4 Fringe Techniques Inspired by Zulu Beadwork

Inspired by Diane Fitzgerald

I was at Diane Fitzgerald’s studio recently. I’ve been there before—she’s a home girl (lives in Minneapolis, too), and we get together for lunch now and then. But this time my visit was a little different. This time I was bowled over by the sheer amount of Diane’s beadwork. I swear there was double the stuff than was there before. On stands…on the walls…in progress. And all of it beautiful, finely made, and intriguing in its design. Where in the heck does she find the time? Does she employ elves? The visit gave me the distinct sense that I should go home and either a) put my beading rear into high gear; or b) tidy up my studio and hold tightly onto my day job. Luckily, Diane is so enthusiastic about beading that she’d never want anyone to give up, so I’ve been doing my best to follow Route A. 

I like Diane—she’s one of those beaders’ beaders. She’ll do things like scour flea market stands in London’s Piccadilly Square or a Moroccan souk to find samples of antique beadwork. Then she’ll bring the items home to figure out how they were made, sometimes dissecting a piece to unlock the mystery. Lucky for us, she often sits down and writes a book about her findings.

I was recently poring over one of her latest books called Zulu Inspired Beadwork and was struck by just how many ways there are to manipulate seed beads. With each turn of the page you discover a new way. And I’m not just talking the standards like peyote, brick, and square stitch. There are crazy stitches in this book that most people have never even seen, let alone tried. For that reason alone you should consider adding Zulu Inspired Beadwork to your library.

Fringe Turnaround Techniques

Paging through the book I realized how many Zulu techniques incorporate fringe not only for embellishment, but as part of the stitch’s structure. For example, one technique shows making a fringe at the start of every peyote-stitched row, which is a great way to hide the unsightly thread that shows at the edge of flat peyote stitch. This got me thinking about how some techniques like herringbone stitch, which involves tricky thread looping at each row’s turnaround to keep the thread hidden, might benefit from a little Zulu-style fringe action. Let me show you what I’m talking about:

Here’s the end of a first row of herringbone stitch. I could pass the thread up through the last bead added to step up to the next row, but that’s not very pro since the thread will show on the outside of the beads;  

Or I can loop the thread between beads to make the turnaround, creating a flat edge with no thread showing; 

OR, to be really cool, I could add a simple picot fringe instead of looping the thread; 

Or how about an even more ornate fringe?

Now that I’m all hyped up on fringe turnarounds, maybe I’ll be able to bead as fast and furiously as Diane. A girl can dream.

Do you have some tips to share about fringed or other quick turnarounds for common off-loom stitches? Share them on the website!

This is your last chance to enter the Beaded Book Competition.  There's still time to bead Cinderella's shoe, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, or another book-inspired piece! Photos are due next week–December 18, 2008.  Don't miss your chance to be featured in Beadwork magazine and at the Bead Fest shows.

Also, the editors would love your feedback on the latest issue of Beadwork magazine.   What did you love?  Hate?  Take the survey.

Jean Campbell writes about beading and life every Wednesday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Jean, please post them on the website. Thanks! 

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Michelle M.

About Michelle M.

I was the founding editor of Beading Daily (2007-2009) and my now a freelance designer/writer/editor.  My designs have been published in Stringing, Step by Step Beads, Jewelry Gifts for the Holidays, Creative Jewelry, Beadwork, and other magazines. I enjoy stringing, bead embroidery, wirework, metal work, mixed media, beadweaving—pretty much anything that involves beads or jewelry.  I also enjoy exploring new crafts like pottery and felting.  I write a personal blog if you want to see more of my work. 16+ Free Beading Projects: A list of the free projects I created for Beading Daily. Contact Info If you have a question regarding Beading Daily, please contact customer service at beadingdaily@interweave.com or the current editor, Kristal Wick. If you'd like to contact me, you'll find my info on my website:  www.michellemach.com.  You can also follow me on Twitter at:  http://twitter.com/beadsandbooks Pictured here is a pair of earrings I made for the Spring 2010 issue of Stringing in an attempt to get over my fear of designing with the color orange!

8 thoughts on “4 Fringe Techniques Inspired by Zulu Beadwork

  1. You said “Or I can loop the thread between beads to make the turnaround, creating a flat edge with no thread showing”.
    It seems to me that the thread loop will pull back through to the top of that last bead. Maybe to avoid an unidentified slack thread there, you should just brick stick it at the top of the bead?
    What do you think?


  2. Mary-The looping technique is the standard way to do hidden-thread turnarounds. Since you loop the thread around threads that are already placed (like you do with brick stitch), it won’t pull through. The tricky thing about herringbone stitch is that you don’t want to upset the flow of the beads too much or you’ll lose that signature chevron pattern the beads make. If you made a square or brick stitch for the turnaround, you risk losing that pattern. Jean

  3. when i do Herringbone, sometimes when i get to the part where you go up, and the thread shows, i just add another Delica to the side, and go up it. it looks cool too when you make a cuff. 🙂 it will have that extra bead on each side. i like how it looks.
    gina 🙂

  4. It is possible that the page above is just what I was planning to write about. But in case it isn’t, I’d like to suggest that you add a choice to your numerous pages of useful information that one may want to print.
    Many websites have the option to select a printer friendly page for paper saving.
    Save a tree!

  5. I like so much zulu beadwork, I live in Argentina and it’s very difficult buy this book because I can’t find in the library and in same cases no shipping in my country. I have to know what I do to sell the book?, thanks so much, Jean

  6. Hi, Sorry, this is off topic but I can’t find anywhere else to ask this question. I have just realized that I am no longer getting email notices from beadingdaily.com. I checked and I am registered. I am still getting email updates from the online site of the “other” beading magazine but yours is my favourite. My lttle beady heart is broken!!! Don’t you like me anymore? Please tell me how I can make it up to you? ; ) Thanks, sharmanlmartin@hotmail.com