Bead-weaving With Wire

Sometimes, when I can't sleep at night, I try to relax by dreaming up new beaded jewelry design ideas. (I'm not the only one who does that, right?) A couple of weeks ago, as I was trying to fall asleep, I thought about what I was going to do with a hank of beautiful striped seed beads from York Beads. I don't know what made me think of it, but I wondered if I could stitch them together using fine gauge copper wire and using my favorite bead-weaving stitches. Wire jewelry made with bead-weaving stitches — why not?

I'm a lot more adventurous with my wire jewelry projects these days, so I dug out a spool of 26 gauge copper wire and a hank of beautiful aged stripe beads from York Beads, with the idea that I would stitch up some kind of peyote stitch focal point for a necklace.

After I cut a reasonable length of wire (about five feet), I used my wire straighteners to try to get some of the curl out of that wire. I also had my Xuron needle nose pliers handy, since you never know when you're going to need to grasp a tiny end of wire as it pokes out of a bead.

Before I got started with the actual peyote stitch, I sorted through the hank of striped seed beads. (These were larger 8o seed beads, so that I could get more than one pass with the wire through each bead.) For my first attempt at peyote stitch with wire, I decided to use mainly the larger, cylinder-shaped beads.

I bent the wire in half, then slid a round bead down to the fold in the center. Next, I passed both wires through a cylinder-shaped bead.

Instead of starting my peyote stitch the way I normally do with thread, I decided to do something like a two-needle start: I added one bead to each wire, then passed both wires through a bead.

It was a bit of a challenge to get my beads to lie flat next to each other. Even with the thin wire, they just wouldn't do it! I'm one of those beaders that can't stand to see any thread Finally, in the end, I convinced myself that a bit of copper wire peeking through between the beads wouldn't be a bad thing.

To hold that last bead in place, I picked up a round seed bead and criss-crossed the two wires through the center. I very carefully pulled the wires until the bead was snug up against the last cylinder-shaped bead.
To continue stitching in peyote stitch, I took the wire on the right and passed it back through the first two beads. This got me into position to add that last center bead, the same way it would have if I were stitching peyote stitch with thread.
Once both of the side beads were added to create a diamond shape, I took each wire and wrapped it once or twice around the wire between beads, similar to the way I would have if I were tying a half-hitch knot with thread.
I trimmed the wire close to the beads and tucked the ends into a couple of beads. Ta-da! My first wire jewelry project made with peyote stitch and seed beads!

Since I was feeling brave after completing these two little pieces of wire peyote stitch, I decided to try something else: a large v-shaped piece of peyote stitch with wire and the round seed beads from the hank of striped beads. All I did was work peyote stitch with an increase on the top and a decrease on the bottom to form the "v", the same way I do when I want to make a peyote stitch leaf. After a while, it really didn't bother me that I could see some of the wire between beads. I love the ethnic look of this piece!

I will say this about doing peyote stitch with wire: it isn't easy on the fingers. But the end results were worth the pain!

Looking for great wire jewelry projects made with seed beads? Treat yourself to a subscription to Step By Step Wire Jewelry magazine. You'll get page after page of great wire jewelry projects for all skill levels, plus tips and techniques, great jewelry-making product reviews, and enough inspiration for a lifetime of wire jewelry making.

What do you think about working traditional bead-weaving stitches with wire? Have you tried this technique yet? I'll be sure to post the follow-up when I finish the beaded necklace!

Bead Happy,


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