Remarkable Peyote Variations

For thousands of years, dating back to ancient Egypt, the stitch now known as Peyote was mainly an off-loom beadweaving stitch. But more recently, a variation of the stitch took it into a new direction, as a 3D or more sculptural stitch. Now known as Cellini Peyote, there is an array of awe-inspiring variations of flat, tubular, diagonal, and even geometric Peyote. 

Beader Virginia Blakelock is credited with naming the spiral based designs, Cellini Peyote. Likely Blakelock developed the spiral stitches already in existence – the Dutch spiral and helix, for example – taking the idea to the next level. And since then, Peyote’s immense possibilities have exploded and now include flat or ribbon, bolas, 3D/geometric…and the stitch continues to evolve.

A Tribute: Before we go any further, The Beading Room extends a sincere and heartfelt thank you to Cath Thomas for sharing her deep knowledge of Peyote variations; without her help, we couldn’t begin to keep Peyote’s variations straight!

Cellini Spiral

Cellini Spiral is basically an even count Peyote rope that incorporates changes in bead sizes. It’s the bead sizes that force a spiral to appear. Whether going for an exaggerated or subtle look, bead sizes are key, i.e., large beads create peaks and small beads, valleys. Once you’ve established your pattern, you continue by picking up a bead like the bead you just exited – at its core, it’s that simple!

Cellini Spiral Peyote bracelet as interpreted by Beth Clark, Member, Cellini Peyote Freaks FB Group

Cellini Spiral Peyote bracelet as interpreted by Kim McCool, Member, Cellini Peyote Freaks FB Group


Created by Joëlle Cornanguer Jeunet, Member, Cellini Peyote Freaks FB group, the original design, named To Have and To Hold, is credited to Anna Richerby of Beloved Beadwork.

Joëlle’s masterful interpretation of the Cellini Spiral design incorporates real snails!

The stitch is easy to master once you’re familiar with Peyote, but of course the artistry comes in bead and colour choices, as exemplified by the two beautiful bracelets featured above, which feature a simplified as well as a more elaborate choice of beads. Both make a statement with the spiral shape.

From experience I would add that it’s important to cull your beads. I’d start with good quality seed beads, Miyuki or the current Czech seeds (older Czech’s were less regular), and pay attention to whether you’ve picked up a bead that is unlike the others. A bead that is too different from the others in that size, especially in the largest size, will impact the final product’s presentation.

The Cellini waves can also be formed using small pearls, gemstones, or crystals for the larger of size increments, adding flair, sparkle, and interest. Your spiral’s flexibility will depend on thread choice and thread tension – Fireline or a similar thread will result in a somewhat stiff spiral, whereas a light nylon thread, like Nymo, will give you a softer, flexible version, and a tight tension will produce a stiffer result vs. a softer version if you don’t pull too tight.

Bolas, Ribbons

A Cellini Peyote ribbon can create a beaded bead or basket-like design, which is named Bolas Canastas (bead basketry). Both are based on the flat diagonal Cellini Peyote technique.

Cath Thomas’ Bowlas design is currently available as a workshop. Message Cath for upcoming options.

Cath Thomas’ Rainbola design is available as a free tutorial at the  International Beading Week.

For tons of information and help getting started, check out Cath Thomas’ FB group “From Petal to Pod,” to see how a simple concept of sculpting with Peyote to create petals is blossoming into a lovely, delicate artform with many applications.

Peyote Continues to Evolve

And yet another new form of Peyote stitch has been created by beader, Gerlinde Lenz. This is called Peyote with a Twist, not bead crochet, or PWAT (although the designer herself prefers Peytwist). This form of diagonal peyote, when worked up takes on the look of a crochet rope.

MoonandStar Jewelry, by Sharon King, Member of the Peyote with a twist, not crochet FB group: Brass Circle Necklace and Daisy Necklace are made using Peyote with a Twist. (Brass Circle and Daisy Necklace are currently available for purchase.)

Taking Peyote to Grand Sculptures

Jamaican Canadian Artist, Sharl G. Smith of Sun Drops Studio, works with a sculptural form of Peyote, and her work broke new ground by using “beads” in sizes previously non-existent. Website here. Instagram here (@_sundropsstudio).

From Smith’s website: An artist based out of Waterloo, Ontario, Smith’s work leverages a background in architecture with a Zen Buddhist design/build firm located in California…Her time there left a lasting impression on her and instilled a deep reverence for craftsmanship, minimalism, and the 'process as practice.’… She also finds the modular nature of the beads combined with her tension-based construction technique an appropriate medium to explore themes of social systems, emotions, nature and the spaces between.


Embrace I / Artist: Sharl G. Smith / Photo Credit: Conan Stark

Shelter II / Artist: Sharl G. Smith / Photo Credit: Scott Lee

Are you not amazed by Peyote stitch’s seemingly unending possibilities? And we’ve not even touched on Geometric Peyote, which is tubular Peyote with increases, sometimes including the Cellini technique. Let’s leave that for another blog! This is enough mind-boggling possibilities for now.

(But, if you want a head-start, check out this page, featuring an affordable online download of Contemporary Geometric Beadwork!)

Enjoy exploring all the delicious possibilities that Peyote offers.

For now, Bead Happy, Cathy



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