Bead Curtain Design
step by step by step by step...when will the agony end?

Okay, the point is not just to paralyze you with boredom while I go through every single bead I put on a 5’ (150cm) bead curtain strand. It's because I've had people email me, asking for patterns. I don't use a pattern, but on the other hand I do have a set of algorithms I use to generate the sections of larger beads.

grouping beads up, readying them for use in sequences. This is overkill for a bead curtain, but a handy technique for more serious stringing.

Perhaps I should back up a little, and discuss the larger overall theme. Though not as evident in this strand as some of the others, if I have some really large, dramatic beads (e.g. 25–40mm wide, as for some of the wings), I'll usually put two or three of them in a strand, spaced roughly equidistantly—that is, the first a foot (30cm) or so from the bottom, and the next perhaps 1/3 from the top. Each of these will be positioned in a 3-9” (75–200mm) long “sequence” of big beads (e.g. > than seed bead size). Each section is then spaced by an inch or two (25–50mm) of seed beads. Not only does this episodic approach automatically give a rhythm but it also makes designing easier because the process is broken down into manageable chunks.

Aside from roughly keeping track of where I'd want my pair-three big dramatic focals to go (not an issue this time around) this means I only have to keep track of 6–9 inches beads at a time, and quite often, only the beads on one side or t'other of the ‘center’. It's really not very difficult! A couple of notes—see the finishing post for beginning and ending the strand; read the images from left to right (uncut tigertail on spool is to your left, cut end where beads are being added is to your right); click on the images for 512 pixel versions and again for full size, which admittedly is almost certainly overkill. Ok, let's begin:


Ooooh, maybe she hasn't totally lost her touch after all. Unfortunately I was once again not paying attention, this time to the photography, so you'll just have to imagine all those chips shoved together. Again I started with a 9/0? seed bead, a 6/0 (4mm) purple, then a small moonstone rectangle, then a series of chips, sorted, you'll notice from smallest to biggest, and from flattish to chunky as well. If you're willing to take the time to sort chips, you can really get some lovely textures by spacing them with seed beads. See the 2–>1 pages for good examples. Continuing, we have a fairly dramatic jump in the shape of a moonstone oval, a pair of matching triangles (courtesy of the sorting—see top image), then a disk and 10mm clear colorless (clc) frost before echoing the moonstone oval, another ‘lengthening’ interruption in the 8mm moonstone, before the moonstone diamond (again echoing and reversing the rectangle below) before ending with the 6/0 and 9/0 purples—exactly the mirror image of the way we started. Classic.


What, you're still awake? Congratulations, and happy stringing!

See also the finishing and hanging posts for additional info on this project. File originally created 01apr06; add'l text 04apr06.