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12/18/2015
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Bead Knowledge Center - Beading Techniques

What is a Beader? One who beads? But which technique of beading does a Beader bead? Well, a Beader is someone who creates with at least one of the basic beading techniques... Stringing, Bead/Pearl Knotting, Stitching, Loom Weaving, Bead Embroidery, Wire Work etc. Here is a short description of each technique.

Note: if you are making something and the outcome is too "floppy" for you, try this stiffening technique.wire wrapping

Wire Work

Althought it's good to have an idea of each technique, Wire Work is useful no matter which other technique you specialize in. This technique includes, obviously, the use of wire, any guage (diameter of wire) and any metal. The most useful forms of wire work are making loops and twisted loops using headpins. But one can get much more creative and use wire to cage beads, make links to connect beads and much more.

Stringing

Stringing is probably what most people think of when they consider "beading". This includes putting a line (string) of beads on a elastic thread, cording, or wire material like TigerTail. This "stringing material" is attached to the finding by knots or crimp beads. Sometimes French Wire is used to cover the connection.

Bead/Pearl Knotting

Bead/Pearl Knotting between beads or pearls is done with either tweezers, an awl and pliers or with a tool called a Tri Cord Knotter. They all allow you to make tight knots against the bead. Why would you do this? Knots between expensive beads or pearls stops them from rubbing against each other and is a security measure to ensure less lose of beads should the strand break.

Stitching = Off-Loom Bead Weaving

Stitching is rightfully called Off-Loom Bead Weaving. It includes using a needle and beading thread (like KO, Fireline, Nymo, etc.) and weaving the beads in a systematic "stitch". Some stitches are Peyote (also called Gourd Stitch by Native Americans), Brick (also called Comanche or Cheyenne Stitch by Native Americans), Right Angle Weave, Square, and Herringbone (also called Ndebele).

Just to note: Peyote can be even or odd count, flat or tubular, regular or sculpture. The question is always: when to use even or odd count? Even is always used for tubular or in the round, especially when beading a peyote bezel because with even count there is no seam. Odd count is when you want a symmetrical pattern with a center line. Check out this video for how to easily bead an odd count peyote pattern (this is different than the diagram below) as the turning to the next row is different for the two sides. Here is a diagram, from Bead and Button Magazine, on four turns to know about various Peyote stiches:

beads

Loom Weaving

Loom Weaving is popular among Native Americans and many contemporary beaders. This is similar to cloth weaving in that you use an actual loom setup with warp and weft, but each pass of the shuttle or needle uses beads, too.

BarretteBead Embroidery

Bead Embroidery is the art of beading onto fabric or leather. Like stitching, it uses needles and thread. This is probably the most versatile of beading techniques as you can make anything from jewelry to dolls to pocketbooks. There are many bead embroider artists, but it is not nearly as common as the use of other techniques. This is my speciality.

Macrame

Macrame is a form of knotting jute or cording which can incorporate beads. The most frequently used knots are square knots and hitch knots (both full and half).

French Beaded FlowersFrench Beaded Flowers

French Beaded Flowers - these charming beaded items could be considered wire work, but are separted out because the technique is so different. French Beaded Flowers, trees leaves, vines, etc. involve stringing beads on wire and shaping them to form gorgeous arrangements. Typically a bead spinner is used to get the beads onto the wire.

Huichol Beaded Technique

Huichol Beaded Technique - the Huichol Indians in Mexico have developed a beading technique in which beads are set, holes up, into wax that has been covered over a base made in wood, paper mache, ceramic, etc. These decorate items could be masks, animal figures, bowls and more. You can google Huichol to find samples.

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