Help for Getting Out of a Bead Weaving Rut

With all of the different bead weaving stitches, techniques and beads out there you might think that one would never get bored with bead weaving. But yes, even those of us who love and make our living with bead weaving get bored once in a while.

You find yourself in a creative rut. Maybe you go back to the same stitch over and over again. Maybe you use the same colors in every single project. Maybe you've made nothing but necklaces for the past four years. (Or it just seems like it!) Whatever the case, there are ways you can give yourself a little creative boost and get your bead weaving brain back on track.

Cate Prato, Online Editor for Interweave's Cloth, Paper Scissors community has some thoughts about working around a creative logjam:


"Doodles" by Robin Olsen, made using prompts

"Maybe you're tired of the same themes and motifs that come out of your head. Or maybe the art is fine, it just lacks spontaneity. Or maybe you just don't know what to do next. That's when I find it handy to work with a list of prompts.

It can be so hard to venture out of your creative comfort zone or to risk putting something down on paper or canvas that might not work out. Prompts help me get over the fear factor. They take the onus off of me and put it on the prompt, as in, "Hey, if it were up to me, I wouldn't doodle over that collage, but I'll give it a try if you say so." (Yes, I talk to my prompts.)

I'm almost always rewarded for taking this spontaneous and playful approach. Even if the experiment is an aesthetic disaster, I always learn something I can use next time.

Artist Robin Olsen offered a terrific list of prompts and advice on how to use them in the September/October 2009 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors. She prints up prompts on small pieces of paper, folds them, and tosses them in a basket. She then keeps drawing prompts from the basket and acting on them until the piece she's working on feels complete.

These prompts are not complex or mystical. They can be as simple as "add a new shape" or "make dots on the piece and connect them with wavy lines." But they can have a profound effect on your work.

Here is some of Robin's advice:

  • Try doing one small piece from start to finish using prompts. Don't give up too quickly. Some of my favorite elements came from prompts that seemed impossible at first.
  • A prompt does not have to be a dominant element in a piece. Think of ways it can be incorporated subtly, using soft colors, sheers, fine lines, or as small background details.
  • Customize your list of prompts for how you like to work. You might add mixed-media or embellishment techniques to your list. You can also customize how you use them such as just using one or two prompts to get started or only at the end of a piece to add final embellishments."



If you need some ideas for prompts to kick-start your bead weaving, here are a few to get you going:

  • Make a brick stitch diamond
  • Make a triangle of right-angle weave
  • Yellow (or whatever color you're not entirely comfortable using!)
  • Make a curved piece of bead weaving
  • Make a circular piece of bead weaving

Use your imagination! You can find prompts anywhere: look around your garden, your kitchen or your desk. The important thing is to gently ease yourself out of your comfort zone and into something new and stimulating. You can find lots of great ideas and inspiration for projects like this on Cloth, Paper, Scissors. And if you're already a member of Beading Daily, you can log in using your current user name and password! (And you can check out Cate's original blog post while you're there!)

Do you have a favorite idea or prompt for injecting a little excitement into your bead weaving? Share it with us here!

Bead Happy,


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