My senior year in high school, I broke my foot. It was my right foot, so I couldn’t drive anywhere, and I couldn’t exactly exercise anymore for fun.
As a way of fighting off the boredom, I decided to develop a new skill set: beadwork. That’s fancy lingo for “making cool jewelry/ accessories with very tiny beads” (seed beads).
I LOVE making bracelets, especially intricate ones with seed beads. It’s a hobby I’d highly encourage. I’ll lay out the pros and cons of beginning beadwork, then share a few tips for getting starting.
- You can make some seriously beautiful pieces. In general, whenever I wear something I made out of seed beads, I get a ton of compliments. People can not fathom that I made the piece.
- It can be a little difficult to teach yourself, although definitely possible (I taught myself).
- Unlike friendship bracelets made out of embroidery thread, (a hobby I’ll talk about in a future post), the beadwork jewelry you make can be used as an actual, heartfelt, expensive-looking birthday present. This is great, because making the present is entertaining to you, so you’re killing two birds with one stone. In addition, you can sell your work!
- The hobby can get a little supply heavy. To learn peyote stitch, you’ll need a beading needle, beading thread, thread conditioner, and of course, seed beads! If your town has a bead store, great! You can get everything there and usually the staff will already know what you need. I won’t lie, it can get pricey, however there is some good news…
- Seed beads are A LOT cheaper than most of the other types of beads you’ll find at a bead store.
- You will find seed beads everywhere. The carpet, the couch, in your car, etc.
- Once you get the hang of a stitch, it’s a great hobby to multitask with; you can work on a bead project while watching TV.
- It’s fun! There’s a ton of things you can learn to make, from the flower I made at the top of the page to jewelry. It’s challenging but rewarding.
Where should I start if I want to make beadwork my new hobby?
- I started at the very comprehensive beadwork section on About.com Beadwork . On the site, you’ll find everything from supplies to beadwork tutorials. I still reference it frequently!
- I suggest learning even-count peyote stitch first. Once you get that down, you can easily make striped or solid bracelets, and later patterned ones. Here’s an even-count peyote bracelet I made with a free pattern I got from About.com Beadwork.
- Gather Supplies from a local bead store or craft store. For starting materials, I’d suggest a few colors of size 6 or 8 seed beads (12 is the norm, but bigger beads can be best to learn with), a beading needle, beading thread or wire (I use Nymo size D), a plush beading mat, and thread conditioner (I use Thread Heaven). Eventually, you’ll need more supplies, but this is a good starting list.
- Work on learning a stitch first, then when you feel like you’ve got it down, start a project.
- Use Pinterest, YouTube, and the rest of the world-wide web to find awesome tutorials and projects. Books can be helpful too; I’d recommend checking your local library instead of purchasing.
- Experiment by learning other stitches, like African Helix Stitch:
If you’ve decided to dive into the seed bead universe and have any questions, please comment or visit the Contact Me form! If you are already a beadwork pro and have a blog that includes tutorials, let me know and I’ll feature it here!