Medicine bags

Peyote Bead Patterns RoseMedicine Bag Patterns Beaded

70 The Best of BeadftBotton

Jennifer Clement developed a series of unique mandala designs for her amulet bags. Each one appears, at first glance, to be a snowflake. But when you look closer, they are actually representational images. Besides the four designs that are re-created here, she has many others available through her bead store. Read on to learn about her methods for making her bogs.

I've been a header since I was a child. During the late '60s when beads were really In, my parents bought me a bead loom. I didn't like the loom, but I loved the beads and started dragging my parents everywhere to look for beads. Now after making my living doing beadwork In one way or another, I co-own Beadweaver, a bead store In Santa Fe, and my life continues to be oriented around beads.

I like to make these medicine bags or amulet purses to commemorate major events. I design a six-pointed "snowflake" design or a mandala for each purse. Look closely and you will see that each design Is actually representative. Figure 1 at right Is called Turtles Dancing, Frogs and Ladybugs Keeping Watch. The one below It, figure 2, is called Angels. Figures 4 and 5 on p. 74 are Tree-star and Lotus Flower. The design on the white amulet purse on p. 70 was made for the midwife who delivered my son. It was the first snowflake design I created, and it shows six women giving birth.


I've tried to make these designs with eight points, but they never turned out very well. I think peyote stitch just orients well to a six-sided design. An Important consideration when designing a purse Is to use colors with high contrast. This makes the design pop. I recommend using a light background and bright or dark colors which will hold the details of the design. Or use a black background and light colors for another type of high-contrast look.


These designs are symmetrical, just like real snowflakes. Therefore, they require an odd count of vertical rows: a central row with an equal number of

Mandalas PeyoteReally Round Peyote Mandala Pattern

figure 2

rows on both sides. Because I don't like to work on flat peyote pieces, I make all my purses with circular peyote. However, the bags must lay flat when complete, so you must have an equal number of vertical rows for the front and back sides. This works fine when you put a design on the front and stitch a solid-color back side. But I don't find continuous monochromatic stitching very interesting, so I like to put the design on both sides.

You must consider certain parameters when making a bag with an odd number of vertical peyote rows on each side. If you have 25 vertical rows in your design, you will have a circular bag with 50 vertical rows. Because of the "up" and "down" orientation of peyote rows, each side will only have a center bead every other row and those rows will not be the same on both sides. In brief, you will have to start the pattern on the back side one horizontal row above or below the one on the front side. You just have to remember to make that adjustment when you are stitching the purse.

Another option is to place your design a little off-center by adding another vertical row to each side. If you have 26 or any even number of vertical rows on each side of the bag, there is no "central" row. My Birth amulet bag and my Turtles Dancing design both are made with this adjustment. There are two vertical rows of background color on the right side of each design and only one on the left side. When it comes time to zip up the bottom of the bag and to fringe the sides of the bag, you can finesse this "uneven" situation by laying the bag so the side edge is actually a vertical row of beads. By subtracting the extra row from each side, you are back to having an uneven number of rows and the design will be centered. When you add fringe to the sides, you must add it to both edges of the beads on the side vertical rows to cover all exposed thread.


Follow one of my patterns or create your own design. Decide whether to use seed beads or cylinder beads for the body of the bag. I started out making my bags with 22" and 24" seed beads, but now I use Japanese cylinder beads. The holes are much easier to see, many colors are available, and the uniform size creates a nice bead fabric.

The first few rows of peyote are always the most difficult. To make the start easier, I often use a contrast color for the first or third row. This makes it much easier to see where to put the beads for the fourth row and prevents twisting the rows at the beginning. O Thread a needle with a 1 -yd. (.9m) length of Nymo. String the required number of beads to complete the first two rows of your chosen design, leaving a 6-in. tail. Since this bag will be stitched in even-count circular peyote (see "Basics," p. 5), you must remember to pick enough beads for the front as well as the back. This will be an even number of beads.

© Tie the two thread ends together with a square knot (see "Basics"), leaving some ease.

© To begin row 3, go through the first bead to the left of the knot. Pick up the first row 3 bead, skip a bead, and go through the next bead. Continue around in this manner until you get to the end of row 3.

© Because you are doing even-count circular peyote, you will "step up" at the end of each row from here on out. To step up for row 4, go through the first bead of rows 2 and 3. Pick up the first row 4 bead and go through the second row 3 bead. Continue around in this manner to complete row 4. If you find that you don't step up and you start spiraling instead, stop and check your work for a missed bead. © Continue working in even-count circular peyote to complete the body of the bag.


Once the body of the bag is complete, excluding any edging at the top, stitch up the bottom of the bag. Lay the bag flat with the pattern centered and sew between the "up" beads on back and front bottom edges (see "Basics" and photo a).


I almost always make a row of points along the top edge of the bag's back side. The smallest points, shown in the Turtles design on p. 71, are made by adding only the beads above the orange line on the diagram, as follows: O Sew out an "up" bead next to the back edge. "Add a bead, sew through the next "up" bead (photo b), go into the following "down" bead, and continue through the next "up" bead." Repeat from * to" to add points along the back edge (or around the entire edge if you prefer).

The larger points on the 50-count bags, shown in the large bag on p. 70, are made by adding two groups of five-row peaks, as follows: © Add five beads in a row between "up" beads along the back edge. Skip a space by going into the next "down" bead and through the next "up" bead (photo c) and add five more beads. © To add the next row of beads, you'll have to get your needle into position so that it exits the last bead added in the opposite direction. To do so, after adding the last bead in your new row, loop around the thread connecting the two beads immediately below the bead you just added and go back through it (figure 3, opposite page). © Add beads between the new "up" beads, with one bead fewer in each row (photo d) to create a point (photo e). Make the turn following figure 3 for each new row.

© After adding the single bead for the last row, sew back through the beadwork and finish off the thread with a few half-hitch knots (see "Basics") between beads. © If you wish, embellish the points by stringing some beads between them as shown in photo f.


A simple closure is the best way to ensure security without distracting from the design. First, sew a round bead to the center top on the front side of your bag. Now, choose one of the following methods for making the loop closure.

If you want a simple loop and bead closure, like the one pictured on p. 70, sew out from a bead at the purse's center back. String a size 6" or 8" bead

Medicine Bags


• size 11° Japanese cylinder beads in a variety of colors

• assorted seed beads and larger beads for fringe and strap

• Nymo D or B beading thread

• beeswax or Thread Heaven

figure 3


I'm persnickety about fringe and often pull it out if it doesn't meet my standards. I like to make two rows of fringe that taper back evenly from a long center fringe. I use a variety of seed beads, gemstones, pearls, drop beads, and charms. I add one fringe row from the front bottom of the bag, stringing a fringe from every other bead across the row (photo h). Then I add a matching row to the bottom back of the bag, also skipping every other bead.


Trim the side edges before adding a necklace strap. I add two lines of three-bead picots along the front and back sides to hide the bead holes that show when the bag lies flat. O Sew out a bead at the bottom of the bag's front side. "Pick up three 14" seed beads and sew into the next bead along the edge (photo i, p. 74). © Turn and sew out the next bead (photo j, p. 74).'

© Repeat from " to " along the entire front edge, turn, and repeat along the back side edge (photo k, p. 74), covering the bead holes of both vertical peyote rows on the purse's side (photo I, p. 74). If you decided to use one vertical row on each side of the bag, remember to fringe on both sides of the edge beads to cover exposed thread.


Use seed beads, larger accent beads, and pearls to make a necklace strap. O Cut a length of Nymo six times the desired length of the necklace strap and thread it on a needle doubled. © Sew into the body of the purse, leaving a 4-in. (10cm) tail, and zigzag through the beads to exit the end bead on the top front edge. © String the necklace strap as desired

Alternatively, attach your loop to a three-bead-wide tab sewn in ladder stitch (see "Basics"), as follows: O Make a loop of seed beads which will fit your closure button or bead and sew through the loop of beads again. © String three beads, go through the last three beads on the loop, and go back through the three beads just added again in the same direction. String three more beads, go through the beads in the row below and back through the beads just added. Make four or five total rows of ladder stitch and then attach the ladder to the inside back edge of the purse (photo g).


• size 11° Japanese cylinder beads in a variety of colors

• assorted seed beads and larger beads for fringe and strap

• Nymo D or B beading thread

• beeswax or Thread Heaven

and enough seed beads to fit around the bead or button you're using for the closure. Sew back into the 6° or 8° bead in the opposite direction and end your thread securely in the purse's beadwork with a few half-hitch knots.

Peyote Mandala RoundPeyote Stitch Medicine Bags

(make sure it is long enough to go over your head).

O Sew into the end bead on the opposite front corner, turn, and come out the end bead on the back corner. © Sew back through the beads on the necklace strap and into the end bead on the opposite back corner. Zigzag through the beadwork of the body to secure the thread and trim both tails close to the beads. - Jennifer Clement

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