These lacy earrings look like coral or frost. The branched fringe or coraling beading technique is easy to do and yields stunning results. Once you master the stitch you can use it to make necklaces or to adorn clothing. Skill Level: Intermediate
Time Required: A few hours - can complete pair of earrings in a weekend
Materials Size 11 Seed Beads - I used a main color and a contrast color. Smaller beads work well (e.g., 13s or 15s), but larger beads will yield heavy earrings.
Flatnose or Chainnose Pliers
Thread - I used size D Nymo. Personally, I find other types of thread too stiff for this technique. Nymo B is great with size 14/15 beads.
Accent Beads - Optional. I used a pair of 4-mm beads for the white earrings and a pair of 8-mm beads for the tutorial.
Start Coraling Coraling is easy, but it does require that you have practice controlling your thread tension. Also, it uses a large number of beads and takes a bit of time. Feel free to vary the number of beads between branches, the length of the branches, etc. Have fun!
To start, cut at least a meter of your chosen thread. If desired, condition your thread with beeswax or Thread Heaven. If you can, it's better to work with a single long thread than to have to add thread, since adding thread will make it harder to keep the beads under tension. I threaded one seed bead onto the string, let it fall about a third of the way down the string, and tied a knot around it.
Put both ends of the thread through a bead tip. This bead will support the beadwork.
Using the shorter strand, string on 1 seed bead, your accent bead, and 40 main color seed beads (this will be the final length of your earring, so adjust it longer or shorter as desired by adding or subtracting beads in multiples of three).
String on three accent beads. Go back through the last two main color seed beads. Tighten the tension so there are no gaps between the beads. If you are using nymo or any other nylon thread, remember that it stretches over time, so your beadwork needs to be fairly tight. On the other hand, if you are using Power Pro or another fluoropolymer, remember that this thread will not stretch, so you want the tension such that there are no gaps between beads yet loose enough for the beadwork to be fluid.
Add two main color beads and three contrast beads. Pass back through the two main color beads. Congratulations, you have completed your first pair of branches!
Pass back through the next 5 beads, going toward the bead tip. Adjust your tension.
Add 4 main color beads and three contrast color beads. Pass back through the last 2 main color beads. Add two main color beads and three contrast color beads.
Pass back through the two main color beads, the two next 2 main color beads of this branch and then through the next 3 beads toward the bead tip (total of 7 beads you go back through).
From here on, you are just repeating the previous step. Add 4 main color and 3 contrast. Pass back through the last two main color. Add 2 main color and three contrast. Pass back through the 7 main color on the 'branch' and 'stem', going toward the bead tip. You will continue this pattern until you are as near the bead tip as you like (5-6 beads for me).
Thread up through the accent bead and bead tip, go through the bead in the bead tip (reinforcing your thread), tie a knot using the other thread, and pass back through the 'stem' beads. I ran the thread through several branches to secure it and cut the thread. Thread your needle on the other end of the thread and pass it through the seed bead and accent bead so that it is exiting the accent bead. Make the next stem with branches. This thread should be dangling from the base of the accent bead. I added 26 main color beads.
Add three contrast beads and pass back through the last 2 main color beads. Add 2 main color beads and 3 accent beads. Pass back through the last 2 main color beads and the next 5 main color beads on the stem (7 main color beads total). Continue making branches until you are within 5 beads of the accent bead. Pass through the main color beads to come out just below the accent bead.
Make the third stem/branch identical to the second stem/branch. When you are finished, you can knot your thread or work it back through several branches to secure it. Cut the thread. Use pliers to attach the bead tip to the earring finding.
Here's a finished earring. Make a second earring to match the first.
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.