Paua Shell Herringbone Bracelet

By Judy Hendrix
Paua shells are the most colorful of the abalone shells found in the seas of New Zealand. They can be dyed and are very light weight.

This beading technique can be used on anything that has a flat back--stones, cabochons, glass, metal, wood etc.

Use E-6000 to glue the Paua shell to a piece of felt that is about 1-inch larger than the shell, all the way around; let dry overnight.
Create 2 couching rows--working from inside out, to border the Paua shell.
Use scissors to trim the felt from the back without clipping your threads. Use E-6000 to glue to Ultra suede; let dry overnight. Trim close to the edge from the front--NOT TOO SHORT!
Edging. This is the most important row (although it isn't seen much) and the row that we can do all the fancy work in after the beads are in place. Your goal is to be about 1 bead apart and as even as you can be. You don't want the row too close or you won't be able to work in the beads that are lying down.
Take your needle straight to the back through all the layers, add 3 beads (the first time only) and come back to the front. With your needle only, come up in the last bead so your thread exits the hole from the top. Add 2 beads from now on, bringing the thread with the beads from the back to the front and going up into the last bead.
Continue around.

This step will be done in 2 trips around because we are going to make it look as though the beads are twisting around each other. The first time we will skip one of the stand up beads, the second time (with a different color) we will stitch into those that were left behind. Put 4 beads on your needle; go into the bead that is lying down, skipping one the first time. Go all the way around--it will look scalloped. Do this again with a different color going into the beads you skipped the first time.
Now that the focal point of the bracelet is complete, we need to complete the band portion and attach it to the bracelet.

A ladder stitch is commonly used to start ndebele (or Herringbone stitch).
  • Pick up 2 beads leaving a 12-inch tail, go back through the beads again--they should now be laying side by side.
  • String bead #3 and go back through the 2nd bead top to bottom and back up in bead #3. You continue in this manner until you have 8 beads laying side by side with the holes pointing up and down. This is a little sloppy at this point, but we'll fix it later.
  • Join these beads in a circle--your tail should point down out of a bead, the working thread should be coming out of the top. In herringbone, you are stacking beads on top of each other in groups of two and then you will step up at the end of a row.
  • Put 2 beads on and go down in the 2nd bead from the thread.
  • Come up in the 3rd bead and put on 2 more beads--continue around until you meet yourself in this row--position your needle to come up out of the top of the first bead in that row and begin the 3rd row.
  • Continue this 8-bead set until you have about 1-inch in length.
  • Now, you are going to split the herringbone by doing the same steps only on 4 beads instead of 8.
  • You will have to add more thread for the other side and then begin working those 4 beads. When you start and end threads, go back through the beginning and ending beads--they are floppy, but adding thread through them will give them added strength.
  • I added embellishment along the way, by putting spacers and faceted beads when I wanted to spice it up--you just continue on with the herringbone on top.
  • To add the bracelet to your focal bead, turn it over and go up through the beads and back down through the herringbone (do this several times) until it is secure.
  • Add your clasp and it's ready to wear.

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