Beads. These aren’t the same long, single-strand necklaces you bought at the Palace of the Governors from the American Indians in Santa Fe. Sure, you can still find those simple necklaces, but today’s bead work necklaces (and earrings, bracelets, anklets, rings, chokers and headbands) are more complex and probably just a little more ornate.
Let’s begin with the beads. From the seed beads that come in all colors of the rainbow to faceted beads, glass beads, gemstones, cinnabar, bugle beads, chevron beads and lampwork beads, you can find just the right kind of bead for the project you are getting ready to make.
Seed beads are some of the smallest you’ll work with, coming in opaque colors (you can’t see through them). Just a little bigger, the E beads are a bit easier to work with because you can handle them a little bit more easily.
The glass beads come in a variety of finishes, shapes and sizes. Transparent glass beads are easy to see through, whether they are clear or colored. You’ll also find the lampwork bead in this category and they are considered to be works of art, says Debbie Wittenski on Bella Online. Glass beads tend to have a finish that wears easily. Bugle beads, also falling in the glass bead category, are thin, tubular beads. These give your beaded projects a smooth line.
Faceted beads are beads that have at least one flat surface and these fall into the seed bead category. Some smaller categories of faceted beads include 3-cuts, Charlottes and Austrian Swarovski crystal beads.
Chevron beads are made with several layers differently colored glass in corrugated layers. This construction helps make a “star burst” as you look at it from one end, says Wittenski.
Cinnabar beads are made from lacquered wood that has been hand carved. The beads are usually, but not always, red and originate in China.
You need supplies to make your beaded creations. Let’s start with the cord and wire. Beginning beaders should begin with thin elasticized cord that allows them to make simple items. Elastic cord can be tied once you have finished adding the beads to your project, but the ends show unless you find a way of clipping them very close to the knot.
Clear beading cord is also very easy to use and is less visible. To ensure that you have secured the ends sufficiently, you need to burn the ends with a match or cigarette lighter.
Memory wire is a specially manufactured wire that springs back into its original shape –– it “remembers” its shape. You can cut this wire and twist it around bead findings like clasps, jump rings and lobster clasps.
Beading wire is strong, allowing you to make creations that won’t break with wear. Bracelets, chokers and necklaces come to mind –– putting them on, taking them off and storing them all cause different kinds of strain, which the wire is able to withstand.
Don’t forget about the wire cutters and different types of pliers you’ll need to use. Pliers allow you to work with small jewelry findings as you finish your bead creations. Because wire is so strong, you need wire cutters to cut it when you have finished wrapping it around your jewelry findings, completing your pieces of jewelry.
To make your jewelry creations appear more professional, you need to use jewelry findings that allow you to put on, attach and take your creations off easily. These include jump rings, crimping beads, lobster clasps, toggle clasps and head pins. If you plan to make earrings, you need earring findings as well.
Finally, you need project ideas. What will you make? How simple or ornate will the item be? If you are making a multi-strand necklace, make sure you have the right materials. If you plan to make a single-strand necklace that uses a variety of beads and bead sizes, don’t be afraid to be creative or to mix and match bead colors.
Now that you know what supplies you need to begin beading, visit your hobby store and start laying in those supplies. Begin with simple beadwork projects and make gifts for friends, family and loved ones. Happy creating!