Beaded Beads; the How To

Over a week ago, I posted this teaser post which was initially intended just to be another post sharing some fun new jewelry I’d forgotten I hadn’t posted about yet. Then I realized that the beaded beads in the post might be something other people would want to make. And then life got in the way.

In general, I’m not a huge fan of most of the fads which have hit the beading world in the last four years. I love mixed media work in theory, but in practice it often comes off feeling cheap and craft-sy, where I prefer jewelry that feels sleek and professional. There was a big wave of picture frame jewelry that came through, introducing many of us to various resins. I had the same problem with many of the results of this fad as well. In general, fads tend to feel cheap and homemade to me, while older techniques from metal work, linking, and stitching almost always feel like real, lasting jewelry. One fad that I can definitely get behind, which is quickly becoming one of the longer-lasting techniques any seed-beader should have in their bag of tricks, is the beaded bead.

Today, I present to you, a how to for these beads, which I made up myself a few weeks ago, and¬†immediately¬†loved. If this is a pattern you’ve encountered somewhere else, I apologize. I guess great minds think alike? Anyway, be nice, and don’t use this tutorial to teach or re-post without crediting please. The creative arts are tricky, I know, but this is one I’d actually like to hang on to.

Without further ado, I’m going to try and explain how you make these lovely beaded beads. This is probably a project for someone who has some experience with a needle and thread already. If you’re an absolute beginner, I suggest trying a peyote stitch project first, many examples of which you can find by perusing my blog.

In my beaded beads, I used size 11/0 seed beads of various colors (both Czech and Japanese, although I’ve found that the rounder Czech beads tend to work better for this project) and 4 4mm spacer beads. You could replace the spacer beads with anything else that is a 4mm size, or if you want to make them bigger you can just up the sizes, keeping the ratio steady. They’re not intended to be super big beads, but if you’re looking for a way to showcase some really cool stones, this could make a cool focal bead.

For the purposes of this tutorial, I put together most of a bead using 4mm spacers and 8mm spacers, to get better pictures. From here on out I’ll be referring to the 4mm beads in the pictures as seed beads, and the 8mm ones as spacers.

1) Start by stringing four of your seed beads.

2) Loop through them to create a circle, tie off, and continue. You’ll end up going through them a few times to secure the rest of the bead, so don’t worry too much about tension or security right now, just make sure that knot is tight!

3) String a spacer onto your string and pass your needle back through the bead you just came through, so you create a loop above your bead with the spacer on it. Pull tight.

4) Repeat with the other three beads in your loop, so your piece looks a bit like a cross. End with your thread coming out of one of your spacer beads.

5) Pass your needle through all four beads, creating a circle.

6) Pull tight. The beads should cinch up, and look like this from the top…

and this from the side. You can see your previous loop of seed beads there, securely fastened to your new circle of spacers.

7) Repeat steps 3-6 with four new seed beads. If you’re working with actual seed beads and 4mm beads, it’ll look something like this.

Yes, the dimensions look a bit skewed, but when you finish the bead it’ll provide a tight hole on either end of the bead which helps when stringing and linking beads.

After step seven, your beaded bead will look like this. End with your thread coming out of one of your seed beads. Doesn’t matter which one.

And from the side.

Here’s the part where it gets less definitively easy to photograph, so those of you who learn better by reading are in luck.

I did fuss with this picture quite a bit in the hope that you’d be able to see it better, so sorry about loss of color, but I think it’s worth it.

8) String four seed beads, and pass your needle through the seed bead from your first loop which corresponds to the seed bead your thread ended up coming out of in step 7, in the opposite direction from the way you threaded it originally, so that you bridge the gap between your spacer beads with the four seed beads.

9) Repeat this process by adding four more seed beads to your thread, and passing back through your point of origin in step 8. After this step the goal is to cover all four gaps between spacer beads with seed beads. You’re halfway done. Pass through the first four you threaded in step 8, and instead of going through the same seed bead to anchor it, head the other direction, through the other seed bead on this side.

10) Add four more seed beads, and continue this pattern until you’ve got a fully anchored beaded bead, with all four gaps between spacer beads covered.

11) Tie off your thread to itself. Pass through all four spacer beads in a circle. Tie it again. Pass through whichever of the seed beads is nearest, tie it off one more time, and cut your thread.

Congrats! You have a beaded bead. I know it got kinda picture-less at the end. When I have some down time I’ll work on creating and photographing that ending a little bit more clearly, but for now, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to write a comment!

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7 responses to “Beaded Beads; the How To

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