The journey to mastering beading and jewelry wouldn’t be complete without encountering and using bead jewelry tools. That’s why it’s so critical for beaders to know what bead jewelry tools to use and when to use them optimally. And let’s not forget that you can’t have the best experience if you don’t have quality beads and findings.
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Getting Started with Bead Jewelry Tools and Beading
You can learn to make simple beaded jewelry in an hour and devote a lifetime to improving your techniques. For this reason, jewelry beading is so enjoyable to many people; it’s simple to get started, but the variety of bead shapes and sizes may keep you challenged in fascinating ways as you advance your abilities.
Beading is an activity and art form that may be enjoyed and learned by people of all ages, from teenagers and older. As previously mentioned, getting to know the different bead jewelry tools available for crafters and jewelers alike is essential.
Do I need to purchase several tools to begin beading? What are the most vital necessities for getting started?
One of the advantages of beading is that you don’t need much equipment and supplies to start. However, I am aware that most beginning beaders would rather spend their money on gorgeous beads than ancillary materials.
Some essential supplies are required immediately, while others can be acquired as you develop your methods or expand out into other forms of beading.
Here are the fundamentals to get started:
Choose a pair of tiny scissors with sharp points. They are ideal for making precise, angled cuts in a thread, making it easier to thread the eye of a fine beading needle and remove extra threads from your work. To keep the edges of these scissors sharp, avoid using them to cut paper or other materials.
Begin stringing by purchasing crimping pliers to secure crimps. For wirework and general jewelry production, acquire round nose pliers for forming wire loops and chain nose pliers (or flat nose pliers) for bending the wire at right angles, opening rings, and grabbing onto more challenging surfaces.
Flush cutters and wire cutters
It is OK, to begin with, a standard side cutter for cutting ordinary wire, but a flush cutter is recommended since it creates a smoother, more uniform cut end. If you prefer to purchase only one tool for cutting flexible beading and ordinary wires, buy a flush cutter with a comfortable grip.
A dish for sorting beads
The most affordable tray for sorting and sifting beads is the 50-cent triangular tray, which is also the most useful. There are also bigger ceramic, plastic, and metal sorting dishes available.
Flat and flocked surface for beading
Beads perch on top of the fibers and are easy to pick up with a needle; the needle does not readily become entangled in the cloth. You may tailor a piece of fleece. Faux suede felt or any other suitable material to suit your beading tray.
For more significant projects, consider beading on cookie sheets, which can be stacked and stored atop the refrigerator when you need to clear the table fast. Reduce the size of the cloth you need to bring on the plane or for portable crafts.
Retractable tape measures are the handiest for measuring wire or thread lengths, bead sizes, and more, but a standard ruler works just as well. A bead gauge, sometimes known as a caliper, is a measurement instrument that can be useful for expert beaders
Fine-point permanent marker
Use it to mark wire for cutting or to put markings on your pliers so that all your loops are the correct size.
Bead Jewelry Tools for Visual Magnification During Beadwork
You have various alternatives if you wish to wear your prescription glasses and achieve increased magnification:
- A magnifier integrated with a lighting apparatus
- A magnifier is worn around the neck and resting on the chest, similar to those used by embroiderers.
- Clip-on reading glasses attach to the front of your regular glasses and flip out of the way when not in use.
- A headband-style magnifier that tilts up
Each of these designs is offered in a selection of magnification strengths.
A good illumination source is another crucial “tool” you require. Here are some pointers:
- Select an intense, localized light.
- Full-spectrum light is gentle on the eyes and assists with color selection. In addition, because it resembles natural sunshine, nighttime color perception is realistic.
- A portable lamp is easy to transport to your work location and directs light precisely where it is needed. It’s also fantastic to bring to class (so you don’t have to share a light)!
- There are floor lights and clip-on table lamps, and some types feature a magnifier inside a lit ring.
Bead Jewelry Tools: Pliers and Cutters
Round nose pliers contain two smooth, tapered, cone-shaped tips used to create loops of various sizes, often at the end of a wire or on a headpin or eyepin. This is likely the essential tool for wirework. If you can only buy one quality German hand tool, make it this one. There are several sizes of round-nose pliers available. My favorite pair includes lengthy tips that provide several possibilities for loop sizes, ranging from minor to enormous.
Chain-nose pliers have smooth, flat, tapered points that provide access to tight spaces. Use them to manipulate jump rings, grasp the wire firmly yet delicately, attach bead tips and other components, extract an additional bead, and thread the needle through a tight place. (However, do not press it or you risk breaking the bead.) There are also chain nose pliers with bent points. Extremely long, tapered-tip pliers are commonly referred to as needle-nose pliers.
Flat nose pliers resemble chain nose pliers but have squared-off, more enormous jaws. These also have smooth jaws and help produce neat square bends, but their inability to fit into remote locations makes them less adaptable for many forms of wirework.
Crimping pliers include a two-part jaw that allows you to firmly connect crimp beads to any stringing project by first crimping the beads around the wires (first jaw portion) and then folding the crimp beads over themselves (second jaw section).
You may use flush cutters/diagonal wire cutters to cut standard, soft, and half-hard metal wire. The backs of the blades meet smoothly to provide a straight cut, while the fronts produce an angled cut. Always make the straight cut on the wire end that will be visible for a more excellent finish. If required, turn the instrument and cut again to ensure that both ends are smooth. Use the SoftFlex flush cutter, which may also be used to cut standard wire, to cut flexible beading wire, as described in chapter 5 (see here). Never use these flush cutters on memory wire, which is made of hardened steel and will destroy them.
Memory wire requires a heavy-duty cutter that essentially snaps the wire, as opposed to cutting it, because it is comprised of hardened steel and requires a heavy-duty cutter to break the wire. Additionally, you can use a set of wire cutters made for piano wire.
How to Decrease Splitting
Some skilled beaders remove the sharp point from their needles to work with a dull needle. A blunt needle helps prevent thread splitting since the needle’s point will not readily puncture the thread. If the clipped end appears rough, you may smooth it by sliding it against a jeweler’s file or emery board many times.
How much thread should you leave out?
When instructed to leave a 4-inch tail, remember that 4-inches is the smallest quantity of thread to leave at the beginning of a project since it is just enough thread to weave in the tail after the project is complete. Please consider leaving excess thread before beginning a piece if you believe you might want to add a clasp, work an extra row or two, or if you are unsure of what you want to accomplish. Thread is low-cost. You may permanently remove it if you no longer require it.
I recommend leaving at least 12 to 18 inches of thread as a tail, so you don’t have to add a new thread to complete a tiny amount of sewing later. If a long thread tail interferes with the beginning of the item, wrap it and place it in a tiny ziplock bag. It will remain clean and untangled until it is required.
Is there a more straightforward method of opening split rings without losing them in the process?
I agree that the fingernail “tool” is helpful because it is linked to the arm. However, I lose considerably fewer split rings when I use pliers or tweezers to manipulate split rings. This is because the tool’s one jaw features a tiny “L” that forces one side of the split ring open and maintains it in that position while the clasp or other finding is attached. Next, use chain-nose pliers to spin the ring until the item is fully inserted. This strategy reduces the number of misplaced rings.
Smaller split rings are more challenging to manipulate than bigger ones. To place a clasp or other ring into a split ring without changing its form requires experience. When working with tiny split rings, pliers should open them as little as possible.
You’ll also need a set of children’s scissors to cut vital, “uncuttable” polyethylene threads and a pair of scissors with a sharp tip for clipping threads from your work. The blades of these scissors are precisely aligned for cutting these stubborn threads for some reason.
When I use bead jewelry tools on metal, particularly sterling silver, they create markings. How can I prevent these scrapes and dings?
The tool’s purpose is not to crush the wire but to gently grip and hold it so it may be bent or molded. Use a piece of soft fabric between the metal and the pliers to protect sterling silver from scratches. Wrap the ridged jaws of electrical pliers with masking tape if you need to use them in a rush.
Also available are liquid rubber compounds that may be used to coat pliers’ tips. These materials dry smooth and soft to minimize scratching or scarring, and their rubbery consistency makes it easier to hold wire and other metal findings. Liquid rubber is available in many colors and is simple to remove and reapply as needed. Hardware stores may also carry these items.
As you gain experience and do more wirework, you will learn to handle your instruments with more outstanding care so as not to ruin the wire.
How can I learn to work with tiny beads if I cannot see them?
There are two essential beading tools that you must always have on your workbench: magnification and light. If you cannot correctly see the beads, you will be unable to follow the stitch or complete the pattern.
The issue is that many beaders are unaware that they cannot see the beads well. Regular reading and driving glasses may not give sufficient magnification for beading. Remember that your doctor’s purpose is to fix your distance or close-up vision, but for beading, we need to see those tiny beads more significant than life-size. Therefore, it is advantageous to have stronger reading glasses on hand.