New Dimensions in Bead Crochet with Adele Rogers Recklies

From Jennifer: While most people think of ropes and purses when they think of bead crochet, Adele Rogers Recklies thinks very differently. This New York City-based bead artist has been taking bead crochet through uncharted territory with her modern interpretations of bead crochet snakes and three-dimensional bead crochet objects like pine cones. It just goes to show you what can happen when you think outside the bead crochet box and experiment with your favorite beading technique!

How the Bead Journey Began

I got into beaded jewelry through my work in one of the theatrical costume shops located here in New York City. The beaded costumes that we made for Broadway shows, ballet, opera, and films particularly fascinated me and I jumped at the chance to take some beaded jewelry classes in the 1990's.

My first classes taught me how to make the classic native American earrings with brick stitch and bead embroidery – there was so little in the way of instructions at that time. I stumbled on bead crochet when I took a class on bead crochet taught by Miriam Milgram, a leading scholar on Balkans textiles and talented bead crocheter herself.

We learned the basic slip stitch in class, but Miriam also showed us her version of the bead crochet snakes made in Macedonia. When the planned snake class did not materialize, I started researching antique bead crochet snakes. Working from a photo of a Balkan snake that I found in a book, I came up with my own snake necklace. I soon had requests for a pattern, which led to teaching a snake class. During that class, I received many questions about the bead crochet snakes made by Turkish prisoners of war in World War I. Those questions inspired me to do more research and write Bead Crochet Snakes: History and Technique, which combines information on antique bead crochet snakes and my patterns for snake jewelry.

Branching Out Into Dimensional Bead Crochet

I became bored with just doing small tubes and wanted to do more complicated shapes. It is very difficult to increase and decrease beads with slip stitch bead crochet so I learned bead single crochet. You can do so much more in terms of shapes and patterning with bead single crochet, especially since the beads sit differently depending on when and how you add that extra loop of thread.

How the beads sit in the crochet determines what decorative motifs you can use. Mastering the particular method of bead crochet that the Turkish prisoners of war used to make their souvenir snakes gave me one more method of placing beads. I realized that there is so much more to explore with bead crochet!

The most challenging thing about moving beyond the ropes is the structural work necessary to insure that the crocheted item keeps its shape. Any tube over 8 beads around tends to flatten over time unless it is supported in some way.

When I made my first bead crochet snake necklace, I didn't put any stuffing into it, and I learned the hard way about adding support and structure to my bead crochet. Now I add a bit of stuffing to all of my bead crochet projects. All of the experimentation with shapes, patterns, and different types of beads keeps it fun, and keeps me on my toes!

How to Connect a Clasp with Jean Campbell: Part of the Beadwork Finishing Bundle available now in the Beading Daily Shop!

If you're looking for inspiration to create fabulously finished beadwork and beaded findings, check out the Beadwork Finishing Bundle. You'll get two great videos from Melinda Barta and Jean Campbell that will show you how to create and attach your own beaded clasps, plus you'll also get a copy of Melinda's awesome Best of Beadwork: 10 Custom Cool Projects eBook, with 10 more fun beading projects that will add the perfect finishing touch to your beaded creations.

Bead Happy,


You can learn more about Adele and her amazing dimensional bead crochet on her blog, Reckless Beading; purchase her bead crochet instructions, book, and finished jewelry from her Etsy shop, Reckless Beading; or learn more about her book, Bead Crochet Snakes, on her website.



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