Updated: Mar 14, 2021
Welcome back to Jewelry Making 101! My plan is to point you to resources I am familiar with and also share what I am interested in exploring in the future. This is my third blog post on the subject and I sure hope you have been enjoying this Series so far. Do let me know by leaving a comment below? Joining my website is free and you will then be able to leave your comments. You will also be able to shop a Members Only section.
To start, this paragraph has nothing to do with making jewelry. In Part 2 of this Series I shared a creative alternative of macrame and a link. Well, curiosity got the best of me and that project drew me and my brand new macrame board like a magnet. I made two of those Christmas trees! It was fairly difficult to learn as my first macrame project and I ripped it out about 8 times getting started. I confess to lots of frustration but I am known to be tenacious so I stuck with it. By the end of the first tree I had more confidence so I made a second one that was close to perfect. Challenge appreciated, curiosity relieved, and a new skill learned, I sent both of them to my sister who loves to decorate. Here they are, complete with holiday cheer: Ta-dahhh...!
I know, I digress... So let’s get to it!
Working With Beads
Beads get assembled or “woven” together-- in many different ways -- to become beautiful expressions of creativity. I see working with beads as any process that binds -- or weaves-- them together in a finished piece. Yes, you can use a loom to weave beads together but there are other techniques available that give you the option of producing beaded pieces of many shapes and sizes using other jewelry making tools and devices. In doing research for this post, I discovered the term "off loom bead weaving" which pointed to learning the peyote stitch that I'll cover below. This term helped to confirm that I'm not off base when it comes to describing bead weaving. Not sure of how many methods of bead assembly exist, I am going to share with you those I know something about.
Bead stringing is how I got into making jewelry in the first place. It helped me learn about the tools, the different kinds of beads, and techniques for fastening everything together. If you want to make a necklace that lasts and doesn’t break after a few years, I suggest you learn these bead stringing basics. Here’s a good example of something I made after I got familiar with the basics. FYI, I recently discovered you can click on any of these photos to make them display larger.
I hope to return to bead stringing a few bracelets as I have some beautiful beads that might be too heavy for a necklace.. Can't we add another eight hours to the day?
Peyote Stitch is just one of many methods that uses a needle and thread to weave beads into beautiful shapes and patterns. I have been most successful using this stitch. I have also learned herringbone, brick, and other stitches but I continue to gravitate to peyote stitch whenever possible. Jill Wiseman does a great job teaching this beading method. Peyote stitch can produce both flat and 3d shapes.
Here is a simple piece I made as a flat peyote wrap bracelet, pattern designed by Susan Rudelius.
The beauty of peyote is that it can be done in mixed bead sizes for a different effect - an earthy pendant necklace below.
A more advanced form of peyote stitch produces objects in 3-dimensions, like tiny boxes and little animals. These dedicated 3d artists use peyote to make incredible pieces of art. I have not attempted the geometric constructions pictured below but I am fascinated by them! Another reason that I have to live to 100.
Bead Crochet requires a crochet hook. I am great using a needle and thread with beads but crocheting beads takes more time to master. Patience is not one of my virtues! If you want to test YOUR patience, Kelly Dale has free workshop instructions that you can download from her website and then follow along with her on YouTube. She is very encouraging and I recommend you try it sometime. Who knows? You may love it! I have to admit that I learned through another source that I can’t remember so I might go back and try it with Kelly just because I’m curious about her approach. Above is one of my crocheted bracelets made with a vareity of bead sizes. See how the texture and bead spacing changes when different sizes of beads are used? Spacing is also impacted by using the crochet method.
Peyote With A Twist (PWAT) After crocheting a few bracelets, I gave up on learning bead crochet because I discovered, through Jill Wiseman --a favorite guru I mentioned in Part 2-- that there is a way to get a crocheted effect with a needle and thread using PWAT. I don’t recommend PWAT until you have become proficient with the peyote stitch but here is a tutorial when you are ready I have come to prefer PWAT over tubular peyote stitch just because it’s more interesting to work and the angle of the beads lays diagonally on the finished piece instead of horizontal or vertical. It’s prettier to me! Here is a PWAT bracelet I made. See how the beads lay diagonally like the crocheted one above it? See how the spacing is more uniform because all the beads used are the same size and a needle and thread were used for assembly?
Bead Embroidery is something I started to explore with Kelly Dale during Spring 2020 pandemic days when she was on Youtube daily. The foundation of my project used embroidery stitches that I had never stitched before and definitely not while using beads. Those stitches are often used for flat projects as Kelly demonstrates in her Youtube instructions. The project I chose was a bit more advanced, creating a bracelet with beads encasing a stone. I used the new stitches that I learned from Kelly to secure the first layer of beads around the base of the stone and then used a peyote stitch to surround and encase the stone and complete the bracelet itself. See how the beads lay horizontal on the peyote stitch wristband compared to the beads on the PWAT bracelet above it? You may have noticed that I shared this wrapped stone bracelet in Part 2. I'm pretty proud of it for my first attempt! I am far from finished with experimenting in bead embroidery. But I need to go back and learn the basics and practice them by working a “true bead embroidery” project like Kelly demonstrated: one that is flat using only beads. This might be a good time to mention that there are free trial software to produce beading patterns from photos. Some even provide ready made patterns that would work well with bead embroidery. I’ve tried the demo version of Bead Tool 4 and it is very cool!
Bead Weaving With a Loom is on my list to try. I recently saw a small affordable contraption that I am considering. I definitely see a loom in my future and I am getting a little excited thinking about trying something new. I happen to love gadgets! This particular video
recommends certain products and I’ll be researching other looms, etc. before I purchase anything. Yet another road for me to follow as I know absolutely nothing about looms. BTW, it’s great to look for reviews on YouTube for any tool or gadget that you are considering. If you click on the loom above you can learn all about Mirrix Looms. I recently ran across this blog post which made me want to explore this particular loom because of claims that pieces are easier to finish using this particular model. Easier is always an attraction for me!
Kumihimo uses cords and a small mat with a center hole to thread and braid beads into flat or tubular lengths of your choosing. I have a fundamental knowledge of this skill and this chunky bracelet is one of my favorite creations. I learned a lesson in bead weight making this one. It was heavy! There is something to learn with every project.
My personal equation on learning to make Jewelry: Tools + Materials + Technique + Practice = Beautiful Jewelry! Before I close this post --and because I think this is SO important to remember-- I am reposting this info from my Part 2 post:
Helpful hints for navigating jewelry making tutorials:
Don't feel rushed to "do". There are many avenues to take so "time will tell" what is yours to do.
Subscribe to Youtube Channels of the instructors you like. You can always come back to them.
Save the videos you aren’t ready for yet but have an interest in. Later on, they can be tough to relocate unless you want to scroll through your years of YouTube history.
Helpful Hints for learning a technique:
Watch the same Youtube video until you think you are ready to make your own piece
You may have to rip things out and start over several times.
It really is as simple as mimicking someone else. After a while you will find your own way of doing the techniques and maybe even tweak them a bit to better suit you.
Until Next Time
I have shared all I know about working with beads, hopefully enough from a beginner’s perspective. I plan to update this info if I remember something important. But you have more than enough info to move forward in the search of your ultimate creative experience! Whatever I haven’t shared will present itself one way or another. But we aren’t done yet. Next time? WIRE WRAPPING
Remember to enjoy whatever day you get
Strive to STAY WELL & WEAR A MASK