Monday, 13 February 2012

Little Robin Red-Breast

I admit it... I'm a doodler!  
Especially during meetings.  Usually, I draw all kinds of geometric things, but during a teleconference a couple of weeks ago, I drew a little bird on a green post-it.  Then I was struck with inspiration... this would make a really nice design for a bead embroidered robin!

I'm still relatively new to bead embroidery, I've only made a few pieces in the past, so this felt like it was quite ambitious to me.  I spend a couple of weeks thinking about it, and on Sunday evening, I decided to give it a go!

The ladies of my favourite facebook group gave my little Robin such a friendly welcome into the world, that I thought I'd write up how I made him (ok, so I had kind of planned to do this any way, hence all the step-by-step photos!)  At points, I got carried away, and forgot to stop to take photos... so if things jump about a bit... I apologise.
First off, I drew the outline of the bird onto my stiff-stuff, and glued the 17 x 10 mm black cherry mother of pearl oval in place, and in back-stitch, I sewed a row of metallic bronze size 11 beads around the oval.  

Next, I started on the wing.  I used a mix of matt and metallic finish beads in shades of brown, red and gold iris, working along the outline of the wing, then building up inside the wing to fill it in.  I've heard this described as 'painting with beads' and I think that's a beautiful description!


 The next step was to start filling in the body of the bird.  I really wanted to do this in a way that would give an idea of the the different parts of the bird... like I wanted the wing to look different to the body, and I wanted the tail to look like a tail, so this is how I built it up, initially by back-stitching another row around the shell oval.

 And then a third row, so the body met the wing.
 I then moved on to the tail, working in back stitch, two beads at a time

 Next, I decided to move to the head, and used a 3mm petrol Swarovski pearl for the eye, and  copper-lined crystal size 15 delicas for the beak
 I then continued to bead the outline of the head, and fill in the rest of the empty space.  There were a few little spaces where the size 11 beads didn't quite fit together as nicely as I would have liked, mainly because the rows were all worked in different directions, so I filled these in with some size 15 seed beads in light brown AB.
 Once the beading was finished, I trimmed around the beadwork leaving a very tiny edge of stiff-stuff all the way around.
 The next bit actually gave me a headache... but that was due to the smell of the glue!  E6000 is a favourite of bead embroiderers, but it really smells... I used it to glue the embroidery onto some ultra-suede backing.  I then cut around the beadwork, leaving about 1mm of ultra-suede all the way around the edge.
 Then, to finish it all off nicely, I used the size 15 light brown AB beads to sew a brick-stitch edge all the way round.

I am going to turn this into a hair clip... or a brooch... I'm not sure which.  I think I'd wear it more as a hair clip.

A member of the facebook group I mentioned earlier suggested that I tried making some other British birds... which led to a great deal of hilarity.... and a conversation which I shan't repeat on here.

I'd like to say a big thank you to all the lovely ladies from OTTBS who have really made my evening, and who make beading, and tacking my stash great fun!


  1. It's lovely how a doodle can turn into a work of art! Great inspiration and execution Becs. And the Group was so funny this evening I have a stitch in my side now...

  2. I so love it! Gorgeous work, and fabulous instructions, Becs!!! Standing ovation!!!! :) You've inspired me to try a little bead doodling of my own soon!!!

  3. Nancy - I can't believe I've inspired you... it usually works the other way around!

  4. He's such a cheerful chappie. Love your doodling and thanks for the step by steps! Very clear

  5. Thanks, Becs. This is so well written and photographed that you're making me think of trying bead embroidery. I really love your bird and thank you for the tutorial!

  6. Lovely write-up, such a cute little Robin - you really must do more. June x

  7. I love all the little pictures as you go along ... it really tells the story well!

  8. Oh Becs, this little chap is adorable. I don't remember seeing him in the Facebook Group, but I can well imagine the British Birds conversation. We're a cheeky bunch. Did you make a brooch or a hairclip in the end? x

  9. Muchas gracias por el tutorial.