A regular spot from team member Lynn Davy, a self-confessed bead addict whose unusual designs often feature lampwork beads. In this series she shares some of her secrets and shows you how to use FHFteam’s handmade beads and components in your own creations!
Bricks and Ladders
Buildings are somewhat on my mind at the moment as we’ll be moving house over the summer… this month’s tutorial will show you a neat way to combine ladder and brick stitches into a sturdy foundation on which to build a cuff bracelet.
I struggled for a long time to find a use for ‘double delica’ beads because they have such huge holes that ‘normal’ sized cylinder beads just disappear up inside them when you try to combine the different sizes. But they are brilliant for making ladder-stitched strips because they work up so quickly!
Ladder stitch is also a good way to use bugle beads, although they are narrower than double delicas so you need more of them to make a bracelet length. They do give a lovely texture though…
A ladder more than two beads wide is a bit prone to gaping between its ‘rungs’. You can widen it by simply adding fringe (and with holes that size, you can add a LOT of fringe if you want to!) or by stitching along the edges with brickstitch.
Brickstitch feels a bit weird to begin with because you don’t actually stitch through any beads of the previous row, you go under the threads instead; but it’s very simple really. It’s a versatile way to make lots of different shapes (the little hearts on this tassel are made with brickstitch)…
… or to bead around a larger bead, as in the pendant for this set. (The cuff is made with a ladder-stitch base and brickstitch edging, too.)
And once you’ve beaded around a bead, you can add loops and fringes to make flowers…
Brickstitch does have a weakness, though: the thread ‘bridges’ between the beads are exposed along the edge of the beadwork. Exposed thread is prone to catching and fraying, especially in a bracelet, which gets a lot of wear and tear, so it needs protecting. A great excuse to add more beads!
You can add a simple one-bead ‘picot’ edging (as we did when we made those beaded spacer beads) between each pair of ‘rungs’. Or you can make a more elaborate, formal edging.
Or else you can go mad with lots of beaded fringe. No prizes for guessing which one I’d choose!
This month’s project makes use of those little orphan lampies that so many of us have languishing unloved in our stash boxes, just waiting for someone to pick them out and give them a good home. And if you don’t have any orphans, search through the FHFteam’s shops and you’ll find plenty to adopt!
Tutorial: Orphanage Bracelet
You will need: ‘double delica’ (size 8 cylinder) beads and size 8 seed beads for the base, plus half a dozen small ‘orphan’ lampwork beads, a few 4mm crystal bicones, 30-ish ‘accent’ beads anywhere between 6 and 10 mm in diameter, a teaspoon of ‘bead soup’ with seed beads in sizes 11 and 8, a couple of jump rings and a clasp.
You will also need a beading needle, pliers, scissors, and thread – a tough ‘braided’ thread such as Fireline or PowerPro is recommended for this one because you’re using crystals and relatively heavy beads for the embellishment. (If any fringe beads look wobbly, go through them again once or twice more to stiffen their resolve.)
Thread your needle with no more than two arms’ length of thread and pick up four double delicas. Go through the first two of them again.
Pull the thread snug so you have two pairs sitting side by side. These are the first two ‘rungs’ of your ladder.
Pick up another two double delicas and go through the previous ‘rung’ again.
Then go through the pair you just added.
Pick up another two and do the same again. (Ladder stitch is really, really simple!) Keep going until the strip will fit your wrist. Then add another four or five pairs because it shrinks a bit when you add the edging. But don’t worry, it’s very easy to add more to the ends if you find it’s got a bit short…
Now for the brickstitch edging. Go through the last-but-one rung of your ladder so you’re exiting the second bead from the end of the strip (sorry, this photo is upside down for some reason).
Pick up two size 8 seed beads and pass your needle under the thread that connects the second and third rungs.
Then go up through the second of the seed beads you just added.
Pick up one more seed bead and go under the thread that connects the third and fourth rungs.
And back up through the bead you just added.
Carry on adding one seed bead to each thread bridge all along the strip. At the far end, double back on yourself so you’re coming out of the second cylinder bead from the end on the other side.
Flip the strip over and work back along the other edge.
Now you’re ready to add the embellishment – the fun part! It’s just simple fringing and I’m sure you already know how to do that, but here’s a quick run-through again…
Exit the first size 8 along the edge. Pick up a size 11 seed, an accent bead, another size 11.
Go back through the accent bead and first size 11 and carry on down through the size 8 bead you came out of.
Go up through the next size 8 and add another fringe with a size 8 bead in place of the accent. Continue to alternate size 8’s and accents. When you add a lampwork orphan, start the fringe with a size 11 and then a size 8 seed bead, then string the orphan, a crystal bicone and a size 11. Go back down through everything except the last size 11.
Keep going all the way along both edges of the base strip, mixing and matching however you like. If you have an accent bead with a transverse hole, add seed beads before and after it, and if it’s wide (like this leaf) spread it over two edge beads.
When the fringe is complete, add a loop of seed beads to the end of the cylinder bead rows; go through it plenty of times to make it strong, then weave the thread into the beadwork, knot and trim it.
Add a loop to the other end in the same way, then use pliers and jump rings to connect the clasp to the loop.
Wear and Enjoy!