Make your own fancywork

“Fancywork” is a term for a craft movement of the late 19th and early 20th century that emphasized the use of natural materials. Some women spent their free time making works of art from materials like hair, seeds, shells, feathers, and dried flowers.

The photo above is an example of Victorian Era fancywork. This bouquet looks like flowers, but is actually made from painted sea shells which are glued together. For more information about Victorian fancywork, check out the 1876 book Ladies’ Fancy Work available online as a Google Book.

Fancywork Mosaic Craft Activity

This activity teaches children about Victorian fancywork through the creation of a mosaic ornament using beans and seeds.


– Cardboard form (oval 3.5×3 inches)
– Ribbon
– Craft glue
– Different colors of dried beans/seeds (lentils, popcorn, pinto beans, navy beans, black beans)

Steps for Mosaic craft

1. Cover a table with paper or a disposable tablecloth.

2. Use a cardboard form of any shape, a small oval about 3.5 inches by 3 inches works well.

3. Punch a small hole at the top center of the cardboard form. Thread ribbon through hole and tie ribbon in a knot.

Threading ribbon through the hole in the cardboard form.

4. Decide what kind of decoration to create. There’s no wrong option, stripes work well and so do polka dots. An oval form can easily be transformed into a jack-o-lantern or a themed ornament for any holiday.

5. Put some craft glue on a small portion of the cardboard form.

Spreading glue on the cardboard form.

6. Press beans or seeds in to the glue. It is easiest to work a section at a time. If creating a pattern, such as a Christmas tree, create or trace that basic shape first and then fill around the shape.

Glueing seeds and beans on the cardboard form in the shape of a Christmas tree.

7. Allow the glue to dry fully prior to displaying the ornament.

Two finished ornaments: one resembling a Halloween Jack-o-lantern, and the other simple lines and curves in different colors.