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Making Beaded Boxes

My little boxes are self-supporting, peyote-stitched vessels, woven with cylinder beads. I developed this technique by applying to beadwork the same principles that are used to increase in crochet.

These boxes may be as small as 1″ (2.5 cm) wide-or as large as your patience (and tension) will allow.

The process of making a box has many steps. As you complete each step, write down what you have done in case you need to refer back later in the project.

Before you begin a new step, read through that section carefully. There are several instances in which the instructions differ for different types of boxes. There may also be important or helpful notes to help you work.

Study the diagrams carefully, and make sure that your beadwork structure conforms to the diagram before you proceed to the next row.

There are patterns and instructions for twelve boxes, three of each of the four shapes: triangle, hexagon, pentagon, and square. There are also instructions for two oblong variations. The patterns and instruction sections have been arranged from the easiest box to build (triangle) to the more complex (square), but you may begin with any of the four box shapes. Whichever you choose, you will begin making each box at the center of the base.

To build the boxes, you will work with variations on peyote stitch.

Peyote stitch is a popular beadwork technique that has several variations. A more descriptive name for the stitch is "one-bead netting," because technically it is a netted stitch with "up" beads-the beads that protrude from the row-and "down" beads-the beads that recede into the row.

The working row is always built from the up beads. The netting contains one bead per stitch, so the result is a solid fabric of beads.

To make the boxes, yon will work with two basic beadwork variations on peyote stitch: circular peyote stitch and tubular peyote stitch. You don't need to have experience with these beadwork stitches. By following the written instructions and drawings provided, you will be learning these techniques naturally.

Circular peyote stitch begins at a center point and increases symmetrically, allowing each row to have a greater number of beads than the row before it, so that the beadwork radiates outward. The planned increases create segments in the beadwork and give each box shape its specific number of sides.

Tubular peyote stitch begins at a top or a bottom edge and creates a beaded tube. Box sides are formed with tubular peyote stitch. If you begin tubular peyote with an odd number of beads, the rows of beadwork spiral. If you begin with an even number of beads, the first bead in a row is also the last bead, so you need to "step up"-or sew again into the last bead to begin the next row.

To make the base, you will work with the variation on circular pevote. To get comfortable with the technique, you'll want to practicc first. Here are the instructions for making the base for each of the four box shapes. Choose the shape you'd like to try first as your practice piece, and follow the instructions for that box shape.

Begin with a length of thread approximately 5′ (1.5 m) long and about 5 grams of beads in one or more colors that you like. I prefer to double my thread (10′ [3 m] long before doubling) so that if one strand breaks, I can make repairs with the piece still intact-but do whatever is comfortable for you. I suggest that you use a thinner thread if you plan to double it and a thicker thread if you plan to use a single strand.

When you are satisfied with the size of the base of your box, continue to bead around the edges without increasing (every space gets only one bead).

Remember to step up as you complete each row-you arc now working with tubular peyote stitch.

After a few rows, you will find that the edges are beginning to curl upward.Keep your tension firm and, as you round the corners, carefully pinch the corner into shape. This is especially important when making a triangle box because the fewer the number of sides, the sharper the corner angle will be.

Straight and Recessed Tops Depending on the style of the box lid you choose, the sides of your box will be either straight or recessed at the top.

To bead a box that has straight sides from bottom to top, continue until your box is two rows short of the desired height. The last row should have an up bead at the corners. Now you con simply begin to make the them (Will be in next post). To bead a box with sides that arc recessed at the top, continue until your box is the desired height (about 2″ [5.1 cm] lor your practice piece). Make one or more decrease cycles, depending on the shape of the box (see sidebar on facing page). A decrease cycle is the opposite of an increase cycle hut is identical in appearance.

Decreasing for a Triangle Box

The decrease cycle for a triangle box is simple. After you have completed the first row, every subsequent row is the same.

Row 1: Be sure you have finished the sides of your box with an up bead on either side of the corner bead. For the next row, bead the sides as usual. When you come to a corner,omit the corner bead, and sew directly from the first up bead into the next.

Pull firmly on the thread as you sew the first few beads following the skipped bead so that as little thread as possible shows. When you complete this row, the corners of the box will be more defined, and the sides will begin to curl inward. Step up to begin the next row.

Row 2: Bead the next row as you did the first. When you come to a corner, you will notice that the 2 corner beads from the previous row are practically touching. Sew through the first bead and then the next without adding a bead in between. Bead the remaining sides in the same way, skipping a bead as you round each corner. Step up to begin the next row. When you have finished the required number of decrease cycles for your style of lid, begin making the inner column.



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