The craft of attaching beads to one another with thread or wire, or sewing them to cloth.
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|Area currently practised||UK|
|Origin in the UK|
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Beads have been used by cultures, religions and subcultures for personal adornment, communication and trade for thousands of years. Today, we see beads used in artworks, jewellery making, embroidery, costume design and more.
In the UK, beadwork has been an important art form since the Middle Ages, when elaborate beadwork was used for both decorative and pictorial purposes. From the Renaissance to the 17th century, beadwork was a popular form of decoration for the wealthy and included decorations for clothing, apparel, objects and pictures.
In the 18th century beadwork fell out of favour, but became popular again during the 19th century. A great many women’s dresses were richly ornamented with beads of all kinds and beading could be found on many small articles such as gloves, belts, purses, bags and parasols. Beadwork as dress decoration recurred periodically in the 20th century. Today, beadwork is a popular hobby that takes inspiration from beading traditions all over the world.
Beads come in a variety of materials, shapes and sizes. Beads are used to create jewellery or other articles of personal adornment; they are also used in wall hangings and sculpture and many other artworks
Beadwork techniques are broadly divided into loom and off-loom weaving, stringing, bead embroidery, bead crochet, bead knitting, and bead tatting.
Lampworked glass beads
Issues affecting the viability of the craft
The Beadworkers Guild – The Guild also organise events such as the Great British Bead Show
Craftspeople currently known
- The Bead Society provide links to members’ websites
- Bead retailer Big Bead Little Bead provide a directory of beading groups across the UK