Do you want to make awesome bead-people, suitable for use in Christmas ornaments, last-minute Christmas gifts of the decorative and frivolous sort, and assorted other crafty projects?
You do? Well, I’ll be! And here I am, just bursting to tell you how to do just that. First, here are a couple of examples of finished bead-people I’ve made:
And now, here’s a picture of the beads you’ll need (or the beads you could use, anyway- really, the process is flexible, and you can do a lot of improvising and still get a satisfactory result):
Besides beads, you’ll need beading wire (I like 20G, because it is thick enough to hold its shape but thin enough to bend with your fingers) and something to cut the wire with.
One neat thing about this method is that you’ll be using one continuous length of wire to make the whole doll. This is satisfying, and it also gives the doll lots of durability that it wouldn’t otherwise have.
Here is a picture of the beads, laid out as they will be used in the doll:
1. Cut a good length of wire. I used about 2 1/2 feet of wire in this example. BE CAREFUL with the wire, by the way- the end you aren’t working with should be assumed to be both sentient and malevolent, and to have a particular taste for jabbing you in the eye. Or you could just wear safety goggles. Up to you.
At this point, you can put your wire-cutters away. You won’t be cutting the wire again (unless of course you decide you have too much extra wire at the end and want to cut the excess off- up to you).
2. String the bead you’ve selected for the head.
Wrap the wire a few times around the head.
3. Now string the bead that will sit between the arms and do some more wire-wrapping. You want to do a little more wrapping than seems necessary, because later you will want to tuck your wire through this bit.
4. Once you’ve gotten your wire poking out at approximately where the arm should be (I recommend stepping back from the doll regularly and assessing its anatomical persuasiveness), string all of the beads that make up one of the doll’s arms:
The little rainbow-colored beads are not structurally necessary. I would recommend having tube-shaped or teardrop-shaped beads for the forearm and the upper arm, a roundish bead for the elbow, and bicone beads for the hands.
5. Make a little loop at the end of the arm
7. Do whatever is necessary to get your wire in position for making Arm #2.
In the picture above, I’ve tucked the wire under another wire. This will fix the starting point for Arm #2 sufficiently in place once I pull the wire through.
Pull the wire through; don’t pull too tightly or the doll will sort of dissolve into a bunch of beads and some wire… um, you’ll see what I mean by that if you ever do pull the wire too sharply or too tightly. Whenever you pull the wire through in this project, you want to take up as much slack as possible without ruining the look of the doll. The wire should sit just a little loosely around the doll without looking sloppy.
8. String the beads that make up Arm #2. Make a loop at the end of the arm, as you did for Arm #1. Wrap wire up the arm, as for Arm #1.
9. Do whatever is necessary to get the wire in the correct position for making the rest of the torso. The wire should be pointing approximately downwards, but none of this needs to be precise to make a beautiful bead-doll.
In the picture above, the wire is tucked under itself.
10. String the torso-beads.
Here, I’ve used a fancy rainbow-bead for the waist and a large silver bead for the hips/bottom/belly of the doll.
11. More wrapping!
The wire is now in position to make one of the legs.
12. String all of the beads that make up one of the doll’s legs
I like using teardrop-shaped beads for the upper and lower leg, as this seems to me to make the thing look more like a leg.
13. Make a loop at the end of the leg, as you did for the arms.
14. Wrap the wire up the leg, as you did for the arms. Tuck or wrap the wire until it is in a plausible position for Leg #2.
15. String the beads for Leg #2.
15. Make a loop at the end of Leg #2.
16. Wrap the wire up the leg and use excess wire to reinforce weak points in the torso
17. Ta-da! You now have a doll.
To make your doll into a Christmas ornament, pose your doll in some natural and dynamic position (think of how acrobats look while performing daring aerial feats), then feed a ribbon through the loops at the doll’s feet and hands until the doll clings to the ribbon like an awesome acrobat. Play with position of doll and position of ribbon until you get something that balances well and is visually pleasing. Then, put an ornament-hanging loop at one end of the ribbon (tie the ribbon to it) and put a big bead at the other end of the ribbon (knot the ribbon under the bead to keep the bead in place). And there are are! You have an ornament.
Or, you could…
– Incorporate your doll into necklaces or earrings
– Make a circle with memory-wire and pose the doll in the circle (as in the earring pictured above)
-Incorporate the doll into wire sculptures or mobiles and give these sculptures to friends and family as Christmas presents. That is what I’m doing. Because I believe in inflicting my hobbies on my friends and family whenever possible. These little trials are good for their spiritual development. I will post pictures of these Singularly Trying Presents as soon as they have been distributed to my Loving Relations (I don’t want to ruin the surprise by posting pictures of the Objects before giving them to their recipients).
– I guess you could sew your doll some clothes, if you know how to sew…