Hobbies: Beadwork

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).

Seed Bead bracelet, peyote stitch, size  14 beads

A bracelet I made for my mom

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.

Pro:

  • 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.

Con:

  • It can be a little difficult to teach yourself, although definitely possible (I taught myself).

Pro:

  •  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!

Con:

  • 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…

Pro:

  • Seed beads are A LOT cheaper than most of the other types of beads you’ll find at a bead store.

Con:

  • You will find seed beads everywhere. The carpet, the couch, in your car, etc.

Pro:

  • 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.

Pro:

  • 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.
    zig-zag peyote stitch bracelet, pattern from beadwork.about.com

    You could make this!

    Zig-zag Peyote stich bracelet,  pattern from beadwork.about.com

    Zig-Zag Bracelet

  • 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:
Beadwork: African Helix Sitch Bracelet

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!

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