Chapter 2 ~ Tools and
Page 29 - Needles
Presently needles are made of high grade, hardened, carbon
steel wire, drawn out to a required thickness and length.
They are plated with nickel, which is rust resistant, but
not rust proof. Needles left in damp locations may become
difficult to work with, but beading needles are
unfortunately not durable enough to worry about longevity
and the onset of rust!
Page 36 Helpful
There are many tools which will prove helpful in restoration
work. They are not absolutely essential and most of them
will be found in the average household. Even those which
might have to be purchased are quite inexpensive.
1. ... the most valuable
tools are fine, small pairs of scissors. Years ago miniature
scissors were found in manicure sets. They did not have high
quality steel blades, but were so small that they can be
positioned closely to the surface of the body and do not
leave long, unsightly residue threads. .....
2. Tweezers with very sharp
points can be purchased at lapidary shops. These are used
for resetting stones in the jewelled frames, in sorting
beads, in holding silk thread in place, in short, any time
when working space is confined and/or difficult to reach.
There are several sizes and widths....
Page 40 Silk
Silk thread is an important element in the construction of
needlepoint, fabric and beaded purses. Spooled silk differs
greatly in texture and appearance, from a dull linen look,
to a highly polished sheen...
Silk thread may not deteriorate for 200 years, but it is the
weakest link in the beaded purse. Frames may bend out of
shape, steel beads may rust, lining tear and become soiled,
and glass beads may break, making restoration or replacement
not only desirable but imperative.
Chapter 2 ~ Knowing
About the Glorious Beads
Probably the most appealing thing about beaded purses is the
beads themselves; but, owing to the antiquity of manufacture
and a host of other factors, there are few subjects more
complicated to deal with than the beads which we will
Glass is made from a relatively simple compound of elements
which has changed little over the centuries. It is composed
of fine sand or silica, soda or potash, lime or lead, and a
cullet (broken glass shards). While being formed, the molten
glass mass appears colorless. Colors are obtained from the
addition of various chemicals and/or ores before the pipe is
blown. Copper oxide produced green; chloride of iron
produced a wide range of iridescents; uranium produced
yellow; manganese produced blue.........
Page 52 Jet Black
Jet Black beads are commonly, and incorrectly, referred to
as "jet". Jet is a natural organic product mined much like
coal and with properties similar to coal. It was mined
extensively in Whitby, England. Following the death of
Albert, Queen Victoria's husband, it was favoured by her in
place of more colorful gems, and the fashion was adopted by
all genteel ladies for nearly a century. It can be
distinguished from black glass beads which have a shiny
surface, are much colder to the touch, and much harder, in
addition to being much heavier. Jet was used chiefly in
jewelry, but possibly in its heyday was used in small
purses. It is rare today and costly. The popularity of
mourning purses in the 19th century accounts for the
availability of black beaded purses today.
Chapter 4 ~ Fringing
The Finishing Touch
The easiest technique in purse restoration is fringing.
Unless some simple precautions are taken it can be a
frustrating experience. No matter how carefully approached
it takes a long time to gain real speed, particularly if
very small beads are involved.
1. The first thing to
determine is the size of the beads used in the construction
of the body. Let us say the beads are 20/0's, and the
pattern is a large, varied floral in vivid colors with a
background done in the same size crystals. Here crystals
refer to colorless, leaded, transparent glass beads with a
high refractory capacity. Crystals do come in an assortment
of colors, but in this manual, crystals mean colorless
beads, unless otherwise noted. The crystal bead is the
backbone of purse beading, because it allows the great mass
of the body to be plain and gives emphasis to the design,
which in the more costly and elegant purse, is usually
colorful and complicated.
How to Restore Damaged Fringes
Restoring damaged fringes is more difficult than creating
the fringe. Occasionally a single strand or two will be
damaged in an otherwise perfect fringe. There is really no
way to tie the ends together or use some other makeshift
repair which will be satisfactory. Removing the entire
fringe will take a great deal of time as well, so the
following directions will be valuable for this aspect of
Chapter 6 The Importance of Frames and Linings
..... Careful consideration should be given to the material
used in linings. Early purses were often lined with whatever
fabrics were on hand. Needless to say, it was seldom the
best choice unless the lady had a scrapbag of dressmakers'
silks, satins, muslins and linens "left over." These scraps
were often wildly patterned in vivid colors, which while
serving the original purpose, detract from the color scheme
or design of the purse.