Bead Crochet: It's a Well Done Experience

Apr 19, 2013

From Jennifer: Bead crochet was, without a doubt, one of the most difficult beading techniques that I ever learned. But once I mastered it, bead crochet quickly became a source of inspiration and a great way to give my beady brain a well-deserved break between bead-weaving projects. Today, I'm thrilled to introduce to you the mother-daughter team of Bert and Dana Freed, who have turned their passion for bead crochet into a successful business!





We are both lifelong knitters, crocheters, and needlepointers. These passions for crafting were passed down through our family from mother to daughter, but our experience with beading was different; we began bead-weaving with seed beads in 1999, and found that we really enjoyed learning peyote Stitch, right-angle weave, and other beading stitches. When we learned bead crochet several years later, we knew we had both found our true passion, and together, we pushed the limits of what could be done with bead crochet.

The technique is the perfect hybrid of all our beading interests, incorporating beads, fiber, and a crochet hook to create a product that is three-dimensional and flexible. Unlike other beading techniques and beading projects, bead crochet is also portable: once you have strung your beads, you can take your bead crochet project anywhere without fear of losing beads. Whether it's a short subway ride or a long trip on an airplane, we are never on the move without a craft in hand.


bead-crochet


Once we learned the basics of bead crochet, we were starving for more. Unfortunately, it seems the technique has a bit of a reputation for being difficult -- we cannot tell you how often we have heard: "Oh, I tried to learn that but couldn't!" We found that there was less information about bead crochet available than we had hoped when we started learning bead crochet, but this turned into something good: it forced us to get creative, challenge ourselves, and see what we could discover on our own. While we were inspired by other bead crochet artists and admired their knowledge and expertise, it was important to us to use bead crochet in a different way, one that echoed our own voices and aesthetic. We are crazy for color, and the endless combinations of beads and thread really keep us on our toes.

We are as passionate about sharing what we know as we are about the technique itself. It is our hope that, through teaching and our book, Bead Crochet Jewelry, we will help all those who want to learn and master the technique of bead crochet!


bead-crochet


Are you brave enough to try something new with your bead crochet projects? Check out The Beaded Edge 2. You'll find eighteen bead crochet patterns that can be used as edgings for accessories, clothing, and even as beautiful, delicate bead crochet jewelry. If you haven't grabbed your copy yet, take advantage of the big savings during the Interweave Spring Clearance Event and save 70% on your copy of The Beaded Edge 2.

Have you mastered bead crochet yet? What tips and advice do you have for someone who struggles with this fabulous and versatile beading technique? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and share your expertise with us!

Bead Happy,

Jennifer

Bert Rachel Freed and Dana Elizabeth Freed are the mother-daughter team of Well Done Experience. They sell their finished bead crochet jewelry at galleries both in New York City and overseas. You can find out more about them, their work, and their products at Chicken and Egg Designs (finished high-end jewelry) and Well Done Experience.

 


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Comments

venatrix wrote
on Apr 19, 2013 4:21 AM

I've only, within the last few months, started doing bead crochet.  Yes, it is difficult to get the hang of, but I stuck with it and I'm so glad I did.  Once you see the pattern of the stitches emerging, it's becomes a lot easier.

I highly recommend the Freeds' book, and I'm now on my fourth project from it.  I have some photos of these projects, plus inspiration from other bead crochet artists on my Pinterest board, which can be found here:

pinterest.com/.../pins

I'll be adding photos of my latest projects shortly.  

If you think you can muster the patience to stick with bead crochet, I highly recommend it.  It's a gorgeous and much under-sung beading method that deserves more recognition.

chillwthme wrote
on Apr 19, 2013 6:26 AM

Help!!!!  What am I doing wrong?? I know what to do but just cannot get the spiral to emerge.  I get frustrated with it.  Any tips or tricks would be appreciated!!

chillwthme wrote
on Apr 19, 2013 6:26 AM

Help!!!!  What am I doing wrong?? I know what to do but just cannot get the spiral to emerge.  I get frustrated with it.  Any tips or tricks would be appreciated!!

venatrix wrote
on Apr 19, 2013 6:55 AM

chillwthme,

Take a look at my Pinterest board, linked in the first post.  On the board, I have a link to a bead crochet tutorial that I've shared with many people, and which I think is absolutely brilliant.  If you follow the instructions to the letter, I would be very much surprised if you don't have success.  The Freeds also have clear basic instructions in their book (by the way, their instructions on how to do the invisible join are the best ever).

Once you've got the basics down, you then have to practice, practice, practice until you can bead crochet without having to refer to the instructions.  I've been starting one project right after another.  I've only been doing this since August 2012 (with a three-month break), but you can get an idea of what I've managed so far in the "Stuff I've Made" section on Pinterest.  I've got a couple more projects that I need to load photos for, but what's posted should give you an idea of what you can do in a short period of time.

11/0 and smaller beads still escape me, though I did make one 11/0 bracelet (I must have started it over a dozen times, though).  Bead Crocheting with larger beads (6/0s and 4mm beads especially) has been pretty easy to pick up.  

I think bead crochet is so fantastic that we now carry a range of bead crochet supplies in our eBay shop, to cater to what I hope will be a growing bead crochet market.  I wouldn't stock something if I didn't think it was fabulous!

RikkiM wrote
on Apr 19, 2013 7:41 AM

This article (and the email it was based on) would be a lot more engaging if you showed larger photos of the jewelry.

DebbieB52 wrote
on Apr 19, 2013 11:26 AM

I learned with pony beads and yarn to get the technique down.  I knew how to crochet and thought that might help but it really didn't.  After the pony beads I then worked with fingering yarn and size 8 beads and there has been no stopping me since then.  The possibilities and designs are endless.

iceplant wrote
on Apr 19, 2013 4:45 PM

I have done bead crochet many times.  Yes, it is not hard at all.  The hardest part for me probably is stringing the pattern.  Instead of doing spiral in different colors, I purchased other bead patterns to challenge myself.  Estimate the length for a necklace for how long the stringing would be and keep track of the bead patterns row by row is very difficult for me. Some patterns have 10 rows to a pattern.  If I make a mistake, the pattern will show.

Another difficulty I often encounter is the two end caps to finish the necklace.  I have a hard time to find the exact size of the caps each time since I used size 11 seed beads for 6, 9 or 11 rounds on different projects.  Also, what is a better way to attach it to the bead rope?  By wire? by sewing thread?

Any suggestions to the above would be greatly appreciated.

There isn't anyone to ask, I am so glad I've found this forum.

venatrix wrote
on Apr 20, 2013 1:17 PM

Iceplant,

Don't be afraid of making a mistake when you string your beads.  I used to be petrified that I would need to add in more thread.  Then I had a mishap between my bead crochet and a hotel sofa bed (no, don't ask), and was forced to add in more thread.  

Bead crochet diva Judith Bertoglio-Giffin kindly provides simple, clear instructions for this technique free of charge.  You can find them here:  www.beadline.com/add_thread.pdf

Adding in thread is so easy, I felt stupid for being afraid of it.  By the way, Judith has a great blog and lots of wonderful bead crochet pattern books and such.

I've occasionally found that when I make a mistake in my beadwork, I turn the piece into something better by changing the project to cover up the mistake.  It doesn't always work, but it can be an alternative to re-stringing/adding thread/ starting over.

I'd also recommend Linda Lehman's Bead Crochet Jewelry book.  She has loads of great information in there, and it's still in print, available from Amazon.

I agree that finishing a bead crochet project is often the hardest part.  I've toyed with the idea of making my own bead caps out of polymer clay, but I've been so busy with the bead business, that I haven't had time to do more than think about it.  Maybe someone else out there has had some experience with this?

Janet@327 wrote
on Apr 22, 2013 3:05 PM

I enjoy crocheting with 26-28 gauge wire instead of thread.  What are others doing with this medium besides simple chain stitch strands?  I use non-tarnish silver plated wire and enamel colored copper wire with a variety of gemstones and crystals.  Would love to see more small motif work. Just made a variation of the cuff project in one of my beading magazines (don't remember which one as I have several sitting out at the moment.)

Janet@327 wrote
on Apr 22, 2013 3:06 PM

I enjoy crocheting with 26-28 gauge wire instead of thread.  What are others doing with this medium besides simple chain stitch strands?  I use non-tarnish silver plated wire and enamel colored copper wire with a variety of gemstones and crystals.  Would love to see more small motif work. Just made a variation of the cuff project in one of my beading magazines (don't remember which one as I have several sitting out at the moment.)