Simple is Beautiful: Bead-weaving Designs for the 21st Century

Maybe it's from my practice of yoga and meditation, but these days I'm finding a greater appreciation in the simple and the small when it comes to my bead-weaving designs and projects. Being inspired by some of the great designs I see on social media, I'm really enjoying the practice of letting the beads speak for themselves. Don't get me wrong — there are plenty of gorgeous and well-made bead-weaving designs that are incredibly intricate and detailed. But as one of my good friends put it, doing a simple piece beautifully can really be more of a challenge than going for an over-the-top piece of beadwork.

Part of the challenge of being able to design a simple, beautiful piece of bead-weaving is knowing when you need to step back and just let the beads do their thing. Aurelio Castano's herringbone stitch bracelets using two-hole bricks and seed beads are simple and sublime: it's the thread path that gets your attention, and the clasp is a sleek, modern finish to the whole look.

That clasp! It certainly caused a stir when these pictures started making the rounds on social media. Aurelio discovered these during a bead shopping trip in New York City, and people immediately began asking where they could get their hands on them. This simple design inspired more beaders to start designing with them, and pretty soon, Shelley Nybakke discovered that these clasps were perfect for pairing with the new etched farfalles from York Beads.

It's been a long time since I've been so inspired to make a beaded bracelet, but I had to try some of these simple bead-weaving designs for myself. So I ordered a handful of these clasps and some of the etched farfalle beads and spent part of a Saturday morning bead-weaving away at the dining room table.

The finished bracelet was supple and light, and I wanted to do more. Digging through my bead stash, I found a hank of aged striped seed beads with copper accents and paired them with one of the rough-etched copper clasps. A simple herringbone stitch (like in Aurelio's design) let the beads take center stage — no other embellishment or bead-weaving stitch was needed! Excited by the first two bracelets that I completed, I decided to play with a hank of 6mm etched melon beads.

After trying (and failing) to get several different rather intricate thread paths designed for these yummy little glass beads, I realized that they would make more of an impact with a simple bead-weaving design. I started stitching an open base of right-angle weave with boxes just big enough to allow a melon bead to nestle on top. Then I went back (with one incredibly long length of thread) and added the melon beads as an embellishment on top of the right-angle weave base. I glued the edges of the bead-weaving into the clasp, and there it was: inspired by two master bead-weaving artists, I created three new bracelets in just one weekend!

Ready to try a few simple bead-weaving techniques where you can let the beads speak for themselves? Check out the SuperDuo and Twin Collection — you'll get three of my favorite resources for bead-weaving with shaped beads, plus a beautiful bead kit in your choice of either blue or rose. Each kit includes a copy of Stitching With Shaped Beads: 10 Beaded Projects to Make Using SuperDuos and Twins, Melinda Barta's Beading With Shaped Beads DVD, and a copy of Melinda's Do's and Dont's of Bead Substitutions. There are only a limited number of the SuperDuo and Twin Collection available in the Beading Daily Shop, so grab yours today!

Sometimes, it takes a brave beader to know when to put the ego aside and let the beads do the talking. What's your favorite simple bead-weaving design? Leave a comment here on the Beading Daily blog and tell us about it, or better yet, post a picture of it in the Reader Photo Gallery for us to see!

Bead Happy,

Jennifer

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