Making a French Beaded Flower Wall-Hanging

In our Facebook Group over the last two months, we had a special group-only event to celebrate the group’s 3 year anniversary. Fen Li from the Bead Flora Studio is my friend, fellow designer, and co-admin in the group. The idea for this celebration was for us to each design a flower, and for those flowers to be used together in an arrangement. She chose Cosmos and I chose California Poppy. Then we made each other’s designs, and turned them into our own individual arrangements with our own flare and style. I’ll share mine and how I constructed it in this post. But you definitely need to check out Fen’s project too. She posted photos on her Facebook page. She took a log and made it into a whole meadow! And I’m pretty sure she mentioned that she was going to do a blog post on her website soon about how she made hers too, which you will also want to watch for.

I made Fen’s Cosmos design in red because I hadn’t worked in red in a little while and thought it would be a nice mix with the orange poppies. I did a little bit of experimenting with the Cosmos in regard to the shading pattern. I used a darker red for the UP rows of the scallops. The idea was to create a more wrinkled appearance. It kinda works if you squint. Kinda just looks like stripes. But either way I like it. Next time I might try using a smaller bead for the UP row instead. Originally I was just going to use those two flowers. Keep it simple. Especially since I have so many other things I’m trying to do (like write a book).

But then I started feeling like it was missing something. I needed more colors, but I was tired of making poppies and cosmos.

After much thought and deliberation, I decided on Texas Bluebonnet and Ox-Eye Daisies. The daisies use a mix of 11/0 and 15/0 beads. The 15/0 make more delicate looking petals. I almost used them on the leaves too.

I felt like all of the flowers deserved to have solo photo shoots. I’m still working on improving my photography, so this was a good exercise for me. Those shots are below. I officially published my California Poppy pattern in March. You can purchase the PDF here, and the Video Class + PDF here. My Texas Bluebonnet and Ox-Eye Daisy patterns will be published in the first week or two of April. The Cosmos design can be purchased on Fen’s website here. She also has a video class, which you can purchase here.

I also added in a butterfly, which you can see in the finished photos down way below. I’ve been envisioning how to make butterfly wings for years, and finally just decided to give my ideas a shot. And I’m quite pleased with it. I’m making more soon so I’ll share photos of those later. And, yes, I’ll publish the butterfly pattern too.

This isn’t the first wall-hanging I’ve made in this particular “bouquet” style. The first one I made was a sunflower and daisy bouquet that I made for my husband for our 7th wedding anniversary. I was inspired to make a piece like this from a specific style of antique Immortelle. Immortelles were used as mourning wreaths back in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Some Imortelles were styled like bouquets with handles – like the one shown below. However, the pieces I’m making are different because they aren’t really meant to be immortelles. I wanted them to look more like a regular bouquet sitting on the wall. Less geometric placement, less support showing, not as huge… etc. But, that’s where the general idea came from.

Main Event

Okay, now that I’ve set the scene, let me show how I put this piece together. The actual assembly process took me around four hours, but it can be shorter if you learn from my mistakes!

Flowers grow in bunches. So I assembled my flowers into several small sprays of the same flowers. This also makes it easier to assemble the full bouquet.

Then I made a layout on my desk of how I wanted them arranged in the finished bouquet. I spent some time on this, but knew that I’d be able to do at least a little shifting even after assembly. To build the support and hanging structure, I needed to know the general shape of the bouquet. But, I also took photos of how I arranged it so I could reference the photos for flower placement while I assembled.

Once I had the shape and general arrangement figured out, I molded 14g galvanized steel wire into two loops. I found the size and length of the loops by molding the loops above the arrangement, then cutting 7 more inches on each side of the loop to make the bouquet’s handle. I didn’t want the supports to show, so I made the loops smaller than the arrangement, but still tall enough that they will offer ample support. The loops are supports for some of the taller and heavier flowers and the arrangement as a whole, but are also how I’m going to hang this on my wall. I needed two because it’s best to have two or more hanging points for arrangements likes these, and because I wanted a wire going through the middle for support for the heavier flowers.

I wrapped the wires with white floral tape because my walls are white. I’m hoping this will help them blend in and not be as visible. But, you could also make them green so they blend in with the flower stems.

I used more white floral tape to join the two wires in the middle. Then used wire to bind the tails together at the bottom to be part of the handle.

I wrapped the stem at the bottom with floral tape just because I feel like that provides a better surface to start assembly. Then, starting at the back of the arrangement, I started adding in flowers one stem or spray at a time, using 26g wire to bind the stems to the handle. Every stem or spray has it’s own 26g assembly wire, and I wound down all the way. If you make one of these, I suggest starting the assembly binding just a little lower than I did as some of my wire wraps showed in my finished bouquet, so I had to stick some pliers in there to try and shove the wires down, which was only partially successful.

I specifically placed the bluebonnets in the back because they are heavier and I wanted extra support for them. So I also wired those to the frame. They only needed one little wire tack for each stem. I did turn these twisted wires so they would be on the side of the frame wire instead of the back. That way they won’t scratch my walls. I also tacked down any flowers that were along the back of the arrangement, and the butterfly, just to hold them in place.

Once I had all the “back” flowers added in, I started building forward to add in the rest of the flowers. Trimmed all the stem wires to the same length, then covered the whole bouquet handle with floral tape in the same color as the beads I chose to wrap it with. This way, if anything shows between the bead wraps, it won’t be quite as visible.

I thought that assembly was going to be the difficult part, and that all I had left to do was wrap the stem with beads. But oh my gosh, what a process that turned out to be! I wanted the stem to look like it had been wrapped with twine. And I know some of you are going to ask… well then why not wrap it with twine, Lauren? Because. Beads are sparkly and I wanted this thing covered in beads. That sparks more joy than boring old twine.

With the following part of my story, keep in mind that it was midnight and beyond. I don’t do my best thinking during those hours. But, I’ll share anyways because it makes a good story, and a good lesson.

I made a small circular Basic Frame the same width as the handle. The top and bottom wires were left attached so I could lay both wires against the sides of the handle, then use floral tape to secure it in place. This way I could cover the end of the handle without worrying about getting any wraps to stay in place down there.

If you notice on my sunflower wall hanging that I showed way up above, I used a single row of beads to wrap that handle. And it doesn’t really look all that much like twine. I wanted to improve on that idea. So, I decided to twist two lengths of beads together into a rope, then wrap the handle. So… I needed two lengths of wire and a continuous feed of both beads and wire. I didn’t want to use two spools because that sounded like a terrible idea.

I first had to calculate how many beads I would need to wrap the entire handle, then I could string the total amount and cut two lengths of the spool. To get a rough calculation of how many beads I would need, I made a small sample length of twisted rope and measured how much stem it would cover. From this I figured I’d need around 10 feet of beads on each wire. So 20 feet total. So I strung two 12 foot lengths of beads onto two 15 foot lengths of wire. That itself wasn’t all that bad. Straighten the wire out as you pull it off the spool, which allows you form a more controlled “puddle” of wire. Then I twisted the ends of the two wires together and also attached that to the bottom of the handle.

But the twisting… oh my gosh… You guys, it turns out that it’s really hard to twist two very long lengths of beads and wire together without producing a tangled mess! I tried so many different ways. And spent so much of my assembly time untangling wires. I un-knotted more knots than I’ve ever un-knotted before. And I’ve got little kids with yo-yo’s (those always seem to be knotted).

I started by just taking one wire in each hand, keeping tension on the beads, and then tightly twisting them together – like a 2-strand braid. But… that made super twists in the opposite direction on the far ends of the wires. So after un-tangling that disaster… I turned my long lengths of wire into whips. Flinging the entire length at a time over to the side. So the wires wouldn’t touch each other. Obviously that was a lot of work for little reward as it took two flings to get one little twist.

At one point in my sleepless, frustrated stupor, I thought I was being smart by tying the ends of my wires to different points across my studio to prevent them from wrapping around each other at the ends. Yay! No more tangles! But no, Lauren, that prevents them from twisting around each other at the front end too, which was unhelpful. Not my finest moment.

After much weeping, and wailing, and yea, even gnashing of teeth… I figured out a way that was both fast and non-tangly. First, I coiled the beaded wires and wrapped the tail end around the coil to hold it. That should have been a given and honestly should have occurred to me before. Then when I need more bead I can just undo the wire tail and spool out more wire and beads, then wrap the tail back around the remaining coil to keep it nice and tidy. At first I was trying what I did before. Holding a coil in each hand and doing a 2-strand braid type movement. But that was painfully slow, and difficult to produce a tight twist and keep tension on the beads on both wires at the same time.

Then I discovered that I could pull out equal lengths of beads on each wire and hold them out sideways from the handle. Keep tension on the beads with one hand, and then make the bouquet do somersaults with the other hand. I had to twist my arm all the way around so I could “land” the flowers on their backs and not crush them, which was uncomfortable, but doable. That way I twisted the beaded wires on the ends attached to the handle and the long ends remained untangled. I also got nice tight twists in my rope. Then, once it was all twisted, I could wrap it up. Then repeat with another length of beads. There’s a video further below if you want to see what the heck I’m talking about. You guys, it took about two hours to wrap the first half of the handle, and about 10 minutes to wrap the second half with the somersault method.

After I finished wrapping the whole handle, I tied off the wire ends by winding them around one of the flower stems along the back of the piece. And I had three feet of beads left on each of the wires. So much for my calculations. (But I probably would have cried if I’d ended up short… wait… actually that might have been better… Because I could have just twisted in new wire lengths along the back of the handle and avoided this whole ordeal.)

After this, I I took a nice long, triumphant look at it… and decided that my handle was too long compared to the height of the flowers. Something I desperately wished I had noticed before. The handle is about 7-ish inches long, and I think it would be improved if it were an inch to an inch-and-a-half shorter. I considered undoing it, trimming all the stems, then re-wrapping. But I ultimately decided that it didn’t bother me enough, and I wasn’t ready to experience that again just yet. So, it stays long. And the morning after the “experience” I decided to use the excess beads to make a little loopy “twine” bow as a finishing touch, and I am really glad I did.

I actually made a short 55 second reel-style video of my assembly process which I shared on my Facebook and Instagram pages. I’ll try to embed that below too, so you guys can see. If it doesn’t show, let me know. Sometimes things show up for me as the owner of the website that don’t show up for other people. Scroll down further for finished photos!

And here is the finished bouquet! It measures 20 x 10 inches and weighs… well… I don’t know how many pounds because I’m too exhausted to walk downstairs to weigh it. But probably somewhere around 2 pounds… less than the wedding bouquet I’ve made. But I think this might be one of my most favorite things I’ve ever made. Even though there’s orange in it. I don’t even like orange, but apparently I like orange when it’s with blue. Now to find the perfect wall to grace with it’s presence.

Alrighty, friends, that’s all I got for this project. Happy beading! If you make one of these wall bouquets, send me photos! I wanna see!
– Lauren Harpster

4 thoughts on “Making a French Beaded Flower Wall-Hanging”

  1. What an experience you had assembling this, Lauren! This was such a fun project to do. Your wall hanging turned out amazing! I will put up a blog post soon of my project 🙂

    1. Lauren Harpster

      Thank you, Fen! Lessons were learned, but that’s not a bad thing. I’ll know better next time. Looking forward to reading your blog post!

  2. Thanks lots for this post Lauren – it’s going to be a huge help when I come to the ‘dreaded assembly’ stage. The finished display is stunning.

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