Bolas Canastas

Difficulty: 3
Technique: Peyote Stitch, stringing

Earrings in the new natural colors

Bola means ball in Mexican, and Canastas is the name of traditional Mexican basketry. The beaded beads you can make with this method look like mexican woven baskets, hence the name.


Cath Thomas

Cath Thomas received the gift of beading from her mother's friend and multi-talented art therapist Berthy Bijlard at age 14. However, she immersed herself in beadweaving only in 2004 after seeing beadwork made by artists for that year's Bead Dreams Contest.

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Thread a needle on a yard / appr. 95 cm thread. Use a stop bead if you like (recommended ­ not shown in the illustrations), leave approx. 20 cm tail thread.

Step 1

Rows 1 & 2

String 1x R11, 2x R8, 4x R11, 2x R6, 4x R11, 2x R8 and 1x R11. Recount R to be sure that none are missing.

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Step 2

Addition of extra R to row 1 and 2

String 3x R11. Stitch back through the first of the 3. Thread tension is very important. It has to be taut, and R must lay snuggly against one another, in particular at each end. Avoid spaces between R.

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Step 3

Row 3

In peyote stitch, add 1x R8, 2x R11, 1x R6, R11, 1x R8, and 1x R11.

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Step 4

Make a u­-turn. In peyote stitch, add 1x R11, 1x R11, 1x R8, 2x R11, 1x R6, 2x R11 and 1x R8.

When beading in this direction, that is from the end with the tail thread in the direction of the increase, you always add the same color bead as your thread is exiting. Do not not let the R in row 1 and 3 twist. Keep thread tension taut to avoid gaps.

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Step 5

Addition of extra R to row 4

String 3x R11. Stitch back through the first of the 3. Keep thread tension taut.

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Step 6

Addition of row 5

In peyote stitch, add 1x R8, 2x R11, 1x R6, 2x R11, 1x R8, and 1x R11. Stop adding R even though there is still one gap. Keep thread tension taut.

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Step 7

Addition of row 6

Make a u­-turn. In peyote stitch, add 1x R11, 1x R11, 1x R8, 2x R11, 1x R6, 2x R11, and 1x R8. Keep thread tension taut.

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Step 8

Repeat steps 5, 6 and 7 until you have 12 rows (= 12x R6 added in the diagonal). Keep thread tension taut.

Help the beadwork take a curly shape while beading.

Not mandatory, but practical: before making the join, make a small half­-hitch knot at each end of the shape with, on one side, the working thread and on the other side, the tail thread. This will block the thread tension: pass under the thread between the two R11 to do this.

Also: if you want your second bola to mirror the first one (eg. turn in the opposite direction), you can push the bump inside­ out before making half-­hitch knots.

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Step 9

Roll the shape to form a ball by aligning same R in a circle. String one R11 and stitch through the first R11 at the beginning of the diagonal-this R is shown with a stippled outline in the illustrations

Note: lllustration 9a shows the same operation twice: ­left is before the shape is rolled up, right represents the rolled­-up shape with the 1st and last row facing one another.

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Step 10

String one R11 and stitch through the R11 you added in step 9, and through the R8 below it in the edge. Thread tension has to be taut to avoid gaps between R. It might take a bit of exercise to get this right.

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Step 11

Stitch through each bead in the edges one after the other to zip the shape, zig-­zagging between them, aligning same R properly.
When you reach the beginning of the beadwork where your working thread comes out of the last R8, add one R11 and stitch through the next R11 in the same edge. Keep thread tension taut.

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Step 12

String one R11 and stitch back through the R11 added in step 11.
Make sure that the bola is well closed. You can knot the tail and the working thread, unless you don't like to knot threads.

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Step 13

Nicely finish the edges of the holes, by adding R11 or R13 between R11 on both sides of the bola. Here, R13 were added. Make a second bola.

To make a pair of earrings, you can add a small loop of R11 at the top of the bola and add it onto an earwire, and maybe add a spike bead to the bottom, but you can also use a headpin, and add 1x R11, 1x R8 and 1x FPB5, then the bola, then the same beads as before the bola in opposite order. Make a loop using the appropriate round nose pliers and add your earring to an earring finding.

Voilà! Your bolas canastas earrings are finished! Have fun beading and wearing your jewelry!

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