The Birth of a Freeform Peyote Bracelet – Part 1

When I woke up yesterday morning, I discovered that the power was off. That was strange because we hadn’t had any storms overnight nor was it terribly windy. I called the power company to be told that they were working on the wires up the street and the power would be restored by 10am. Ok, I guess I could wait for my cup of tea until then. I waited patiently, writing 3 pages of Morning Pages and doing a little reading in my current book, Happy for No Reason. 10am came and went and I called the power company again only to get their automated power outage line. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who had called in. Without lights, there was no working in my studio so I brought some beadwork out on the deck where there was plentiful sunshine. The power came back on about 7:30 last night when I was out having dinner with a friend who I hadn’t seen in 3 years.

So, what did I do yesterday, you ask? Out there on my sunny deck, another freeform peyote bracelet was born.

I chose 9 different beads in various sizes – 11s, 8s and 6s – and strung about 10-15 beads of each color for a total of 6 inches. I used 2 of the beads twice in my strand for a total of 11 sections. I always string an even number of beads on a neutral color Silamide thread. Silamide is a twisted 2-ply prewaxed thread that has been used by dressmakers for years. Here’s some great information about it. I’ve been using this thread for years now and I really like it. I used to always use Nymo but it tangled too much on me even when I waxed it. I think that the best thread to use is whatever you feel comfortable with and works well for you. Before I added all of my beads, I added one bead, leaving a 6 inch tail, and looped the thread around to go through that bead again. This creates what is called a “stop” bead which prevents the beads from falling off your thread.

In peyote stitch, I added the second row of beads, stopping to tighten every 3 beads or so. You can see how the sections are more accentuated now.

I then added a third row.

From now on I will start adding beads so that the bracelet doesn’t look so striped. I do this by drifting the colors into each other. In my next installment, I’ll show how I do this.

I absolutely love this way of beading. You don’t have to follow a pattern, only a technique and even then, you will be improvising on the technique here and there. Every freeform piece you create is totally unique and expresses your voice, what you were experiencing, thinking of and feeling in the moment. What colors shall I use? Shall I put this color next to that color? What size beads? The more sizes you use, the more textural and wavy your piece will become. It’s a wonderful way to experiment with different beads. There isn’t a right way or wrong way to do it. Just get in the flow and add one or two beads at a time and see where the beads lead you.


18 comments on “The Birth of a Freeform Peyote Bracelet – Part 1

  1. dorasexplorations says:

    I’m looking forward to the next installment, Karen ! I would like to try my hand at free-form peyote….I just haven’t been able to decide on a color palette !

  2. Kathi says:

    I am so glad you are sharing this bracelets construction! I have one that is done about as far as you show here and now I am motivated to pick t up and finish it, that is if I can find the “safe place” I put it.

  3. Thanks for the Silamide tip! I love a little randomness… this type of beading would be perfect for me! Just love the colors you picked!

  4. artandtea says:

    It’s a lot of fun, Dora. Enjoy meditating over and choosing your color palette. Why not something that will go with a lot of different outfits like black and white? 🙂

    I know what you mean Kathi about projects! I hope you can find your bracelet and enjoy its creation.

    Thanks Cindy! You’re very welcome. It’s so much fun and a wonderful way to play with your beads.

  5. nina says:

    first off – i think i’d be a bit more antsy than you, regarding the tea! it is my salvation in the mornings, first thing, as i sit here and read at the computer (i don’t get the morning paper, blogs are much more pleasurable!).
    secondly – goodness, you are patient with those tiny little beads. your work continues to amaze me, and i find your photos and explanations very interesting, generous, and patient. thanks so much for sharing what you do…x nina

  6. artandtea says:

    Thanks for your kind words, Nina! Oh yes, yes, I totally understand what you mean about tea being your salvation. Every cup I had yesterday was so much more savored because I had to go a whole day without it. That was very tough. I drank tons of water but it wasn’t the same as my beloved cuppa. xoxo

  7. Steph W says:

    That’s very pretty! I’m amazed at how quickly you can make these!

  8. Oh This is lovely.

  9. artandtea says:

    Thanks Maggie! Hugs back. 🙂

  10. I have put off trying freeform for well, years now. You make it sound easy. If I get caught up on BJP pages, I’ll give this a try.

    Do you like this book? I have it on my wish list at Amazon but not having seen it, I wonder if it’s really worth buying.

  11. artandtea says:

    Thank Timaree, it’s a lot of fun and, like the journal pages, evolves according to your mood or thoughts at the time.

    Which book are you inquiring about?

  12. acrawley63 says:

    Hi Karen,

    I’m happy to see this come to fruition for you. I tried Peyote stitch once. I did okay for the first two rows and then somehow buggered it up. I think I’m an all thumbs beader! I admire bead artists who have mastered this stitch; it really is a beautiful technique.

    Now time to continue catching up on blog posts and to see how this bracelet progresses.


  13. artandtea says:

    Thanks Amy! I’d be happy to show you sometime if you ever wanted to give it a try again. 🙂

  14. laura h says:

    happy u did this . I really want to give it a try…Thnks! Laura h

  15. mary young says:

    thank you so much for the clear tutorial- I have been racking my brain trying to figure out how to get started- and your work is absolutely GORGEOUS!

  16. I started a freestyle peyote bracelet last night but did the short end first and have been building the length. Your way
    makes so much more sense and looks much more doable! Thanks for the help!

  17. Ann Botnick says:

    Hi Karen,
    I came across a picture on the internet probably over a year ago about a free form peyote bracelet you did called A Winter Walk in the Woods under a Full Moon. I just love it. I live the way you transitioned the colors into one another. I wanted to let you know that I have finally collected colors and beads that I am happy with. I will
    let you know how I progress. Thank you.

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