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The Basics Of Making A Beaded Necklace

Jul 28, 2008
Making beaded jewellery of any kind requires little more than time and patience, although there are certain pieces of equipment and types of materials that will not only ensure that your piece lasts, but will also make its creation a lot easier. There are a few techniques involved but, once mastered, they can be applied to a variety of jewellery-making projects.

To begin with, you will need to choose your beads and these will, to some degree, inform the choice of materials you use. Heavier beads are better suited to Tigertail wire (also know as monofilament or nylon coated wire), which is stiff and does not require the use of a needle. It also has the bonus of holding its shape. Soft-flex wire is more flexible, being constructed of a larger number of wire strands. It has the advantage over Tigertail in one respect; because it is so flexible it is less likely to develop kinks, which the more rigid Tigertail is prone to do. Tigertail may also require the use of a pair of diagonal wire-cutters to achieve flush cuts.

Either types of wire can be used in necklace construction and both need to be finished with crimp beads. These are beads made of a soft metal that is squashed to keep a bead in position or to 'close' the open end of the necklace. A pair of crimping pliers is often useful for flattening these beads and fixing them into place. Effectively, the crimp bead is compressed into a 'U' shape and then folded over onto itself to create a round bead-shape.

For intricate designs, a felt bead board is a useful piece of equipment. Designs are laid out on the board before stringing and the felt prevents unnecessary movement. This is the first stage of the process. Once you have settled on your design, you can then cut the required length of wire, leaving an extra 12cm (5 inches). Around 40cm-45cm (16-20 inches) in total is a good rule of thumb for a short necklace, but of course, if you're making bespoke jewellery, it is advisable to precisely measure the neck of the person you are making it for.

Next, attach a crimp bead and one half of the clasp to your selected wire, leaving the crimp bead in a 'U' shape. The wire should then be pulled back through the crimp bead, which can then be compressed into a ball and hold everything in position.

The wire is now ready to receive the beads. The clasp and crimp bead will prevent beads falling from the wire. However, in the event that you are making a symmetrical piece but are not sure of the number of beads you will use, you should leave the clasp until you have added the beads - starting with the central bead and working your way out, adding beads at either end of the wire, until the desired effect is achieved.

Once you are satisfied with your piece, all that remains is to attach the rest of the clasp to the open end of the necklace, using the same process as before.
About the Author
Adam Hunter - E-commerce Marketing Manager of cooksongold.com. Cookson Precious Metals offer a choice of supplies from over 10,000 products including gold and silver wire, jewellery tools, findings, precious metal clay and precious metal sheet - gold, silver. For interviews, quotes, images or comments contact: Adam Hunter E-commerce Marketing Manager Tel(DDI): ): +44 (0) 121 212 6491 E-mail: adam.hunter@cooksongold.com
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