Bead-weaving With Wire

Dec 14, 2012

Sometimes, when I can't sleep at night, I try to relax by dreaming up new beaded jewelry design ideas. (I'm not the only one who does that, right?) A couple of weeks ago, as I was trying to fall asleep, I thought about what I was going to do with a hank of beautiful striped seed beads from York Beads. I don't know what made me think of it, but I wondered if I could stitch them together using fine gauge copper wire and using my favorite bead-weaving stitches. Wire jewelry made with bead-weaving stitches -- why not?

I'm a lot more adventurous with my wire jewelry projects these days, so I dug out a spool of 26 gauge copper wire and a hank of beautiful aged stripe beads from York Beads, with the idea that I would stitch up some kind of peyote stitch focal point for a necklace.

After I cut a reasonable length of wire (about five feet), I used my wire straighteners to try to get some of the curl out of that wire. I also had my Xuron needle nose pliers handy, since you never know when you're going to need to grasp a tiny end of wire as it pokes out of a bead.

Before I got started with the actual peyote stitch, I sorted through the hank of striped seed beads. (These were larger 8o seed beads, so that I could get more than one pass with the wire through each bead.) For my first attempt at peyote stitch with wire, I decided to use mainly the larger, cylinder-shaped beads.

I bent the wire in half, then slid a round bead down to the fold in the center. Next, I passed both wires through a cylinder-shaped bead.

Instead of starting my peyote stitch the way I normally do with thread, I decided to do something like a two-needle start: I added one bead to each wire, then passed both wires through a bead.

It was a bit of a challenge to get my beads to lie flat next to each other. Even with the thin wire, they just wouldn't do it! I'm one of those beaders that can't stand to see any thread Finally, in the end, I convinced myself that a bit of copper wire peeking through between the beads wouldn't be a bad thing.

To hold that last bead in place, I picked up a round seed bead and criss-crossed the two wires through the center. I very carefully pulled the wires until the bead was snug up against the last cylinder-shaped bead.
To continue stitching in peyote stitch, I took the wire on the right and passed it back through the first two beads. This got me into position to add that last center bead, the same way it would have if I were stitching peyote stitch with thread.
Once both of the side beads were added to create a diamond shape, I took each wire and wrapped it once or twice around the wire between beads, similar to the way I would have if I were tying a half-hitch knot with thread.
I trimmed the wire close to the beads and tucked the ends into a couple of beads. Ta-da! My first wire jewelry project made with peyote stitch and seed beads!

Since I was feeling brave after completing these two little pieces of wire peyote stitch, I decided to try something else: a large v-shaped piece of peyote stitch with wire and the round seed beads from the hank of striped beads. All I did was work peyote stitch with an increase on the top and a decrease on the bottom to form the "v", the same way I do when I want to make a peyote stitch leaf. After a while, it really didn't bother me that I could see some of the wire between beads. I love the ethnic look of this piece!

I will say this about doing peyote stitch with wire: it isn't easy on the fingers. But the end results were worth the pain!

Looking for great wire jewelry projects made with seed beads? Treat yourself to a subscription to Step By Step Wire Jewelry magazine. You'll get page after page of great wire jewelry projects for all skill levels, plus tips and techniques, great jewelry-making product reviews, and enough inspiration for a lifetime of wire jewelry making.

What do you think about working traditional bead-weaving stitches with wire? Have you tried this technique yet? I'll be sure to post the follow-up when I finish the beaded necklace!

Bead Happy,

Jennifer


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Comments

Maru6 wrote
on Dec 14, 2012 5:21 AM

Hi Jennifer,

Is the necklace done in the same peyote stitch as the "Russian Leaf" pattern?  If not could you do a tutuorial on your stitch the necklace is beautiful.

Thanks :)

on Dec 14, 2012 5:39 AM

This is such a great pattern, can you do a tutorial on this I would LOVE to make a few for friends...... Thanks

Kathy Bloom wrote
on Dec 14, 2012 11:58 AM

I too don't like to see the thread in my beading projects so I totally understand the aversion to seeing the wire.  There are beaded and textured wires available that might be a good choice for this pattern.  If they should show, they will add a bit of texture to the piece.

Sally@6 wrote
on Dec 14, 2012 3:32 PM

This is brilliant, Jen.  And so pretty, too. Both the pendant and the necklace are gorgeous. Good for you!

ladybeadress wrote
on Dec 14, 2012 7:58 PM

WOW! Very nice, tut, please. Is there a size to the beads?

ottercat wrote
on Dec 16, 2012 7:15 AM

Nice work, Jennifer.  Yes, I've used wire instead of thread.  I made some plant pots (to cover plain clay pots) using old CDs (bottom) and plastic pony beads connected with floral wire (26g) in herringbone stitch.  Also made 'Halloween Kids' (see Reader Photo Gallery) using mini & regular pony beads and 26g floral wire in 90DO-L stitch.  Made a friend a sunflower/w pot (flat) using pony beads and copper wire in 90DO-L stitch for her yard.  If I'm making something for outside, I use wire and treat the beads with RV inhibiting clear spray (damaging sun in my area).  Have to admit that I haven't tried your idea yet.  Thanks.  And yes, many times I've worked a piece in my head -- usually just before I finally drift to sleep.

GIJillie wrote
on Dec 16, 2012 5:55 PM

I definitely dream designs when I am sleeping, Especially if I am having a problem with something, I almost always dream the solution!  You are not alone, lol!

jeanirvin wrote
on Jan 4, 2013 12:29 PM

When I can't fall asleep, I think about the projects I am working on.  I think about my next step.  That usually works to help me sleep.  Glad to hear others are doing the same thing.