Huichol Bead Art

HuicholHuichol (pronounciation) art dates back millennia and is created by the Huichol people of Mexico. Using intricate design, vibrant color and sacred symbols, the art has been a representation of visions seen by Huichol shamans. It has many forms.

Traditionally, in this type of Huichol art, glass beads or yarn is applied with bees wax. Unfortunately, it will melt if it’s in sunlight or too close to a heat source.

Today, more permanent adhesives are used, such as Tacky glue and E6000. It tends to be about preference, what adhesive you find easiest to use. You may want to test them on a practice area before hand… we have been using E6000 because we use it for almost every type of project and we’re familiar with it’s temperament.

(We DO NOT recommend using hot glue. It dries too fast and you’ll burn your flippin fingers off.
It’s a poor adhesive anyway, temporary at best.)

On the right, you’ll see a finished piece. A figure of a bird, approximately 4 inches tall, created by Andujar approximately ten years ago.

Surface Area

Non-glazed ceramic and/or unfinished wood figures or plaques are great objects to use if you decide to take on the challenge. You want a porous surface to give your adhesive something to grip. If you want perfection, you may want to use a plaque or a machine produced object that has a very even surface. Other objects (like our cow skull below) has a more organic surface so it’s harder to align the beads in an even pattern.


Craft stores and other big retailers with a craft isle usually carry them. The beads come in different sizes. You can use smaller beads for smaller projects and larger for larger ones. It’s easier if you use the same size bead throughout the entire piece. It makes it easier to create an even pattern.

If you want to try yarn, then go to the yarn store, I hear that’s where they keep it…


Pattern & Design

You’ll want to search, Huichol art pattern ideas, to see examples of patterns and design. This will help when you map out your design, making it up as you go works too. Everyone’s process is different.

The cow skull shown has a very uneven surface so it’s near impossible to create perfection. Andujar has more patience that I do, when my project gives me trouble, it gets thrown across the room or set on fire! I’m a psycho Virgo perfectionist, need I say more?

Cow Skull Prep

Assuming you have and idea of design, you can pencil it in as you can see above. It doesn’t need every detail, just use it as a guide.

Applying Glue

Apply a small area of adhesive (we used E6000) to your object, maybe an inch or two square. If the glue dries before you can apply beads, you’ll have some real issues! Keep it small to start.

Apply it thick enough to push the bead into slightly, but not so much to submerge the beads! Again, try a practice piece to get the feel.

Huichol Cow Skull

The beads are applied flat with the hole facing out toward you, you should see the hole. It’s done this way for more surface area on adhesive and if it’s flat, it won’t tip over.

Questions? Ask away in the comments below….


  1. So creative!

  2. Mary Kopp says

    Just love the bright colors and interesting patterns. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Nigel Williams says

    These are just amazing, instead of using Beeswax or glue, could you use Plasticine?? i have tried and it seems to work but not unsure of long term adhesion. Any advice would be welcome

  4. What is the best source for beads? We just returned from Mexico, and bought a gorgeous piece that (we were told) was made with glass beads, not the plastic kind — which are supposedly not as authentic, or as color-fast, as glass beads. For the few bare spots that I see, I would like to fill in with the real thing. Your suggestion? (feel free to email me: [email protected])

    • Organic Crafter says

      Do you have pictures of the piece you’re talking about? I’d have to see the type of bead used.

  5. I see that the beads suggested, in picture 2 are transparent glass, but it is my impression that Huichol Art achieves its effects and bright colors with the use of solid color, opaque matte beads, not the transparent kind. While I do not use strictly Huichol patterns, feeling that since they have spiritual significance this would be disrespectful, I do use beeswax and matte beads, and either make up an idea for a pattern as the beads direct, or I have an idea of the picture I want to achieve and follow those dictates. I started with 8/0 beads — always matte and opaque. Now I use 11/0 beads and many more colors. I would attach a photo, but on iPad I do not see how.

    Thank you for this site and your helpful hint about the use of E6000.

  6. I am wondering which Tacky Glue for Huichol beading on a skull? Aleene’s seems to have several types of it? I am wanting to do this inside during the winter and it looks like the E 6000 is toxic.

  7. I am using the beeswax used by the Huichol, in fact I got it in Mexico. I was wondering how long is the the drying process? I have used it before but don’t remember how long it took to dry.

  8. I thought there would be the need to constantly readjust the pattern, how could you do that with glue? I’m looking for an epoxy resin that uses heat to cure. I’m hoping I can use that to design it and when I’m done, I can just go over with a heat gun. I hate the idea of putting in all the work only to have it ruined. Any thoughts on the heat curing epoxy resin?


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