Try A Beaded Background



When I decided not to finish the entire Paint, Stitch, Bead project I was working on last summer, I had every intention of finishing up two sections and having them framed. That was only (ahem) five or six months ago, so it was time to add a beaded background and git ‘er done!



Painted background need some texture

The elements in the Paintstik rubbings on either side of the feather were too small for both embroidery and beading, so I set out to see how I could add some interest without competing too much with the feather.



Beads for the Green section of the background

First the Green section. I liked the idea of adding beads to the dots in the pattern, so I chose O-beads and a small seedbeads from my small (but growing) bead collection.



Bring needle up through o-bead and seed bead

The beading is very simple. Up through the o-bead and the seed bead…



Push needle down through o-bead

… then back down through the o-bead. The seed bead is bigger than the hole in the o-bead, so it holds everything in place.


Green section of background complete

I love this combination – it adds texture without being distracting. The effect is similar to the Knotty Stop Beads I used in another section of this piece – but a lot less work!



Beads for Blue section of background

The Blue section of the background was more challenging. I tried half a dozen ideas using the beads I had on hand, then threw in the towel and headed over to the bead store. Thankfully, they had some lovely triangular beads in a warm color tone that looked great with some short bugle beads from my stash.



Needle up through one hole in triangle bead and short bugle bead

Again, the beading was super-simple. Up through one hole and the bugle bead, down through the other hole. It took two passes of thread through these beads to keep everything snug in the right place.



Blue section of background complete

And the result? Another random-feeling beaded background. Nice!



Oops! One feather still needs work.

I was ready to do my little happy dance when I noticed the partial feather on the bottom right. Opps! No beads! My beaded backgrounds are complete, but there’s a bit of work to be done before I send this off to the framer. Soon… very soon…


Your Turn

Are you using beads to add bling to your hand embroidery or painted fabric? Leave a comment below. I love to hear what you’re thinking about.


  1. Linda on February 2, 2017 at 10:17 am

    I absolutely love this idea of embellishing the designs with beads. It adds another dimension of texture and of course color. Wonderful idea. I am getting ready to paint a couple of plain long-sleeved turtle-neck winter shirts with your texture plates to add some interest. The beading will add that last bit of sparkle for these gray winter days. Thank you.

    • ShellyStokes on February 2, 2017 at 11:44 am

      I’m glad you enjoyed the new idea, Linda. The beads are a great way to add some sparkle.

  2. Diane on February 2, 2017 at 11:20 am

    Very interesting. I like your chooses of stacked beads. I have also started looking at adding beads to my work. I did a small piece years ago and now retired ready to do more. I took a class at Houston from Nancy Eha Beaded Kaleidoscopes. Learned a lot and actually finished the class project. Looking forward to Mondays class.

    • ShellyStokes on February 2, 2017 at 11:44 am

      Thanks, Diane. I took a Crazy Beading course from Nancy Eha. She is a fountain of good information when it comes to beading!

  3. Etta Stewart on February 2, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    Shelly, I have been using beads for ahwhile. Your examples are stunning. I will post a picture or 2 on FB

    • ShellyStokes on February 2, 2017 at 4:26 pm

      Thanks, Etta! Definitely post some photos. I would love to see what you are doing with beads.

  4. Mary on February 2, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    Beautiful! Your work keeps getting better and better.

    • ShellyStokes on February 6, 2017 at 3:46 pm

      Thanks, Mary. It’s fun to see things evolve over time. You start with one thing, add something new, and then another something new. I usually have no idea where I’m going when I start. I’m constantly amazed how well things work out.