Stick beads are a relatively new player on the commercial bead stage, but owe their heritage back to ancient Egypt and beyond. The intricate collars and cuffs fashioned in the North African nation millennia ago made use of tubular beads to create elongated necklace collars. Many of those were what we now refer to as Cupolini beads—center-drilled stick or branch beads that are threaded through length of the bead barrel to usually lay flat in a collar-style necklace or cuff bracelet.
Tip-drilled stick beads, however, allow for a more organic creative approach and come in so many dramatic shapes and colors that they beg to be used in large statement pieces. By flipping every other bead in your design, you can create a jagged edged look that no other type of beadwork will provide.
The organic shapes which naturally occur in these semi-precious, polished stones can allow a deceptively casual design layout. You can choose to go short beads to long, back to front, for a symmetrical style, and use either all of one gemstone for a tremendous color statement, or mix it up with various gems and spacers for a more unexpected look.
Another way to use stick beads is to lay them out to create geometric shapes in an elongated lattice-styled collar. This design would require you to drill additional holes but would allow you to create a tribal inspired design wherein you can use raw-looking materials in a very controlled, fine jewelry design matrix, juxtaposing the organic look with the formal style.
Elastic banding seems custom made for bracelets made of stick beads. Whether they are tip drilled or have a single drill hole at the center of the bead, you can thread them onto elastic, side by side, for an instantly significant large piece that is nearly as easy to wear as it is to make.
If you’re looking into making large statement pieces, the stick bead may just be your bead of choice!