Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Craft Tools: Beading

I have always loved jewelry. Doesn't matter whether it is made with precious gems, semi-precious stones, wood, clay or macaroni....I love it and probably have a few examples of it.

I wish I had a photo of my first bracelet. I was in grade school and already a fan of Carol Duvall. She was originally local to Detroit TV and had a brief segment on afternoon programming. With her as inspiration, I saved red pistachio shells, keeping them matched, and glued them onto fishing line. Because the red on the shells was a dye, it began to bleed with the glue (probably Elmer's) so I coated the shells with clear nail polish. I thought I was a genius, and quite fashionable, too.

A few years ago I revisited jewelry making, but I went a bit more upscale and took a class. That led to buying tools, beads, wires, beading thread and on and on.
The blue and beige rectangular mats are what I work on because a dropped bead stays put rather than rolling off the counter and going into hiding once it hits the floor. I sometimes empty a container of small beads into the blue tray because it has a funnel and stopper at one end, making it easy to put the beads back into a container. The tweezers on top of the tray have a ball shaped end to them, good for holding a single bead. The small blue box that is open is called Thread Heaven. It is a wax used to strengthen beading thread, shown in the flat spool within the bag behind the Thread Heaven. Behind that and to the right of the stand of tools is beading wire. I use that on most bracelets. The containers along the wall hold some of the beads I've acquired. The gray tray in the photo below is good for making a bracelet or necklace an exact length, and also good for symmetry if you are making a graduated necklace with a large motif or bead in the center and want to be sure of your pattern repeats on either side.
The two most basic tools are a wire cutter and a crimper. I've found my husband eyeballing my wire cutters but I remind him that these are MY tools, just as he reminds me of what is his if I nose around the garage. Photobucket
If you look at stand of beads closely, you'll see a special bead at the end next to the clasp ends. If not covered by a decorative bead or cover, you will see a crimp bead. Originally barrel shaped, the crimp bead has the beading wire running through it east to west, through the clasp end, and back through the crimp bead again, this time west to east. The bead needs to be squeezed tight to hold the clasp onto the string of beads without the wire pulling out. The opening near the tip of the crimper tool is an oval. The next opening looks like a smiling mouth. Go ahead, use your imagination and look again. With the crimp bead in place on your bracelet, you use the smiling opening first by centering the crimp bead within the jaws of that smile and squeeze. Now the barrel shaped bead has trapped the wires but looks flattened. Give the wire a quarter turn and center the flattened bead in the oval opening, squeeze again and you will have rounded your bead again, somewhat anyway, and that part is done.

This bracelet was in Monday's post. It is a good example of a simple string of beads on beading wire with crimped ends at the clasp.
Still a simply strung bracelet, but with two strands held together every few bead lengths by a bar shaped bead designed for holding two strands together. The colors in this bracelet each are symbolic of a color designated for cancer awareness. Proceeds from this kit (bought at a local bead store) went to cancer research.
This next bracelet was done with beading thread rather than wire. To form the design, thread passed through each bead more than once. Tiny seed beads for the loop closure with a large crystal on the other end. This technique is called a right angle weave.
One of my favorite although time consuming things to do is Peyote stitch, another form of bead weaving. Here is a Santa bracelet in progress. See the white thread at the bottom? And a close up of Santa's face.

The finished bracelet always gets a lot of attention when I wear it. There are two types of white beads in his beard, two beiges in his face and two reds in his had, the better to catch to the light.
This is the same type of bead, called Delicas, in their tube. Now you know why that magnifier is among my beading tools. You can imagine what the needle looks like. It is so fine, it doesn't photograph well.
Occasionally I bead something other than jewelry. This was a project last year, a beaded ornament.

And lastly, tying yesterday's post to this one, a combination of knitting and beading, a scarf that was knit with beads strung onto the yarn.
Are you bedazzled now? Or just afraid to walk barefoot in my house lest you step on a bead or a needle? I always wear shoes or slippers and Bill has calloused feet. That might be the secret to our happy marriage!


Karen at Nittany Inspirations said...

Beading is something I have always thought would be a neat thing to do. I have only made simple earrings. I worked in an office where I always wore one of those door key ID badges on a lanyard. Those ribbon lanyards are so ugly. I thought it would be nice to make pretty ones that looked like a necklace.

Karen at Nittany Inspirations said...

Thanks for the link. I think I'll try making one.

Blondie's Journal said...


I had no idea so much material and work went into beading. I am amazed and quite in awe of your expertise!! The Christmas ornament really caught my eye and my jaw dropped over the scarf. Now that is talent!!

Thanks for sharing this creative side of yourself, my friend!


SmilingSally said...

Oh my! You are even more creative than I'd imagined.

MJ said...

I enjoyed looking at all your beading and knitting projects. I appreciate all your talent. May I ask if there is a pattern that can been purchased for the knitted white scarf with the beads ? It is very pretty. Thank you.

Knitty said...

MJ, you don't have access to your profile enabled so I am answering you here and hoping you return to see this.

The pattern is from Blue Sky Alpacas, and is called Flue-de-lis Bead Knitted Scarf. It is no longer on their website but I have contacted them to see if it is still available.

If you could share your email address or your blog's name, I will let you know as soon as I hear from the company.

Crafty Bea said...

I love all of your items - especially the santa, the ornament and the cancer bracelet - they are very beautiful. Would you be willing to share the patterns? Also, in line with the Santa bracelet, you wouldn't have snowman, would you? And any patterns for a beaded lanyard?

Knitty said...

Crafty Bea, if you will contact me with an email address, I will send you links to patterns that I have used.