I came up with this idea after watching so many people struggle with starting Tubular Peyote. If you have ever tried this, you will understand what I mean. If you haven’t, then I do have a great free tutorial for the technique that you can download here. It takes you through the process for starting tubular Peyote, and once you have that down, the rest is easy. So, do give it a go, but before you start throwing beads around in frustration, read on for a great tool that takes a lot of the pain away from that tricky start!
The two big problems with starting Tubular Peyote
The technique starts with a circle of beads. As is usual with Peyote, this circle forms the first two rows. So in the next row, you will add a bead and pass through the next-but-one bead in your circle. Hopefully you are following so far. The first tricky bit comes with the ‘Step Up’. If I’ve lost you here, then you could check this handy blog covering some of the basic beading terms. For now, I want to continue with that story of starting tubular Peyote. So, let’s move on to problem two…
The sad truth is, however familiar you are with the technique, when you reach this stage, your beads are unavoidably a little bundle. Until you become very confident, it can be hard to see where each row starts and finishes and very easy to make mistakes. You can help yourself by counting out the bead for each row so you check as you work as you go. However, I really like to find methods that will help you avoid the tricky bits altogether. So, I was pondering the true problem here. Basically, there is very little to hold for the first few rows, so it becomes easy for the beads to fall out of place. That is when my brilliant idea struck…
The Big Idea
We are all used to using tools to help us perfect techniques or generally make life easier. In most cases, those tools are bought ready-made, but what if you were to make your own helpful tool? The tool that seems most appropriate for the starting tubular Peyote problem is something to hold to get you started. The answer is deceptively simple: another piece of Peyote.
I hope most people will agree that beading a piece of flat, even count Peyote is not too traumatic – especially when you use larger beads. (You can get a free tutorial to guide you through even count Peyote here). So, my tool is just that: a strip of even count Peyote made with size 8 seed beads. I just used the beads that happened to be lying on my mat at the time. My little strip started with 14 beads. This naturally became a 7-beads-per-row structure and I stitched just 6 rows.
My thinking was that a tube with seven beads per row is quite large, so would I need it any larger than that? If you think you might, then just add extra beads when you start your Peyote strip. I personally found the 6 rows was sufficient for me to hold, but if you feel you need more, just bead extra rows.
How the Tool Works
You may well be asking what on earth you are going to be doing with this strip! Well, firstly, make sure you have finished off any working and tail threads securely. Now you are ready to use the strip for starting Tubular Peyote.
Cut an arm-span of thread and string a stop bead close to the end of the thread. Make sure you just pass through this bead a couple of times – do not try to knot it on as you will be removing it later. Pass through the end bead in your final row on the Peyote strip. Now carry on beading along the strip, but use the beads you would use for the tube. In my case, I am using size 11 beads and my tube is going to have 6 beads per row. So, I add my beads, as you can see in the photo.
Then comes the clever part. Fold the strip over and make the step up, so as I add my final (sixth) bead, I pass through the first bead on the strip (where I originally passed through with my stop bead) and then step up through the first size 11 bead – take a look at the photo.
The size 11 beads give me my first row of the tube and the ‘tool’ beneath them gives me something to hold and also helps me to see the beads clearly (it helps that I am using different beads to the ones I used for the strip). So, from here, I can just continue adding more rows. Remember the Step Up at the end of each row!
When your tube is long enough to hold comfortably, just pause and remove the stop bead, then gently ease the tail thread from the strip. If, as I was, you are using different sized beads for the tube to the beads in your ‘tool’, it is also a good idea to remove the first two or three rows of the tube (just unpick the beads from the tail) so that you get to the point where your tension has settled into a nice even rhythm.
Top Tips for starting tubular peyote
I believe it should be possible to keep your little strip to use for all projects starting tubular Peyote, regardless of the bead size. However, you may find that if you need a tube of size 15 beads, they are so much smaller than the size 8 that you struggle to fit. No problem: just start with a couple of rows of size 11 beads, as I did above, then scale down to the size 15s that you really want to use. You can remove the size 11 rows from the tube when you take it off the ‘tool’.
I will now let you into another secret. The reason I was so concerned to come up with this idea was for the benefit of Cellini Spirals. For those of you who don’t know, a Cellini Spiral is simply a Peyote tube, but each stitch in the row is made with a different sized bead, so your tube gains texture. If you follow the golden rule: ‘pick up a bead that is the same as the bead you just exited’ on each stitch, then you get the spiral pattern. If you have ever tried Cellini Spiral, you will know that getting started is even harder than for a simple Peyote tube. Adding in the complication of the different sized beads makes the beadwork sit in very strange orders and it is really easy to make a mistake. As with any variation of Peyote, once you have a sufficient length, it is much easier to see the beads and see what you are doing.
The cellini Spiral experiment
To put my tool to the ultimate test, I tried starting tubular peyote for a Cellini spiral. Did it work? Well, yes it did! Just take some size 11 beads (A), size 8 beads (B) and 4mm pearls or firepolish (C).
Take your tool and use it to bead the first 3 rows of a tube (6 beads per row), just using size 11 seed beads for this part. As you start the next row of your tube, you will add beads in the following order: 1(A) in each of the first 3 spaces, 1(B) in space 4, 1(C) in space 5, 1(B) in space six and then Step Up through your first (A).
Keep repeating the sequence from your fourth row on every single row. You should see your beads spiral. You will need to keep a good firm tension in order to get the (C) beads to sit neatly in this spiral, so make sure you pull every bead tightly into place.
When you have enough rows to hold comfortably, remove your stop bead and remove the ‘tool’. You can also remove the first three rows of size 11 beads. You may want to remove your first couple of rows of the spiral if your tension is feeling a little suspect.
Keep beading your spiral until it is the desired length. You can join it into a bangle, use it for a necklace, or make a bracelet. You will be able to add a clasp directly to each end of your tube.
More Ideas and Pattern Links
You can also try this with different combinations of beads. The trick is to create a pattern that sees the bead sizes gradually increase and then decrease. Experiment with a few ideas and see what works for you! Or you can find my Cellini Spiral bracelet pattern here, some Cellini spiral napkin rings here, try the Candy Canes from my book, ‘Beaded Christmas Decorations’, or combine lots of spirals with my handy booklet all about spiral techniques.
If you want some practise, then try these projects: you’ll get to use that lovely simple method of starting tubular Peyote. The beginner’s bangle is a good one for starting out. Once you feel a little braver, you can move on up to add in some pattern with this floral bangle.