You may have heard the term carrier bead being thrown around in the crafting world and wondered what they were. Well, we’re here to tell you and give you some information on carrier beads.
So, what are they?
Carrier beads are two-holed beads which are purpose made to hold a loop of peyote beading. The main reason to use carrier beads is to be able to create really intricate looking pieces of beaded jewelry in the simplest way possible. You can create multiple peyote loops and use carrier beads to create a beautiful necklace or bracelet which looks amazing and takes a lot less time than other beadwork methods which would yield similar results!
One of the great thing about using these larger support beads inside your peyote loops is that you don’t need to worry about really long threads while creating your beadwork, which can often become tangled and cause a lot of grief.
What do carrier beads look like?
Carrier beads are predominantly made from acrylic and are 17mm in length, 9mm wide and have a height of 5mm. They are rectangular in shape when viewed from above and from the side they look eye-shaped – with a larger height in the middle, tapering to meet at each end. There are two holes in a carrier bead which means you need to use two rows of cord or elastic when making jewelry.
They come in a wide variety of colors to suit any project you might be doing, you could even alternate your carrier bead color to add to your designs. Clear carrier beads are a great choice if you don’t want any visible colors affecting the design of your jewelry.
How to use carrier beads
As mentioned above, the carrier bead is the perfect shape to hold loops of peyote beadwork; more specifically, you will want to use size 11/0 Miyuki Delica seed beads. Using this size and style of bead will mean your peyote beading will be super neat and will fit perfectly onto the carrier bead.
NOTE: Peyote strips are zip stitched together once placed around the carrier bead to create the loops.
To completely cover your carrier bead, you will need to create peyote strips measuring 6-7 beads across which will give you 3-4 beads per row on around 25 rows. The reason these numbers vary is because the amount of beads depends on the method of peyote stitching that you use:
Even Count Peyote Stitch
This technique uses 3 beads per row meaning the design will be the width of 6 Delica seed beads, this is why it is called an even count peyote stitch. This is the most common way that people will cover their carrier beads, however some may prefer the odd count method (below) due to tiny slivers of carrier bead being visible down each side of the peyote strip.
Odd Count Peyote Stitch
As mentioned above, the odd count peyote stitch completely covers the carrier bead leaving no gaps either side. Another great thing about this method is that you can create perfectly centered designs. This technique uses a count of 7 beads across, with alternating rows of 3 and 4 beads.
Peyote Stitching with 11/0 Delica Beads
To create your beadwork for your carrier beads, you will need to consider a few things:
- Thread Length –
To create the design for each carrier bead, you will need between 20-30 inches of thread.
- Thread Type –
A great thread to use is 4-6lb Fire Line. You could use other satin thread or similar as long as it is of the same weight.
- Beading Needle Size –
To create peyote stitch designs with 11/0 Delica beads, you will need to use a size 12 beading needle. A size 10 needle would be an acceptable alternative, but it could cause issue when you come to tying up loose ends.
- Your choice of beads –
Make sure you have enough of each of the colors you want to use in your designs. If you are buying especially for this project, then consider buying more than you think you need, just in case. Sometimes when you buy seed beads on separate occasions, the colors can differ slightly if they have been produced in a different batch.
There are so many design possibilities when it comes to using carrier beads, from zig-zags to checkerboard and even simple images!
Pinterest is a great place to find inspiration, as many people like to create their own peyote beading patterns and share them with fellow crafters. You could also create your own by printing multiple blank design sheets and filling them in with your choice of bead colors (find our free downloads below). The opportunities are pretty much endless. Carrier beads are a great blank canvas for some really great pieces of beady art!
Download our free blank design templates to start making your own carrier bead jewelry designs today: