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The Beadwrangler

Tips & Techniques


...building on the instructions contained in Beadwrangler's Hands On Bead Stringing

wpe1.jpg (947 bytes)Wirework, Lampwork Beads and Stringing  If you have ever purchased lampwork beads or other designer beads and then been stuck as to how to wear a grouping of them, using wire to wrap them will work.  I purchased 4 large lampwork glass beads about 2 years ago and kept planning to string them, but I never did.  I pulled them out last week and realized they would be heavy to work with multiple bead strands or beading and wire would be the best idea.  I borrowed some gold-filled wire from Tre, my friend, and set my beads out  to plan a design. 

The wire was about 18 gauge and once you bend it, you do not want to pull it back out, the wire will get brittle if it is reworked several times.  Two of the beads had two holes going through them vertically.  I turned the beads so the holes set horizontally.  One of the beads had a hole on one end, the thin end, and I did not like the way it set with the others.  I turned it upside down and began my wire around the end that did not have a hole.  I then wrapped it and worked the wire through the next bead, then through both of the beads with two holes.  I set one of the last two beads up  higher than the other to make the whole piece balance.  I used my hands to bend the wire and it is not a professional job, I am not a wirework person, but I am satisfied with it.

I added some glass beads between each lampwork beads as spacers.  I added a gold-filled bead onto the wire where I began the necklace strand and another as embellishment on one of the other lampwork beads.  I used gold-filled chains, each linked into the other, between glass beads, including smaller lampwork beads, worked on a gold-filled wire piece.  The result is a rigid pieces between soft, loose gold chains.   The only tools required were round nose and flat nose pliers plus wire cutters.   You can also use sterling silver beads and wire, copper or other wire and beads that will not lose their finish.

wpe1.jpg (947 bytes)Hair Rollers – They are great for keeping strung beads from getting tangled.  Sponge type hair rollers that have a plastic piece that clamps down to hold hair, will keep your strung beads in check.  It also works great to keep thread from getting tangled.


Place the beads close to the working thread spool and roll up the beads on the thread until the cut end of the thread is the last bit to go on the roller.  Then clip the roller and the strands are protected.  If you have beading or bead crochet started, repeat the same steps, starting to roll the beads and thread on next to the working thread spool and continue until all the beads and thread are rolled except the beadwork and then clamp the piece.  You can put the hair roller with thread or strung beads, the working thread spool and the beadwork in a plastic baggy for travel or put away until the next time you are working that project.  If you are making braids freehand, you can roll up each strand on a hair roller and let out the strands a little at a time as you work.  You can use them for working small weavings on a loom too.


Bead Brick Stitch  After I made brick stitch samplers, I went back and looked at some of the earrings I had made in the past.  I found several worked in the Eye-of-God design with Czech size #1 beads which allowed the whole earring to be smaller.  I also used tubes on the ends of some of the earrings for more length.  The #1 Czech bugles are vintage and difficult to find, however, you can use the new Japanese bugles to make the same designs.  If you do not want to wear what we used to call Ear Dusters, You can put a metal ring on the end of the earring instead of an earring finding and slip it onto a bead strung necklace including Why Knot necklaces.  Native Americans made the basic earring design long before it was taught to those outside the Native American nations.  If you are making one earring to use on a necklace, you can use size #2 bugles, which are easier to find and make a larger motif.  Here is one of the earrings I made.  If you want to learn the basic stitch, check my Beadwork Samplers.

Wire Wrapped Bits for Necklaces and Earrings  Stiff Floral wire works up into fun pieces that can be beaded and then strung on necklaces or made up as earrings.  Any shape can be obtained by experimentation and the wire can be wrapped with Silamide beading thread.  Use pliers to make a loop on one end and then stitch  over it with Silamide thread.  Then add beading to cover it.  I covered one wire piece with Silamide thread, then bent it so it had two ends sticking out.  I formed a hook shape on each end and then stitched it with Silamide thread.  I added bead loops with 11/0 Beadwrangler bead mix over the ends so it looks like florals.  I put on an ear wire for an earring, but it could easily be slipped onto a necklace and closed so it would not fall off.  I also made several wrapped pieces with an 8mm bead on the end of each, then stitched Silamide thread above it and beaded over the Silamide to form a knot.  I came up with these ideas when making my Floral Treasures 3-D kit.   This wire can be worked out of shape, however, if you get the stiffer floral wire, you would have to really force the pieces to change their shape.  They are really sturdy.

Bead Stringing Embellishment to Bead Crochet/Knitting, Macramé and Knotless Netting.

Make a sample using your choice of techniques and include size 6/0 or 8/0 beads.  My sample is a little bead crocheted bag worked with size 6/0 beads.  Once I finished the bag, I went back an added size 11/0 beads between the size 6/0 beads.  All you need to do is thread a needle with Silamide thread, doubled and knot the ends.  Then take the needle through some of the fiber from the inside or backside of the piece and back out next to a 6/0 bead.  Take the needle through the 6/0 bead, then string 3 size 11/0 beads and take the needle through the next 6/0 bead.  Some 6/0 beads may be closer to each other than others and you may only need 2 beads to go between two 6/0 beads.  You do not have to add beads through every 6/0 bead, just enough to add density to the piece.  When finished, stitch back and forth through the 11/0 beads you strung on and the 6/0 beads until the thread is worked through enough not to come loose.  Then cut off the excess thread.

You can use size 8/0 beads in the piece and then use 11/0 beads to string through the 8/0 beads.   You can use 8/0 tri-beads or any other shape and then use smaller beads to string through them.  Cut beads work well also.  If you use a large bead on the main piece and then smaller beads between, you will have more surface contrast.  Take a look at my little embellished bag.

Pearls and Gemstone Combinations
Bead stringing is always fun to do when you can mix it all up using different shape and size beads.  I used vintage 9/0 cut beads to string between each group of gemstones on SoftFlex wire.  I used rhodonite donut beads and strung a freshwater pearl in the center of each of them.  In sections between the rhodonite beads, I strung the 9/0 beads and then a rose quartz 6mm bead, an 8mm marcasite pyrite bead and then another rose quartz, then 9/0 beads.  I added 2 larger marcasite beads in one section and a marcasite beetle at the end.   I topped it off with a small beaded bag worked in matching beads.   Using a variety of gemstone beads in different sizes and shapes makes a classic necklace.  Pearls always enhance a necklace.  The little bag can be taken off the necklace and the necklace worn long, or double the necklace and use the little bag as a closure for a short choker.  Be sure and use a bead board to lay out your necklace before stringing it in case you want to make some changes.




Designer Beads and Bead Stringing
I have found that beaded tassels work great hanging from designer beads.  If you make a peyote tassel using the instructions in my bead stringing book, it will work perfect.  String the tassel loop using SoftFlex.  Make sure you make a loop at the top that is very small so just the SoftFlex goes through and there is not a big gap between the SoftFlex and the beaded tassel.  Push the tassel to the middle of the SoftFlex.  Pick a designer bead that can be hung so the hole is horizontal.  String it over both ends of the SoftFlex wire and push it down next to the tassel.  Now string beads on each side of the SoftFlex above the designer bead and finish with a Why Knot ending or conventional clasp.

Beaded Tassel Lariat
Here is an additional idea for tassels using the peyote tassel project in my book.  Turn them into earrings using size 14/0 beads so they would be lighter weight.  This is such an easy to do project, it just takes time finishing the stringing of long bead loops.  How about a key ring with this beaded tassel in 11/0 beads?  Or how about a strung piece with a bead loop on each end (crimp beads to hold the wire ends) and a tassel hanging on for a lariat?   Using SoftFlex wire will give you the strength to add larger beads and the weight of a tassel on each end.  Make one loop end larger and take the tassel from the other end through the loop!  Another idea is to make a bead crocheted bead with a large center hole, take it over the middle of the strung Lariat and down close to the tassel ends.   Put the lariat over your head and pull up the beaded bead.  This will work better with bead crochet because it is a fabric.  Regular beading will be slicker and more difficult to keep in place; it will tend to drop back down to the tassel ends.   Try different bead color combos in the tassel, making it 3 or more colors per strand.  I use an attachment to the bead strung loop on the tassel and then attach the attachment through a lariat loop.  This allows the tassel to sway but the attachment between the lariat and the tassel prevents any stress on the tassel.  Here is an example of the tassel in my book with an attachment added.  When I get a chance to make a lariat to match, I will put up an image.  The black beads that separate each bead color group enhances the whole tassel.

Luxurious Long Bead Strands Attached To and Between Beading
Have you ever thought about making really long strands of beads and attaching them to beadwork only to worry your thin beading thread will not hold up on those long strands?  After experimenting with long bead strands combined with bead crochet, I realized it could also be accomplished with beading.  Whether you use wire or thicker thread, you will use the same basic beginnings.  Decide how long you want the strands and what type beading you want to connect them to.  Three dimensional beading would work best as you can attach the thicker thread or wire inside the beaded piece.   Also decide how many strands you want to include in the piece.  You may want to make three strands one color, two a second color and five a third color.  You can also take all your leftover beads, toss them together and string them for the long strands.   Incorporate some of the same mixed bead colors into the beading so the whole piece flows together.  Once you have the beads strung, you can use a foam core board to set the strung beads on for designing ideas.  I use T-pins between strands at each end to hold them until I have decided how I want to finish the piece.   The biggest problem I had when working the strands is getting all the strands even.  Once I had one group of strands the right length, another group seemed to be too short or too long.   Experiment for the right length or you can "arghhhh," count the beads on each strand for a close match.  Counting will not work if you are using different size or type beads.  Foam core board and t-pins will help to keep all the strands the same.

Stringing with Wire - Use .014 SoftFlex or .010 SoftTouch wire.  Cut the number of strands you need, be sure and keep 1" to 2" extra on each end for attaching a crimp bead or a loop on the wire ends.  Use a crimp bead that will hold all the strands on one end or a couple of crimp beads to hold multiple strands.  Use a crimping tool to attach it.   If there are too many strands for the crimp bead, break them into smaller groups and put 2 to 4 strands in each crimp  You can purchase larger crimp beads to put the whole strand group on one above the smaller crimped beads.  You can find sleeves for crimping at fishing equipment departments in stores such as Wal-Mart.   They are long and can be crimped in more than one place.   You can attach the strung beads to the beading by taking the needle between the place where the strands come together in smaller crimp beads and where the larger crimp bead sets.  You can make a loop on each end of the crimp beads with the leftover wire end, and attach through the loops from the strung beads.   When you take the needle through the loop, you will then need to find a way of attaching it to the beadwork.  Stitching thicker thread back and forth through the wire loops can form a thick fiber ball that will go through one end of a beading piece but not out the other end.  If you made a beaded tube and one end is wider than the other, bring the strands through the wider end and lodge it next to the smaller end. A beaded bead with a thick hole would also be a good place to hide the wire ends.

Thicker Thread - Use thicker polyester, example -YLI Jean Stitch thread.  This thread is close to 30wt thickness.   Do not use silk or cotton, they will stretch too much.  Leave about 12" extra on each end of the thread you string.  You may want to finish with macramé or other techniques requiring extra thread on the ends.   Cut all the threads and tie one end together.  String the beads using a twisted wire needle.   You can not string beads on the thicker thread with a beading needle.    Each time you finish stringing a strand of beads, tie a larger bead onto the end, such as a 4 or 6mm as a stopper bead so the beads do not fall off while stringing the other beads.  After you have a few strands strung, you can tie them together in a loose slip knot until you are finished.  Once you have all the strands strung, check to make sure the length is the same for each strand and tie them together.  You can use beading thread to stitch through the knotted thread and take it through a beaded piece.  If you want to make sure the tied ends are permanent and won't come loose, use FrayBlock or products like it that do not destroy the fibers.  Do not use glue.

Designing - You can set the long strands in the middle and have beading on each end, you can move the strands so they run along one side of your neck and beading around the rest, there are lots of design possibilities.

I strung my bead strands on YLI Jean Stitch thread and worked bead crochet on the ends.  An image of the finished necklace is in the Bead Crochet and Long Bead Strands section in Crochet Tips.

Hand Stringing Versus a Bead Spinner - It takes about 30 minutes for me to hand string three yards of beads onto thread when I am preparing thread for bead crochet or beaded strands.  It takes me about three minutes to string three yards of beads using a bead spinner.  The time saved is well worth the cost of keeping a bead spinner around.  You can string several strands in a very short time and be ready to add them to beading instead of spending the day stringing beads.  You can spin beads onto SoftFlex .014 or SoftTouch .010 wire using a bead spinner. When it comes to wrapping a long strand of beads around a vase or other item as embellishment, stringing with a bead spinner is ideal.  If you are using beading thread such as Silamide, you need to use two spools at a time so you have doubled thread.  You could also go with 3 or 4 spools of beading thread for extra strength.  If you do not need to bead the ends of the thread, you can use a spool of thicker thread like Jean Stitch and only need one strand strung through.

SoftFlex or SoftTouch Wire and Rattail Cord to Strengthen Your Beadwork
If you are making a necklace or jewelry piece that has heavier beads included such as large dichroic glass beads or slices with holes and you are using a tubular design such as a peyote, quadruple helix or bead crocheted tube, string the wire through the middle and through the beads for strength.  If you have glass or gemstone pieces with larger holes, you can take rattail cord, a fiber, 1/4" to1/8" thick, and bring it through the middle of the bead tubing and glass pieces.  This will give you additional strength and your finished item will not sag where the heavier pieces are located.  I also include both SoftFlex and rattail cord in some of my pieces for strength.  I just string them both through at the same time.  You can purchase rattail cord at fabric and discount stores that carry fabric.  It is soft but supple and comes in many lovely colors.

This is one idea; string double the length of your wrist plus enough extra to make the lark's head loop.  Include big beads and seed beads just like you did with the Why Knot necklace.  Make attachments of charms to put the bracelet together.   You can put one to three charms on one attachment.  You can make several bracelets and use attachments to combine them to make a long Why Knot necklace or wrap several times around your neck for a choker.

Make a Choker - Slip on Attachments
Make a choker with a conventional clasp as a closure.  Space size 14mm fancy beads between 10 to 15 seed beads or use 4mm beads spaced between.  One inch to one and a half inches of the smaller beads look good between the 14mm beads on a choker.    Then you can slip attachments over one end of the choker and draw them to the front, spacing them between the larger beads.  You can take these attachments off and put on other attachments.  I have one ivory necklace with large beads spaced evenly between 4mm ivory beads.  My attachments are ivory carvings that I can slip on and off for a different look.  I also have a choker with large glass beads with silver dichroic highlights.  I slip on attachments and mini purses and other items that have straps and are not actually attachments for embellishment. 

How Come My Crimp Beads Don't Stay On The Wire After I Crimp Them?
Several beaders have emailed me and asked what they are doing wrong when they crimp beads after stringing and their items come apart after they have crimped the wire.   What type of material are you using?  Are you trying to string with fishing line or one of the well known brands of new wire on the market?  I have found after much experimentation, fishing line does not hold crimp beads well.  I using fishing line material only to temporarily string bead designs to see how they look, not as a permanent material.  Whether you use Soft Flex wire, Beadalon wire, Acculon wire or any other brand name wire, there are steps to crimping a crimp bead.  First make sure you purchase good crimp beads at a bead, lapidary, jewelry supply store or other reputable establishment.  There is junk on the market that does not hold up.  You do not have to use gold filled or sterling silver to make them work.  Save those items for more expensive necklaces.

Do you have a crimping tool or are you using a pair of regular pliers?  Do not use regular pliers; they will ruin the finish on the crimp bead and not crimp them correctly.  I have one pair of loop wire pliers I got from Micro Mark I used until I found how great a crimping tool can be.   All the necklaces are still together from using this tool but a crimper is so much better.  Crimping tools work around the crimp bead in more than one way and secure them.

What size crimp bead are you using on what size wire?  If you use a 2mm or large crimp bead on a .014 in thickness, then the crimp bead will not stay on.   You should be using a small crimp bead for this size wire.  Larger crimp beads are for thicker wire such as .024.

First purchase a good crimping tool often called crimp forming pliers.   Take a short piece of wire and make a loop.  This will be your practice piece.   String on a crimp bead.  Now look at the crimping tool, open it and look down the side.  There are two notches in it.  First take the crimp bead to the notch closest to the inside of the crimper.  Now crimp the bead tightly.  Next, take the crimped bead up to the top notch near the opening and place the crimped bead it in.   Now hold the crimper with one hand and move the wire with the crimp bead around slowly with the other hand while you crimp it with the crimper in this notch.  When you have gone all the way around the crimp bead, it should be crimped properly.  This should round the crimp bead more and stabilize it on the wire.  If it is more comfortable, you can hold the wire with the crimp bead still and move the crimper around it to get the same results.   If your crimp bead falls off, take a look at it, after you put it in the first notch and crimp it and then began crimping in the second notch, it could have folded so that it opened back up from the first notch.  In other words, you closed the crimp bead, then when you began to work around it, it folded so the middle opened up again.  This has only happened to me once and I think maybe that is what is happening to people who email me with crimp bead problems.  Watch closely when you work the crimp bead in the second notch and see if it is folding in such a way that it opens back up.  If after trying these suggestions, you do are still having problems, I suggest you go to the nearest bead store or supplier that sells the crimpers and crimp beads and ask for a hands on demonstration.

One more note, be careful of coated wires, some are permanent with crimp beads and others do not hold.  Stick with brand names you can depend on for permanent wire and use odd ball material for temporary stringing.

My favorite is SoftFlex wire, the .014.  I use the silver uncoated for all my Why Knot and other necklaces unless I have really heavy beads to string such as 14mm.  My book, Beadwrangler's Hands On Bead Stringing has many projects with only one crimp bead holding the whole piece, so I know the SoftFlex wire is strong.

Convert Your Why Knot Necklace to a Choker
Here is another idea I did not get a chance to put in my bead stringing book. You can wear any of your Why Knot necklaces as a choker.  First make sure your Why Knot necklace is long enough so that it will go around your neck twice, that is doubled. Then make an attachment and put it through both loops of the necklace around your neck and make a lark's head closure with the attachment. If you want to wear the necklace long, then take the closure off and hang the necklace lengthwise and put the attachment on.

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