Beads Made of Fondly Cherished Memories the Latest Fad
New York, May 9.
That precious first bunch of violets and the wedding bouquet that followed it need no longer be thrown away. Not that it ever was of course. But it need no longer moulder between the leaves of the biggest wedding present book.
A little New York art student has discovered a process by which she can turn the flowers into beads. They retain their color and most of their fragrance. And they will never wear out, for they are as hard as china.
“I began experimenting during my Christmas vacation,” says Miss Louise Wood, the inventor who lives in Cranford, N. J., and attends the Cooper Union classes in design. “I had read about the orange blossoms in California but they came out black. So I began to experiment to find a substance that would harden the flowers and give them body without spoiling their color. My mother helped me and at last we found a sparkling substance that could be boiled up with the flowers, and turned them into a mass of dough. I worked this upon a bread board, kneading it like the most careful housekeeper. Then I moulded the beads in the palm of my hand, some round and some pear-shaped. They were baked on pins to make them hard and give the opening to string them.
“I combined them with real beads, crystal of the same shade as the flower beads, to heighten the artistic effect. Sometimes I used contrasting colors. It was hard to get the flowers during the winter, but I found that faded ones would do just as well, so I made arrangements with the greenhouse at home to take theirs at wholesale.
“A month ago came my first commission A little neighbor won a prize in an oratorical contest and her mother sent over the bunch of salmon pink carnations she had carried to have them turned into beads. They came out the loveliest rose pink and the child was delighted with them. She can show them to her grandchildren They were like this.”
Sighs for White Beads.
She picked up a lovely string combined with pink and cut glass beadlets, with all the fragrance of the flowers. It is amusing to identify the strings lying on their white cotton beds in their little square boxes. The purple ones were violets of course. But what were these dark red pear-shaped ones strung with silver that look as if they were made to match the new mahogany gowns? Carnations–the kind Galsworthy talks about in the “Dark Flower.” And the grays that look as if they were meant for some dear old lady? French lilacs. Lilies of the valley are corn colored.
“We haven’t been able to make a white bead,” sighs the experimenter. “I’m sorry because wedding bouquets are almost always lilies of the valley–and a wedding necklace should be white! But the chemicals give them this cream tint. I think they are pretty, though, with the little gold beads. And I am making some hand-painted boxes that will be dainty enough for any bride. I have asked Miss Wilson for a spray of her bouquet so that I can make her some beads. I won’t need it all, so the lucky bridesmaid who catches it can keep most of it. But I should love to do it for Miss Wilson, for she was an art student, too.
“What are those green beads? Ferns. Some of them came with the flowers one day and I tried them. The maidenhair makes those soft green ones and the real ferns the bright ones. I use only the tip ends of the fronds. The dark purple beads are made of heliotrope and the mottled ones are pink and white sweet peas. Of course I have to work them up together in my hands like marble cake–but it gives the effect, don’t you think so? The saffron beads are jonquils.
“I’m sorry the suffrage flowers don’t come out a bright yellow.
“I can hardly wait for summer to bring the roses. I am so anxious to work with them. They are so expensive and in such demand that I haven’t been able to get hold of many. I had a few American beauties once and they made the loveliest beads–almost the same color. I strung them with black beads and they were bought at once.
“Could I make beads of mistletoe? If there were enough of it, though I am afraid they would come out gray. But holly ought to be lovely, the red and green beads together. Oh, I try everything. Mother does, too. She makes the beads when I am not at home.”
Mrs Wood who looks hardly older than her daughter, smiled brightly. “I used to try to write,” she said, but my typewriter is getting a long rest. I believe in doing the thing that comes to your hand. And every time I make a bead I think it is another coin toward Louise’s going abroad. She must if she is to be a successful designer.
The “Weezy-Wizy” Beads.
“We call them the ‘Weezy-Wizy’ beads from a childhood nickname of hers–her name is Louise Eliza. We had to have a name to patent, so we took that.
“It’s rather hard work, for every single bead has to be separately and carefully molded, and baked in a very hot oven. At first I had a queer feeling that it was Saturday all the week. But now I think more about the romance of it. I try to picture the bride who wore the lilies I am working over. I wonder what her dress was made of, and how her veil was arranged. And I am, oh, so careful not to mix in a single petal of some other bouquet.
“One little bride sent me not only her wedding bouquet, but a sample of her gray traveling suit for me to match. It was a blueish-gray, and I mixed French and purple lilacs, and got it exactly. I strung it with tiny black beads, so that it came down below her waist. We make them any length, of course.
“It’s fun to wonder what the postman will bring me every day, and to turn the faded flowers into bright new beads that will never fade. It’s like quickening a cooling love. But the flowers must be only faded, not dried. I can’t make over dead sentiment. That would take Cupid himself!
The Washington [DC] Post 10 May 1914: p. 6
Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: One can still find instructions on how to make flower beads, such as at this site.
There was loudly-voiced scepticism over commercially produced floral beads, with many persons suggesting that actual flowers would discolour and that, to be attractive, beads must be made with added colour, corn-starch filler, and fragrance. This description of flower-bead necklaces given as party favours is candid about the materials used:
At his annual lawn party given by Mr John Lewis Childs to the little girls of Floral Park, three hundred guests. received a favour of “a necklace of beads, made of flowers grown on Mr. Childs’ grounds in California, including orange blossoms, roses and violets. Some of the beads are natural color, others colored with ground mineral, such as turquoise and malachite. In most cases the beads retain the fragrance of the flowers.”
Times Union [Brooklyn NY] 16 July 1915: p. 7
Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdote
You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.