Ever since I made my first spiral rope, I've loved to make beaded ropes out of seed beads and my favorite off-loom bead-weaving stitches, and with the new TierraCast Maker's Collection of cord and rope ends with coordinating clasps, I was inspired to start stitching some new beaded ropes.
Pretty much any stitch can be turned into a beaded rope by working it with a tubular thread path, and there are even a couple of stitches (like spiral rope and African helix) that only exist as a beaded rope. When it comes to making intricate beaded necklaces, my preferred design idea is to start with a beaded rope -- they can be used for a lot more than just hanging pendants. Here are 3 options for finishing your beaded ropes that will ignite your creativity!
Option #1: No Finish, aka, Eternity Rope
My first experiments with beaded ropes other than spiral rope were with tubular herringbone. Once I realized how easy it was to make delicate herringbone stitch tubes into beaded ropes, I found enormous possibilities in shaping and embellishing these!
If you're going to want shaped beaded ropes, I recommend sticking with a bead-weaving stitch that is highly flexible, like plain (not twisted) tubular herringbone stitch. Make your herringbone tube, and then cut a length of craft wire the same length as the tube. Insert the wire into the tube, curl it around into a circle (or whatever shape you want it to be), and stitch the ends together securely. You can also use a small bit of tape to secure the ends of the wire together before you stitch the ends of the herringbone tube together.
You can also forgo the wire and just make a long, long beaded tube that's meant to wrap around a wrist or neck several times for a beaded bracelet or necklace. Think about the long opera-length necklaces that are around 35 to 40 inches long -- if you think you can make a beaded rope that long, you can probably make an eternity rope for a smashing beaded necklace!
Option #2: Finish With a Bead Cap or Cone
For a clean, professional finish, some beaders like to add bead caps or cones to the ends of their beaded ropes. And if your stash of jewelry findings is anything like mine, you're always on the lookout for a new kind of bead cap or cone. While some bead caps or cones designed to end beaded ropes are meant to have the end of the rope glued into the finding, there are others that you can use by just attaching a wire to the end of your beaded rope.
Bead caps and cones are great options for all beaded ropes, no matter what stitch you use. Just make sure that your wire or eye pin is securely stitched to the rope by gently tugging on it before you try to add the cap and make the wrapped loop for the clasp end -- for extra security, weave your thread tail deep into the beadwork, knotting and maybe even adding tiny drops of glue to those knots as you go. (For a great TierraCast giveaway this week featuring the new Maker's Collection of cord ends and coordinating clasps, head over to the Beading Supplies We Love blog!)
Option #3: Add a Finial Bead
What's a finial bead, you might ask? Well, once upon a time, I discovered that adding a large bead at the end of my beaded rope is a lovely accent that also allows you to easily make several passes through your seed bead loop for attaching jump rings and clasps.
To use a finial bead, find a large bead of any shape that nestles into the end of your beaded rope, or that is about the same size as your beaded rope. Close the end of your beaded rope, and weave the thread so that it exits the center of the closure. Pick up a seed bead, your finial bead, and then enough seed beads to create the desired size loop and accommodate your clasp or closure. Weave your thread back through the finial bead, into the beaded rope, and then back up through the bead and the seed bead loop several times to strengthen your connection.
Beaded ropes can be so much more than just a way to hang a pendant! Whether you like simple spiral ropes or more complex netted tubes and beaded ropes made with embellished right-angle weave, these tubular variations of your favorite bead-weaving stitches can be the perfect playground for innovation and creativity.
Want to learn the ropes of making beaded ropes from a master bead artist? You loved Jill Wiseman's kumihimo DVD, and now she's back with an incredible follow up: Beaded Ropes With Jill Wiseman, part of the Beadwork Magazine Designer of the Year series!
Watch and learn as Jill demonstrates five different types of beaded ropes using herringbone, peyote, right-angle weave, netting, and spiral rope; learn about choosing and using the right types of beads for each rope; get helpful technical advice; and learn more about how embellishments can be used to create a spectacular stand-alone beaded necklace! And if you're looking to get out the beads and get busy stitching, you can download Beaded Ropes With Jill Wiseman and be watching and learning in just minutes!
No matter what your skill level, Jill's instructions and tips are clear, helpful, and inspiring. What are you waiting for? Get busy beading!
Do you have a question about stitching beaded ropes, or do you have a favorite beading stitch for making a beaded rope? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and share your questions and thoughts with us!
P.S. Don't forget about our awesome TierraCast giveaway, going on through July 28, 2014 over on the Beading Supplies We Love blog!
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