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Peyote-a Terrible Name for a Cool Stitch

Kay headshot

Some of my peyote beaded bracelets…no cacti in evidence! (Patterns from to top to bottom: Electric Mayhem by Calixita | Dancing Daffodils by Deb Moffett-Hall | Santa Baby by Josie Fabre | Hearts for Valentine by Ronit Florence)

One of the best (or worst) things about teaching classes is you occasionally find yourself teaching things you never thought you would do. Last November, I gave a class on necklace & bracelet making using a technique called “stringing.” At the end, the class, who had happily made their own piece of jewelry in an hour or so, all looked at me with bright shiny eyes and said, “What’s next?”   I have to admit, I hadn’t thought about that. Beading is one of my favorite hobbies, but it doesn’t really lend itself to being taught in a discrete unit where you can have a finished project in 2 hours or less.

So…after a moment’s stupefaction, I said, “Uhh….I guess I could teach peyote beading….” This was met with great interest and therefore I was committed.

Peyote Beading sample from Wikimedia Commons

Now, having promised to do this, the major sticking point in this class seems to be that No One Knows What Peyote Beading Is. And, no, it has nothing to do with hallucinogens unless you count the fugue state you go into when a project is going well.  Peyote beading is a bead weaving technique using seed beads where the beads nestle together in half-rows, just like a basket. It has been used as far back as ancient Egypt to produce beautiful works of art, but most people know it from Native American beadwork. A very flexible stitch, it can produce bracelets, necklaces, bezels around cabochons and even whole wall hangings!

Back to my “How am I going to teach this?” moment. After a lot of Googling, I came up with a project that could be taught in 2 hours and produce a something you can take home: A peyote beaded tube bead! You can see my first attempt to the right, leaning up against the multicolored candy that I am unfortunately rather addicted to. As you can see: it’s a tube bead, made out of beads. My first attempts are one color, but you can make them in many colors, patterns and sizes. In fact, they’re a little addictive to make as, once you figure out how the pattern works, you can crank these little beauties out in 20 minutes or less. 40 minutes and some earwires later, you have a unique pair of earrings. In beading, this is about the most instant gratification you can get!

The tube bead with another tube bead in progress-and a tube of beads….just to make it even more confusing.

The most important part of this is that creating the tube bead uses the exact same stitch as my bigger projects featured above. One tube bead open up a world of beading!

The other comment I get is “Oh, I couldn’t do that! The beads are so tiny!” To reassure everyone, yes, the beads are tiny, but each bead is mostly hole. If you can do cross-stitch or woodworking, you will find bead weaving actually much more forgiving. (Since they’re held together by thread, most problems with beadweaving can be solved by just pushing the beads around! Try doing that when you’re making a bookshelf…)

So, if you’re interested, the class runs on Wednesday, 5/23 at 6 pm and there’s still room. Sign up today!