Lesson Two: Continuous Basic Frame
Continuous Basic Frame is a modification of the Basic Frame technique. It is also a Base Technique, meaning you can use almost any add-on technique with it.
Continuous Basic Frame (abbreviated CBF) is one of the Base Techniques that I’m introducing in my Intermediate Course. This is not a traditional French Beading technique. You won’t find it in any of the older books, or books from other designers. This is because it is one of the techniques that I have invented during my time as a French Beaded Flower designer. Continuous Basic Frame combines Basic Frame and Continuous Wraparound Loops in order to make multiple Basic Frame type petals on a single wire. It’s purpose is to reduce the number of petal stem wires, which helps keep flower stems nice and thin, and also makes assembly much faster.
You can make any combination of Basic Frame shapes with Continuous Basic Frame. The only difference is that CBF will always have an even number of rows, whereas Basic Frame usually has an odd number of rows. As long as you are only working with one color of beads, you can work CBF directly from the spool without measuring or cutting any wire.
Make 1: 5x 6 row CBF, 10 bead BR, RB PT.
Translation: Make one unit. The unit will have five petals. Each petal will have 6 rows in the Continuous Basic Frame technique. The Basic Row will be 10 beads. The shape is Round Bottom (90 degree wrap) and Pointed Top (45 degree wrap).
For this exercise, use 24 gauge copper core wire and size 11/0 seed beads.
- Construct a Basic Frame using 10 beads for the Basic Row. Make the bottom loop smaller than normal. Flip the frame upside down. Take note of the CBF anatomy in Photo 1 as it is a little different from a regular Basic Frame. The Basic Row is right where it always is, right in the middle. However, the loop is now at the top of the frame, and the Top and Bottom Wire have switched. And the Working Wire will be attached to the frame just above the Basic Row instead of underneath it.
- Wrap rows 2 and 3 with a Round Bottom (90 degree angle wrap) and Pointed Top (45 degree angle wrap). Remember that the twisted wire is the Top Wire and the single wire is the Bottom Wire. (Photo 2)
- Wrap 3 more rows of beads, making 6 total. There will be 2 rows of beads on one side of the Basic Row, and 3 beads on the other side. Tie off the working wire off just as you would with Continuous Wraparound Loops, by wrapping twice tightly and close together around the Bottom Wire after the last row of beads. Do not cut the Working Wire.
- On the Working Wire, set up the frame for the second petal. Just like with CWL, you will need to leave a bare space of wire below the Basic Row to leave room for wire wraps. Form a loop in the wire above the Basic Row and twist it to form the Top Wire. (Photo 3)
5. Wrap 5 more rows of beads around the second Basic Row, RB PT. Tie off the Working Wire below but do not cut it. (Photo 4)
6. Continue making identical petals until you have five total. (Photo 5)
7. After the last petal, form the unit into a circle the same way as you could any other Continuous technique, by crossing the Working Wire over the first petal and wrapping around it once (Photo 6). Then bring the beginning tail wire and the Working Wire together beneath the unit and twist them together to form the unit stem wire.
8. Twist all of the Top Wires a little tighter to make certain that they won’t come undone, then use wire cutters to clip them all short (approximately 1/4″ or 6.4 mm) (Photo 7). Bend all of the Top Wires to the back sides of the petals. You may want to use pliers for this step.
The finished petal unit is shown in Photo 8.
If made in regular Basic Frame, this same number of petals would add 5-10 (depending on if you reduce to one bottom wire or two) petal stem wires to the flower stem. By using Continuous Basic Frame, we’ve made the same number of petals with only 2 stem wires.
Just as with any continuous technique, there are limitations as to what you can do with CBF. While reducing the number of stem wires can be very helpful, it will also reduce the amount of support for individual petals. CBF is most easily used for small sized petals.
But, I’ve got a little trick that will help you be able to use this technique for medium sized petals without ending up with floppy, unsupported petals.
Let’s say you want to make a flower with 12 medium sized petals and you want to use CBF because you want the flower to have a thin stem, and you want to be able to assemble the flower quickly and easily. Here’s how to do it.
- Instead of making 1 unit with 12 petals, make 2 units with 6 petals. Do not form the units into circles and cut the Working Wires long. (Photo 9). Note: I’m only using different colors to be able to demonstrate this easily.
- Combine the two units into one unit by weaving the Working Wire from Unit A (shown in red) around the bottom wire of each petal in Unit B (shown in blue). (Photo 10)
3. Then weave the working wire from Unit B (blue) around the base of each petal in Unit A (red). (Photo 11)
4. Test the support for the individual petals. If this is suffient, simply twist the working wires with their matching tail wires. If you need more support you can wrap the working wires back through all the petals another time or two. Wrap the Unit A (red) Working Wire around the Unit A (red) petals then around the Unit B (blue) petals a second time. Then wrap the Unit B (blue) Working Wire around the Unit B (blue) petals and then around the Unit A (red) petals for a second time. The wires will start to form a woven mesh under the petals (Photo 12). Then twist the working wires with the closest tail wire.
We’ve just taken what would have been 12-24 stem wires with regular Basic Frame, and reduced it to just 4. But I would still advise using regular Basic Frame for large sized petals.
© 2018 Lauren Harpster from Bead and Blossom. The photographs and written instructions are copyright protected. This tutorial has been published for personal use only. The images may not be uploaded onto other websites. This tutorial may not be printed for personal gain or used for teaching classes. If you would like to share this tutorial, please do so with a link!