Monday, October 26, 2015

New Beading Video: Stitching Beaded Molecules

A few months ago I had the opportunity to film a series of videos based on four different areas in beading. The videos are now available at the Interweave Store both as instant high definition video downloads as well as in the DVD format. This is the third in a series of four blog posts on those video projects; check out the previous posts here and here.

Together with the team over at Interweave/F+W, we organized these videos with each level of beader in mind. Beginners can watch me weave each step of the project one stitch at a time, I share several variations for experienced beaders, and throughout the course of each video I include many tips and tricks that are useful for beaders of all levels. If you're new to my Bead Origami style then these videos are a great introduction to my approach to beadweaving, but if you're already familiar with my work then you'll want to check them out too as I cover a new project in each one.

The third video in this series combines two of my favorite topics: beadwork and chemistry!

I start the video with a little lesson in organic chemistry (don't worry: there's no test at the end!). I give a brief overview about the atoms that make up molecules found in living things and how those atoms are connected together to make molecules. I also talk about different ways to visualize or render molecular structures, from 3D renders that show the dimensionality of the molecule to the shorthand skeletal structures that form the basis for the beadwork in the video. I also review several of the beaded molecules that I've already covered in patterns on my website (such as caffeine, serotonin, and dopamine), and I explain why these "small molecules" are ideal for this specific method of making beaded molecules.

The main molecule that I focus on in this video is L-ascorbic acid, otherwise known as vitamin C. Vitamin C is an antioxidant small molecule made up of six carbon, eight hydrogen, and six oxygen atoms, and it's also notable for having chirality; it's the counter-clockwise or left-handed version of a pair of molecules that have the same structure but are mirror images of each other. As is the case with many organic molecules, only this left-handed version is biologically significant, and it acts as a cofactor in at least eight different enzymes that serve a variety of important biological functions. To keep the beadweaving simpler, we ignore the chirality as well as the hydrogen atoms in this beaded version of vitamin C, but being a stickler for such things I felt the need to point out the importance of chirality in molecular structures anyway ;).

After I show how to weave the beaded vitamin C molecule, I also demonstrate how to stiffen the molecule using a clear acrylic floor finish. It's a technique pioneered by Diane Fitzgerald and Jean Cox for firming up and supporting finished beadwork. Once called Future Floor Wax, it's now called Pledge Floor Care with Future Shine, but whatever the name it makes the finished beaded molecules stiff and supported.

With a few jump rings, a handful of drop crystals, and little bit of chain, a pair of these molecules make lovely chandelier-style earrings. I wove them in red and silver for a berry-flavored version, and I also made a grape-flavored pair in purples in greens.

Finally, this golden version uses smaller seed beads and a variety of colors of crystals for a more delicate, brighter variation.

This video is available both as a High Definition Video Download and in the DVD format, and includes a supplementary PDF pattern with step-by-step written instructions and a complete materials list for the pair of red and silver earrings shown in this post.

Thanks for looking!


  1. I purchased the HD download and dove right in. I found clear, adaptable instructions pleasantly presented. Thank you. After having spinal surgery, my daughter is receiving home-bound lessons with her science teacher who just loves sweet iced tea. Beautiful, beady molecules seem a fun way to say thanks for volunteering to go above & beyond. Caffeine and theobromine were clear choices but I'm stumped as to the creation of the sucrose molecule. It's a biggie and there must be a condensed interpretation, but my chemistry falls short. I wonder, Cindy, if you have any suggestions (including "fuggedabout the sugar Crazy Lady!")
    Thanks for your wonderful take on beading,

    1. Thanks for your kind words Kristen! Sucrose is a tricky one because it's very dimensional, but even if you look at a flat representation of its structure (a good image of this is on this page:, you'll see that one of its carbon atoms in the pentagon-shaped ring is bound to four other atoms that aren't hydrogen. The method I describe in the video is optimized for molecules with carbons that are bound to three or fewer other atoms that aren't hydrogen.

      One possibility would be to consider a "sugar substitute" molecule that has an easier structure to interpret, such as aspartame (, or better yet sorbitol ( or xylitol (


  2. Thanks so much for a much more sensible sweetener. I gave her the series as be-ribboned Christmas ornaments. She was delighted and recognised them almost instantly. My daughter was also captivated by the beadwork and the connection to boring old academics and has started looking for other ways to link art and science. I don't guess I need to tell you how important it is to use any enticement to help young women see the beauty and elegance inherent in maths and the sciences. Thank you for inspiring both of us to grow creatively and intellectually. I look forward to exploring more of your techniques. Happy holidays and Happy beading,


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