Saturday, June 6, 2009

St Petersburg Chain

St Petersburg chain is having a renaissance at present. Or maybe there's just a new generation of beaders who haven't seen or tried this technique before. You'll find instructions for both single and double St. Petersburg chain bracelets in the June 2009 issue of Bead & Button on pages 24 and 25. Other bead magazines have had necklaces using this technique in the past year, and I'm sure it can be found in several of the Russian bead books. The reason that I'm writing about it here is that not one single article or project has mentioned the young Russian woman who introduced this technique to the internet beading world in the 1990s before any of us had seen any Russian beading books. She called herself Maria Oldring, and I'm ashamed to say that I don't know her Russian name. Perhaps some of our Russian beading friends can fill in the information for me. She also shared the Russian leaves as well as several other Russian techniques. Unfortunately, as of November 1, 2009, her site is no longer available. Although she hadn't posted anything new in years, I enjoyed visiting it every now and then to use one of the techniques that she had posted there. I don't remember how we found each other, possibly through Emily Hackbarth on We corresponded at the time and then lost contact as the years went on. The last I heard, someone told me that they thought she had come to America and was living in Washington state, but I don't know if that's true or not.

I had a young friend who was going to Russia on business at the time and who spoke fluent Russian. I told her about Maria, and I told Maria about her and sent them each other's email addresses. They met for coffee in the Russian city where Maria lived. Maria gave my friend a business-card size calendar with a necklace of hers pictured on one side to bring to me. I carried it in my wallet for years, and I think it must be serving as a bookmark in one of my bead books now. I must confess that I still get goosebumps when I think of their meeting. Today the world seems very small, but ten years ago it had only started to narrow. And now you know the rest of the story.

Here are three bracelets I made sometime in the last couple of years using this technique. They go quite quickly and make nice gifts. I made rondelles with crystals and seed beads as described in Rondelles Continued to create the "buttons" used as closures.

Thanks, Maria, wherever you are.

A Lariat for Bec

I first published my peyote spiral variation in November of 1999. I called it "The Gift" because that's what it has always seemed to me. I don't claim to have invented it, nor do I lay claim to being the first person to have discovered it. I've also never been quite sure if it's a peyote variation or a netting one, but that really doesn't matter. A lot of people look at it and dismiss it as a Russian spiral, so perhaps it's a variation of that. I've done more bracelets than I can count since that first night, a good many necklaces, and somewhere between six and ten lariats using this technique. Those first bracelets were worked in one or two colors of 11/0 seed beads. Since then I've used all sorts of beads in different sizes, often going with a 15/0 seed bead as the "extra" bead. Several of the projects are pictured on the first page of my main site.

The 48" black lariat featured here is much more subtle in reality than it is in the image. I photographed it outside, and the iris beads caught the light which thrust them forward visually. The beads used are an 8/0 opaque black Czech drop bead, an 11/0 black iris seed bead, a 10/0 twisted hex metallic dark blue/black iris, and a Toho 15/0 cut opaque black seed bead as the "extra." The rope is finished with an 8mm Swarovski jet bicone, a versatile bead that begins with ten 11/0 black iris seed beads, two rounds of the 10/0 hex black iris, one round of 8/0 black opaque seed beads, and a center round of Swarovski 4mm jet crystals. Complete the bead by working peyote rounds back down using the beads in the reverse order and finishing the bead with two rounds of 11/0 black iris seed beads. I then threaded on a Swarovski 4mm bicone and a 2mm round, skipped the round and went back through all the beads, finishing off the thread in the first few rows of the spiral with overhand knots before cutting off the needle, knotting and then burning the two thread ends.

My favorite way to wear the lariat is to fold it in half, place it around my neck, and bring the two ends through the loop formed at the fold. I usually have the two ends fall down the middle, but sometimes I turn it half way up the front so the ends fall either to the left or right. Or, it may be worn so the beads fall down the back.

Place the center of the necklace at the front of the neck, bring the ends to the back of the neck and cross the strands before bringing them back to the front. Loop the two ends over each other.

Place the center of the lariat around the back of the neck and bring the strands to the front. Take the two ends in one hand and form a loop with the doubled strands over the first two fingers on the other hand about 6" up from the end. Bring the two ends through the loop and tug on the ends to form the knot. (If desired, tie a square knot where desired using the two ends.)

Finally depending on the size of your write, you may wear the lariat as a bracelet by folding the lariat in half and winding it around your wrist and bringing the ends through the loop to close.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Rest of the Black Necklace

There are two more beads in the black necklace that I've yet to cover. This one is the same as the one in the bracelet, except it is made larger by building the netting on a basic bead with more rows than are in the bracelet bead. Since there are more rows, you will need more 15/0s before you put on the Fire Polish (FP) beads, in this case there are five 15/0s on either side of the FP. It's that easy, and you can build beads that graduate in length by simply making each basic bead, one, two, or three rounds longer.

Materials Needed
Sixteen #11 Delicas
Twenty-eight #10 Delicas
Twenty-four 10/0 Twisted Hex
Eighty 15/0 Seed Beads
Sixteen 3mm FP
Four 11/0 Seed Beads
WildFire or 6lb FireLine (48")

Make a basic bead that is four beads around, alternating seven rounds of #10 Delicas with six rounds of 10/0 Twisted Hex beads. The embellishment element consists of five 15/0 seed beads, one 3mm FP, one 11/0 seed bead, one 3mm FP, ending with five 15/0 seed beads.

This other bead is a variation of what I have always called a "versatile" bead. I've had various instructions for it up on my main site (the link's at the bottom of the home page)for several years. It's been pointed out to me that the tutorial up there is way too confusing for some because I spend a lot of time describing the way I turn my hands and how I tighten the threads. If you're interested, you can click here and take a look. I did this because often when I've taught this bead, students beads are floppy and don't hold their shape. One reason is because some people are constitutionally incapable of working with doubled thread. I have a very close friend who suffers from this affliction. If that's true for you, then I suggest two things, one you use a fat thread--10 or 12 lb. Fireline and you work through all the beads twice, pulling very tight after each bead. Setting each bead before putting on the next is also something I do to firm up the new versatile bead. But, it's up to you to work however you choose, with your own technique. There's nothing magical about mine; it's just something that has worked for me for a long time.

The versatile bead is simply a bead made of tubular peyote, beginning as I always do by putting on twice the number of beads in the rounds, taking the needle around and going through every other bead except for the last two, which I also go through before pulling into a tight circle. I make it round by increasing the size of the beads until I get to the largest bead which is the center row and then I start back down or reverse the size of the beads, ending with two rows of 11/0 delicas.

Materials Needed for One Bead
Twenty #11 Delica
Twenty #10 Delica
Ten 8/0 Seed Beads
Five 3mm Fire Polish (FP)
WildFire or 6lb FireLine

Cut a 30-35" length of Wildfire and work with thread doubled. Begin with ten #11 Delica beads and take the needle through every other one. Work two rows of peyote with #10 Delicas (Substitute with 11/0 seed beads if desired, stepping up at the end of each round. First round of #10 Delicas (row three) is shown in photo. The bead will start to form with the second round of #10s.

Continuing in peyote, work one round of 8/0 seed beads, one round of 3mm FP, and one round of 8/0 seed beads, stepping up at the end of each round. Hold the bead firmly as it forms between your thumb and forefinger.

Add the last two rows of #10 Delicas and finish with two rows of #11 Delicas. Take the needle through the last row of #11s and pull tight. Cut the thread below the needle and tie the ends with a surgeon's or square knot. Clip the thread about 1/16" from the beads. I burn the ends with a thread burner or the flame of a match or cigarette lighter.

The bracelet at the top is made the same as the one in the last post. I used 5mm sterling beads between the beaded beads, finishing with smaller sterling beads, a tornado crimp, and a sterling toggle.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Netted Beaded Bead

The focal bead in the black necklace is a larger variation of the bead in the previous two posts. Not only is it longer, but it is also worked on a beaded bead that is composed of five columns rather than four. I've also made a few other changes to further illustrate the versatility of this bead. The embellishment in both uses netting over the beaded bead.

So, what are the differences? This bead uses 3mm Fire Polish beads and is worked over a basic bead that is much darker than the 3mm beads. Also, I've used an 11/0 seed bead in the center of the element rather than a drop bead.

Design Notes. There are several choices which you as a designer can make about the color of the basic bead whenever you are creating these beads for a piece of jewelry: lighter, darker, or matching the bead chosen for the embellishment, or a metal color (silver, gold, copper, bronze). In the case of the black necklace and the bracelet of the previous post, I've used a basic bead constructed of silver beads. Today's basic bead is a dark value of the color of the 3mm. Then there is the finish of the basic bead to be considered: shiny, metallic, matte, frosted, aurore borealis (AB). While it's true that little of the basic bead is visible to the eye, there is a vast difference in the appearance of the finished bead. The bead on the left has a basic bead constructed of matte beads that match the color of the embellishment. The bead on the right is built on a silver basic bead. I had made three beads like the one on the left when I realized that it simply didn't glow like the ones in the black necklace, so I went back to the necklace to see where I'd missed the boat.

Materials Needed:
11/0 Delicas
10/0 Delicas
10/0 twisted hex
3mm Fire Polish rounds (FP) (40 per bead)
11/0 seed beads
15/0 seed beads
FireLine, WildFire, or C-Lon (70")
#11 needle

Since I'm using 3mm FP for the embellishment, the basic bead doesn't need to be much longer than the one in the previous post. I decided to make it a bit larger around, so I began my basic bead with ten beads, which yields five columns of 10/0 Delicas (8 beads high) and five columns of twisted hex (7 beads high). Working with your thread doubled, string on ten 11/0 Delicas, bring the needle around and go through every other bead until you reach the last two beads. Take your needle through both of these beads and pull the beads into a tight circle. Work one round of (tubular) peyote with the 10/0 Delicas and one round of peyote with the 10/0 twisted hex, always stepping up at the end of each row. Continue working peyote, alternating the rows with the two types of beads, until you have worked 8 rows of the 10/0 Delica. Finish with two rounds of 11/0 Delicas, threading your needle back through the final round to make the hole as small as possible. Take your needle through one of the 11/0 Delicas on the outer row.

Step One. The element for the embellishment consists of two 15/0, 3mm FP, 11/0, 3mm FP, two 15/0 beads. There are five of these elements worked through each of the 11/0 Delicas in the outer row. Move your thread through the 10/0 Delica directly below the element and through the next 11/0 each time to position the thread for the next embellishment.

Step Two. When you have finished the last of these elements take your thread through the two 15/0 seed beads, the FP, and out the 11/0 seed bead as shown. Place one 3mm FP, one 11/0 seed bead, and one 3mm FP on your thread and take the needle through the 11/0 seed bead in the next element. Continue around until you have placed this new element between each of the elements in Step One. Gently pull these elements around the basic bead. Anchor your thread in the 10/0 Delica directly under the 11/0 seed bead you exited. Walk the thread down to the other end of the basic bead by going through the 10/0 Delicas in the column as shown.

Step Three. When you reach the 11/0 Delica on the outer row at this unadorned end, repeat Step One all the way around, bringing your needle down to the 11/0 seed bead in the center as you did in Step One.

Step Four. Place one 3mm FP on your thread and take the needle through the next 11/0 seed bead in the center of the elements in Step Two, gently pull the beads into place. When you have completed this round, weave your needle through several beads and tie off. If you wish, you can take the needle under the embellishment to the basic bead and tie off there.

Embellished bead with 4mm FP. If you want to make this bead with 4mm FP instead of the 3mm I used here, you would do everything the same except the basic bead will need 10/0 twisted hex columns of eleven beads and 10/0 columns of twelve beads, which means that you work twelve rounds of 10/0 Delicas and eleven rounds of 10/0 twisted hex.

I added silver bead caps to each end of the bead just because I like the look. I haven't decided how I'm going to use this bead, not even if I'm going to use it in a necklace or a bracelet. The bead without the beadcaps is 19mm tall and 15mm around.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Beaded Bead Bracelet

I made three more of the beaded beads in the last post to go with the two I had already made. It took me about half an hour to make one bead, and then it took me most of the day to find a clasp. As you can see, I ended up using a Bali toggle. I kept going back into my stash for the perfect clasp, but one was too plain, one was too fancy, one was too big, one didn't have the color stone in the clasp that enhanced the bracelet, several were too hard for me to hook. I was beginning to feel like Goldilocks, but I really didn't want to use a toggle. Short of jumping in the car and heading to my local bead shop, I decided to go with the one in the photo. And, as luck will have it, I like the look, especially since I used chain instead of seed beads to attach the toggle.

Materials Needed:

Beaded Beads (5)
10" beading wire
Beadcaps (10)
6mm Fire Polish (FP) Rounds (7)
Crimps (2)
Wire Guards (2)
Crimp Covers (2)
Toggle Clasp
Chain (1/2")

I used Beadalon's .018 Stringing Wire in Bright. (I don't have a favorite beading wire: I also use Soft Flex, Accu-Flex, C-Flex or whichever I find first in my stash. I use sterling silver, Bali, or Hill Tribe silver in my jewelry, or I use gold-filled findings when I'm working in gold.

I strung the beads first with beadcaps on each end and a 6mm FP bead between. At each end I placed one FP, one crimp, and one FP. Then I slipped the wire guard through the clasp and fed the wire through the guard and back through the FP, crimp, and FP. I pulled the wire tight and closed the crimp. I clipped the wire at the bottom of the second FP and placed and closed the crimp cover over the crimp. I repeated this on the other end of the bracelet. As usual, the design choices are what took the time, much more so than the actual fabrication.