What is Prismatic Right-angle Weave?

From Jennifer:

Beadwork, just like nature, continues to evolve as bead artists continue to collaborate and experiment with some of our favorite off-loom bead-weaving stitches. For those of us that love the challenge of beading and designing with right-angle weave, we’ve got an exciting new webinar coming up from bead artist Cindy Holsclaw!

Have you mastered cubic right-angle weave (CRAW), and wondering what the next “big thing” in right-angle weave beading is going to be? Read on for the answer from Cindy…

As a geometry geek, I’m constantly inspired by the different kinds of geometric structures that can be woven with beads. When I’m stitching a piece of beadwork, I’m always thinking in geometric terms like squares, hexagons, cubes, octahedrons, and dodecahedrons – it’s like thinking in a different language! But while it can be challenging to learn a new language, these words can empower us to explore new and interesting ways of beading, and they give us the tools that we need to describe those new ideas to each other. Recently, a discussion among several bead artists about new and interesting ways to use the Cubic Right Angle Weave (CRAW) technique led to a new term: Prismatic Right Angle Weave (PRAW).

The term “Prismatic Right Angle Weave” speaks to me because it is rooted in the geometry that I love so much. PRAW is very similar to CRAW, only it uses not just cubes but prisms too. While a cube can be imagined as a box or a room with a square-shaped top and bottom and square-shaped sides, the top and bottom of a prism is a different kind of shape, and it has a different number of square-shaped sides. There are an infinite number of possible prisms in geometry.

One way to think about this stitch is that one unit of CRAW makes a square-shaped room with four walls, a square floor, and a square ceiling. With PRAW, you make the floor and ceiling a different shape; if you make them both triangles, then you will have three square walls, and this would be PRAW-3. The type of PRAW unit can be described with a number; PRAW-5 would be a pentagon-shaped room with five square walls, PRAW-6 would be a hexagon-shaped room with six square walls, and PRAW-4 is the same as CRAW. PRAW can be expanded to PRAW-7, PRAW-8, and many more types are possible too. Finally, since a cube is special a type of prism, CRAW is also a type of PRAW, and all the beading tips and tricks that are used in CRAW (such as turns, joins, and embellishments) can apply to PRAW too.

The thing that’s already so great about CRAW is that it’s such a versatile stitch; a single unit of CRAW makes a pleasing beaded bead, multiple units in a row make a textural rope that can bend and twist to make different shapes, and several units of CRAW can be combined like Legos for fantastic dimensional beadwork. By using not just cubes, but prisms as well, PRAW expands the versatility of this technique into a whole new realm of possibilities. Many fantastic works of jewelry and objects of art have been created using this technique. I love using this technique to create not only beaded beads, but to weave little flowers into my beadwork as embellishments or as self-supporting beaded charms. I’m very excited about combining prisms with other geometric forms such as dodecahedrons to expand the possibilities even further!