Monday, December 13, 2010

The First Challenge! Infinity Dodecahedron & Donut

Okay Wow! 
Let me start by saying that I have been hooked on making dodecahedron for quite some time.  When I first starting beading a little over 5 years ago I went searching the Internet for 3D objects.  I don't know why exactly, I just did.  My search led me to a site called Bead-Patterns and a designer by the name of Chris Prussing.  I found a neat little cross weave pattern for Chinese Pearl balls, better known as dodecahedron.  I've driven my friends crazy with them ever since.  I enjoyed them so much I just kept making them over and over in every gorgeous color of 4mm Czech fire polish I could find.  Problem was I didn't know what to do with them after I made them.  But each one was a lovely little sparkling beauty.  I was happy to have a bowl full of them for a while.  Then one day BAM!  I found a way to put them all together. 
Here is "Mardi Gras"

This is a double core spiral using bugles on one side. Some may recognize this pattern from the cover of February 2007 Bead & Button magazine.  I thought these two ideas would be fun together.  It is a fun exuberant, but short lariat.  It is wonderfully tactile and all those little jangly dodecahedron give you something to do when you are standing in line at the grocery store!

Fast forward to 2010....
Over the intervening years I have found other interesting 3D projects and come up with a few of my own.  I have learned many new beading techniques and developed my skills.  Designing new things....well that is a challenge.  And I love a good challenge!
I have long admired all of the fabulous patterns at Bead Infinitum, but I have been hesitant, nah straight up afraid to take them on!!  Remember those Internet searches I told you about?  Well, I found math articles by Gwen using beaded beads to explain geometrical relationships!  I was intrigued, enough to save them to my computer for future reference.  (glad I did!) But the knowledge that the patterns were created by professors of mathematics was a tad daunting.  Silly me.

Why am I doing it now???

Not long ago Gwen Fisher and Florence Turnour of  Bead Infinitum requested applicants for the Bead Infinitum Design Team, so I applied.  Very soon I had a lovely email from Florence telling me that I had been selected to participate!!


Suddenly I realized I had to face my fear! The challenge of the math masters' beading patterns. I don't know why I've been so intimidated by them!  I haven't met a pattern yet that I couldn't figure out and accomplish!  I've taught myself most the beading stitches out there.  Still, I was shaking in my boots!  LOL...  After reading the design team instructions I devised a plan!  I would meet the challenge by starting with a familiar subject! Lovely Dodecahedron!  When the Infinity Dodecahedron and Infinity Donut patterns arrived I discovered two twists I had not considered.  Bwaa ha ha ha!! Gwen and Florence!! No... 

1st - Infinity weave Dodecahedron are done with a single needle! 2nd - They have a layer of embellishment!  I was in trouble! 
Now I had to rethink the whole process.  I had to shut out the method I had learned, could do in my sleep and learn to make this beaded bead with one needle.  The visualization and execution of this bead took some getting used to!  Never mind that I loved the original beaded beads, I always wanted to figure out how to get more beads on each edge.  BUT I never had the patience to sit and figure it out.  Apparently Gwen and Florence did! Thank heavens!  I think they have devised a way to get paid for figuring out bead patterns, so that they can then print them and sell them and get paid for them again.  Now you do the math! Clever ladies! 

So I decided that I would follow the Infinity Dodecahedron pattern's step by step process and make myself completely comfortable with it. The simple dodecahedron was fairly easy, since I knew what the finished piece would be and generally how it would work up.  The Infinity version adds a new dimension and solved the riddle behind having more beads on each side in the shape! Gwen and Florence very wisely suggest you work with the largest size beads first and I did.  I made all three sizes of regular Infinity Dodecahedron before I started experimenting with other beads.  I wanted be totally confident with how to make them before I moved on to putting them into my own creation.  

Here are my samples:

Okay, so far so good.  Now, as in the past, what to do with them???  (story time begins)  My husband and I travelled to his home town, Dodge, in Wisconsin for deer hunting season and Thanksgiving with his family this year.  Yes, I went deer hunting. Todd, my husband, was successful, sadly I was not.  Maybe next year.  Well, back to the original story... Monday night before Thanksgiving I was drifting off to sleep thinking about this design challenge and wondering what could I do differently?  How could I connect them together in a new and different way?  I wanted to link them together, but how?  I'm a seed bead snob and shun using metal findings when I can. So I wanted a seed bead solution, or at least not metal finding one. 

(I did not want to "find" a metal finding that would solve my design dilemma....ack!)

O-rings came to mind.  But what kind of o-rings?  I was driving to Minneapolis the next morning to visit a friend and go to Bobby Bead.  I also planned to visit Beth Kraft's store Nordic Gypsy in Rochester.  Oh!  And then it came to me!  I had taken a class with Beth when she came to The Great Lakes Beadworkers Guild this year.  She brought lots of lovely unique items from her store to share with us!  I remembered that she had these wonderful rubbery o-rings in lots of colors! Oh boy, now I knew how I would connect the dodecahedron together!   Almost!  I also knew that I wanted to use the Infinity Donut as the loop part of a toggle.  ONWARD!!

Before I could join the dodecahedrons together with o-rings I had to figure out where in the process to add the rings.  So with the pattern in front of me and a dodecahedron without the embellishment layer in front of me, I mapped out my plan.  The first o-ring is added on the very first round of beads (1-5).  That was easy enough.  The hard part comes later.  Where to add the second ring....turns out the ring must go around bead 21.  When you have the pattern and know the steps it all makes sense.  Properly executed this places o-rings on edges exactly opposite each other in the same orientation.  

It's just a little trickier than it sounds...because you have to pay attention to where you place the rest of the beads as you finish the base rounds so that you capture the o-ring on the correct edge bead.  Once I had that figured out it went fairly smoothly. 

So here you see my design realized!!

"Infinity Connections"
Notice that the toggle ends are Infinity Tetrahedron - another regular solid that can be made using the Infinity Weave.  I executed the first tetrahedron, then directly off it's base I started a three-sided tubular herringbone section and ended with another infinity tetrahedron.  (That took a little thought.  I had to pay attention and make sure I built the sides up from the base.)  I added a crystal bi cone at each top for sparkle. 

Next I tried the Infinity Donut pattern.   This was easy to do, now that I fully understood the process.  The Infinity Donut  is simply a variation of the Dodecahedron.  The embellishment instructions make it's appearance unique.  Because I wanted to complete this project right away I simply followed the instructions for the embellishment layer, rather than playing with my own variation. Here is the Infinity Donut at the loop end of my bracelet.  Bottom's up! 

The donut is joined to the bracelet on a lower vertical side so that it lies with the center hole oriented up and down.  The toggle goes up through the center hole to the top of the Donut to close the connection.  Ta Dah!


Here is another project I am working on:

This is a Russian Spiral embellished with dyed jade 4mm rounds.  This is growing into a long necklace or perhaps a lariat with multiple Infinity Dodecahedron .   However, I am no where near through playing with these two patterns.  There are many more ideas floating around in my head about these little darlin's!  Remember those sample beads?  There are some other bead combinations I want to try out and oh...the possibilities are endless!

Hope you enjoyed my rant on Infinity Dodecahedrons!


  1. Great post and very interesting. Most of all, I LOVE what you created! Amazing!

  2. I love it! The use of the O rings is such a great idea and go wonderfully with the bright colors you chose. Hmmm, how about swarovski rings or some small art glass rings. I'm looking forward to your next creation.

  3. Oh Christine, leave it to you to make crazy with more ring ideas! Oh, Beth friend is ring crazy too...that gives me another idea! LOL

  4. Oh, my! You've been a busy beader. I'm so excited to see what you've done with our patterns. I'm glad you pointed out the little Infinity tetrahedrons on the toggle, or I might have missed that part. It was very ingenious for you to link the beaded beads together through their holes, and smart to mark the pattern so you could repeat it! I think my favorite one is the one with the big orange curved drops on the embellishment! Awesome! I also like the striped effect of the one to it's left. Thank you so much Sharon for putting together such a great blog post. And congratulations on your new blog. I look forward to seeing whatever comes next.

  5. Sharon, this is great! I like getting a peek into the plans and ideas you have along the way. I love your Mardi Gras necklaces. My favorite of your dodeca's is that stripy orange one on the top left. Those stripes are appealing. I will enjoy featuring your Infinity connections in our gallery. Thanks for the great work!

  6. What a neat piece! Your use of O-rings to connect the beaded beads together is so cool.

  7. Seriously, it's like you walked into my head, said 'yes', and wrote this blog. Only, now I have to stop being a punk (i.e., overcome my own intimidation, as well as force myself shift into single needle beading-mode again) and do my own work. These are so beautiful and you are a genius to have connected your dodecahedra so artfully. *applause*