Posted by: shelleyjo's life beat | July 1, 2012

Joy of Beading! Ta-Da!

Isn’t this just so amazing?

When my friend, St. D came home from Alaska, we had a beading lesson day. She had learned Native Alaskan beading techniques.

That is where I discovered that she was doing something different than I was!

She showed me the seed beading on wool felt the natives had taught her. Not what I was doing at all, was it?

I have lived most of my life in California, and during the last 10 years, I have seen what California Native American friends had beaded onto cotton or linen fabric in what seems to be the similar way as Alaskan Natives. In California, they then hand sew the piece of beaded fabric to leather for a backing. The different tribes do different patterns, and use different fabric, so they are not really exactly the same.

St. D  gave me an assortment of seed beads since I was clueless as to what we were going to do, and off we went beading our fingers away.

I shared with you pictures of my first projects of seed beading on my post “Silly Splurge to Creativity. I have WIPs in progress on those projects, too that I need to complete. Maybe for the creative olympic event? hmmm.

I showed St. D the jewelry techniques I had learned in class and she took off making many, many jewelry sets for her family and friends. She is a quick study and has lots of energy and creativity. She is quite the artist and not the least bit lazy.

Since then, St D has faithfully continued to work on making seed beaded projects, as well.

She dreamed of making felt purses covered with her bead art, and selling them. I kept encouraging her to do it, and have these lovely squares transformed into little purses. Her cousins, C and L sew, and she teamed up with them. They made the little purses to showcase the beaded squares St. D had made.

The second square she beaded is shown at the top of this post. I think she designed that one herself, by just free-styling it. It turned out lovely on the hot pink felt, don’t you think?

Here is another view of it.

She made this red one first. It reminds me of Christmas. I LOVE Christmas! She saw a square like this one in a book, and she made this by looking at it. Isn’t it lovely?

I took the photos of both of these little purses with my cell phone in her car.The light is so much better out there. Perhaps I should have all my photo shoots of projects taken out in the car?

Her purses have since been redone on stronger wool felt, and lined. But, I don’t have photos of those right now.

She practices a lot, and got this border idea from another bead book she has. She did such a good job on all of this. She isn’t sure yet if she is going to sell these little bags, or give them as gifts. I hope she keeps one. If I had the income, I would be glad to buy one.

Wouldn’t you?

After all of this, we took a bead class together on what I saw on display in class, a peyote stitch amulet bag. I just coveted that! Not the bag, itself, but the ability to make it! It was beautiful!

I love the instructor, C. She now owns our favorite bead store! She is very social and we didn’t really learn the technique until the last half hour or so of class. She enjoyed sharing from her years as a high school art teacher, her kids and the students at her home, enjoying playing in dishes of beads around her house. I had to laugh. It was what I did with the beads I bought after the first class.

The difference in this type of bead work is that you have to learn to hold the tiny little seed beads and thin thread properly to keep the tension right. It is quite the trick, but I enjoy it so much.

Our instructor, C did show us a nice tip, and I will share it here with you:

Make the first few rows of a different color of beads. Then you start your project from the graph in the right colors for your peace. When your piece is finished, you can tear those first odd colored rows out. This gives better tension for the first row of your actual project, and keeps it even. I didn’t do it on this project, but afterward, I do. It is very helpful.

By the end of class, we had three rows done of of a tiny little piece of the motif. In this type of seed beading, you strand the amount of beads you need for the first 2 rows of beads, work those and it turns into 2 rows. Then the rest of the rows each count as a row.

We just got two rows of the green, and then the one row with one red seed bead in the center, then class was over! What?

Well, we had learned to read the graph of the image, and I figured out how to make my own graph as she chatted.

St. D and I were the only students of this class, and so there was a lot of liberty to just socialize.

I was happy, anyway to have a new thing to play with.

I finished the little piece at home, and then realized it was too small to make anything out of! It was just the motif rows! I thought the supplies and the graph pattern that were included in the class fee were for the whole bag.

So, I went back, bought some more green beads, ripped out the entire thing and started doing the math for how wide I needed the finished project in order to center the motif and still make the full bag. I went in to the store again, checking out a finished little amulet bag I liked. It was hanging in the store.

I would bead, go back to the store and study the bag, write a few notes and go home to see what I could do.

When I was finished, I had made this little amulet bag, had sealed it up properly, and had designed the flaps at the top. Ta-Da! I was quite pleased!

Isn’t it pretty? I really like this one, and my sister likes the colors, so….hmmmm.

Even though I hated that shade of green by the time I was finished. Ha-ha!

Other than the motif in the center, and the strap, the entire rest of the piece is that green. I now like the green again, but it took sure awhile. The finished size of this little bag, from the tips of the beaded fringe, to the top of the flap is about 4-4.5 inches in height, and about 2 inches wide.

I took notes and drew illustrations as I figured and worked until I was happy with it. Then, I edited and typed up the notes until they made perfect sense to me.

I did the same thing with the other type of seed beading I had learned from St. D. I took notes, drew illustrations and edited until it would make sense to someone who had never done it before. I wanted someone who had never done this before to be able to complete a project if they chose to.

Then I typed all of these instructions up and printed them off.

I took my little finished project in to show our instructor, C. She was so happy. No one from any of her classes had ever made anything out of what she taught them. I wonder if that is why she was so laid back about it all?

I gave her my printouts of instructions, and she wanted to use them for her classes. She says they are the best she has seen. I thought she was just being nice, but she doesn’t give fluff compliments. As it turns out, she uses them for every class she teaches on this now. Because I gave her permission to hand them out, she says I can take any class that she teaches there for free, as long as I do the same for that class! Laughing here.

She keeps telling me I should write instruction  manuals on my crafts.Really? This was my first piece!

I know I see so many really good books out there, that that are very good. But, I keep it in mind for another time. I do so enjoy the process of figuring it all out, working it out, writing it over and over until it is as right as I can make it. I am reading charts, now too and I am thinking about checking into a computer program for all of this. But, I don’t know where to start.

Any suggestions?

Anyway, here is a closer look of the motif. When held up to the sun, it looks like stained glass due to the opaque and clear bead selections in it.

View of the opening from the top. You can see it isn’t lined, and the seed beads are the same inside as out.

And lastly, the back view. It shows shadows, light, and the colors from the motif in the front because I didn’t smooth it out well, but it is all the same shade of green!

And there we have it! My beading love on display.

I don’t think St. D has made anything in peyote yet. It wasn’t really her cup of tea to start with. I think she went with me to spend time with me. I am glad she did. If she hadn’t come, I would have been the only student!

St. D much prefers the technique of sewing the beads onto wool felt. But, I really did enjoy her company while we learned peyote stitch.

Thanks St. D  for turning me on to the world of beauty and joy that is beading. And now that I am coming up out of the dark pit, I am ready to enjoy it all again! I did make a pair of earrings for SQ at her place the other day, and I found I remembered how and enjoyed it all immensely.

Such happiness! Such Joy!

I do hope some of you lovies out there enjoyed the pictures and would like to try this beading technique.

It really is not hard, it is just a matter of getting the tension right in the first couple of rows. And then you are off! It is even easier and less of a concern if you follow the little tip above.

Happy Beading!


  1. Such lovely work! And the beauty is in the details. I am so glad that you learned how to do this. If St. D were to sell her little purses, what would she ask for them.

    I loved the design on your amulet bag. Is that the same one you had started a while back?

    You both do such wonderful work! Love it.

    • Diana, I am not sure.
      I was thinking $70 or so, since there is so much work involved, and they are one of a kind, but I will ask her.
      Yes, the amulet bag is the same one! Other things in this technique I made were not bags, and I don’t even know where they are. I must have given them away. They were not much, though.
      I never did make the eagle decor. Once so many of the special order beads ended up in a heap, I just got overwhelmed trying to separated them.
      I have been considering starting it over, though. It is so amazing!

  2. So frustrating to post this one! I have never had this happen before, but I had it completely disappear after 5 edits! I could not bring it back. I had to completely rewrite it, upload photos, edit some more…ugh!
    There were a few who liked the first post, and I don’t know who they are to visit their sites. boo-hoo!

  3. Amazing! Beautiful! Thanks for sharing, ShelleyJo :)

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