Saturday, June 6, 2009

St Petersburg Chain

St Petersburg chain is having a renaissance at present. Or maybe there's just a new generation of beaders who haven't seen or tried this technique before. You'll find instructions for both single and double St. Petersburg chain bracelets in the June 2009 issue of Bead & Button on pages 24 and 25. Other bead magazines have had necklaces using this technique in the past year, and I'm sure it can be found in several of the Russian bead books. The reason that I'm writing about it here is that not one single article or project has mentioned the young Russian woman who introduced this technique to the internet beading world in the 1990s before any of us had seen any Russian beading books. She called herself Maria Oldring, and I'm ashamed to say that I don't know her Russian name. Perhaps some of our Russian beading friends can fill in the information for me. She also shared the Russian leaves as well as several other Russian techniques. Unfortunately, as of November 1, 2009, her site is no longer available. Although she hadn't posted anything new in years, I enjoyed visiting it every now and then to use one of the techniques that she had posted there. I don't remember how we found each other, possibly through Emily Hackbarth on We corresponded at the time and then lost contact as the years went on. The last I heard, someone told me that they thought she had come to America and was living in Washington state, but I don't know if that's true or not.

I had a young friend who was going to Russia on business at the time and who spoke fluent Russian. I told her about Maria, and I told Maria about her and sent them each other's email addresses. They met for coffee in the Russian city where Maria lived. Maria gave my friend a business-card size calendar with a necklace of hers pictured on one side to bring to me. I carried it in my wallet for years, and I think it must be serving as a bookmark in one of my bead books now. I must confess that I still get goosebumps when I think of their meeting. Today the world seems very small, but ten years ago it had only started to narrow. And now you know the rest of the story.

Here are three bracelets I made sometime in the last couple of years using this technique. They go quite quickly and make nice gifts. I made rondelles with crystals and seed beads as described in Rondelles Continued to create the "buttons" used as closures.

Thanks, Maria, wherever you are.

A Lariat for Bec

I first published my peyote spiral variation in November of 1999. I called it "The Gift" because that's what it has always seemed to me. I don't claim to have invented it, nor do I lay claim to being the first person to have discovered it. I've also never been quite sure if it's a peyote variation or a netting one, but that really doesn't matter. A lot of people look at it and dismiss it as a Russian spiral, so perhaps it's a variation of that. I've done more bracelets than I can count since that first night, a good many necklaces, and somewhere between six and ten lariats using this technique. Those first bracelets were worked in one or two colors of 11/0 seed beads. Since then I've used all sorts of beads in different sizes, often going with a 15/0 seed bead as the "extra" bead. Several of the projects are pictured on the first page of my main site.

The 48" black lariat featured here is much more subtle in reality than it is in the image. I photographed it outside, and the iris beads caught the light which thrust them forward visually. The beads used are an 8/0 opaque black Czech drop bead, an 11/0 black iris seed bead, a 10/0 twisted hex metallic dark blue/black iris, and a Toho 15/0 cut opaque black seed bead as the "extra." The rope is finished with an 8mm Swarovski jet bicone, a versatile bead that begins with ten 11/0 black iris seed beads, two rounds of the 10/0 hex black iris, one round of 8/0 black opaque seed beads, and a center round of Swarovski 4mm jet crystals. Complete the bead by working peyote rounds back down using the beads in the reverse order and finishing the bead with two rounds of 11/0 black iris seed beads. I then threaded on a Swarovski 4mm bicone and a 2mm round, skipped the round and went back through all the beads, finishing off the thread in the first few rows of the spiral with overhand knots before cutting off the needle, knotting and then burning the two thread ends.

My favorite way to wear the lariat is to fold it in half, place it around my neck, and bring the two ends through the loop formed at the fold. I usually have the two ends fall down the middle, but sometimes I turn it half way up the front so the ends fall either to the left or right. Or, it may be worn so the beads fall down the back.

Place the center of the necklace at the front of the neck, bring the ends to the back of the neck and cross the strands before bringing them back to the front. Loop the two ends over each other.

Place the center of the lariat around the back of the neck and bring the strands to the front. Take the two ends in one hand and form a loop with the doubled strands over the first two fingers on the other hand about 6" up from the end. Bring the two ends through the loop and tug on the ends to form the knot. (If desired, tie a square knot where desired using the two ends.)

Finally depending on the size of your write, you may wear the lariat as a bracelet by folding the lariat in half and winding it around your wrist and bringing the ends through the loop to close.