Tassel Heads

Tassels usually have heads, sometimes including wooden molds but often made from rolled-paper beads or card cylinders that previously held embroidery thread or sticky tape. Improvisation is the name of the game here, and it's worth going through your drawers and boxes to find leftover odd items that could be painted or covered with beading.

A tassel head can also be made entirely of beads, perhaps a ball of beads or other bead shapes such as cones or cubes. Pieces of beading—such as a sample you did while you were learning a stitch and have no other use for—can be folded origami-style to make a tassel head Hang some strings of beads from it for the skirt. A foam plastic ball can be painted or totally covered with foil, and then a netting of beads added.

The simplest tassel is made from a single bead (wooden, glass, or metal) with a hank of yarn and a cord pulled through it This is a good way to show off your single interesting bead. A hank of yarn can be pulled through a large disk and wrapped to make a neck which is then covered with a bead collar.

Unpolished Tassel Heads
A number of things can be used for tassel heads: card and plastic cylinders, finials for curtain poles, large beads, blind pulls, a hookah mouthpiece, large carved-bone cylinders, and candle cups.
Unpolished Tassel Heads

An impressive tassel made by covering a plastic inner support from a roll of cellophane tape and the cylinders inside machine embroidery thread with peyote stitch.

Simple tassels made by pulling a hank of yarn folded over a cord through a bead, or folded over a disk, and wrapping the neck.

Looped ball tassels (1 to 3'/2 inches).

Looped ball tassels (1 to 3'/2 inches).

These tassels are extremely quick and easy to make, and are a larger, looser version of the blackberries on page 111, using loops of strung beads instead of single beads

The intertwining loops can be made using up many of your leftover beads in different sizes. Forget counting also. No matter how many times I try, I cannot count the number of loops that are needed—I get so engrossed in making the shape that the counting gets forgotten! The balls can be fairly loose, or tighter and more compact, depending on how many loops you thread through. It is nearly impossible to repeat one of these exactly, so if you are making a pair, work them both together

These tassels can be made from cylinder or seed beads, and I like them even better when larger beads are included in the loops The diagrams show what has been used for the tassels in the illustration—seeds, cylinders (both small and large), cubes, and drops. A couple of the tassels have been made by using flower chains and some other braids to give a more solid ball.

Method

Thread on about 15 beads, then go through them again to make a ring, and tie the thread ends together. Thread on another 15 beads in a differ ent color, and go through 3 or 4 beads somewhere on the first ring.

Continue like this, adding loops of 15 beads each time, weaving and looping in and out of the mass of beads and going through a few beads on another ring to secure them.

Roll the ball around in your fingers until you have a good shape, and keep adding loops until you are pleased with the result. If there is a hollow, put a loop in it.

Make a 13- or 15-bead ring through what you consider to be the top of the tassel to hang it by. threading the needle through the beads at least twice Braid loops: Make a 2-bead peyote strip that is 15 beads long on each side, loin it into a ring and tie the ends of the thread together in a knot

Pick up 2 beads on the needle, go back through the ring and forward again and also through the 2 beads you have just added. Work a strip as before, 15 beads along each side, and join the end firmly to the other side of the original ring

Continue adding braids, weaving in and out of previous ones, until the ball is as large as you wish. After joining the end of each strip to a previous one, weave the thread in and out so that each loop is started at a new place.

To hang the ball, make a separate 2-bead strip and link it with one of the loops on the ball before you join it into a ring

Fringe: You do not need to add a fringe, but if you wish one. start a new thread somewhere in the center of the base of the ball, and pick up about 50 beads for each strand. Do not put too heavy a bead on the bottom of the strands or they will pull some loops out of shape

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Diagrams of the strings of loops to make the different tassels.

ccccc coiled-strip tassel

These frilled tassels are soft, do not use many beads, and are ideal for attaching to small items to identify them as your own They can be made in three different ways: as a strip with a frill on one edge wound around a cord, wound around the head of a simple tassel, or as a more tailored frill using a slightly different method of construction

Materials cord about 8 inches long yarn for the tassel seed or cylinder beads in one main color small amounts of seed or cylinder beads in 2 or 3 other colors

Method (coiled strip on cord)

This method gives a softer frill. Using the main color, work a 4-bead strip of peyote stitch until it is about 4 inches long. To attach the frill, pick up one bead and take

the needle up through the first bead on the long edge.

Pick up another bead and take the needle up through the second bead Continue until you have a row of beads along the edge, sitting on top of the last row of the beaded strip. Frill: Using a different color, pick up 2 beads, and take the needle through the last bead of the previous row Pick up 2 more beads and take the needle through the next bead. Continue until you reach the end.

Continue working two-drop peyote. picking up 2 beads and taking the needle through 2 beads, using a different color for each row. There should be 5 rows on the frill.

Coiled-strip tassels (9 inches). The braid strips with different edges are coiled neatly or at random around cords or the heads of yarn tassels.

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MAKING UP THE TASSEL Method 1 (basic)

Fold a length of cord in half and knot the two ends together Sew one end of the strip of beading to the knot, covering it with the beading. Wind the strip up the cord in a corkscrew, sewing it to the cord at intervals and at the top.

Method 2 (coiled strip)

Work the frilled strip as in method l, but make it up slightly differently Fold the cord in half and knot the ends together Wind a hank of yarn, then loop it through the cord just above the knotted ends. Fold the hank in half and wrap the neck to secure the tassel.

Sew one end of the strip of beading to the knot, covering it with the beading. Wind the strip up the cord, sewing it to the cord at intervals and at the top.

Method 3 (corkscrew)

This method gives a flatter frill and a more tailored coil, with the frill overlap ping the flat strip of beading Using the main color, work a 4-bead strip of peyote stitch until it is about 4 inches long. Pick up 2 beads, and take the needle down through one bead on the edge of the strip and then back up through the next bead

Pick up 2 more beads, and take the needle down through one bead on the edge of the strip then back up through the next bead. Continue like this until you have reached the end of the strip and the beads are lying in sets of 2 along the edge

Frill: Using a different color pick up 2 beads and then take the needle through the last bead of the previous row.

Pick up 2 more beads and take the needle through the next bead Continue until you reach the end of the row

Continue working two-drop peyote. picking up 2 beads and taking the needle through 2 beads, using a different color for each row. I have used 7 rows of beading on these tassels, but you could add more.

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Adding a fringe to the edge of a flat braid.

Wooden tassel molds

With the increase in popularity of tassel making, it is getting easier to find wooden tassel molds—often from suppliers of lace equipment. Any woodturner could make them for you, if you simply draw a shape or search out an illustration of what you want. You can also find many other substitutes, such as wooden egg cups, door handles, or finials from curtain poles. These will need a hole drilled through the middle. Try using dome-shaped plastic tops from skin care bottles. again with a drilled hole. Large wooden beads and disks, window blind pulls, napkin rings, peg doll stands, tiny reels, and other shapes can be bought from large craft shops if you nose around all the different sections.

Most of these shapes can be used on their own. perhaps with beaded ruffs and a cord knotted at the top of the mold, but try combining different shapes to make even more distinctive tassels. See the illustration on page 9 for small hard tassels made from tiny reels and wooden beads, painted, with beaded collars around the straight sections.

Almost any shape is improved with a ball at the top, or a disk, or both The diagrams show some of the possibilities, but look all through the book for other ideas. Complex combinations can include painted or gilded molds with a single beaded or rolled mold. If you can find only small molds, then putting two or three together is one way of making a larger, more important tassel, for a curtain tie-back, for example.

Combination wooden molds covered with metallic cream and decorated with netting, single- and three-drop peyote stitch decreased to two-drop and single to fit the curve of the molds.

Unpolished Tassel Heads

Combinations of different shapes make more interesting heads.

Some of the possible shapes of wooden tassel molds.

Combinations of different shapes make more interesting heads.

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Responses

  • Natasha
    How to use a bead threader for beaded tassels?
    4 years ago
  • mauro
    How ro make thread tassels with peyote stitch head?
    2 months ago

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