Monday, February 10, 2014

The start of it all: Potawatomi Weave

It all started back in July of 2012. My friend, Teejay, sent me a mysterious package all the way from England. I know Teejay from Michele's Paint Shop Pro forum (sorry to report that Michele's forum has closed) but we've never actually met in person. Anyway, inside this itsy bitsy box were some treasures that she had made especially for me. She sent me a wonderful little beaded purse, a beaded "gecko" bookmark, a very cute beaded bracelet and assorted little bags of seed beads. Until I got that package, I never gave beading any thought. In fact, it never crossed my mind that people would make their own bracelets and other jewelry out of beads. Sure, I knew that beads existed. I just never gave them any thought. Mind you, I've been doing all sorts of crafts my whole life, I'd just never been exposed to beading. I was blown away by the intricate detail of the items that Teejay had made for me so I foolishly asked her how she made the bracelet and that was the start of my adventures in beading. 


Teejay told me that the bracelet was made using Potawatomi Weave, which is a traditional American Indian bead weaving pattern. She sent me THIS link to the pattern online so that I could give it a try. She told me that if I could master Potawatomi Weave, I could probably tackle any beading pattern and I think she may have been right about that.

I had some beads but I had no other special beading tools or needles so I got out my regular sewing needles and thread. The trouble, besides the tools I was using, was that the pattern made no sense to me at all. I had no idea what I was looking at. So, Teejay patiently explained the stitch step-by-step by email and included photos that she had taken at each stage of the process. It took me a few tries before it suddenly clicked and I understood what I was doing. Here is a picture of my very first complete bracelet:



Leave it to me to want to tweak something on my very first one and I really had no idea what I was doing or if it would work. I don't remember exactly what I did but I wanted to use larger center beads so I had to adjust the rest of the beads to accommodate them.

Once Teejay knew that she'd gotten me hooked, she sent another package. This time she sent an adorable Yorkshire Tea tin packed full of beading goodies. Inside the tin were even more beads, beading needles and a beading mat. Now I was in business and could do my beading properly with the right tools. One unusual but ingenious "tool" that Teejay recommended that I keep in my tool kit, and I use it all the time, is a teaspoon. I keep one in my beading toolbox. The spoon is very handy for scooping beads up off my mat and back into their tubes. I also keep a small funnel in my kit for this purpose.



Now that I have mastered Potawatomi Weave, I think it will be forever burned into my memory. It's like riding a bike; you just never forget how to do it. I'm not sure if I can say that about any other bead weaving pattern.




Once I became a more experienced beader, I revisited Potawatomi Weave and came up with a nice way to embellish it. For the bracelets below, I first did the stitch the usual way and then went back up and down both sides adding extra beads to fill in the gaps. The result is bracelet that's a little wider. It's a very soft bracelet and the beads lay nice and flat no matter which beads I've used to make this version.

 
Click HERE to download a PDF of my instructions for embellishing Potawatomi Weave.

 

6 comments:

  1. Yep that was the start.... where it will go nobody knows....

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    Replies
    1. See what you made me do? It's all your fault, Teejay!

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  2. Any chance you can upload your PDF again? It has been deleted!

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    Replies
    1. I missed this one when I fixed all the links recently. You can download it now.

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  3. loved reading your story! I bought a bracelet at a street fair and wanted to learn so bought a magazine and taught myself. Now we have six beading "junkies" who meet twice a month to bead.

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