red as a contrast in the wreath. I think it is gorgeous and kudos for having the fortitude to be able to take on a challenge like this with all that is involved in raising a family. Love your blogs and have gifted several of the wild rose pattern flowers to friends.

    • Lauren Harpster

      Hi Lucy! Yes, beading while “watching” movies. That’s what I do too. The artist is always more critical, and we do all have our preferences as to what looks good and what doesn’t, but thought I’d share my thoughts anyways. Perhaps they’ll be helpful for someone. If all anyone takes away from this is that I find it imperfect, but love it anyways, and that they should love their work even when it isn’t perfect, then I think that’s a good thing.
      Beading is therapy for me. It’s required for me to survive my kids. I love them dearly but they are nutters. Beading is my way of having something that’s just for me, after long days of taking care of everyone else’s needs and putting myself last. Happy mothers are better mothers. 🙂
      Thank you so very much! So glad you are enjoying the blog. And I hope your friends appreciated the gifts they were given. Handmade gifts are the best because of the time invested by the creator.

  • Alejandra

    Lauren: esperaba el día que ibas a mostrar tu maravilloso trabajo concluido. Para mi es la perfección en persona y tus comentarios de los errores son muy duros, no debes hacerlos porque el trabajo involucrado supera cualquier imperfección (las cuales yo no veo). Creo que muchas te acompañamos en éste hermoso proyecto y todo su proceso y eso me ha motivado a pensar en realizar mi propio proyecto 2019, aunque parta un poco mas tarde.
    Felicitaciones nuevamente y sobre todo porque aprovechas muy bien los talentos y dones que te fueron dados.

    • Lauren Harpster

      Hello Alejandra! Thank you very much! My comments on the mistakes I made were more for teaching others than just pointing out my errors and what was wrong with it. I love my wreath. I’m glad my work has inspired you to make your own, and I hope you do! I would love to see it when you are finished.

  • Georgia Grisolia

    This is truly a labor of love and determination. A wonderful thing to behold and I thank you for sharing both the image and how it was made. Did you have difficulty choosing which flowers to make for any given colors? It does appear there are loads of flowers in yellow and pink but in the cool palatte not so many. This is so beautiful and such a grand assortment too. I am looking forward to seeing the Christmas wreath you make. May God bless you and your fingers too.
    Georgia

    • Lauren Harpster

      Hello Georgia,
      Thank you very much! Most of the flowers I made were just fantasy flowers, with a few exceptions. I made some yellow mini daffodils, some orange calla lilies, some miniature orchids in a couple of colors, and each color has at least one of my miniature roses. There are actually about the same number of flowers and leaves in each section. Some are just smaller flowers or packed more closely. My Portfolio page has separate pictures of the flowers in each color in you wanted to see them.
      Can’t wait to share pictures of the Christmas Wreath as it progresses.
      God bless,
      Lauren

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