Learning Freeform Peyote

My first freeform peyote project is complete! I started this bracelet in Colette Chapman’s class at the Texas Bead Retreat, and she creates amazing freeform peyote eye candy. She is a wonderful teacher and I was able to jump right into the technique.

Here is what I learned about freeform peyote so far:

  1. Use a base. If this is your first project, I recommend using a base to help you get started. For homework before the class, Colette had us bead a strip of flat peyote the length of the bracelet minus the clasp in size 8/0 seed beads. The base made it really easy for me to just start.
  2. Start with focal beads. Plan out where you will place each one, and embellish out from there. Try rearranging the focals and place them in different configurations and spacing before tacking them down permanently. I used one butterfly in the center of my piece.
  3. Bridges are the key. Make a loop that starts near your focal and moves toward the clasp end. Create a few rows of peyote on the loop, then embellish with lentils, daggers, drops, etc. My first loop on this piece is the one over the left wing of the butterfly with daggers.
  4. Use stabilizer beads. If you embellish a row of peyote with daggers or drops etc, it’s a good idea to stabilize them with another row of peyote.
  5. You can never have enough beads. Use crystals, pearls, bugle beads, firepolish, and size 15, 11, 8, and 6 seed beads, lentils, pressed glass, stones, and drops. I organize my bead choices by color to start.
  6. Be free. It’s called freeform for a reason! Do whatever you want and take it out if you don’t like the way it looks. I may have gone a little overboard on mine, but I love it and will wear it all the time. Remember that it only matters what YOU like, and with freeform peyote, you can develop your own aesthetic.

My bead mat after finishing this project, A MESS!

If you would like more instruction, give this tutorial from Whimbeads a try. I’m going to create my own tutorial after making a few more pieces and discovering my favorite approach.

More Freeform Peyote Eye Candy:
Judy Gilmartin
About.com Beadwork
Sylvie Camps
Christen Brown
Kat’s Beadwork
Shelley K. Bossert (scroll down a bit)
Holly Thompson (scroll down a lot)

Thanks to Janice Lynn for helping me find these websites!

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • avatar Sister Diane March 12, 2010, 12:27 pm

    Wow, Mandi – this piece is absolutely gorgeous! I never really “got” freeform when I was beading, but the way you’ve broken it down is really helpful. Thanks for a great post!

  • avatar Marilou March 12, 2010, 12:54 pm

    Great site. Can’t wait to read upcoming entries!

  • avatar KipperCat March 13, 2010, 9:57 pm

    Love the bracelet – and the instructions! The few freeform tutorials I’ve looked at were very sparse.

  • avatar Mandi Ainsworth March 13, 2010, 10:16 pm

    Thanks, Diane! I’ve always wanted to try it, but I didn’t know where to start. I’m very grateful for Colette’s class :)

    @Marilou Thanks for the comment, because truth be told, you are such a wonderful inspiration and creative spirit to me!

    @KipperCat Thanks for the compliment : ) I’m so glad I could help!

  • avatar madebymegs March 17, 2010, 3:13 pm

    Great post Mandi. I know nothing about beading, but you def seem like you know what you are talking about, which makes me want to see if I could do this :)

  • avatar Jen July 25, 2010, 9:39 pm

    Your bracelet is beautiful, makes my first attempt at free form peyote look quite skinny! Am now going to make another bracelet and really get carried away.

  • avatar Judy Botts February 18, 2011, 5:22 am

    Wow!!! These are my colors. Your approach to freeform really helps. I took a class once, but the teacher just seemed to ramble, i.e. I did this here, do whatever you want, etc. Freeform seemed like more work and frustration than a pre-set pattern. Anxious to try using your approach

  • avatar Mandi Ainsworth February 20, 2011, 7:09 am

    Thanks for your comments, ladies!

    Judy, I’m glad this post was helpful for you! I continuously take classes on freeform because I always learn a new way to think about things from different teachers. I just bought 2 new books to give me further insight : )

  • avatar Elba Rosa Glass October 2, 2014, 6:45 pm

    I love to bead. I haven’t tried free form peyote yet! I am going to try it. Thanks for the inspiration

  • avatar 33May May 17, 2017, 2:51 am

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