The Beader's Handshake
You know about the beader’s handshake, right? That’s when you walk up to another beadecked beader (maybe someone you don’t even know), stare at her chest, freely pick up the focal piece on the necklace she’s wearing, get a goofy “wow” look on your face, look into their eyes, and then finally say “Hello!” There’s really no other place on earth where this is acceptable behavior. Just imagine doing that at, say, an Oscar’s party or board meeting! The plain reality is that you’d probably get slapped.
For me, though, the beader’s handshake has signified the beginning many wonderful friendships, and I can’t even count the number of fantastic necklaces I’ve ogled. The focal piece is always the draw, of course, but I try to make a point at examining the straps, too. I inevitably learn something new just from looking.
In the absence of a roomful of beaders, you’ll find plenty of inspiration and beading designs in the beadworked necklaces in the online store. Take special note of the unique straps on some of these pieces, and you’ll soon find out that stringing a bunch of beads to finish a necklace strap is just one option to complete your piece.
One beading technique I’ve seen utilized often for necklace straps is the spiral rope. You can bead spiral ropes with all kinds of different stitches, but the one I’m talking about has a center core with looped fringe along its length. A long time ago people used to call this technique “Internet Stitch” because it gained a big following on the web when contemporary beading was just gaining steam. People were really hungry for new patterns, and there just weren’t that many around. Some good beader posted this pattern and it went viral.
This is an incredibly versatile, fast stitch that can be done with varying degrees of imagination and innovation. You can see what I’m talking about when you look at Janel Gradowski’s undulating Holiday Swirl or her playful Jester’s Folly Bracelet. Both employ spiral stitch, but they couldn’t look any different from one another. The creative manipulation of bead size and bead counts make each one completely unique.
How to Bead a Spiral Rope
I’ll show you how to make a spiral rope using size 8° seed beads as my core beads and size 11°s as my outside beads, but you can also do it using all one-sized bead, varying the outside bead count, changing the number of core beads you pass up through, adding accent beads to the outside loops, etc.
1. Tie on a tension bead. String 3 core beads and 5 outside beads.
2. Pass up through the first 3 core beads just strung and pull tight.
3. String 1 core bead and 5 outside beads. Pass up through the previous 2 core beads added. Pull tight.
4. Pass through the core bead last strung and pull tight, flipping the loop of outside beads to the right.
5. Repeat Steps 3 and 4 to your desired length.
Isn’t that the easiest? What other types of beaded cords work well for you? Share them on the website.
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.
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