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The Amazing Beading Heddle that YOU can make

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  • The Amazing Beading Heddle that YOU can make

    I had never used a beading heddle, but a lot of traditional beaders used a heddle. I can see a few advantages. One thing, you wouldn't have to have a needle. You could thread the beads through some stiff sinew or thread.

    You wouldn't have to worry about dropped rows.

    It appears to be sturdier, really locking the beads into position.

    And this method would work great with bow looms because the heddle would separate the threads.

    There are a lot of examples of native beading heddles if you google them. A lot of them are carved with horse heads and really pretty. A beading heddle was a traditional wedding gift from a man to his new wife in some nation's traditions.

    I was intrigued. I found a tutorial on how to make one out of cardboard. I made two of them. One out of coffee stirrers with holes drilled in them. The other is made out of a craft stick called skinny sticks, which are thinner than a popcicle stick, but uniform in size. Glued to cheap frames, I made the two heddles in the pic.
    Attached Files

  • #2
    How to make the heddles

    I found this URL on how to make one from cardboard. It looked flimsy to me.

    http://abigailscraftshowto.com/2010/...rom-cardboard/

    But it had the same idea as the old bead heddles. So I made them.

    For instructions on how to use one, I found this related URL which was helpful, but I want to share a few things I found.

    http://abigailscraftshowto.com/2010/...terflies-cuff/

    This info was good since I had never used a heddle before. I set up my coffee stirrer heddle. I set up for 5 beads, so you have to warp double the beads plus 2, so you have to warp 12. You go through the sliding part with one thread, the next goes through the hole, the next sliding part, next hole, till you have them all warped.

    I used my makeshift box loom because that's the only type I know how to use at present.

    I warped it with red tatting thread. I wanted it to show up for pix. The reason I wanted to use that was because that stuff doesn't have any give to it...and you can see it...and I want to use it up because I don't tat...but, I digress...

    Here is what the loom looked like all warped up:
    Attached Files

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    • #3
      The action of the heddle

      Note that on the first pic, the hole threads are lower than the slide threads. That is with the thing sitting at rest on my box loom. It'll stand by itself there in that position. It creates what they call in the weaving world, a "shed." This shed helps you quickly position beads and with one stroke, lock them all in place.

      The second pic, I am lifting the heddle, so the hole threads are higher than the slide ones. This creates the other shed for locking the beads in.

      In theory, you can load all the beads on your needle for the entire piece if you want to. Because you only pass through once...well, in theory...I will share more on the next post.
      Attached Files

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      • #4
        Using the heddle

        OK, according to the directions from the website I used, the first two rows are difficult.

        This is an understatement. Really the worst is the first row. Now I'm only working with 5 beads, so how much worse would it be to hold a large pattern in place?

        So, I figured out what our ancestors did. It took me 2 hours, but I figured it out. OK, what they had to do was to open the shed and thread the first row the way we usually bead on a box loom to hold the places. So I finally took the first row and wove back through the weft, just as though I were doing any pattern, and it held the beads in place. I didn't need to do that for the second row, but I was prepared to do it if need be. After I got the first row in, I lifted the heddle and they were locked. Put in a second row without going back through the weft, and that went fairly easy...dropped the heddle...

        THEN, an amazing thing happened. The tightness of where the weave comes together created a way that positioned beads FAST. It took me no time at all to lay down row after row.

        So my advice is, if you want to load up your whole pattern, first remember that you don't go in the same direction every time like the way you are used to beading, so the next row will mirror. If you came in from the left, the next time you will be coming in from the right...etc.

        And I suggest you set up your first row as I did and take your needle back through the weft before loading up. Just to make sure everything is where it should be. Then the warp will hold those beads tightly and it will go fast after that.

        I can see another benefit, and that is you won't have the chance of pricking your threads by doing the whole pattern that way.

        So here is an early result. Like I said, after you get the thing started, you will have a piece finished pretty quickly because it is really easy.

        As an aside, I often wondered why some mistakes were left on some beaded items, why didn't they just fix it while they beaded that row. My thought is that they didn't fix it because they had the entire piece--or most of it-- loaded up, and it wasn't worth re-loading for one little error.
        Attached Files

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        • #5
          A couple prettier bead heddles

          The first one is Sac and Fox and the second one is Ho-chunk.
          Attached Files

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          • #6
            can you show a little more of your beadwork?
            sigpic This is how I dance when your standing next to me...

            "Cry 'Havoc' and let slip the Dogs of War..."

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            • #7
              A larger example....

              Ok, with the fundamentals down, I again warped up with the red tatting thread I'm trying to get rid of. I know it would look better with white, but the idea is that you can see it and this is an experiment.

              Another observation...When you finish a piece, there are twice the number of warp threads to deal with, but really, depending on how you finish, it shouldn't be a big deal.

              So I warped up a wider sample. I dealt with the first row as I did the tiny example. That worked. I dealt with the second row the same way. Then from there on out, it was magic and fast.

              I did not load up the whole pattern, but I did load at least a couple rows at a time, once I had laid down the first two rows separately. I simply don't trust my memory and had to think too much about the pattern. An experienced heddle beadworker probably would load it all at once.

              It is symmetrical, so I didn't worry about accidently loading a row backwards. Definitely this is much faster than the way I had been beading. Not that there is any race to it. The nice thing is that the threads that are locking serve to hold the next bead in place while you position them, and that saves a lot of time.

              Of course, you have to warp up twice as many, but for me, I'd rather save the time. I don't think I will ever go back to the way I had been beading. I like seeing the finished product faster, and I'm convinced it is more durable.
              Attached Files

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              • #8
                Probably could make one from a vent grate ( they kind of resemble vent grates)

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                • #9
                  Thats really interesting.........you got my curiosity up to try it.

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                  • #10
                    It is very quick, NancyJo. But don't forget to do the first two rows the usual way. Having the first beads in perfect position mean all the difference in the world.

                    It is fast. I still am not loading the entire pattern up. I'm afraid I will make a mistake. So I will do several rows and then do those and then load up the next several. Maybe someday I will get brave enough to load the whole pattern.

                    I've been really interested in bias weaving lately and am working on bias weaving for the last couple weeks. Another nearly lost art.

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                    • #11
                      Awesome....thanks for the additional example...I want to try it myself!
                      Last edited by Chevy_truckin_NDN; 09-11-2013, 12:14 PM.
                      sigpic This is how I dance when your standing next to me...

                      "Cry 'Havoc' and let slip the Dogs of War..."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Heddles for bead work

                        If any of you don't want to make your own, I make heddles!
                        They are made of a solid piece of quality hardwood. I use Maple, Walnut, Cherry, and Red Alder. Each one is a unique work of art, but are priced very reasonably. If there is anyone interested send me a private message and I will reply with details.
                        You can also go to my Facebook account Maschapi Manitto and view heddles and beadwork in my photo albums.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by crazylikeafox View Post
                          If any of you don't want to make your own, I make heddles!
                          They are made of a solid piece of quality hardwood. I use Maple, Walnut, Cherry, and Red Alder. Each one is a unique work of art, but are priced very reasonably. If there is anyone interested send me a private message and I will reply with details.
                          You can also go to my Facebook account Maschapi Manitto and view heddles and beadwork in my photo albums.
                          My home made ones aren't much to look at and certainly aren't a work of art, but they have held up just fine. I think the best heddles are well used ones. I will certainly take a look at your fancy ones. Thanks!

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