Fixing French beading mistakes
In this part of my French beading blog series, we’re at the stage where you’re starting to learn. Now, what happens when any of us start learning something new? Things inevitably go wrong. So, today, I want to talk about fixing French beading mistakes.
I’m sure I won’t cover everything that can go wrong. But I have taught a lot of classes in the past. So, I’ve seen the things that go wrong most frequently. And, happily, I have solutions for them.
So, let’s get started…
A general word about fixing French beading mistakes
Before I get on to dealing with specific problems, let’s take a general look at the most helpful way of fixing French beading mistakes.
Basically, when you make a mistake, there are two things you need to know.
- Why or how did it happen?
- How can I fix it?
Answering the first question gives you the knowledge to try and avoid that mistake in future. So, this is helpful for the long term.
Answering the second question gets your beading project back on track in the short term.
Now, as I start delving into specific problems, I’m going to use that structure to help you learn how to fix them.
Problem: my wire broke!
Picture this: you’re in the middle of making a series of loops. Partway through, you finish twisting the wire to hold your loop in place and the end of wire snaps right off in your hand!
The same thing can happen when you’re using the single strands technique. With this technique, constantly pulling the wire through beads can strain it.
The two main reasons this might have happened
Usually when this happens, it is down to one of two things. Either your wire is a poor quality brand. Or, you’ve over-twisted. It can actually be a combination of both. So, the poorer quality your wire, the more it is in danger of snapping at the wrong moment.
Long term solutions
If you’re using poor quality wire, then the long term solution is to find another brand. I spoke in more detail about this in my post on French beading wire here>>
Now, if you think you’re over-twisting, this is something you need to work on correcting. If you’re already used to bead-weaving, then you know all about tension. Well, it occurs to me that twisting wire is slightly similar.
Whenever you are using any of the French beaded loop techniques, you are aiming to hit a ‘sweet spot’ with your twisting. You want to just twist enough to hold the loop secure. Bear in mind, that you don’t want your twists to extend down the wire or you will have problems adding more loops. (Take a look at the photo above. See how the twist is minimal, but the loops are close together).
So, what tends to happen is people try to twist ‘on top’ of existing twists. This is good, up to a point. But if you have a lot of twists on top of one another, it puts strain on the wire. So, that’s when the breakage occurs. Sometimes it happens immediately. Sometimes it breaks later on as you’re doing something else with that part of the flower.
So, this is a difficult concept to explain. But it is one that comes with experience. I don’t want you to be afraid of the wire. A good quality brand will be robust. But if you do find yourself dealing with a lot of breakages when you’re twisting, maybe just try and ease back on the twists a little.
Fixing French Beading Mistakes with broken wire
So, now for the important stuff. How do you fix this?
The answer depends on where your wire has broken. If you only have a couple of loops in place, then maybe it’s best to just start over.
If you’re about to add your final loop, then it’s really frustrating to do everything again. So, there is a ‘fix’.
You need to undo the last loop of beads so that you give yourself a bit of wire (like a short stem). Then start a new piece and make however many loops you need to complete your series.
Now, if you place the end of series 1 right up close to the start of series 2, you can twist the wires together to join the two sets of loops. So, yes, your series has a break in it, but this doesn’t matter.
Finish up by joining the start of series 1 to the end of series 2 as you would normally with a continuous series. In the photo below, the stars indicate the series of strands in section 2. The arrows point to the joins.
Problem: I ran out of beads!
We have a couple of scenarios here. First, you’re in the middle of making a petal or leaf using the ‘basic’ technique. You need a total of 13 rows and you think you have enough beads on your wire to do this.
But, you get to row 11 and it becomes apparent that you only have enough beads left to do half of row 12. What are you going to do?
In the second scenario, you come across the same kind of problem. Only this time, you’re making a series of loops. So, you run out of beads, but still have a few loops to make.
Happily, fixing French beading mistakes like these is very easy!
Why does it happen?
Duh – you didn’t thread enough beads onto your wire before you started the component. I think we can all work that one out!
There isn’t really a solution to this. It still happens to me from time to time. Usually, when I’m making the very last component and I think that I ‘probably’ have enough beads left without needing to string extra.
If this mistake is really annoying for you, then just make sure you always string lots of beads – way more than you’re likely to need.
But honestly, it’s so simple to fix, that I wouldn’t worry about trying to avoid the problem.
All you need to do is calculate how much extra wire you’re going to need to complete your component. Then, cut the wire from the spool at this point. You can then thread the extra beads onto this end of wire. Remember to knot the end, then just add your final rows or loops.
The tricky part is working out how much wire you need. Remember, the wrapping or twisting takes more wire than you think.
So, let’s say I’m working with the basic technique and I have two rows left to add. I would measure my wire up the right-hand side (row 1 – red line in photo below), then down the left-hand side (row 2 – pink line in photo below). Then double the length I’ve measured (ie pink+red x2). Finally, add on the length of the stem (blue arrow in photo below). So, this will be generous enough to ensure you don’t run out partway through finishing again.
If you’re making a series of loops, then you need to measure the wire required for each loop you have left. Again, double that and add on the stem length. If you’re making a series of three-row or four-row-crossover loops, don’t forget to measure the wire for the rows as well as the outer edge of the loop.
Alternatively, with the loops, you can use my fix for broken wire from above.
Problem: I ran out of wire!
This is a problem that should only occur in a very specific situation and it may never happen to you! Happily, fixing French beading mistakes like this is also easy.
So, here’s the scenario. You’ve got a little bit of wire left on your spool. Is it enough to make a complete petal/leaf/series of petals? You don’t know for sure, but you decide to take the risk rather than start a new spool of wire.
I do this all the time and I applaud you for taking that risk… I’m not a fan of waste. So, I hate to put aside a spool before I’ve totally emptied it!
The trouble is, you get partway through your component and realise you’re not going to have enough wire to finish it. Oops!
How does it happen?
Usually, we underestimate how much wire the wrapping and twisting will require. So, long term, you will learn to judge better as you get more experienced. But, if you’re a little ‘frugal’, like me, you can expect this problem to keep cropping up!
Fixing French beading mistakes like this
If you’re making a series of loops, then the solution is actually the same as the one I gave for broken wire. So, just make as many loops as you can, leaving a little stem at the end. Then start a new reel of wire. Make your remaining loops and join the two sections.
If you’re working on the ‘basic’ technique, you can finish a row – make sure to complete it at the bottom of the petal/leaf. Then, take your new piece of wire. Wrap the end of it up the stem wire, securely, so you are then in place ready to continue with the next row.
Unfortunately, if you’re using the conical structure/beehive basic, that last solution won’t be an option. In that technique, your rows move up and away from the stem wire, so you will have trouble joining a new wire to continue. So, if you’re in that situation, it would be a case of starting over.
These quick fixes are all things you will learn to develop as you grow in experience and confidence.
Problem: my stem is too short
This is a really common problem for beginners. You get carried away with concentrating on your first loop and forget to leave a long enough stem wire.
Or, you just underestimate the size of stem loop on your basic technique.
However it happens, you end up coming to assemble your flower and finding you have no stem!
Fixing French beading mistakes that result from too little wire, like this, is simple. Use your straight lengths of stem wire to extend the length of your stem.
As you become more experienced, this kind of problem will stop happening. So, just try and be aware right from the beginning.
Let me know how you do…
If you have any other cunning ways of fixing French beading mistakes, please let me know in the comments. And if you come across a problem that I haven’t covered here, just drop me an email and I’ll try to help you fix it.