This is the second in a series of craft "How-To's" covering a broad range in items that will be useful to dancers and people who attend pow wows. In the future, if you have any ideas to share with us on the construction of an article, or ideas for how-to's that you'd like to see, just tell us! If you specialize in something, let us know and share your knowledge with everyone else! We are going to *try* to produce a new craft item every month, so keep us bookmarked!
Lane Stitch Beadwork is probably the most common form of beadwork seen on pow wow regalia, because of its ease of application and its nice coverage. Good lane stitch has a nice "hump" appearance and is easily recognizable. .
Lane stitch first appeared in the early 1800's as white traders traded the smaller "seed" beads with the Native Americans. The tribes began to apply these very small beads to many of their important articles, and the birth of lane stitch began. Lane stitch, unlike many of the other techniques, can be used on just about everything. It was used on horse saddles, mocs, dresses, well, everything. It can be beaded on canvas or directly on leather itself.
|Beading needles (very small eyes)||Beading thread (I use "A")|
|Beeswax||Beads (10 to 13/0)|
|Canvas or leather material||Scissors|
1. The first step is to do a little research. Lane stitch is very easy to research, because it is in practically every museum in North America, so even if you can't go to a pow wow, you have no excuse! Take many pictures, and notice all of the details. Older articles have more mellow colors, like "greasy grass yellow" and "Cheyenne pink," contrasted with the brighter colors seen today. Also note the size of the beads. Larger articles use larger beads, like 10/0 and 11/0. Smaller articles will use 12/0 or 13/0 sizes. (These can be obtained from traders all over the country.) Newer articles, like many of those you will see at pow wows, are brighter and more colorful. Also notice the layout of the rows, or "humps." Many articles only have straight rows, while others, like mocs, have rows that match the contour of the article. Always remember, it is good to do research in museums and through going to pow wows, but never copy any of the designs. Many of them are family designs, or even more, received in visions. You may not copy another person's designs without their express permission. There are some safe designs though, like geometeric patterns, but always check before beading is begun.
2. Obtain your surface for the beading. It can be any shape, as long it's pliable but not too thin (regular weight cloth). For at least the first few peices of beadwork, it is a good idea to draw lanes for the beads to help in keeping your lanes straight. Lanes are usually about 7/16 or 1/2 wide and contain 7 to 9 beads per lane. After the lanes are drawn, go ahead and draw the design on the material to serve you as a guide when beading. Remember, when creating designs, don't make it too complicated and keep it balanced and even
.A neat trick suggested by Jerry Andrews of Georgia to keep rows absolutely unifiorm is to lay down cheap scotch tape on your material to set up your lanes. It's important to use cheat tape so you can pull it out, from the end of a row, when you are done beading. It works great when you are working on dark cloth or on very good brain tan that you don't want any lines on. He said that he has also used washable fabric markers to draw a rough pattern on white buckskin. When you are done beading, a light spray of water, from an atomizer, and all the lines go away! Thanks, Jerry.
3. Prepare your needle and thread. I generally thread the needle (on needles this small you can't usually use a threader), and then double the thread over, about three feet long. Cut the thread and knot it at the end, and then run it through the beeswax. The beeswax helps the thread stay strong and makes the beadwork tighter.
4. Pull string through the bottom of the leather or cloth at the end corner of one of the lanes that you have drawn. Put enough of your beads on it so that when you lay the string out flat on the material it goes two beads beyond the next line. The number of beads on the string will produce a good hump, and should be used throughout the article to maintain uniformness.
5. If you're using canvas, run the needle completely throught the cloth, move over about 3/16 on an inch, and come back up. Put the same number of beads on the needle, and go back through the cloth on the other side. If you are using leather, it is usually too difficult to pass the needle all of the way throught the leather, so the needle will only catch the surface of the leather before coming back to the surface. Make sure it passes low enough to have a good hold. ( If beading mocs, do an especially good job, because it will have to take alot of stress and bead rows frequently pop off, resulting in a "blow-out") This is basically the essence of lazy stitch.
6. The key to good looking lane stitch is keeping everything nice, tight and even. Pull the thread tight, and when it runs out, knot it and start a new one. Most of it is just common sense from here. It takes practice to become consistant with spacing and design, but it will come.