Thursday, 23 July 2015

The Perils of Too Many Competition Pieces

And a Free Russian Leaves Tutorial!

At the beginning of the year I got a little carried away and made three back to back competition pieces. One was my Bead Dreams piece which made it as a finalist and the other two, results are still pending so stay tuned...

I love making these large, elaborate pieces but creating them can be exhausting and after three in a row I found that my creative well had run dry. I couldn't seem to find my place. Found it hard to start a project, abandoned projects not even half way through, was devoid of any ideas... So I decided that I needed to give myself a break. Not from beading, heavens no, but from the pressure I placed on myself to create something 'worthy'. No expectations, just play and see where it took me.

My favourite kind of play is to go into my gemstone cab and crystal rivoli stash and lose myself in combinations of colours and shapes until something speaks to me and I know what kind of jewellery item it will be. So I did that and found myself making things with leaves and not just one piece I went on a bit of a leaf binge...first there was Bagni San Filippo which I blogged about last time, then I made a cuff... 

then I made a collar...

and finally...just one more tiny leaf...

Making these reminded me of the first time I tried making Russian Leaves, otherwise known as diagonal peyote. I struggled finding instructions online and since I'm learning how to use an illustrating programme I thought I might try my hand at drawing my own instructions and use you all as guinea pigs!

STEP 1:  

Pick up 1 x A (brown) , 7 x B (blue), 1 x A and 1 x B, centre the beads in the middle of a wingspan's length of thread and reversing the direction of the needle, sew into the sixth B bead picked up.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Allow the last three beads picked up to form a picot (see diagram Step 2)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

The second A bead picked up will form the tip of the leaf and the first A bead picked up becomes the inside centre of the leaf.                                                                             



Pick up 1 x B, skip the next B bead and sew into the following B bead (peyote stitch). 

Repeat twice except on the final repeat you will be sewing into an A bead (the first bead picked up in Step 1) 

I find it easier not to flip the work as I go, instead holding the work with the tail facing away from my body at all times and reversing the direction of the needle.


{Reverse direction, so the needle points towards the tip of the leaf and peyote stitch 1 x B bead, 3 times


Pick up 1 x A bead and reversing direction so the needle once again points toward the centre of the leaf sew into the last B bead added in Step 3.


{{Peyote 1 x B bead, twice 


Pick up 1 x B, 1 x A and 1 x B, reverse direction so the needle points back toward the tip of the leaf and sew into the first B bead picked up in this step. Try to keep the tension nice and tight in this step.

STEP 7: 

Peyote 1 x B bead, twice. 

STEP 8: 

Pick up 1 x A bead, reverse direction so the needle points towards the centre of the leaf and sew into the last B bead added in Step 7}} 

STEP 9: Continue, repeating from {{ to }} 6 times} 

STEP 10: Thread a needle onto the tail end of the thread and repeat from { to }

And there you have it! 

If you want to make a larger leaf, increase the number of B beads picked up in STEP 1 by increments of 2 (this will increase the number of B beads you peyote in the body of the leaf) and repeat from {{ to }} a few more times. 

This works in any size bead. All the leaves I made used size 15 seed beads (because I'm a masochist) but 11's would be better if you're trying this for the first time. They also work really nicely with cylinder beads for the B beads and size 15's for the A beads.

As always, I love hearing your feedback. This is my first attempt at pattern writing so I'd love to know how you found it and if there's anything I can improve.


  1. I totally get the burnout thing. I experience it myself each year I try to do both Bead Dreams and Battle of the Beadsmith. But I think you have recovered nicely, and bravo with the illustrations. I have been playing too, and you are well ahead of me! I love Russian leaves!

  2. Well done Regina, your work in amazing and awe inspiring. It's good to know that I'm not the only who reaches a creative block. Not sure that I can recover as quickly and as well as you. Thank you for sharing.