Photos, thoughts, and opinions from Anne Helmenstine.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Beaded Spiral Rope Chain
This easy stitch results in a flexible rope of beads. The spiral rope looks lovely by itself, but it is also easy to embellish either during the beadweaving or after the rope is complete.
Skill Level - suitable for beginners
Time Required - depends on length of chain
Beads - In this example, I used size 11 Matsunos, but use any size or shape. The inner core beads must have a hole wide enough for 4 thread/needle passes.
Thread - I used size D Nymo, but I think a lightweight Fireline or PowerPro would be stronger and still flexible. I use size B Nymo when I make a rope with size 15 seed beads.
Needle - A size 10 beading needle works for size 11 beads, but you will want a smaller needle if you use smaller beads.
Thread Nippers - As always, I used my trusty flush cutters.
I like to work with a long length of thread so that I can complete the chain without adding new thread. If your thread is fairly thick, it can be tricky adding new lengths while working. On the other hand, if your thread is thin, the resulting rope may be weak. The thread only passes through the beads in the spiral once!
With these considerations in mind, cut a length of thread (mine was about 5 feet or about 1.5 meters), condition it with beeswax or Threadheaven (optional), and thread your needle. String on 4 core beads (gold) and 3 spiral beads (blue). Allow the beads to slide down to within 6-12" of the end. You will use this thread to attach a clasp or to join it to some other work. Pass the needle through the 4 core beads, entering from the tail end (as in photo, tail is 'down', working end is 'up'). Avoid piercing your thread.
Here's what results from the first thread pass. You will have spiral beads (blue) alongside the core beads (gold).
String on 1 core bead and 3 spiral beads. Let them slide down to your work. Pass the needle up through the last 4 core beads (3 old and 1 new), as shown in the photo, from tail end toward the working end. Don't pass through any spiral beads.
Here's what you get. You simply repeat the previous step over and over (and over and over) until your spiral reaches the desired length. The rows of spiral beads will start to line up with each other, as seen in the next pass/photo.
Add 1 core/3 spiral and pass through the last 4 core beads (1 old, 3 new). Feel free to experiment with types of beads and also the number of beads used for the outer spiral (e.g., use 4 spiral beads instead of 3). You can use 2 or 3 colors of spiral beads instead of just one. Also, try using different sizes of beads for the core and spiral. You can intersperse sections of spiral rope with larger beads or other stitches. More advanced beaders may enjoy working fringe or flowers on the spiral or adding embellishment to a completed spiral. I made a simple necklace with the spiral by adding a large bead at one end of the chain and a loop of beads at the other end.
For beginners, here's an explanation of how to add a bead and loop closure, string an 8-mm bead and a seed bead, pass back into the 8-mm bead, run through the work a bit, backtrack through the 8-mm and seed bead, back through the 8-mm, weave back into work. Stitch from the chain through the 8-mm/seed bead as many times as you can to make the connection as strong as possible. Weave back into the work a ways and cut your thread. At the other end, string on seed beads to make a loop that just barely fits around the 8-mm bead. Weave back into the work, back through the loop, back into the work, through the loop, etc., until no more passes are possible or the work is secure. Cut the thread. Enjoy!
I am About.com's Guide to Chemistry. I have a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Tennessee and B.A. degrees in Physics and Mathematics from Hastings College. My work experience includes research, teaching, and consulting.