Saturday 28 January 2017

Building an I-Ching bead bracelet

If you want to build your own I Ching bead bracelet, here are some more detailed instructions. Feel free to ask if you need any more clarity.

Types of I-Ching bracelets

The first step is to decide what are you going to build:
  1. A four color bracelet.
  2. A two color bracelet
  3. A single color bracelet
I will assume you want a bracelet with yarrow stalks probability, let me know if you're aiming to a different probability distribution.
The bead patterns for each type of bracelet are described at the end of this post.

Procuring the beads

This can be as simple as recycling an old bracelet or necklace or going to a shop close to you.
Another option is buying from online shops: some are specialized in selling jewelry related items (like Beadholic) others are big on line shops that also offer a large variety of beads (like Aliexpress). Depending on why you are building an I Ching bracelet (for yourself, as a gift, to sell them, ...) one option might be better than others.

Here are some examples of beads you can easily buy online:

An important point is that
the only difference between any two beads should be their color.
This means that you should not mix beads of different size or material to avoid that some bead is selected more often than others.

Choosing a cord

The cord plays an extremely important part in the bracelet. More precisely, what's important is the thickness of the cord with respect to the hole of the beads:
  • If you use beads on just one color, it should be thick enough so that the beads couldn't cross the knots that separate the beads groups.
  • If you use more colors, the beads should be able to cross the knot that closes the bracelet itself.
You can choose among many colors and material for the cord, including elasic cord that will make the bracelet easy to wear:

Putting it together

For two or four color bracelets, the simplest way is to add the beads to the string and tie the string to close bracelet. The most important thing is that

there should be no begin or end  in the sequence of beads.

This is to avoid that some bead become more recognizable than others.
The picture below shows a good example of a (non I Ching) bracelet where it is impossible to distinguish a beginning or an end:

A way to do it is to tuck the closing knots into the hole of one of the beads, so that it becomes invisible, and glue it.
On the Made in a Day blog you can find an illustration on how to tie tight knots:

You may want to try some more complicated ways to put together the beads like this one:

Remember that the challenge is to tie the ends so to make it seamless: no begin, no end!

Four color pattern

Actually, there is no need for a pattern if you're using four color. Say you're using the colors described in the sexteen marbles method page: 1 black, 7 gray, 5 orange, 3 red, you can place them as you like best and consider the bracelet as a way to carry your I Ching beads with you. Easier than using a small bag and safer against the risk of losing one of the beads should they fall and scatter around .
Remember: make sure that the beads can freely move along the cord.

Two color pattern (alternate)

This is the simplest pattern. Assuming you are using eight black beads and eight white beads, you alternate them with the proportion 1b/5w/7b/3w to allow you to identify which line corresponds to each bead.
Remember: make sure that the beads can freely move along the cord.

Two color pattern (De Bruijn)

This follows a De Bruijn patterns. I like this better than the alternatate pattern but it's a little bit more tricky to use for divination.
Remember: make sure that the beads can freely move along the cord.

One color pattern

With a single color, which is the one I lke the most, the groups 1:5:7:3 are separated with knots. I prefer to leave the beads a little bit loose on the cord.
Remember: make the knots big enough so that the beads can not move over them.