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Cellini Spirals - Theme and Variations

Updated on September 16, 2014

The Fascinating Cellini Spiral

One of the most intriguing variations of peyote stitch is the Cellini spiral. This stitch is a type of sculptural peyote that produces an elegant helix in the form of a self-supporting beadwoven tube. Using just a needle and thread, you can create tiny (and not so tiny) works art.

The basic stitch is surprisingly easy to master and once you have done so, the possibilities are endless! You can produce countless different looks depending upon your choices of bead size, color and finish.

In the examples below I'll show you some of the many ways to vary the slope of the helix, play with color, and generally have fun.

Basic Cellini Spiral
Basic Cellini Spiral

The Basic Spiral

Where it all begins

This is an example of a very simple spiral. It uses three sizes of bead (small to large: 15/0, 11/0 and 8/0), which gives it well-defined helix shape. It has a monochrome color scheme with textural interest provided by the use of three different finishes: transparent, transparent matte, and transparent silver-lined. The spirals are tapered at each end for use as earrings. If I were to make this same spiral for a bracelet or necklace, I wouldn't necessarily use the taper, depending on how the piece was to be finished.

Moderate curves
Moderate curves

Playing With Shapes

Here is a much less well-defined spiral with a softly wavy shape. I created this by using 5 different beads in a narrow range of sizes, so that there were no abrupt transitions. It relies on the two silver stripes - one big and bold and one tiny, almost hidden - to give interest to what might otherwise be a bit bland.

More Shaping

Earthy_Swirl_by_totallytwisted
Earthy_Swirl_by_totallytwisted

Now here's a gorgeous example of a dramatic shape. This Earthy Swirl bracelet, made by totallytwisted on Etsy, uses precisely the same size beads as the green earrings above, but what a difference! By using several of the tiny 15/0 beads together, she emphasizes the grouped 11/0 and 8/0 beads, making these larger beads stand out from the background in a prominent ridge. The color choice - the silver between the bronze and black - makes the pattern really pop.

Playing With Color

Trinidad_bracelet_by_beadnurse
Trinidad_bracelet_by_beadnurse

This beauty is the Trinidad bracelet by beadnurse on Etsy, a lovely combination of turquoise, silver and black.. Notice how no two rows* of beads are the same color and the color order is just slightly asymmetrical. In this piece, the shape of the helix is very even and basic, to give the spotlight to the brilliant colors.

*They are not, technically, rows but they appear to be, so for clarity that's what I'll call them. :)

Red-Crystal spiral
Red-Crystal spiral

Want to Learn This Stitch?

Have the pictures and all my talk whetted your appetite for more? Want to give it a try yourself? If you do, I've linked to several online tutorials below.

The first two show you how to do regular tubular peyote and if you don't already know this stitch, I strongly urge you to learn it first - before you tackle the third link, which is the spiral tutorial. If you're familiar with tubular peyote, then by all means jump right into spirals. They are great fun - but you knew I'd say that, right?

Online Tutorials

Where to go to learn to make Cellini Spirals

Cellini Spiral Tutorial teaser...

Here is figure three from the Cellini Spiral Tutorial linked above. As you can see, the author's illustrations are really clear and helpful; they complement her text very well.

(photo used by permission)

Beads! Beautiful beads!
Beads! Beautiful beads!

Beads and Beading Supplies

A few sources

A mix of bead sizes is necessary to make Cellini Spirals - anything from three to five or six or even more. The local craft store usually doesn't carry a wide enough selection to make your average bead addict happy - although if you are fortunate to live near a good bead store, they might!

If you find that you need to shop online for beads, I have a couple suggestions. Artfire is a good source of seed beads in many sizes: Size 6/0, Size 8/0, Size 10/0, Size 11/0, Size 12/0, Size 13/0, and Size 15/0. There is a wide range of colors available from a large number of Artfire sellers.

For beads and all manner of jewelry-making supplies, there are many sources online. Two of the biggest are Fire Mountain Gems and Shipwreck Beads, but there are a zillion others.

Just for Fun! - Cellini Spirals - from a recipe or one of a kind?

It takes some effort to assemble just the right beads for a Cellini spiral. You need a range of sizes, at minimum, and usually a range of colors and/or finishes as well. And beading an attractive spiral takes planning. Sometimes you try out a design and it doesn't work, so you rip it out and start over. It's definitely a labor of love, making spirals from scratch, but it sure can be satisfying! On the other hand, working from a recipe means you get your finished spiral faster and with less of the often frustrating trial and error that goes into new or one-off designs.. There's a case to be made for either method.

Do you prefer to work a cellini spiral from a recipe (yours or somebody else's) or do you design each new spiral from scratch? Why?

From a recipe or a repeat of one I've done before.

From a recipe or a repeat of one I've done before.

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From a new idea each time

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How did you like this lens? Did it interest you in trying Cellini spirals? And did I miss something that you think ought to be included? Do you have a question? Let me know here or you can contact me through my Zibbet shop. If you haven't guessed, I love to talk about beads.

And thank you!

Reader Feedback - Tell me what you think!

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    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Great article - thanks for including my Earthy Swirl bracelet. The Cellini is one of my favorite stitches and easy to do once you get started. Reading this I am in the mood to make a new cellini - now for the colors!!!!

    • WeaverbirdBeads profile image
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      WeaverbirdBeads 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Thanks so much! I'm delighted you like it. this page was great fun to do! And YAY for inspiration! Can't wait to see what you make.

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 6 years ago from La Verne, CA

      This is a good first lens and as you a make more you will feel it is easier and easier.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Good lens. Good photos. Interesting work.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I definitely enjoyed your lens. I learned the Cellini from the same source as you. I can still remember the "ah ha" moment when I started my first one. The ah ha was that it was peyote stitch!

    • WeaverbirdBeads profile image
      Author

      WeaverbirdBeads 6 years ago

      @paperfacets: Thanks! I had a marvelous time making this lens and look forward to making more. I'm so pleased to hear it gets easier. *g* I'm grateful for the encouragement!

    • WeaverbirdBeads profile image
      Author

      WeaverbirdBeads 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Thanks so much!

    • WeaverbirdBeads profile image
      Author

      WeaverbirdBeads 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Oh yes, that magical moment when the penny drops. Once you realize it's peyote, it becomes so easy to design with it. The sky is the limit! Glad you liked my lens. Thank you!

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 6 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      I like! Especially the bracelets.

    • WeaverbirdBeads profile image
      Author

      WeaverbirdBeads 6 years ago

      @Ramkitten2000: Thanks! I love the bracelets, too.

    • WeaverbirdBeads profile image
      Author

      WeaverbirdBeads 6 years ago

      @aesta1: beadnurse makes *amazing* bracelets. That Trinidad piece is just one of many of hers I love. And thank you! I have a number of other beading-related lenses planned.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      "I am a dreamer, a beader, a maker and a reader."

      Just Great!

      Now ou have me humming along with the Steve Miller Band: The Joker Lyrics

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Yes, the Cellini Spiral is a great stitch, and I am glad to see that people are finding my tutorial helpful. What fun it is when the beadwork gets big enough to form it into a tube! I have video now to complement the tutorial, so check back to my webpage for the link, or search for it on YouTube, where I am gdevoid.

    • rubyandmahoney profile image

      rubyandmahoney 5 years ago

      I love the look of spirals. I need to get back into beading. Too many hobbies, too little time. *sigh* If only I didn't have to do this pesky thing called "work."

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      WHERE IS the book you speak of???

    • WeaverbirdBeads profile image
      Author

      WeaverbirdBeads 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi!

      Which book are you referring to? I'm not sure what you're asking.

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