What’s the point of MRAW?

“Is there any point to an MRAW band in Geometric Beadwork?” This was a search term that someone used to get to my blog. This question refers to Kate McKinnon’s genius Modified Right Angle Weave Bellyband as seen in her Contemporary Geometric Beadwork book series. The simple answer is “ABSOLUTELY!”, but I will elaborate…

The MRAW band is used as a starting point for many of the structures in CGB. It is, in simple terms, a right angle weave strip with a row of peyote added in a single pass. It is a time consuming element, and if one was uncomfortable with it, there is no reason one couldn’t simply make a band of RAW and add the peyote row afterwards, or even eliminate the RAW section and just do a peyote start – however there is a definite advantage to using MRAW instead: structural integrity. mrawThis wonderful thread path, locks the peyote teeth in place and ensures a much more even distribution of your RAW beads. But it’s so much more than that.

MRAW vs Peyote start
A peyote start can be tricky at the best of times. It involves stringing on all of the beads of your first two rows, then adding the third row in an alternating pattern to pull the beads into the staggered, ‘toothed’ pattern we are familiar with. This start creates a problem with tension; the first rows will be tighter that the rest of the work. In smaller scale pieces, this tension difference may be so slight, that it will go unnoticed. However, the larger the width of peyote, the more compounded this problem will be. Many of the pieces in CGB are hundreds of beads wide, if you manage a peyote start without breaking beads towards the end of the third row, the tension variation will still create unsightly undulations of your “fabric”, instead of a sleek, smooth surface.

Progress photos highlighting the important role the the MRAW Belly-band in a Fortuneteller

Progress photos highlighting the important role of the MRAW Belly-band in a Fortuneteller

An MRAW band start ensures a gentle tension right from the get-go, as it creates the teeth of the first peyote row for you. It also gives you extra options as to how to build off it, whether you add it as a design feature in the middle of a cuff, or as a functional base for a layered piece, adding strength and structure to your design. In some of your designs, you may not wish to include the MRAW Belly-Band, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still use it to your full advantage. Let me direct you to Kate’s ingenious “Exploding Round”. I can’t tell you how much I love this concept, I used it in my Harlequin Bangles because I wanted an uninterrupted flowing pattern. The best part is the same Belly-Band can be used again and again for an easy start.


Harlequin Bangles, worked off the same Removable MRAW Belly-Band

So while the MRAW start may not be the only way to start, it is the only start I’d recommend to someone working on Rick-Racks, Fortunetellers and their Winged and Horned friends.


13 thoughts on “What’s the point of MRAW?

  1. Shana Padilla

    Darn it wrote on my phone and hit the wrong button. I have purchased both books but haven’t gotten a chance to try this new adventure as yet. This makes it so much more clear and I can’t wait to get a free moment to try a new path on beading! Thanks again!

  2. Sherri

    I am just starting in learning this. How is it that you can use the same belly and over and over if it is attached to your work?

    1. jennysangster Post author

      Hi Sherri, thank you for your question. Create your belly band in the size you need, and add a row or two of peyote. Create an Exploding Round as demonstrated in this video ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwSjAzXaqEE ). Build your bangle/cuff as usual, cut your thread at the detonation points (the yellow beads in the video) to explode your Exploding Round, and simply pry the belly band off, now you can reuse your belly band for your next project safe in the knowledge that it will be the correct size.

  3. Tiena Habing

    I love the MRAW for starting peyote now and have 6-7 different bellybands ( some for straight edges, some for Zigzag edges ) that I have used many times. One of the best things is that for a piece like you’re harlequin bangle you wouldn’t have to count out your beads as you pick up the first row, only to find out that somewhere, somehow you miscounted.
    If I know that the bellyband won’t be part of the finished piece, I use a different coloured bead for every tenth peyote bead. Next time I want to use the bellyband it’s easier to count the number of beads around if planning a design and gives me an easier visual reference when stitching.

    Love the harlequin bangles!

  4. beadandpolish

    I received the books and altough I read them already on e version and watch the videos I couldn’t really figure out this advantage of re usable belly bands. Thanks to you I think I stary to get it. Need to practice now ! Start with triangles soon as said in the book 😀

    1. jennysangster Post author

      That’s wonderful to hear! The triangles are a great place to start. Knce you understand peyote, increase and decrease, you can make many wonderful things. Enjoy!


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