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How To Make a Beaded Spiral

04/01/2007

I learned this technique from my beloved Aunt (I believe she scrawled it on a post-it note while we were having lunch long ago), so I have no idea where the idea came from: a book or webpage, general knowledge, or even her own creative mind. I give you one of her own by was of an example:

Guest Crafter: Patriotic Spiral
Guest Crafter: Patriotic Spiral

First, the materials:

Materials
Materials

You’re going to need beads for the core (in my Aunt’s example, the white beads; in mine, the black), and beads for the outer spiral (red and blue for my aunt and red and white for me). I use relatively large seed beads -6 and 8- because the little ones are just a bit too frustrating to me, but it looks quite impressive done in smaller beads as well. You’ll need something to string them on (I’m using white nymo thread) and a beading needle with which to do the stringing. Everything else is just details; though you may want to begin thinking about how you plan to attach a clasp, it’s not strictly necessary at this point.

End Cap
End Cap

Unless you have a finishing-phobia like I do, that is. In that case, you might want to start with your clasp.

Cut yourself a length of thread. I find it easier to cut a managable piece and just knot on more thread when I run out than to try and cut a piece long enough to make a whole bracelet/necklace/whatever- this is because the longer the piece of thread, the harder it is to keep said thread from developing nasty tangles and knots. If you have some handy, wax you thread (again to prevent the development of nasty tangles and knots). Secure the end(s) of said thread however you see fit. If you don’t share my finishing phobia that makes me finish as I go, you could string a stop bead -that is to say, a sigle bead with the thread tied to it which will be removed later on. This keeps your work from sliding off the end of the thread while you’re trying to work it.

As a side note: this is about where, while cleaning the pictures up in Photoshop, I realized it wasn’t too bright of me to photograph something with white thread on a white background. Still, we soldier on!

First string these.
First string these.

String six beads: three of the “core” color and three of the “outer” color. In this example, I’ve got a simple red-and-white pattern for the outer beads.

Side note, continued: And this is where I realized it wasn’t too bright of me to photograph white beads on a white background.

Then put your needle here
Then put your needle here

Take your needle and pass it from the top (that is, closest to your stop bead/clasp/whatever) down through the three core beads. I take the free ends of the nymo and thread them through the core beads as I go, because I hate extensive finishing work (which obviously will not work if you’re using a stop bead as versus having attached the end bits beforeheand). This is not required.

Make it all snug
Make it all snug

Pull the thread through so everything is nice and tight. Bravo: you’ve finished iteration one.

String a few more
String a few more

For the second (and all following) iterations, string one core bead and three outer beads.

Put your needle there
Put your needle there

This is the hardest part, and truthfully it’s not hard at all. Take your needle up and thread it, from the top down, through the last three core beads (that is, two from the last iteration and the one you just strung). Look, I even photoshopped a handy arrow to show the needle’s direction.

Snug again
Snug again

Once again, pull everything tight…

And Presto!
And Presto!

…and repeat those last three steps until your spiral is the desired length!

In Yellow and Teal
In Yellow and Teal

Then you can finish it off however you see fit- this is a tutorial on the spiral, not on finishing beadwork, so I’m not going to go into it except to say you might want to dab some super glue or something similar on your knots for a little reinforcement.

Now that I’ve told the world how to make their own, I’m off to list my Aunt’s (and some of my own) pieces on Etsy! I’m just a wonderful businessperson like that. Ah well, to quote myself: “I’d still rather be the sort of crafter that contributes to the knowledge of the community than the kind that says ‘My simple and easy process is TOP SECRET, you have to buy it!’ I think, in buying handmade goods, you’re buying something more than materials and a process- you’re buying a person’s effort and personal flair.”

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