This is a simple beaded ornament from the Roadtrip Beading experiment by Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.

Beaded Ornaments and Roadtrip Beading

In my world, road trips equal bead opportunities. In preparation for a seven-hour drive, I gathered my beads and prepared to work on a variety of beaded ornaments for the Bead Society of New Mexico’s Christmas project.

The Bead Society is decorating a 6.5-foot full-size lighted green Christmas tree for the Carrie Tingley Festival of Trees, a fundraiser for children with disabilities across New Mexico.

Beaded ornaments are no small undertaking, especially with a call for more than 100 ornaments (plus icicles and a tree topper). I picked up clear glass and silver or turquoise rounds and promised to do my part. According to one pattern, stacking the balls in various size cups made for easier beading. I assembled cups and beads and began.

Mary Ellen Beads gathered ornaments, cups and beads for her roadtrip beading.
©2016, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Roadtrip Beading Prep – ornaments, cups and beads for project

In retrospect, the moving vehicle added an additional challenge, hence the “roadtrip.” Even though I used a bead board, I had a number of “accidents” in which beads flew. Fortunately, my husband is patient.

I arrived at our destination with three completed ornaments and tick sheet of what to do and not to do on my return trip.

These three glasses hold the first ornaments of the Roadtrip Beading experiment
©2016, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Roadtrip Beading Ornaments Version 1

I enshrined the three completions on a counter and contemplated my handiwork. As suggested, I’d strung the beads and then wove them together row by row. Each ornament required nearly two hours of bead time. I focused on how I might simplify the pattern and still produce a beautiful ornament.

This is a simple beaded ornament from the Roadtrip Beading experiment by Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.
©2016, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Roadtrip Beading, Simple ornament

Because I love random, I found myself experimenting with non-symmetrical beads. I focused on creating one-of-a-kind ornaments to enhance the tree .

Many of my beads were pearls. The elegance of pearls with sparkly glass captivated me. Unfortunately, the small holes in the pearls required thin needles and shorter thread in order to better manage the project. In some cases, it was difficult to go through the pearl multiple times using fireline.

These beaded ornaments are the Roadtrip Beading work of Mary Ellen Beads Albuquerque.
©2016, Mary Ellen Merrigan, Roadtrip Beading, Six Beaded Ornaments and two ice sickles

I completed an additional three ornaments on the return trip and added a number of hints to my list:

  1. Work the design from the center top down
  2. Bead slightly more than half the circumference of the ornament for a more polished look
  3. Even if you are planning a random ornament, pattern your work. On some beads I added the turquoise color every fifth bead, on some I added a larger bead at a junction
  4. Paper cups are not really heavy enough to support your work. I can’t recommend them
  5. Netted beaded ornaments look better (in my opinion) than the strung beads that were wound round and round. You might disagree.
  6. White thread works well. I used Nymo when I didn’t use Fireline.
  7. It was a fun project. I’m excited to deliver these six ornaments to the Bead Society and make a plan to do more.

NOTE to self: Be on the lookout for a really simple, really beautiful beaded ornament pattern.

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