Freeform peyote bracelet

Adding a new technique to your repertoire is an exciting adventure. You never know where it will lead. In this case, an assortment of beads in various sizes and shapes dictate a random, free-form approach to peyote stitch to build the beads into a textured band. This bracelet is proof that you don't have to work on a new technique for ages before it becomes a useful tool. Even beginners can have fun and get great results.

Work the chunky bracelet lengthwise from a center spine of even-count flat peyote stitch. When the first half of the bracelet is about V. in. (2cm) wide, you work the other half out from the other edge of the spine.

The nubby texture is the result of using different sizes and shapes of beads. Begin by selecting five interestingly textured beads in the approximate sizes and quantities listed in "materials." Most of the bracelet is made with the three smallest sizes; the two larger bead sizes are used randomly for accent. Work with long lengths of doubled, waxed thread, using a size that will pass through the smallest beads at least four times.

O Thread a needle with about 4 yd. (3.7m) of thread. Double and wax it. String a temporary stop bead to about 18 in. (46cm) from the end and go through the bead again to anchor it. Pick up enough beads to go around your wrist with the ends touching about 2 in. (5cm) above your wrist bone. String beads randomly for the base row, but do not use either the largest or the smallest beads. You need an even number of beads, excluding the stop bead. © Work back across the base strand in flat, even-count peyote stitch ("Basics," p. 5), picking up beads similar to the ones they touch (photo a). Check the band for length. If you need to add a few more beads, remove the stop bead and string the new beads onto the tail. Then peyote across them to the end of the row.

© Make sure the strip is not twisted and work back across the row, again picking up beads similar to the ones they touch. Work 2-3 more rows this way to establish a solid base for the experiments to come. © When you have worked six rows (each stack is three beads high), you can begin adding a few large beads for texture. Look for shallow areas where a larger bead will fit comfortably. The thread should travel straight across with the large bead perhaps spanning two to four small beads (figure 1).

© When you come to the large bead on the next row, use small or tiny beads before and after it to keep the work flat (figure 2). When you return to the large bead on the third row, span it with two small beads even though three may fit (figure 3). This allows room for large beads in subsequent rows. To eliminate a bulge in the following row, if necessary, you may want to pass through a bead or two without adding beads.

© Robin's secret to getting smooth areas around her large beads is to work back and forth across small sections, rather than continuously across every row (photo b). She works a smooth textural field back and forth across a few inches of the bracelet to build up several rows of "ledge" at the edge of which she places the large bead (figure 4). Then she works the ledge across a few inches on the other side of the bead. To connect a new short section to an existing one, turn to work back by sewing through a ledge bead on the same level as the new row. Then reverse direction through the ledge bead above. Q When the strip is 7. in. wide, build up the center 3 in. (7.6cm) with a few more rows.

© Finish off the outer edge by working small beads into any gaps. Don't worry about a few threads showing in the body of the work, you'll embellish over them later. If a long thread remains, leave it attached for finishing the ends and sewing on the clasps. Tape it under the bracelet to avoid tangling. If the thread is short, weave it in and clip the tail. © Attach a new thread to the base row and work the other side. Since you stabilized the spine in steps 1-3, you can begin adding large beads right away. Place large beads and design elements to balance the first side. When the bracelet is 1'A in. (3cm) wide across the narrow edge, build up the center 3 in. as in step 7 and finish the edge as in step 8.

© Now sew over to any places where threads show and embellish over them with small beads.

© The ends are likely to be irregular. Bring a thread out the bead at one edge of an end and work a few rows of brick stitch across the edge to make a smooth finish (photo c and "Basics").

Peyote Stitch
figure 2


figure 4

^¿oRRRqOQ i figure 4

Check the bracelet for length, allowing for the clasp, and work a few more rows of brick stitch if needed. © If desired, overcast tiny beads along each long edge to finish them smoothly (photo d).

® Finally, sew the female halves of each clasp to the corners on one end of the bracelet and the male halves to the opposite corners.

- design by Robin Brisco; directions by Penny Harrell; brocelet beaded by Alice Korach. To see Robin's original bracelet made with chunky brass beads (which was, unfortunately, lost by the U.S. Postal Service] visit Robin's website,


• 200+3mm fire-polished crystals

• 15+ 6mm pressed-glass crystals

• Nymo B or D or Silamide beading thread

• beeswax for Nymo

• 2 box or magnetic clasps

Freeform Peyote Bracelet

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