Bead Braid Jewelry
by
Lydia F Borin

A Beadwrangler Workshop

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This project is one of several in my Royal Gem kit available on www.7beads.com.  The instructions below are from one of the classes I taught.   You can make bracelets, earrings and necklaces using these instructions.

Supplies
  • 3 hanks, 11/0 beads, 3 colors or 50 grams of one of my Beadwrangler bead mixes or a combination of solid color beads and bead mix  
  • Jean Stitch, 100% polyester or equivalent thread (do not use cotton, it will stretch)
  • 1 embroidery needle size 7 or 8, or sewing needle
  • 2 long medium twisted wire needles
  • 1 small 3/8" or 1/2" button
  • 3 hair rollers/curlers, smallest size you can find, with sponge around a plastic piece that clips in to hold in the hair, found at beauty supply, dollar and discount stores such as Wal-Mart and Target 
  • 1 T-pin, found at craft stores

  • 2 bankers’ pins; found at school supply and stationary stores or use thick straight pins
  • 1 C-Clamp, found at Home Depot and other hardware stores.  The c-clamp will attach your foam core board to a table.

  • 1 foam core board piece, 14” L X 6” W, wider or longer foam core boards will work.  You can purchase them at craft stores such as JoAnn's Etc., Michaels and Wal-Mart.  You may have to cut a larger board into smaller pieces.

  • scissors
  • optional:  bead spinner which makes it possible to string beads quickly for braids and multiple strands that can be incorporated into art work.

General Information

If you are using a bead spinner, remove beads from hank thread or if loose, poor the beads into the bead spinner.  Pour the beads until they fill about half the bead spinner.  As you string the beads, you can add more into the bead spinner.  If you are stringing the beads by hand, you can purchase a piece of felt and lay it down on your work table.  Pour out your beads onto the felt, push them into a pile, then bring your needle across through the bead pile,  horizontally, to pick up the beads.  Continue until you have 33" of beads strung.  It takes me about two minutes to string over 1 1/2 yards of beads using a bead spinner, a real time saver.

Note:  The star* in the instructions below means you follow the instructions from the beginning * through the ending *, then repeat everything how ever many times is listed after the star.*

Making the Braid

*string 33” of beads onto Jean Stitch thread.  Pull up 7” of thread in front of the beads from the loose end of the working thread and 7” of thread past the beads of the working thread.  Cut the thread from the spool.  You should have 7” of thread, 33” of bead-strung thread and 7” of thread at the end.  Repeat from * 2 more times.  Take the 3-bead strung threads and make a slipknot at one end, leaving 6” of loose thread past the slipknot.

Attach a C-clamp to the table, leaving room to slide in the foam core board.  Then tighten the C-clamp.  Lay the braid on the foam core board and place the T-pin through the slipknot of the strung beads.  Push the beads of each strand snug at the slipknot.  From the opposite end of the bead strung thread, the loose end, use a hair roller to roll up the beads until the roller is about 7” from the slipknot.  Do the same with the other two strands.  Clamp the rollers so the beads stay taut.  Do not let the foam core move around while you make the braid.

One of my viewers emailed me about the hair rollers.  I would give her credit except it has been about two years since she contacted me and I can't find my notes with her name on it.  These hair rollers are like magic when it comes to handling long strands of beads.

Begin at the slipknot and make a 3-strand braid.  It is very important that you keep the beads taut.  When you start running out of beads, open each hair roller, let out a little bead strung thread and then clamp back and continue.  A 28” braid works very well and the button and loops closure will add another 1” to 2” to the length.  Keep the slipknot on the T-pin until you are sure of the length you want.  You may have to pull off some of the beads at the end of each strand to make them even.  Pull up the beads from one strand at a time and then put each back on the rollers until all three are finished.  As you are making the braid, move the braided section up so you can finish the strands at the lower end.  Use the banker pins I have provided to pin between braid sections at a time, then remove them and repeat the process.

 Once you have finished the braid, temporarily put a knot at the end of the bead braid.  Make sure the slipknot at the other end is taut.  The beads must stay taut or the braid will get loose.  Use one hair roller to roll the braid about 3” from the slipknot.  Close the roller. Replace the slipknot with a permanent knot.  As you open the hair roller and make a knot at the other end, keep the braid taut.  When you get to that end, put the bankers' pins in the braid right above where the knot will be worked.  Tighten the knot and you no longer need the hair roller.

 It is a little difficult to keep the beads taut on the strands when you get to the last few inches of beads to finish the braid.  Hold the ends of the thread, keeping the beads taut as you finish.

 Button and Loop Closure 

 This type closure is perfect and easy for necklaces and bracelets. 

Thread a needle on the loose thread ends, take the needle through a button shank and into the strap end 3 times.  Take the needle and wrap the thread 5 times around the button, just below the shank and above the strap.  Stitch back into the strap end, and string a few beads to wrap around where the thread shows, then stitch into the strap stitches and cut off the excess thread.  At the other strap ends, bring them around the button to plan loop length.  Make the loop big enough so the closure can be placed over the button and removed, but not so loose the closure will open while wearing the strap.  Stitch the loop end together so there is a loop on that end and the button on the other.  String more beads and wrap them around at the bottom of the loops to cover the thread, then stitch into the piece and cut off the excess thread.  Your first braid is made. 


What Else You Can Do With Bead Strands? 

The 3-strand braid is a basic technique.

You can make 4 strands, 5 strands or more strand braids.  You can make 12 strands, 25” long each, with 50 grams of bead mix.  You will have about 10 grams of beads left over.  These beads can be used for finishing.  With more beads, you can make as thick a braid as you like.  You can add solid strand beads in with the bead mix strands.

You can make 6 braids, each composed of 3 strands each and then braid the 6 braids together.

See my example with 9 strands, making 3 braids and then braiding them. I also left strands loose between the braid for more contrast. 

How to books covering braids, knots and other related fiber techniques will help you to work the more complex braids with more bead strands.  Bead magazines sometimes include projects with beaded braids and you can add their techniques to your braid experience.

You can make a braid, then string beads and work a lark’s head knot to add the loose strands to the braid.

You can include a larger bead or beaded bead between the braids and the loose strand beads.  You will need to string one strand of SoftFlex wire if the designer bead is extremely heavy.

You can cover a plastic ring with fiber or beads and add it between the braid and bead strands.

You can add fiber strands by using a crochet hook to chain yarn or fancy fibers and add it to the braid or strands.

Experiment and see how many ways you can add bead strands and braids to your fiber art.  Enjoy, Lydia, the Beadwrangler


Copyright© 2005 Lyden Enterprises
All rights reserved. No part of these instructions may be transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including but not restricted to, recording or by any information storage and/or retrieval system without prior permission in writing from the author.
Designs shown in these instructions are intended for personal use only. Mass marketing of the designs as finished work or as kits is prohibited without permission in writing from the author.
Instructions and designs have been tested and are presented in good faith, but no warranty is given, nor results guaranteed.

When you make copies of these instructions to share with your friends, please tell them you got them at Beadwrangler's.

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