Thread

I use Nymo monocord for beading on a loom. It is a flat woven thread that resists twisting and is easier to thread on a needle than round woven thread. While some types of thread need to be waxed to reduce fraying, twisting, and knotting, waxing is not necessary with Nymo monocord. The most commonly used sizes range from 000 to FF, 000 being the thinnest. Sizes A or B are the most suitable sizes for loomwork with Delicas or other size 14° to 1 1° seed beads. Size 0 Nymo should be used for smaller beads or beads with smaller holes. I find that thread thinner than size 0 is too weak.

The weight of the thread used will affect the pliability and drape of the finished work. For a more pliable piece, use a thinner thread. I use the same weight for both warp and weft. For maximum strength, it generally is a good idea to use the heaviest weight thread possible.

Nymo is available in small bobbins and 100- or 300-yard spools; size B is readily available in 3500-yard 3-ounce spools. I buy the 3-ounce spools, and the cost of my thread in any project is very minor. Nymo is most commonly available in either black or white, but the small bobbins also come in a wide variety of colors. Thread that has been wound on these small bobbins comes off in tight coils, so give the thread a good stretch before you use it. The thread on the larger spools can come off in clumps and bunches, but putting a wide rubber band around the top end of the spool controls this. Commercially made net thread-covers also work, as, I am told, does the toe of a parity hose.

You can find a variety of colored size A Nymo in some fly-tying shops under the trade name Fishair. It comes in 100-yard spools.

I use black thread for almost everything. I do not use white thread unless I'm working with white or clear beads. Black thread recedes into the work, while white thread is very visible and can dominate the beads. Colored thread can influence the shading of a design, especially if you are using transparent beads. Another area where thread color is important is when you're using very small seed beads. In this case, thread color becomes a definite design factor because the thread shows between small beads more than it does between larger beads. White thread may be colored with colorfast felt-tip marking pens.

In any loomworked piece, the thread is most visible at the edges. Again, you may use a colorfast felt-tip marking pen once the beading is complete.

Beads

Miyuki Delica and Toho Antique Heads

I hese Japanese cylindrical beads are interchangeable and come in a wide variety of colors and finishes—it is impossible to find as wide a color palette in any other type of bead. Really big holes make it easy to pass a needle and thread through them several times. Delicas and Tohos work well for weaving and create a very smooth fabric.

Delicas are almost square in aspect, nearly as wide as they are tall. These beads are very regular in size, but they are not perfect—some culling is necessary. There is also a slight size difference between the standard Delicas and the five-sided hex beads commonly called "cuts," and some very slight size differences between beads with different finishes.

Japanese Seed Beads These are available in many colors, are fairly regular in size, but are oval in aspect, taller than they are wide. They come in sizes I 1° and 15°. Also available are two-cuts in size 11° and hex cuts in size 15°. These are both more square in aspect, have large holes, and work well for weaving.

Czech Seed and Cut Beads These traditional beads come in a wide variety of colors and finishes, and many vintage and antique varieties are available. The sizes most readily available range from 22° to 9°. Sizes 11° and 12° are most commonly used for loom weaving. Czech seed beads are more oval in aspect, while cut beads are more square in aspect, like Delicas.

You must use great care in matching sizes; there is a lot of variation within a given size in both diameter and width. Using any bead smaller than size 14° can be hazardous to your mental health. Hole size in the small beads can be a major loomwork problem because you have to make many thread passes through every bead.

With any type of bead it is necessary to cull out the uneven and under- or over-sized beads. Uneven beads should be discarded; under- and oversized-beads can be used in fringe or other embellishment.

It is important to use beads of consistent size in a project. Mixing beads of varying widths can cause waviness in the body and uneven edges. Pick a median size and try to slick to it. The size of the outside beads in any row is most important and you may have to use a smaller or larger bead to keep the outside edges straight.

Many bead finishes are not permanent. Some coated, galvanized, or dyed beads will fade or the finishes will rub off. These and other problems are covered in Virginia Blakelock's Those Had Had Reads and in The Reader's Companion by Judith Durant and Jean Campbell (see bibliography).

In Those Had Had Heads, Virginia suggests testing beads in bleach to see if they are colorfast. Your concern for this problem will depend somewhat on your use of the beads. A bead surface that rubs off with hard use may not be a problem in a wall hanging, while a bead that fades in sunlight may be. On the other hand, beads that fade in sunlight won't be a problem in a necklace unless you wear it sunbathing.

If you just can't stand it and have to use one of the less durable beads in a piece that will be handled, you can coat the beads or the finished work with clear Krylon spray, available from art supply stores. I have done this on finished work with no detrimental change in appearance.

Suzanne Cooper, author of many bead books, suggests putting loose beads in a Ziploc bag and spraying one or two short bursts of clear Krylon into the bag, sealing it, then scrunching the beads around to coat them. Scrunch the bag again after the spray has dried to separate any beads that have stuck together.

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Responses

  • Beato
    How to keep thread from twisting when beading?
    13 days ago

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