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Turning a geode into a beaded pendant

On a trip to Arizona, I found some small cut geodes in a gift shop and promptly bought ten, having no clear idea what I was planning to do with them. Looking at them later, I decided to make a freeform beaded setting, which would cover the less-attractive back and leave the cut and polished flat side exposed. Since the first geode I chose to work with was small (the cut face is 1 by 1 ½ inches), I decided to turn it into a pendant. Here are the basic steps that I took to create the beaded pendant shown above. With a few modifications, the freeform beaded setting could be adapted for use with any other small object that you wished to encase ~ a small slab of agate, a found object, etc. The instructions for a simple spiral beaded rope to hang your pendant on are also included.

Small geode (not bigger than 1 ½ inch diameter recommended)
Variety of seed beads, delicas, and tube beads in chosen palette
A few 3-4 mm crystals, druks, pearls, stones, etc in chosen palette
Four to five inches of 20 gauge sterling silver wire
Four 2-3 mm round beads (make sure they fit over the wire)
Two sterling silver cones
Sterling silver hook set
Nymo O

Pack of size 10/13 stiff beading needles
Beading or embroidery scissors
White towel, small bead dishes, etc
Tape measure
Wire cutters
Round nose pliers
Chain nose pliers
Small metal file

Choosing Your Palette
Choosing colors is a very individual matter, and every artist has a favorite method or two. My work usually involves either a monochromatic or analogous color scheme. For this particular piece, I chose beads based on the subtle colors of the geode, rather than looking for contrast. I laid out all the beads that I was considering, and removed any that seemed to stick out. The resulting palette included delicas, #11 and #8 Czech seed beads, tube beads, a few 4 mm crystals, druks, and a fresh water pearl. The colors included bright matte white, off white, ivory, clear, pearlized, aurora borealis finish, silver-lined clear, and peachy pink. I chose silver findings to match the palette.

Creating the Peyote Casing—Part I

String enough beads (I used all #11 seed beads) to encircle the geode close to, but not directly at, the rim. I made my first circle of beads to fit about 3 mm below the rim of the geode’s cut face. Pass the thread through all the beads in the circle a second time. You can tie, glue, and weave in the tail if you like. My preference is to weave all tails in later, changing direction several times, and not using glue.

Add two rows of peyote stitch to your circle to make a narrow band (Figure 1). In most cases, this band will not stay on your geode without slipping unless the shape is very irregular, so I just completed the band in my hand and then slid it onto my stone (Figure 2).

Holding the band firmly in place, string beads of any sizes or color mixes to criss-cross several times across the back of your geode (Figure 3). Flip the geode over so the cut surface is facing you, and decide where you want to anchor the casing across the front. Try not to cover too much! Depending upon the shape of your geode, two or three small anchors across the front will hold it securely in place after all the fill-in peyote work is done. As in the back, run a strand of beads across the front in each of your chosen spots (Figure 4), anchoring each firmly to the peyote band by weaving in and out of previous work.

Creating the Peyote Casing—Part II
At this point, you can probably still slip the geode around inside the beaded framework of its casing. Hold the framework firmly in place as you start the next step of filling in the casing. Work along the anchor strands in the back first, filling in with peyote stitch, using a mixture of different beads. Add more anchor strands to work off of so that the beads run in many different directions and take on the look of a Victorian crazy quilt (Figure 5). For even more variety, try adding some patches in brick stitch instead of peyote. Vary the sizes and colors of beads as you work on one small section at a time. Add some larger beads for accent in strategic spots. Keep the work tight to prevent the geode from slipping around in the casing.

Next, work from the original peyote band up towards, and even over, the rim of the geode’s cut face. You can overlap the rim by decreasing your peyote stitch or by using smaller beads. Make the edge uneven for more interest. Widen or fill in around the anchor strands that you’ve run across the front. Keep this work tight too. If you are going to turn this piece into a pendant, work a large-holed bead into your peyote casing at the spot where you will attach the spiral rope. Weave through it several times to make sure it stays tight against your work.

Creating a Spiral Bead Rope
Perhaps you don’t feel the need to be able to wear everything that you make the way I do. If so, you could skip these next steps and declare yourself done! Or you could add more embellishments to your geode and park it on a shelf. Not me—I wanna wear what I make, or see someone else wearing it!

I chose #8 Czech seed beads to create a simple spiral bead rope. It took four 16-inch strands of beads to make the rope in my sample. The core is an opaque ivory, and the spiraling outer beads are silver-lined clear, pearlized white, and aurora borealis clear. Here’s how to do it.

Step One—String four beads, all the same color (this will be your core color). Pick up three more beads of different colors. Leaving an 8 to 10 inch tail, take the needle back up through the first four core beads to form a lop-sided oval. Pull it tight (Figure 6).

Step Two—String one core bead and three more outer beads (Figure 7). Take your needle back up through the last three core beads of Step One and pull the work snug (Figure 8).

Step Three—Take your needle up through the new core bead that you just added in Step Two (Figure 9) and pull snug. You are now ready to repeat Steps Two and Three until the rope is the length your desire.

Note—Make sure that each new set of beads you add falls to the right of the last set of three if you are right-handed. This will result in the visual effect that the groups of three outer beads are spiraling up the rope.

I made the first half of my spiraled rope about 10 ½ inches long. Then I added a tiny 2 mm sterling silver bead and passed the thread through the large-holed bead on my pendant. On the other side, I added another sterling silver bead, and began a new spiraled rope for the second half. To reinforce the connection to the pendant, it’s a good idea to weave a thread back and forth through the rope on both sides, passing through the large-holed bead several times. .
When the two halves of the rope are equal, it’s time to finish it off with your chosen findings. Leave an 8 to 10 inch tail of thread at the end.

Adding the Findings
Using your round nosed pliers, create a small loop on the end of your wire. I made a small wrapped loop for extra security since my cones were large enough to accommodate and hide it. Thread your needle with one tail and pass it through the loop about four times, weaving down through a couple of beads each time (Figure 10).

Finally, work the tail down through the rope and bury it. Pass the free end of the wire up through a cone and a small sterling silver bead, and create a wrapped loop around your hook. Cut the wire flush and file it smooth. Repeat these steps for the other half of the rope.

Copyright 2002 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.

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Sher-E said…
I loved your idea. When using Peyote Stitch, I have stuck to creating the circular or square form and working it around the piece. But this approach was so liberating. It was like a combination of the joy of free-form Peyote stitch with the thrill of creating form and function. I had one geode left that I had been grappling with to no avail. Stumbling upon this past blog gave me the "aha" I needed. I dug out the geode and am very happy with the result. I often admire your work and always find it very inspirational.

Cyndi L said…
Sher, I'm so glad you found this! I'd *love* to see your piece :-)
Sher-E said…
Here's a link to a photo of it.
Cyndi L said…
That turned out *so* fantastic, Sher! I'd love to share the picture with everyone here in a post if it's ok with you!
Sher-E said…
Thank-you, Cyndi. That is such an honor--coming from you! Be my guest. ;-)
Sher-E said…
Thank-you, Cyndi! That is such an honor, coming from you! Be my guest. ;-)
Cyndi L said…
Thank you so much! It'll be up Monday morning :-)

Do you have any other website or blog link that you'd like me to share?
Sher-E said…
I don't have a site. It's funny, but I hadn't really thought about having one until now.
Cyndi L said…
You could always just use the flickr album or start a free blog and see how you like it. We'd love to see more of your work :-)
Sher-E said…
I took your advice and have started photographing and uploading some pictures of my work on Flickr. Thanks again, Cyndi!
Cyndi L said…
Excellent! I see that you've got three albums of your work now, by year. That's a smart way to do it :-)
Sher-E said…
Thanks for taking a look and also the feedback, Cyndi! With all of your talent and expertise you wouldn't have to be generous with your knowledge, but I really appreciate how generous you are.
Cyndi L said…
Aren't you sweet! You know, what goes around comes around, so yes, it's always best to share :-)
Nina said…
Oh, I picked up some geodes myself, because who can resist?!!! Thank you so much for this idea. It's so adaptable, and I'll be starting one next week. CAn't wait to give this a try!