Beading Basics

TO MAKE STUNNING BEAD JEWELRY. YOU'LL NEED A FEW BEADS AND A FEW WAYS TO HOLD THEM TOGETHER.

Faceted

Faceted

Round

Round

Tube

Tube

Melon

Chios c

Hoisni ncuBF i

Chios

Square

Square

Water

Water

Pipes

BEADS

Bone. horn. wood, metal, precious and semiprecious stones, rock, shell, clay, glass, paper, fabric—if It can be carved, molded, or drilled, people have made beads out of it. Today, beads are available in a range of colors, materials, and shapes (see Figure 1) to suit every conceivable taste.

Bead Sizes

Beads are measured in millimeters. If you're accustomed to Inches, note the comparison in Figure 2. Note also the circles in Figure 3, which are shown actual size.

Inches

Millimeters

Inches

Millimeters

FIGURE 3

18 mm

FIGURE 3

Seed Beads

Named for me seeds they resemble, these small isometimes tiny) giass beads are sized according to numuui" the higher the number, the smaller the neon. Most widely available are size 6 (often written 6' i and size 11 Size lis are most popular for weaving and. looming.

CORD

Beads hang happily from various materials.

Seeti ueaas are available in a vanety of finishes from matte to metallic, a riot of colors, and a num-ot'i of shapes. Bugle beads are long, narrow tubes. Cut oeads are faceted: they add a marvelous shim-mei Micas are cylindrical, almost square in shape. about the size of a size 12 seed bead. Their large holes, regular shape, and gorgeous colors make them delightful to work with.

Bead Thread

Good bead thread is thin enough to go through the holes in the beads (several times if necessary) and strong enough to hold them together. For a strung necklace, it should be supple enough to drape gracefully. If the jewelry needs to last longer than tonight's outfit, the thread should resist fraying, abrasion, and (if you're using sharp or metal beads) cutting. It's helpful if it is durable and stretch resis tant. Match the thread color to the beads. If no match is possible, select a color lighter than the beads, rather than darker.

Decorative Cords

While bead thread and tigertail should be Invisible in the finished jewelry, decorative cords can be pan of the final design.

parent and thus invisible in translucent beads. It's useful for trying out designs before actually stringing the beads.

Tiger tail

This tiny steel cable coated with nylon is tough, flexible, and strong—excellent for stringing beads. Because it's stiff, it requires no needle, and. while it doesn't knot well, it's easy to finish with crimp beads. On the other hand, it has a mind of its own—a stiffness—so it kinks easily and it doesn't drape well with small, lightweight beads.

Decorative Cords

While bead thread and tigertail should be Invisible in the finished jewelry, decorative cords can be pan of the final design.

and <1 i ote pot to turn accessc

The best bead threads are the new synthetics. Multifilament nylon thread is the choice of most weavers of seed beads. Strong, synthetic bead cord is beloved by stringers. Read a couple of cat alogs and ask for specific brand name advice at your local store.

Most bead thread reciuires a needle on the end of It.

Monofilament

Better for catching fish than stringing beads, monofilament is not strongly recommended. It breaks, stretches, and is easily cut. (A lot of marvelous Third World jewelry is strung on monofilament: be prepared to restring It.) On the other hand, it requires no needle and it's virtually trans-

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With tl even a ble nec barrettt covers I and thr simple and the method struct o exciting greater kind be. polymei

Detailec for mon special I

Lesltef card strings well and knots easily. It com-plenvents latge or ethnic beads and casual Jewelry. Flat ic-aiwi thong has an appealing cowboy look.

rtSitt.' linen cord comes In a variety of colors. It mois and fits most standard glass beads.

fall,in iignore the name) Is an attractive, dressy, sniir.iike cord available In a wide range of colors.

cc deas come to YOJ when you least expect them keep notebook handy and jot them down THEY re great reference material. CYNTHIA RUTI

LEFT: LARGE tVED FLEXIBLE NEEDLES R I G H 1 SLENDER RIGID NEEDLES

NEEDLES

One advantage of heavy synthetic cord is that you am oiQ tne end In instant glue to stiffen it and proceed to string heads. For most bead thread, however. iOu'II need a needle.

Bigoyed and flexible, twisted-wire needles are easy to inreao and a oleasure to use. They hold multiple threads without a murmur. The large eye closes up when It's forced through a bead, but an awl or pin can reopen it for the next project. This needle is too big and bendable for weaving seed beads.

For weaving (and for stringing small-holed beads), you'll need beading needles that resemble ordinary

CLOCKWISE

from LEFT

ROUND-NOSE PLIERS, CHAIN NOSE PLIERS. WIRE CUTTERS

sewing "sharps." They are numbered according to size—10. 13, and 15, for example. The larger the number, the thinner the needle. For ease of threading. use the largest needle that will go through your beads. Tneoretically, needle numbers and seed bead numbers match. (A size 11 needle will go through a size 11 seed bead but not necessarily through a size 14.)

If you can thread a small-eyed needle, you can master any beading stitch ever devised, You can proba bly invent your own. To up your odds, cut the thread at an angle, moisten it, and squeeze it flat. Moisten the eye of the needle as well.

Glue

Glues are indispensable. The most common, known as bead glue or bead cement, comes In a small tube. Its uses are many, but its most Important function is to seal knots In thread, which will merrily | unravel if left ungiued. Any knot you make should get a dab of cement. Although bead cement comes with a pointed applicator, it's not pointed enough. Use a needle or straight pin to add a tiny dab to every knot you make, being careful not to get glue I on the beads. (Clear nail polish also works well on | knots,)

An incredibly useful glue is an industrial-strength adhesive and sealant. It comes in large tubes and I is available in most bead stores. It will glue almosl I anything to almost anything else.

If you work with leather, you'll need either leather glue or a white craft glue that remains flexible alt© I it dries.

CUTTERS ANO PLIERS

To work with wire and metal findings, you'll need a I few basic tools.

Wire cutters should cut flush, allowing you to nip of "burrs"—tiny wire ends that can snag clothing and I skin.

Round-nose pliers are essential for making loops I

Chain-nose pliers are rounded on the outside sur-1 faces but flat on the inside, gripping surface, enabling you to grip the wire.

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GENERAL FINDINGS

Findings (lie manufactured components that i>,'.f; Rwelry. They are sold in bead riitw ynfl craft stores worldwide.

Bead Caps

A bead cap cups the end of a bead, hiding the hole ind providing a finished look.

Head Pins and Eye Pins

These are normally sold by the dozen, ana that's the way you'll use them. Available in various sizes, they are straight pieces of wire with a "stopper" on one end to keep the beads from falling off. A head pin has a flat head (much like a nail head): an eye pin has a loop, or eye. Loop the other end of the pin around whatever you want to attach It to.

CI.OCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT:

ASSORTED CLASPS.

EYE PINS HEAD PINS JUMP RINGS AND

split rings. beao caps various earring FINDINGS

FIGURE 4

Jump Rings

Jump rings are simply wire circles. (Many people make their own.) One variant, known as a split ring, resembles a tiny key ring. Jump rings are useful for connecting things—for example, a bead tip to a clasp or a charm to a bracelet

A jump ring is slit somewhere on Its circumference, and you'll need to pry it open to use it. II you open it by enlarging the circle—that is, spreading its ends farther apart—you'll weaken the ring. Instead, using two pairs of pliers, twist the ring open, forcing one end forward and one end back. See Figure 4. Close the ring by reversing that movement.

To finish a string of beads with a Jump ring, take the needle and thread through the ring, wrapping the thread twice. Then needle back through several beads and knot the thread. See Figure 5. Needle back through several more beads and knot again. Clip the tails and dot the knots with bead cement. Open the jump ring, attach it to a clasp, then reclose it.

NECKLACE AND BRACELET FINDINGS

At each end of a string of beads will be... well ... string. Now what?

FIGURE 5

FIGURE 5

FIGURE 7

CLASPS

Available in dwens of styles, clasps allow you to DOen and close a necklace or bracelet. Every clasp has a loop; it the ciasp has two parts, each part w"l have a loop. Various pieces of hardware will DixlgB stung to clasp.

Bead Tip«

MOSt useful for single strand necklaces, Dead tips finis« 'lia', is strung on bead thread. They now ann hide ihe knots and supply metal loops for attaching to the clasp.

To use them, take Ihe needle and thread through a ■ i : • p, with the hook lacing outward, toward the end (it I11 r,c. iklftr e. Tie the thread in a knot around a needle or pn, using it to coax the knot into the 'QUpot lie dead tip. Knot again, Dot the knots with oeaa cement or clear nail polish and clip the thread tail dose tu tue knot. Take the bead tip's hook tflnx®n the clasp and close the hook with chain-noss pliers. See Figure 6.

A clamshell be*! tip hides the knot more effective-iv fi/H'VA " directions above, but after the thread is mwuocj ana gluoa, close the clamshell with chainnose pliers. See Figure 7.

toucan add the first bead Up. then the beads, then the »eoond bead tip. if you're making a symmetrical pMape—especially if you're making up the design »yougp ainng—". >s sometimes easier to string ■3ii ihe Deads then attach both bead tips.

Crimp 8s&d;

Whe" i.o!'i|>i"ss>:-d (or "crimped"), crimp beads hold lightly onto that's Inside. They're used primarily on •s^'ttll. which knots poorly.

String a crimp bead onto the end of the tigertail, then strmg on a clasp. Bnng the tigertail back

t^y^ore your jewelry in bureau drawers' hang it from hooks on the wall. you'll enjoy it more often. and you can 8rowse happily through your collection each morning as you dress. ELLEN ZAHOI

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