Learn French Beading >> Antique Venetian Frame

Antique Venetian Frame

Difficulty Rating: Advanced

Pre-requisite Techniques:

Both of these techniques are taught in my free Beginner Course

We had a discussion in a beaded flower Facebook group about an uncommon French Beading Technique and how it was done. A friend of mine was able to find a leaf made using this method for sale, and she purchased it and forwarded it to me so I could do a tutorial on it! We believe it is actually a Venetian beaded flower technique, rather than French, so it has been dubbed Antique Venetian Frame. Even though it’s not a true French Beading technique, I think it’s pretty neat and worth learning. 

Here is a little slide show of the purchased pink and white antique leaf that was sent to me, along with a picture of some leaves I made with this technique. 

French Beading Tutorials - Antique Venetian Frame technique - from Bead & Blossom

If you notice in the antique leaf, they’ve only wrapped each of the wires around the outer frame once, which makes me nervous in terms of security. When the leaf arrived, there were a couple of rows that had come undone. The ends of the wires were wrapped with tape so the beads wouldn’t fall off. There were also several rows that were really close to coming undone. The unit stem wire is also really messy because whoever made it didn’t put a lot of effort into twisting nicely. But it is an antique and she looks good for her age. What I love about this leaf is the shading. 

Here are the materials you will need for this tutorial:
– 22 gauge copper core wire in the color of your outer frame rows
– Size 10/0 seed beads in the color of your outer frame rows
– 28 gauge copper core wire (generally it is best to match this to the outer frame rows as well)
– Size 11/0 seed beads in the color of your inner rows 
– Wire Cutters
– Flat-nosed pliers
– Bead Spinner (optional)
– Pencil/pen
– Paper

General Instructions

  1. Draw the shape you want for the leaf in the size you want the finished leaf to be. We will be using this drawing as a template. If you can’t draw, see if you can find a picture of a the leaf you want and print it to scale. I’ve provided some examples of shapes below, but for this tutorial I will be using the simpler shape below right. Draw a line down the center of the leaf – this will be the Basic Row.  Draw directional lines for your inner rows. These can be straight across, or they can be in a v-shape. (I will give specific directions for v-shapes further down) These directional row lines just help plan your course of action, you don’t need to worry about getting the exact number of rows. (Photos 1 & 2)
French Beading Tutorials - Antique Venetian Frame technique - from Bead & Blossom
PHOTO 1
French Beading Tutorials - Antique Venetian Frame technique - from Bead & Blossom
PHOTO 2

2. String size 10/0 seed beads onto the 22 gauge wire. Then use the drawing to measure out the seed beads for the Basic Row. (Photo 3)

3. Still using the 22 gauge wire and 10/0 seed beads, construct a Basic Frame for the leaf. (Photo 4)

4. Use your drawing to mold out the outer frame rows for the leaf. These should be made slightly larger than the drawing as it does tend to shrink a little as you work. We will wrap these two rows on just as we would with a regular Basic Frame, just with a large opening in the center. (Photo 5)

French Beading Tutorials - Antique Venetian Frame technique - from Bead & Blossom
PHOTO 3
French Beading Tutorials - Antique Venetian Frame technique - from Bead & Blossom
PHOTO 4
French Beading Tutorials - Antique Venetian Frame technique - from Bead & Blossom
PHOTO 5

5. After you complete both frame rows, wrap the working wire around the Bottom Wire 2-3 times and trim. (Photo 6) Clip your Top Wire and fold it to the back of the leaf. This secures the outer frame rows and prevents them from sliding up and extending the Basic Row.  

6. Cut a length of 28 gauge wire from the spool. This wire should be long enough to reach lengthwise across the leaf, with a little extra on the end so you have a tail to hold onto while you wrap. Fold this wire in half, like a Lacing wire. (Photo 7)

7. Insert this wire into the Front side of the leaf, with the tail ends on either side of the Basic Row. (Photo 8)

French Beading Tutorials - Antique Venetian Frame technique - from Bead & Blossom
PHOTO 6
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PHOTO 7
French Beading Tutorials - Antique Venetian Frame technique - from Bead & Blossom
PHOTO 8

8. Pull the wires through so the tails stick out of the back of the leaf. Position the center bend in the wire between two bead on the Basic Row. Because I am doing my rows straight across I have positioned this first row just one bead down. Cross the wires on the backside of the leaf so they switch places, which secures the wire in place. (Photo 9)

9. Looking at the BACK of the leaf… String enough of the size 11/0 seed beads onto one half of the 28 gauge wire to slightly overlap the outer frame row. You do not want your inner bead row to fall short of the outer frame row, but you don’t want it sticking out further than the outer frame row either. Hold this row of beads in place with one hand while you wrap the tail of the 28g wire over the top of the outer frame row toward the front of the leaf. Wrap two times making sure the wire fits snugly between the same two beads. You can use flat nosed pliers to gently tug on the wire to make sure it’s secure. (Photo 10)

10. Repeat step 9 on the other half of the leaf. Then, trim the wires close using wire cutters. If there are any wire stubs you will want to tuck those down with a fingernail or very carefully with pliers. (Photo 11)

French Beading Tutorials - Antique Venetian Frame technique - from Bead & Blossom
PHOTO 9
French Beading Tutorials - Antique Venetian Frame technique - from Bead & Blossom
PHOTO 10
French Beading Tutorials - Antique Venetian Frame technique - from Bead & Blossom
PHOTO 11

11. Continue adding on one row at a time, using a separate length of 28 gauge wire for each row. (Photo 12)

Notice that since my rows are going straight across, I am skipping one bead down on the Basic Row between the inner rows. How many beads you skip on the outer frame rows depends on where the rows need to be placed to maintain the same angle as the previous rows. This may change with every row depending on the shape of the leaf. 

As you add on more rows, you will find that it gets harder and harder to fit the 28 gauge wires between beads on the outer frame rows. This is because as you add in wires, it takes up space and pushes the beads closer together. To fix this problem, use flat nosed pliers to very carefully crush one bead along the outer frame row. Do this as needed, but I wouldn’t recommend crushing more than one bead at a time as that may alter the angles of the rows. You might need to do this along the Basic Row as well. *Crushing beads is what makes your leaf shrink a little, and why I recommended starting the leaf a little larger than you want it.*

Tada! You have a leaf made in the Antique Frame method! The finished weird-looking leaf is shown in Photos 13 & 14. If you are working with a larger sized leaf/petal, you may want to consider Lacing to help keep the rows from getting too skew-y. 

French Beading Tutorials - Antique Venetian Frame technique - from Bead & Blossom
PHOTO 12
French Beading Tutorials - Antique Venetian Frame technique - from Bead & Blossom
PHOTO 13
French Beading Tutorials - Antique Venetian Frame technique - from Bead & Blossom
PHOTO 14

V-Shaped Rows

Now let’s take a closer look at how to make the inner rows with a v-shape. I will also be demonstrating how to add on additional outer rows for a different look. 

  1. Begin just as usual, by drawing out the shape and using size 10/0 beads on 22 gauge wire to create the frame (Photo 15). Do not remove the working wire. Leave it attached to the frame so you can add more outer rows later. 
  2. Cut 28 gauge wire lenths, insert them into the leaf and you will cross the two sides over the back. String 11/0 beads on one side of the row at a time. For the first row, start many beads lower on the Basic Row, and attach the 28g wire tails along the outer rows 1-2 beads from the tip of the leaf. (Photo 16
French Beading Tutorials - Antique Venetian Frame technique - from Bead & Blossom
PHOTO 15
French Beading Tutorials - Antique Venetian Frame technique - from Bead & Blossom
PHOTO 16

3. Continue adding the inner rows one at a time. Leave a few tails of 28 gauge wire from the inner rows. We will use these wires to lace in the extra outer rows as we add them on. Photo 17)

Then, after all the inner rows are complete, add on as many more outer rows as you’d like with the 22g working wire attached to the initial frame. Use the 28 gauge tail wires to lace as you go and hold those outer rows in place. Photo 18 shows the front of the finished leaf. Photo 19 shows the back. 

French Beading Tutorials - Antique Venetian Frame technique - from Bead & Blossom
PHOTO 17
French Beading Tutorials - Antique Venetian Frame technique - from Bead & Blossom
PHOTO 18
French Beading Tutorials - Antique Venetian Frame technique - from Bead & Blossom
PHOTO 19

With this leaf in Photo 20, you will notice that once I reached the bottom I had run out of space along the Basic Row to wrap my rows around. So I strung rows between two points on the outer frame rows instead. 

French Beading Tutorials - Antique Venetian Frame technique - from Bead & Blossom
PHOTO 20

Using Multiple Basic Rows

You can even use multiple Basic Rows to make lobed leaves. 

  1. Begin with three (or more!) separate lengths of wire, each with their own Basic Row. Twist the ends together to form the Bottom Wire. (Photo 21)
  2. Add on your 22 gauge spool wire by wrapping it 2-3 times right beneath where your Basic Rows meet. (Photo 22)
  3. Form your outer frame rows wrapping at the tip of each Basic Row. (Photo 23)
French Beading Tutorials - Antique Venetian Frame technique - from Bead & Blossom
PHOTO 21
French Beading Tutorials - Antique Venetian Frame technique - from Bead & Blossom
PHOTO 22
French Beading Tutorials - Antique Venetian Frame technique - from Bead & Blossom
PHOTO 23

Add in your inner rows one lobe at a time (Photo 24). Begin with the center lobe, then start again at the tip of the second lobe, then the third. I found for these lobed leaves that the v-shaped rows worked best so they meet at a point in the center. 

Photo 25 shows the finished leaf. 

French Beading Tutorials - Antique Venetian Frame technique - from Bead & Blossom
PHOTO 24
French Beading Tutorials - Antique Venetian Frame technique - from Bead & Blossom
PHOTO 25

Additional Notes

You can also use this technique with smaller beads by using 24 gauge wire paired with 11/0 seed beads for the Frame, and 28-30 gauge wire paired with 15/0 seed beads for the inner rows. 

You could use larger beads and wires to make larger pieces – if you have the patience! You can use an 18 gauge florist stem wire strung with size 6/0 seed beads as your Basic Row. Then attach 22-20 gauge copper wire strung with size 8/0 seed beads for the outer frame rows. Then use whatever you want for the inner rows. 

With all techniques there are some pros and cons, and I figured I would share the ones I’ve come up with to help you decide if this is worth your while. 

Pros: You can make so many different shapes. The way the rows are laid out makes it very easy to shade, or add different color patterns, to your pieces. It’s easy to learn. 

Cons: There is more empty space between rows, which leaves a less solid-looking leaf than with other techniques. It’s tedious. Easy to do, but it takes a lot longer per piece.  I find that very sharp corners are hard to accomplish when using larger sized beads. 

© 2016 Lauren Harpster / Bead & Blossom. The images and written instructions are copyright protected. This tutorial may not be printed and distributed for personal gain or teaching classes, but feel free to print a copy for personal use. The images may not be uploaded onto other websites. If you would like to share the tutorial, please do so with a link! 

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