Friday, August 3, 2012

The Odd And Evens of Peyote

Midnight Mystique by Chris Manes

For those who know little about beading, or for those who may have some questions, I wanted to introduce you to an extremely versatile stitch; the Peyote Stitch.  Peyote stitch was developed by the Native Americans hundreds of years ago, “Peyote” refers to a religious faction; the peyote stitch was named accordingly due to the fact that the ceremonial artifacts were decorated using beads, hence, the name “Peyote Stitch” was born.  However, somehow, the Peyote stitch found its way over to Africa and was a popular stitch used in ancient African beading as well. 
Peyote stitch can be woven flat in odd or even count (more about this in a second), odd or even count tubular, flat circular and freeform.  The size and number of beads you use will determine the length, width, and pattern of your piece. Tension is also important when using the peyote stitch, most styles will require a nice even tight tension but there are some projects that will require you to have a light/moderate tension.
Starting with freeform peyote, one can choose varying sizes/shapes/colors of beads to create a genuinely unique piece.  Although it is possible, most beaders do not attempt to duplicate freeform patterns because it takes away from the “free” nature of the piece.  Also, I have yet to see anyone create a freeform pattern because again, the great part about this type of peyote is that it leaves a lot of room for personal taste and imagination.  An example of freeform peyote is my Red Mosaic Bracelet.

Flat Circular peyote is also a great stitch to play with and despite the name, you can easily conform the flat circular stitch to other shapes (triangles, squares, and hexagons).  In fact, most shapes, when done in peyote stitch are started the exact same way as flat circular peyote. An example of this would be my Feathers Bracelet or my Triangles Necklace and Triangles Ring. Your tension with flat circular peyote should be moderate at best, if you bead too tightly, the piece will start to curl up.
I am going to digress for a moment and explain what the terms odd and even count mean. Simply put, odd/even count refers to the number of beads on each row; peyote stitch is done in rows so in an even count; a row would have beads divisible by 2 and odd count would have beads divisible by 3.  You can find examples of these in my gallery, the Butterfly clutch is an even count project (~32 beads vertically) and an odd count project is the Rainbow Feathers bracelet (31 beads horizontally).

Tubular peyote/Cellini Spiral can be done in either odd count or even count; I have yet to try odd count, and other than working with tight tension constantly, the tubular design should not pose an issue. An example of this is my Purple parade choker.

I must digress again and talk about “step-ups” (tubular and circular) and “turn-arounds” (flat/even/freeform).  Again, peyote is done in rows, so you have to be cognizant that you are constantly starting on a new row.  The number of rows depends on the project design.  Using my Purple parade choker as an example, I had to “step-up” after adding my succession of beads (11o,10o, 8o and 6o); each row contained the aforementioned formula.

The turn around has the same concept but differs in the fact that the piece is a flat rectangular/squareish piece. Oh and let me not forget to mention, even count turn-arounds are different from odd count turn-arounds. If you ask anyone, they will swear by the even count turnaround, and truly, it is the more simple out of the two, however, odd count turn-arounds are not impossible, they just add extra steps to your beading. For a visual, I suggest downloading the FREE tutorial on the site for Odd Count Peyote by Unique You, she explains it well and her pictures are also helpful. Even count is simply the exact same movement left to right.
So if you have not completely fallen asleep, I will share one last aspect of peyote with you and that is the increase and decrease. An increase would require you to add more than number of beads required.  For instance, if you are doing the basic 1 drop peyote, then adding 2 or more beads in the space will cause a gradual wave to occur.  You would then decrease the number to get back to your flat shape; or you can go from a flat shape and begin a decrease (subtracting beads by skipping spaces) in order to create a point-See La Mona bracelet for example, finish off a bezel (rivoli/stone encircled in peyote stitch-See Dushi Ring for example) or create a hexagon shape.  By increasing or decreasing, you can create waves and bumps to make your bracelet appear three dimensional, examples of this are my Royal Ribbons, Red Mosaic, and Snake Skin bracelets.

Peyote stitch is truly one of my favorite stitches to work with, not only because of its versatility, but also because of the amazing patterns that can be created and completed when referring to this ancient and much appreciated technique. So if you have not yet had the pleasure of doing so, why not explore the odds and evens of peyote.

*All referenced jewelry that I have made can be seen in my respective galleries on this blog, or at

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