Studio Musings

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Freeform Peyote Bracelet - the Ugly Duckling Stage

The Ugly Duckling Stage, freeform peyote bracelet construction by Karen Williams

This is Part Two of my freeform peyote bracelet tutorial.   Part One focused on getting started.  Today we're looking at the Ugly Duckling state; that mid point between starting out and completion when nothing quite seems to work and it all looks sort of spindly and awkward.   Every freeform peyote bracelet I've ever worked on, in fact almost every single freeform peyote project, goes through an Ugly Duckling stage.  For some this stage lasts longer than others.

detail - starting the under bridge, freeform peyote bracelet construction by Karen Williams
The underside of my stone cabochon
Support for the Central Stone
In the photo above, we're just a little further than we were at the end of Part One.  I'm continuing to work along the full length.  At this point, rather than running my needle through the central stone bead, I run it through an under bridge of seed beads a couple of times to give it more support.

The under bridge helps provide support and stability for my central stone bead, without completely obscuring the bottom face of the stone.

After a couple of passes through the single line of beads, I peyote stitched along two thirds of it.  This will give me easy anchors for later work.

This is also the point where I need to decide which side faces forward.  I decided that the side with more cream would be the underside. 

Building a Half Bezel
Next, I focused on the side bridge (it's under my thumb in the photo above left).  Using peyote stitch I built up a bezel that cups around the edge of the stone.  This will help to hold the stone steady while leaving as much of the stone visible as possible, both from the top and bottom.  This is entirely and aesthetic choice on my part.

The half bezel itself looks pretty good, but its connection to the rest of the bracelet is awkward at best.  Something I will have to work on before the bracelet is complete.

Note that I've also started adding a new section of size 6 beads along the lower right edge and am continuing to peyote stitch around the button loop to give it a more substantial look.  

Continuing to Build - One Section at a Time
From here on out I'll be working sections at a time, rather than consistently working along the full length. 

Building one section at a time, freeform peyote bracelet construction by Karen Williams

Along the lower right edge, I've built up the section of size 6s.

Above, I'm using bridgework to tie the bracelet band into the half bezel.

And to the far left, I've built up the area where the button will go using basic peyote stitch and size 11 seed beads.  Since the button will cover any stitching in this section, there's nothing fancy here, though I did make a color change.  I also peyote stitch around the end to soften that edge, starting after about the fifth row.  The shape kind of reminds me of a tongue depressor  - not a terribly appealing thought.

Trying the Button Placement
detai - testing button placementl, freeform peyote bracelet construction by Karen Williams

When I 'try' the button on for size and suddenly it doesn't look so bad.  In fact, it really needs to be a little wider to full support the width of the button visually. 

The bracelet is about halfway done at this point.  It is still in it's Ugly Duckling stage, but is almost ready to molt into it's swan plummage.  Next steps will include continuing to build the width, working a section at a time.

I also want to focus on integrating the bracelet band into the half bezel cupping my central stone and continuing to move colors through the piece so it doesn't look splotchy.  Ideally, I'd like each color to show up in at least three different areas to give the piece a sense of repetition and balance.

Once I've reached the full width, then it will be time to look at the possiblity of over bridges, which can be used to tie color sections together and to add more textural interest.  One of the last things I will do is add the button.

Want to see it complete?  Check back on Saturday - I'll be revealing the finished piece as part of the Choose Your Own Adventure Freeform Peyote Challenge.  Not as fancy as some of the pieces you'll see on Saturday, but it's all about process. 


  1. Karen I love the way this is taking shape and the process you're taking, can't wait for Saturday to see more thank you so much for sharing. I feel more reassured about my own work now too

  2. Thanks again. This is fabulous.

  3. These posts are really invaluable, Karen. Love that you are highlighting the "ugly duckling" phase. This is where I usually lose my way (and have been known to give up.) You have me excited about freeform again. Will be looking forward to seeing everyone's work on Saturday.

  4. Really such great information. I have often quit in the Ugly stage I won't anymore. I can't wait to see this bracelet finished and I am so excited about seeing everyone's work on Saturday!!!!

  5. Thank you again Karen this really helps! Looking forward to seeing the finished piece on Saturday.

  6. Thanks, I really love the info about including a bigger focal bead in the piece and how to integrate and support it.

  7. My hope is that knowing that the Ugly Duckling stage is a normal part of the process will make it easier to keep going.

    But in looking through this photo essay - remember that this is simply -my- method of freeform peyote. Everyone will bring their own unique style to the table. :)

  8. Oh this is so helpful! this is my first try at peyote, and while I understand how to create a bracelet ... this is so helpful to understand how the layers are built! It is a bit of a 'hot mess' as I work my way through the piece. Thanks for sharing this!!

  9. Love this! Have to finish up a couple of things and then I can't wait to start a freeform piece of my own. <3

  10. Well, I couldn't wait. Went ahead with it yesterday morning and by 4pm today it was done!!! Think I'm going to give it to my daughter for her birthday. I've posted it on the FB page. Thanks for the tutorial!!

    1. You are most welcome! Just found your piece on the Facebook group - looks lovely. Looking forward to seeing what else you come up with. :)