Bead Soup for Freeform Beading

I thought I would share my process for creating a freeform necklace.  This necklace will be for Jeanne, who recently won a Feathered Fibers Blog Challenge.  I asked Jeanne to choose the color palette she wanted and she picked “jewel-tone” palette.

First step is to organize the beads into 5 jewel-tone colors and make a “bead soup” or collection of similar colored beads.  Here are the first three colors- teal, blue and purple:

(Click for larger image)

For this project, I will start with these 3 colors and create freeform beaded sections using each bead soup shown above.  I plan to share more info later on, so stay posted.  You may also subscribe to my blog so you do not miss the progression of this project.

Anyway, I may extend the palette into the magenta range and adding green-ish blue bead soups.  I thought I would just start with the first three colors and see how the piece evolves and whether I keep the palette simpler.

I often work this way, starting somewhere and adding to it until it “feels” right.  This is a very intuitive way to create, but it seems to work for me.  I would like to know what creative projects you all are working on, too.  Please leave a comment and link, if you wish to share.  Thanks!  Carla

Freeform Beaded Necklace- WIP

This necklace is a work-in-progress (WIP):

and a close-up image:

This is a project that is evolving. The base piece, in case you are curious, is a herringbone bead weaving pattern.

I like this so far. Beading like this is very therapeutic, very relaxing. Hmmm… perhaps I’ll start a second one using different colors.


This is a reminder that I have a blog contest going on right now (until August 17, 2008). The winner has their choice between two freeform crochet scarves, which are shown at the link above. See details there.


The neighbor’s herd was visiting again when I woke up this morning. Here is what I saw out my bedroom french door:

Yes, it was the main big bull, along with some of his women and children. My weird dog, Rex, was excited to have his friends visit, so he decided to graze with them. In case you are curious, they come in through a gate so they may eat down our summer grasses and provide more of a fire break. It’s a win-win!

Enjoy your day!! Hugs, Carla

Freeform Beading: Tutorial


Freeform beaded purse by Carla Barrett

Freeform beaded purse by Carla Barrett

Freeform Work in progress by Carla Barrett

Freeform Work in progress by Carla Barrett


Since I’m still in a beading mood, I decided to share with you one of my favorite tutorials- Freeform Beading, which features the freeform peyote stitch. It is very easy to do, and extremely versatile. You may combine it with quilting and fiber art- like I have shown in my iPhone purse, shown above.  You may also create  freeform beading as a focal jewelry piece.  Recently, I started the freeform beaded piece shown on the left, which will eventually be a necklace.  Please note it is still a work in progress.

Below is a bridal necklace I made a few years ago:

Here is another work-in-progress:

Here is the final necklace once the strap was added:

wavesffHow did I do this?  It was actually pretty easy, so I thought I would share the how-to with you.  I often will just start beading, then change and keep adding on and working the piece.  However, in working with beginning students, I have found the following method works as a good starting point to learn this technique.

Supply List:

Fireline, Beading needles, beads in various shapes, sizes, finishes and colors to match your palette.

To Begin: collect beads in various sizes and colors that blend well together.  Pick a focal piece or pieces as well to give your piece visual interest.  Below, I have created a bead soup palette that I used for the Waves of Color necklace, shown above:


To begin, take a 2 yard piece of FIRELINE (a braided beading thread by The Beadsmith) and string about a 5-6 inch base row of various beads, taking care to mix sizes and colors:

Next, build off of your first row using any stitch you have learned.  In the example below, I used peyote stitch and ladder stitch:

Here is a tutorial for how to do a Ladder Stitch (click to enlarge):

And here is a tutorial for how to do peyote stitch, even count:

Get creative!  Just keep building and beading until it starts to flow for you.  I still have a way to go, but here is another work-in-progress, followed by the finished piece:

freeform beaded necklace by Carla Barrett

freeform beaded necklace by Carla Barrett

As you can see by the bottom photo, I felt the first draft was rather boring and needed a bit of bling.  That is the beauty of freeform, if you do not like something, just keep going!  In this case, I added a tubular Right Angle Weave (RAW) strap and a beaded bezel for the crystal focal point.  The end result was much more successful.

Here is another small freeform quilted bag in a different colorway:

If anyone tries this mini tutorial, please send me a picture of your finished project. I would love to see your work!

Back to quilting now…   Hugs, Carla

Busy Week!

Been real busy this week! Classes to teach, baby to see, art to create, plus my solar installation has started. Here’s the highlights:


I made this brooch today while Lynn and I were freeform beading.  We have been so busy running around shopping and holding classes, that today was the first day to sit down and create something.

I had some visitors to my house each morning- Rancher Ed’s cows.  They look like this:


I surprised Lynn by chasing off a young bull.  Guess I had the bigger cajones!!  LOL!

Visited baby Jack the other day, too.  Here is a pic of Lynn holding him:


He was fussing when I took this, perhaps Lynn was secretly pinching him…LOL!!  (just kidding, Lynn)  Turned out he cheered up considerably after a diaper change:


Last, but not least, I just have to show off my new shoes.  These are very very comfortable, I really like wearing them:


Freeform Beading WIP

The last few nights, I have been working on a freeform beaded project. Here is the base (for you beading fans, I have used the herringbone stitch with a 2 row ladder base):


Followed by the freeform beading:


This will end up eventually as a bracelet or as part of a necklace. I am working on a series of projects that will eventually wind up being for sale.

Btw, here is another post about freeform beading:

Fiber and Beading Gallery,

Freeform Beading on a scarf.

Happy Beading!! Carla

Fiber and Beading Gallery

More fun fiber work to share today! I am re-posting photos from my extinct blog to create a new history:

This is my free form beaded bracelet, a gift to a friend. It also can be turned into a necklace as well.


a Freeform crochet basket with beading:

carlabasket.jpg   basketcloseup.jpg

Crochet sweater/altered clothing:


Charm bracelet/necklace:


Fiber Bead, a project Lynn and I did together:


Herringbone bracelet:


Silk fusion, beaded bracelet:


Hope you enjoyed my mini gallery show of the various creative things that I do.  Enjoy your weekend!

Hugs, Carla