Lauren Harpster

In my early years of motherhood I found myself in desperate need of a hobby. Something that was just for me that I didn't have to sacrifice for everyone else. I was trying to learn bead weaving, but was never very successful because thread is the devil. It was in my search for bead weaving tips and techniques that I stumbled across a picture of a beautiful French Beaded Calla Lily. You could say it was love at first sight. An art that combines my love of glorious sparkly beads with my love of flowers. And the best part is that they are made with wire and not thread. I learned the basics of French Beading from books, but after making substantial alterations to every pattern I tried, I discovered that I much prefer to design flowers from scratch.

Because I make flowers, most of my inspiration comes from nature. Most of the time I have to work from pictures of the flowers I want to create. But, whenever I can get my hands on live flowers I take them home to photograph, observe, and dissect. I trace and measure each flower part and record my observations about the flowers and their form in a journal. This way, when I get a chance to make that flower out of beads, I can use my measurements and photographs to design them as close to nature as possible - within the limitations of beads and wire. I've never been very skilled at gardening, but I am trying (again) this year to grow flowers from seeds so I can study them at every phase of their life cycle. My work tends to push a little bit beyond traditional French Beading techniques, and over the years I have even developed several new techniques and technique combinations of my own.

My flowers are made mostly from seed beads (tons and tons of seed beads!). I use several brands, such as Preciosa, TOHO, Matsuno, and Miyuki. I especially love 2-cut, 3-cut, and satin seed beads! I also incorporate Swarovski and Precisoa crystal beads and pearls, along with a variety of Czech glass beads. The wire I use to make each flower component is copper at the core, though I choose colors that closely match the beads.

I have now been making French Beaded Flowers obsessively for six years, and teaching the art for four years through my website. After several years of publishing and selling digital copies of my patterns, last year I published my first print book titled "Christmas Collection", which is the first volume in my "French Beading Patterns" series. It is available on Amazon and on my website. There are many more books coming! Currently I am working on Volume Two, "Spring Collection", which will be published in 2019.




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