My very first job out of college was working for a small, non-profit community development organization. When I was hired, the Executive Director told me that she was impressed with my attention to detail, and never would I have guessed at the time that my attention to detail would be so useful for when I discovered beaded jewelry design
Learning how to create a variety of beaded embellishments can be a fabulous way to create your own beaded jewelry designs, particularly when you use those embellishment techniques to lend your own unique, creative voice to your finished pieces. Anyone can make a strip of flat peyote for a bracelet, but it takes a true artist to look at that strip of peyote stitch and think, "How can I embellish this?"
The great thing about beaded embellishments is that most of the techniques are very easy to learn, and even if you only know the basics of beaded embellishment, you can turn those into sophisticated additions to your own beaded jewelry designs. Want to get started? Here are three ideas to get you going!
Beaded fringe. This is probably one of the easiest ways to add texture, color, length, and dimension to your beaded jewelry designs is to add fringe. Fringe can be long and lanky, or short and stubby. You can create looped fringe, twisted fringe, or even braided fringe. Beaded fringe can be used on just about any kind of beaded jewelry design -- you see it most often on beaded necklaces, but fringe can also be used to great effect on beaded bracelets, beaded earrings, and even beaded rings and brooches!
For me, figuring out beaded fringe is probably the most difficult part of any jewelry design. Maybe it's because I'm too picky, but I like my fringe to be perfect. I've been known to fringe an entire beaded necklace, and then tear it all out and start over because it wasn't right.
Three-bead picots. Sure, you can use a three-bead picot to cover up the thread showing on the outside edges of a strip of peyote stitch or brick stitch, but there are so many other ways to build on those simple beaded embellishments! Use them to connect rows of beads that criss-cross a strip of flat beadwork, pull them towards each other to create a cupped piece of beadwork, or use them to embellish the last row of a peyote stitch cabochon bezel. Experiment with different size seed beads and contrasting colors when making your picots to give your bead-weaving extra visual interest and texture.
Surface embellishment. There are many ways to add layers and depth to your beaded jewelry designs using easy techniques for surface embellishment. The fastest and easiest way is to use the "stitch in the ditch" technique, where you add a single bead in the space between beads. You can use stitch-in-the-ditch in pretty much any bead-weaving stitch, but it works best in peyote stitch, herringbone, and right-angle weave.
Stitch-in-the-ditch is a great way to add extra layers and loops of beads to any kind of beaded jewelry design. Get creative when you work this beaded embellishment technique and add tiny shells, crystals, or pearls to your beadwork in contrasting colors for a whole new look. What I love best about this technique is how you can add strands and loops of beads using stitch-in-the-ditch to give your beadwork added strength and lots of gorgeous layers.
Learn All These Beaded Embellishment Techniques and More
Even if these embellishment techniques seem basic, remember that it's the little things that can make or break a beaded jewelry design. Even a simple technique can look sophisticated and elegant, depending on your choice of beads and colors!
If you're a visual learner (like me), there's nothing as good as watching a new beading technique being demonstrated right before your eyes. Melinda Barta, editor of Beadwork magazine, demonstrates more than 35 variations on these fun embellishment techniques in her new DVD, Finishing Touches for Beadwork. Watch and learn as Melinda demonstrates how to execute all of these techniques and more on all your favorite off-loom bead-weaving stitches using seed beads, crystals, and glass beads. Get your copy of Finishing Touches for Beadwork, and see how a little attention to detail can add a whole new dimension to your beaded jewelry designs! (If you just can't wait to get started, Finishing Touches for Beadwork is also available as an instant download, so you can be watching and learning on your favorite desktop or laptop computer in just minutes!)
Do you have a favorite technique for embellishing your beadwork? Have you tried a basic embellishment technique, only to be surprised at where it led? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and share your experiences and discoveries with us!
Filed under: Peyote stitch, Pearls, Crystals, Beaded Beads, Bead Making, Brick Stitch, Glass Beads, Herringbone Stitch, How To Bead, Seed Bead Patterns, Bead-weaving, Bracelet Making, Earring Making, Necklace Making, Beaded Jewelry Design, Beads, Jewelry Making, Beading Daily