New Native Nation Wire Weave

Stuck in someone else's frames? break free!

Wire Weave Beadwork
by Shelley Garrett Smith

Wireweave is one of the earliest and simplest beadweaving techniques. A double-weft beadweave, it needs no loom because it has no warp. It is often used for making seedbead rings nowadays, but has been found in archeological sites dating as far back as 1650 where it was used with larger beads to make bracelets or anklets.
This technique needs inner tension to make it lie flat. Before it became popular to use a wire weft to provide this tension (hence the name Wire Weave), finished work was wrapped around the wrist or ankle. Columns of single large beads on heavy cord or thin thong will lie fairly flat for chokers or necklaces, etc.
My father, Sterling Paul Garrett, made flat seedbead pendants using a thread weft but in over 45 years of beadworking I have never been able to match this feat, nor have I seen any other beadworkers do this.
Instructions
Starting and finishing is different for making rings on wire than for other pieces on cordage. The
weave, however, is the same. Weft at both ends of the bead column are brought toward each other
through the column and pulled snugly to bring columns close together. (Pulling too loosely or too
tightly will make the column bow.)
To make a seedbead ring on wire
Choose a piece of fine wire approximately 4 times as long as the completed piece. It is best to use less
than 6 seedbeads for each bead column. (A more exact formula for wire length is: length of longest planned bead column times length of planned piece times 3.)
Step one:
String the first column of beads (usually the middle of the ring back) on the midpoint of the wire.
String the second column of beads on one end of the wire.
Step two:
Bring the other end through the beads from the outer end of the second bead column toward the first
column. Pull the wire until the second column lies straight and flat next to that first column.
Step three:
Repeat until ring is the desired size and do one more repeat bringing wire from the last column
through the first column. This closes the circle.
Step four:
Feed one end of the wire back through the last column and the other end through the second column and pull it tight.
Notice that there are little "u"s of wire between each 2 bead columns at the edges. Loop the wire
tightly around the nearest "u" once or twice before cutting each end of the wire slightly short of the length
of the next bead column in line. Push the cut ends of the wire into that next column until they are hidden
and the wire lies flat at the edges.
(from necklace owned by Fishguy)
To make a bracelet, anklet or necklace on cordage
Use cordage about 4 times as long as the finished piece plus additional length needed for end ties. It
is best to use only one larger bead for each bead column. (A more exact formula for cordage length is: length of longest planned bead column times length of planned piece times 3, plus 4 times the desired length of one end tie.)
Step one:
Cut cordage in half. Measure out end ties on each piece of cordage and tie knots where the beading
should begin (do not tie knots where the beading should end yet.) Make the knots bigger than the hole
in the beads.
Step two:
String the first bead column onto the long end of one piece of cordage and pull it up to the knot. Bring
the long end of the other piece of cordage through the first bead column in the opposite direction and
pull it up to it's knot. There will then be a knot at each edge of the first bead column.
Step three:
String the second bead column onto one long end of the cordage. Bring the long end of the other piece of cordage back through that column toward the first, as in ring making. Pull cordage until the second column lies flat and straight next to the first column.
Step four:
Repeat until the beading is the desired length. Tie knots in the cordage tight against each edge of the
last bead column. Again, make the knots bigger than the hole in the beads. Measure remaining cordage and
trim to make the second set of end ties.

To make a necklace lie flat, tie the top ties tighter than the bottom ties.

The polymer wampum beads pictured are rejects kept for personal use.
Contact New Native Nation (newnativenation@yahoo.com) for the good stuff, and we will
hook you up with the source! Low prices, too!
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Text and graphics and polymer wampum by Nunyageya copyright 2006, 2007