Using Seed Beads and Geometry for Bead Making: The Work of Onye Obama-Ndika

When you think of bead making, most people think of lampwork glass, ceramic, polymer clay, or even metal clay. But using seed beads for bead making — the art of making beaded beads — is often overlooked as a serious art form. But if you know where to look, you can find inspiration and instruction in the world of beautiful beaded beads, including the work of bead artist Onye Obama-Ndika.

Onye creates stunning beaded beads using tiny Czech and Japanese seed beads, and layers and layers of right-angle weave, cubic right-angle weave, triangle weave, and beaded netting. These four bead-weaving stitches, she says, provide the sturdiest structure for her when she is making beaded beads.

Since 1994, Onye has been a bead and jewelry artist, finding her early inspiration from the work of artists like Valerie Hector, Suzanne Golden, Jane Huber, and Gerlinde Lenz. Seed beads were an obsession with her early on, but she also found acrylic pearls to practice on from the scrap piles at the home of her mother's seamstress, discarded from the many pieces of African-style custom clothing with which they worked.

Her bead making design ideas using seed beads are clear representations of both chemistry and geometry, combining her love of the analytical with her passion for creativity. She views the sharing of her beaded creations as a way to uplift everyone around her while using her gifts to the best of her abilities. A beautiful intention for some truly beautiful beads!

To get an idea about what inspired Onye to start creating and bead making using seed beads, she shared a poem with us that she wrote about her beading journey. Enjoy!

I started with a few loose beads & sewing thread
Making chains of daisies was the first thing stuck in my head
Got wise to the glittering stars in my eyes
Not sure where it would lead
But I knew that a plan I must devise
Took the time to write some things down
Colors, patterns, tools & schemes
Started to learn the terminology in between
Flipping the pages of shiny bead magazines
Night after night I would read until it was late
Frantically I would design, and dream, and create
To be an artist was my inevitable fate
Or really, the plan from the beginning
Similar to Silverstein, I don't know where this sidewalk ends
But I promise that every place in which the road bends
I will have a ring of flowers, or spheres made of metal
Icosahedron-shaped orbs and dodecahedron-cut crystals
Woven mathematical mantras clothed as beaded beads
Pen-inked mandalas & beaded-basketry
Tessellations to give an empty space some consecration
When the mind's eye finds its concentration
The hand & heart can see
The display is a path of memorial stones
So you can find your way to me.

What are YOUR favorite materials for creating jewelry? Are you looking for more jewelry-making ideas for incorporating your handmade beaded beads or other handmade bead treasures? Check out these 101 brand-new jewelry design ideas incorporating all of your favorite jewelry-making supplies in Creative Jewelry: 101 All-New Designs: Bracelets, Necklaces, and Earrings. No matter what you prefer to use — gemstones, glass, ceramic, or metals — you'll find dozens of colorful, trendy jewelry designs to inspire a few new jewelry-making projects. Whether you prefer a print edition or an instant digital download, you can get your copy of Creative Jewelry: 101 All-New Designs: Bracelets, Necklaces, and Earrings and start making jewelry today!

Bead Happy,


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