Introduction: Glass Beaded Ornaments

I started making these ornaments years ago. The idea is that everyone has some of the plain glass ball ornaments and they are too ordinary--because everyone has them. They need to be dressed up a bit. I saw these beaded covers in a beading magazine. My dad saw some just like them in a shop window while on vacation in Alaska. They became they family favorite ornament.

I have made a few of these over the years using plastic beads. They do not turn out as nice. Glass beads have a nice weight to them. I use mostly seed beads but the occasional larger bead adds a nice touch.

I string most of my ornaments on 2 pound fishing line. I have tried other things but 4 pound line is stiffer and you do not get a nice drape. I have tried a variety of threads but the thicker threads just get stuck and the thinner ones break too easily. The fishing line works well. I found a really big spool of it in the fishing section of the local sporting goods store.

You need a very skinny needle--a beading needle is usually a bit on the flexible side so they bend easily. I have tried several different kinds--they all work pretty well. If you are using tinier beads, choose the thinnest needle possible.

This is going to take more thread than you might think. I hate having to attach new threads all the time so I try to start with a really long thread. I usually use a thread that is as long as I can stretch my arm. This does cause problems for beginners. Longer threads get tangled more. As you get more experience, you learn how to keep tangles from happening.

Step 1: Beginning at the Collar

Before you start, you need to choose the ornament you are going to cover. Different sized bulbs have different sized necks. The ornament drape needs to fit the neck of the bulb you are working on. There can be a small amount of play, but if it is too loose, the drape will sag and look a little sad.

Start by stringing enough needs to make a loop all the way around the neck of your bulb. Once you know that the loop fits around the bulb, you can set the bulb off to the side.

I like to evenly space a contrasting color bead around the collar. This helps me when I start the next row. You can use an alternate size or shape bead. I showed a few alternatives in the pictures.

On my example in the picture, I used 5 clear beads followed by one white bead. I repeated this until I had 5 white beads. The white beads are the ones I used to join rows.

Pass the needle through all the beads a second time then tie the beginning thread to the working end. I leave the tail thread on at this time. This means that you will have it to tie to when you finish. At that time you can trim the end off.

Step 2: Second Row

The second row will join to the first row at the contrasting beads. Between each of these attachment points, there need to be more beads than were used in the first row. If you used 5 beads between adjacent contrast beads in row one, try 7 or 8 in row 2. Then string 1 contrast bead.

To attach row 2 to row 1, pass the needle back through the contrast bead of round 1 and then through the contrast need of round 2. See the drawn diagram. Follow the arrows. I think of this as a figure 8--kind of anyway. Since all the weight rests on this point, I usually go through the figure 8 twice.

String on another 7 or 8 beads and another contrast bead. Repeat the attachment procedure with the next contrast bead from round 1. Continue around until you finish round 2.

Step 3: Each Additional Row

Round 3 needs more seed beads between each pair of contrast beads. You can play around with how many additional beads you use. Attach row 3 to row 2 the same way you attached row 2.

If you use many more beads with each subsequent row, you will see more of the glass bulb when the ornament is hanging. If you only add a few additional beads with each subsequent row, then you will block the inner ornament from view. It is up to you how much you want showing.

I used 8 clear beads between white beads in round 2. I used 12 clear beads in round 3. I used 7 clear, a white, a gold, a white, and 7 more clear in round 4.

You can make as many or as few rows as you wish. I sometimes make the beads hang down well past the bottom of the bulb. Other times, I make the beaded drape shorter than the bulb itself. This is a good idea when you are covering a larger bulb--the beads make the bigger bulbs very heavy.

Step 4: Adding More Thread

Eventually, the thread gets too short to work with. At this point you have to add a new length. Remove the needle and tie a new piece of the fishing line. Pull pretty hard on both ends. If the knot is going to slip apart, you do not want it to be later when there are a lot of beads hanging on it.

I prefer my knots to be somewhere in the middle of the draping part rather at the contrast bead part. I do not like the knot getting in the way of my joining the rows but that is probably just my version of OCD.

If you want to make extra sure that your knot will not slip, you can seal it with a drop of clear nail polish. Be sure to let it dry before you continue to work.

Once you know that your knot is not going to slip, trim the tails of your thread and continue to work.

I know that you cannot see the thread in the picture. I really don't know why I took a picture of the knotted thread. Just trust me, there is a new thread added to the first one.

Step 5: When You Have Finished the Last Row

When you have as many rows as you want, you need to tie off the end of the thread. Weave the needle back up through the contrast beads until you get back to where you started. Tie a secure knot. You can seal the knot with a drop of clear nail polish. After the nail polish has dried, trim the tail ends of your thread.

Step 6: A Couple of Finished Ornaments

I have shown a few different drapes. Note that you can change the bulb as long as you choose a new one of the same size. Sometimes changing the color of the bulb, makes a drastic change in the appearance of the ornament.

If the glass bulb breaks, you can re-use the beaded drape on another ornament of the same size.

Glass Challenge 2017

Participated in the
Glass Challenge 2017