The Art of Beadwork


Beadwork is a traditional art form that has evolved over time to incorporate new materials and techniques. It is a skillful craft that requires a great deal of practice.

Beadwork can be divided into several different categories, including stringing beads, loom work, and off-loom bead weaving. In addition, bead embroidery and kumihimo with beads are also considered beadwork.


Beads are small coloured objects made of glass, wood, metal, nut, shell, bone or seed, usually pierced for stringing. They are often strung together with other beads in necklaces or rosaries. The creation and use of beads is reputed to be among the oldest art forms.

Beaded ornamentation was a popular form of self-expression among Africans and other peoples throughout history. It was also used as currency, a medium for meditation and prayer, and to denote social standing or power.

Early powder striped beads are sometimes hard to distinguish from their wound or drawn counterparts, especially if the stripes are not evenly distributed across the bead. However, well-made striped beads tend to be indented more deeply than other styles of old powder beads. They may also be shaped in ways that make them easier to identify, such as pig beads which have two holes in the shape of a pig’s snout.

Overlaid stitch

A good beader will use a variety of stitches to create their pieces. Overlaid stitch is one of these techniques. This type of beadwork is similar to applique, where the artist creates a decorative pattern on another piece and then sews it onto the final product. It is important to choose a fabric that will not block the design. This will ensure that the beads will lay flat.

Overlaid stitch can be used to create any pattern or picture that the mind can dream up. The artist threads a needle with sinew or, in modern circumstances, beading thread and then lines the beads on the thread to form their patterns. They then affix the beads to the fabric or leather. The result is a beaded applique that looks beautiful on any piece of clothing.

Lazy stitch

Lazy stitch is the simplest of all beading techniques. It can be used to create simple petals and leaves or more complex designs. Its simplicity makes it a good choice for beginners. It is also very versatile and can be used on leather, kumihimo, or macrame.

Lazy Stitch is a technique of beading that uses lanes of beads to cover large areas. It is often combined with crow-stitch for the main design and outline work.

Traditionally, Native American beadwork was decorative and adorned utilitarian items such as clothing, dwellings, horse gear, and utensils. The earliest beadwork replaced porcupine quill work. While many of the older ways of life have disappeared, beadwork continues to thrive.

Tribal distinctions

The different tribes located across North America each had their own bead working traditions and designs. However, with the increased exchange of Native art forms during this period there was a blurring of tribal distinctions.

During the 1800s, Plains Indian artists favored peyote stitching, which uses beads as tubes or directly around objects. This technique is very labor-intensive and requires skill. Each pattern designed must contain a total number of beads that divide evenly by three.

This beadwork was often sold at Goat Island near Niagara Falls in New York. Sadly, this site became public land and the Tuscarora no longer have exclusive rights to sell their work here. This is a shame, because it is a beautiful location. Fortunately, many of these beadwork pieces can still be matched up to photographs taken during the 1860s and beyond.


In woven beadwork, the thread used to sew beads into a piece is called a warp thread. It can be made from animal proteins such as twisted sinew or hide thong, and it can also be made from plants, bark, and roots. During the time of European contact, beadworkers began to use cotton thread and iron awls.

When a warp thread breaks, it is important to replace it as soon as possible. Otherwise, it will continue to be pulled and tangled by the beads. If this happens, the thread may break or it may become too short to weave into the piece.

To prevent this from happening, always tie a new thread before the old one runs out of beads to secure it. This will help you keep your project looking neat and tidy.

      Shopping cart