Organic Inspirations for Beaded Beads with Cindy Holsclaw

Beaded beads are quite fascinating little objects, aren't they? I can't help but adore the Zen aspect of them — a bead made out of more beads! — and I'm always amazed by the innovation I see in some of the latest beaded bead designs. Since I started playing with deigns for beaded dodecahedrons a few months ago, I've been fascinated with the idea of creating beaded beads that are entirely self-supporting, with no inner structure to give them form and shape.

I'm very excited about today's guest blogger, Cindy Holsclaw. Cindy's background in science (she has a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) allows her to express her unique vision of art and science. Looking at her intricate beaded beads reminds me that the world is indeed composed of tiny, beautiful molecules. Read on to find out how Cindy uses mathematics and molecules to inspire her fantastic beaded bead designs!

As a self-professed math and science geek, I'm completely fascinated by works of art based on geometry. Before I was a beader, I was an avid folder of geometric origami. So, when I discovered that beads can be woven into the same geometric forms that I was so fond of folding, I was immediately hooked on geometric beaded beads!

Beaded beads are woven clusters of smaller beads that may or may not be supported by a central "core" bead, and they can be woven using many kinds of different stitches such as peyote, netting, herringbone, and right angle weave. Beaded beads come in all shapes and sizes from a simple tube of cylinder seed beads woven using the peyote stitch, to a multilayered pendant woven with drop-shaped beads, two-hole beads, and sparkly crystals! Small to medium-sized beaded beads (10-20 mm in diameter) work well strung together in bracelets, necklaces, and earrings, while larger beaded beads (>24 mm) make great pendants or focal pieces in larger works of beaded art.

Many of my beaded beads are based on a group of three-dimensional shapes called polyhedra. Some examples of polyhedra are simple forms such as the cube and the prisms, to more complicated structures such as the 12-sided "dodecahedron" and the soccer ball-shaped "truncated icosahedron." Some collections of designs use the same types of beads and stitches, but are based on different polyhedra for different yet matching sets of beaded beads. Alternatively, a flat design such as a bracelet made up of square-shaped components can be adapted into a polyhedron design such as matching cubed-shaped beaded bead earrings. Dodecahedron-based designs are particularly pleasing, and are an excellent choice for focal pendants.

Even though these beaded beads are based on defined principles of mathematics, different polyhedra can combine with many different kinds of embellishments for a variety of styles. A dodecahedron with a curved embellishment will end up looking round, while a pointed embellishment will turn it into a 3D star! I love incorporating new and interesting shapes of seed beads and pressed glass beads into my designs. Combined with the infinite number of polyhedra, the possibilities are endless!

Part of the beauty of beaded beads is that you don't need to make up dozens of them in order to create a stunning piece of beaded jewelry. Just one single beaded bead makes a fabulous pendant, or a pair of beaded beads makes a fantastic pair of earrings!

Try your hand at some of our favorite beaded earring projects in Beadwork Presents 10 Favorite Beaded Earring Projects. You'll find beaded earring projects made from beaded beads (like the Inspired by Faberge earrings pictured here), beaded earrings made from crystal stones, and gorgeous beaded earring projects made from just a handful of your favorite seed beads! Download your copy of Beadwork Presents 10 Favorite Beaded Earring Projects, and stitch up some new additions to your wardrobe of beaded earrings!

What's your favorite thing about beaded beads? Do you prefer to make beaded beads over a form, like a wood or plain ceramic bead? Or do you enjoy the challenge of stitching a self-supporting structure out of seed beads? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and share your thoughts!

Bead Happy,


Cindy Holsclaw is a bead artist and a scientist specializing in geometric beaded structures. She enjoys the process of combining beautiful colors and shapes of beads with the intellectual challenge of engineering the beaded object. Her foundation as an academic shapes her design process and her teaching philosophy, and she shares her beading ideas through teaching and writing clear, well-illustrated beading patterns. She has taught at both national bead shows and at several regional bead societies, and her designs have been featured in Beadwork Magazine. To learn more about Cindy's work, please visit her website at

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