The most elaborate pieces of art were created in Medieval Byzantium. Thousands of pearls, precious gems, crystals and beads covered gowns of nobility and priests of the highest rank. Small glass balls adorned collars, edges of sleeves and chest parts of shirts. Glass beads were found even on the clothes of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs. However, we cannot determine their aesthetic value, because thousands of years have passed since then.
Venice is a birthplace of many great artists and sculptors, who used beads as accents in their works. Those pieces of art prove that beaded gowns and accessories were extremely trendy. A piece of a real Italian costume from the time of the Renaissance is preserved in the Art and Industry Museum of Hamburg. The fine ornament depicts exotic birds and animals surrounded by many fantastic plants. The entire picture is a masterpiece of bead embroidery.
Kievan Rus became another Medieval country, which created a trend of beaded clothing. In fact, pearls usually played the role of beads. However, the embroidery technology was left the same. The Slavs also enjoyed embroidering icons with beads.
Syria, the Roman Empire, India and China also created their own traditions in making embroidery. Museums around the world keep the masterpieces of beaded art from different nations to help us unravel the secrets of the past. Bead embroidery often reflected the traditions of nations, depicted religious scenes and scenes from folk tales.
By the end of the 18th century bead embroidery became a great trend, again. It is interesting that all of the social layers were involved in the bead fashion. The nobility mixed precious gems, crystals and beads to create sophisticated decorating ornaments. Peasant women always used beads to create designs for their wedding dresses. The white bead and thread embroidery created the perfect volume in the right places, making brides` figures more attractive. Beads are often used in creating women`s folk costumes. All of the folk ornaments were covered by a layer of beads.
Before you create your embroidered masterpiece, you have to think about the materials you will use. Today, there are three bead producing countries: Japan, Czech Republic and Taiwan.
Japanese beads are considered to be the highest quality. They are the largest and they have large holes inside. Beginner craftsmen will enjoy working with these beads, because they are very convenient and all come in one size. When finished, embroidery will look very neat, even if a craftsman is not so skilled. Unfortunately, Japanese beads are very expensive, and, thus, it is very hard to collect the beads of all colors and shades, when you need to prepare a large embroidered picture for an art project.
The cheapest beads are from Taiwan. They easily lose their luster and color, and even break. The size of the holes in the beads is not always suitable for a needle.
Czech beads are considered the most popular and affordable and their quality pleases an average needleworker. The wide color range of Czech beads and the precise calibration make it possible to use them in various types of needlework. However, they are almost never perfectly round. Czech beads are flattened and they are close to an oval in shape. The holes are small in the Czech beads. Only skillful and experienced craftsmen can work properly with this kind of material.
There are so many designs of the beads existing in the world of crafts! If you have just started, you may feel confused about the great variety of choices. A transparent colored bead is one of the most popular ones. It is made of transparent colored glass. Sometimes, such beads are covered with glitter, which creates a wet effect to the piece. Beads with silver holes have an unusual design. This type of beads is made of colored glass with a silver-plated middle; they have a wonderful, eye-shining brilliance. It is an interesting fact that beads that have different hole shapes produce different shine.
Beads with a round hole sparkle softer than beads with a square hole (the light is sharply refracted and looks brighter). The double-color effect bead will make your embroidery shine even brighter. This bead has two different strata of colors. For example, a bead can be red inside, but the cover layer can be yellow.
Opaque colored beads are the most durable among all types of beads. They are often used in creating ethnic patterns. Opaque beads may have three effects: glitter, matte and with a gasoline coating.
Metallic-opaque beads have a coating of various shades of metal. They are perfect for creating embroideries, where the real metal items are depicted. Glazed opaque beads have a range of colors and can be matte or shiny. However over time, the glaze is erased under the influence of water and sun. Hematite (graphite) beads have a dark gray color with shine and look like a hematite stone. Grated translucent beads have a rough surface. Striped glass beads are made by melting colored plastic layers.
In this enormous bead world there is still a place for a mystery bead. It has no definite color and its surface glitters like no others`. It is also called a chameleon bead. It has a different color at the daytime and at night.
It is very complicated to collect all the beads you need for your perfect picture. Creating an image of what you want to see as a final result is even more difficult. In St-Petersburg Global Trade House you will find the solution to both of these problems. In our stores you can find many beautiful bead embroidery sets. When you finish your work you can put it in a frame and create a handmade decoration for the interior of your house.