What is beadwork jewelry and how is it made?
All through history various groups of people had developed techiniques where they weave small beads together to form what could almost be called a fabric or sometimes a cord made from beads. Some of the work is done on a loom but a lot of it is done off-loom using various stitches. The stitches we use at StormRising Designs are Peyote (Gourd) stitch, Square stitch, Brick stitch, Ndebele (Herringbone) stitch, Right Angle Weave and various stitches worked on a spiral (Spiral Rope, Double Spiral Rope, Russian Spiral Rope). It is interesting to note that these stitches are from all around the world and not just the Native American or African cultures. Russian and Ukrainian beaders are well known for their fantastic beading, particularly in stitches which involve netting. Beadwork dates from the dawn of time and some pieces of beading still survive and have been excavated from ancient tombs by archeologists.
Beadwork at StormRising Designs is woven using Silamide, a waxed nylon beading thread. It doesn?t twist an split like another popular brand so we prefer this one. Also it comes in a nice range of colors so we try to blend the thread as closely to the bead colors as we can. For the most part we use small glass seed beads from Japan or Czechoslovakia.
We use many shapes of beads in our work. Most people have seen the popular round seed beads which come in various sizes. Many children?s craft projects involve using the larger sizes which are easier for children?s fingers to handle. But these beads come in many sizes colors and many shapes too. Seed beads may be round, square, cylinder, hexagonal, or triangular. There are many bead manufacturers but our favorite is Toho. That?s not to say that we only use Toho beads. Some of these beads types fit together closely, such as the Japanese cylinder beads called Delicas or hexagonal shaped beads. When we weave a piece using these beads the result is more compact and the thread does show much. Using other beads can result in a loose weave where the thread shows. Because the beads are all pretty much the same in a piece it is the weave, or the way they are stitched together that forms the design.
Some of our pieces are plain and others are embellished by adding seed bead fringe or perhaps larger beads or embellishing beads on top of the original framework of beads, just to make them more interesting. We try to use interesting buttons as closures for the bracelets in particular.