A note from Jennifer: There are two kinds of beading pattern designers in this
world: those who can create gorgeous flat peyote patterns and those who can't.
Carol Dean Sharpe, owner of Sand Fibers, is definitely one of those who can.
Carole's flat peyote stitch cuff bracelet patterns and finished bracelets have
been purchased by bead artists like Marcia DeCoster and Diane Fitzgerald, and
her collaborations with artists like Lisa Peters Art and Kristie Roeder of
Artisan Clay are stunning in their simplicity and their beauty. Carol's amazing peyote stitch cuff bracelet designs range from fanciful depictions of restroom signs and Scotty dogs to bold abstract graphics and cuff bracelets that use cylinder beads and triangle beads to achieve amazing textures. Read on to see what Carol has to say about her design process, how she got her start in her wildly successful Etsy shop, and why she loves what she does.
In The Beginning: Seven years ago, I was a quilter. A
quilter who thought including beads on her smaller art quilts would be a cool
idea. At the same time I was toying with that thought, a friend of mine told me
about a woman who gave private beading classes. We scheduled a class for
ourselves and another friend, and so my first experience with beads was
stringing a bracelet using jewelry wire, large glass beads, a metal clasp, and
- yes! - crimp beads.
My first beads were gemstone chips,
pearls, and a few seed beads to use as spacers. I did a lot of stringing.
Because my favorite necklaces had always been multi strands of seed beads, I
purchased a box filled with hanks of Czech 11o seed beads from a
vendor on eBay. I remember making a bowl of bead soup from all the different
purples in that box and stringing (with needle and quilting thread) thousands
of those beads onto precut strands.
My first square stitch cuff with hematite chip clasp
What I don't remember is what happened
to all those strands, except that they never made it into a finished necklace -
I had created my first beading UFO. (Un-Finished Object.) I do know that all
the colors and finishes in that box mesmerized me and captured my heart. In
researching seed beads online, I found out about off-loom beadweaving. My first
beadwoven piece was a narrow square stitch bracelet in bronze metallic seed
beads. My clasp consisted of a large hematite "chip" and a beaded loop. How
very pleased I was with the results!
The first peyote stitch rope
I was back in my comfort zone using
needle, thread and small little bits of color. My next project was a tubular
peyote rope in a mix of crystal seeds lined in yellow and coral. (That was also
the last peyote rope I made until I took a class with Diane Fitzgerald in 2010.)
It was a continuous rope, no clasp required. But it needed something
extra, a focal. For that "something extra", I learned flat peyote.
I made a rectangle of the yellow and coral mix with a few grey stripes as
highlights and "zipped" that up so that I had a slider on the rope. (I ended up
cutting that slider off and embellishing the rope with the grey beads instead.)
Everything I know about beadweaving
was learned from books and the internet, until I took my first beadweaving
class, in right angle weave, from Marcia DeCoster in June 2010.
From Sliders to Cuff Bracelets: That slider was my first flat
peyote. Impressed with how much faster peyote worked up than square stitch, I
started making simple one-color or bead soup bracelets. A friend's 50th
birthday and her love of dragonflies presented me with my first experience
reading a peyote graph (a free pattern from the internet...sadly I don't recall
After decades of working from
charted cross stitch designs, I thought that following a beading graph would be
easy and fun. I must have beaded and unbeaded that first inch of the design
five or six times before I finally got the hang of reading the graph from left
to right and then from right to left while beading only from right to left. And
I did not enjoy the process, but I did love the result of working with cylinder
beads for the first time.
After that, I was determined to
stick with easy "patterns" for which I did not need a chart, patterns for which
the cylinder beads still seemed to work best: triangles, diagonals, stripes.
You can get some fun designs using only those. Just let the colors do most of
the work for you.
The first cuff I actually charted
was a square stitch piece. I created a graphic in PaintShop and then used
the counted cross stitch design software I had to translate that graphic into a
"pixilated" pattern. Eventually, I purchased software that would let me create
the offset graphs for peyote. My designs focused on simple geometric shapes,
triangles, circles, often drawing inspiration from textiles.
I don't have a set design process for my peyote stitch patterns.
Sometimes I'll see something (a pillow on my favorite soap opera, for instance)
that sends me straight to the computer and my software to see if I can achieve
a similar result (in the case of that pillow, my Interlock cuff was the
result). A wonderful braided chainmaille cuff inspired me to create my
Braided Metals design.
At other times, I open either my
graphic or beading software and start playing with shapes and/or lines.
Sometimes from scratch, sometimes from an old pattern. And since the
design process can start with an old design, I guess it doesn't ever really
The most difficult part of designing
is knowing when a design is or is not ready to be brought into beaded life.
Some designs are not meant to be. Recognizing a bomb before I put time and
money into beading it, that's hard. I can spend hours fiddling with a
pattern only to file it away in the hopes that I can do something better with
it at a later date. Sometimes I can; sometimes I can't.
On the other hand, there is nothing
quite as satisfying, as exhilarating as having an idea for something and
having that idea not only work but work better than I could have hoped
for. And then there's the thrill of
having other beaders want to bead my designs. That's indescribable!
Inspiration is Everywhere: Ideas come from absolutely
everywhere! The world is filled with patterns, with amazing color palettes.
Bargello needlepoint inspired my multiple drop peyote patterns that mimic some
of the motifs found in those textiles. Houndstooth fabric just screamed
to be interpreted in peyote. The corrugated tin roof on our first home inspired
the texture of my Corrugated line of cuffs. What if? Could I? How would I? Why
not? Those are the questions that guide my design process.
If Time and Money Were No Object, I Would... I would love to learn to work with polymer and precious
metal clay, but that would require a greater investment in time, focus,
materials, and tools than I can afford. What I already have the materials and
tools (and multiple instructions in both book and video format) for is bead
crochet. I'm comfortable with beads. I have been crocheting since I was a
young girl. One would think that combining the two would be easy for me. Not
so. I've tried and failed miserably enough times to have turned bead crochet
into a huge beading nemesis, if only in my mind. I will face and master it, one
of these days, months, or years.
But I'll Always Come Back to Beadweaving: Beadweaving is home; it is
safe. I find comfort and meditation in the actual process of beading, the
zen of beadweaving. At the same time, beadweaving provides me with
adventure and excitement in the design process. And, over the last few years,
beadweaving has also introduced me to an amazing community of beaders via the
internet. I have met people who will be my friends for life.
If you want to see more of Carol's lovely peyote stitch designs, you can check out her Etsy shop, Sand Fibers. Carol also blogs about her patterns, her life in New Mexico and her adventures as part of the Artisan Clay Design Team. You can also read about Carol's idea to raise money for Beads of Courage through The Best Little Bead Box.
Filed under: Gemstones, Peyote stitch, Pearls, Crystals, Bead Crochet, Beaded Beads, Bead Making, Stringing, Glass Beads, Right Angle Weave, How To Bead, Seed Bead Patterns, Bead-weaving, Beading Tools, Bracelet Making, Beaded Jewelry Design, Beads