Snippets from a bead artist.

10.14.2010

Talk About Blog - Handmade Division


It's time for the October Handmade Division Talk About blog post, and our topic this time is how we acquired the skills that we have today. Instead of rehashing my older post, where I discussed how I had actually come to beading, I thought that this would be an excellent opportunity to talk more about how I found the skills and how I use them differently now.

Brick stitch was the first stitch I learned, and the ONLY one I learned directly from another beader. Once I had the stitch down, I swear I spent two solid years making brick stitch earrings, brick stitch bracelets, and just plain old swatches of it. During those two years I looked for every book known to man (back then - and there weren't that many) to try to find more stitches. I longed and ached and NEEDED to learn peyote, I was amazed at how other beaders could make it into so many different shapes - especially and above all, self-supporting vessels!! My entire goal in life at that point was to make a bowl or a box or an urn...anything that would hold something else and be entirely made of these gorgeous little tiny seed beads. And it was HARD. It looks so simple, on the diagrams. You just skip over a bead. How could this be so difficult????? I couldn't get the tension right, I couldn't get the beads to lay right (I was using only czech beads at that point), I couldn't figure out how to shape it....and there were NO books that explained how you went from skipping a bead to making it hold together with increases and decreases and how that would make all the difference. It took me two and a half years to finally get proficient enough in the stitch to feel that I had made something that I liked. This seems incredible to me now; most beaders who talk about it these days say that peyote was the first stitch they learned. And there are so many examples of how to do it!! You can't pick up a beading book that doesn't have instructions for not only the stitch itself, but how to do those darn increases and decreases!!! I still struggle with free form peyote, and was sooooooo proud of my first bracelet...well, you all know that, I posted Mystic Pathway everywhere I could! I think that it is still hard because I still don't have confidence in my basics; to get everything to line up, before branching out into unknown waters. I know I can do it; but I don't have confidence in doing it.

Because of all the trials, tribulations and time involved, I think that I value peyote stitch more than the others that I have learned. When you really really have to WORK for it, you are so much more pleased with your results. I love my bead embroidery, but it comes so easily. Freeform work there is simple, I just pick the beads and let them decide where they want to be - and this has been said of freeform peyote, but it just doesn't work the same way for me!! It curls where I don't want it to, it tightens up in the wrong places and drives me nuts when the beads try to tell me where they want to be, as they don't arrange themselves in the same way at all. I would love love love to make a freeform necklace with peyote stitch. It's one of my goals for myself this year.

I have been working on using Beverly Gilbert's book, Beaded Colorways, as a sort of stepping stone in this. Using her three bead netting technique as a base, I have an easier time shaping my piece before beginning to add some peyote in here and there. The bracelet I made recently as part of a trade is my first one; and I can still see where things are curving in a way that I don't care for. But you watch! I'll want it to curl so that it will drape nicely as a necklace, and it will stay perfectly straight, you wanna bet?! I'm not giving up, nope. I am going to keep at it and see what happens - after all, it sure took a long time to get to the basics...


And I had a thought about perhaps using some fibers in as well, and maybe that will make some more of a difference. And, it may help to simply let other stitches creep in there amongst the others...

Make sure you stop by the other team members' blogs to see what they have to say!!!


14 comments:

  1. This is topic I can really relate to...I find RAW stitch simple while others struggle, but variations in peyote come slowly. I find that Diane Fitzgerald's book Shaped Beadwork, has helped and bit by bit I'm getting there. Meanwhile, there's also my other personal Waterloo, Herringbone!

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  2. Ah, yes! Herringbone! I don't even want to think about THAT one....I am still mastering FLAT herringbone, for goodness sake!

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  3. I struggled so much with RAW in the beginning until my friend Kandra sat down with me and showed me. Then, it seemed so simple and I could not for the life of me figure out why I found it so hard at first. I think at times, we over think things and shoot ourselves in the foot. Beading is like math in that it is logical, so eventially it becomes routine.
    Good post Nancy.

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  4. I must have been a bead weaver in a previous life because the stitches came easily to me. I think the only one I have issues with is the African Helix...maybe because I don't like working around a knitting needle. Any tips on that stitch...I'll take :)

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  5. Nancy, I struggled with peyote for years, too! The start is just so tricky sometimes. And it took me forever to master the step-up. But I also started with brick stitch and I never understood why other beaders referred to it as "dreaded" brick stitch! We all take different paths to beading mastery :)

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  6. i have no experience with beading whatsoever...and i'm not real sure what the stitches you are talking about are, but i think your work is amazing! and it must take so much patience and time!!! there's something about learning something yourself, the determination to get it right, and the sense of accomplishment when you do! cheers!!!

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  7. Thank you, ladies! It's wonderful to get the feedback on my posts, and I love to hear what everyone else's experiences have been!!

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  8. It's so interesting to read about your experiences and your struggle with the peyote stitch. Your work is amazing.

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  9. I took a class in peyote a couple years ago. I admire the patience that it takes to do such intricate bead work.

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  10. I am so impressed with your patience and determination. It's very inspiring! Your work is amazing and it's great to hear the journey you've taken to get such skills. Thank you so much for sharing!

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  11. fantastic Nancy! loved reading your post :)

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  12. Great post! Your work is insanely awesome and and I can not even begin to comprehend how it is done!

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  13. Thank you! I'm so happy you all turned out to read my post! I love seeing what everyone writes each month, I love Handmade Division!! You guys all rock!

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