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Learning Different Techniques Lead to New Designs

figure 1
Figure 1

With each pattern I follow in a beading magazine, or technique I discover in a book, or tips I learn in a beading class, I slowly build my repertoire of ways to use color, texture, connections, and stitches. This means if I wanted to do an odd-count peyote band, without sewing the turnaround, or catching in the thread at the end of the row, that I could do the pattern even-count leaving off the last column. Then later, I could complete it using brick stitch because I had learned that stitch.  I would add the last column by turning the work on the side and doing one row of brick stitch. The two stitches together look the same, the piece feels the same, and result is indistinguishable from peyote.

Some designers only have tips that they share in class. Taking classes was the last channel of instruction that I chose when I felt I wasn’t getting much from books or magazines, or the Internet any longer. It was a great way to meet some fabulous teachers as well.

figure 2
Figure 2
I did quite a bit of bead crochet for many years and one of my favorite designs for a matching pair of earrings used the samples I did before I strung a whole bracelet worth of beads. Most of the designs put an eyepin through the tube of crochet with bead caps covering each end (Figure 1). I would typically use a dangle bead at the bottom.

I have done this with tubular peyote, bead crochet, beaded beads, and Kumihimo. The first two stitches give you a beaded bead with a hole in the middle, and sometimes other designs of beaded beads will as well. But Kumihimo will not make a tube unless you insert a tube as you’re doing your braiding. So using the Kumihimo techniques of gluing on end caps, or wire work with an endcap that has a hole in it, let me design Kumihimo earrings even though the small piece of beadwork didn’t have a hole in it. I have a stitch that I am developing that will create a strand of beadwork without a hole in it (Figure 2). As I began writing the book on the stitch, I knew earrings were going to need other techniques because of the lack of a tube.
figure 3
Figure 3
I sewed 3mm gold beads and endcaps at each end of the earring, but at one end I used a wire guardian to create a loop for the French wire hooks. This connection was one I thought of when the guardians first came out for flexible wire.

I’ve used this technique in other earrings as well, including a pair that I made with a netted tube (Figure 3). Although I had a tube, and could use a long eye pin, I didn’t want the wire to detract from the design, because the wire would be visible in the netting. So I fell back on using wire guardians to put loops at the top and the bottom of the netted strand.

It took me years to learn and perfect using these techniques, but in the long run, it gives me a toolbox of techniques to use no matter which issues I face. Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to learn a new stitch or technique? I highly recommend it. Even if you don’t like to do a stitch, knowing how to do it can come in handy with your other projects.

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