Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Spiral Chenille Rope

Since mid-August, I have been working on producing my first tutorial.  This has been an amazing journey.  In the process, I have woven thirteen different necklaces, in varying degrees of difficulty.  I can show you a few of them now, because I have published that FIRST TUTORIAL!!  Meet base 8, four color Chenille Spiral Rope!  You can find it in my Etsy shop here!

For those who have purchased the tutorial, I have done a re-write, which I hope clarifies and better organizes my ideas.  I have also added a chart and pictures for 6 base spiral rope worked over a smaller cord.  If you would like a copy of the edited version, send me a convo with your order number and e-mail addy and I will send the new version along!!  Being a first timer, I am still working actively on improving my presentation.

The others you have to wait a bit to see.

All these pieces are based on a design principle.  Maybe I should explain that first.  There are elements of design, right?  Most of us are familiar with color, texture, line, shape, space, light, movement... the list varies depending on who you are talking to, and what they design.  But then there are also principles.  Principles are ways to manipulate the elements.  That list would include harmony, repetition, transition, scale, proportion... I name just a few, and again, it depends on who you ask, how many there might be.

One of my favorite principles, always on my mind when I design, is gradation. It is gradation I am using primarily in this collection, if you want to think in terms of fashion.  You could call it a series, if you wanted to be more arty.

As I work to assemble my ideas into print and picture and diagram, the questions are many!  How to communicate, and then, how much information should be presented at once, to challenge a learner, without overwhelming.  How do I teach a project, AND a technique, AND a design principle, all at once without confusion, and especially, without needless words.   I just love to write.  Can you tell?  I'll show you another picture, just to break up the monotony of my jibber-jabber.

When I started beading, I took several classes.  When I took my first class, I had seen "500 Beaded Objects" and I wanted to learn how to do what the artists in the book had done.  I didn't want to make anything they had made particularly, I just wanted to DO THAT THING!

Technique was given for each project in the book, and peyote stitch was the most common.  So I found a bead shop, teaching a class using peyote stitch.  I didn't really want to make the project.  I just wanted the stitch. SO, I made the project to learn the stitch.  And then I learned Russian Spiral Weave,  RAW, Herringbone, and Spiral Stitch, some beaded beads...  There was a Brick Stitch class, but it never fit into my schedule, and that has always been my weak spot.  Sheesh.

Even now, when I choose a class, I choose it to learn a technique, or sometimes, to see how a designer's mind, (or hand) works.  I mostly could not care less about the project, but it helps to sell me on the class if it's appealing.

Time for another picture?  Here's how I finished one of the ropes, with a lampwork bead by Jeff Barber. That bead suggested the colorway.

But I don't think I am your average bear.  I think people who buy tutorials and take classes, mostly want to make the project.  Nothing wrong with that!  But for someone like me, its a bit daunting.

I bet you see my dilemma.  I have been a teacher.  I taught costume design and stage makeup at Purdue University.  I taught ballroom dance to groups and individuals for the Arthur Murray franchise.  Certainly I used projects, (or a syllabus of steps for the dancers) to teach my subject.  But it was never ONLY the project or the step that was the lesson.  It was design, or the dancing I was teaching, not the project, or the step.  And the advantage I had was, I was there, in person.  And when the eyes glazed over, or the going got too rough, I could SEE when to back off.  I could see how to customize the message for the recipient.

SO... This first tutorial, is principally a technique tutorial.  I have charted, photographed and even... illustrated! a way to make Chenille stitch create a wonderful spiral, using four gradating colors, with a handy chevron reversal at the mid point.  And then, I tried to throw in a little lesson about gradation, and how to maximize the look of the spiral with gradation.  If you have read the tutorial, I would love feedback.  Was that part a waste of your printer ink, or did you feel better prepared to create your own colorway?

I also assembled samples with charts of four other possible spirals in 8 base Chenille stitch.  I can think of some more, but I imagine if you work through all of my charts, you will be able to as well.

One uses gradation,  the same principle I explained in my tutorial.  The other two use different principles (contrast, sequence) and more elements, (texture, light) to accomplish their effects. I didn't talk about that.  Hopefully, with experience and feedback, I can improve and more effectively target what I present.

For my next effort, I will present a project, and create a kit.  Meet Spiral Damsel Dragon.

I have been honored by the support I have received on Facebook and in my Etsy shop for my first effort, and I look forward to trying a first kit experience.  Thanks for reading, and and to each of you who are trying my spiral rope tutorial.  Please feel free to offer advice and opinions. I have already edited my text twice, to try to clarify improve it,  and I value your input, as I try to become adept at passing along my ideas and designs.  The beady world is such a lovely place to try fledgling flight!


  1. Woo Hoo!

    The tutorial sounds comprehensive. I never think of the principles of design, but surely I must consider all of those elements when I am designing. I am sure many people will be enriched by your efforts.

    It is good to see you post. Now I am off to see your tutorial.

    1. Kathy, thanks for reading. What an amazing and eye-opening experience this has been!

  2. IMHO, the technique for a spiral rope made with chenille stitch might do best as a separate lesson from color theory. I have the same approach as you when I take a lesson - I am after a particular technique I can adapt and apply to other projects. Have you considered writing tutorials on color theory to get it out of your system and to have a reference point for Etsy patterns? "If you would like to learn more about how to combine colors and textures, visit... link." Just a thought because color theory is a pretty big subject and could bog down your efforts to communicate about a new stitch application. And, of course, it gets even more complicated with beading when a silver-lined bead will reflect the colors around it in a way no paint color ever would... A series of articles would be useful.

  3. Thank you for your input Cyndi! I have considered making the two parts separate downloads, so that only interested persons would take what I offered. My discussion of color use in gradation is very simple, and applies only to my examples. Certainly there are a books worth of other options. And of course, yes, color in beads is influenced by finish, thread and background. I appreciate you taking the time to comment! :)