Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Technique: Math and Star Points

This is my first attempt at writing about my techniques. Today I am talking about star points and specifically how I arrived at a means to make these little beauties: 

Sevenstar Charms

These little charms were an experiment in number. I noticed when using spikes, or whatever other major shape I was wanting to work with, and twin beads that I was often beading around bezeled rivolis with delics, then adding a row of twins--spaced by skipping every other stitch--and then adding my main shaped beads between those twins. The twins are good for stabilizing things in this arrangement, so it's a natural technique to default to, and I like the "star" like look that one can achieve. I also developed other "star" shapes using the tila bezel technique. 

However...I was bothered by the limitations on what type of star I could make this way. When doing a standard peyote bezel as a star base, the number of points is predetermined (if you want them to be evenly spaced) because of the numbers involved. Using size 14 rivolis, the natural number of points will always be 9, for size 12 rivolis, it will always be 8. If I use a tila bezel instead of a peyote bezel, I can get 6 points or 5 points respectively (a technique I'll write about separately). And while that's a pretty decent range of variation, I really wanted the ability to make a 7 point star, because...well, because. :P

So I had to think about the numbers a bit in order to make my seven pointed star dream come true:

 I use a standard number of beads to bezel a rivoli: 36 delicas for a 14mm, 32 delicas for a 12mm.  But when I stitch the supporting twin beads, I am stitching in the ditch of the peyote round below it, which is the base divided by 2 (18 for a 14mm, 16 for a 12mm). Because I have to skip a stitch between each twin, so there is room for the "point" of the star between them, I am dividing the round by 2 again--which is how we get 9 points on a 14mm rivoli and 8 points on a 12mm rivoli. Mathematically, that means I take the original number of beads strung for the bezel and divide by 4 to see how many points the star will have. (14mm=36 delicas / 4 =9; 12mm=32 delicas / 4 =8) With me so far?

Now, I want a seven point star. In math, equations have to work both ways if operations are reversed. So if the original base ring of beades divided by 4 gives me the number of points, then the number of points multiplied by 4 should give me the base number of beads I need in the bezel, which in this case is 28 (4x7). Therefore, if I want a seven pointed star from a peyote bezel using my standard technique, all I need to do is find the correct size rivoli to fit a 28 delica bezel. Turns out there is just such a rivoli: the new 10.5 mm size fits perfectly. (Though you can use 47ss dentelles, which will also fit that bezel, if you are so inclined--I did on my first few charms because I didn't have any 10.5mm rivolis on hand.)

So now I can make stars with 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9 points. I could go bigger than 9, but I am satisfied with this range. For anyone who wants to play with more points, I have some advice:

10 points requires a starting bezel with 40 beads, which is about right for a 16mm rivoli so that's easy. Going any higher, however, gets problematic. 11 points requires a bezel of 44, which is just shy of the 46 needed to properly bezel an 18mm rivoli. One might think that 12 points would better fit an 18mm, and it would, but it requires a bezel of 48--which you might be able to get around an 18mm, but it could be a bit loose depending on how you do your stitching. There currently is no size between a 16mm and 18mm rivoli, so the best way to go about 11 and 12 point stars, in my opinion, is to skip having a center rivoli and bead off a peyote ring (so you can control the base number of delicas more finitely).

Here is an example of how that might look (though this is one is made with only 9 points, because that's as many points as I, personally, prefer to have):

Star Wheel

You can see how the number of points can be easily changed in this design. The pendant will get larger as you add more points and there will be a bigger hole in the middle, but it's very doable. This method does make the "star" sort of roundish, but depending on what you are going for, that might work to your advantage. 

Hope this helps anyone wanting to make star designs. Next time, we talk about the versatility of tila bezels. :)

Happy beading! 


  1. Thank you! A most interesting, helpful and informative post.

    1. I'm glad it was helpful :) Thank you! (^-^)