From The Bench

Learning Bead Stringing Techniques

Bead stringing techniques are centered on attaching beads to a “string” — typically flexible beading wire, leather cord, or strong thread — so they may be worn or hung.

This is perhaps the earliest method of wearing or exhibiting beads, and it is an excellent location to begin beading. As there are beaders, there are infinite methods to thread beads. For instance:

  • A single bead may dangle alone in the middle of a wire or rope.
  • You can string identical beads on a single line.
  • Beads can be alternated with beads of various sorts, colors, or sizes.
  • The beads may have the same hue and composition but varying sizes, so the bead strand grows thinner as it reaches the clasp.
  • You can utilize a variety of beads to create a more complex design.
  • Beads may be strung in any pattern imaginable.

At the clasp, two or more strands of beads may be linked. Beginner beading students may create gorgeous, wearable, and expressive necklaces, wrist and ankle bracelets, eyeglass leashes, handbag handles, and even home décor projects such as curtain tiebacks and light-catching strands by using simple stringing techniques. If you appreciate this sort of beadwork, it is a logical transition to move on to weaving and crocheting.

Am I limited to just using beading threads?

Instead of thread, I propose stringing beads on flexible beading wire. Many of the bead repairs I perform include beads strung on a thread. Either the thread itself is stretched, snapped, or frayed, or the bead tip or clamshell where the thread attaches to the clasp has broken. So why not begin by making your components stronger? I attempt to encourage novice beaders away from the thread and toward more vital, durable stringing techniques.

Pro Bead Stringing Techniques: How to Choose the Right Wire

Bead stringing on flexible beading wire is the most dependable and lasting approach. Choose one of the high-quality brands and avoid beading wire that contains fewer than 21 stainless steel strands.

I strung a necklace on the coated wire, which is now all twisted and coiled. I like to utilize the wire with fewer strands due to its lower cost. So what did I do wrong?

Not all coated wires are equivalent. For example, you may be employing an older type of wire known as a relatively rigid tiger tail. It is typically composed of three to seven steel strands and can twist, kink, and break when bent.

The new, high-tech flexible beading wires are comprised of several micro-stainless steel strands, so they have an exceptionally gentle drape and are both robust and flexible. Depending on the size of your bead holes, use flexible beading wire with 21 to 49 strands of cabled stainless steel for drape, strength, and flexibility.

How to determine the appropriate size of beading wire?

There are several options.

You should use the most significant size of wire that fits easily through your beads’ holes—the bigger the wire, the more vital the component. Additionally, if the necklace breaks, the beads will not readily fall off the bigger wire, reducing the likelihood of losing beads.

Getting Wire Gauges Right

Flexible beading wire is available in various sizes, allowing you to select the optimal one for your project.

Try a good weight (.014 or.015) with 19 to 21 strands for tiny seed beads and pearls, which typically have small holes.

Use a thick wire (.024) with 49 strands for huge, heavy beads with sharp edges or large holes or for objects that will experience a great deal of movement, friction, and regular wear, such as watchbands and bracelets.

Choose a wire with 49 strands and a medium-weight gauge (.018 or.019) for most other applications. When in doubt, use the wire with the thickest gauge to accommodate your beads and the most significant number of strands.

Extra-thin wire (.010 to.012) is considerably lighter, with a breaking strength of 5 to 7 pounds. It is intended for peyote stitch and bead weaving, and stringing is not suggested.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of utilizing monofilament material for beading?

One of the benefits of monofilament is that it is transparent, making it virtually unnoticeable when used for stringing or weaving. Its invisibility makes it ideal for floating designs in which the stringing material should not be visible. In addition, monofilament is available in various sizes and strengths, and it is not necessary to match the color of the monofilament to the beads, as is the case when weaving with thread.

However, monofilament is not a robust stringing medium compared to flexible beading wire or strong thread. When crimped too firmly, monofilament can be severed by crimps. Monofilament may grow yellow and brittle with age, so it is not a good option for beading that you wish to last.

How can I finish the thread’s ends if I wish to string something?

The easiest way to complete a piece strung on thread is to add a bead tip (also known as a knot cup) or clamshell to either end to create a secure connection with the clasp. Metal to metal is more durable than metal to thread. The bead tip is a little cup holding the knot, but a clamshell is often bigger and closes over it to conceal it. Either style may be added easily.

A bead tip functions similarly to a clamshell, only it does not require a seed bead and does not wrap around the knot. Additionally, bead tips are often smaller than clamshells, making them a preferable option for finer-gauge items like pearls. Finally, if your knot is neatly bonded, it will likely disappear within the cup.

The small arm or loop of the bead tip or clamshell and the thread are the weakest points of this manufacturing style. This arm can only be bent twice before it becomes brittle and breaks. The arm of finds made from base metal is more vital to withstand bending but also more brittle and susceptible to breaking. If you are stringing a necklace on the thread, you may choose to use silver plate clamshells instead of sterling silver for added strength, taking care to only bend the arms once.

Bead Stringing Techniques: Mastering the Clamshell

  1. String an 11° seed bead and tie a surgeon’s knot around it at the thread’s end.
  2. Pass the thread through the clamshell’s inside.
  3. Apply glue to the knot. Let everything cure.
  4. Snip off the thread’s short end.
  5. Close the clamshell using chain nose pliers, encapsulating the seed bead and knot.
  6. Using a pair of round-nosed pliers, bend the arm or loop of the clamshell around one end of the clasp so that it is secure yet movable. It is essential that the connection between the clasp and necklace may move freely.
  7. String the piece’s beads, followed by a second clamshell from the outside, and finish with a seed bead.
  8. Adjust the item’s tension so that there is not too much thread, but the piece still drapes well.
  9. Above the seed bead, tie many double overhand knots.
  10. Glue, trim, and seal the clamshell as with the first clasp end, and then bend the clamshell’s loop around the second clasp end.

How should the ends of the thread be secured once the beading is complete?

I recommend using high-quality flexible beading wire and crimps to create a flexible and durable piece of jewelry. If you want to use a sturdy thread, place the knot at either end within a bead tip or clamshell.

Is silk still the most excellent stringing material for different bead stringing techniques?

Many novice beaders choose silk because they believe it to be an excellent material. However, current technology advancements make flexible beading wire the superior option. Securing the wire with a single little crimp at either end removes the need for knots, other rings, and fragile bead cups or clamshells. A piece strung on flexible beading wire constructed correctly will survive for years. Pieces strung with silk will tear with time and require restringing every few years, depending on how often they are used.

Bead Stringing Techniques: All About Crimps

What are crimp beads, and how do I determine the ones I need?

Crimps are metal tubes or beads that secure the ends of flexible beading wire on strung jewelry.

There are several varieties of crimps available in various sizes. Some are of higher quality and more user-friendly than others.

Crimp beads are crimped with a bead-like shape. They typically range in diameter from 2 to 3 millimeters and are available in silver- and gold-plating, gunmetal, antique copper, and other ornamental finishes.

Consequently, what is the distinction between crimp tubes and crimp beads? I do not suggest crimp beads for stringing unless you need one of the ornamental hues. Since they are composed of base metal, they are more challenging to fold nicely and tend to shatter more readily, making them unsuitable for novices. Additionally, tube crimps make more uniform contact with the wire and are more secure than round crimp beads. I use 2 2mm tube crimps for most stringing on flexible wire ranging from fine.014 to heavy.024 gauge.

I would advise avoiding plated crimp tubes and beads in general. Even though they are less expensive than sterling silver crimps and gold-filled crimps, the price difference is negligible, and base metal crimps fracture and shatter far too frequently. In addition, because sterling silver and gold-filled crimps are softer, they are more capable of conforming to the wire’s shape and retaining it securely.

How are crimps utilized?

When a piece of jewelry is strung on a flexible beading wire, the crimp tube connects the wire to the clasp, securing the piece. Therefore, the crimps must be robust and well fastened. The correct location of the crimp is between a bumper or cushion bead and the necklace string close to the clasp.

What are the best bead stringing techniques for using crimping pliers?

Crimping pliers are used with tube and crimp beads to produce a hard, nicely folded crimp. A crimp that has been folded is less noticeable and more secure than one that has been flattened with standard pliers. The pliers are offered in three sizes that all function identically.

Typically, crimping pliers are packed on a card with basic instructions printed on the reverse. Keep this card as a reference until you are comfortable with the crimping procedure. You may also find crimping instructions in the Basics section of most beading publications and on the following few pages.

Examine your crimping pliers well. Their jaws contain two ovals or scoops:

The tip at the top of the rear scoop (near the handle) will create a dent or crease in the middle of your crimp.

The front scoop is an oval shape used to fold the crimp in half along the crease. Start by stringing one folded crimp between the last and next-to-last beads at either end of the piece to create a secure folded crimp. I refer to the final bead at either end as the “bumper bead.” (See the following question.) It works as a cushion to shield the wire from the crimp tube’s harsh cut edges and gives the piece’s ends a more polished appearance (more beads, less metal).

How exactly does crimping function?

It is simple to attach a crimp to the starting end of a piece. This is how:

  • On a wire, string a crimp and a bead. Pass the wire end through the clasp’s loop and back through the first bead and crimp tube, separating the two-wire strands so that one wire lies on either side of the crimp. (Ensure the wires do not cross within the crimp)
  • Place the crimp in the scoop at the rear of the crimping pliers and hold it lightly without flattening it.
  • Using crimping pliers, alter the size of the loop that passes through the clasp by moving the crimp. This loop should not be giant, but it must be large enough for the clasp to move quickly.
  • Flatten the crimp by applying hard pressure to the crimping pliers
  • Examine within the crimp. Can you still perceive interior space? If so, pin it again with the crimping pliers or use chain-nose pliers to flatten the crimp firmly.
  • Rotate the flattened crimp 90 degrees and position it vertically in the front scoop of the crimping pliers.
  • Gently compress the crimping pliers to fold the tube in half. Observe the crimp as it folds so that you may adjust the pliers if necessary.
  • Gently compress the tube until a perfect cylinder is formed
  • Pull on the wire and clasp to ensure that it is securely fastened.
  • Run the cut end of the wire through half an inch to three-quarters of an inch of more beads. Trim the excess, so the end is concealed within a bead (preferably with a snug fit).
  • String the remaining beads, including the second crimp and bumper bead.

Please contact us if you have any questions or comments. Thanks for reading!

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