Bead weaving involves the use of beads and string that hold each other in place to create wonderful and interesting patterns. The Native American bead weaving techniques continue to dominate this field.

The craftspeople within the Native American culture combined their traditional woven art forms using glass beads and seed beads introduced by trade with European travelers. The two art forms fused together to create bead weaving techniques that are still used today to create intricate and beautiful pieces of artistic jewelry.

In jewelry making, bead weaving is used to create beautiful strands for necklaces and bracelets that involve a special type of technique.

Beads and tools used for bead weaving

Modern seed beads allow a great variety of bead weaving projects to be possible, as they can be produced with greater consistency to ensure a uniform weave. Miyuki beads are praised for their use in bead weaving, as they produce beautiful weaves that appear seamless and identical.

The earliest forms of bead weaving did not use needles - they used a technique similar to braiding. Needles now are used to create finer beaded details, allow smaller beads to be used, and make it possible to go back through the one small bead many times.

The introduction of certain types of metal tools that came with European settlers, along with their glass beads, also allowed bead weaving to develop.

Looms were constructed that allowed bead weaving to separate two long strings into a warp and weft, which opens up the possibilities with bead weaving to a great extent.

Bead weaving string

Traditional bead weaving in the early stages used animal sinew as string. Nowadays, specialized beading threads are available that are strong and durable, and because they are manufactured they can be extremely long.

Long, continuous threads are ideal for bead weaving, because every join that is needed to extend the string is a weakness within the weave.

Beading thread conditioners

Conditioners are available for beading threads, making them stronger and less prone to breakages within the bead weaving projects you are completing. These conditioners are easy to apply, and are not sticky, making them easy to work with as well.

Beading thread conditioners, such as beeswax, make threading the needles much easier, as the tip of the thread is less likely to fray and make the bead weaving easier to start.

Learning bead weaving

Bead weaving can be tricky to learn, as it uses a system of grids, counting and numbers to ensure that a pattern is followed closely. Once learned, such a vast amount of projects are made possible that is definitely worth a try!

Simpler bead weaving techniques can be used in your own jewelry making. Why not try buying some beading thread, seed beads and a needle and experiment with the different looks that you can create!

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