I've been interested in things such as yoga and meditation ever since I took a stress management class in college. (I tend to be wound rather tightly at times!) For years, I used writing as my primary practice when I was looking to do something meditative, but I always had some kind of craft project sitting around, too-knitting, crochet, jewelry making, or handmade papers and books.
When I started learning how to do beadweaving during my last two years of college, I felt like I had suddenly found the ideal craft for my stress-management needs. And when I got my copy of Carol Huber Cypher's Mastering Beadwork, I was absolutely tickled to see her referring to beadweaving as "mindful meditation" -that's exactly what it is for me!
And why not use beadweaving as meditation? Beads have been used for thousands of years to focus our intentions and our attention when praying. Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, and followers of many other religions have used beads as symbols of faith in their daily devotions. (There are even a number of us in the beading community who attend beadweaving workshops on Sundays and refer to it as "Bead Church"!) If there is one thing that most religions can find in common, it's their use of beads as a way to make their beliefs tangible.
Each off-loom beadweaving stitch has its own rhythm that feels like a meditation or a chant. Breathe in, stitch a bead, breathe out. That's probably why I turned to my beadweaving when I got home from the office after a hard day. Not only was it soothing to handle those shiny, beautiful little beads, but being able to sit down and focus on something else for an hour was the best way for me to set aside my problems and relax.
Learning how to do peyote stitch was really the first time I recognized the connection between beadweaving and meditation. As I started each new piece of peyote stitch, I repeated a little mantra in my head: "String one, skip one, pass through this one." And it worked! I still find myself repeating that little phrase when I start a piece of peyote stitch, and I have other little sayings that I use for right-angle weave, herringbone stitch, and square stitch. They remind me of the little mantras we chant at the end of yoga class when we're all feeling refreshed and relaxed.
Beadweaving also has a transformative quality to it that just seems like magic to me. It's like spinning straw into gold when you take a pile of seed beads and some beading thread and turn them into a stunning piece of beaded jewelry. So now I'm relaxed and happy, AND I have a knockout piece of jewelry to show off!
Are you ready to become a beadweaving master? Carol Huber Cypher's Mastering Beadwork covers fourteen essential off-loom beadweaving techniques, plus bead crochet basics. Whether you are a seasoned beadweaving artist or someone who is just starting to explore all that beadweaving has to offer, you'll want to have a copy of Mastering Beadwork handy for both reference and inspiration!
Make sure you take a few minutes to read our new Beadweaving Topic Page here on Beading Daily, too. You'll find great information about basic beadweaving materials and tools, handy tips and techniques, ideas for beadweaving projects, and a little background about each of your favorite off-loom beadweaving stitches.
How did you get started with beadweaving? What about bead-weaving keeps you coming back for more? Share your stories and your thoughts by leaving a comment!