This is a beadwork project for beginners. The spiral rope is an extremely versatile stitch that every beader should know. It can be done with almost any size or combination of sizes of beads, and it can be embellished to your heart’s content. It can also be a more restrained rope chain that is used to highlight a special pendant or drop bead—a beaded bead, dichroic bead, lampwork bead, or cabochon. And short pieces of spiral rope make lovely spiral earrings. Your imagination is the limit.
The beads we’ll use in this project will be kept simple because the focus is on learning the stitch. The project bracelet is lovely to wear, and uses my new favourite clasp, the “ball and socket” or “snap” clasp.
When teaching a new stitch I like to use size 8 beads so that students can see what they’re doing, and that’s what we’ll use here. (Though we will use Size 15’s for the clasp.)
Left: Cobalt core, s/l Blue & Silver accent on the outside beads. Right: Opaque turquoise core, s/l teal and Silver accent on the outside. More photos below.
Supplies 10 grams of size 8 seed beads for the Core Beads
15 grams total of size 8 beads for the Outside Beads
For your first attempt at this stitch it is helpful to use different colors for the core beads and the outside beads so you can tell what you’re doing
My preference for this stitch is rounded seed beads rather that those with a tubular shape.
These quantities will make a bracelet more than 8.5″ long, including a clasp.
15-1 Seed Beads You need only 0.5 of a gram of these silver-lined crystal beads for a dainty silver loop on each end.
(15-3 is the silver-lined gold color alternative)
2 small Jump Rings
(I used 20 gauge, 2.8 mm ID)
1 Clasp in a silver or gold color
Thread: Nymo D or equivalent
Needles: size 10 & size 12
Bead Colors: In the photo above I chose an opaque bead with no shine to it for the Core Beads.
For the Outside Beads I used 2 colors, a sparkly silver-lined bead in the same hue as the core bead, and a metallic silver bead as the center bead of each set of 3 outside beads.
The Outside Beads could all be the same colour. See the olive & gold photo below.
Clasp: Any clasp, such as a toggle or lobster, will look great, but I used a “ball and socket” clasp for this one. I’ve also heard it referred to as a “snap” clasp.If you go searching to buy one of these, be aware that there is a range of quality & price. You get what you pay for. For about $4 you can buy 2 of the heavier quality, silver-plated ones.
Thread Color: I mostly use a gray thread for cool colours and a sand color for warm colors. These colors seem to disappear into the background when you have beads in a range of tones. And of course I use a lot of black if the colours are dark.
Needles: I always have both size 10 & size 12 needles on hand. I start with the size 10s because the eye is big & the needle is easy to thread. If I get into a tight spot & have trouble getting the needle through the hole because there’s lots of thread there already, I change to a size 12 needle. My last resort is to gently use a pair of pliers to help pull the needle. Don’t use too much force or you will break the bead—in this situation it’s better to go around that bead. In this project I switch to the size 12 needle when it’s time to string on the size 15s for the clasp.
This bracelet only has 2 beads, a Gold Metallic bead for the core, and an Olive Luster bead for the outside.
Left: Opaque lt. blue core, s/l Dark aqua & Silver accent on the outside beads. Right: Frosted lavender core, Lavender iris and Silver accent on the outside.
Measure off about 1.5 yards of thread. Optional: wax it or condition with Thread Heaven. Stretch it in sections to remove kinks.
Thread a size 10 needle.
4 CORE beads (colored grey in the diagram) and
3 OUTSIDE* beads (colored white in the diagram).
**See the notes above about choosing colors. For example, the first Outside bead could be a sparkly one, the second could be a metallic silver, and the third one another sparkly one. Or, all 3 Outside beads could be the same colour.**
Slide the beads down the thread so that you leave a tail of about 8 to10 inches. The tail thread will be used later to sew on the clasp.
Pass the needle through the four CORE beads. Go up from the bottom (where the tail thread is) towards the top of your work, and pull the thread upwards to form a loop. See the diagram.
Move the 3 OUTSIDE beads so they are on the left, and the CORE beads are on the right.
It is important to always have the most recent OUTSIDE beads on the left.
4.Begin the Pattern
**String on 1 CORE bead and 3 OUTSIDE beads.
Pass the needle through the LAST 3 CORE beads.
See diagram—the beads will form a loop.
Notice that you do NOT go through the bead closest to the tail thread.
6.Move the OUTSIDE beads you just added so they sit just to the left of the CORE beads.
7.Pass the needle through the single CORE bead you just added.
8.Pull up the thread snugly and this new core bead will line up with the original core beads.**
9.Repeat steps 4 to 8 until your bracelet is the desired length. The length of the bracelet will be determined by the size of your wrist. An average length is about 7.5 inches. Subtract 1 inch to allow for the clasp.
Note:It will take 8 or 9 repetitions before the spiral forms. Stop frequently and examine your work to make sure that the most recent outside beads are lying next to the previous ones — thus creating a smooth spiral along the length of the cord.
Clasp OverviewThe clasp is a “ball & socket” clasp, Each half of the clasp is attached with a jump ring to a loop of seed beads. After creating an end loop, you will stitch through beads to the other end of the bracelet—and this will tighten and strengthen the bracelet. When the second loop is completed you will again stitch through beads to the other end.
10.Adding a Loop for the Clasp
Remove the needle from the thread and replace it with the size 12 needle.
The thread is coming from the end CORE bead. Pick up 9 of the size 15 silver-lined seed beads and pass back through the other side of the core bead to make a loop of beads.
To strengthen the loop of beads, pass back through all of the beads twice more. End the thread. (See #13 below.)
Adding the Other Loop
Thread the tail thread with the size 12 needle and repeat the instructions above to make a loop at the other end of the bracelet. End the thread as in #13 below.
11.Attach the Clasp
Open a jump ring with 2 pairs of pliers. Slip the jump ring through a loop of beads and the small ring at the end of a clasp half.
12.Close the jump ring. Repeat for the other half of the clasp. Make sure the bracelet is not twisted before you close the second jump ring.
13.Ending a Thread
You’ve just finished adding the loop of beads, and now it’s time to end the thread.
Stitch down the first outside loop, tie a single knot around the thread at the bottom of the loop, and then go through a core bead.
Turn and go back up the closest outside loop, tie a simple knot around the thread at the top of the loop, and then turn and go down 4 or 5 core beads.
Repeat the process above—go down an outside loop, tie knot, and go through a core bead. Then back up another outside loop. Do this a couple of times and the thread will be secure. Clip the thread end.
The spiral pattern is even more apparent when the bracelet is viewed from above.
This necklace uses brown iris (metallic green) seed beads for the core and for the outside beads. There are 5 beads in the outside loops, and the center bead is a 3mm khaki metallic cube bead. Hex-cut, Size 8 Delicas also work well as a center accent bead.
Left: Size 11 seed beads. Yellow AB core, Transparent Ruby & Drop bead accent on the outside beads.
The most useful and creative ideas for experimenting with this stitch can be found in the book The art & Elegance of Beadweaving, by Carol Wilcox Wells. This book belongs in every Beader’s library!
Copyright 2006 Marilyn Gardiner.
All Rights Reserved.
Used with permission by the Beading Times.