How to Make a Native American Beaded Rosette

By Kathy Kattenburg
Beaded rosettes are a traditional Native American art form.

A beaded rosette is a round object made by sewing beads in concentric circles on a cloth or hide backing ("rosette" means "rose-shaped"). Beaded rosettes depicting animals, items from nature, or abstract designs are a traditional kind of Native American beadwork. These beaded designs can be as elaborate or simple as desired.

Traditional rosette designs are both abstract and representational.

Decide on a design and sketch it out on the paper, or trace a design you like onto the paper, or photocopy (or print) a design from a magazine or book. You can fill in the design with a colored pencil or crayon as you wish.

Thick cloth, such as felt, makes a good backing for your beaded rosette.

Cut out the design and place it on the backing material. The backing material should be the same size or slightly larger than the design.

Your thread should be at least two arm lengths.

Cut off a long length of thread -- at least long enough to stretch the length of your arm twice. Position the needle underneath the center of the design and pull it up through the backing to the knotted end.

Take one bead and put your needle through the hole in the center of the bead to string the bead on the thread. Pull the beaded needle back down through the center of your design until you reach the knotted end, and the bead is sitting flat at the center of the design.

Position the needle underneath the backing, directly beneath the left or right side of the single bead at the center. Pull the needle up through the design until you reach the knotted end.

String as many beads onto the thread as needed to complete the circle. Pull the needle down through the first center bead to the end of the thread.

Secure the beaded circle by pulling the needle and thread back up through the circle -- not through the beads themselves but through the space between any two of the beads -- and then pushing the needle back down immediately outside the bead circle. Repeat this action a few times -- pulling the needle up between the beads in the circle, spacing your stitches a few beads apart, and anchoring by pulling the needle and thread back down right outside the circle.

Repeat Steps 1 through 7 to make your second circle, and all the others until you're finished.

Tip

If possible, use Japanese paper (washi) to draw your design. Translucent paper such as onion skin works well for tracing a design.

Felt is easier to use than leather if you are a beginner.

Waxed thread works best with leather.

You will need at least 200 seed beads to make a medium-sized rosette.

About the Author

Kathy Kattenburg has been a writer for more than 30 years. Her articles have been published in "N.J. Jewish News" and "Suburban Essex," and she is a contributing writer and full partner at Not the Singularity. Kattenburg has a BA in English literature from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.