Beaded Ropes Using Right-angle Weave: To Support or Not to Support?

Right-angle weave is one of my favorite beading stitches for creating beaded ropes. There’s just something about the rhythmic thread path of stitching tubular right-angle weave that puts me in a very Zen-like meditative state of mind. I can set all my other cares, distractions, and worries aside as I focus intently on where my needle and thread are moving so that I don’t lose track of where I am in each round of bead stitching. And of course, I love the potential for embellishing my finished right-angle weave rope, whether I’m working with large open windows or using just one bead per side of each unit.

Using right-angle weave to create a beaded rope creates a whole new set of considerations. Whereas using a beading stitch like spiral rope or even Cellini spiral gives you a rope that is firm enough to be self-supporting, unless you’re working in cubic right-angle weave (CRAW) or prismatic right-angle weave (PRAW), you’ll most likely need to use an armature of some sort if you want a firmer beaded rope.

Ideas for working a right-angle weave beaded rope with an armature.

When I’m working a right-angle weave rope that needs some support or form, my favorite armature to use is an inexpensive piece of plastic tubing from the local hardware store. This flexible plastic tubing comes in a variety of diameters, and it’s perfect for creating a supported right-angle weave rope that you can easily embellish. Stitching tubular right-angle weave with large, open panels that use 3 or 4 beads per side means that you can cover a necklace-length piece of this plastic tubing in a relatively short time.

If you don’t like the look of the clear plastic tubing poking through your beadwork, you can paint it with acrylic craft paint or fabric paint. Another idea (that I haven’t tried yet, but certainly sounds intriguing) is to fill the rope with seed beads or small objects, then seal the ends by heating them (carefully!) until they melt.

Working a right-angle weave beaded rope without a support.

Working a right-angle weave beaded rope without some kind of a support running through the middle means that your rope will most likely resemble a soft, slinky mesh chain when you’re finished. You can make your unsupported right-angle weave rope look even more like metal jewelry by using metallic or metal seed beads. (Make sure that you coat your metallic seed beads with a fixative before you stitch with them to prevent the color from wearing, flaking, or rubbing off.)

A tubular right-angle weave beaded rope made without any kind of armature is actually a beautiful way to showcase a favorite slide or large-hole glass bead.

Finishing the ends of a right-angle weave beaded rope.

My favorite way to end a beaded rope made with tubular right-angle weave is to work a couple of rounds of tubular peyote stitch, then work one round of decreases by skipping every other bead in the round to form a nice, flat top. Before cinching up the top, you can include a jump ring for attaching an eye pin or other method of connecting your clasp. Or, for a continuous rope, just stitch the two ends together using tubular right-angle weave, and make sure that you reinforce that round several times before knotting your thread securely in the beadwork.

Want more great ideas and inspiration for beaded ropes? Take a look at the fabulous Beaded Ropes with Jill Wiseman DVD, part of the Beadwork magazine Designer Of the Year series! It’s the perfect way to learn more about how to stitch, embellish, and wear beaded ropes using your favorite off-loom bead-weaving stitches. Get tips for finding your step-ups when working with tubular beading stitches, how to use a dowel for support when stitching beaded ropes, and creative ideas for embellishing your finished ropes. Best of all, it’s also available as an instant download, so you can be watching, learning and beading in just minutes!

Do you have a favorite beading stitch for creating beaded ropes? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and share it with us!

Bead Happy,

Jennifer

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