What is a bead spindle?

Most bead spindles are support spindles -- you take a bead, add a steel, wooden or bamboo shaft, and wa-la -- spindle!

I have made spindles from glass beads I've made myself, glass beads from other bead makers, and a variety of ceramic, glass, stone, wood, or what-have-you beads from bead stores like Shipwreck Beads.

Interestingly enough, my local bead store sells ceramic African Beads that are identical to "African Spindle Whorls" I've purchased at Black Sheep and other shows -- that made me grin!

There are also Donut Bead spindles -- those are terrific spinners, since they have a dense stone donut bead as the whorl.

All of these support-spindle style bead spindles are spun just like a Tahkli spindle. Which is to say, you hold the spindle in your right hand (or dominant hand? I've never seen a left-handed Tahkli spindler...) while it is in a dish. Flick it to make it spin, and let it spin in the "O" that your first finger and thumb make -- they hold it upright. Practice this a fair bit before you add fiber to the mix. These are great for cotton, and for learning how to long draw -- because your right hand is busy flicking and O'ing to keep the spindle going, your left hand learns (eventually!) to pull the fiber back at a 45 degree angle from the hook as fast as twist enters the fiber. This is often called point of twist drafting, too.

(The difference between point of twist drafting and long draw is that point of twist drafting is "slow" enough that you can't pull against the twist again, while long draw is faster so you can pull the same length out further. Long draw is useful if your fiber drafts unevenly, as the thicker parts will continue to pull out with the second tug. Now that I've lost half of you in the depths of spinning terminology -- let me point you to a great wheel-spinning long draw video on You Tube. And then stop digressing.)

There's a very helpful support spindle video by Gwen Powell here.

Okay. But there's nothing that says you have to make a support spindle with your favorite bead. In fact on Spindle Shots, there are some lovely top-whorl bead spindles! With credits to ...

upper left: glass bead spindles

upper right: green-copper spindle

lower left: cotton?

lower right

There are bead spindle kits available at The Bellwether, they come with a support spindle, spindle bowl, and generous pouf of cotton, in a sturdy kraft box.

And "Thank You!" to marianne for asking!

1 comment:

Em said...

Informative as ever, Amelia! I'm going to have to scour my local bead stores for more spindle-worthy beads. And thanks for linking to a few of my homemade spindles!