October 2, 2014

Peyote Stitch – Native American Beadwork


The peyote stitch has long been used in Native American beadwork, both historic and contemporary. The name itself was derived from the use of the stitch in peyote ceremonies. Peyote ceremonies were conducted by the Native American Church, which was founded in 1890. These ceremonies celebrated the use of peyote, a small cactus bud with psychedelic properties, as a means of healing and spiritual worship. The ceremonies were not unlike many other traditional Native American ceremonies, combining drumming, dancing, singing and prayer. Peyote religion continues to exist today in some forms, though it is often criticized due tot he hallucinogenic properties of the cactus.

Although the name of the peyote stitch has Native American roots, the pattern is actually much older. Examples of this pattern have been found in artifacts from Egypt. Now that you know where the peyote stitch got its name though, lets talk about how to create it. The peyote stitch is a beautiful pattern that is sure to result in creative Native American style beadwork.

What you will need:
Beading needle
Thread
Beads of various colors

It is best to first outline the pattern you want to create. You’re going to want to utilize beads that are a number of different colors. The type of bead is not as important, as long as it is small enough to be worked into the peyote stitch. Try using crow beads or stone beads to capture a more traditional feel.

Take a piece of paper and draw out your pattern, you could even place the beads in the formation you want to create so you can better visualize how this will end up.

Pick up your first row of beads and thread them onto your string.

Take the first bead of your second row and thread it onto your string as well. Turn the needle back and thread it through the third bead down from the top.

Pull the thread taught, which should result in your top two beads being centered against one another at the top of your pattern.

Add the second bead from the next row and then thread the needle back through the fourth bead down from the top.

Add the third bead from the next row and then thread the needle back through the sixth bead down from the top.

Continue this pattern, using the eighth bead down next and then the tenth, etc.

You will utilize the same method in the third row, though this time you will be working from the bottom up to the top.

To finish your peyote stitch, after you have the desired number of rows, you will work the thread back through the entire pattern in a zig-zag.

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