Freeform Beading

Kate Miller-Wilson
freeform beading
Learn about beading design.

If you want to create a beaded project that is truly your own design, why not try out freeform beading? This craft is a great way to take your jewelry making to a whole new artistic level.

What Is Freeform Beading?

Freeform beading is any kind of beading project that does not use a set pattern or design. You create your design as you work, adding or subtracting beads and colors and changing the shape of the piece as you see fit. You can make just about anything this way, including necklaces, bracelets, brooches, pendants, and earrings.

Often, this type of beading builds on established beading techniques, such as the peyote stitch, spiral stitch, brick stitch, or even wire crochet. Some crafters prefer to use a beading loom to make a base for your freeform project, but others prefer to use a simple beading needle and thread. If you have a little experience using bead patterns and creating planned projects, you'll feel more confident about your skills with these basic techniques. Then it's time to get crazy and start making something that is all your own. There's no end to what you can create once you really get going.

Tools and Materials Needed

There are several different beading techniques you can use to create a freeform project and each technique requires specific materials. However, these are some of the most common supplies you may need:

  • Beading wire
  • Glass or stone beads
  • Jewelry pliers
  • Wire cutters
  • Beading needle and thread
  • Clasps and findings
  • Beading loom

Getting Started: Peyote Stitch

You can start your project without a base, but one of the easiest ways to begin a freeform beading project is to start with a basic peyote stitch. Here's how you can create a narrow peyote stitch base for your freeform project. You'll need a selection of seed beads and a threaded beading needle.

  1. Begin by threading on seed bead on the needle and tying the thread around this bead. This will keep the other beads from sliding off.
  2. Next, use the needle to string five more beads. You can alternate colors or use all the same color for a continuous look. You should now have six beads, which can be labeled A, B, C, D, E, and F.
  3. Add one more bead to the thread, but this time, bring the needle up and pass it through bead E.
  4. Add another bead, and pass the needle through bead C. Add another, and pass it through bead A.
  5. Continue this pattern going the other direction, passing the needle through every other bead. Stop when you have a woven base that is long enough for your freeform beading project.

Get Creative

Now it's time to add your own flair to the project. You can use whatever materials you wish, whether it's larger textured beads, sparkling gemstones, or more seed beads. Experiment with what you like, taking your inspiration from nature or modern art or anything else that strikes you as beautiful. When you've finished your freeform beading project, you'll have a piece of beaded jewelry that is entirely your own.

Helpful Tips

These tips may help you with your freeform beading project:

  • Start simple. Use a very basic stitch for the base of your project, then go back and embellish it.
  • Be sure your base is tight and sturdy. It will need to support the heavier, more elaborate parts of your project.
  • Try making your base with a combination of beads, rather than just seed beads. This adds instant texture.
  • Consider using other materials in your project. Pieces of beautiful fabric or shiny metal shapes can add texture and dimension to your finished piece.
  • Get as creative as you can. There are no rules to break when you're doing freeform beading.

.

Freeform Beading