The Beaded SashWhen I was a younger member of the Order of the Arrow,
I was always impressed by the beaded sashes worn by a number of the more
respected members of our lodge (Harold Stevens and Al Deprez). Although I
attempted the project once as a Scout, I did not have the time or creative
ability to come up with something that I felt was of the appropriate quality.
Later, as I learned more of the beadwork craft and found supplies of good
quality, I decided that I could now attempt the project. It took about 6 months
(spread out evenly across my free time -- you know, between troop/district/council
and other assorted meetings) of effort. Although not incredibly expensive in terms
of supplies, it was costly in terms of time and effort.
I refused to allow even
one bad bead, so if there was a break or I discovered a mistake, I would
remove row after row (sometimes up to 1/2 inch) to replace the mistaken
section. I always worked with the belief that this is a one-time project,
never to be repeated, so I should do it right.
The patterns were worked
out using Corel Draw on a PC Clone. The actual work was done on a modified
beading loom that I bought from Tandy Leather (the large wooded one, not the
little wire thing). The only modification was to extend the length of the
loom from 3 feet to 8 using some aluminum braces from the local True-Value
All the initial loom threading was done using nylon based,
cotton covered carpet thread (from a fabric store). This is much more durable
than simple cotton. I have seen a number of beaded sashes that are only 25-30
years old that are in pieces because of lack of foresight, the cotton rotted
away beneath the beads..
The actual beading was done using NYMO, a nylon
beading thread available thru Tandy Leather and other craft stores specializing
In regard to beads, it is important to get high quality beads for this
project. That means beads that are almost all of the same width and color.
To do this, you must research the available sources and buy them all at once.
In this regard, Tandy is not the best place to purchase the beads (at least
since the last time I was there). I buy mine through "The Wandering Bull" in
Attleboro, MA; an indian craft supply store of very high quality.
The Arrow Head
The top of the OA arrow shows the pattern format for making the this OA sash.
The loom was beaded with 40 strings. This allows for a sash of 39 beads wide,
utilizing asize 11-0 bead. BUY QUALITY BEADS.
(white) is made up of two shades of white. I used translucent whitebeads for the
edge bars (and later for the background arrow pattern), and a solid opaquewhite
for the main sash. Be sure to mix all the different beads of the same color together,
to evenly distribute small differences in color shades based upon dye lot.
The arrow is made up of three shades of red, creating a 3-D effect.
The Arrow Tail
The pattern for the arrow tail is similar to the top, repeating the threes shades
of red for the arrow, and two shades of white for the background.
Updated Arrow Bars
After starting the sash, I found that I was not happy with the plan for the
brotherhood bars, so I created an updated pattern providing a deeper 3D effect.
After the first few inches of work on the sash, I was not happy with the way it was
coming out. I imagined it as being boring (even with the 3D effect on the arrow).
Knowing that this would probably be a once-in-a-lifetime project, I wanted it to be unique.
Knowing the BSA's attitude towards sash legends, I did not want to offend those who were
very obstinate about the topic (later I learned of those who are just as much against
beaded sashes--- sheesh, you'ld think there was more important things to argue over).
I came up with the idea of embedding images in the white part of sash, by utilizing
two shades of white.
The first step in doing this, was to update the pattern behind
the arrow and bars, so as I came to within an inch of the lowest bar, I started working
this pattern into the background as I beaded the arrow. The effect is amazing.
I continued the pattern through the top of the arrow and bar, and extended it
for one inch beyond, then settled for a solid white pattern for the over-the-shoulder
section of the sash. I then started to repeat the pattern in reverse down the back.
As I am not a member of the Vigil honor, I never created the pattern for the
additional triangle and arrows needed to complete that part of the sash. As I get
some free time, I will attempt to do so in the future (if anyone has the time to do
it for me, the effort would be appreciated).
The Sash Back
As I went down the back of the sash, I worked in the following patterns, spaced
evenly down the back.
Remember, the dark beads on the pattern represent transparent
beads. You may need to check the beads to ensure that the transparent beads are the
same width as the opaque ones. (I seem to remember having to buy transparent beads
one size smaller than the others because they were from different sources and the
sizing did not match).
In actuality, there is one more pattern of an indian on a
horse that has been lost over the years, I will have to recreate it from the sash
itself when I get time.
I also added an additional symbol (a small Star-Trek emblem)
to the bottom of the back of the sash, but do not think that it needs to be added here.
I firmly believe in adding images of some sort that will personalize the project for