Basket with Czech Glass Beads

One Sunday afternoon, I was pondering what, where, when and how I ended up working for Fire Mountain Gems and BeadsĀ®. I couldn't remember ever being consciously interested in beads or jewelry making. I had many other creative interests over the years, but beading was never one of them.

Then it hit me: Aunt Leona's Bead Shop.

Leona is my great aunt on my mother's side. She moved to Washington state as a young bride and lived in a house with no running water or indoor plumbing. There, she raised her family and enjoyed the life of a longshoreman's wife. When my mother was a child, Aunt Leona decided to open a bead shop (my theory is it was a way to justify her beading hobby!). She built her reputation slowly over the years--the only advertisement was a very small hand-painted sign at the side of a very rural road. The customers started coming by word-of-mouth. They kept coming because of the shop's comforting feel and because Aunt Leona always had that item they couldn't find anywhere else. I remember going to her shop as a very young girl, walking in and smelling the wonderful home cooking, woodsy, musty, mothball smell that still to this day evokes creativity in me. I can remember looking around and seeing the piles and piles of sparkling beads and being mystified by all of these little gleaming treasures.

I particularly remember these remarkably colorful beaded baskets lining every open space. I couldn't remember ever seeing such beautiful baskets; they seemed to cheer up even the grayest of days in Washington State.

Aunt Leona was constantly putting away her latest shipment of beads which had just arrived from some far-off, exotic place. But those boxes never seemed to get emptied. Instead, she was always digging around the shop, looking for something that a customer needed and was on the way to pick up. Aunt Leona always left the door to the shop unlocked--I guess she always figured if customers drove all the way out there they should be able to get what they needed whether she was there or not. Wouldn't it be nice if we still lived in that time?

Well, Leona's Bead shop has closed but Aunt Leona is still beading. I'm certain she still enjoys making those beaded baskets.

I look back at her influence and I can see my path has always been leading me back to that small town bead shop, with its small town friendliness and sense of wonder and far-off exotic places. Fire Mountain Gems and Beads is larger than Aunt Leona's shop, but the friendliness and sense of wonder remains.

I wanted to share a very old pattern from my Aunt Leona. I have made some substitutions for modern materials, but you should get the same nostalgic basket. I hope you enjoy this little basket as much as I have!

Slip a 6mm Druk bead on an opened safety pin. Slip on a flower cone bead with the cup side up. Put on a round tube and finish with another 6mm Druk. Close the pin. If it is snug you may have to push the pin closed. Make a total of 81 pins.
Cut a 21" piece of wire.

Using your wire like a needle, slip the wire through the hole in the head of the safety pin assembly. Add a 6mm rondelle, a 10mm Druk, and another 6mm rondelle. Repeat until you have 18 pin assemblies on the wire. End with a 6mm rondelle, 10mm Druk and a 6mm rondelle. Check the pins to be sure all are facing the same way (outward). Twist the wire-ends together as close as possible to the end beads. Clip excess wire but leave about 1-inch, which you will clip off later and turn to the inside, when you are sure your basket is assembled correctly. This is the bottom row.
Cut a 15" piece of wire.

You will need 9 pin assemblies for this row. Pick up (go through) a pin assembly from the first row; add a new pin assembly, going through the head of the pin; pick up a pin assembly from the first row; add a 10mm Druk. Repeat until you have added all 9 pin assemblies. End with a 10mm Druk bead. Check to see that all pin assemblies are facing the same way (outward, in this instance), twist wires together tightly, and clip off wires, leaving about 1-inch of wire on ends.
For the third row, cut a 15-inch piece of wire.

You will need 18 pins for this row. Add a new pin assembly, going through the head of the pin with your wire. Go through one pin assembly from the previous row, add another new pin assembly and a 10mm Druk. Repeat until all 18 pins are added to the wire. Finish with a 10mm Druk. Check the pins to be sure you have picked up all the pins on previous row and that the pins are facing the same way. Twist the wire-ends together and as close as possible to the end beads. Clip off wires, leaving about 1" of wire on ends.
This row will be your last; you will need 36 pin assemblies. Cut a 24-inch piece of wire.

Pick up a new pin assembly; face in the opposite direction as the previous rows. Going through the bottom of the pin assembly with your wire, pick up pin assembly from previous row; add a new pin assembly and a 10mm Druk. Repeat until you have added a total of 36 pins. End with a 10mm Druk. Check to be sure all pins face up then twist the wires together. Clip the wires off as close as possible to end beads and bend the wire ends back underneath.
Now it's time to add the final wire. Cut a 38-inch piece of wire; you won't add any pins on this row.

Go through a pin assembly from the previous row, add a 6mm rondelle, a 10mm Druk, and a 6mm rondelle. Repeat until you have added a total of 36, 10mm Druk beads, ending the row with a 6mm rondelle. As you work this row you will find the row getting hard to handle, and you will have to shape it into the basket shape with a gentle wave at the edge. Twist the wires together as tightly as possible. This is important all the way through the assembly of your basket, so it is firm and stands up nicely. Be careful not to twist the wires so that they break. Go back now and clip off all your wire ends, leaving only about 1/2 inch of twist showing. Bend each twist carefully so it is hidden on the inside of your basket.
Handle assembly: Cut a piece of wire 8-inch long. Make a small bend in one end to keep the beads from slipping off. Thread the following sequence of beads onto this wire: 2, 6mm Druks; a 14x4mm tube; an 8x6mm Flower cone (indention of cone facing tube); 4, 6mm Druks; an 8x6mm Flower cone (facing in the opposite direction of the first one); a 14x4mm tube; and 2, 6mm Druks. Make another bend and cut the wire. Make another piece exactly like this one for the other side of your basket. Fasten one of these assemblies to the wire, forming the outside upper edge of your basket, spacing this part of your handle so you have 3, 10mm Druks between the connections. Fasten the second handle assembly on the opposite side. There should be 15, 10mm Druk beads between each handle arch.
Your final piece of wire should be about 14" long. String on a 10mm Druk; add a 6mm Druk bead; a 14x4mm tube; a 8x6mm flower cone, a 6mm Druk; another 10mm Druk; a 6mm Druk; a 14x4mm tube; an 8x6mm flower cone; 2, 6mm Druks; and a 14x4mm tube (this being the center). Mirror the other side of the handle as the first side being sure the flower cones face the opposite way. Fasten this piece of wire in between the four 6mm Druk beads of the arch you just attached to the basket. Do the same on the other end of the handle. Your basket is ready for filling with silk flowers, dried flowers, or a small shot glass you can fill with water for fresh flowers.

The pieces featured in the Gallery of Designs are copyrighted designs and are provided for inspiration only. We encourage you to substitute different colors, products and techniques to make the design your own.

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