Diamonds are a girl’s best friend: adventures with brick stitch

Design copyright Veon Schunzel

A while back, my family and I started going to Native American pow-wows. These events are a great way to spend the weekend with your loved ones, and to experience some Native American crafts and culture.

At the Schemitzun in Connecticut, for example, 500 or so tribes are represented in a 3 day festival, hosted by the Mashantucket Pequot tribal nation. This wonderful 3-day event, which tends to take place in late August or early September, features tribal dance competitions, drumming and live music, and amazingly tasty food (don’t worry vegetarians, there are options for you! try the vegetarian fry-bread, like an open-faced bean taco). Best of all though, in my opinion, are the AMAZING handmade craft (and craft-supply) booths.

For you jewelry enthusiasts out there, events like the Schemitzun can simultaneously be the best – and worst – places for you. You will be absolutely bowled-over by the quantity and quality of handmade jewelry. Gorgeous inlaid stone pieces are always present in vast quantities, but my personal weakness is the beaded jewelry. I tend to fall in love with just about every item I see, and I usually can’t resist bringing home a few pieces. Being a crafter though,  my initial thought is often an average between “OMG pretty!!!” and “I want to MAKE that!!!!”

Luckily, these festivals often attract lots of glass-bead vendors just for people like me (and you!) who get inspired to make things at home. If you want to try your hand at something like the earrings I made above, you can join the hordes of enthusiastic beaders pawing through bins and bins of beautiful glass seed beads and hand-carved stone pendants at a pow-wow. Of course, these materials can also be purchased online, but not much beats the thrill of  “the chase” in finding your perfect colors in person. And you might even be able to haggle your way to some discounts at a festival…

If you’d like  to read more about the beaded earrings above, which were hand beaded using the brick (a.k.a. Cheyenne or Comanche) stitch, please follow the link below.

Happy beading everyone!

One of the greatest things about brick, or Comanche/Cheyenne, stitch jewelry is the amount of “bang” you get for your buck. For just about a teaspoon-worth of each color of these size 14 hex (hexagonal) glass seed beads, a few feet of “size A” beading thread, a couple of cheap earwires, and a collapsable needle, you get a really rockin’ bold and beautiful pair of earrings.

For those of you who may not be familiar with these WONDERFUL items called collapsable needles, they are made from very thin twisted wire, and they feature a very large flexible eye. You can thread the needle easily, and then the eye will collapse once you go through your first couple of beads, helping to hold your thread in place. The long, flexible design of these tools will also help you to work into tight or awkward spaces, and even tie knots with shorter ends of thread if you need to. You should be able to find these needles in the beading tool section of your craft store. They’ll make it through a few uses if you stretch the eye back out with a regular pin or sewing needle when you want to add more thread.

For the earring design featured in this post, I referenced the above book, Creative Beaded Earrings Vol. 1, by Veon Schunzel. She has some wonderful patterns inside, and I think that trying a few will give you a great crash course in brick stitch. The patterns themselves are in black and white, but she has great color photos of each earring style on the outside or inside of each front and back cover. In the process of working through a pattern, you kind of feel like you are having a nice informal class, or like a friend drew you a diagram. For people addicted to color photos like me, it is a little bit of an adjustment to adapt to hand-drawn black and white images, but it’s worth it in the end for what you learn.

Tip: Use a ruler or the edge of a piece of paper to mark which row you are on in the pattern. It will make your life SO much easier.

For a little tutorial on the brick stitch technique, follow this link.

An interesting trick to brick stitch technique is that you can start at the widest row of beads, and then use decrease stitches on either side, adding the fringe last. In the diagram, start at the red dot, center this row of beads on your few feet of thread, and then work outwards. I find that this is an easy way of having something substantial to hang onto as you begin your beadwork.

I hope that this post encourages some of you who may be new to beading to try your hand at brick stitch. It’s a pretty small outlay of money to obtain the materials if you’re just starting out, and you’ll probably have lots of your material left over for your next project. Granted, these earrings took a few days’ worth of evenings to complete, but I think it was totally worth it for the bragging rights. Just remember to stand up and stretch your back every so often while making these. And please be sure to work in adequate light. It’ll help keep your eyes healthy to do this for years to come.

If any of you make your own beaded earrings as a result of this post, I’d love it if you linked to them here, or if you sent me a shout-out in the comments section :-)

Have a wonderful evening all, and happy beadin’!


2 Responses to “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend: adventures with brick stitch”

  1. 1 Mind Secrets Exposed Review April 24, 2013 at 6:10 am

    Hey there I am so glad I found your website, I really found you by accident, while I was searching on Bing for something
    else, Regardless I am here now and would just
    like to say kudos for a incredible post and a all round entertaining blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to go through it all at the moment but I have book-marked it and also included your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a lot more, Please do keep up the excellent job.

  2. 2 buy cheap backlinks May 28, 2013 at 6:54 am

    Very nice post. I definitely appreciate this website.
    Keep it up!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 3 other followers

Pages of this blog

Blog Stats

  • 12,378 hits

%d bloggers like this: