Samples Part I
Beadwork June/July 2001
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Brick Stitch is a very old beading stitch. It is a relative to peyote stitch. Both brick stitch samplers can be made using peyote stitch if the patterns are worked vertically instead of horizontally. Native Americans have used brick stitch for many years. The Comanches used brick stitch extensively, as well as peyote (gourd) stitch for decoration of bags, cradles and other items. Some Iroquois wrist and hair bands were worked in bead stitches that kept each row of beads offset much like brick stitch and perhaps was a precursor to the stitch. The Totadaho Belt (wampum), dated late 1750s is probably worked in long strips of bugles and then stitched together, making an offset appearance that looks like brick stitch. Old, brick stitch beadwork has been found in Guatemala worked in antique beads size 22/0 or smaller. The originators are unknown. Beadwork from Africa and the Middle East also include brick stitch techniques. In reviewing quill work and basketry created by Native Americans, the cross sections of various reeds in basketry and quills placed in decorative pieces both naturally appear offset like brick stitch beading. The motifs easily work from one medium to another. Perhaps as the use of beads evolved, the same appearance was desired that follows in the other crafts. Your feedback about brick stitch, historical information, names you have heard the stitch called or a photo of antique pieces from your collection are always welcome.
Brick Stitch is also known as Comanche Weave and Comanche Stitch. The first beading technique I learned was brick stitch. I made Ojo de Dios earrings (Eye of God). Then Deon DeLanges how-to books for beaded earrings came along with many designs and techniques and I was off and beading. Most of the first books with brick stitch techniques called the beading bugle beading such as bugle earrings and bugle pendants because the designs started with a ladder of bugles and then worked into seed beads or more bugle rows. The identifying name brick stitch came later.
Both samplers use 3 bead colors and are worked horizontally. The 2-drop has 23 beads across, 1 bead below each 23 beads to form the 2-drop, making the total 46 beads. There are 15 rows down, colors alternate in each row. When the sampler is finished, it looks like there are two rows of each color because it is a 2-drop pattern. Every other row on each side of the sampler will look recessed and the opposite ends will stick out, this is the nature of brick stitch and necessary to keep the width from decreasing. The 1drop has 24 beads across and 32 rows down. The 1-drop is shaped like a square window, the first color surrounds the exterior of the square, the next color forms a smaller interior square, each square becomes smaller towards the center which is open like a window, colors alternating with each square. The rows with the window have 10 beads on each side, 20 beads across per row.
Czech 11/0 beads: Topaz Matt Rainbow (color 1), Brown Luster (color 2), Beige Iris (color 3)
Delicas: Ceylon Beige #205 (color 1), Brown Iris #007 (color 2), Lined Topaz AB #065 (color 3)
Size A Silamide thread, #944 Ash Gray or equivalent beading thread
Size 12 sharps or beading needles
For These Samplers
Use single thread, approximately 40 long as a working thread leaving a 5 tail to stitch back in at the beginning for each sample. Cull beads including Delicas, especially for the 1drop in order to keep the sampler shape square. Each time new thread is added, make sure the new row begins recessed or sticking out, alternating with the last row. Stitch in all loose thread on the samplers when finished. Make sure the needle does not split the thread when going back through the beads at the beginning of each row. Each 2-Drop row starts with 4 beads and each 1-Drop row starts with 2 beads. This technique keeps the thread from showing at the beginning of each new row, makes both sides look the same and protects the thread.
Brick Stitch 2-Drop
String 4 beads, color 1, push them towards the end of the thread leaving a 5 tail. From the thread tail end, take the needle back through the first two beads strung and pull taut. Now beads 1 and 2 set side by side with beads 3 and 4. Take the needle through beads 3 and 4 again. String 2 beads, color 1, take the needle through beads 3 and 4 again, then through the last 2 beads added. Repeat this process across to form a ladder of 2-drop beads 23 beads across. To begin a new row, string 4 beads, color 2, take the needle under the thread between the last two groups of 2-drop beads, color 1, first row, and back up through beads 3 and 4, color 2. String 2 beads, color 2, take the needle down between the next two groups of 2-drop beads, color 1, and back up the two beads just strung, color 2. Repeat across for a total of 15 rows, ending with color 3 beads.
Brick Stitch 1-Drop
String 2 beads, color 1, place them at the end of the thread leaving a tail. From the thread tail end, take the needle back through the first bead strung. Take the needle through the second strung bead. String 1 bead, take the needle through the second strung bead again and then through the third bead just strung, repeat across. Each row will be built on the last, taking the needle underneath the previous stitch between the last two beads of the previous row. To begin a new row, string 2 beads, take the needle under the thread between the last two beads of the previous row, and back up the second bead strung. String the next bead, take the needle under the thread between the next two beads and back up through the bead just strung, repeat across. The color sequence is different for the 1-drop sampler.
Bead Color Sequence Work left to right. Rows 3 through 30 have bead groups in colors that are repeated in reverse at the end of each row with one large group of beads (one color) in the center. Example: A row beginning with 2 beads (color 1), 2 beads (color 2), 2 beads (color 3), 8 beads, (color 1) center; after the center beads, add 2 beads (color 3), 2 beads (color 2), 2 beads (color 1).
1&2 24 beads (color 1)
3&4 2 beads (color 1) 20 beads (color 2), 2 beads (color 1)
5&6 2 beads (color 1), 2 beads (color 2), 16 beads (color 3), reverse beginning colors
7&8 2 beads (color 1), 2 beads (color 2), 2 beads (color 3), 12 beads (color 1), reverse beginning colors
9&10 2 beads (color 1), 2 beads (color 2), 2 beads (color 3), 2 beads (color 1), 8 beads, (color 2) reverse beginning colors
Note: Rows 11-22 are split, 10 beads per row, 12 rows on each side, 4 beads left out of the center in each row. Work the left side, make 12 rows and stop. Then make 12 rows on the right side. The bead colors are the same for both sides, beads on the right side are in reverse order to those on the left.
Rows 11-22 2 beads (color 1), 2 beads (color 2), 2 beads (color 3), 2 beads (color 1), 2 beads (color 2)
Note: Row 23 joins the two sides back together. Begin on one side or the other with the 23rd row. With the completion of each 10 bead row, turn and add 2 beads to start the next 10 bead row.
Row 23 2 beads (color 1), 2 beads (color 2), 2 beads (color 3), 2 beads (color 1), 2 beads (color 2), then make a 5 bead ladder, (color 2), take the needle through the color 2 bead of the previous row, opposite side, down through 2 beads of previous rows, then back up through the bead just strung in the current ladder row. String 1 bead (color 2) and take the needle under the thread of the previous row. Now the piece should be attached. Finish this row with 2 beads (color 1), 2 beads (color 3), 2 beads (color 2), 2 beads (color 1).
Row 24 2 beads (color 1), 2 beads (color 2), 2 beads (color 3), 2 beads (color 1), 8 beads (color 2), reverse beginning colors.
25&26 Repeat rows 7&8
27&28 Repeat rows 5&6
29&30 Repeat rows 3&4
31&32 Repeat rows 1&2
Beadwrangler Tip: Easy Brick Stitch Fringe
Use single thread with 11/0 beads. String 4 beads, push them to the end, leaving a 5 tail, take the needle through the first 2 beads strung, string 4 more beads, take the needle through the first two beads strung. Repeat for fringe length desired. Push each group of beads next to the last and keep them snug. At the end of the fringe piece, string 2 beads, take the needle through the first bead, then back up through the beads strung in each brick stitch group to the top. String another group and continue, make clumps and use as embellishment. One bead can be added on the fringe end as a stopper bead. Drop beads and other fun shaped beds can be used as the fringe end bead. Double the thread and make big fringe with size 8/0 beads.
Embellish the fringe by taking the thread down through one bead of the brick stitch beads sticking out on the fringe, stringing smaller beads such as size 13/0 or 14/0, skipping a couple of bead groups on the fringe and then taking the needle through the next bead of a group sticking out. The little beads should stick out between one brick stitch group and the next, like little ropes attaching from one bead group to another. You can also go from one fringe piece to another with a strand of beads to make them stick out. Send me images or photos of what you make and we will it up on the sampler pages as an application of the basic stitch.
Note: If you like brick stitch and want to learn more, I would recommend Barbara Elbes books which include extensive techniques with unique shaping and volumes of patterns.
Resources For Brick Stitch
Aikman, Susanne Z., A Primer: The Art of Native American Beadwork, Morning Flower Press, Denver, CO, 1980
Campbell-Harding, Valerie, Beaded Tassels, Braids & Fringes, Sterling Publishing Co., NY 1998
DeLange, Deon, Techniques of Beaded Earring, Eagles View Publishing, Liberty, UT
DeLange, Deon, More Techniques of Beading Earring, Eagles View Publishing, Liberty, UT
Durant, Judith & Campbell, Jean, The Beaders Companion, Interweave Press, CO, 1998
Elbe, Barbara E. Amulet Obsessions, B.E.E. Publishing, Redding, CA, 1998
Elbe, Barbara E., Back to Beadin, B.E.E. Publishing, Redding, CA, 1996
Elbe, Barbara E., Beaded Images , Eagles View Publishing Co., Liberty UT , 1995
Gray, Vera, Bead Society of Great Britain Newsletter #52, Beadwork - How was it made?, UK, 2000
Wells, Carol Wilcox, Creative Bead Weaving, Lark Books, NY, 1996
Dubin, Lois Sherr, History of Beads from 30,000B.C. to the Present, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., NY, 1987
Moss, Kathryn and Scherer, Alice, The New Beadwork, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., NY, 1992
Mowat Erikson, Joan, The Universal Bead, W. .W. Norton Co., NY, 1969
Orchard, William C., Beads & Beadwork of The American Indian, Heye Foundation, 1975
Readers Digest Americas Fascinating Indian Heritage, The Readers Digest Association, Inc., Pleasantville, NY, 1978
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