Free As a Bird: Liberate Your Designs with Peyote Stitch Combos, Design Tips, and More from Melinda Barta

If you’ve been following along with Melinda Barta’s series of online workshops on peyote stitch, get ready – you’re about to spread your wings and fly! Melinda’s next installment, Mastering Peyote Stitch: Peyote Extras, opens the door (and the windows and even the skylights) to a whole host of possibilities in your designs. From freeform peyote to sculptural techniques to combinations with other popular stitches, your fingers will be itching to take on personalized peyote projects.

peyote stitch

Transform your designs by experimenting with fun transitions from peyote to other popular stitches!

One of the most exciting discoveries for me was seeing how peyote stitch “plays well with others.” Melinda’s detailed written instructions and clear diagrams explain how a few strategically placed herringbone stitches can make your beadwork turn corners. You’ll then learn how to morph rows of peyote stitch into entire rows of herringbone, and vice versa. And next, you’ll find yourself mastering even more transitions from peyote to right-angle weave (and back) and from peyote to netting (and back again).

As with any developing skill, it’s thrilling to see how the individual techniques you’ve honed can be combined in a multitude of ways to create a unique whole. That’s what makes this workshop so inspiring.

peyote stitch

Combine tubular peyote with herringbone to make Melinda’s Beaujolais necklace (left) and use peyote and right angle weave to make her set On Broadway Beauties (right).

Projects in the “Peyote Extras” Workshop

This workshop includes five classy projects to put these techniques into practice. In Melinda’s Beaujolais necklace, you’ll combine tubular peyote and herringbone stitches to create bead caps for pearls. These little dangling decorations remind me of acorns, perfect for this time of year. In her earring-and-bracelet set of On Broadway Beauties, you’ll see first-hand how right-angle weave creates a great foundation for peyote stitch.

peyote stitch

Create structural, geometric designs with unique combos to make Jean Power’s Urban Skyline necklace (left) and Cynthia Rutledge’s Pi R-Squared Lariat (right).

Jean Power’s boldly textured necklace Urban Skyline gives you the chance to play with three-dimensional beaded beads. By joining tubular and flat peyote with herringbone, you’ll watch each structure emerge as one beautifully beadwoven piece. And Cynthia Rutledge’s Pi R-Squared Lariat integrates tubular and circular peyote with netting and picot to get playful with geometry.

Want to go freestyle? Jean Campbell’s Daisy Girl necklace, featured at the top of this post, gives you just the right balance of free rein and direction. You’ll use freeform peyote combined with circular and flat peyote to create structured-yet-organic petals for a piece inspired by nature.

9 Design Tips from Melinda Barta

When faced with so many choices for designing your own pieces, you may be slightly overwhelmed. That’s why I loved Melinda’s advice for getting started. I’ve included her pointers here to jumpstart your creative processes.

peyote stitch

Experiment with the dimensional components of Urban Skyline necklace to see what you come up with!

1. Start slow

Don’t expect to create an original masterpiece the first time. Instead, pick two or three favorite projects and combine elements of each into a piece that’s uniquely you. Or, pick just one project and personalize the colors and add extra embellishment.

2. Use a chart

It’s easy to find free peyote-stitch graph paper online for both flat and circular variations. Print them out, color the beads in a fun pattern you enjoy and start beading.

3.Expect trial and error

It’s not uncommon for me to have a handful of samples before I land on the correct bead counts and thread paths that complete my vision. Once I figure out the structure, then I create the second handful of samples to test color.

4. Who is your audience?

If you’re designing a piece you want to teach or publish, keep in mind the complexity of each move as you bead. Remember, you’ll not only need to replicate what you did, but you’ll also need to illustrate it and teach it. If you’re beading something just for you or a one-of-a-kind piece, have fun and get as elaborate as you want!

5. Give yourself an assignment

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the irresistible bead colors and shapes on the market today. Hone in on one color palette and limit your bead shapes and sizes. You’ll be amazed by what can result from a focused set of materials.

6. Get feedback

Don’t be afraid to reach out to fellow beaders for their advice and know-how. Meet beaders at your local bead shop and seek them out on Facebook, where there’s an amazingly large community of beaders.

7. Break it down

Overwhelmed by the thought of creating an entire piece start to finish? Start with the elements: bead just a rope for a lampwork pendant, bead a focal for a silver chain or make some beaded-bead earrings. Soon you’ll be ready to put it all together.

8. Mute muse?

If you feel any pressure trying to express your inner voice in your artwork, relax and think of designing for someone else (real or fictitious). Let his or her style and personality be your inspiration.

9. Try it on

With jewelry, there’s sometimes no other way to catch an error like a too-short toggle clasp or a pendant that hangs awkwardly. This also helps you understand the drape of the piece, calculate the length and determine bead placement.

If you’ve missed Melinda’s previous workshops in this series, consider checking out her courses on the basics, flat peyote, circular peyote, and tubular peyote.

I hope you indulge in all the wonderful techniques in this workshop, take Melinda’s design tips to heart, and start experimenting to see what you come up with. Let your creative ideas take flight – because the sky’s the limit.

Go be creative!
– Tamara Kula
Producer, Bead & Jewelry Group


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