Use circular peyote stitch (also called flat round peyote stitch), cylinder beads, and round seed beads to decorate your own Dia de los Muertos skull bead charm or pendant. This design is inspired by the festive sugar skulls enjoyed on Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Use it as a holiday decoration, wear it as a pendant, or make two to hang from ear wires.
1. Gather Your Beads
You can use use any combination of bead colors, as long as your bead sizes remain pretty close to the ones I used in the example. (Think destash!)
Here are the beads I used, by type, with their approximate quantities:
- One 18mm howlite gemstone skull bead (these are popular at bead shops around Halloween)
Size 15/0 round Miyuki seed beads:
- 16 beads in transparent dark orange (a reddish orange); 15-0169 (A)
- Nine in opaque mauve; 15-0410 (B)
Size 11/0 round Miyukis:
- Seven in opaque mauve; 11-0410 (C)
- One in opaque yellow; 11-0404 (D)
- One in opaque chartreuse; 11-0416 (E)
Size 8/0 Miyuki rounds:
- One in opaque chartreuse; 8-0416 (F)
- Two in fuchsia-lined crystal; 8-0209 (G)
Size 11/0 Delica cylinder beads:
- Six in opaque chartreuse; DB-0733 (H)
- Three in white-lined orange AB; DB-1777 (I)
- 38 in opaque bisque white ceylon; DB-1530 (J)
- Five in coral-lined crystal luster; DB-0070 (K)
- Eight in opaque periwinkle; DB-0730 (L)
Tip: The capital letter after each bead is its bead key I.D. Beads are referred to by these letters in the tutorial directions.
(Please click on any image in this tutorial for a larger view.)
2. Gather Your Beading Supplies
You'll also need the following tools and supplies:
- A size 10 beading needle (I used an English needle)
- Six-pound, 0.008-unch Fireline beading thread in white or black (I used black, which is easier to see in the photos)
- An Xacto hobby knife, razor blade, or children's craft scissors (for cutting the Fireline)
- Your favorite multi-purpose craft glue
- Optional: Black acrylic craft paint and a fine-tip artist paint brush (if your skull's eyes and mouth are not already black)
- Optional supplies of your choice, such as a beading mat, bead dish(es), and beading awl (for ripping out any mistakes)
3. Prepare the Needle and Thread and Stitch the Base Ring
Pull and cut about one arm span (three to four feet) of Fireline.
Pick up 1A and 2H, and slide them down to about 16 inches from the end of the thread. (You'll use the 16-inch tail later for the bottom fringe piece and the top loop.)
4. Stitch the Second Round of Circular Peyote Stitch
Tip: Pull the thread taut after stitching each bead, or pair of beads, in the pattern.
Pick up 1A and 1H (Beads 4 and 5 in the photo), and pass through the next H in the base ring.
Pick up 2H, and pass through the next H in the base ring.
Pick up 1H and 1A, and pass through the next H in the base ring and the first A that you stitched for this round. (This is the step up that occurs at the end of each round.)
5. Stitch the Third Round
(Please remember that you can click on the images for larger views.)
For each stitch in this round, pick up the following bead or bead pair, and then pass through the next bead in the previous round:
1A (Bead 10 in the photo), 2A, 1A, 2A, 1A, 2I.
Pass through the first 1A (Bead 10) again.
Tip: Although the beadwork is shown flat in the photos for clarity, you should hold it between your fingertips while you work.
6. Stitch the Fourth Round
For the fourth round, stitch the following beads:
1A (Bead 19), 1J, 1A, 1A, 1J, 1A, 1J, 1K, 1J.
Step up by passing through the first A (Bead 19) again.
7. Stitch the Fifth Round
For the fifth round, stitch these beads:
1J (Bead 28), 1K, 1I, 1K, 1J, 1K, 1J, 1J, 1K.
Step up by passing through the first J (Bead 28) again.
8. Stitch the Sixth Round
Stitch the following beads for the sixth round:
1L (Bead 37), 1L, 1L, 1L, 1L, 1L, 1H, 1L, 1L.
Step up by passing through the first L (Bead 37) again.
At this point, your beadwork should start to become cupped. (The beadwork is shown flat in the photos for clarity.)
Tip: To hold the cupped beadwork while you make stitches, try balancing it on the tip of your index finger, and holding the thread tail with the other fingers of that same hand.
9. Stitch the Seventh Round
Stitch the following beads for the seventh round:
1J (Bead 46), 1C, 1J, 1C, 1C, 1C, 1C, 1C, 1C.
Step up by passing through the first J (Bead 46) again.
10. Stitch the Eighth Round
Stitch these beads for the eighth round:
2J (Beads 55 and 56), 2J, 1J, 2J, 2J, 2J, 2J, 2J, 1J.
Step up by passing through the first 2J (Beads 55 and 56) again.
Note: It's hard to make out in this photo, but Bead 70 is directly on top of the blue bead. You should skip that blue bead and pass into the next high bead in the previous round, as usual.